Friday, December 6, 2013

Lia and Hortense: A Special 'After Berkeley Humane' Story

It's not unusual for us to highlight the stories of animals who have been adopted from us, and to report back with how those dogs and cats are doing in their happy new homes. This adoption story in particular moved us so much, and so deeply, that we're dedicating this special 'After Berkeley Humane' post to Hortense and her exceptional adopter, Lia.

Lia reached out to us initially to share with us a few details of how her life has changed since bringing Hortense home. Our team was so touched by her story that we asked to have our amazing photographer, Rebecca Schwartz, spend some time with Lia and Hortense to take a few pictures of the happy pair and to see their love in action. We’re proud to let Lia tell you in her own words about her life with Hortense. Lia’s letter to us, below:

It's day 10 and the fun started when I took her home. She was so timid when I first met her at the shelter, that I thought I'd have a long struggle acclimating her to life on the "outside." Not so! She snuggled right into me on the way home, claimed our little apartment when she walked in, and became the most loving, eager-to-please, smart and funny companion from the very first. I put out a pee pad and before I could get out of my hasty 7 a.m. shower on day #1, VOILA, she had used it already and given me time for a more leisurely preparation for the day before our first walk. Nary an accident at home—and boy is she proud when I tell her she's a good dog when she does it outside. I found out that she did have a bark (hadn't heard it at the shelter) and there were lots of provocations when people walked past my apartment door. No problem—a "no bark" coupled with a "g-o-o-o-d dog" when she sucked those barks into a gulp or whine and she was a proud (almost) non-barker.

I was afraid my little apartment wouldn't give her enough stimulation and activity, but we're working that out. She spins, leaps, dashes for her toys and wears herself out. I live on the third floor and the hall flooring is linoleum. What a joy for a dog. She accompanies me to the laundry or garbage chute, and knows that means that when the tasks are done, I will stand in the middle of the hall and let her RACE up and down it. Great exercise, especially since she skids at the end and has to work hard to regain her control and make the turn and go for another pass. Today I tried letting her play off-leash with a dog friend at the park next to my home. The owner said he loved to run and chase with other dogs and there was no one else at the little park to risk distraction. They ran in wide ecstatic circles until Hortense was exhausted (she has shorter legs than the other dog) and happily returned to me. It's clear that even an elder like me can give her a good life that includes affection AND vigorous activity. Yay!

One of the most gratifying things that has happened is that Hortense has become a source of joy throughout my senior community. She is a STAR!!!!!!! Every elder and every dog of an elder is excited that she has joined us and showers her with affection and approval. I come home from a 7 a.m. walk and the doors open to folks in nightgowns and pjs who don't want to miss a chance to start their day with an encounter with Hortensewho eats it up. She loves being a beloved star and pants to get near her new friends and receive their pets. She's not trained as a therapy dog, but she's a natural and loving the perks.

She bonds with both people and other dogs. No trouble, no trauma. Not sure about cats, but how often is that a problem, since most cats are homebound. She LOVES all the smells of the foliage around here. A park, many gardens, interesting walkways bordered by plants. All a wonder for her. We have about 9 other dogs living here and she thinks they are all her special friends to be encountered on walks.

A curious sideline. I have stenosis of the spine and can sometimes walk just fine and sometimes have difficulty when it's inflamed. I made a personal commitment to weather the discomfort on bad days for Hortense's sake, BUT she seems to know when I'm experiencing pain. We go on long walks on "good" days, and SHE insists on just meandering around the property amongst the plants and gardens and lawns when I'm feeling sore and in pain. My intention is always to give her the good walk she deserves regardless of my condition, but SHE modifies the parameters on her own for some mysterious reason. Isn't she a treasure.

Hortense would NOT eat at first.  I eat organic, so I finally bought some organic, grass fed ground round and boiled it with a greens supplement and mashed sweet potato. Bingo! Hit the spot. Kibble does not. Canned food does not. She can fast for what seems like a terribly long time. I don't mind cooking for her… I want her to be fully nourished and live a long, long time. I tell her that we're going to grow old together.   

We now do play dates with another dog and owner and they romp and frolic happily in the park. Dog parks are just a little too overwhelming for her, but it's not slowing her down. She's turned out to be a good "cafe" dog too. She hates to stay home alone (although her separation anxiety is diminishing), so if I'm going to meet a friend for coffee or a meal, we make a point of choosing a place with an outdoor cafe. She loves lying at my feet and surveying the scene. She is definitely the dog for me!!!!!!!!!!!!

BTW, I made a pact with dog-loving friend who already is bonding with Hortense that, if anything happens to me, she will take her and incorporate her into her little family. I have promised Hortense that she'll never need to live in a shelter again and will always have a home. She deserves that. SUCH an extraordinarily good dog!!!!!!!!

You guys took such good care of her and facilitated our adoption so helpfully. She is NOT seriously traumatized even though she has obviously had hard experiences in life. I am so grateful that you helped her retain her boundlessly enthusiastic spirit until she and I could find each other.  

Thank you all.

- Lia (proud mother of Hortense)

Lia and Hortense, on the day of Hortense's adoption!

Lia and Hortense share such a mutually fulfilling, special relationship, and it was truly touching to spend time with Lia and to hear her telling of her life with Hortense. This was absolutely a pairing meant to be; it’s an incredible honor for us here at Berkeley Humane to see the beautiful bond between these two. Congratulations, Hortense, and thank you, Lia!!!

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful letter! It really brought joyful tears to my eyes!