By Dr. Lamar, Associate Veterinarian

GeorgeIt’s Pet Appreciation Week! – time to sit back and reflect on all the happy memories we have with our four-legged friends. I will share the story of how one of my five pets made himself an integral part of my home.

When I began veterinary school I had one cat and one dog. Within months two more cats were added to the mix – siblings from a litter of strays. While most sane people would consider four pets to be plenty, I felt bad that my dog was home all day with no playmate of his own. So I decided to just start looking for another dog, sure that eventually the right one would make himself known. I went to take a quick trip to the local animal shelter to “just look” at what dogs were available.

Upon arrival I learned there was only one hound dog currently available for adoption, and I had already decided another hound dog would probably be best for my current beagle mix. When I first saw him through the cage door I almost cried. He was curled into the back corner of the run, I could count all of his ribs, and he had a full food bowl available that he refused to touch. His cage card just said “Given up, 8 years old” and indicated he had been at the shelter for over a month. Needless to say I gave my husband a shock when I returned home with a dog in the backseat.

Over the next few months we had an uphill climb to help our newest family member – now named George – adjust to a very different lifestyle. He had clearly never lived indoors so was not housebroken and did not know how to use stairs or walk across non-carpeted surfaces. He had to be hand fed and coaxed into eating for the first several weeks to put needed fat back onto his bones. We had to carry him across the hardwood floor and down the deck stairs for over a month every time he needed to go outside. But one day I came home from school and saw he was sleeping on a dog bed (which he had never done before); when I came into the room he lifted his head and wagged his tail. That night he ate his dinner out of his bowl with almost no coaxing at all. And things only got better from there.

Now George is 13 years old, and I cannot imagine our house without him. He loves running around the backyard with our other dog, barking at the deer who run by, snuggling with the cats (when they let him), and by far and away his favorite activity now is eating. I have no idea what kind of past he endured, but he shows no sign of it when you look into his happy eyes now. He has inadvertently taught me a lesson on how to see the positive in my life and I am constantly thankful to have him around.