Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rescued - Not Damaged!

It's amazing at times how many people comment that adult dogs are "damaged", or that shelter or rescue dogs are "damaged". A lot of people who contact us only want puppies because of the thought that the adults are "damaged".

We've had many dogs come through our program who appeared damaged on the outside - parts of lips missing, scars on their faces and legs, skin and bones, etc. These dogs, these ADULT dogs have been some of the BEST dogs we've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

We know little of their past and at times, can only speculate on how they came to wear some of the scars they possess. These dogs are a testament to the fact that the scars on the outside only tell a story and have no bearing on the soul of the dog on the inside.

We have SO many wonderful stories of dogs that have come through, there is no picking a favorite, so we'll share a couple of them. Golda was probably our "worst" case as we were able to hear more of the story on how she was found than some of our other dogs.

Golda's first picture alarmed us and broke our hearts. The lip, the overgrown nails, the skinny little body...Golda was found, half dead, on the side of the road by a good Samaritan in late April of 2008. The shelter treated her for her heartworms and spent a couple of months putting the weight back on her and cleaning her up. We were contacted in August of 2008 to bring her into our program and it took us a month to find a foster home for this beautiful girl. When we got to meet Golda, she melted our hearts. And that doesn't even begin to describe how this girl touched us. She was soft, inside and out and greeted us with her belly to the ground, head low, offering signals left and right that she meant no harm. She'd make a lap around the play yard and sidle right back up to one of us for some affection. What a peach! And we can't forget getting her in the car! This girl was so unknowing about much of anything that she had to be picked up and put into the car when we left with her. She slept the whole way back to Charleston with her head on our Assistant Director's leg, drool and all :)

Golda blossomed into such a wonderful dog! It took some time to figure out that it was okay to go in the house. She'd never experienced it before. It also took some time to learn not to potty in the house, but with proper direction, she picked right up on it. She wanted nothing more than to climb in your lap and lay there for hours! How could a dog like that be damaged? She was just never taught about the finer things in life!

Fortunately, a wonderful family came along and Golda was a perfect match for their home. She's now living it up blocks away from the beach :) She's one of our greatest "rags to riches" stories :)

Bones is another wonderful dog that graced many people with his loving and affectionate nature, despite an unknown past. Back in May of this year, Bones was brought into one of the areas highest kill shelters as a stray. This boy was skinny and had old scars around his face and legs. There was also a chunk gone from his tongue! Was he in a fight? At some point in time, probably. Was he a fighter? Well, frankly no one knows. Does it really matter? Bones did SUPERB in his evaluation and regardless of his past, he was a dog we wanted to see make it. And he did :)

Amazingly enough, we were able to find a foster home for Bones and got him out of the shelter within two weeks. He spent some time in foster care where we did learn that he liked to chew on things but, can you really blame him? He was never taught not to chew! The best thing of all though that we learned about him, he made a wonderful cuddle buddy :) He'd lay on his back for hours for you to pet him. Let him on the couch with you and it was time to stretch out on his back next to you and snuggle! Bones came to us, scars and all, a naturally good boy with a desire to please and a drive to get you to love him. His goofy, adoring nature epitomized what we look for in these dogs and naturally, he won over a great couple who wanted to take the next step.

Bones and Golda, although they had visible scars on the outside indicating their lives may not have always been so great, are far from "damaged" dogs. That is the greatest and most amazing thing about these dogs is that they can wear their scars from the past and not dwell on them like we humans tend to do. It's dogs like Golda and Bones that make great therapy dogs. Its dogs like Golda and Bones that can send home the message to the public that rescued does NOT mean damaged.


Suzi Riot said...

Really great post. It is so important for people to understand that adoptable rescue dogs, including those taken from fight busts, are just like any other dog. They may have some special medical or even behavioral needs due to the abuse and/or neglect that they have been victim to, but they are not damaged and do not deserve to be labeled as such. They are not just their scars and their pasts - they are just dogs who need the same love and care that any dog deserves.