There are humans.
There are good humans.
And then there are angels, people who sacrifice their “normal” lives to do for others.
Including animals. Especially rescue dogs.
You don’t give up on a dog
Carol was living in Southern California when an acquaintance’s dog had an oops litter. The gal wanted the puppies to go to good homes and knew Carol would provide one.
Wee Betty was a happy, active puppy, but she needed surgery to fix the anterior cruciate ligament in one of her hinds.
Carol’s family thought the procedure was too expensive.
“You don’t do that,” Carol says. “You don’t just give up on a dog because she needs help.”
Betty’s recovery wasn’t easy. Carol had one leg done and Betty healed. Then the other leg needed the same surgery, something not uncommon with dogs.
“There was a lot to do to take care of her,” Carol says. “It was a big eye opener. It isn’t easy keeping a puppy calm.”
Persistence paid off. Betty was a happy, healthy dog.
Then one day, Carol was out buying Betty a birthday cake.
An angel walks in
Shopping for a birthday cake for a dog should be a benign experience.
But no, not for Carol.
At the bakery, she encountered a woman who confided she saved a dog from a high-kill shelter but couldn’t keep him at her apartment.
Landlord issues demanded she find someone else to foster the dog until he found his forever home.
The woman also worked at a rescue, where Carol started volunteering. She quickly bonded with the dog, named Wiggles.
To this day, she and the woman in the cake shop remain great friends.
“I look at her as an angel who saved Wiggles.”
Wiggles joins the family
Despite his (since averted) destiny with euthanasia, the organization used Wiggles to test other rescue dogs and play with puppies.
Such a good boy!
Carol and the rescue staff made plans to introduce Betty to Wiggles to see if they’d get along.
With the hope Carol would adopt Wiggles, they took him home for trial overnights and everything worked out great—almost.
Wiggles had a fear of men.
“I figure the shelter cleaners would squirt water on him or hit him with a broom,” Carol says. “You just don’t know what happens at the shelters all the time.”
Carol and her boyfriend Jimmy made plans to move in together. Wiggles was shy and wouldn’t go anywhere near Jimmy.
“He would pancake, just flatten out on the floor and tremble,” she says. “Jimmy carried treats whenever he was near Wiggles and, after a few weeks, they got comfortable around each other.”
Dogs are resilient. You can see it in the many dogs who were rehabilitated after the Michael Vick fighting ring was busted open.
But they have long memories.
Carol and Jimmy see it all the time.
“Even today, if Jimmy trips or does something quickly, Wiggles will cower,” Carol says. “He remembers the things that happened to him.”
The difference is, she notes, dogs don’t hold grudges like humans do.
“I used to volunteer with rescues,” she says. “I ran into fighting dogs. You’d think they’d hate people but they have that love.”
Time for a new home
Carol and Jimmy were happily ensconced in Southern California.
They made a move to Orange County where they were close enough to Disneyland to hear and feel the nightly fireworks.
High anxiety set in for Wiggles. He became destructive, destroying doors and baby gates. Betty, the big sister, tried to correct his behavior and the two dogs started to fight.
As Wiggles’ anxiety grew in intensity, so did their fights.
“We eventually had to keep them separated,” Carol says. “We’d rotate them in and out of crates, and keep them separated by baby gates.”
She and Jimmy met with multiple trainers and behaviorists, eventually a veterinarian behaviorist. With the right medication and management, they got the anxiety under control.
“He will never be 100 percent anxiety free,” Carol says, “but managing it is key to make sure he doesn’t have bad days.”
Part of that management included packing up their SoCal home and their rescue dogs and settling in Post Falls, Idaho, where Jimmy’s family owns a vacation home.
“Oh my gosh,” Carol says, “there’s such a difference. Moving here helped tremendously. Wiggles is so much calmer and happier.”
Separate rooms, please
Managing Wiggles’ anxiety seems like a lot of work.
Friends advised Carol and Jimmy to “just get rid of one of the dogs.” Sure, live would be easier that way.
But you don’t do that to a dog.
“We’re lucky,” Carol says. “We don’t have any kids. We can put our focus on our dogs and giving them their best lives.”
They still keep the two dogs separated in the house. They all go for daily walks together but Wiggles and Betty have to stay on separate sides.
Carol and Jimmy also have to shower each dog with attention individually.
“We just didn’t have enough control of our pack,” Carol says with a whisper of sadness in her voice.
“We do better now.”
It’s been about five or six years now that Carol and Jimmy have been keeping their rescue dogs, Wiggles and Betty, separate as much as possible.
It isn’t ideal, but it’s their routine.
“He has taught me so much about special needs dogs,” Carol says. “They’re not perfect. They just need extra care and management. We’ve learned our dogs’ little quirks and we’ve learned from them.”
And one of the biggest lessons revolves around a dog’s resilience and a human’s ability to commit.
“Could I pick if I absolutely had to give one them up,” Carol asks. “No. No way.”
So, she and Jimmy refuse to give up.
Because you don’t do that do a dog.
Rescue dogs of Spokane and North Idaho
Do you want to tell your rescue dog’s story?
I started the year off by limiting this promo to 10 spots but, since I’ve been having so much fun meeting rescue dogs around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, along with their furever families, I want to keep going.
For a small reservation fee of $99, you get a one-hour portrait session, two social media-sized files, and one mounted 8×10. Just the portrait session and 8×10 typically run $169 with me.
You also get featured in a blog post right here on NosesandToes.com.
Message or call me at (509) 720-8784 or click through this button to my contact page for a handy form to fill out.
And now, check out more images from the gallery of Carol, Jimmy, Wiggles and Betty.
All around the circle
Never could I have found a better example of how rescue dogs impact a family’s lives than the story of Carol, Jimmy, Wiggles and Betty.
Pets and their people is the topic for this week’s worldwide blog circle.
I’m looking forward to series of touching stories about dogs and the people they’ve changed. Let’s see how other dog photographers saw the topic of pets and their people..
Start with Jo Lyons Photography, the down-to-earth dog-loving photographer who focuses on cherished dogs of Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle and the Great Lakes Region of NSW. Read her Pets and their People post then click the link at the bottom to get to the next one.
Travel through the circle and when you land back here, you’re home.
Right where you belong.