On Saturday July 30, 2016 our beloved Breeze finally got her wish and went home.
Heroic actions come in many different ways. Sometimes they involve risking one’s life to save another. Other times they involve standing up for what you believe in, no matter how many people disagree or don’t understand what you’re saying. Another form of heroism is a lifestyle of treating others, especially the needy, with utmost kindness, empathy, selflessness, and patience. These types of individuals often make the very best dog guardians. The SPCA has met many of these heroes over the years, and we are privileged to share the story of our two heroes, Linda and Breeze!
Rewind back to 2010 when Breeze first came to the SPCA. She was only 1 year old at the time, and had been picked up as a stray running near Interstate 86 in Randolph. While no one knew for sure what Breeze’s first year of life was like, all the signs pointed to her not being properly socialized/cared for as a youngster. No one came in to claim her as their lost best friend, she was incredibly bashful, was aware of everyone’s slightest movement, and was always prepared to defend herself. In other words, if she didn’t know you, she’d put on a menacing act of growling, barking, and lunging, sometimes with a full set of teeth showing. The truth was that she didn’t trust people, and these types of behaviors, in her mind, were keeping her safe from harm. Unfortunately, in most potential adopters’ minds, these types of behaviors had them thinking, “Whoa! On to the next dog!” These behaviors were responses to anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. This was not who Breeze truly was.
The “Real Breeze,” (known by the staff and volunteers who took the time to get to to know her), was a loving, predictable, gentle soul that just wanted to love and be loved. Breeze loved hiking, playing ball, learning agility, squeaky toys, clowning around with cats, and cuddling up in the arms of her friends. Yet we had not been able to find an adopter that loved Breeze and was willing to put in the time and effort needed to make an adoption successful. That is, until Linda came along…
Linda first found out about Breeze when a friend told Linda about a facebook page, “3,000 Days in a Kennel,” that featured “Happie,” an old hound mix that had a rough life before he came to the shelter. Like Breeze, Happie was adored by the staff and volunteers that got to know him, but was leery of strangers, and would react in a defensive manner if strangers came on strong, so he needed a special, dog-experienced home. Linda called inquiring about Happie. She said that he looked exactly like a dog she had years ago, and that she felt it was a sign that it was time for her to help adopt another homeless dog after her most recent fur-kid, Ernie- an old Jack Russell Terrier, had passed on. I told Linda that Happie already had an awesome potential adopter getting to know him, but that I immediately got a mental picture of another dog that would be perfect for her: Breeze. (By the way, Happie was adopted in late May and is thriving in his new home near Sylvan Beach! He has one of the greatest Mommy’s in the world, too!)
So Linda started coming to work with Breeze every Saturday. She drove all the way from Livonia, (a 1 hr. 30 minute ride one way)! For quite awhile Breeze acted uninterested in Linda, despite the fact that Linda was always kind, patient, and non-threatening. Breeze would half-reluctantly walk around the pond with Linda, and was genuinely happy when the walk with Linda was over. At times Breeze would even glare at Linda, and make unpleasant noises and faces at her. Every night I hoped and prayed that Linda would stay encouraged. After all, how many people feel motivated to make a three hour round trip every weekend to visit a dog that treats them as though they are a monster? I knew, from the bottom of my heart, that if Linda never gave up, Breeze would someday love her dearly.
Week by week, baby steps were made. Breeze began taking treats out of Linda’s hand, then gradually waiting around a little longer after the last treat had been given. Then Breeze decided it was okay to play ball with Linda. Gradually Linda’s presence became a very positive association for Breeze. Linda always paid close attention to Breeze’s body language, and always respected what Breeze was communicating to her. Linda set Breeze up for success by always encouraging her good behaviors, and by creating an environment/communication style where Breeze would not feel the need to be reactive and defensive.
When I took Breeze to Linda’s house for a visit, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My wildest dreams couldn’t think up a more beautiful place-110 acres of fields and trails, with an amazing, positive radiant energy coming off the land. Uncharacteristic of her usual behavior, Breeze confidently jumped out of my truck as though she had lived their her whole life. We met Linda’s three happy horses, who Breeze seemed to like instantly, and went for a walk on trails that any dog would love! There was no where else in the world I would rather have Breeze live, and no one else I would rather have Breeze live with.
Not long after that special day, Linda came to officially take Breeze home. Breeze is now very comfortable and happy with Linda, although I know Breeze will love Linda even more when the full reality of what Linda has done for her sets in.
Breeze will be gradually warming up to Linda’s husband, who is also patient and non-threatening. It’ll just be a matter of time before Breeze realizes that she has a Dad as well as a Mom. Breeze always has an “Aunt Cindy” that is gradually getting to know her as well. Along with her three equine siblings, Breeze has a feline sibling named, “Catness.” Catness is still getting used to the idea of Breeze as the newest family member…it’ll just be a matter of time before Catness learns who the real Breeze is too!
Once upon a time my heart ached for Breeze, and the crummy set of cards that she had been dealt early on in life. Now my heart sings when I think of her life and how joyous it will be forever.
I want to say a great big thank you to all the awesome staff and volunteers that loved Breeze and helped make her life as fun as possible while she was homeless. Also a huge thanks to Lauren Gautheir, who started the amazing facebook page, “3,000 Days in a Kennel.” That page is what brought Linda and Breeze together. Thank you to Linda, Dave, and Cindy. If everyone was like you, there would be no animal shelters. Thank you!!!!!!