Sharing the most amazing note from our volunteer Mike. Your support makes stories like this possible.
She poked her head out from the back seat and proceeded to lick my face from chin to ear over and over. I laugh and say thank you and grab her by the head and pull her close. Her snout against my face, I say thank you, again. This girl with the big feelings and the big snout is Roxie. I don’t think it’s unknown by anyone that has been around Second Chance that we weren’t sure what Roxie’s future was going to look like. Staff and volunteers alike weren’t sure what to make of her as her fear and anxiety dominated most interactions. She only trusted one staff member at first and it would take quite a while before she even thought about trusting anyone else.
Like I said before Roxie has big feelings and she lacked the ability to communicate them properly. She presented us with a big set of challenges. So, the first step was to identify things she liked and valued. We needed to build her trust slowly and carefully and let her know she was in good hands, and we were going to take care of her. Enter all the yummy snacks and the stuffies and squeaky toys, so many of them. If you visit the shelter and take a peek in her living space, you will see that she has all the toys. Little by little she started to show us the joyfulness we all knew she had in her.
Once I gained her trust it was time to take her out for a dog’s day out. She was reluctant to get in the car. I waited. She was reluctant to walk too far away from the car. I waited. I sat on the ground with her and waited. I gave her comfort, I gave her pep talks, I just sat with her as she processed. I waited, I learned her language and spoke to her on her terms. I didn’t need her to be obedient, I was not going to force her into uncomfortable situations. No scolding, no pulling, no force. I let her speak to me and I listened. I waited. I was patient.
And then one day she said “Mike, I’m ready to give this a shot.” I could see it in her eyes. I said, “let’s do this!” We walked almost 8 miles that day. I was so happy just to watch her. I just let her go…sniff and explore and dig and roll in stinky scents. I will never forget that day. It was like watching a butterfly break out of a cocoon. She was spreading her wings.
Roxie will always have big feelings, anxiety, fears, those won’t just disappear (she has learned to communicate them better) but now we also see these big feelings also include big love and big joy. If you come to the shelter and see her in the yard with her squeaky toys, you will see that big joy in action. But these big feelings don’t need obedience or discipline or punishments. These feelings require patience, understanding, a willingness to listen to her concerns and the wiliness to speak her language. These big feelings need big hearts like the big hearts of the staff and volunteers at Second chance. Because of that community Roxie is reborn and rejuvenated.
So as Roxie and I sit in my car this Sunday after a long hike in the woods and just a few days away from Thanksgiving I can sense that she feels gratitude and I feel it as well. I am thankful that I got to know her like I do. I am thankful that Second Chance doesn’t give up on dogs like her, I am thankful they trust me and give me the opportunity to work and play with all these amazing shelter dogs. I’m thankful for the donors that make all of these amazing success stories possible.
And I’m thankful that Roxie takes me on these long hikes with her and I’m thankful that she’s got her second chance coming. One day hopefully soon Roxie will go home.
It’s going to break my heart to see her go…and I am thankful for that.
Written by Mike – long time SCAS volunteer
Thanks to caring and compassionate supporters like you, Roxie and pets like her can get the second chance they deserve.
This GivingTuesday, the importance of your involvement cannot be overstated. The challenges faced by pets in our community due to financial uncertainty are substantial. Families are finding themselves at a crossroads, torn between meeting the needs of their beloved pets and their own basic needs.
Your continued support is crucial in ensuring that we can be there for every pet that requires assistance. You can make a lasting difference.