By Janet McAfee

The vast majority of dogs adopted from shelters are happy, well adjusted, tail wagging canines, instinctively looking forward to their new lives with optimism.  They adjust quickly to their new homes, bond with family members, and are grateful for this second chance.  Dogs live in the moment trusting that things will go well. 

Then there are those dogs who are fearful, with broken spirits and unloved souls.  You can see the sadness in their frozen stares and stiff bodies which are unresponsive to touch.  These are the dogs who have suffered massive neglect and abuse.  I can tell within minutes if a dog has been abused, and he may communicate the type of abuse suffered with his body language.  

The small cream colored terrier was frozen, as if imbedded in the concrete, on a kennel floor at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, our county shelter in Thousand Palms.  She was shaking, hyperventilating laboriously, and would not move. A small black puppy scurried around the cream colored terrier. They were kennelmates in the isolation area in the back of the shelter where the dogs are labeled “rescue only”.  I rescued both dogs for Loving All Animals, vowing they would have a better home the next time.

We named the frightened pup Cassie.  We bathed her stiff shaking body, had her microchipped, and readied her for a foster home.  It broke my heart seeing how she continued to tremble as I delivered her to a foster home.   

Foster parent Brigit Hartop recalls, “Cassie entered my home as a shaking, hyperventilating little mound of curly fur, a little soul who first refused to leave her cage.  She wouldn’t move or stop panting, and her big brown eyes were constantly glazed over…Soon she began to wag her tail ever so slightly, and wink with her eyes, each time I waved to her or blew a kiss.  On the second day, she stopped panting and ate some softened food I placed in front of her.”  Soon, Cassie quietly joined Brigit, tiptoeing carefully, and her eyes began to show emotion and even sparkle.  Brigit coaxed her up onto the bed, and she came alive, running and exploring, experiencing the joy of being a dog.

Ed Marrujo saw Cassie’s photo, heard her story, and saw the potential she had to become a wonderful canine companion. Ed is pictured here with Cassie, the dog he renamed Emma. He reports, “She’s come a long way since she first arrived. At first Emma wouldn’t cross the threshold to enter the house, or go from room to room, and she would not go up the stairs.  Now she follows me everywhere.  It’s all a matter of getting a dog to the point of trust so they realize they are loved.  They absolutely know whether someone loves them or not.”

Love conquered Cassie’s fears.  Just as a dog can fill the hole in a human’s heart, a loving human can heal the wounds in a dog’s soul.  Cassie is home at last.  Ed reports Cassie is the perfect little dog, enjoying a life filled with long walks, out of town excursions to the dog beach, and quiet evenings curled up on the couch.  

If you would like to be part of a happy ending for a shelter dog like Cassie, contact the Coachella Valley Animal Campus at (760) 343-3644 for their hours and directions.  Head out to the shelter at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms and meet their wonderful animals seeking forever homes.  Check out their adoptable dogs and cats at The modern building is welcoming, unlike the dark dingy shelters of past decades.

Are you feeling lonely or blue as summer approaches?  Maybe you lost a beloved pet during the past year.  Why not save a shelter pet.  You might end up realizing you are the one who was rescued by a “fur angel”.  Help save more frightened pups like Cassie by becoming a doggie foster parent.  Contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000 to become part of a life-saving foster team.