I really like the northwest suburban family who’ve taken Rodney into their lives, and I hope he learns to trust them quickly. Probably the presence of Daiquiri, the rescue dog they already have, will help him do that.
Rodney has come a long way in his just-under-6-week history with the Chicagoland Dog Rescue (CDR). When CDR placed Rodney and fellow rescue dog Barnaby-the-Samoyed at our Warrenville home in mid-August, they’d both experienced nearly three months in kennels, waiting for adoption, after having been picked up as strays. Important aside: if you care about your cat or dog, get your pet microchipped now, if you haven’t already—and register your address. Even a pet that is “always indoors” or “always on leash” can get loose in an emergency, panic, and get lost.
But back to Rodney’s story. Within a day or two, differences in the two dogs’ prior lives became clear. Barnaby completely accepted life in a home as the expected norm, shedding his shelter-induced introversion with the last of his fluffy undercoat. He expected homes to be loving and seemed to count both his adventures astray and his time kenneled in a shelter as aberrations to be forgotten once lived through.
Not so for Rodney, alas. His first evening walk in the neighborhood saw him crouching as though expecting attack at any moment. A sound or movement to either side of the path left me trying to walk a boulder: Amazing how firmly four legs can anchor when planted and locked! And while, at the end of a week, Rodney sometimes lifted his head to track a rabbit or squirrel as it ran, he still froze when he saw people or dogs whose paths might intersect ours.
Mealtimes showed yet another area of insecurity. We’d put down two identical bowls of food. Barnaby the whirlwind would lunge for his and eat eagerly. Only when he had finished would Rodney the shadow approach his dish, with caution, one eye on the people, to make sure he wouldn’t get into trouble for eating. It took weeks before Rodney would even take a treat left on the floor without hesitation. The day he gently lipped a dog biscuit from my open hand I felt like celebrating—but quietly and inside my own head, so as not to scare Rodney off again.
The one trait that characterized Rodney more than any other was his gentle acceptance of whatever came. In a way, he accepted too well—in a person, you’d say he’d lost any sense of self-worth and didn’t feel entitled to better treatment. Luckily for him, that quiet withdrawal caught the eye of a woman looking for a companion for her boxer-mix rescue. She didn’t need a rambunctious personality hound, and the sweetness of this big puppy shone through his silent pathos for her and spoke to her mother’s heart.
Her husband and daughters agreed that this dog would be a good fit for the family, so we brought Rodney to meet them at their home—soon, perhaps, to be his. First meeting boded well: Daiquiri the boxer-mix accepted him on her turf. Rodney walked down the block and back with her and five people, almost fearlessly. Husband and wife asked insightful questions about how Rodney acted and reacted—and listened carefully to the answers. I left Rodney with them confident that he is already loved and will be treated well. Some day soon, I hope to hear from his new family that he had learned to hold his head up, no longer depressed or disheartened, the magnificent dog he was born to be.