Some dogs, like some people, are more sensitive. They feel things more deeply and when wounded, they heal more slowly. Lucky is one of these dogs.
Lucky lived his first seven years with a young man in his twenties. But then the man married and his new wife (and her dog) did not like Lucky. Instead of trying to work through the issues, Lucky was abandoned in the backyard and spent a brutal midwest winter living outside by himself.
When the neighbors complained about his incessant barking, the couple finally decided to take him to a shelter. At the shelter's request, they had Lucky neutered before dropping him off. Unfortunately, there were complications and he spent his first months in isolation healing from an infection caused by a botched neutering.
Lucky grew more anxious and aggressive by the day. He desperately needed a foster home where he could heal emotionally as well physically, but no one was willing to risk taking him home. With no other options, Lucky was sent to a boarding facility where he was essentially isolated from other dogs as well as people. My friend, Steve, worked across the street from the kennel and would sometimes visit Lucky on his lunch break.
Steve remembers that Lucky was matted, skinny, and barked constantly. When anyone stepped towards him, his body stiffened and he prepared to lunge. And yet in spite of his aggression, his tail wagged and there was something in his eyes that cried for help.
Against all advice, Steve brought Lucky home to foster. He had two other dogs at the time as well as two cats and had no intention of adopting another dog with special needs. They started a training class, but Lucky was soon kicked out for nipping the instructor. He was unpredictable on walks and had a particular dislike for small dogs and young women wearing dark colors. Steve says the first two years were incredibly stressful, but with the help of a dedicated dog walker, they worked through his issues and his aggression lessoned.
Lucky is sixteen years old now. He is partially blind and deaf and has mellowed with age. Steve credits being a valued member of a loving pet family with Lucky's recovery. He knows where he belongs and he now feels safe, secure and wanted.
When I visited Lucky, I didn't except him to let me near. I was prepared to photograph him with my zoom lens from several feet away. But instead, Lucky followed me around the yard and just wanted to snuggle - so much so that it was almost impossible to photograph him because he wanted to be so close.
Many assume dogs, cats, and other animals are incapable of experiencing loss, joy, sadness and love. Or, because they can't express themselves verbally, their feelings are not considered valid or real. Lucky and others like him are proof this is not the case. Abandoned pets feel deeply and live with and suffer the consequences of loss long after their former guardians have walked away.
Pets, like children, are for life. Please do not adopt an animal if you are unable or unwilling to provide a lifetime of loving and compassionate care. If you are ready for adoption, please consider adopting or fostering a special needs dog because second chances are amazing whether you are on the giving or receiving side.
If you enjoyed this post, please check out my posts on adopting a survivor of abuse and adopting a puppy mill survivor.