I'm a long-time lurker & I signed up to comment JUST to talk about my dog. That is how crazy I am.
My dog, Oliver, was thrown out of a moving car onto a busy street. Luckily the woman who runs the shelter I adopted him from saw it happen, pulled over and he jumped right in with her. He had a serious eye infection, a terrible case of fleas, sore spots on his feet (probably from being kept in a cage off the ground) was skinny as a stick and hadn't been fixed. Six weeks after he came to the shelter, he was healthy again and up for adoption.
I didn't know any of this when I saw his picture on Petfinder. All I knew was that he was a Minpin-terrier mix, had a cute face, big radar dish ears and weighed 11 pounds. When I went to meet him, he came into the "adoption room" and completely ignored me while he sniffed every inch of the floor. Weirdly, I liked that he wasn't all over me immediately. He was making me earn his affection. I was into that.
Two weeks after I signed the paperwork, Oliver came home with me and I realised for the first time what I was in for. I thought that by adopting an adult dog, I would skip a lot of the stress that people have with puppies--and I suppose that I did. Instead I got the stress of rehabilitating an abused, neglected animal. He was not housebroken. He had no house manners and wasn't trained at all. He had separation anxiety. He was food, dog and person-walking-too-close aggressive. He was scared of his crate, of water, of loud noises, of the tv. He wouldn't walk on grass. I don't even think he'd seen grass before. He could not walk on a leash without pulling my arm out of the socket because he'd chase squirrels/robins/leaves. Altogether it seemed insurmountable, but after the first night when he went to sleep pressed against my chest, I loved him. I loved him so much. I wasn't going to give this stuff any choice BUT to be surmounted.
So Oliver and I took it bird by bird, so to speak.
It's been almost ten months since the day I brought him home, and we're still working. Training never really stops for dogs, I've learned, but I've also learned that I don't mind that one bit. Oliver has gone from being an anxious little bag of bones to a confident, mostly well-behaved, handsome (14 pounds now!) companion. Adopting him has been the best thing I've ever done in my entire life. I never thought I could love anything as much as I love him. It makes me so angry to think that someone treated him so horribly for two entire years of his life, but it just makes me hug him tighter and love him more. He'll always be safe with me. And I'm so glad that he knows it.