Taking a Chance on an Undesirable

>> Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I've been anticipating the premiere of "Last Chance Highway" on Animal Planet ever since I saw previews for it. Before the show aired, I watched this clip: "Rescue From Death's Door."

While it is a wonderful and beautiful thing that these people devote their spare time and money to saving dogs in danger, I couldn't help but be struck pretty hard by a concept in the video, that being the idea of picking out the most adoptable dogs. Yellow dogs are the most popular, and of course so are puppies. The dogs with most adoption potential were plucked out of the pound and rescued.

Alan finally said the words we were both thinking: "Walter would have been left there."

Being a lover (which puts it mildly) of golden retrievers, I am sure many people would point their own fingers at me for loving yellow dogs. I do love yellow dogs, but I love black dogs, white dogs, red dogs, brown dogs, and multi-colored dogs too. It all boils down to the DOG itself. I NEVER thought I would have a boy dog, and I thought our next dog would be a giant Newfoundland. Walter is a boy and definitely not a Newfoundland, but I fell in love with him.

Most people who know of Walter know his story and how he was a death row dog, but my sister is the only one who really understands what terrible condition he was in upon arrival, and how terrifying the dog pound was for those pups.

Walter's photo on Dogs in Danger did not reflect his poor condition whatsoever. His undercoat was so matted that the groomer said it had to be shaved off in one huge chunk. He had a huge eye tumor, his eye was all goopy and crusty, his ears were dirty, and his coat filthy. He had a nasty accident on the seat in the car on the way home due to being scared, and another accident in the bathtub that same night. Walter was so terrified of everything that he refused to walk, and we had to carry him to get him to go anywhere. The vet even had to load him into my car.

Knowing just the basics of a dog pound pup, Walter was an old man, crippled with a bad paw. He was a mess. An undesirable. And as Alan said, he would have been left there because so many seniors are, not to mention the crippled ones. Despite all of this, I just fell in love with him. The day after I rescued him we drove to the vet, and tears filled my eyes with the thought that he might need to be put down, not knowing if this old boy had cancer or some other terrible disease. I had only known him for one day, but I loved him as if he had been mine forever. In the end, I knew that if it was time, dying with a family who loved him was much better than dying on the cement floor of a dog pound, unloved and scared.

Luckily, that was not the case. This "undesirable" is a well-adjusted dog now. Walter has really come out of his shell in the last month or so. He gets excited about eating, which before he just seemed shocked that someone gave him a bowl. He snuggles with Alan after being scared of him (just for being a man) for quite awhile. Walter runs and hops around the yard, plays with stuffed animals, enjoys all of the attention he gets at Petsmart, and doesn't try to hide in the dog beds there anymore. He even climbs up onto our bed and waits for me to get ready in the morning.

While we took a chance on him, Walter has given us something we can never repay him for, and that is helping us heal from the loss of Wembley. He won't take her place (nobody will), and that is not what we expected, but he makes our life feel full again. Seeing every new step he takes toward becoming a well-adjusted dog makes us happy and grateful for him. Walter is our lifesaver.



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