About four years ago I decided that I wanted to adopt a dog. I visited several rescue places but I couldn’t find one that would just be the one I wanted to take home. One afternoon a rescue place had their dogs at a pet store and I went to check it out and there she was. I stood about five feet away and looked at her for like thirty minutes. River was her name. She was a black lab. She looked friendly and quiet. One of the rescue volunteers placed her on a leash for me to walk her around. It was obvious she had no leash training and that she was way stronger than me as it was her dragging me instead of me leading her. I immediately fell in love with her and took her home.
Before we left the rescue volunteer told me some of her history. River was two years old, had been severely abused physically and emotionally. She still had scabs on her body from the abuse, which meant they were still kind of recent. She had been poisoned at some point, so unless she trusted the person feeding her, she would not eat. She was very introverted.
Well, just as expected, when we made it home she just went into a corner. Instead of fighting her into her crate she would stay there day and night even when the door remained open. If any men would approach her she would hide behind me. The first five days she didn’t eat. I was going crazy worried that she would get sick. I called the vet and she said that it was going to be ok, but my heart was breaking. The only time she was a little lively was when I would walk her and it was because she wanted to run away. It was a funny sight to see me being dragged by her through the neighborhood.
I bought every toy and treat I could find. I read about abused dogs. I took her to the park to socialize with other dogs; she would stay in a corner and do nothing. She didn’t eat the treats, she didn’t play with the toys, and she ignored the other dogs.
After a few days I sat with her in the floor of the kitchen and she came to me. I grabbed a few bits of her food and offered them with my hand and she finally ate. I cried; my baby was finally eating. For the next few days she ate only out of my hand, and then slowly we transitioned to the floor until she finally made it to her bowl. At the park, it had been a “family” effort amongst the regulars to get her socialized, so she was petted and given more attention than any other dog. Slowly she started playing alone with the toys I would bring to the park and even approaching people.
Unfortunately River is no longer with me, but what made me think of her today was the fact that sometimes people have been severely hurt by life and when someone comes into their life to pour love into them, they don’t know how to receive it. We do that to God all the time who loved us to the point of giving us his only son to die for us. Sometimes those hurting people can’t believe something good has happened to them and are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Be patient! Continue to pour your unconditional love into them, just like my River; they will slowly see that you really love them, than they are finally safe…that they are finally home!