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Puppy Paws and a Healing Heart


Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay
Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Animals have always been a part of my life. From horses to cats to dogs and even a hermit crab named Kokomo, there has always been some sort of animal companion around (usually multiple at once). The latest addition to our "zoo" has shown us that healing takes time and with the right people around you, working through the trauma of your past doesn't seem so daunting.

On a crisp early November afternoon, I pulled into the drive of the house we rented. Work had been busy and I was looking forward to relaxing, but as I was putting my car into park, I saw something by our trashcans. A medium sized dog was trying to find some lunch among the garbage. I stepped out of the car, turned around, and was immediately jumped on by a very hungry, very friendly dog.

Garbage now forgotten, this sweet little girl was attempting to lick every part of me she could while her tail wagged uncontrollably. Petting her, I called my boyfriend inside the house and asked him to bring out a collar and leash. When he stepped outside, she gave him the same welcome she had given me.

Based on how skinny she was (and stinky), we knew she was a stray. And at this time, the shelters were overflowing, and based on her breed, we knew she would be at a disadvantage. So we took her to the vet to check for a chip. When none was found, we decided to foster her while continuing to look for her owner. We posted her picture and description on multiple sites and social media groups, trying to reunite her with her family.

Several weeks went by and no one came forward to claim her. We had begun to call this sweet girl Skadi, and worked on crate training and commands like sit, lay down, and stay. She showed herself to be a highly intelligent dog, but as time went on, we discovered triggers that suggested she had faced trauma before coming to us.

Trash bags, bubble wrap, and fly swatters sent her running into another room. The sound of a raised voice or another dog being scolded made her want to hide. The mere sight of a gun was enough to make her nervous and avoid the room.

We also noticed she did not know how to play. When our older dogs tried to engage her in play, she seemed not to recognize the cues. A bone was the only item she would play with, and she would hide it from the other dogs.

A month went by and Skadi settled into our home. No one had come forward, and we began discussing what to do. At the time, we were closing on a house in the country with lots of room for multiple dogs to run. So we decided she had a forever home with us.

The next step was to take her to the vet for a check-up. By this time, she had gained a healthy amount of weight and was thriving. The vet gave the new addition to our family a clean bill of health...and a surprise. Skadi was pregnant!

It has been 8 months since Skadi came into our lives. Her five puppies are now nearly 6 months old. 3 have found their forever homes with loving families of their own. 2 are still up for adoption, but if families cannot be found for them, they will always have a home with us.

Skadi is a completely different dog now than the one that came to us. Her puppies taught her how to play and now tug of war and fetch are mandatory daily activities at our house. She knows she is safe and loved and reciprocates the affection. This sweet girl still has her triggers, and we understand those may never fully go away. But healing takes time and with the right people in your life, you can thrive to your full potential.

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