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Adopting an Abused Dog: Roxy's Rescue Story
It was my day off, and I was cleaning my apartment. Hermione, the chihuahua I was looking after temporarily, had just scattered the contents of the trash can all over the kitchen floor. I ignored the phone when it rang the first time, but when the caller id alerted me that my mother was calling a second time, I decided it must be important and I picked up.
"Hey. I was wondering if you have room for another dog?"
I looked at the heap of half-eaten trash that I was standing in. After about a half second's consideration, I spat out a blunt and absolute no.
"Okay. I thought you'd say that," she sighed.
She went on to explain that she knew a guy who had just packed up his stuff and left the state. Along with his house and a good chunk of his belongings, he abandoned a puppy. Apparently, he had left her alone outside of a farm house in the middle of nowhere, with one bowl of food and no intention to send anyone out there to care for her. He expected her to find her own way in the fields, with nothing to eat and no help for miles.
I felt really bad for her, but I just couldn't do it. I was in a one-bedroom apartment, and already had a little trouble maker to deal with. Two dogs would be too much for that little space.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't take her. I will ask around and see if anyone else will, though."
"Ok. It would just break my heart to see her go to the pound, or have anything happen to her out there."
I hung up the phone and resumed my daunting task. This puppy's story didn't sit well with me, though. For the rest of the day, I felt sick. I felt kind of like I'd just heard terrible news, like someone I cared for had died, or I had just been through a terrible breakup. My heart was in my stomach, and I couldn't take it.
A Change of Heart
I called all my friends, and not a single one of them had the time or the money to be adopting and training a dog. I just couldn't shake that terrible feeling I had, so I called my mom back later that evening and asked her to take me out there. I wanted to see this dog that my heart had been aching for. It was on the ride over that I learned of my mom's suspicions that the dog had been abused. This guy had a history of being terribly cruel to his animals, and this dog was unreasonably skittish. My mom had been spending a lot of time out there lately, and she said the dog wouldn't go anywhere near anybody. I was sure there was no way this dog would be manageable, and we'd end up having to take her to the animal shelter. I was shocked by what happened when we got there.
I spotted her right away when we pulled up the drive. She was laying on the front steps, a litter of kittens all curled up around her. She got up when she saw us coming, and her whole back end wiggled in excitement. She must have changed her mind about us when we got out of the car; she scurried away and hid under an old truck that was parked nearby. She was so scared of us she was peeing herself on the way there.
"You'll never get her to come out," my mom said.
I felt so bad for her. I knew that she must not have been treated well, for her to be so afraid. Luckily, I had planned ahead. I brought a bowl of food for her, and some dog treats. I hoped she could get a good meal in for the night, and that maybe I could bribe her into trusting me a little. From a good distance, so that I wouldn't frighten her, I got down on my knees and held a treat out to her, making kissy noises. She scooted forward a bit.
"Come on, sweetheart," I called. She darted out from under the truck and sheepishly ran at me, looking around cautiously to make sure the coast was clear. But to my surprise, she wasn't interested in the treat. Instead, she threw her paws around my neck (much like she was hugging me) and hid her face in my hair. She plopped her butt down in my lap, and made sad little whining noises, like she was trying to tell me all about her troubles. And that's all it took. I was sold.
I left her with a full bowl of food and fresh water, and I set out to buy the necessary supplies. I knew she would need a flea bath (she was covered with them), some good food to eat (she was way too thin), a warm bed to sleep on, and some toys to play with. I brought my boyfriend with me to pick her up the next day.
A Dreadful Adjustment Period
Unfortunately, she didn't take to him as well as she did to me. She cowered and peed herself every time he so much as looked at her. In fact, she was pretty afraid of everything for the first few weeks. It became painfully clear to me that she had been treated pretty badly. She was only seven months old, and she was so afraid all the time. We had to be very careful not to make any sudden movements or loud noises. She was afraid to eat her food, and she didn't seem to know how to play. That's not normal for a seven month old pup.
Even though getting through to her sometimes felt like a daunting task that we would never accomplish, we refused to give up. We recognized the teeny tiny steps she was taking in the right direction. We did our best to offer her plenty of love and encouragement, which I'm sure she never got until she met us. Even if it was happening very slowly, we were earning her trust. She started to build up confidence in herself, eating her food without fear, learning to potty outside, and eventually even playing with Hermione.
A Whole New Dog
We soon moved to a house with a large yard so she could have room to run around. She learned to like going for walks, and playing fetch out at the dog park. Even though it took a while, she finally realized that no one was going to hurt her anymore, and she came to trust us completely. She's become the dog we've always dreamed of having. She seems to love us a lot, and she goes everywhere with us. She's now an incredibly fast learner, and she's learned all kinds of cool tricks and commands. Her only problem now is getting overly excited when she meets new dogs, and being incredibly rude to the mailman. But we're working on that.
I am incredibly glad that I had that terrible feeling after I said no that day. Thank goodness I gave her a chance. We can't imagine not having her in our lives now. After almost two years, she's become a member of the family. I hate to think about what might have happened to her if she hadn't ended up with us. It breaks my heart to know that someone could be so terrible to such a wonderful dog.