The physical transformations that take place in our Final Refuge dogs are often the first to begin, once the dogs receive the medical attention they need; but the emotional healing is often slow to surface.
Senior dogs that have found themselves homeless through no fault of their own are often emotionally damaged and helping them regain a positive and healthy sense of self takes love and patience by our Final Refuge families.
This blog is the first in a series that features ODH dogs that have had emotional transformations I think you’d like to help us celebrate. Rather than creating one very long blog about all four dogs, I decided that each dog deserves his/her own blog so this week we begin with Reggie.
Reggie’s story is told by his Final Refuge mom Stephanie Tuck. The “glam photo” of Reggie was taken by Erin Lynch, (as well as the photo in the graphic at the top of the page) and the photo of Reggie with his ball was taken by Stephanie.
“Reggie was quite the sad sight when the ODH transporter dropped him off at my house. He wasn’t overly fearful or shy and he politely met the other resident dogs, but he was suffering from obvious neglect. Not unexpectedly, he spent the first evening nervously wobbling around on his weak back legs exploring the house. After settling onto one of the dog beds he let out two soft mournful howls, which would be the last sounds I would hear him make for a long time.
“He quickly adapted to the routine of the house, dutifully went on walks with a bit of coaxing, and didn’t show any interest in the dog toys around the house. He was a quiet, subdued pleasant presence. After he had gotten some of his strength back, he had his first trip to a dog park and I saw him light right up when he saw someone with a flinger throw a tennis ball. He even made an attempt to run in the direction of the ball until his back legs tripped him up after a few strides. Aha! Tennis balls! I brought some home and it became obvious that these had been an important part of his younger life.
“Over the next few months, many of his health issues improved significantly and he was much more comfortable. Even though he still seemed somewhat flat personality wise, if I could continue to provide him this quality of life, I would be pleased. One day—it seemed like it was overnight, but I’m sure it wasn’t—I realized that I now had a shadow following me around. Reggie with bright eyes and a tail wag twice as big as I had seen before, followed me all over the house and was particularly interested in overseeing any work being done in the kitchen. Previously he’d be appreciative of a head scratch or tummy rub but wouldn’t seek affection, but he was now sidling up and nudging over the other dogs to make sure he got his fair share of pets.
“After not hearing a peep out of him since the day he came to me, recently he wanted to get my attention when I came home and let out a squeaky yowl that probably surprised him as much as it did me! Reggie is now the director of activities around the house, letting us all know when it’s dinner time or walk time. He has his favorite tennis ball that he’ll bring to me so we can play a very senior version of fetch. One evening a very small scuffle broke out among the dogs (almost unheard of) because Reggie had challenged one of the other dogs to claim the favored ball. I was happy to see him feeling confident enough to throw his weight around just a little bit.
“Although our time together may be quite limited due to a recurring cancer, seeing his personality continue to blossom has been so very rewarding.”
Next week you’ll meet Annie.