I haven’t posted in a while, and apologize for that. I have two very happy stories to tell about my fosters Knightly (now Yogi) and Tiger (now Ty), who are living happily ever after in their forever homes. But before I tell you those stories (and I’ll have to do that another day), I have to tell you about Diego, my friend, John’s foster, and ask you to spread the word. John has a dog of his own, with whom Diego gets along very well, but John and his wife have their adult daughters coming to stay with them soon, each with a dog of her own (and one with a newborn human baby) and John cannot continue to foster Diego much longer. It will break his heart to have to bring Diego back to the shelter.
Here’s John, with Diego’s Story (please share this link on social media):
Diego was brought to our open-intake shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in June, last year. He was about 9 months old, dirty and kind of skinny. He had some scratches and we worried he might have been used as a “bait” dog. He had a great spirit, but he also was a big, mostly black dog that had the look of some pit bull. Things got even worse…he was put on the list to be euthanized.
We thought we found his savior; someone adopted him and he went off to a new life. A couple of months later Animal Control brought him back. It seems his savior had Diego and 40 or so other dogs. They were confiscated and Diego found himself back in the shelter.
I recognized him. I had taken some of his original pictures and I knew how much he wanted a home. I had another foster, but I kept my eye on him. He had gotten huge since we last saw him, then about 70 pounds. He also had developed some fatty tumors and was placed in a kennel where he could not be easily noticed. I went home several nights telling my wife about this poor guy who couldn’t get a break. She saw it was upsetting to me and agreed that we could at least get his tumors removed.
We arranged to have his surgery scheduled. Then we worried about him being at the shelter while he healed and decided we would also foster him, just for a little while, just till his wounds healed. When he came home from a local vet, it didn’t take long before he melted into our lives. You see Diego doesn’t want much. He wants food (and plenty of it), something to chew on, and to be on the couch snuggled up against you. He likes to play in the yard with our other dogs, chasing lizards and birds. But he tires of that quickly and just wants to be inside with you.
Diego went to off-sites adoption events every weekend for the next few months. We despaired of finding him a home until some simple folk from across the river saw him and adopted him. I expected he would have a good life with them. It was not the best situation for which I could have asked, but I thought it was good enough.
A couple of months went by and we had moved through a couple other fosters. Then I was “friended” by his owner. I thought about Diego and was glad that I might get an update on him. Sadly, the update I got was not what I expected. They said they had become worried about him. He was acting aggressive towards some workmen in the yard and they were going to bring him to their kill-shelter if I didn’t come for him. I had a number of suggestions but they weren’t interested. So, I took a drive to their house and found out what the problem was. Diego was being kept on a chain in the yard. It was winter, cold, and wet. There had been a fence, but rather than repair it after some damage, it was removed. I’m sure that Diego was just protecting his family, but like a lot of dogs, he gets snarly when not properly introduced to newcomers.
The man of the house tried to caution me not to walk up to Diego, but he knew me and strained at his chain to jump up and lick my face. I put him on a leash, walked to my car, and we never looked back.
Diego got out of the car, went around to the dog door not waiting for me, and went looking for my wife. He found her in the kitchen and gave her a huge hug (“Mom, I’m home”). It was like he never left. He was still house-trained. With a few reminders, he remembered his basic commands to sit, get in his kennel, etc. We were so excited to have him back, we forgot a few things, such as that he still wasn’t much older than a puppy. We trusted him in the house when we went to work but we probably should have been more cautious since he had been gone a while. We paid for that when we came home from work to find he had eaten our sofa cushions. Live and learn, right?
Minor adjustments were in order. Number one was that he had to spend the day in his kennel when we went to work. Number two, we had to keep more appropriate chew-things around the house. That was an expensive lessen, but it did not diminish how we felt about him. He was a good boy, we loved him, and he still needed a forever home.
It was back to weekends at off-sites, posting pictures, and placing ads. We were still determined to find the right home for him. He did get a little interest, but I couldn’t see letting him go to live in an apartment or house without a yard after what he had been through before.
The Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House opened and we were optimistic. My wife and I started bringing him every morning. It was a little out of the way, but we wanted him to find a good home and thought this new venue would be the ticket. Day in and day out, Diego went to the house. Other dogs came and went, but not Diego. One day I got a call that someone was coming back to look at Diego a second time. I left work early, got to the house with plenty of time, and perched Diego and myself on the couch and waited. But, she was already there. She was looking at another dog. She didn’t even say hi to Diego. Was he upset? Not Diego, he was lying with me on a couch. What could be wrong with that? I was the one who was devastated. My boy had been passed over…again.
The months have gone by and we’ve gotten used to the fact that Diego is not for everyone. He’s big and meaty. He’s black and white. He’s not pure bred. He’s got heart-worms. He’s protective. But he’ll climb into your lap when you both know there’s no room. Or he’ll sneak into bed and lay with his head on your shoulder while you listen to him breathing softly, in and out. He gets so very excited at mealtimes, like it’s his birthday again and again. And so very hot and tired when he’s been playing in the sun too long.
Diego has to find a forever home and we need everyone’s help. Please repost, copy, and share this as much as you can. If you want to adopt Diego, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s. Diego is enrolled in a six week obedience class at “Fleur de Lead” dog training in Baton Rouge. He comes with a lifetime of free dog training in Fleur de Lead’s classes for whomever adopts this big, beautiful fella. Also, he is spectacular with little kids and small to medium sized dogs. He also gets along with large dogs, but needs a proper introduction, which John can tell anyone who is interested about.