mona4 As I’ve mentioned to most people, I’m incredibly proud of the fact that James and I saved Mona’s life. To give a bit of background to the story, I had been looking for weeks for a dog that I wanted to adopt. I visited two separate shelters on several different days, I looked on Craigslist, and I found a website called Pet Finder that I checked daily. I’m really not sure why I felt so selective at the time, because I’m practically obsessing over dogs and puppies any other day of the week. I just wanted to be sure that I felt that best bud bond with the dog that I was going to bring into our home. There came a day when I thought I found the one. A beautiful red haired Australian Shepherd, three-year-old, already house-broken, already fixed, and all caught-up on his shots, but he had already been adopted when I inquired about him.

For some unknown reason, the woman I spoke to about him felt sorry that I had yet to really find the dog that I wanted to bond with and keep. She promised to help me find a dog that I could connect with. I thought this was a joke and continued my search after getting off of the phone. A few more weeks had gone by, and I received the call. She told me she found her — the perfect dog for me. While I was skeptical, I listened. She told me that she was an Australian Kelpie and Smooth Collie mix, medium size dog (so perfect for our apartment), had plenty of energy to be my running partner, but was about to be euthanized because her stay at another shelter was up, so she needed a home (at least a foster home) ASAP. The shelter she was located at was about an hour and a half from where we lived, so she even offered to send one of the volunteers to bring her to me that weekend.

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The day came and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was, at the very least, going to be able to foster a dog for a couple of weeks. When the volunteer pulled up with Mona in the backseat, she seemed hesitant to want to even open the car door for me to see the dog. You see, what wasn’t disclosed to me on the phone beforehand was the fact that Mona was deemed aggressive and unadaptable at the shelter. Another thing that was not disclosed was her story. She was taken away from her previous owner for accusations of him beating her, starving her, and neglecting her. When the police showed up to take her away, she was sitting in a crate that was too small for her, covered in her own feces, on the porch, in the middle of winter. I began to tear up. I instantly knew the pain she had been through, because I had been in a terribly abusive and controlling relationship in the past. It left me with serious damage (emotionally and physically) and fear to trust too. I asked to see her, and the woman finally opened the door. When our eyes met, she started whining and crying to get out and see me. When I took her out of the cage, she couldn’t stop dancing in front of me. Her tail was wagging so violently, I thought it might actually fly off. The woman told me that she had never seen her act like that with someone before. In the shelter, she always cowered and growled at anyone who came near her. I gladly took the wildly excited puppy home with me.

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After getting her home, we began to notice her trust issues. She freaked out any time someone tried to touch her back legs, and could never really sit still for long comfortably. She was also extremely defensive around other dogs, and most people. We put her in dog training in order to try and work through some of her issues with her, and then her ugly side came out. She lashed out at the dog trainer, and myself. She started growling and nipping at us, and her eyes became blood shot. It nearly destroyed me to see. I went home and cried, thinking that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t keep a dog that was so intensely scary in situations around people or dogs that she doesn’t know, but at the same time, I couldn’t give her to a shelter where her future was short and death was near. I saw how great she could be under calm circumstances. James calmed me down and told me not to make any irrational decisions that I may regret. I slept on it, and continued to talk it out. Eventually, we came to the decision that we were going to build from it. I was going to get her through her trust issues and not give up on her, just as no one gave up on me when I was most unlovable and destroyed. It has now been five incredibly busy, and intense months, that have continuously made me struggle in several ways, but I’ll tell you what: Mona is flourishing. She lets us touch and play with her back legs now, take her dog bone away to play, actually lays down to cuddle with me while I do homework, edit photos, or anything of the like, and the last two weeks in a row at dog training, she even cuddled with her new Pitbull friend, Peaches. Just knowing how far she has come since the day that I brought her home gives me strength and makes me feel confident that it’s possible for anyone to repair themselves from a damaging and scary past.

So to celebrate, we went on a little photo shoot the other day while we were on our walk. Seeing her look like a happy, playful puppy makes me feel overjoyed and extremely proud. I write all of this to brag about my amazing and beautiful dog, share awareness of domestic violence, and to encourage all of you to adopt from shelters (the Lansing Humane Society is nearby and I promise they have adorable faces that are hard to resist). Even dogs with an intimidating background deserve a second chance and a better life.

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