We all know the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It should also be said, “Don’t write the book without knowing the real story.” This is a very common mistake that is made time and time again, especially with animals, since they are unable to tell us about their real-life experiences. We tend to make inferences about them based on initial observations; whether they be behavioral or physical in nature, we really can only guess about what has happened to them.
Dogs are the perfect example of that. Some who have suffered terrible conditions are loving, sweet and submissive. Others turn defensive and act out their fears with aggressiveness.
Such was the case with a dog named Goodwin, who was brought to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter eight weeks ago. Originally found tied to a fence in a public park, the dog appeared to have open wounds all over the top of his head and ears. He was growling and baring his teeth at anyone who approached him.
An animal control officer arrived and transported the dog to the shelter, but not before a video of Goodwin was posted on social media. Because of his bloodied head and attitude, the video led to the assumption that his wounds were the result of him being used as a bait dog. It also created a lot of interest in him, as people tend to rally around an animal in trouble. There was a lot of buzz on social media about getting him a home and people expressing interest in adopting him.
Once we got Goodwin into our care, a very different story began to emerge. Did he have medical issues? Yes, but not from fighting. The wounds on his ears were from fly strike, injuries that occur to outside dogs when flies chew their ears raw. He had an old scar on his head, but it was long healed and more likely from crawling under a fence or getting caught up on something in whatever his prior containment was. He has a broken tooth. He had roundworms and he is heartworm-positive. As far as his behavior, he was scared to death of everything and everybody for about a week and displayed typical defensive behavior for a dog in a stressful situation. After he got comfortable, though, he changed his tune dramatically.
Now, here we are, eight weeks later. His ears are healed, his intestinal parasites have been treated successfully, he has been neutered and we will begin his heartworm treatment as soon as he has a home where he can convalesce. As far as his behavior, he quickly got over his fear and now just acts like a goofy pup who wants love and attention from staff and volunteers. He participates in dog playgroups and especially loves to play with the canine ladies. Is he a “project” dog? Yep, he was an outside dog that nobody cared about or did anything for. He needs love, training and to be brought to the shelter for his heartworm treatment appointments; there is definitely work to be done.
Once his story became less sensational (fly strike wounds being much less exciting than bait dog wounds), it seems that interest in adopting him dried up. He’s just a dog, one of many, who needs a home. His story is not fascinating or glamorous in any way; it’s just sad and is desperately in need of a happy ending.
Has everyone forgotten about this poor dog?
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