A pet is for life. In the dog rescue world, you’ll hear advocates use these words a lot. Unless you are ready and willing to commit to his/her entire life, maybe dog ownership just isn’t for you. And it’s okay if it isn’t. But we must remember that just like children, pets are completely reliant on their humans for their livelihood. Pet owners should see their pets through everything life throws their way. They’re not disposable. They’re family.
These words aren’t meant to shame anyone. Sometimes things happen in life and there is simply no other choice; death, homelessness, etc. It takes an incredibly strong person to make the devastating choice to give up their beloved pet and then see it through to ensure they find a loving and safe new home. However, a large percentage of people who give up their pets don’t take such a devoted route. They’re dumped at high-kill shelters or worse, on the side of some road and abandoned without another thought.
We’ve probably all known someone who’s dog suddenly disappeared when life delivered big changes in their life - a new baby, a new home, a new job. It happens even more when a dog is deemed “challenging” or has health issues. But would you abandon a family member just because life got tough? Dogs, just like people, are living things who feel just as we do and when their lives are turned upside down without warning… it 100% impacts them emotionally and physically.
This gorgeous, deaf, Boxer boy is Apollo. A few years ago he was dumped at a local shelter on a very busy Independence Day weekend. His then family decided to move without him. Left in a strange, scary and unfamiliar place, Apollo couldn’t begin to make sense of what was happening and he was terrified. Without ever looking back, the only family he’d ever known had abandoned him. No one will ever know if the reason he was really dumped was because he was deaf, nevertheless the suspicion remains.
Apollo was one of the lucky ones. Special needs dogs wait an average of four times longer to be adopted than those deemed healthy. Many never make it out of the shelter at all and it’s all due to reasons beyond their control. A local rescue however - Adopt A Boxer Rescue - was able to pull him immediately after the holiday weekend and placed him into a wonderful foster home until he ultimately found his true, forever home.
It is believed that Apollo was abandoned because of his deafness and his inability to communicate his needs. A young typical and otherwise healthy Boxer, he was high energy and had no way to expel it. It was clear his previous family had never taken the time to train him, let alone find a way to communicate with him. He was disheartened and that translated into anxiety in the form of jumping, lunging and scratching at people; never in a violent way, rather out of frustration similar to a toddler throwing a tantrum because they simply can’t express what they need. Because of his behavior, his new mom estimated that Apollo had likely spent most of his adolescent life kenneled away. It is easily assumed that his ‘fake family’ simply didn’t want to be bothered.
Today, Apollo is the goodest boy. A true velcro dog, he loves people and is his mom’s shadow. He thrives on structure, stability and of course endless naps and cuddles. He gets daily exercise and plenty of mental stimulation. He is a style-icon who’s wardrobe rivals that of the Kardashians. He definitely wears it better! And he’ll do just about anything for a treat! Thanks to his mom, his fierce and loyal advocate, Apollo has a pretty great life.
Being deaf does not equate to being disabled. You just have to have patience and learn new ways to communicate. For some reason people seem to pity those of special needs, and Apollo’s mom often hears how sad it must be to be him. Sure, special needs may require a little more effort but with that effort comes unabated love and joy.
Apollo doesn’t know he’s deaf and he lives his life to the fullest every day because he finally found his true, forever home. One that will never abandon him. Remember… dogs are for life; they’re family. And what makes them different is what makes them all so special. Dogs are a gift, never a burden.