In animal rescue, you realize, as much as you hate to think about it, admit it, deal with it, you can't save all the animals. Sometimes, you get an animal that just does not seem like it is adoptable as it currently is, but with a little work you know that it could be turned around and rehabilitated. Unfortunately there is not enough space at shelters, or even in foster homes alot of times, to allow the time for this to happen. There are not enough Cesar Milan's, and certainly not one in our area who will come to the pound and change a dog for us, and there are not enough sanctuaries out there like Best Friends in Utah to be able to take all the animals who are unable to live a normal life as a companion animal.
At the beginning of June, an overfluffed, matted, senior cocker spaniel mix was dropped off at the pound. She was a give up, her original owner had passed away, and the son of this person could not care for Buffy, which is her name. She looked to be very neglected, and had a very serious ear infection, that leaked black goo, caused her pain, and she understandably did not like anyone to touch her ears. She had a bit of an attitude problem as well - I took her to an adoption event, and after an hour, she was snapping and snarling at people who thought she was cute and wanted to pet her. I had to take her back to the shelter for the rest of the night, Buffy was not happy and I couldn't take the chance she would hurt someone.
The pound 501(c)3, Pound Pals, paid for Buffy to get her ears checked out and for medicine to clear them up. This was not an inexpensive procedure, as she needed to be knocked out for anyone to do anything to her ears. When she came back to the pound, she seemed a little better, since the hurt was gone. But Buffy's temperment was still not all that great, she didn't seem to like men or children too much, and didn't show well, meaning that when people crouched to see her in her kennel, she would bark and growl and look as fierce as a cocker mix can. When she was with the female volunteers who knew her, she was a sweet little thing, but for anyone else, she was a terror. It was like that line in the children's rhyme When she was good/she was very, very good/but when she was bad/she was horrid.
I have to admit, I kind of gave up on her-I didn't trust her, and didn't see how we could adopt her out to anyone. Even if the person adopting her was female, more than likely they had men or children in their lives for Buffy to menace. As much as I liked her, and as much as I understood that Buffy's demeanor was not her fault, she was obviously mistreated terribly, and therefore she didn't trust anyone, I didn't think we could feasibly adopt her out.
But thankfully, my friends at the shelter never gave up on her - they always believed the right people or person would come along, that we were there to take care of her until that happened. Even when hard decisions had to be made, Buffy made it through, because they believed in her that much. And maybe because of their belief in her, because they cared for her so much and kept the faith that her day would come, it did. Last week on a night I wasn't there, two girls, sisters, came to the pound looking for a dog. And they found Buffy waiting for them. Buffy loved them from the first, and they were familiar with quirks of cocker spaniels, so knew to expect some diva behavior from her on occasion. They filled out the application for her, the only ones who ever did in three months, and passed the vet check with a phenomenal check. Buffy had found a home.
I was there when they came to pick Buffy up to take home. I walked into the pound, saw this happy, perky, bouncy, cute cocker spaniel on a leash, bright eyed and wanting to play. I figured they had either found this dog, or were giving her up. I asked if I could help them, and they said they were there to finish the adoption paperwork. I peeked back over the counter on tiptoe, took a second look at this dog, and did a double take. This cute little happy pup was Buffy. Two volunteers from the pound had paid for her to get groomed, and she looked fabulous. I think the haircut, combined with an instinctual sense that now things were going to be better, transformed Buffy into a different dog. We have heard from them, and Buffy is doing great, without any agression to anyone, and just plays and plays all day.
So I learned from my friends and this dog, not to give up. Maybe I was becoming to desensitized; to volunteer at the pound, you do need to protect your emotions somewhat, and a scab forms over that part of your heart, and you protect to make sure that it is not torn off too often. But my friends and Buffy renewed my faith, opening my eyes again, showing me that good does happen sometimes for animals like Buffy. And I thank them all for that, and wish Buffy the best of love in her new home.