January 26, 2012

Relay's story

Everyone loves my dog. He's good looking, well behaved, smart, has the puppy dog eyes, and when he is happy his whole body gyrates so fast that my family nick named him Wiggles. In just a few short months he has come such a long way.

The funniest part of his story is that I never wanted a dog. We never had one growing up, none of my friends had dogs, and when I was in service, no one I knew had a dog. I just didn't get why anyone ever would. Jeff on the other hand, grew up with dogs and felt like once we moved here to Norfolk, we had a house, and he was home more that it was time to have one again.

Initially the purpose of our visits to shelters and animal controls in the area was to give me some context. Each little ball of fur had a personality, a life, and a supply of love all their own. We toured these places for weeks meeting with all breeds and all temperaments. I was tender-hearted after leaving them, and I went from never wanting a dog, to wanting to adopt them all to get them out of those places.

When I first saw Relay, he was such a small little guy, about 12 pounds, and looked scared of the whole world. He was called Grunther then. We sat with him for a while, but he was intimidated by all the people and coward in the corner. I used some patience and treats, but made little headway. He just looked so sad, and so very scared and unsure. We were told that his boisterous brother had already been adopted. We came back the next day and sat with him some more. We came back the third day, and by then he had crept out from his safety zone. When someone came into the room unexpectedly, he ran over to me and hid in my lap. That was when I knew for sure and we signed the adoption paperwork that day.

On processing out I asked more about his background. Turns out he was an owner surrender. A military member had gone on deployment and left his puppies with his sister. She wanted nothing to do with them and left them in her backyard mostly, during a rather cold and wet spring. After a few weeks, she turned them in to the pound. I can only speculate about the abuse and neglect he underwent at the tender age of three months.

We had brought a blue towel with us that day to adopt him, and I wrapped it around his little shaking body and carried him in my arms. When we got to our house, I put the towel down and he was terrified to leave it. For days his safe haven was that towel, and it took us weeks to get him comfortable enough to explore our little two bedroom home. He was more accustomed to foraging for food and eating sticks than dog food. Any sudden movement or sound had him on edge. Everything was new for him, and most of it was scary. My heart just went out to that gentle and scared little face, and still does to this day.

We have had him with us now for about seven months. His confidence is up, his weight is up, and thankfully his fear has gone down, but it hasn't completely gone away. Will it ever? I'm optimistic. I learn more about him everyday, and interestingly I learn about myself as well. What I'm doing now, trying to help other dogs, is because of him. With a little patience and love, he has given me back ten fold. I could not ask for a better dog.


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