All The Way Home: Animal Rescue Stories To Warm The Heart And Keep The Faith

01 Dec 2014 | by | Posted in: Story from Pet Lover

Some dogs come into your life for a very brief time, steal your heart, teach you life-changing lessons and go away. My first rescue story is about one such dog. Mid-March last year, I got a call from a friend about a badly abused dog whom he met often. Miffy, the beautiful 11-month-old Dalmatian had never been left free in the yard or taken for a walk. Or, as I was soon to find out, fed regularly. 

After a few failed attempts, my friend finally got the family to give up the dog. We went to their house late one afternoon to pick up Miffy. He was going to stay with me till I found him a home. I found Miffy like this.

Miffy before

With a collar two holes too tight and a metal leash not more than a foot long, Miffy was chained to the gate of this house. The people I spoke with said that that was how he had stayed from the time the family brought him home. His entire life had revolved around a semicircle of a one-foot radius. The family kept producing a muzzle as if it was some treat I had to offer their dog. When I asked why they thought I needed the muzzle, they said he barks and is noisy. They kept him muzzled for as much of the day as possible. 

I walked up to Miffy and that’s when the extent of what he’d been through hit me. When I was about five feet away from him, he turned away, pressed his body to the gate, shut his eyes and started to shiver. I looked at the “man of the house”. No words were needed; Miffy was used to being beaten. If a human walked as close to him as I had, it usually meant a thrashing. It took a good half hour of coaxing, ‘cooing’ and feeding him biscuits, for him to understand that I was not going to hit him. We untangled the rusted chain from the gate, replaced it with a normal leash and led Miffy out of that house forever. 

Tasting freedom and chewing it up!

Miffy after

On entering the house, Miffy stood quite still at the door. I led him in and left him to explore the place on his own terms. A dog as frightened as Miffy needs a lot of time and patience. I wandered around and pretended to get on with my chores, all the time watching him out of the corner of my eye. It took Miffy ten minutes to take a few steps into the living room. Once he did, there was no turning back. Miffy went wild – pacing the floor, running from room to room, humping the couch and making friends with the cushions. I sat and watched, aghast. He finally sat down, exhausted, after more than five hours of running wild.

Miffy didn’t sleep for the first 48 hours of being home, which meant I didn’t either. He chose instead to destroy socks, shoes, cushions, newspaper and pretty much anything he found. At other times, he would pace the length of the living room for hours, having never had access to walking space. Since he had only ever been fed rice and milk before, I spent a lot of time cooking various things for him to taste. Whatever I made would be consumed within seconds. I’d never felt like such a great cook before! On the third day, when I was busy placing bets with myself about which one of us would drop dead out of exhaustion first, Miffy sat down, yawned and went to sleep. He slept for several hours, as did I. This was a turning point for him. By the fifth day, he was far less destructive, far more relaxed, slept well, ate with less urgency and decided in a weak moment that I deserved a big kiss on the nose. This also meant he was no longer afraid of me!

Alongside working with Miffy’s personality, I’d started doing telephone interviews of suitable families who wanted to adopt him. In the second week, I decided it was time to get the shortlisted families to meet him. Over the next few days, I made Miffy meet one family at a time. But Miffy had other plans. He had decided he’d hump his way to rejection. From the first puny siblings who came to meet him to the last family that week, consisting only of a man and his very large muscles, Miffy humped them all with such single-minded dedication that they had to simply leave. I was quite proud and pleased with this new turn of events: Miffy was taking his own interviews! The family that stayed, dealt with it and decided to work with the problems would be the only family that Miffy could go live with. 

Somewhere towards the end of the second week, while leafing through his vaccination records, I realised that Miffy’s birthday was coming up in a few days. I decided to make the 23rd of March as special as I could for this boy who had never seen anything special. A friend baked him several goodies and even showed up at midnight! By 12:04, the cookies were gone. In the morning, our scheduled visitor for the day arrived: a calm gentleman with an air of confidence about him that I was sure Miffy would hump out of him in seconds. He didn’t. Miffy and this man regarded each other for a long moment, Man held out his palm to dog, dog approved. After an hour-long interview in which every important box was ticked, he left saying he wanted a couple of days to discuss this with his 10-year-old daughter, who would be taking care of Miffy with him. Frankly, I would have given him a week. 

On the evening of Miffy’s birthday, we got a call confirming that the gentleman and his family couldn’t wait to take Miffy home and start him off on the life he had hitherto missed. When Miffy was one year and one day old, he went home. Finally. 

Miffy now gets to frolic in the garden, wear his human’s t-shirts and eat a variety of meals, without ever getting beaten or chained. The life that every dog deserves.

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