By AGMoore October 18, 2011
The first time I saw Kiara she was in the back of a Kia van. She was at the age when she appeared to be full grown but she had not yet achieved the weight and bulk of a mature dog. She was, the North Shore Animal League guessed, under a year old and had apparently suffered some serious psychological trauma. She cringed before anyone, especially anyone who showed their hands, but her real terror was reserved for men. The bigger the man the greater the fear — but even the smallest man reduced her into submissive, tail wagging retreat.
Kiara is a smart dog and blessed with a loving temperament. She responded well to the affection of her new family. Her behavior was somewhat infantile in that she needed reinforcement, company and attention. When her family went away for a week I baby sat for her and she rarely left my side. I chose to sleep on the living room couch and Kiara slept right there, not next to me but virtually on me.
She had no clue about toilet training — between that and her need for companionship, my week of sitting turned out to be quite a chore. But she has rewarded me in spades. She bonded with me that week and ever since greets me with unbounded appreciation in the way that only a good-tempered dog can.
Kiara is still afraid of strange men, but she has made her peace with those who are familiar to her and have proven themselves to be kind. I’ve mostly forgotten about Kiara’s past and the cruel treatment she suffered. But when I see her terror resurface, I take satisfaction in knowing that Kiara has a good home now. Her family has made a sacrifice in time and money to give her a place, but every day of her life Kiara validates that sacrifice. Like the rest of us, she has this one life. Because of her adoptive family, the days of that life will be filled with peace and love instead of terror and neglect.
Animal Rescue Resources
North Shore Animal League
No Kill Advocacy