When Everything Changed

My blog post about Maverick has been on my mind this week. For some reason, I couldn’t shake the image of him malnourished, neglected and mistreated. I know he is now healthy and happy, and his story has the ultimate happy ending; a human who loves him like family.

The concept of “family” has been on my mind as well. I’ve been thinking about how humans can neglect and mistreat each other to the point where you wonder how they ever could have loved you at all. Sometimes reading words that “family” has used to communicate with me leaves me almost gasping for breath, thinking “Do I really mean this little to them? Am I really deserving of this treatment, this disrespect?”

Then I look at my dogs. We don’t know much about Fred’s history, but we’re pretty sure he wasn’t abused. He was very skinny when we adopted him but he also has severe food allergies. Our thought is his previous owners couldn’t “figure him out” and didn’t put the time and effort into the attempt. As hard as those first few months were, we never considered giving him up. He was and still is our baby.

Angel’s story is a little different. She was bred at ten months old, which alone is animal abuse, in my opinion. After a week (?!?!) she was taken from her puppies and dumped at the shelter. Three weeks later, her puppies arrived at the shelter, weak, malnourished and dying. They were all euthanized. With Angel’s skittish behavior (it’s pretty apparent that she was neglected, starved and probably abused) it’s a miracle she wasn’t euthanized as well.

Fast-forward to today, and she is loving, loyal, happy and a completely different dog. She loves people, children and dogs alike. She bonded with my aunt during her recent visit and proved that love really can conquer all. She had every right to turn inward, hate all humans and lash out at anyone who tried to touch her. Instead, she shows me unconditional love every day and has restored my faith in that concept.

Unconditional love. I’ve written about it before because honestly, when I do feel it from those who truly know how to show it, I almost don’t know how to receive it. I feel like I’m always waiting for something bad to happen, for someone to walk away, for those nasty words to find their way back to my ears and my heart.

Maybe one day I’ll be like Angel and my faith in humanity will return. Maybe I’ll be able to read a story of an abused dog and not feel that rise of hatred toward the human who caused all that pain. Maybe I’ll fully receive that unconditional love without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The Truth about Pit Bulls ~ Facebook

What I know now is, the day Fred came home was the day I was forever changed. Adding Angel to our family just made my heart grow bigger. The lessons I learn from my dogs make me want to be a better human, a better wife and a really good mom. They make me want to pick up the broken and tell them there is hope, even when that concept seems impossible. Sometimes you just have to open your heart for the impossible to become a reality.

Just ask Angel, who is finally home, finally loved, and finally free.

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be…”

And so am I.

Book Review: One Unforgettable Journey

I was recently honored with the request to write a book review! My friend, K.B. Lacoste, co-authored “One Unforgettable Journey” with Dan Stallings, and my obvious interest in all doggies meant I had the privilege of reading and commenting on their story. Pregnancy made reading the book take longer than I had hoped, but better late than never, right?

The first few pages of “One Unforgettable Journey” reminded me of many stories I have read over the past few years. They introduced a man whose life was changed by a dog. Some may think that dogs are just pets, or just animals, or simply companions that keep us from being lonely. But then there are men like Dan, who prove that just one dog can start a chain reaction that will completely change your life. He met a Weimaraner puppy who tugged on his heart’s strings, and the rest, as they say, “is history.”

Meeting this puppy turned into adopting the puppy, which turned into owning two puppies so the first puppy wouldn’t be lonely. (It’s funny how that happens – *cough-Fred&Angel-cough*)

Eventually, Dan abandoned his “real” job and became a certified dog trainer and opened a rescue for Weimaraners. Any man who opens a rescue for dogs gets the seal of approval, in my book.

Although it was hard to read about Dan’s first meeting with Maverick, I consoled myself with the fact that the story had a happy ending. What started as simple interest in a Weimaraner listed for sale turned into the rescue of a lifetime. The ad described the dog as a show dog, and that sparked Dan’s interest, since dog shows were a foreign idea at the time.

But the “show dog” he met was far from show-worthy. He was thin to the point of being emaciated, and every bone showed through his neglected frame. His nails were overgrown, his body showed wounds and sores, and it was clear he was terrified of his owners, especially the child who should have been his best friend.

I have grown to look at dogs as more than just pets, and the idea of poor little Maverick in this condition was heart-breaking. I have seen too many dogs and read too many stories of the disgraceful condition that’s a direct result of abuse and neglect. Have you ever met or seen a Weimaraner?

Such a handsome man!

They are athletic and proud, and are truly a beautiful creature. The mental picture painted in this story still makes me angry, for no pet should ever get to this point. But that mental picture proved that Maverick needed an intervention, and thank God Dan answered that ad.

The next few months were challenging and difficult, but Dan powered through. He made Mav his number one priority and pretty much neglected his “real life” in order to nurse the poor guy back to health. But he didn’t stop at just seeing Mav healthy again; he wanted his new buddy to thrive.

Dan knew that Maverick had originally been a show dog, and he wanted to give him a chance to compete again. I couldn’t help but admire him for taking on such a mysterious world, just because he wanted to see Maverick in his element. The stories of the dog shows are heart warming and humorous. There is just something about a dog’s happy ending that makes my heart smile, and Mav’s is no exception.

I strongly encourage you to read Dan and Maverick’s story. You can head over to Maverick’s Facebook page and give him a good “like.” The pictures alone will make you smile! You can also read more about where Mav is today, and see how far he has come on his journey.

That journey truly was unforgettable, and I hope you will read more. Who doesn’t love a good doggie story?