In February of 2011 the ASPCA assisted in the rescue of several hundred dogs from an animal hoarder in our area. This individual housed over 400 dogs in stacked crates within a series of dilapidated hog barns at one location. Another 100 dogs were found confined to makeshift crates in an empty warehouse in second location. The living conditions these animals were forced to endure can only be described as horrific.
Ruby was one of those dogs. For years she lived confined to a small pen in her own waste within a building with no heat, running water or light, minimal food and water and virtually no human contact. After her rescue she received medical treatment, was relocated to a shelter and put up for adoption. I saw her photo on the shelter's website and decided to go see her. Before I had arrived, the shelter staff had given her a bath and moved her from a dog run into the front office. I found her cowering inside a dark storage cabinet. No amount of coaxing or tasty treats would lure her from her hiding place. I finally had to crawl in and lift her out to see her. She laid on the floor quivering with fear. Even though she had been bathed, it wasn't enough to remove the stench from living for years in filth. I noticed she was in heat and had a large burn scar on her back. She wouldn't walk, but belly crawled towards me and looked up with utter hopelessness in her eyes. Then I heard myself tell a shelter employee, "Yes, I would love to adopt her."
I brought her home and named her Ruby. I discovered her psychological damage far outweighed her physical damage. It was obvious she had never lived in a home with human contact and it had been a long time, if ever, she had seen the outdoors. Everything was new to her and she was terrified -- often to the point she could not eat. Needing guidance, I turned to Sarah Wilson at My Smart Puppy. These are the same folks who helped me with Hannah. With their advice and support, over a period of 6 months Ruby came a long way and she continues to make progress. She may always be somewhat shy, but that look of utter hopelessness in her eyes has been replaced by joy.