This young dog, christened “Rose,” was abused and neglected within an inch of her sanity, the least of which was by starvation. The luckiest day of Rose’s miserable life was December 8, 2015, the day she was seized by an Animal Control officer with a pole rod, loaded neck-first into an impound wagon, and delivered to Floyd County Animal Control as evidence in a cruelty case. For 3 months she was held as court evidence against her abuser.
Rose loved being in her cell at Animal Control. For there, she was fed. There, cold rain didn’t pelt her shivering body year after year. There, she had a modest bed upon which to retire instead of lowering her chained body to lie in the cold, wet mud or her own waste.
But each time visitors passed Rose’s cell at the shelter, she would lunge, attacking the bars with terrific rage. She was protecting the new comforts she now enjoyed. Anybody passing was a physical threat to that food, shelter, and bed. Her teeth raked my hand as I squinted to read the I.D. card pinned to her cage, a “first” for this veteran.
After a month of interaction with the prison inmates who work at Floyd County Animal Control and fed her and spoke with her, I noticed Rose’s brow begin to soften a bit. She began to consider that perhaps all human beings weren’t bent on harming her. The second month in, Rose would allow Janie Jones, a volunteer with our partner Animal Companion Rescue, to walk her on a leash for short periods. She enjoyed being stroked gently in the sunshine and feeling the grass under her feet. But once back in her cell, she returned to her protective and aggressive behavior.
The last few weeks we could see Rose’s spirit had absorbed a new awareness, even in the damp, loud surroundings of the animal shelter. We tested her with all manner of other dogs to see how she would react. We continued our work with her and the other dogs week in and week out until slowly Rose realized no one at the shelter would harm her. She ceased barking at shadows. She bloomed into a happy dog!
The prison inmates who cared for Rose deserve praise for her transformation from a fractious “Do Not Open Cage” dog to “Rescued” dog. One morning in February, our volunteer Elizabeth Ard had the honor of driving Rose to meet her transport to Virginia and her new river home with a lady dog rescuer. Rose may be adopted one day. Or she may live forever on that gentle Roanoke property.
Rose taught us all to have a deeper patience with wounded and abused beings, to never give up on a cause, and to hold on to any kindness in life with both paws. She showed us that gentleness can return and we wish her a sweet and wonderful life in her new forever home.
A special thank you to Janie Jones for tireless efforts to help save lives in Rome and Floyd County. Rose says “THANK YOU FOR MY NEW LIFE JANIE!”