From nightmare to playmate: Surviving and thriving with my rescue dog

Gacy Lou lounging  after a long day of playing.

When the vet told me, “It takes a year for a rescue dog to adjust,” I didn’t believe him.

The dog in front of me had been monstrous, biting and snapping at my partner and me every time we made the wrong sound or stood up too quickly.

During that vet visit in October, she had already bitten and scratched us unrelentingly 11 different times and I had bandages on my hands from where she had just recently attacked me after a nap.

I’m not one who likes to be wrong, but I’m glad in this case I was.

The last few months have shown me that sometimes it takes love, a little anti-anxiety medicine and lots of outdoor time to bring out the best in some pooches.

I can’t say Gacy Lou is perfect. She’s got an obsessive personality and when she gets her mind on something (like getting into the garbage, trying to get treats out of her toy or sleeping in the center of the bed), she can’t forget about it.

The joy she finds in simple things like catching a ball in the yard or snuggling close on the couch, though, has made this whole rescue journey worth it.

Just the other day she learned how to play fetch with herself.

After throwing the ball to her for 30 minutes, my boyfriend decided to take a break on the front porch.

It was then that he noticed her picking up the ball from the far corner of the yard, carrying it up the hill and then placing it on the sidewalk. From there, the ball rolled down the gently-sloped sidewalk path and into the yard. That’s when Gacy went to fetch it. 

If this had happened once, I would say it was coincidence, but it happened 10 times in a row.

It’s amazing how not giving up on someone or something can turn out to be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

If back in October I had decided that Gacy couldn’t function and needed to be put down, she wouldn’t be learning and thriving in our front yard.

I wouldn’t get the joy of seeing videos of her playing while I’m in night class or have the chance to laugh at her antics when she’s rolling on her favorite toy on the couch.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that good can come from even the worst of situations. My 18-pound, 21-inch dachshund is proof of that.

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