Annie came to us in January 1998. I was driving back to the sanctuary when I spotted something black lying in the dirt by the side of the road. As I drew closer, I realized that it was a young female dog. Initially I thought she was dead because she remained absolutely motionless. However, when I softly called to her, she jumped up in terror and ran blindly into the busy traffic. My heart was in my mouth, but thankfully she made it safely across the road. I discreetly followed her at a distance hoping to try again in a safer area but, as terrified as she was, she would not let me approach her.
I asked a local business about her. They told me that she had been there for several days. It was obvious that her owner had abandoned her on the side of the highway. It was also obvious that she was awaiting their return and would not go to anyone else. It was just heartbreaking.
I went several times a day in the hope that she would come to me. I left food and water but she would touch neither. She would move restlessly around in the vicinity of her drop off point waiting for her owner to return. After ten days of fruitless efforts I was in despair of ever catching her. I would lie awake at night in frustration, thinking about her. The fear and confusion in her face just haunted me.
That final day, I spotted her sleeping in someone’s yard. As I watched, the owner of the house came outside with two small children to greet a visitor. As soon as Annie saw the children she jumped up and started to wag her tail with pleasure. It was fairly obvious that she had been someone’s pet. It was such a poignant moment to see her watching this family scene as an outsider desperately wanting to belong. It truly broke my heart.
With the activity from the house, Annie didn’t notice me slip from my vehicle. I sank slowly to the ground and waited. For two hours I quietly talked to her as she moved in ever narrowing circles towards me. Finally, to my enormous relief, she allowed me to pet her and then slowly slip a lead around her neck. Success!
It took several months to nurse Annie back to health. To watch her bones fill out and her coat grow glossy was extremely gratifying. However, to see that bright and lively look come into her eyes was the greatest reward of all. Annie’s home, she’s safe and she’ll never know fear again!