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From abandoned to adored - The story of Timmy, the troubled Indy

29 May 2015 | by | Posted in: Adoption

Timmy 3

A lot of the dogs that animal welfare workers work with are physically scarred. Starved, beaten, or neglected, these dogs come with externally visible scars of a difficult life. And then there’s the other kind of dog. One that bears no physical signs of violence and abuse, but is a victim all the same. Sometimes, it takes a while to spot them. They come in through the shelter gates quite scared and nervous, but one heaves a sigh of relief, because the dog is within the right weight range, it has a coat with no wounds, it looks well-groomed enough, and you think, “This one’s easy. I just have to look for a great home”. 

Timmy 1

Two years ago, when I was running a shelter of my own, a friend brought in a dog he called Timmy. Timmy looked to be about a year old, had a great coat, and looked well-fed. His nails were neatly clipped and he was wearing a collar when he was found. I thought nothing of it then, but, for an Indy, he had a docked tail. He seemed to fit right into the shelter, too. This was a good thing, because he was the only adult dog in a brand new shelter that only had the bandwidth to take in puppies at the time. He ate, slept, and played with a puppy or two for the first couple of days and I thought this one was going to be a breeze. It took two days for the breeze to turn into a tornado.

One of the caretakers was getting ready to feed the dogs and Timmy was hanging out near me, his chosen human. Suddenly, I could see a drastic change in his body language. He was suddenly tense, with every muscle in his body going taut and his hackles raised. In the next few seconds, Timmy, who was at least a hundred feet away from the caretaker, charged him at lightning speed and bit him. From here on, it’s safe to say things went a bit downhill. Timmy continued to bite, especially when there was food anywhere in the vicinity. He charged at a couple of the puppies when they were playing with their toys. And then he chose a puppy whom he decided to own. This puppy seemed to be Timmy’s “prisoner”: he wasn’t allowed to play with the others and Timmy wouldn’t let him out of his sight. Ironically, the only thing that distracted him away from the puppy, was food. I began to notice other things. No one was allowed to walk near him with a broom, a stick, a leash...pretty much anything that could be used against him. Then there was the issue of the docked tail. On closer inspection, it wasn’t docked in the way a Spaniel’s or a Rottweiler’s is; it was cut. I’d rather not think about how this came to be.

In a shelter with weak fencing and not a single separate enclosure for a troubled dog, there was no way we were going to make it. By the end of a week, Timmy had bitten every worker and visitor at the shelter besides me. I’m still not sure what happened there. He chose me the day he walked in and for that I will always be grateful. He would eat out of my hand, but charge another person who was at the other end of the shelter. It was time to make alternate arrangements. Timmy was moved to another shelter that was run by a good friend. This shelter had large enclosures and kennels, a blessing for a dog like Timmy.

Timmy 5

 So Timmy moved to his new “home” and we waited and watched in surprise and awe, as he slowly learnt to trust more people. A hug here, a lick there, a moment of fun, and increasingly regular naps on various friendly laps. One fine afternoon, I walked into the shelter and suddenly, he was climbing the grills of the office window, trying to get to me. We let him into the office and he leapt about from one human to another. Timmy, all nervousness and fear suddenly gone, was officially Man’s best friend.

Timmy 2

A whole eight months after Timmy entered our lives, a man called me asking to buy a purebred puppy. I took a deep breath and launched into an explanation of what animal welfare entails, for perhaps the hundredth time. I invited him to visit the shelter, to see for himself the kinds of dogs that come to us. An hour after he walked into the shelter, I discovered Timmy curled up in his lap, hard-selling his way into this man’s heart. Two weeks later, Timmy, neither puppy nor purebred, went home to live with the new love of his life. In his new home, Timmy no longer had anything to be afraid of, eating and sleeping as he pleased and sharing his space with a human who loved him unconditionally. 

Timmy 4

This story is not meant to preach or convert anyone into an Indy dog fan. Neither is it merely a documentation of the hard work that often goes into rehabilitating a behaviourally difficult dog. This story is meant to demonstrate how dog’s came to be so important in human lives, how they trust and learn to keep the faith, even after the most difficult circumstances have scarred them. It’s to demonstrate that every animal needs a second chance, no matter how far gone they are in the misery of what has passed.

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