Seeing this thread I realize I have been remiss in posting Joseph's story.
I first saw Joseph's story on a Animal Rescue Transfer site, a group who pulls dogs who are at risk of being euthanized from shelters and arranges transport to where ever those dogs have found safe haven. Joseph was about one year old, a black lab who had been found as a stray. Joseph had been roaming a neighbourhood, alone and afraid, barking in terror at people to keep them away, keep himself safe. Animal services was called, they managed to corner him and had to sedate him to rescue him. Once 'safe' at the shelter, his fear of people continued, barking and growling if anyone appeared, he was deemed unsafe to be adopted out, his only chance was to go to a rescue that would commit to getting him the help he needed. Seeing his story, I contacted the rescue I was fostering with and they agreed to pull him for me - to foster - he was going to get his 'chance'.
Joseph finally arrived, after a long journey, terrified he sat silent at the back of the crate, unwilling to come out, hesitant to see what the world held for him. It took a while to convince him it was okay, and he slowly emerged from the dark of the crate, one look into his eyes told the whole story, tired and worn, alone and afraid, he sat quietly as I rubbed his neck. As Joseph settled in and we got to know him better, he was a bit rough and rowdy, but, we could forgive him that, he deserved a chance. After about a week I took him out for a walk and got the surprise of my life, on spotting another dog, Joseph launched into a frenzy of barking, growling and lunging at the end of the leash, terrified what this meant, terrified he was 'too much' for us, we would have to send him back to meet an unknown fate - my heart broke. We took him to have him a assessed by a certified canine behaviorist - 'He is afraid of the world' she said 'new people and dogs terrify him, but he can be helped, if you can commit to it. And, I am here for you if you choose to do that for him.' Knowing we couldn't send him back, knowing that no one else would want him, we made the commitment to help him and after nine months as a 'foster' we adopted him four years ago.
Joseph has come a long ways since then, brilliant beyond imagination, eager to learn, willing to love and trust, giving his whole heart, surprising us with the things that he does, amusing us with is antics, happy to be alive, happy to have been given a chance, he is not the same dog, he is an absolute treasure. It hasn't always been 'easy', but we have no regrets, no wishing we hadn't committed to him, every moment of 'work' has been paid back a thousand fold an more. To get up every morning greeted by those big brown eyes eager to see what the day will bring, nothing can compare with the love that he shares and the honor and privilege of giving him a chance at life and sharing our lives with him.
They come into our lives to teach, to open our eyes, open our hearts and help us learn life lessons from those who know them well.
Thank you Joseph, you have taught us a lot, we hope we have learned your lessons well.
'Don't pity the rescue dog. Adopt one. And be proud to have their greatness by your side.'