I hadn't planned on getting a dog. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love dogs! I always have & I always will, but perhaps I loved them too much to feel like I could provide a good enough home. I was at work all day and didn't exactly have money busting out of my wallet. What kind of life could I provide for a dog? I knew I wanted dogs in my life though. My purpose for buying a house was to have a place to bring dogs home to. I thought that fostering would be a good alternative. I would be able to help so many more dogs find good homes, better homes than I could provide, and I would always have a dog in my life.
On Jan 17, 2012 I received a text with a picture of my 2nd foster dog. An employee from the local shelter had made a desperate call to Must Love Dogs NW to save this sweet dog from euthanasia.* He was hit by a car and brought in. No family came to claim him, so he came to me. I was nearly brought to tears when this shy and confused 50 lb fluffball limped into my home, with open wounds that couldn't be sutured, dreadlocks and scuffs from nose to tail, and a 3-4 heart murmur soon diagnosed as mitral and tricuspid valve endocardiosis. His teeth were in bad shape, chunks of his tongue were missing, his back legs didn’t work well and he had nerve damage and sensitivity to touch on his back and hind end, but he had the biggest smile on his face as he curled right into bed for some obviously much-needed rest. We took him to the vet to evaluate the extent of his injuries and for guidance on how to care for him. He was always very gentle with me and for some reason I expected him to be fine with them as well. I was dumb. He tried to bite the vet and I don't blame him at all! That still should have been my first clue as to what was to come. I bonded hard with that shy Aussie and, despite my fears of not being able to provide a good enough home, it was immediately clear that we would not have to look far for his forever home, because he had chosen mine and he would soon become my Kona.
I could never have imagined the additional challenges that we would face together, both physically and mentally. The first few months were full of visits to the vet, bloodwork, neuter surgery, dental work, daily wound cleaning and redressing, slowly clipping dreads and nails and brushing and scaling teeth, and the comfy cone of shame. As he was healing physically, I discovered what “shy” meant. It became clear that Kona was not socialized and probably had never been part of a family. His herding instinct was off the charts and he was clearly uncomfortable with touch, strangers, loud noises, etc. I had no experience with such a challenging dog, but I certainly didn’t back down. I committed my life to learning everything I could to better understand him and to make him happy and comfortable, physically & emotionally. And so our journey began...
*I was recently able to retrieve Kona's records from the shelter and his name was Alastor. I don’t know if they gave him that name, or if he came in with it. Since he was on a 5-day hold, I am thinking he had tags and that was his name. It kind of fits - The Avenger.