As I write this there is a sweet yellow dog dozing off in her crate a few feet from me. Unlike most dogs who nap the day away, she has been awake all day, playing with the toys she has found in the house, exploring different smells, watching our black Labradors Jax & Tink to see what they are up to, frolicking in the snow and best of all, getting tons of human affection. As I type she is trying desperately to hold her head up but the need for sleep is just too powerful and she has finally laid her pretty yellow head on her paws and relaxed.
I have never seen a dog so desperately trying to stay awake and I am not sure if she is afraid to let her guard down or if she simply does not want to miss anything. Either way it is a bittersweet thing to watch; sad because of what she has been through but happy because I know that she has nothing to fear while she is in our home. My job is to help teach her that she is safe.
Destiny came to us two days ago on a flight from Puerto Rico. In November she was discovered in the woods by a woman who was taking care of some stray puppies. As she took the puppies some food she came across a small female yellow Labrador who had been tied to a tree with a bag tied around her snout so that she could not eat, drink, chew off her leash to free herself or even pant to cool her body in the hot climate. She had clearly been left to die a slow and miserable death.
After being rescued she was named Destiny in the hopes that her destiny would change and that she would find a happier life and a safe place to live. After several months of fostering and boarding in Puerto Rico it was arranged that she would fly to Chicago to our local Lab rescue with whom I am a fairly new volunteer.
As soon as I saw Destiny’s story I offered to foster her. As a dog lover who is active on social media I see heart wrenching things done to dogs on a regular basis and I long to help them all. This is one of those stories where I could actually help. Looking at the photos of this small female Labrador tied to a tree I wanted to just pet her and tell her that it would be ok, that nobody would do this to her ever again.
And so my husband and I found ourselves at O’Hare airport on Saturday, He dropped me off and went to wait in the cell phone lot. We were playing beat the clock with a blizzard warning and a foot of snow in the immediate forecast.
I had to laugh as I carried a large tote with a leash, treats, collar, harness, poop bags and a bottle of water to the baggage claim; it was not my normal stuff to have in an airport. I found the place where I was to meet Destiny and waited, as nervous as I was while waiting for my now husband to pick me up on our first date. After all, I knew this dog from photos and had heard her story. She had just finished a long flight in the cargo hold of an airplane and was being greeted by a strange woman in a loud and completely unnatural environment for a dog.
After twenty minutes a man from the airline headed toward me with a large dog crate on a cart. As they got closer and closer I could hear Destiny’s strong Labrador tail banging against the side of the crate, going a mile a minute like my Tink’s does. I bent over to look in the crate and there she was, a skinny but wiggling yellow dog who licked my hand nervously through the kennel door. I hooked my leash to her collar and quickly got her into our harness & got her arranged so that she was attached at both the collar and harness. The last thing I wanted was for her to bolt into traffic at the airport with a blizzard looming.
After a potty break in the dog relief area I texted my husband and told him to come get us. I stood in the familiar third row of the arrivals area waiting for his car, again laughing slightly at the thought that I had never stood there and waited with a dog and a big crate. He pulled up, we got her into our own travel crate, put her airplane crate into the car next to her and we drove off into the Chicago night as the first snowflakes began to fall.
Two days later Destiny has started to flourish and relax. She seems to be house trained, she has found all of Jax and Tink’s toys and played with them, chewing on antlers and tossing their Planet Dog ball around with delight. Like queen Elsa she arrived just as our world became frozen and she has experienced snow for the first time, scared at first but now dashing through it like a normal dog who just has fun on her mind. She has had lots of love and affection from all of the humans in our family, from ear rubs to tummy scratches. Her belly is full of organic Canine Caviar dog food, we’ve practiced the sit command as well as “come” and discovered a love of Fruitables snacks. In general she has been able to live the life that every single dog deserves.
Soon she will start to meet families who might be the one for her forever home. We are just a transitional place for her, a place for her to stay until her own home and her true Destiny reveals itself to us. In the meantime I get to love up on her just like I wanted to when I heard her story, letting her know that the world has as many good people as it does evil and that this is just the start for her of a new way of life, one where she no longer has to fear falling asleep.