Saving Kody

Kody was taken to a shelter by his owner along with 7 other dogs and 1 cat, all surrendered for different reasons. Kody was said to be too big at 95 lbs. The owner tried to adopt a puppy after all the animals were surrendered. The staff was pretty incredulous at this callousness and the request was refused. Kody was 18 months old and friendly but he quickly began to not do well in the shelter. He started growling at anyone approaching him and did not want anyone touching him. I was called to see if the breed rescue I volunteered for, National Great Pyr Rescue, would take him since he was not adoptable out of the shelter. I spent hours every day for a week sitting in his kennel letting him get used to me. One shelter worker could still touch him and she would put a leash on him and let me walk him around the property. After a week, he was a little more comfortable with me and I took him home. The second Kody got into my car his whole demeanor changed. He became a different dog, puppy-like, playful, friendly, loving, and a huge cuddle bug, but only with me. My adult daughter lived with me then and he never let her touch him. He would scrabble to get away from her and growl if he felt cornered. The betrayal of being dumped at a shelter had a profound life-long effect on Kody. He became the most one-person dog I have ever met. This is very uncharacteristic of Great Pyrenees, who are usually quietly friendly to everyone and can become excellent therapy dogs because of their calm friendliness. Within six months, I realized Kody would not go anywhere else and I accepted the fact that he had adopted me. I have gotten Kody to the point he will allow vets and vet techs to handle him if I hold his head, but he will never be the dog he was before he was taken to the shelter. As a result, I do all of his grooming, which is a big job, and I take him with me whenever I travel. I can't leave him with a dog sitter and I will never put him in a kennel even for boarding. So I drive whenever I go on vacation and stay inside the U.S. Where I go, Kody goes. One of the things I love about fostering is watching a dog bloom into the dog they were always meant to be before abandonment, abuse or neglect beat them down. But some dogs never get back to that original point. The female Pyr I fostered and adopted reacted to her abandonment by refusing to eat in the shelter and was emaciated by the time she came to me, but she never lost her love of people and is clearly one of those dogs that takes a great deal of comfort in being close to people. Kody takes comfort only from me now. People have said how sweet this is, but it is a huge worry for me. I had to go to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital for an illness. Fortunately, friends of mine who are excellent dog handlers and were familiar with Kody were able to go into my house and without touching him or looking at him, put a slip lead on him to take him outside, dragging a long leash attached to the slip lead. On the flip side, Kody had major surgery and the vet wanted him to stay at the animal hospital for three days afterward. The day after surgery, I had to take Kody home because he wouldn't eat, drink or take his meds and was snapping at the staff if they tried to give him his meds. Kody is six years old now, and I just pray that neither he nor I have to be hospitalized again in his lifetime and that I outlive him. It is pretty horrible to have to worry about such things. I want people to think first before taking an animal to the shelter. I realize that life happens and for some the only answer is to surrender their pets, but most of the time there are other choices that could be considered such as obedience training, behavioral training, putting up a fence, etc. My female Pyr was taken to the shelter because, "she won't stay where she belongs." All she needed was a fence. Animals can be emotionally damaged by being taken to a shelter, even a no-kill shelter with dedicated volunteers, so think first and don't always take the easy way out.

A rescuer