You Can Make A Difference
How one woman rescued a Lab from a neglectful situation
I have the most beautiful Black Lab named Blacky (I did not name him) and I would like to share his story.
For three years, he lived next door. His first year was as any well loved puppy’s is. Lots of people, love and attention. Unfortunately, several of the “guys” moved out of the house, leaving only two cousins who both spent weeks/months at a time at sea. They always had someone come and feed him, however, with the house empty for months at a time, there was no way to have people driving out from the city to walk him, let him out etc. He was banished to the backyard. Two years, 365 days a year, he stayed outside in our Canadian winters, and scorching summers. I noticed that every few months when his owner was home, he was treated very well. Mike was always glad to see him and made sure that Blacky was walked and got to swim in the lake. Again, in a few short days, such fun for Blacky would come to an end and he would remain, at the end of a 10 foot rope all day, watching all the other dogs in the neighborhood (all labs) go by with their owners.
When the second spring came and I spent more time in my yard gardening (I am an at-home mom), I remembered the horror for Blacky from the previous year. His eyes had swelled almost shut from the blackflies that are rampant here in the spring. I couldn’t bear not giving him any relief from his misery. I asked his owner, since I was around ALL the time, if I could at least take him for an occasional walk or swim. My hands were raw from trying to contain this 95 LB untrained beast on a leash.
Well, in a matter of days I became depressed to even walk out of my front door. I learned that in the previous winter they ductaped around the chain that was on his neck to prevent it from freezing to his skin as it had before. You see, now, when Blacky laid eyes on me, he would practically hang himself with anticipation of any remote chance that I may come to visit. Soon, I realized that I cannot exchange his loneliness for an unending yearning for my next visit while he watched me often simply go inside. I decided that I can’t take him for anymore walks… it’s all or nothing. I knew I had to do something. My mind spun with questions. I had three small children. Is it irresponsible of me to consider bringing in a 95lb dog with so little socialization? Will he be adaptable with one’s safety jeopardized? I called everyone I know, vets, trainers, dog owners, etc. Finally, I asked if they would like to give Blacky a nice home where he will almost NEVER be alone. They really weren’t bad people. They were delighted to give him the opportunity and offered to have him neutered as well.
The first night inside in two years…he fell asleep with his head bobbing as if he did not want to miss anything. One week later, we (forty of us) went on a canoe trip - camping on a remote island. The kind of trip where there is nothing to do but swim, eat and fish. He came and ran himself to exhaustion each day. He spent the rest of the summer coming swimming in the lake with us everyday. The kids would hang onto his tail while he swam in circles. Mostly, he would hunt minnows along the shore but would occasionally swim to monitor the children’s safety then return.
He sleeps in front of the woodstove in the winter, and at the foot of Lydia’s bed in the summer. He is now manageable on a leash… however, it has become unnecessary - he does not leave our side even when he is free to run. He never leaves the property (untied) except to bark at the yellow lab’s door across the street. Daily, those owners simply allow them to run in the yard together. Now, they have a new Chocolate pup - great fun for us all.
Without question, this was much more of an experience to remember and a lesson of compassion for my children than a puppy ever could’ve been. It would warm your heart if you could see him run with glee to the end of our long driveway and sit with excited anticipation everyday when he hears the squeaky schoolbus brakes. Kiss my kids, and bounce into the house with them. Blacky is everything that a pet is supposed to be to a family. We are now his family. He seems eternally grateful… but it is we who have been blessed with this experience and the joy he brings us.
I do love puppies - doesn’t everyone? But, it can’t beat the feeling that comes from taking a sad, lonely or even nightmarish situation and providing a fairytale ending… just ask Blacky.
Sincerely, Carol Fraughton