Second chance, prerequisite for redemption

Second chance, prerequisite for redemption

Seven months ago, my wife and I decided to adopt a dog from a local shelter. This was a difficult decision for me as I have always had the mindset of buying a puppy and avoiding any behavioral problems that can occur with an older dog. Not knowing what we were looking for, we hit the local shelters to find one that just seemed right. This is not the best criteria to use when looking for a new member of your family. We visited two facilities and fell in love with several candidates. They were all sweet, attractive and eager to impress. And each had a list of cited questions that explained why they were rejected.

We settled on a two-year-old Australian cattle mix called Chai. Her history included aggression towards other dogs, aggression towards cats, separation anxiety and leash pulling. She was said to be good with children and somewhat of an adventurer, and she was smitten. Her striking black and white look, energy and demeanor proved enough to make us overlook the negative story and give her a second chance.

It took her a few days to get used to her new surroundings, but overall she did pretty well. Unfortunately, the little information card at the shelter was extremely accurate when describing her behavior. She was terrible on walks, pulling to the point of developing a severe cough. The very sight of another dog, no matter how close, 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 every day, and so did our concern for her behavior.

We enrolled Chai and myself 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, did the trick. We learned we had a dog that had never been properly socialized and were given the tools and confidence we needed to help our little companion. Her progress has been remarkable and we now go to the dog park regularly without fear of accidents. The time we spent working through issues together increased our bond and helped develop mutual trust and respect.

It would be pretty painful, but a simple enough thing 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 at all possible. I know I’ve been guilty of this many times throughout my life, and I’m left wondering how many second chances I’ve denied friends and loved ones.

It took a little dog that nobody wanted to teach me a lesson that I hope I will remember forever; to make the most of my second chance and help others make the most of theirs. Through hard work, dedication, trust and love, I think we each found redemption together.

#chance #prerequisite #redemption

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