Ophelia: Overcoming Fear and Welcoming Love
On occasion I’ll be talking about Old Dog Haven Final Refuge dogs (in permanent foster care) that are “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” poster dogs. Their stories not only always offer opportunities for us to learn new lessons, but they’re testaments to the transformations that occur because our foster families and veterinarians are so dedicated to helping these dogs.
Ophelia began her life in a Missouri puppy mill and then spent 11 years with an elderly person who must have treated her very well. Sadly, she ended up in a shelter when her person died—another example of what happens when people don’t plan ahead—was adopted, and then returned to the shelter two years later by a very angry adopter who said she made messes everywhere in the house despite the fact that he had a dog door. He didn’t mention that one of her eyes was protruding, bloodshot, turned sideways and blind from all the damage.
Ophelia was terrified at the shelter this time and couldn’t even get through a vet exam or blood draw. The shelter contacted Old Dog Haven and Ophelia made an emergency escape to the home of Old Dog Haven founders Judith and Lee Piper. Judith says, “She was so upset when she arrived that I had to sit with her on my lap and wrap a towel around her for about 30 minutes just to get her to relax. She would trot in random directions when she got in any open space, but her panic finally receded within a couple of days and she began to settle in.
“She saw the ophthalmologist, a regular vet and the groomer that first week, which was a real struggle since she was TERRIFIED of being in the car. She did fine at the groomer and pretty well at the vet, but the car rides were a huge stress. The next week the damaged eye was removed—it had turned sideways and died from glaucoma and perhaps trauma. The removed eye was tested at a special vet school where it was determined that the eye had genetic markers for glaucoma, so she will be on preventative eye meds with very regular pressure checks for the rest of her life. We’d very much like to keep her vision in that remaining eye!”
Once her dead painful eye was removed Ophelia felt so much better immediately. She still had fears to deal with (car rides and being in strange places,) but she adjusted to life at Home Base quickly and recovered well from surgery.
When it was time for Ophelia’s stay at the Piper Rehab Hotel to come to an end she went to live permanently with Final Refuge parents Dee and Francesco and their two dogs Penelope and Milo. She was still terrified in the car on the drive home, but once she arrived at her new home, she began to settle down and soon found her ‘favorite’ dog bed in the living room. By the first evening she was sound asleep and slept for a very long time. After one trip outside, she learned the routine of sitting to get a treat as soon as she came back into the house.
Dee says, “At first she didn’t want to be in our bed and to pick her up we had to offer food. If we moved too suddenly or accidently bumped her side you could tell it really scared her. Every day however, she has settled in more and, after only a month, she is clearly part of the pack. She sleeps in our bed EVERY night right next to her poodle sister Penelope. She’s very bright and in one day learned to use the footstool to jump on and off the bed. She used to shy when we reached to pet her, and now she runs to the door to greet us and even jumps on us (I know it isn’t good to let her do that, but she is so happy and we are so glad to see her greet us).
“Now it feels as if she has been here forever – she is a real love and quite the personality (slightly stubborn, very loving, likes to lick my arm as she drifts off to sleep at night, and hangs with the pack when things are interesting). We have a long hallway and she loves to scamper full speed with her little tail carried high—or she does a slow Shih Tzu wiggle to the back door. So adorable.
She also has several squeaky toys that she likes to toss in the air and she even likes it when we call her silly names like ‘Ophy, Opie, Feelya, Oey, and O.’
Our pack is so much livelier with her in it and she has the absolutely best begging face! We don’t give in but at some time in her past, someone certainly did!”
Ophelia has settled in with a great sigh of relief. Through all of this she has never had one accident in the house, by the way. Even after all the trauma she has been through, little Ophelia is a resilient, loving dog. She’s a happy dog that basks in love and attention and enjoys her two canine buddies. Her Final Refuge family is so grateful to Old Dog Haven for saving her, and I can’t help but think that Ophelia’s elderly companion is smiling too because she knows that her little girl has been given a second chance at happiness.