January 7, 2013  

Patience pays off for one adopter as a sad shelter dog blossoms into a beautiful companion

by Maria Villiotti

As soon as I bought my first home, I wanted to share it with a dog. I spent hours looking at precious faces and reading heart-breaking stories on every rescue site possible. One night I came across a beautiful little pit bull; her description was perfect for the lifestyle I could offer her, and her eyes seemed to call to me through the computer – I couldn’t wait to meet her! I called the shelter the next day and went to meet Laila in person.

She seemed almost unresponsive compared to the chaotic barking around her. Severely underweight, a new mom, suffering with pneumonia and covered in patches of horrible skin infections, she was just plain sad. I called to her through her crate, kneeling down beside her, peering through the bars. And the neglected girl would turn her back to me. Although she didn’t make a sound or physical gesture, she was telling me with every part of her being to rescue her.

I waited for weeks until Laila was healthy enough for the shelter vet to allow her to be adopted, calling every day to check on her, and in the meantime preparing my home with her new soft bed, toys, a leash for walks, etc.

I’ll never forget the day the call came that she was ready for me. This was also the first day that the shelter let her alone in a room with me – we played ball, she let me hug her. Laila cried the entire ride home and paced in the car – I wondered if it was one of her first car rides.

Once at home, she anxiously toured the house until curling up on her new bed. I discovered soon that she was a snorer, and both the most entertaining and peaceful thing to watch sleep.

Her initial unresponsiveness quickly faded to boundless energy, revealing a great hiker, swimmer, jumper, and “zumie extraordinaire.” The girl who would turn her back to me now greets me every morning with a bum shake, and falls asleep every night snuggled up in my lap.

Three years later, Laila is still sometimes shy of new people and places but quickly lifts her lowered head to reveal a big pit bull smile, followed with lots of kisses. She’s the perfect weight, with a beautiful coat. And now she will jump at the chance for any car ride, any place, any time! She loves to give hugs and is quick to make new friends, both two- and four-legged. She has a personality all of her own – loving to play hide-and-seek with her best canine buddy, and doing a flip on a lap as to say, “belly scratch please!”

Laila makes me laugh every single day, and smile constantly. She has also taught me the true meaning of forgiveness and trust. She is my best friend, and I have come to realize that she has rescued me.

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