The call couldn’t have come at a busier time. I had just started teaching our spring AKC Star Puppy, Canine Good Citizen, and Pet Therapy classes. Besides that, I already had three dogs of my own, which I was working with on agility and more advanced training.
“Lisa, you’re the only person I could think to call,” the woman’s voice explained. Without letting me get a word in edgewise, she continued. ”My daughter found this beautiful dog roaming the streets and my landlord won’t let us keep her. She’s a great dog. I know you do a lot of rescues. So, I was hoping you could take her or you might know someone who would?”
Wow! Rescuing another dog? My husband will flip out for sure.
With so many people always calling, emailing, or texting me about concerns with dogs, it was hard to always remember who was who. As she rambled on, I finally recognized the woman’s voice as Diane, a lady I had met at church who had five darling daughters. I had helped her after one of her dogs was hit by a car.
Of course I asked the usual questions, how big the dog was, what breed, age, and if they had any idea where this dog might belong.
“No one seems to know where she belongs, or where she came from, just that she’s been on the streets forever,” Diane said. “She looks like a Shepherd and Rot mix, about 40 pounds, and maybe a year old.”
First, I suggested she take her to a vet. “If she doesn’t have a chip and you don’t find her a home by tomorrow, I’ll ask my husband if we can foster her.”
Diane called back later that afternoon. “Nope, no chip, but the vet thinks she’s a Border Collie and Husky mix.”
We’d rescued a husky before, but had never dealt with a Border Collie. I had some concerns about her size and temperament, but Diane said she was great with all her kids and even her cats. Inside, I had this driving passion to go and get her and bring her home. But I also had to be reasonable. I already had three small dogs; a teacup Yorkie, a Miniature Pinscher, and a Jack Russell, and I didn’t want anything to happen to them just so I could rescue another dog.
Fostering is rarely ever easy, as I knew from experience. Any time you bring another dog into the house, even with other well-trained dogs; there is still always some sort of confrontation, aggression, behavior, or jealousy to work through. Also, there was no telling where this dog came from or what type of abuse she may have encountered living on the streets for that long.
Surprisingly, when I ran it by my husband John, his face lit up. “Okay. When do we get her?”
This couldn’t be my husband. He was always dead-set against any new dog coming into our home, even well trained good dogs. I couldn’t believe how excited he got. But then again, he loved bigger dogs.
We picked “Precious” up that afternoon. She was way more beautiful than any of the pictures we had seen. Her white and tan markings amidst her black shiny coat looked as though they were painted on in all the right places. Giving kisses, she jumped right into the van and even behaved well on the ride home.
At home, though, it was another story. I expected the barking, even the growling and some chasing, but not the restlessness. She paced back and forth, from one door to the other, and to every window, panting heavily, whining, and searching for a way out. In between that, she would hunt our dogs down. At first, I wasn’t sure if she was being aggressive or just wanted to play, so we kept a close eye on her, with a leash attached to her collar so we could correct any negative or aggressive behavior.
Later, when I put her on the chain to go outside, she barely stepped out the door, and then wouldn’t leave the porch. She stared out at the yard anxiously, frantically, whining, with her whole body shaking.
I walked down the steps and into the grass. Tugging lightly on her chain, I coaxed her. “C’mon, girl. It’s okay.”
She followed me, did her business, and then we both returned to the house. That same day I placed an ad in the newspaper in the lost and found section. I had mixed emotions; I wanted to find her owner, but not if they had abused her. So I prayed for God’s will. The entire week the ad ran we received no calls. Even though her bad behaviors remained consistent, I loved her, cared for her, exercised her, and gave her the extra special attention I thought she needed. I also made an appointment at the vet to bring her up to date on all her immunizations.
“She’s really a healthy pup,” the veterinarian said, after checking her out thoroughly. “But I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into. These dogs can be a real handful.”
He wasn’t kidding. Those first few weeks were rough. I started to think I had made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. All four dogs were in constant turmoil. And poor Precious she had so many fears; she was always on guard, and she still wouldn’t leave the porch without help.
Then something amazing happened; I saw it with my own eyes!
My four pound Yorkie and this forty pound Border Collie/Husky mix were engaged in a playful game of tug-o-war. I was afraid at first, thinking I’d have to intercept and save “Lover,” my Yorkie. But Precious didn’t pull aggressively, like she normally did with us, by nearly pulling our arms off; she simply stood there, holding the toy squirrel in her mouth, while Lover pulled and growled with all his might. Hilarious! I never laughed more hysterically in all my life.
From there, things actually began to get better, the house settled, and Precious started to overcome all of her fears. I began working with her and using her in my dog training classes too. She caught on quickly and did all the obedience commands like a pro, even the advanced commands. No one could believe it, not even me!
One beautiful summer night I took Precious out for a walk. It was just getting dark when we approached a man sitting way up high in a wheelchair. Precious jumped up at the man’s side, softly put one paw on the chair, and patted his chest with the other. I could now see how crippled the man’s hands and feet were, but a big smile lit up his entire face. He even chuckled as we walked away and thanked me for bringing her by. Tears stung my eyes as hope gripped my heart.
That night I learned that this dog I rescued from the streets was really, an angel, sent by God to rescue others.
Lisa Freeman is CEO of Abuse Bites, Paws for Healing, and A Time to Heal. She is also a lifelong Abuse Survivor, Award-Winning Author, Motivational Speaker, and an AKC Evaluator, Dog Trainer, and Certified Pet Therapist. For more information on dog training, school assemblies, church seminars, and other community events, please log onto http://www.DogsPawsForHealing.com and http://www.AbuseBites.com.