All I Could Do Was Laugh - What a stray dog taught me about trust

DezifaceAll I could do was laugh. Here we were, my son, Tyler, and I in the veterinary office with a captured stray dog. Was I actually going to be taking her home? I envisioned the moment we caught her. What would we do? What would SHE do? She was so afraid of people. I pictured her growling, showing her teeth, nipping at whoever handled her first. Instead, I watched as she timidly walked out of the animal trap, then gently took treats from Amy, the vet tech, then from Dr. Cotton, then me. Within minutes, she let us pet her and jumped up on our laps. What? This dog that had wandered into my yard at first as a nuisance, was now wandering into my heart. It was like I had been told I was going to have another baby at age 46. We never dreamed of getting another dog but here she was and I felt like she was begging for us to take her home, at least for a while. All I could do was laugh! Deziatvet

This dog had been seen in our neighborhood numerous times over the last year but was now specifically hanging out around our property. It was annoying at first because our dog, Walle, begged to go outside every chance he could get – even 12:00 midnight to play with her. (I later figured out she was in heat at the time. That explains a lot!) She would prance into the boundaries of our invisible fence and as soon as Walle was too much for her, she’d jump back out. They had a blast but I was still a little perturbed at the owner for letting her run loose like this.

She had no collar and was out in the frigid cold temperatures sometimes as late as midnight. But then I noticed some things weren’t quite right if she indeed had a home. The patio furniture pillows on our front porch were messed up every morning. As soon as I let Walle out the front door he would passionately sniff the patio couch. “Hmm, was she sleeping here?” I also noticed she would run off to my neighbors shed and disappear. Days later, after tracing her footprints in the snow, I discovered she was indeed finding shelter under this makeshift shed. Was it enough, though, to endure the below zero temperatures being forecasted?

I tried so hard to get close to her, but she would run at the first sight of any human. Finally, I did get close enough to zoom in for a picture to post on Facebook. That’s when my whole perspective changed.

The Facebook comments from neighbors as well as reports from Animal Control revealed that she had been a stray for over a year now. Our neighbors found her sleeping on their patio furniture, snooping in their garages and playing with their dogs too.

We were in the middle of a cold spell with temps dropping to minus 20, even minus 30 degrees at night. This had everyone concerned. Fellow dog lovers, people I had forgotten I was even friends with on Facebook, started rallying behind this orphan dog, offering help in catching her- loaning me their kennels, giving encouragement and advice. I wasn’t the only one caring about this four-legged survivor. She had an instant following! Everywhere I’d go, people would ask, “Have you caught her yet?”

Now that I knew her sleeping and hiding places, I was on a mission to build her trust. I love watching the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan and I remembered a few things from that show in dealing with fearful dogs. I also searched the Internet on how to approach a shy dog. So I must have looked like I was completely nuts, but here’s what I did. I walked down the driveway, past the shed, pretending to eat something out of a little ziplock baggie. I made smacking noises while crouching down, dropping bits of food on the driveway. I would then pretend to pick those pieces of food up to eat again. She never did come to me when I did this, but the next few times she appeared she was getting closer to me and not running off as fast. In fact, the next day as I walked Walle down the driveway she crawled out from underneath the shed, stood totally still and stared at us. It was as if she wanted to follow us into the house but just couldn’t muster up enough trust and courage.

I started putting dog food out on the porch as well as a kennel with warm blankets for her to sleep in. She gobbled everything up and slept in the kennel at night but I couldn’t for the life of me trap her or get her to come near me. Again, I think she wanted to, but in her mind that was just too risky. There was one day, she even stood outside the glass storm door looking in at Walle and I. She was right there! At least I was able to finally get close to her, but only because of the door between us, offering her protection.  

Finally, we rented a live trap as our last chance effort in catching her. I didn’t want to do it this way, but knew it was ultimately the best thing for her. We baited it with a hot dog and peanut butter but it was so cold and no sign of her so figured it was useless.  We brought the trap inside that night and put out the kennel with blankets and patio pillows to simply help her survive the upcoming below zero night.

The next morning, I was met with a blast of cold air as I opened the front door to let Walle out. All I could think about was if I would see her today. Walle went over and immediately sniffed the kennel on the porch. “Oh thank goodness! She must have been there last night,” I thought.  He kept sniffing and sniffing though, until a little head peaked out of the kennel! She was still in there! I was standing with the front door cracked open only a few feet from her! She slowly pranced out of the kennel, I’m sure her body half frozen. She walked passed me and stopped. We had never been this close! I opened the door a bit more and tried to coerce her inside. She again just looked at me, thinking about it, I’m sure feeling the warm air drifting out from the house, but then took off back into the neighbors shed where she perceived it to be safest. 

That morning we put the trap out, but again, no luck. I figured she was finding shelter in the shed and it was just too cold to leave, even for food. I checked Facebook and was met by messages and posts of all her followers wondering what her status was. I posted the latest happenings but this time I added, “Please pray that we catch her, or if nothing else she survives another frigid cold day and night.” I walked away from the computer unsettled about her situation, but hopeful and glad I finally brought God into it. Why do I wait so long to do that, thinking prayers like this one are trivial to Him? I know better! Nothing is too small or little to bring to God. As I continued to walk into the kitchen I heard some crying and whining noises.  I ran to the laundry room window and looked out at the trap. We caught her! God answered our prayer in a matter of minutes!

Tyler and I carried the trap into the garage to keep her warm while we waited to get to the clinic. You already heard what happened at the vet but let me update you on what’s happened since. We obviously brought her back home and she has instantly become part of our family. She is a complete sweetheart with a loving, gentle temperament, always looking for a lap to cuddle up in. I don’t know what her history is. She had no collar, no microchip and has not been spayed. The vet estimates her age at about 1 ½ - 3 years old -so young to be out on her own! This little puppy, however, has taught me so much already, about trust.

She was afraid of people, but she didn’t let her history or time in the wild keep her from trusting us and because of that she will have a warm home, with plenty of food, a family that loves her and a much more joyful life. She is an inspiration, a survivor and has especially shown me how trust in God, my Ultimate Provider, Caretaker and Father is always worth the risk. Whether you bravely walk through the front door, shyly seek Him out, or even if you have to let Him catch you first, trust that You will find a warm home and better life when you are rescued by Him.

As I finish writing this, she is nestling on my lap looking at me with those cute little brown eyes. All I can do is laugh!


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