His name is Hero. We lucked upon him while taking photos for BARC. We do this every week to update their intake mugshots, which are pretty lacking when it comes to capturing the true essence of these beautiful animals as they are admitted to the shelter.
Entering a shelter is always a shock to the system for most dogs. After a while, being there eats away at their psyche. Some do okay, but being in a shelter long term is just not ideal. It can drain the soul – of the dogs, and the humans who care for them. It’s just unnatural. Dogs are bred to be social animals.
When we stumbled upon Hero, he was standoffish, and not terribly trusting. I’m thinking to myself, this guy is going to be tough to get adopted. We moved on to photograph another dog. I found out later he had been added to “the list” because he had a smidge of hair loss (very common in shelter dogs due to poor nutrition and the cruelty of street life) and because he stayed glued to the back of his kennel when people passed by. Sadly, at the shelter, it’s a numbers game. Too many intake animals, never enough adopters.
He must of known something was up. When we came back to see him, he was a different dog. As you can see from the image above, he is strikingly handsome with the most beautiful coat and mesmerizing eyes. Now, his head was held high, his tail wouldn’t stop wagging, and he beckoned us to come into his kennel to visit him. And we did. He trusted us. And all he wanted was to cuddle with us. He couldn’t have been sweeter or more gentle. He followed us around like our shadow. Rarely am I mistaken about a dog, but I was dumbfounded at how wrong I was about Hero. He just needed a hero in his corner. He is fully trained, in every respect. Total love bug.
My co-volunteer, Denise, decided she wanted to foster him. We took him inside and gave him a medicated bath. I’m sure the warm water felt good to him. He did have a few skin issues. Not a peep came out of him as we washed and dried him. Rock solid. I emailed Rescued Pets Movement and told them we had a winner, and asked them to tag him. They read his shelter notes and wanted to know if I was sure. I told them I was. They tagged him and he was taken off of “the list”.
Denise wanted to foster him but she was busy and couldn’t get him out of BARC. He was neutered and I picked him up in my F250 truck. Even though he had just undergone the standard Lopitoffame procedure, he couldn’t have been happier to see me. His tail wouldn’t stop wagging. It was almost as if he knew an angel had saved him. Perhaps one did. He rode great in the truck. He wouldn’t leave my side. I put my arm around him as we drove. It felt kind of like a scene from The Beverly Hillbillies. I didn’t mind. Neither did he. He does like Country Western music.
We drove to Denise’s apartment where he was to have a meet and greet with her dog. While we were waiting outside, I needed to use the facility. Too much coffee. Dogs have it easy, they just go wherever they want. I looked around and found a men’s room. But what would I do with Hero? No one was around to hand him off to and I certainly could not just tie him up somewhere. Needless to say, we both made a trip to the men’s room. Not to go too TMI on you but he sat patiently while I did my business. I washed up and we exited the men’s room. Sure, we got a few looks. He didn’t care. He was with what he thought was his human. Nothing else mattered to him. Sadly, for me, I was not his human.
I made a successful hand off and Hero did fine with Denise’s dog. I went home. The next day Hero took a trip to the vet to get a check-up. That’s when all hell broke loose. They made him walk out of the back door because they said he had Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies). If you don’t know what it is, don’t ask. It’s gross. And highly contagious. He also had pneumonia, and possibly Canine Influenza, and Distemper. All life threatening and very contagious. He had no symptoms that we noticed. He was tested for these ailments but results wouldn’t be back for several days.
Now we had a problem. First of all, if he was that sick, he may not even make it to Colorado, where he was scheduled to live with a human of his own. Secondly, Denise could no longer keep him because he was contagious and her dog shouldn’t be exposed to Hero. After a frantic email to Rescued Pets Movement (RPM), they found him a foster who had experience with sick, contagious dogs. Hero went to her. And we started loading him up with antibiotics to help him get his health back.
Within a day, I started receiving images of Hero’s smiling, beautiful face. He was eating, resting, and starting to get his health back. He was a happy boy. I even received a few videos. His test results came back and were negative for Canine Influenza and Distemper. And his Sarcoptic Mange was no longer contagious. Now he’s in gen pop (general population) with his foster mom’s dogs. And he loves it. He’s just a calm, gentle, handsome dude. He’s just waiting for his illness to run it’s course and he’ll be heading to Colorado where some very lucky person will adopt this special boy. Everyone who meets him falls madly in love with him.
One thing I was forced to remember. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Shelter life is tough on a dog. They need to be given a chance to shine. And the majority of them eventually do. Some quicker than others. Another thing, shelter dogs aren’t always perfect. But they may be perfect for you. They may have an ailment or two. Most of the ailments are readily treatable. With so many dogs, they are bound to spread germs. It just can’t be helped. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a chance. Shelter dogs make the best companions ever. And you literally will be saving several lives when you adopt a shelter dog. You save the life of the dog you adopt, plus the other one who takes his place in the kennel that just opened up. Wrap your mind around that.
Hero just needed faith. And he had that in his big ‘ol heart. He’s a total winner. A super star. By the way, guess what his foster mom’s name is? Faith. Coincidence? I think not.