Monday, November 2, 2009

Never Say "Never!"

(Picture Left: "Lucas" when first rescued. Tense, nervous, defensive, leading to a very rough beginning.......Could that be turned around?)

Although we have rescued several new dogs over the past month or so, most are currently in boarding and thus their stories have yet to be written.

However, one dog rescued in early October has been adopted and its an adoption that one would not have bet a plug nickel would ever occur.

The dog is a beautiful Samoyed/Chow mix named, "Lucas" whom I was called upon to rescue by one of the "New Hope" rescue coordinators from the AC&C.

"We have this nice Chow mix who came in as a stray a few days ago," Jesse told me in a phone call one day. "He's a bit shy, but did well on the behavioral test. Can you take him?"

I told Jess I did not have an immediate foster or adoptive home for the dog, but would work on advertising Lucas with the hope of finding someone.

After receiving pictures from one of the volunteers as well as more detailed information, I proceeded to prepare a write-up and post the dog to several adoption sites.

Because Lucas was such a handsome dog, his write-up and pictures generated several calls, one of which sounded perfect as a possible foster.

"Nicole" is a married woman with two young children and two Huskies. Her family has a house in Long Island with a fenced in yard. Both of the family dogs are rescues and Nicole and her husband were eager to help save Lucas by offering a foster home.

I arranged with Nicole to go to the shelter with her the following day. Presuming she liked Lucas and that the dog seemed OK with her kids, she would take the 2-year-old Sammy mix as a foster until a permanent, adoptive home could be found.

But, when we met Lucas the next day, the first thing I noticed about the dog (who had just been neutered) was that he was very tense and nervous. Lucas seemed frazzled and scattered when walking him on the leash and his tail was tightly tucked between his legs during the brief time I attempted to take pictures and video of him.

I cautioned Nicole to "go slowly" with Lucas and for the moment, not to have too much interaction between the skittish, insecure dog and the two young girls, aged 5 and 7.

As we approached Nicole's SUV, I expressed some concern over whether Lucas would be able to jump in the very high back.

"We might have to ask a kennel staffer to help us get him in the car," I mumbled while putting my cameras back in my bag.

But, in the few seconds that I looked away, Nicole attempted to lift the nervous dog into the back of the SUV. She grabbed the front part of Lucas' leash with one hand while placing the other hand under the dog's butt.

And in what seemed like a split second, the dog suddenly whipped around his head, his front fangs catching Nicole directly on the face!

Shock swept over me when noting several deep puncture wounds on Nicole's face. She was bleeding profusely!

"Oh my God!" I shrieked. "You're bleeding a lot! We'd better go back to the shelter and get some treatment for that!"

"No, no, I am OK." Nicole replied nonchalantly, grabbing some antibacterial wipes out of her car. "I'm sure he didn't mean to bite."

Part of me felt relief as returning to the shelter with a dog who had just bitten might spell certain death for the dog. On the other hand, could this dog be trustworthy to take home -- especially in a home with young children?

I hated to make excuses for an incident like this, but reality was that it was somewhat naive to attempt to lift a frightened dog into the back of the SUV, especially handling the dog in the area he had just had surgery on the testicles.

"He's got to be very sensitive in the rear end right now." I said, while inwardly shocked that Nicole was still willing to take Lucas home.

(I am not so sure I would have been willing to bring a dog home who had just done a number on my face -- or any other body part for that matter.)

But, not only was Nicole "willing" she would not hear of us taking Lucas back to the pound!

I then offered to try and get Lucas in the SUV myself.

"Many times if you go in the car first, the dog will try to follow. Let's see if this will work," I said.

I then climbed into the back of the SUV myself, and sure enough, Lucas followed easily, as if he had jumped into high SUVs hundreds of times before.

Lucas then settled down quietly in the back of the vehicle like a perfectly trained dog. We secured the end of his leash so that he could not jump around too much.

But, if I was temporarily relieved that Nicole's wounds had stopped bleeding and that both dog and humans were for the moment, settled down and peaceful, I was terrified to think of what Nicole's husband would say when coming home to find his wife had been mauled by a dog she nevertheless brought home!

It was impossible to imagine any spouse not insisting that the "vicious animal" be immediately removed -- especially with two small kids in the home.

I fully expected the worst.

But, the call announcing, "You gotta take this dog back!" did not come that night -- or any other night for that matter.

On the contrary, all the news from Nicole over the ensuing days and weeks was good!

Lucas (quickly renamed, "Butterscotch") apparently became a different dog soon after arriving to the Long Island family home.

His tail was up and wagging. He was totally housebroken and well behaved in the house. He got along well with the other two dogs in the home. He followed Nicole everywhere and was very friendly towards her husband. And while a little shy around the children, "Butterscotch" posed no threat to them.

While Nicole did have to get a few stitches and antibiotics from her doctor, the wounds healed quickly and uneventfully.

But, the best news of all came last week!

Although several people had called interested in adopting Lucas, it seems he had found his forever home, the moment he gleefully jumped into Nicole's SUV and settled down next to the family, despite the initial trauma to both dog and human.

"We want to officially adopt Butterscotch!" Nicole told me in a phone call last week. "He is really happy here. We all love him and quite frankly, my husband won't let him go."

Never in a million years, would I have imagined that scenario and outcome considering the horrifying circumstances when this dog was first rescued -- but am damned grateful for them.

Never say, 'never" I guess. -- PCA


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