Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Truelove at First Sight

I'd been on the road for an hour, headed out into the countryside. The sun is slowly sinking and the storm is slowly crawling away after making the first 15 minutes of travel more than a little interesting by suddenly and inexplicably pouring. The rain had made it impossible to drive at that point and even pulling off the road had the potential to be very dangerous. I just let my foot off the gas slightly, praying that while blind I was somehow staying in my lane, not hydroplaning, and that the other drivers were doing the same.

Now all that chaos was over it was nice to be able to just cruise. I pulled off at the exit and pulled into the parking lot of the Wendy's. Amy sat on the tailgate of her truck and beside her Lady Truelove stood, stretching her legs after a long day of riding in the car from Georgia.

I'm not entirely clear on her story yet, but it seems she has been a long while with out care. From a distance you can't see it. She looks a little fluffy, but still regal and lovely. What I do know is that she was pulled from a high-kill shelter in Georgia, and now she's with us.

As you get closer you can start to see the little signs that someone didn't show her the love she deserves. I parked beside Amy's truck and watched Lady's ears perk up, interested in who was here. When I stepped out she paused, stepping back slightly. "Who is she?" Lady looked to Amy and stood close to her. My heart pinches me. Lady's a little intimidated by me so I turn on the charm.

I don't approach her but instead kneel down to her level and hold out a hand "Hi baby! How are you beautiful girl?" Amy steps forward and Lady takes her lead. I mean if Amy is ok with me how bad could I be right? Lady sniffs my hand and promptly lowers her self down. She wants to be petted but is a little afraid to ask. She tries to show me she's not a threat and rolls onto her back, tail slightly tucked. She's doing everything in her power to say "I am a good girl, I promise! Please love me, or at least pet me."

I gently stroke her head and rub her belly, telling her how beautiful she is. She's warming up to me and feels confident enough to stand up straight and let me take some pictures of her beautiful smile.

As we are taking pictures of her Amy is apologizing that Lady hasn't been bathed yet. Really Amy, you just flew in from Alaska, landed in GA and rescued two dogs, drove to Florida and met me here; I don't think ANYONE will be complaining that she's a little dusty. Amy shows me some of Lady's little clumps of matted fur, something you don't really see in the pictures, but they are there. She probably hasn't seen a brush for quite some time. 

As we are snapping pictures Amy notices something else which points to Lady's past neglect. In fact you can see this in the picture of her smile above. Directly above her right eye there is a grey dot. We look closer and discover she has a tick on her eyelid. I kneel down and carefully try to figure how to remove it. God knows it can't feel pleasant. Lady doesn't flinch when the tick is pulled nor does she make a sound. Such a brave girl.

Oh! You're taking pictures of me? Here, check out my nose!

Toward the end of our photo shoot Lady seems to realize I'm not just taking pictures, but that I am taking pictures of HER and she cranks up the charm, posing in ways which put the pictures in breed books to shame. She sticks one paw in front and shows off her great lines and lifts her head, ears up. She looks like she should be standing in a lush green field with sheep just in sight. She has transformed from the timid little girl I met into an impressive and brave dog.

In that moment I could see all the potential she has. Right now she is a little timid but there is a courage deep down in there that helped her survive her past and will serve her well in her future. She just needs a family who can give her the security she needs and then the timid dog will be a fleeting image and this dog that I was seeing, this beautiful brave girl would be the one running around.

We finished up the pictures and walked to the back of the car. I tried bribery and sweet talk to try to get her to hop in the crate but she looked at both Amy and I as if to say "Seriously? you think I am getting back in the car, after being in there for hours, for only one dog treat? No thank you!" Needless to say we had to put her in. If I were her I'd be resisting too.

The hour and a half back to her foster's house are quiet. She just quietly rests in the back and never whines or shakes or even moves as far as I can hear. As we arrive at her Foster's house I call back to let her know we've arrived. No sounds. I almost worry if she is ok but sure enough, when I open the back hatch she sits up and thumps her tail. It is a good thing I was prepared for her to try to bolt when I opened the cage door because she wanted out. Not to run away or escape, just out. I gently hold her and put her slip lead on and then let her hop down. She doesn't pull or even walk off. She just stands beside me. She is a very good girl and listens to just about everything you say.

Her fosters come out to meet her and welcome her to her new temporary home.She explores the backyard for a few minutes but the rain has snuck back up on us and we're forced to move back inside. Inside she gets low again for Maria and sniffs her hand. Luis holds out his hand and she gets lower. She's a little more cautious with him, which may hint at her past, but Luis is both patient and gentle and quickly wins her trust. She sniffs his hand and then asks for pats.

Both tired and a little uncertain about all of this, she is not quite ready to be fully introduced to her two doggy roommates just yet. Instead they glance at each other from opposite sides of the baby gate. One really important thing to remember, if you ever foster or transport, or own dogs, is to always consider where your dogs are coming from. Why did we hold off on introductions? Well Lady had just been pulled from a high-kill shelter, carted from GA to a Wendy's in Florida, stretched in the parking lot, got put back in a new car with a new person, was carted another hour, had just begun exploring her new surroundings, was adjusting to new people, soon I'd be leaving, and she hadn't eaten much because she was on transport all day. Do you really think she was interest in meeting new people or do you think she just wanted a nap? If you guessed nap that would be correct. She promptly sniffed the room and flopped on the floor. It had been a VERY long day for her.

She has been through a lot and will still go through more, especially this week as she meets her roommates, visits the vet, get's spayed, gets a trim/de-matting, and has all the little living hitch hikers evicted.  She's an amazing dog and is waiting for her perfect family. Someone who can make life make sense again and provide the care and security she needs. In return I can tell you she will love like none other, and would love to be at their side. She is gentle and walks like a charm. Her smile is contagious and her spirit is bright and hopeful.

She knows her past and is hoping for a better future.
The best part is, she'll have it!

Happily ever after is on it's way!

Bellow are a few more pictures from when she cranked the charm. Can this girl pose or what?

She's realizing I am taking pictures of her and is about to crank the charm.

Charm is ON! Are you getting my good side?
Bam! Did you get this shot? Ok now send it off to all the amazing Dog magazines, I'm a star!

This is my "I just need rolling hills and sheep" picture.

I can be a "weekend" dog too! Imagine us on a beach... waves sand, this pose, it'd be great!

Beautiful markings!

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