The Life Lessons Taught by A Rescue Dog


East Bay SPCA, Dublin, CA
United States

            I, personally, have a love for larger dogs because I’ve always grown up with them and my volunteer position at the SPCA allows me to express my passion for animals. One day I laid eyes on a Saint Bernard that looked like it weighed a little over 160 pounds and his nose about the size of my fist. He was laying with the first half of his body in the door way and looking about as happy as a kid in a candy store, I instantly fell in love.

            I went to the employee, Jeremy and he said: “You want to walk Howie? Oh you can’t walk him too far.”
            “But why?”, I asked as Jeremy was opening Howie’s Habitat. And as the door was half way open I noticed Howie had a very small back side with back legs so skinny that it looked unhealthy.

            “Howie has Hip Dysplasia”, Jeremy explained, “He’s a lively dog although his past owners let him be a couch potato and his back legs and hip bone have deformed due to a lack of exercise.”

            It was a shame that the past owners would do that to a dog that needs such exercise and attention. But I played with him in the yard and it made me cringe to see how such a beautiful, majestic dog could run with such struggle. But it really made me think more optimistic because Howie had the time of his life playing with me. Not because he was so happy, but because he was still happy even though he had hip dysplasia and how much he still enjoyed his life even though he had such a condition.

            I played with Howie for weeks and he started recognizing me, not as a volunteer in an apron, but as Collin coming in to play with him. But as all good things have to come to and end, A family came to me, asking me about Howie and how they are thinking about adopting him. They knew the cost of surgery for hip dysplasia correction and the amount of exercise they needed to give him.

            So I gave Howie one more belly rub before I had to say good bye for the last time and it actually made me choke up because I actually bonded with this dog quite a bit.

            Days pasts and shifts of walking dogs never really were the same without Howie. And I started Grooming dogs and that was another fun way to bond with dogs, however there was none like that huge, bubbly Saint Bernard. But as I came in I noticed there was a nose the size of my fist with a huge tongue hanging from a gaping mouth underneath that nose and I recognized the dog I have grown to like in the dog boarding area, and even though I didn’t get to play with him or anything, I saw him with healthy back legs with enough energy and strength to jump over my head!

            I eventually got to meet that family that I encountered that day a year and a half ago that took Howie home with them and they tell me about how Howie was and how he loves everything and he runs all over their big yard and does the things a 170 pound Saint Bernard needs to do.

            That dog taught me that even though things might seem bad, there are more reasons to be happy than you can think. Howie also taught me not to judge a book by his cover. I never saw Howie after that day, but I don’t think I need to again because I know he is happy, and healthy where he is now. He has gone a long way and the big dog powered through the hard parts of life with a smile on his face and still offered to lick your face when he saw you, maybe even if he couldn’t get up to do so. That, for me, is optimism and positivity at it’s finest.





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