all you need is love

February 11, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

every week when i go to the shelter, i fall in love with a dog. Yes it's love, and yes, it's usually just one. and that level of love differs from dog to dog. When i get home, Tim asks me "who did you meet today?" and i go on and on about all the cute dogs i saw; and this little mama; and that cute little guy; and the sad eyes of this one; and the sweet snuggles from that one. and then he asks "is there anyone you want to bring home?" The first time i said yes, he called our landlord, who told him we weren't allowed to get another dog.. I've still answered yes 3 more times. 

the first one was a golden retriever mix the shelter named biscuit- who was euthanized
one was red- who was saved by the rescue, pitiful pups, then adopted into his forever home. 
one was an australian shepherd mix the named daisy- who was reunited with her owners. 
 
and today..
 
a hound mix, the shelter named stewart. 
 
 
As i was shooting, Paul, the "head" of Pawsitive Shelter Photography, said he thought there was a dog that needed a little special attention. I was happy to oblige- i've been sick for a few days, and having some snuggle time with a single dog is probably the only thing that would make me feel better (other than chicken noodle soup). Paul told me his kennel number- WD35, and that he was "like red". When i got there- a note on his intake form said "officer only". Sheesh. There are few things scarier when you are bee-bopping around the kennel, looking for a dog to snuggle with. I can only imagine what a person coming in to adopt their forever pet would think when they saw that note. (strike one). 
 
When i got down on my knees (doors closed) and "talked dog" to him he cowered, and hid, and ran from me, and pushed himself into the corner of his kennel. Absolutely terrified. Can you imagine, what the parents of a little kid would think when they did the same thing on adoption day? (strike two) He would peek at me from behind the run hatch. I didn't even know what kind of dog he was. He looked about 40 lbs, red hair, floppy ears and a big nose. 
 
i opened the kennel door, and he stayed where he was- i sat on the (wet) ground just outside his kennel, and threw a treat to him. He sniffed it, licked it, then spit it out. i threw him another one, which he did the same thing to.. then went back to the original treat and gobbled it up. Then gobbled the second one. i tossed another closer, which he hesitantly ate, we played this game for about 20 minutes, until he had army-crawled his way to my side and stood up. When he was this close, i realized he had something wrong with his eyes. He had cherry eyes, or something similar, and i wondered if he could *actually* see me. (strike three) He let me pet him, let me sweet-talk him, and ate the treats out of my hand. I did a bait and switch with him, and got a leash on him, which is when he flattened himself to the ground, yet again. Even though i felt defeated, i was determined to get this poor dog out of the kennel, and into the sunshine. 
 
I sat there for a few minutes, and argued with myself:
 
if i pick this dog up, and he attacks me, no one will know. 
there isn't an aggressive bone in this dog's body. 
but if there is.. no one will know. 
lauren. you are being ridiculous, he's just terrified of the kennel. not of you. 
paul told you to not do anything foolish
 
We volunteers go through training to know signs of aggression, and when a dog is labeled fearful, we get so angry because it can mean so many different things.. I knew, that in this case, it meant he was scared of the kennel, or maybe couldn't see enough to know what he was looking at, but i knew it wasn't that he was fearful of people in the way that he could hurt them. Paul and I have talked at length about not handling fearful dogs, and knowing when to trust our instincts. In this case, i knew what i needed to do. 
 
that's when Jesse, another volunteer, walked by, to bring another dog back to it's kennel. "here goes nothing" i said to myself. I scooped up Stewart, and carried him, like a baby, through the kennel into the grass, and sunshine. His arms were stiff, he had no idea what was going on. I gently set him down, and walked away. I gave him room to walk- and what he did.. amazed me.. he army crawled to me, let out a huge sigh, and started licking me. Thanking me, for my patience i think. 
 
After a few minutes, he climbed into my lap, and there he stayed, for the better part of an hour. Other volunteers came up and pet him, gave him treats, told him he was a good boy.. and he was.. fine.
 
He was perfectly content being around other people, he was playful, trotted on his leash, licked everyone, wrestled with one of our other volunteers. He was a different dog. Paul snuggled with him, and decided he will call an opthamologist tomorrow to see what can be done about his vision (if anything) as long as he's not in pain, he can do just fine without seeing fully. We know he can at the very least see shadows, though we think his vision is better than just that.
 
When our time was up, which was about an hour and a half later, i started walking him back to his kennel, when he flattened himself to the ground, and cowered in fear. I scooped him up, and carried him back to his kennel, kissing him, and telling him i would find him a home. 
 
So here is my plea, Orlando.. Don't make me a liar.
 
We need to find this dog a home, with a patient family, willing to put in the work with this sweet, sweet boy, or a rescue that is willing to have one of their amazing foster homes take him in. He was fine with other dogs, even playful with a puppy he encountered. Let's work together, and make this happen for this fantastic little guy. 
 
with a heavy heart, and hopeful spirit- 
Lauren 
 
<originally posted at bylaureneggert.com>

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