by Loving Dog Mom
When I was younger, I struggled with depression, a lot of emotional problems, and had difficulty relating to people. My mother decided it was time to get a dog, hoping a pet would help me out. We searched for a few months, mostly at rescues and the humane society at Petsmart. We were looking for a small dog, but we were unsure of what breed.
I remember very clearly the first time I saw my little shih-tzu, Leo. It was the day after Valentine's Day. He was in the bottom right crate of the Humane Society setup at Petsmart. The dogs in the crates next to him were all excited and hopping around in their crates, but he lay in a tight little ball, his head lazily turned over his shoulder so he could see us. He looked old and ragged, his fur all chopped up, dirty, and chunky from a mercy groom. His right eye bulged, cloudy and covered with scar tissue from an untreated eye ulcer. At first, we almost passed him over because of how old he looked, but we happened to see on the papers over his crate that he was only about a year and a half old.
We went in the back with the Humane Society volunteer to meet Leo. The volunteer (Tom in AZ, you know who you are. :) ) let him out and for as calm and nonchalant as he was in the crate, he was a very spunky, friendly boy. He came right over to us and said hello, his tail wagging.
That was enough for me.
For $75, we took him home. We gave him a bath and he turned from brown to strawberry blonde and white. I never changed his name; Leo the little lion dog fit him just fine. When we first put him in his new crate with his new bed, he started digging at it. We thought we'd brought home a trouble maker, but he never did it again. (Until we bought him another new bed. As it turns out, it's just a quirk he has. New bed? Must scratch!)
Since that day, Leo has been my light and my life. He's given me hope, and helped me to relate with people. He's the reason I'm a groomer, and the reason I'm alive. He's been fun to work with and follows me everywhere. I feel he's a very successful rescue. He came with some behavioral problems (biting for grooming, not so good with small children) but has overcome them all. He's earned his CGC, and, despite being blind in his right eye, loves to work for me in his trick training classes.
Leo is nine and a half years old now, and I hope he'll be around for several more years to come. When he's not, I will be rescuing again. The dogs in rescue need loving homes, and when they get them, they are eternally grateful.
You can't get any better than that.