A second chance, prerequisite for redemption

Seven months ago my wife and I made a whim decision to adopt a dog from a local shelter. It was a difficult decision for me as I had always been in the mindset to buy a puppy and avoid all the behavioral issues that can come with an adult dog. Not knowing what we were looking for, we headed to local shelters to find one that felt good. This is not the best criteria to use when looking for a new member for your family. We visited two facilities and fell in love with several candidates. They were all cute, adorable, and eager to impress. And, each had a list of issues cited that explained why they were dropped.

We settled on a two-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix named Chai. Her bio included aggression toward other dogs, aggression toward cats, separation anxiety, and leash pulling. She was said to be good with children and somewhat adventurous, and she was educated. Her striking black and white appearance, her energy, and her demeanor proved to be enough for us to brush past the negative story and give her a second chance.

It took him a few days to adjust to his new surroundings, but overall, he did pretty well. Unfortunately, the little information card at the shelter was extremely accurate in describing his behavior. He was terrible on walks, pulling to the point of developing a severe cough. The mere sight of another dog regardless of its proximity caused ferocious growling and barking. We watched episode after episode of “The Dog Whisperer” but made little progress with Cesar’s tactics. Our love for her grew day by day as did our concern for her conduct.

We enrolled Chai and ourselves in a dog training class at the local Vet Clinic rather than commit her to a life of seclusion. Returning her to the shelter was unthinkable. One night a week for seven weeks, with a little practice and patience in between, it worked. We learned that we had a dog that had never been properly socialized and we were given the tools and confidence we needed to help our little companion. His progress has been remarkable and we now go to the dog park regularly without fear of incident. The time we spent together working on the problems increased our bond and helped build mutual trust and respect.

It would have been quite painful but quite simple to just return Chai to the shelter and hope for the best. It has become such an accepted part of our culture to simply turn our backs when someone or something needs our help. Just avoid getting involved, or if you are involved, find a way out if possible. I know I am guilty of this repeatedly throughout my life and I wonder how many second chances I have denied friends and loved ones.

It took a puppy that nobody wanted, to teach me a lesson that I hope to remember forever; make the most of my second chances and help others make the most of theirs. Through hard work, commitment, trust, and love, I believe each of us found some redemption together.

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