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An animal lover is taught a lesson in forgiveness by the abused pooch he takes into his home.
The dog struggled against his chain. Suddenly our eyes met. I felt a connection, like a current jumping between us. He knew I wasn’t going to hurt him. His panting slowed. I stroked his jowls, then gave him a good scratch behind his ears—Lucy had always melted when I rubbed her there.
He relaxed and stretched his neck like he was saying, “More please.” Cautiously, I unsnapped the clasp on his chain. All at once, he sprang forward, knocking me off balance.
Oh, no! I thought, bracing myself for an attack, for the crushing pressure of his jaws. First on my nose, then my cheeks and ears. Not bites. Licks! I was being kissed to death by a dog. “Good boy,” I said, cracking up.
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The bulldog’s paws wrapped me in a hug and he wiggled his stump of a tail. I led him to my truck and opened the door. He hopped right in.
His owner stared at us, dumbfounded. “You’re not really gonna take my dog, are ya?”
“I sure am,” I replied. My blood set to boiling again. No way was I leaving this dog here with that man. No way.
With barely a nod, the man relented. Charles and I headed back with his vintage truck in tow and a grateful bulldog sitting between our seats.
Sonja met me in front of our farm. “Who’s your friend?” she asked, eyeing the dog in the cab.
“I found him at the junkyard,” I said, letting him out. “He wasn’t being treated right and I just couldn’t leave him there. He was miserable!” On cue, the dog ran straight for Sonja, leaped up and slurped her cheeks. We burst out laughing.
“He sure looks happy now,” she said, wiping her face. “What are you going to name him?”
I decided on Bull Dog. It was a straight-up handle, a no-nonsense name. At first, I was worried, I have to admit. Most abused dogs have behavioral issues or take time to adjust to a new home. Dogs are proud creatures and when they’ve been hurt and humiliated it can take some doing to get that canine pride back.
But after the first couple of days it was clear someone good had trained Bull Dog—he knew all his basic commands and didn’t give us an ounce of trouble. If he could have talked I think he would have said thank you.
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Still, I worried over the situation—what if Bull Dog got territorial, snapped at our other animals? I said a prayer that he would keep his cool.
I brought Bull Dog to the vet. “He’s a good one,” the vet said. “Very even-tempered for what he’s been through. It’s kind of a miracle, you know?”
On the way home I stopped at a café for my favorite snack: pinto beans and cornbread. I set the bag on the passenger-side floorboard. Bull Dog didn’t so much as sniff it. What a perfect dog!
Back home, I got out of the truck and went around to let Bull Dog out. He had a big ol’ smile on his face... and beans and cornbread dripping from his jowls!
“No, Bull Dog!” I shouted. “Bad boy!” Bull Dog cocked his head and perked his ears. Then it hit me: He had never known when his next meal would be. Now he’d have to learn to trust that Sonja and I would take care of him. And I had to trust him too. Deep down inside he was as good as a dog can be.
We showered Bull Dog with love. And he gave us love right back. He’d watch over Sonja and me while we worked on the farm and slept next to our bed at night. As for getting along with our other animals? Let’s just say our calico’s new sleeping spot was smack on top of Bull Dog’s back.
But just because Bull Dog could put the treatment he’d suffered behind him didn’t mean I could. The sweeter Bull Dog was, the more riled up I got at the junkyard guy. And when I saw the scars where the heavy chains had once chafed his skin, I burned inside. That man deserved the same treatment! Or worse.