One Year ago today, the Lavis Family Adventure brought us to Dallas North Caroline, where we met our boy. It all started with this image…
This image came across my facebook news feed at 2am, via Pet Pardons. My heart just sank. He looked so defeated. I advocate for shelter animals, often through pet pardons on facebook, all the time. I feel very strongly about doing my part to ensure animals don’t suffer from abuse, neglect and die with dignity and knowing someone cared about them. Like way too many animals who end up in shelters, our boy was dropped off by his prior owners, who had neglected him. Even worse, the owners requested euthanasia. Dallas came into the shelter and was rated “gold” for his excellent temperament. Yet, his owners left him outside with little shelter, food or companionship. He bounced around to different family members in his first year. He loved to play with one of the little boys. But, was beat if he encroached upon certain areas of the house, so he rarely made it inside. All that ended with the owners taking him to a high kill, rural shelter with a request for him to be euthanized by gassing- one of the worst kinds of cruelty.
I read his story online and just knew I had hours to rescue him and show this one boy that life is so much more than what he had endured. He deserved more, as do so many other animals sitting in shelters right now.
We had just lost our Gracie of 10 years…our beloved Bull Mastiff. We were not looking to adopt a dog, but we had talked about eventually getting a german sheperd. After some contemplating, I woke up my husband and showed him the picture of this poor soul. After the expected “are you crazy”? and “We can talk about it in the morning”… I explained that he only had until 11am the next morning before he was killed. There was a possibility his kill date would be pushed out, if there was space. But, High Kill shelters don’t care about the dogs, it is all about space for new dogs coming in. So, he was low on time, for sure. I had proposed to Jeff to have a volunteer bring Dallas to us because so many people had pitched in money for transport, in hopes he would be saved. Jeff said that if we were going to bring a new dog into the house, we would go to the shelter ourselves and meet him first.
So, that is what we did…at 3am. We grabbed my daughter and got in the car. The entire ride, I was online with others via pet pardons trying to contact anyone and everyone we could to ensure that he was not euthanized before 11am. Around 8am, I spoke with the nicest woman at the shelter. She checked and told me he was still alive and she would do her best to make sure he was still there when we arrived. As we got closer to the shelter, we passed a road named “Dallas New Hope Road”. Jeff is a huge Redskins fan, but he said, “I think we should name him Dallas”. It really would end up being the perfect name for him. When we arrived, the kind lady I spoke to on the phone brought us all back and told us where to go to wait to meet Dallas. This women had worked for the shelter for over 25 years. She said that she no longer interacts with the animals because she just ends up with a broken heart. The kill rate is so high. It is a tough place.
We all sat together as a family in this tiny fenced in area and an officer brought him out. He was so little, skinny and was very anxious. What animal wouldn’t be in that environment. But, he first went up to Taylor, who was 5 at the time, and licked her. Then he made his rounds to Jeff and I and licked us. There was no question he was friendly. We spent a little more time with him and then made the decision to take him home. They bathed him and set up an appt for us with the local vet. We left the shelter and I held back tears because I didn’t want to leave the others behind. The puppies were so small and the older dogs, especially the sweetest older german sheperd, were just too much for me to see in that kind of place. But, we had to go and I just said a prayer for all of them. We headed to the vet and Dallas did great. He showed no aggression when being poked and prodded.
When we first got home, I took these pictures of him… He cleaned up well!!!
His first three months were very difficult.
Dallas first came to us with slight food guarding. This is very common in animals from shelters or in animals who have not been fed consistently. Within two weeks of hand feeding him, the food guarding disappeared completely. Today, any of us can take a bone out of his mouth and he just sits and waits for us to give it back. I can fish toys out of his mouth, clip his nails, clean his ears and he just tries to lick me. Not to say he doesn’t like it, but he has a very high level of tolerance.
The biggest issue for us was Dallas’s separation anxiety.
It was an 11 on a scale of 1-10. But we made the best decision to work with Tecla Walton, a trainer from Angel K-9 in Ellicott City. Without her, we would not have the dog we have today. It was a long road. But, now Dallas can stay in the crate at home, while we are out. He doesnt try to break out or have accidents. He can sit quietly in my car when we run errands. He is a different dog completely. When a dog is neglected and dumped at a shelter, they lose any sense of security. For some, this results in anxiety. So, it was all just something we had to work through with him.
The best part of the last year with Dallas is the immense growth we have seen in him.
I worked so hard with him. As well, Angel K-9 was instrumental in so much. Dallas and I participated in a K9 basic training class and it brought our relationship to an entirely new level. Dallas and I bonded. When we first got him, he wouldn’t look any of us in the eye. He was disconnected on many levels because he was never really asked by anyone to have that type of interaction.
This is the face I now see every day. He looks me right in the eyes and waits patiently for the word “free” after I give him a command. He is really quite the good boy.
We also have done K9 nosework and he is awesome! He led the class in the time he uncovered his finds!
We recently fenced in about an acre and a half for him to run. He is in heaven. He also has mellowed so much just from having the opportunity to run outside more. Our Gracie used to love to sleep outside. Dallas has found his little place outside, as well.
He has a super fun life.
He plays everyday. He has doggie friends at Angel K-9′s daycare and playtime. He gets more hugs and cuddling then he probably ever thought he would get. When we hug him, he stands still and waits until WE let go. He eats natural food of the highest quality. He gets gourmet dog treats. He has a zillion toys and bones. He has three comfy beds in various rooms. He has found a friend in our cockatiel, Maggie. He sleeps next to Jeff’s chair, while he works in his home office.
He also has found a new best friend in Taylor. They are two peas in pod. He follows her everywhere and listens when she gives him commands. He is so tolerant of her. He enjoys her and she enjoys him.
Happy Birthday to our boy.