It hadn’t been my intention to get a dog. In fact, I had only wandered through Petfinder.org at the request of a friend – she was searching for a rescued dog to add to her family, after old age claimed the life of her canine companion.
However, when I saw the breed tag line ‘Labrador/Terrier mix’, I felt a sudden pang of nostalgia and sadness. My first family dog had been of this mix and was one of the best friends I had known growing up. So, naturally, I had to succumb to my curiosity and click the link.
The profile that appeared before my eyes, nearly broke my heart. At nine months old, this poor little dog had been discarded. Held in a shelter in New York state, and plagued by a skin condition, she was slated for euthanasia – until the good people of the Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue saved her.
However, being a medium sized dog with a timid temperament, and still afflicted by bald patches and sores, their efforts to place her to a home was still fruitless after many months.
Even though I promised myself not to become tied down with another animal, I couldn’t help myself. Something about her picture prompted me to fill out the application for adoption.
After a rigorous screening and site inspection, my adoption application was approved – I can remember how anxious and excited I was as we drove out to the boarding kennel that was kindly housing her while she waited for her new home.
The first time I laid eyes on her, I fell in love. Unfortunately, I could see that she needed more than mere love to undo the past.
Timid, fearful and un-trusting, she was hesitant to come near me and barked out of fear. Even when her caretaker called her over to collar her, she whined as though afraid.
I was told it would be months, if not longer, before she would come to me willingly and without fear. I was disheartened – had I just adopted and committed to a problem dog? Could I handle this?
Our first two days together proved to be insightful. Even though she had run of the whole apartment, she stayed within a ‘cage sized’ perimeter in the living room, pacing it like a tiger. She showed an unnatural fear of strangers (particularly men) and walking into rooms with doors, and flinched every time I moved toward her.
My heart ached. I couldn’t imagine what someone must have done to this beautiful little creature to make her like this. But I was resolved to be patient, and try my best to change her life around.
Although I was expecting it to take weeks, maybe even months, for her to warm up to me – by the third night, she cried when left in the living room alone. I made room for her on my bed, and she never looked back. I was now her friend.
It’s been five years since those first rough days.
The skin condition has improved, changing into a beautiful, shiny coat that gets compliments anywhere she goes.
Her scrawny, gaunt, 22lbs turned into a healthy 35, after it was discovered that her refusal to eat was related to food allergies. Now she eats better than I do.
The timid, eager to please attitude has been replaced by confidence. (In fact, sometimes she’s just downright bossy.)
She’s fit into the family, adopted my parent’s dog as her ‘child’, and has already been credited with scaring off an intruder who tried to break into the house.
I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world, and it nearly brings me to tears at times to think that the life of this wonderful, beautiful little animal was almost ended.
Our happy tale is still being written, and I look forward to many, many chapters before the ending.
In two months time, Chance will have been with me for an entire year after adopting her from your rescue… so I thought a little update to warm the hearts of those who work so tirelessly, is in order. She is truly, truly a success story.
When I first picked up Chance, she was a very sweet but very timid little girl. She shied away from strangers, had issues with trusting men, and was a bit wary of other dogs and children.
Well, so much has changed between now and then.
The most remarkable change, has been in her appearance. The thin patches of hair are no more, and she has a nice, shiny, thick coat (and a big bushy tail to boot) which has, surprisingly, changed from a glossy black… to a deep mahogany! (Although she was listed as Lab/Terrier cross.. turns out, that she is border collie. =D )
Her demeanour has also changed significantly. After a hit and run left me unable to remain in Toronto, Chance and I moved into my parent’s house in the 1000 Islands region… where Chance immediately took to her very large, fenced backyard. She guards her birds every day, and does all she can to chase those threatening squirrels away from her home.
She’s still a bit timid about strangers, particularly men she doesn’t know, but she’s become one hundred times more assertive than she was before. She approaches people and lets them pet her, without pulling away.
Well behaved and extremely well mannered, she is constantly being compliments on how incredibly remarkable she is for a dog her age. A good girl in every way, she only gets a bit of a scolding when she digs ‘craters’ in the mole holes out back.
And, lately, with the acquisition of her ‘little brother’ (my parents adopted a lab puppy) she has become a completely different dog. She’s so gentle with the puppy, and takes great care of him… teaching him everything from house breaking, to playing. In fact, it’s like she’s having a second puppyhood. =) He simply idolizes her, and though she doesn’t like to admit it… she loves him too.
But the most incredible thing that has happened, is that Chance has become our very own hero. While I was home alone (the folks were on vacation), someone tried to force open the door to the house in the middle of night. Chance immediately sprung into defence mode, and she ran to the door, growling and barking like a demon possessed! Not only did she deter the person from entering, but they ran off before I could even make it to the door!! (According to neighbours, they instead went and robbed the house behind ours…)
Popular with the people (and pets) of the neighbourhood, she’s become a testament to the power of rescues, and that these dogs are really diamonds in the rough. Everyone she meets listens to her story, and marvels at what she has become.
So, I wanted to thank you all again for saving such a beautiful little dog… and allowing us the chance to share in her life. Myself, my parents, and Bentley (lab puppy) can’t imagine life without her.