Now and Always

Now and Always

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

Now and Always

A few years ago when I was looking for a small dog to add to our family, I contacted the local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and got the name of a woman who was fostering some rescued Maltese dogs for them. I called the woman, and my husband and I drove to her home. As I looked around, I noticed a cute Maltese named Casper. My husband and I decided we would like to adopt him.

The foster mom asked us if there were any way we would open our hearts to Casper’s companion, Kato, as well. She told us that the two boys, who had only each other for comfort, had recently been rescued from a puppy mill, where they had spent the first seven years of their lives. When the local SPCA shut down the puppy mill and seized all the dogs, Kato and Casper had been put in her foster home.

She told us that when she first picked them up, their fur was in such terrible shape they hardly looked like Maltese dogs. They were brown, the fur on their legs was matted to their stomachs, and their paws were swollen and tender from living on the wire mesh of their cage. For seven years, the only human contact these boys had was when they were thrown their food or tossed into another cage to breed with a female. What people don’t realize, she said, is that the cute little puppies in the windows of many pet stores leave parents behind who live lives of neglect and suffering.

Hearing all this, I turned and looked down at the little Maltese named Kato. But he’s so ugly, I thought. And he isn’t even friendly. He growled and grumbled when we looked at him. Still, I felt a tug at my heart and agreed to take Kato also. As we drove home, my husband and I worried that maybe we’d taken on too much. We’d never had dogs that had been so abused for such a long time.

The first day at our home was very difficult for the two dogs. They didn’t understand anything but fear of humans. They stayed close to each other and mostly hid under tables or in dark corners. In an effort to give them a fresh start, we changed their names: Casper became Thomas and Kato became Timothy.

The days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Over time Thomas became friendlier and would wag his tail when we talked to him, but Timothy still couldn’t make eye contact with us. At the sound of our voices, he’d push himself against the back wall of his crate. His plastic dog kennel—the kind used to transport dogs—was the place he felt safest. Even with the crate door left open, he preferred to spend most of the day in his crate, only emerging when we gently pulled him out to take him outside. Each time I reached for Timothy, he’d flip upside down, whimpering. One day I noticed he had a gray haze over his eyes, as though there was a film on them. I asked the vet about it and he told me that it happens to dogs that live in complete fear. They retreat to another place to help themselves live through each day.

I did everything I could think of to help this dog, but he made little progress. He would sit at the back of his crate with his head hanging down hour after hour. Nevertheless, I kept trying. When the whole house was quiet, I sat on the floor and talked to him, but he wouldn’t look at me. He just stared off in another direction. One day as I sat and watched this poor soul suffering in silence, I thought about his past—the hunger, the isolation, the abuse—and started to sob. My heart aching, I began telling him how sorry I was for the pain humans had caused him. My thoughts were filled with the unhappiness and fear he had endured year after year.

As the tears streamed down my face, I felt a soft touch on my hand. Through my tears, I saw Timothy. He had come out from the back of his crate to sit near me, licking the tears that fell on my hand. Quietly, so I wouldn’t scare him, I told him that I loved him. I promised that I would always love him and that no one would ever hurt him again. As I whispered over and over that he would always be warm, safe and fed, he came a step closer to me. A passage from the Bible came to my mind: Love is kind; it keeps no record of wrongs; it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. The meaning of these words was so clear as I looked at this little dog who, in spite of everything he had experienced, had opened his heart to me.

Today, I am still the only person Timothy trusts completely; we share a very special bond. When I call his name, he spins in delight and barks, his tail wagging in a frenzy of happiness. When I sit down, he climbs into my arms and licks my face. And just as I promised, I hold him, gently snuggle him and tell him I love him—now and always.

Suzy Huether

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners