Scared, muddy, severely matted, and shaking in the snowy Denver weather, a then nameless face pitifully whined at myself and the kids.
While he was too scared to actually come up to us and kept jumping back, no way was I going to let this poor little 8-9 pound hungry dog stay outside any longer. We tried coaxing him with treats (dog and human food variety) to no avail.
We soon found out kids were his weakness, even though he wouldn't let them pick him up. He kept running and jumping near the kids in an attempt to play. After 30 minutes of this back and forth game with him (inching closer only to have him step back just out of reach and then him jumping at the kids to play and running away), I was finally able to grab him mid-jump at one of the kids.
His eyes were so sad - and so full of goo it was unbelievable. Yet, I still made an attempt to find an owner because you can't judge what happened without all of the facts.
Very soon, I was armed with advice from pet professionals and an anonymous tip that he had been abused, used in breeding, and then dumped. I am unsure of the source of that info or whether it is true. But based on Buddy's condition when we found him, I am inclined to believe that or something similar happened.
I got lots of contacts after that. But none of them matched up quite right and I hope those people eventually found their dogs. The timing they'd mention their dogs lost, the names they gave that I tried to get him to answer to, the pictures they showed me, the ages of the dog, and other information never aligned.
We weren't looking for a dog. I (supposedly) wasn't even a dog person, though I adore all animals. But since no owner came forward and his previous situation appeared to be dire, we decided we were Buddy's new family.
It took no less than five baths over the course of several days to get all the grime out of his fur. It took nearly two months to get out all of the mating. It was so bad that the clippers would not go through. So it had to be removed layer by layer.
He also got the vaccinations, neuter, and other care he was lacking while on the streets. Buddy is also micro-chipped now to prevent him from ever being without a family for too long. The neuter will prevent him from being used in breeding and from creating more unwanted or abandoned pets.
As the grime and the matting came off more and more and Buddy began to trust us more and more, he changed drastically. This change was evident not only in his appearance, but in his demeanor and attitude.
The shy dog that once lived practically under the table has finally claimed his place among the family. He still flinches when hands are raised and hides when there are loud noises. But for a once feral animal, he has made great strides.
Buddy has learned so many commands so quickly and he learns more every day. He walks pretty well on his leash, he is house trained, loves kids, loves our other pets, and is the best dog ever. The timid dog that once shook at my movements now sees me as his comfort zone. Instead of the spot under the table, Buddy now comes to me when he is frightened or nervous.
He may always have certain issues, due to his previous living environment. But none of those issues prevent him from being part of a loving family -- something he should have had from the beginning. We are not glad he went through what he did to find us. But each person in our household wholeheartedly agrees that Buddy was meant to find us and our lives will forever be changed because of it.
Never turn away an abandoned animal because of the way they look or the way you think things will be. As the saying goes, nothing in this world is quite what it seems.
If you adopt an animal, please be sure you can handle the responsibility. If there is an unforeseen emergency circumstance that prevents that, please don't leave an animal to fend for itself. Take a good look at Buddy's before picture to see what can happen when you do that. It's not good. Wild dogs are meant to be wild. But domestic dogs need human intervention. Though related, they are not the same creatures and have very different needs.
Always adopt, never abandon, always spay and neuter, and always always give your pet the same love and respect you do the rest of your family. Trust me, they will surely give it back.
UPDATE: The info we received about Buddy from an anonymous tipper was false and Buddy has been reunited with his original owners, who are obviously not abusive. The issues he had likely stemmed from being lost on the streets. Full story: A Bittersweet Dedication to Buddy
More Pet Advocacy
Defenders of Animals
American Humane Association
Animal Rights History
Compassion Over Killing
Responsible Pet Ownership