On one side of the living room, squatting, was me. On the other side, watching me but keeping the rest of him hidden, was this man’s new best friend. Between us was this room full of butter-thick, slightly chilly, right-before-the-killer-jumps-out kind of air.
While the human sorted through an emotional flea market, Diesel the Dog was decisively terrified. Behind that wall, the whippet shook like a Yahtzee cup. You could say it was violent; if it was a human shaking like that, we’d blame it on a disease.
I turned to the only card I knew how to play: food. I crept up and introduced him to one of these funky alligator treats my wife had bought from the pet store. He brought his nose to it, head down, eyes up, making sure nothing’s going to attack him, including the treat, and took it into his mouth.
This moment didn’t set off a Rocky montage or magically change any habits. It was merely step one of a process that’s still ongoing a year later.
Diesel’s first owner, it’s been told to me, had abused him for months on end before shooting himself. A coward’s death for a coward. The man’s mother took him in but couldn’t afford to feed him, so she didn’t. He was eventually found by authorities and turned over to Tuff Start Rescue, then to a foster home.
A month after that, a strange man offered him an odd-looking treat.
From that point on, it’s been fuzzy blankets and belly rubs non-stop for
Diesel Porter. His food bowl is never empty for long. He drinks water from a fountain. Family visits almost always mean a new toy.
This isn’t a story about how awesome we are. It’s about the way you can turn lives around, and don’t think you’ll be improving just one.
Thanks to him, my wife and I coordinate our schedules better and set aside more time for “the family.” We’re both better at compromising, which you do a lot of at 5:15 a.m. on a December day when your dog needs to go out and pee. We discuss things and make more decisions together, which is what you do when your dog’s been given too many table scraps.
Thanks to rescues like Tuff Start, he gets to show off his intellect by jumping off my mother-in-law’s couch when he hears her coming, and jump back on when she’s back on the other side of her house. He has the open air to jump face-to-face with a six-foot-tall man and run at a ludicrous pace. Now, the world can witness the ferocity with which he guts a plush toy.
It takes time, and it takes patience. Porter still gets anxious when left alone, and sometimes wets the carpet. Unfamiliar men still sound his alarm bells. He still hasn’t learned how to open the fridge and bring me a beer, but the dead silences are long gone and he doesn’t pass gas quite like he did when he was eating the alligator treats. He’s a work in progress, but that’s true about everybody.
He’s got as long as he needs.
Do you fancy more pictures? Of course you fancy more pictures.