Thursday, January 6, 2011

All About Teddy

Teddy came into the shelter/rescue where I was the Public Relations Coordinator. His family said they couldn't keep him any longer; it was too expensive to pay the fines for him getting picked by animal control. I asked if they had a fence and a series of information-gaining questions. I shocked by the answers.

"Yes, we have a fence," the man said, lowering his head.

"How is he getting out of the fence?" I asked, concerned about Teddy being an escape artist. No answer.

"What type of fence do you have?"

"It is a six foot privacy fence," the man answered.

"Is he digging out?" The man said no. I asked if he climbed the fence and the answer was no. I also asked if he knocked the fence down. The answer was no. I was perplexed. How does a dog get out of a fenced yard when he isn't digging out, climbing out or knocking it down?

"How is Eddie getting out of the yard?" My question fell on deaf ears. The man didn't say a word. Finally, his little boy answered my question, choking back his tears.

"Daddy forgets to close the garage doors and Teddy walks through the garage from the backyard."

I looked at the man and he nodded. His explanation left me even more perplexed.

"It is such a hassle to have to shut the doors when I'm late for work. I don't have the time to do and, even if I did, I would probably forget anyway. Can you take him - even though he won't stay in his yard?"

I nodded and took Teddy's leash. We were more than happy to take a dog in whose owners weren't responsible enough to shut a door.

His family left and walked him to his run. Teddy lived in that run for about six weeks. He refused to eat the first week, no matter how we begged or what we offered him. His heart was broken. Visitors walked past him every day. No one seemed interested in this Mastiff/Australian Cattle Dog mix that had one blue eye and one brown and whose coat was both shaggy and short. Teddy was too big for people to see him as the lap dog he truly was and his strange appearance didn't set well with them either.

That was fine though. Teddy was adopted by the Alzheimer's Association and became a service dog for an elderly woman who wandered away from home and would forget to turn off the stove. He was taught to stay with her, call the woman's daughter on the phone, and to turn off the stove as well as all sorts of other things.

I get Christmas cards from Teddy every year. One letter told how "his lady" walked away from home one day and he stayed by her side the entire time. He was finally able to get the attention of a man who came to help. Teddy actually ripped the man's pants, pulling the man to his owner. The man noticed the woman looked confused and saw her "Alzheimer's Alert bracelet." Not bad for a dog who "wouldn't stay in his yard."

I learned a few years later that his lady passed away and he now lives with her daughter and four grandchildren. She grew quite found of Teddy and couldn't bear to see him go.

Please think about Teddy the next time you visit an animal shelter or rescue. Most of the dogs aren't problems; they are possibilities with a lot of promise. It wasn't Teddy's fault he was brought to the shelter. Chances are, the dogs you see aren't to blame for their current situation.

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