I never told you about Bruno, did I? Bruno was our second foster dog from Copper’s Dream. Look at him. How could anyone not love that face?
When he came to us, he was terrified. Cowering when you tried to pet him.
He mostly ignored the cats. Began to relax after a few days. If you crouched down to face level with him, he’d let you pet him without wincing.
Then, one morning, he made a play bow at Tabby: the only one of our cats who actively dislikes dogs. She began to trot, and then to run to get away from him. He thought she was playing chase, so he ran after her. Poor Tabby was cornered and terrified (and lost control of certain bodily functions).
Jason and I yelled, without even thinking. We ran into the dining room (where Tabby was cornered) and separated the two. Bruno very clearly was confused. He just wanted to play and had no intention of hurting her.
We put him outside while we cleaned up after Tabby, and he whimpered. He cried. He pawed at the door, desperately trying to get back inside. For the rest of the day he was back to being that terrified dog who cowered when we came near. We thought it was because of the yelling. But it wasn’t. It was because we had left him alone outside.
He probably was locked outside a lot before we got him. And hit or kicked if he tried to get into the house. Poor guy was terrified of door ways…
He just shut down.
Luckily, I knew someone who had a magic touch with dogs. She came over, had a toy Bruno actually liked and treats he would actually eat. She figured out he had issues around food. His prior owner had probably taken his food or hit him when he was at his food bowl. So we gave him his food and went into the other room, and once he realized we didn’t want it, he ate.
She and I spent the next three or four hours sitting on the floor of my kitchen with Bruno. We just pet him. His body relaxed. He made that whuffling exhalation dogs make when they’re happy. And he got happy dog face, you know, the expression where their mouths are wide open and their lips are relaxed and they look almost like they’re grinning? That.
I’d been so careful not to invade his space, not wanting him to feel threatened, which had been completely counter-productive. He needed contact.
After that, he was a completely different dog. He was happy and playful. It was so amazing to watch him bound after a toy and pounce. Utterly amazing.
By the time the adoption fair rolled around, he was willing to be around a crowd of people. He’d been terrified of that on walks with me around the neighborhood. But he was great.
A man who reminded me a lot of my dad fell in love with Bruno. I told him about the history of abuse. Told him about Bruno’s health issues (Bruno limped and had something wrong with his hip, and we didn’t know how serious it was). And the family just said, Well, then we know we’re getting a disabled dog and that’s okay.
He got along with their other dog. He licked their son’s face. He walked on leash with the father and trotted happily after their dog. And they loved him.
So now, he lives with a family in Cupertino, with another dog he gets along with. She’s not so interested in playing with him, but he keeps trying. And the family adores him. Turns out his hip problem was from a fracture from when he was a puppy, probably a result of being kicked.
This — this is why fostering is wonderful. Because you can take an abused and frightened dog and make him feel safe again. And you can find him a family that adores him.