29: Promising Monroe

29: Promising Monroe

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Promising Monroe

Fun fact: According to a recent APPA survey, six percent of dogs and twenty-seven percent of cats in the U.S. were adopted as strays.

Headstrong. Defiant. Smart. Quick. Mischievous. That’s what I thought when I first met Monroe, a little wiry Terrier mix I found abandoned in a cornfield. The first time I saw her, I was driving down a country road that divided two such fields, and she was trotting in and out of passing cars, dirty and scared.

I was immediately drawn to this little being. Despite the fear she clearly felt, she had an air of confidence and feistiness that fascinated me. She refused help. She would run, and she was fast. She would be gone in seconds at one false move.

“She could be a reflection of me,” I thought.

Having recently experienced a disastrous end to an engagement, I, too, had become quick to discount new and wonderful possibilities out of fear. Headstrong, I would not accept help from anyone, especially if they made a misstep. Monroe and I both had to learn to trust again after being abandoned.

It took me over a week to bring this quirky girl to safety. I tried trapping her, baiting her, chasing her, sitting quietly with her on the side of the road talking softly, and making myself small and nonthreatening. As I talked to her, I promised I would never harm her. I wanted to help her, and if she’d just trust me, I would never let her down. It was important to do this with little movement and breathing. She was always careful not to get too close.

She had made a makeshift home under a cluster of trees at the top of a hill. Wild kudzu cushioned the shaded floor under the branches, and every day that I rode out to check on her, she would be waiting majestically atop her throne of kudzu.

I would toss her bologna, her favorite food, piece by piece, trying to get her to inch closer to me. One day, I managed to get her within a foot of me with this wonderful, magical bologna, and with a swift movement of my left arm, I had her. She flipped and flailed like a fish out of water, yelping and growling. Worried that I was hurting her, I thought, “I can fix a broken leg, but I cannot let go. She’ll never come to me again.” I wrapped her in a towel and gently shoved her into the safety of a pet carrier. She never once bit me.

She got a little sick in the car, so we went immediately to the emergency veterinary clinic to have her checked out. She bit a vet tech and trembled in extreme fear. It was quickly observed that this little pup had very little socialization and was going to need a long time to recover from her months out in the cornfield scavenging for food and avoiding the coyotes. The vet told me to be prepared for her to become deeply bonded to me from that point forward.

Every little sound upset her; any movement frightened her. She lived in that pet carrier for a month before she felt comfortable enough to come out on her own. After that, we would curl up in bed and watch TV to help her acclimate to noises. We would walk through the neighborhood at midnight to avoid contact with others. She had extreme separation anxiety, and my doorframes, windowsills, furniture and even my walls became victim to her nervous chewing habit over many months.

We took it one day at a time. She gradually learned to go outside during daytime, warming up to other people little by little. She always loved a car ride, so we would ride around, giving her a little more freedom.

As she recovered, and I watched her grow into a more confident and trusting dog, I grew, too. We rehabilitated each other. If she could learn to trust people, so could I. Monroe and I became quite a pair, overcoming our fears and our distrust of the human race together.

Our daily conquests were documented online for friends and followers to see, complete with funny photos and descriptions of the progress Monroe was making. And as the two of us grew, so did our audience. Monroe was an inspiration and entertainment to many. While she wasn’t ready to meet everyone personally, her followers became engaged in her life and mine, cheering us on each day.

I knew there was something very special about this little Terrier full of potential from the first day I met her. And I upheld the promise I made to her sitting alongside the country road.

The inspiration she brought to me and others evolved into a small non-profit organization to help other animals like her. She even went on television to publicize the non-profit named in her honor. Recently, we opened up our home to a new rescue — a little male dog, Monty. Together, we live each day helping others, confident that we have each other. I will never regret promising Monroe my devotion and dedication. This little twelve-pound mess brought me back to life.

~Jennifer R. Land

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