Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Training: I’ve taught bird care / training techniques
Posted October 20, 2015
Buster was the quintessential "reject dog". No one seemed to want him. Given up to a shelter at a very young age, he was 8 months old when he was about to be destroyed by the shelter housing him for being "un-adoptable". Thankfully, just 3 days before his scheduled death, he was saved by a fantastic local rescue group, 4 Legged Love. They placed him in foster homes but he was unable to adjust and moved around a lot. By the time I saw his sad little picture on their adoption website, sad and standing on a concrete floor, it was clear he was a difficult case. But still, his sad eyes broke my heart and I had to meet him. When I visited his foster home, the woman who was taking care of him was immediately worried that I wouldn't want him. She had clearly had people turn him down. Buster barked angrily at me for a full 10 minutes while I sat and talked to his foster parent, and she grew even more worried.
"Give him time," I said. "He's scared of me, we only just met."
The next thing I knew, he was on my lap kissing me and snuggling me. I knew this boy just needed someone to give him a chance, and I couldn't say no. Before we knew it, I found myself on the streets of downtown Toronto with a very nervous and confused dog, hoping to make him a happy home. When we got home, he made himself comfortable. A bit TOO comfortable.
He clearly had never been trained. Every day was a struggle. He destroyed countless belongings, even ripping up floor tiles and chewing up cabinets to get inside. Crates were a no go- he was far too traumatized and abused to handle it (although I tried for years, he now is trusted to be out and about on his own when I'm not there).
My mother, a big dog lover, tried to convince me to give him back. I wouldn't. Someone needed to give him a chance. Slowly, Buster began to learn proper manners. He made friends with some other dogs, and before I knew it I went from being the owner of "THAT dog" to the owner of the goofy weirdo who will beg anyone for treats and seems to understand English. I don't have commands for him so much as phrases that I say and know he understands.
"We're not going that way, buddy," or "time to go home!" illicit immediate responses from him. He is the smartest dog I have ever met, but stubborn as all hell. Sometimes he is as moody as a cat, but if I cry he is by my side licking away tears. He makes me laugh hysterically on a regular basis, and is one of the most expressive and sweet dogs ever, once you give him a chance.
We have a connection, though, that it's tough for anyone else to mimic. He is my protector, my consoler, my every day companion. I don't know where I would be without him, and still I don't think I realized how important I am to HIM until a recent trip to our family cottage.
I was so worried he would run into the forest, never to be seen again, as in the city his off-leash privileges had been revoked after several near-miss car chasing incidents. My mom turned to me and said,
"Don't you understand? He's not going to go far from you. He listens to every word you say. You've done so much for him. He worships you."
I can't think of any better feeling in the world than winning the love of my little tough guy.