This post was inevitable. This is the back story to my rescue girl, Peach. Peach, Mario, and Yoshi are my entire world (the latter are my 2 cats). Nothing means more to me than them. Nothing. I would give my life to save theirs. Once Peach came along, I sacrificed everything that used to be important to me, for her.
I was in a relationship at the time and my boyfriend was living with me in my house. He had a dog named Annie. I was so happy and my heart felt full for the first time in my life, because I thought I finally had it all….a seemingly amazing boyfriend, my 2 cats, and now a dog, which I had wanted since forever. Annie got very sick suddenly, and we ended up having to put her down. I was absolutely devastated. I had tried to save her, by taking her to a cancer specialist, getting her on some meds, and making her healthy food with natural supplements. But it was too late. Although she was only in my life for about 5 months, I was madly in love with her and I like to think she was in love with me, too. That happened in December of 2016. The new year started and my boyfriend was ready to get another dog, so of course so was I. We didn’t have a plan, but thought we might even try fostering.
I had seen a post by Maine Lab Rescue about an adoption event they were going to have nearby at the end of January. I remember seeing a post on their Facebook page about a dog (ironically) named Annie. Of course I thought she was cute, but then again all dogs are adorable in their adoption photos and your heart goes out to all of them. So I didn’t really think much of it. Annie was not a puppy, she was thought to be 2-3 years old.
The adoption event rolls around and we go, without intentions of anything happening. We thought we might fill out a foster application to get that ball rolling for the future. Little did I know….
While in the backroom of a local pet supply store at this event, I was drawn to the adult dogs. They were all congregated together with their foster parents in one area. I sat on the floor, just to get comfortable. Annie immediately came over to me, and sat right in my lap on the floor. She was about 55 lbs at that time. I could romanticize this story and say it was love at first sight (or sitting), but it didn’t quite feel like that. However, I don’t believe that’s a deciding factor when adopting an animal. Regardless, I still felt a tug on my heart strings by this dog named Annie. She was a sweet, sweet girl.
We ended up filling out an application and they verified my references right on the spot. Still not knowing that we would be adopting, we left and went to lunch to talk about things. Long story short, we ended up adopting Annie. She shared the same name as his dog that we had recently lost, which almost seemed like a sign. I felt it was too weird to have a dog named the same as our last one, so I settled on the name Peach since she was rescued in Georgia and I already had Mario & Yoshi at home (Super Mario Brothers reference for you old folks reading this).
Shortly after adopting her, my boyfriend left to go fly skydivers out in Moab, Utah. He was a pilot and we had met at Skydive New England that previous summer as I was a student working towards getting my A license. Little did I know, he wouldn’t return home permanently, despite all the promises he made me. He was gone over 6 months of the year. I was left at home, working my corporate job, taking care of a new rescue dog (I had never had a dog in my adult life), taking care of my cats (who I had to keep separate from Peach for safety reasons), on top of maintaining my home and everything that goes along with that. It was a lot. But I did my best. I was also starting to do some training with her, as she had never lived inside a house aside from being fostered. My relationship with that guy was a very painful one. I couldn’t trust him, he continued to lie to me, and he was out there in the desert partying, skydiving, doing drugs, drinking constantly, and making literally zero dollars. I was supporting him financially, along with his habits, though I had no idea at the time. He was and always will be, the biggest regret of my life. And not only for the financial turmoil he put me in, but also because one night when he was actually home, something disgusting happened that I’ll never forgive myself for….
Peach was sleeping. He was laying next to her. Since he spent almost no time with her because he wasn’t ever home, I had warned him not to startle her or wake her abruptly when she was sleeping. She had nightmares often and if I startled her out of her sleep, she would air snap at me. I didn’t know this at the time, but that behavior is actually normal and isn’t that uncommon. I guess that’s where the saying “let a sleeping dog lie” comes from. Regardless, I had warned him. Well he did wake her up, and she snapped at him (but no bite). He immediately stood up and started kicking her repeatedly. I was in shock. Flashbacks of my father kicking the shit out of my mother came flooding back. It probably only lasted a few seconds at most, but to this day, I hate myself for not kicking his pathetic ass to the floor until he bled. I did nothing but cry. I had warned him. That was one of the first of many red flags about this scumbag. Why I didn’t end the relationship after that incident, I have no idea. It went on for several more months, but of course he wasn’t ever home aside for maybe 2 weeks at a time, a couple of times that summer. Because I was stuck alone and trying to do everything, I had to put Peach in daycare, which isn’t cheap. This was a huge expense that I hadn’t anticipated needing. But I refuse to make my dog stay home alone for 10 hours a day. That is cruel and not good for their physical or mental health. I made it work somehow, just like I do to this day. Thankfully I have a good job that allows me to own a home, own a new car (which I bought specifically for Peach and traded in my dream car for), and still have some money left over to do Agility training and other fun stuff with her. However, I may never dig myself out of the financial hole that he put me in because my monthly bills are unbelievable. It would honestly cost me the same to have a child (I also spend way more on my pets food than I ever will on my own).
Now onto her story….
Peach was left chained up outside in the Georgia heat, without food or water, for the first couple years of her life. I’m guessing her owner gave her some food and water on occasion, or else she would have died pretty quickly. But regardless, this was a case of neglect and abuse. She has scars on her nose and face, which I don’t know the origin of (whether it was abuse or from defending herself from predators). Her puppy collar was clearly never swapped out for an adult collar, as she had grown and it was partially embedded into her neck (which she has scars from as well). She had heartworm, both types of mange, scabies, and was about 25 pounds underweight, which you’ll see in the photos below. For a 50 pound dog, being underweight by that much is pretty fucked up. Her owner was given a choice, to either give her up to authorities, or get taken to court. He chose to give her up, thankfully. So she was rescued and brought into a vet to be treated for all the ailments she had acquired while chained up outside. I remember reading the posts about her on the Maine Lab Rescue Facebook page, and the rescue group posted comments about her. One of them said that when they slowly approached her outside, despite all that she had been through, her sad little tail started wagging. And she rode like a queen in the passenger seat of the police car, with her head held high. The photo of her giving her “Peachy hug” to the female police officer is probably one of my most favorite photos of all time. She still to this day, gives her hugs to those that take care of her. Every single day I drop her off at daycare, she gives the girl a hug. Sometimes it lasts for a couple of minutes before she lets them go. And every single day that I pick her up from daycare, she has to give all of her girls a hug on the way out. It is the sweetest thing in the world, and makes every day so much better for me to watch her do that.
Once her health was improving, she was fostered in Georgia by an amazing foster mom that has helped save so many lives down there. Fostering is what she does. Day in and day out. I became friends with her on Facebook and we stay in touch that way. Because I post so much about Peach, she tells me that she truly feels like she’s in her life still. That warms my heart. I had planned to reunite them while on my road trip to Tennessee, but if you read my posts about that trip, you know why that didn’t happen. If you haven’t read those posts, you should.
Eventually Peach was transported up to Maine, where she was officially put up for adoption in January 2017. She was only fostered in Maine for 1 week before I adopted her. My life, since that day, has never felt so incredibly full. I finally have a purpose. I finally have another living being (aside from my cats) to care for and make a better life for. Since then, I have become more active in the rescue community, collecting supplies and monetary donations for Maine Lab Rescue and other rescue groups, as well as helping out an organization called No Bowl Empty Pet Food Pantry, which provides dog/cat food and supplies for pet parents who have fallen on hard times. We have some really great rescues and non-profits here in Maine that truly make a difference and save lives. If/when I get out of my financial hole, my dream is to sell my house, buy another house with a couple of acres of land in a more remote area of the city I live in, and build a rescue/foster/decompression facility for dogs and cats. Not only that, but I want to host educational programs for children and adults, along with canine training.
People underestimate the power of animals. Their mere existence makes people’s lives significantly better and healthier. And they are also a barometer for human beings and what types of people are in our society. By this, I mean that people who abuse, neglect, or torture animals are not only breaking the law, but they are also the same people who go on to commit other crimes. If we can stop that behavior at young ages, we can prevent murderers, abusers, and disgusting people from being silently a part of society. If we teach children to respect animals, we will be raising future generations of GOOD people. If we educate children and adults on how to treat and respect dogs and cats, we will prevent those animals from possibly being abused, neglected, returned to shelters or rescues, euthanized, or abandoned. Why, when animals do nothing but good for us human beings, do we treat them like disposable property?? Why do we ruin them?? Why do we eat them?? (I don’t, aside from that one chicken incident) These are the questions that plague me on an almost daily basis. This is why I’ve become so passionate about things like force free training, canine behavior, and enriching their lives with things like canine sports and simply doing more with our dogs every single day. They were not put on this earth to serve us humans, we make them do that. We domesticated them. We dictate what they can and cannot do. I’m all about giving them choices. I recognize that each dog is an individual and should be seen and treated as such. I want Peach to want to do the right thing because of the bond we share. So I don’t force her to do things. I use positive reinforcement methods to encourage behavior that is safe and acceptable to me and society. It works. And we have fun together as we both learn and train at each others side. She is my ride or die bitch. And I am hers.
Below are some pics of her during and after rescue:
Tender Touch Veterinary Hospital (Scarborough, Maine)
Mutty Paws Academy (Scarborough, Maine)
KT Benard, Pawsitive Canine Care & Training (professional trainer, soon to be out of Windham, Maine)
Judy Moore, Canine Behavior Counseling, LLC (professional trainer out of Cumberland Center, Maine)
Christine Tilburg (Agility trainer out of Falmouth, Maine)
Please be kind to animals and to each other. This is the only way we can change this fucked up world that we’ve created.
Peach, Love, & Happiness