Keeping Hope alive: A boy and his dog
by Marda WinnickSometimes, the most heartwarming stories are not about socializing or rehabilitating a dog to make it more adoptable. Sometimes, they are more about the families who adopt them. (Because this family did not wish to be identified, all names and other identifying information have been changed, and unfortunately, there will be no photos.)
The volunteer spotted “Hope” immediately, a big furry ball of gentleness and dignity, a new dog that had just arrived at the shelter and was being walked in the yard.
But, she was 8-years old. It’s not that older dogs don’t ever get adopted, but it can be a long wait. Sweet and well mannered though she seemed to be, this could be a challenge.
Soon thereafter the volunteer stopped to help a mother and her son, who were looking for their first dog. Sensing some uncertainty on the mother's part, the volunteer discovered that the parents, born abroad, had never been around dogs as pets before. The mother was nervous, but determined that their son should have a pet. The son really wanted a dog, but confided he was concerned about his mother's fears, which caused him some hesitation. It was clear how much they loved and were concerned about each other.
It was sort of like a canine “Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry's classic short story about giving and receiving.
This would take a special match, and the volunteer immediately thought of the dog she had just met. At eight, Hope was mature and obviously had come from a loving home. The introduction was made, and as they say, it was love at first sight for young “Trevor”.
Throughout the adoption process both mother and son separately expressed their concerns to the volunteer. Hearing all this, Volunteer Coordinator/ACT Charla Fales whispered to the volunteer, “I’ll bet she is returned.” And she, concerned Charla might be right, was determined to make sure this adoption stuck.
Since they were first-time dog owners, she volunteered to help them with Hope’s training. What she knew was that Hope didn’t need any training; indeed, Hope was one of the most balanced dogs she had come across. Rather, it was the family who needed some help.
She called the next day to make an appointment to visit, and was crushed when Trevor said they had decided to return Hope. His mother thought she was too big and that a puppy would be a better match. Reading between the lines, the volunteer knew that if a calm, well-behaved dog like Hope made Nadia nervous, a puppy would be far worse, and gently conveyed her thoughts.
Twenty minutes later, Trevor called back and said they had decided to keep Hope. Wasting no time, the volunteer set a time to meet with them.
Trevor had a wonderful instinct with Hope and learned quickly about leadership and how to handle her. And it was clear the bond that had immediately developed between them.
So now, attention turned to the parents. “David” seemed okay, so Nadia was the focus. The volunteer patiently addressed her questions and concerns over the course of several visits and phone calls and gradually saw a change in her. Flash forward: Trevor reports that his mother now loves Hope.
Go visit your local shelter!
Adopt, don't shop!