My fur-babies.
March 02, 2011

Hank is about four years old.  He was abused before we brought him in.  His previous owners starved him, beat him, and tied him to a four-foot lead day and night.  We were told he was four months old.  He was the calmest puppy we had ever seen.  After a week of being regularly allowed access to fresh water, food, and attention, he turned into a completely different dog.  The vet took one look at his jaws and said, huh, look at that.  Looks like he’s not as young as we thought.  They really did a number on this one.  Looking at these teeth, this dog is closer to ten months old.

Hank is part of the reason that we wanted our next dog to be younger.  Rescue dogs can be wonderful.  Hank is a loyal dog and we love him.  But there is something broken about him, something that we cannot fix.  When someone routinely lays a crow bar into a puppy’s head, there are consequences.  In our case, the consequence was that Hank never cared again about food or love.

Sometimes after a particularly trying day with Hank, my husband and I talk about him.  If we had known how damaged he was, we ask ourselves, would we still have taken him in?  The answer is yes.  No doubt about it, yes.  But even so: have you ever tried to train a dog that doesn’t ever make eye contact?  A dog that will starve himself instead of sitting for a hot dog?  A dog that simply does.not.care. whether or not you’re touching him?

Having Millie around has been a pain in the ass for me, the one-woman Puppy Piddle Clean-Up Crew, but an amazing experience for everyone else.  Donald loves her, and she brings back happy childhood memories in spades for him.  Charlotte loves having a constant playmate.  She shows Millie off to everyone.  Last night, she sat down and Millie crept over and fell asleep on her lap.  Charlotte petted her (mostly) patiently for TWENTY MINUTES before scooting her to the side and moving on to something else.  And I have to admit that I am beginning to like her too.  If I close the door to the bathroom, she sits outside and moans until she sees me again.  She follows me around the house on my heels, just waiting for me to rub behind her ears.

In fact, when she’s not eating her own poop, she’s actually a lot of fun.

More than anything, having Millie has benefited Hank.  Lately, Hank pays more attention to us, is more interested in his food now that Millie will happily steal it, and actively seeks our love.  He is more attentive to Charlotte.  He is suddenly train-able.  Giving him a friend made all the difference in the world to Hank.

But then, friends always do.


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  1. By Krista on March 02, 2011

    Dammit.  Now I kind of want to get my kid a dog.  I’m going to blame it on the “about to give birth” hormones and resist though.

  2. By Jill on March 02, 2011

    A tear of sadness for Hank… followed by a tear of happiness for him… and for all of you!

  3. By kbreints on March 02, 2011

    Awe :( Poor Hank! I cannot imagine treating anything like that. He hit the lottery with you though… I bet he is beyond pleased to have that little friend around.

  4. By on March 02, 2011

    I know a few people who have rescues (my dog being one) and it’s interesting to see the different ways these dogs respond to a loving environment. A dog that’s been denied food can be very food aggressive (or in your case) not care at all about it. A dog that’s been denied love can be aware that life goes on without it, or crave it more than anything once it’s there. Much like a person that’s been beaten, they can either become abusive themselves or never imagine hurting another. It’s often times strange to see such opposite responses to very similar situations!

    We had a puppy in our home when we brought our rescue into it and the shelter we got the rescue from made us do testing before bring the two together to see how they respond to one another. All he need was a friend too :)

  5. By on March 02, 2011

    Congratulations on having a rescue dog!  I kow what you mean about rescue animals sometimes having problems, though.  My sister’s rescue dachshund is a bit looney and hyper-aggressive, but he’s so small, he’s still manageable.  And with time, his behavior has improved tremendously.  Our family has a rescue cat, whom we adore.  And actually, she has absolutely no behavior or personality problems.  Just as perfect as can be!  I think all of our future pets will be rescue.  My only regret is that we missed out on our cat’s kittenhood.

  6. By Dawn on March 02, 2011

    Oh, Sarah.  I am just literally sobbing.  I don’t know how anyone could harm an animal.  Probably the same type of beast that could harm a child, I’m sure.  My heart just hurts so much for what Hank went through as a very young puppy, but I’m so happy that he has found love with you and your family.  Please give Hank a hug from me.

  7. By on March 02, 2011

    My sister, while she was in the Navy, lived in a bad neighborhood in the south where there was a large dog fighting ring. One day a pitbull mix squeezed into her back yard between the fence posts (about 4 inches of space) and refused to leave). We don’t know his story but we’re assuming he was used as a bait dog during fights and he had a healed gun shot wound on his side. He was terrified of men and scared of other dogs. We’ve had him for almost seven years now and he’s the best. Somehow he was trainable and we’re so glad.

    My german shepherd/chow mix was wandering on a road when I found her. Nobody responded to the notices I left at the shelters and police station so she became ours. A while later the woman who was her previous owner saw her with us. My dog almost died after I rescued her due to heartworms. Her owner told me they would just let her wander around, have litter after litter of puppies (which were than just taken to the pound, she informed me with an offhand comment) and she was never really trained. Any time I try to work with her she just shuts down. She’ll walk away or just lie down and not move. I understand how you feel with Hank.

  8. By Erin @ WholesomeRD on March 02, 2011

    So adorable. Friends DO make all the difference in the world. :)

  9. By Jenny | The Balow Bunch on March 02, 2011

    As soon as I started reading your post, I knew that I had to write a comment saying that there is a chance that having Millie around will bring about Hank’s love. Then I read the last paragraph—and was so happy to read that she is making a difference with his temprament already!

    My cat used to be mean towards people. She was super territorial of me and her space. She wouldn’t run away like a lot of cats do when people visited. She would stand there and just hiss. It took months before she stopped hissing at Dave when we moved in together. Then we got dogs. And my cat is a changed woman. Apparently our dogs’ love for people showed her how much attention she can get from visitors. She’s a completely different cat now—she loves all people and doesn’t hiss anymore. She doesn’t even hiss at the vet. Getting dogs was the best thing ever for my cat. With our younger dog in particular, she loves chasing him and bullying him around (even though he’s 30 lbs bigger. lol).

  10. By on March 02, 2011

    I loved hearing about Hank’s change of heart once Millie entered his life. Our puppy was abandoned and when we got her home from the shelter we realized she had terrible separation anxiety. She chewed through a crate and jumped out the window once when we left her. But with love and consistency, she has improved so much. These dogs are such gifts and I am so glad they have found families who treat them as they deserve.

    So happy for Hank!

  11. By on March 02, 2011

    I’m so happy for Hank. Makes my heart fill with love.

  12. By on March 02, 2011

    The story of Hank just breaks my heart but I love the ending. I can’t wait to get a dog!  Space just does not permit right now. 

    Also, thank you for your posts regarding homeschooling.  I am 99% certain I will be homeschooling at this point and your blog has been very encouraging.

  13. By on March 02, 2011

    our kady (a rescued pit/lab mix who was abandoned as a puppy, adopted out, used as a puppy maker in her first heat cycle, then dumped after the puppies were born) improved greatly when we got her a friend. kady would love to be able to sit in the house and be crabby most of the day, but ella gets her to play and to not be so crabby. it’s been 8 years of constantly worrying if kady will be able to be receive love and fully accept that we aren’t going to abandon her.
    she loves our little boy at an arms length, but he loves her more than either of his parents. he said her name first, he looks for her to come into the room each morning so he can say hi. he brings her her favorite raccoon toy and throws it for her.
    are there days i think it’s too hard to have a dog who sometimes forgets that we always come back? yes. but would i give up on her? never. liam wouldn’t let me anyway…
    good for you for hanging in there, for opening your home to a new friend, and for giving a dog a second chance at love and stability. there should be more dog owners like you…

  14. By on March 02, 2011

    PS, I just wanted to add that I know the situation of every rescue animal is different, and they all come with different problems depending on their history.  But that being said, my parents’ rescue dog (who was adopted at about 2 years of age) is just about the snuggliest, most human-oriented dog I have ever known!  It’s interesting, though, because like your Hank, he’s not as interested in food as some dogs.  Don’t get me wrong, he likes his treats, like most dogs (& people), but he’s the only dog I know who has to be encouraged to eat his dinner!
    But I just wanted to say that Hank’s issues sure sound to me like a result of his abuse (as you also said), but not every rescue dog will have been as abused as much as he was.  Lots of rescue dogs (even if adopted at older ages) fully adapt and act like totally normal dogs.  Anyway, like the other commenters above, I sure am glad Hank found his way into your family.

  15. By monica on March 02, 2011

    Oh that made me tear up, poor Hank, glad he is enjoying the puppy. I have a head case of a dog, he’s kind of the opposite, always on top of you and I worry so much what he will be like when our much older other dog dies.

  16. By on March 02, 2011

    Damn girl, you are making me want a doggie!

  17. By Help Each Other Make A better World on March 03, 2011

    Great site. Good information. Like it. Will be back to read more soon.

  18. By Megan R. on March 03, 2011

    I. Heart. Hank.

  19. By on March 13, 2011

    But then again, yes, friends always do. :)

  20. By Transformers Age of Extinction free cyber credits on September 19, 2014

    I enjoy looking through an article that will make people think.
    Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!


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