Our three legged pit mix Max may be a familiar face for some as he's been with us since 2012. Of course the goal for every dog rescued is to get adopted into a forever home. Max had a rough past and while we try not to bring their past experiences into rescue with them, we started to realize in the months after his rescue perhaps some of his behaviors got carried over. From what we know Max was roughly two years old, the close companion to a homeless gentleman which he had a strong bond with. He survived getting hit by a car resulting in the loss of his front leg and even survived a fire in a transitional home with his companion. Once it became clear his owner was not going to be able to find another shelter or home to take him and his dog in, rescue was sought for Max. We gladly accepted Max into rescue, with his huge smile and wagging tail.
Once Max started to get settled and form close bonds with his fosters we realized that he could become extremely protective of his person or space. While we did the best we could to work on this behavior, in the early days we just didn't have the funding to spend $3-4k on professional training. Max then got bounced around to various foster homes and spent time with each of the directors at the time. Eventually long term boarding was sought and finally Max had a place in sanctuary. While it was a bittersweet moment we thought we were doing the best for Max to be able to live safely in the country and have other dogs to play with. Back in 2018, less than two years after we thought Max had found his retirement community we got contacted that the rescue was shutting it's doors due to financial reasons. While some rescues turned a blind eye and never got back their dogs they sent, we knew there was no other choice but to get Max.
We immediately hopped in our rescue van and went to get our boy back. In dog years, two years may seem like a lot to them so we were a little unsure of how Max would respond to us since he was living with new people and forming strong bonds with his caretakers there. When we pulled up we immediately seen Max in an outside yard with another dog. Of course strangers pulling up got all the dogs into a barking frenzy, Max included. We jumped out of the van a little hesitant when approaching his yard but all it took was a little call out, "Hey Maxie" and he turned into a puddle of wiggles and happy tail wags. For a second you are so happy he remembers you and then you are hit with a tremendous amount of guilt that you had to "send him away" and basically were yet another person in his life to abandon him.
In rescue you are faced with a lot of hard decisions, some keep you up a night worrying about whether you are doing the right thing or not and some can bring you to tears. We never take the decisions we make lightly and always try to put the well being of the dog in our care first. We have grown as a rescue from our past experiences and are strong believers in getting the professional training dogs need as soon as we can. It's a HUGE expense to the rescue but one we feel is well worth it. We often think back, had we been able to spend that kind of money when Max first arrived, would he have been able to find his forever home? Could Max have had a better life than the one he has now?
It's been three years since Max came back to our rescue. He is safe and he is happy so that's all we could ever hope for. He gets to spend his golden years at my house being the wise older foster brother to all the dogs that come through and basking in the sun, simply enjoying life. Sure it's not always easy, if I have visitors to the house I have to be extra careful, if he is out in the yard my gates are pad locked, I have the responsibility to make sure no one gets hurt. We made that commitment when we rescued him and will do what it takes to make it work. We are lucky enough to have a rescue partner that is also able to safely handle him so he has another safe place for when I have to leave town etc. Sometimes I feel like things always revolve around Max's care but you make it work, that's just what you do. It's the least I can do for a dog that I have no doubt would protect me with his life if need be. ~JL~