I Forgot To Tell You

Probably one of the saddest things ever happened today. I told you about how Walt gave me that great walking stick, so today I went to take the girls on a walk. Got their leashes on, had them both in the left hand because that shoulder can handle both of them jerking, and grabbed the walking stick with my right hand…

and Lily did everything but wet herself. She saw the stick, immediately cowered and rolled over onto her back in submissive mode as if I was going to beat her. I said “Lily, what are you doing?” and even dragged her like two inches on her back, but she was not getting up or going anywhere near that walking stick.

Can you believe that someone beat Lily before? I’m serious, the look on her face almost broke me.

113 replies
  1. 1
    Yatsuno says:

    OMG poor Lilypuppeh!!! I hope you gave her some extra treats and loves to calm her down after that. Someone needs their balls removed, and not just Papa Boss Hemingway.

  2. 2

    People are the worst. Poor Lily. {{{Lily}}}

  3. 3
    Paddy says:

    Yes, she remembered. Sigh. So sad that it stays with them so long. Boo’s previous owner hit her also, and sometimes we’ll say or do something that triggers a cowering response from her that just floors us.

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    Oh my gosh. Poor Lily. She’s such a sweetie. Who in the world could have hit her with anything, let alone a stick. Makes me so sad. :(

  5. 5
    marianne19 says:

    That is so sad. Something similar happened to me with one of my rescues and a broom. She went and hid, cowering and shaking. It just breaks your heart to realize they’ve been beaten. But Lily is safe now.

  6. 6
    Hawes says:

    Given the past two weeks in your life, I’d say that’s not the worst thing. Our pup is a rescue and it’s taken a while, but she is no longer scared to the point of voiding herself over things like leashes, car rides or loud noises.

  7. 7
    AliceBlue says:

    Poor sweet Lily. {Hugs and scritches}.

  8. 8
    billberger says:

    We’re living in an era where assuming that anyone is a decent human being is an act of irrational optimism.

  9. 9
    JPL says:

    When Miss Moxie would cower, I’d tell her to get up and come. A few times I had to help her get up but get up she did. It sounds cold to say I ignored it, but it helped her recover. Gosh, I miss her.

  10. 10
    Mary G says:

    My cat Shiloh flinches when I go to pet his head when he’s not expecting it. I want to find his former owner and smack him one or two thousand times upside the head.

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    If you rubbed the stick with something to make it smell good to Lily and then left it on the floor where she could see it, maybe she would eventually equate that stick with something positive. I don’t know. Just a thought. Probably get all chewed up by Rosie before Lily would ever get near it.

  12. 12
    Fluke bucket says:

    We once had a dog that would freak totally out if he saw a person with a broom. Damn a son of a bitch that would beat an animal with a broom or stick or anything else.

  13. 13
    hilzoy says:

    Same with my two rescues. My boyfriend at the time was really not a very threatening guy, but the first time he was over, he made some perfectly ordinary gesture with his hands and they both ran to the corner and cowered. Broke my heart.

  14. 14
    PST says:

    Fifteen years ago we brought a beautiful orange and white cat home from the local shelter. He’s still with me. He bonded most closely with me from the start, probably because he spent the first two weeks with me in my office while we slowly introduced him and the resident cat to one another by smell, then door slightly ajar, then supervised visits, etc. We all know the drill. He’s been my buddy ever since. And yet, when I approached him on foot, he would run away. He didn’t move a muscle for my wife or young son, but I was a big guy, over six feet, over 250 pounds, and he’d take off if I clumped his way in my big shoes. It dawned on me then that in his previous life, there must have been a big man whose approach brought a kick, and he learned to stay out of the way. I mention this because now Kenny shows no fear of my heavy tread. The change was as gradual as can be. Animals don’t draw an inference and act on it quite like we do, but Kenny learned over the course of years that I wasn’t like that other man, and his fear went away. I’m sorry for Lily, but I’ll bet in time she too will learn that the stick is not a threat when it’s in her best friend’s hand.

  15. 15
    raven says:

    She has you now and now you know. It’s all good. Don’t make yourself nuts trying to figure out how and why people do what they do.

  16. 16
    hilzoy says:

    And my cat Tea: some complete jerk abandoned her in a cat carrier in an alley. She is a little better with cat carriers now, but the first time I put her in one, she clawed herself bloody trying to get out.

    Edited to add: obviously, I only put her in them when she *has* to go to the vet.

  17. 17
    maya says:

    Maybe Lily just has a fear of Hercule Poirot. Or Moses.

  18. 18
    Hungry Joe says:

    My brother’s rescue border collie, the sweetest creature ever, was abused by a previous owner. I, who haven’t struck anyone since age 9 (and I lost that fight), fantasize about beating the holy living (and dying) crap out of whoever harmed that dog.

    Cole: You say “… the look on her face almost broke me.” Understandable, but try this: “When I saw that look on her face it broke me, but at the same time I knew that she would never, ever, EVER have that look on her face again.” You’ve got her back … and her front, and all sides. Lucky doggie. Lucky man.

  19. 19
    RSR says:

    Now you know. And can help her. So sad that anyone treats their pets–or any animal, or anyone defenseless–like that.

  20. 20
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Oh, that makes me so sad. I’m not sure what goes on in dog brains, but my heart just goes out to her. Poor Lily. And I hope whoever beat her with a stick is consigned eternally to a circle of hell with never-ending thrashings, and rabid dogs nipping at their balls. She loves you, though, and I hope and believe you can quickly reassure her that nobody will ever hit her again, EVER.

  21. 21
    Amir Khalid says:

    I guess that walking stick’s not coming along on any more walks with Lily. Poor girl.

  22. 22
    Old Dan and Little Ann says:

    If someone told me they knew exactly what horrors my current dog went through I would say, I don’t want to know. I can’t change the channel fast enough when those animal abuse commercials appear on tv.

  23. 23
    realbtl says:

    Yup, both my previous and current rescue dogs would flinch when I went to pet them on the head. I just moved very slowly and kept at it and they adjusted in about 1.5 years. So much so that my Weimaraner has turn into a total attention hog.

  24. 24
    WereBear says:

    @Violet: That is not such a bad idea. We can re-train their associations, sometimes.

    Purging the Database

    It depends on how common the item is, or how severe the reaction.

  25. 25
    raven says:

    Lil Bit was dumped in a box on out vets steps. She was filthy, peeing blood and her eyes were just horrible. It will be a lifelong deal to preserve her vision (actually we do expect her to lose it at some time). The strange thing is that we find no evidence of her being abused, neglected yes, but she loves anything that has the remote possibility of giving her a treat. For the first few months we had her she would perk up at the sound of voices down the street, she was obviously looking for someone. Our best guess is that , with all her medical issues, someone did the only thing that gave her a chance and that was to dump her.

  26. 26


    That just breaks my heart.

  27. 27
    NotMax says:

    May you never require crutches.

  28. 28
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale: How’s the hand?

  29. 29

    Of course, we never know what our animals really are responding to. I have one dog who is completely neurotic, she’ll be fine and then all of a sudden develop a strange phobia about someting. One day she just decided she was terrified of the laundry, as in, the noise it made when we shook out the clothes. Dunno where that came from but she eventually got over it. She still hates it when I cook — guess it’s the sound of the fan over the stove. She’s fucking nutz.

  30. 30
    Culture of Truth says:

    That’s disturbing.

    I got Tiger as a kitten. But he’s still twitchy. Just today he was relaxing on my lap, on his back, on my purring, with his eyes closed, basically in heaven… then there was a noise outside like a door slamming and he immediately startled and bolted out of the room, drawing blood. I said, “really, after all these years?” I guess he’ll always like this.

  31. 31
    Violet says:

    John, can we have Lily and Rosie photos? We haven’t seen them for awhile.

  32. 32
    Garbo says:

    That’s heartbreaking. She so needed you.

  33. 33
    cckids says:

    Our Pomeranian was like this when we found him, with any type of a stick, broom, anything, he’d hide & cower abjectly. Also we found we couldn’t walk around with a rolled/folded magazine or newspaper, he’d get terrified.

    I don’t know if he was beaten or just threatened & scared all the time. He weighed barely 10-lbs!! And he was & is the sweetest, most loving little thing ever.

    People just suck sometimes.

  34. 34
    Citizen_X says:

    That is truly awful.


    I hope whoever beat her with a stick is consigned eternally to a circle of hell with never-ending thrashings, and rabid dogs nipping at their balls. reincarnated as a dog.

    Fixt for great justice!

  35. 35
    melissaD says:

    @Hungry Joe:Perhaps it will work out that John can work with her to not be afraid of the commonplace of the thing and remove the nightmare connection. Or remove the worry, either works for me. But his story about Lily had the waterworks a-pouring again.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    Violet says:

    As much mopping as John does, has Lily never be terrified of the mop handle? Broom handle? Is there something special about this stick?

  38. 38
    raven says:

    @melissaD: Seems pretty simple, don’t pick up a stick around her.

  39. 39
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    OMG. :(

    We have a rescue cat, only 1 when we adopted him, who has a pattern of flinches that leads me to believe he was mistreated. We don’t use the full-sized broom often enough to desensitize him to it, preferring whisk brooms and dust busters and roombas, so when the big broom does come out, he disappears.

    Desensitizing can be done. It takes a lot of patience, but I have confidence you’ll pull it off.

  40. 40
    ruemara says:

    I’m sorry for Lily. People like that are horrible. I agree with helping Lily understand that this thing she fears will never happen again. It work the same way for humans.

  41. 41
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OK, this is something Darrel Issa and his other brother Darrel need to actually investigate.

    Who beat Lily with a stick in the past? Who?

    Benghazi is NOTHING compared to this.

    Get off your worthless felon ass, Issa, and start investigating THIS.

  42. 42
    Jay Essell says:

    My previous dog, a sweet beagle-bluetick hound, did the same thing when I took him to a church carnival — we got near the booth where the air pistols were to shoot at balloons, ears and tail went down and he just froze. Same dog was home when the house was robbed a few years later, and I found my umbrella on the couch — when I picked it up in the course of straightening up the mess the thieves left, he cowered then too. Sons o’ b!tch3s. House was robbed twice while I had that dog — luckily he was never hurt, but I do have a much bigger and more territorial dog these days :)

  43. 43

    Boss cat was scared of his own shadow when we first got him, but he is much more confident and much less scaredy now.

  44. 44

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Probably a Republican. They have a history of dog abuse … Huckabee’s son … Romney’s dog on the roof … the infamous Julia Hurley ….

  45. 45
    MikeS says:

    The same thing happened right after we adopted our previous dog right before Christmas. When I got our rolling pin out of the cabinet to roll out sand tart cookies she just cowered in a corner so I set it down until she left the room. She she didn’t have a problem after a while and I don’t think it was that long a time. I don’t roll out cookies that often though.

    I hope Lily does learn that you would truly never hit hit with a stick. I remember how upset I was when I realized someone had hit Marta, she was a sweet dog. I still miss the way she used to rub her head against my chest while she was sitting on my lap and she has been gone for over 10 years now.

  46. 46
    Ruckus says:


    Ain’t that the truth.

    I don’t know if it was ever really different but as we become more interconnected we get to see how many assholes there really are.

  47. 47
  48. 48
    catclub says:

    OT: Ezra Klein thinks Larry Summers is frontrunner for Fed Chairman.
    This would not be good.

    Janet Yellen should be it, assuming there is no way Krugman would be.

    With any luck Ezra K is misinformed.

  49. 49
    Kristine says:

    Mickey, my first rescue, was a victim of divorce–he and his buddy were removed from a filthy house where they were left alone for days at a time. Mickey would leave the room if he heard a certain type of male voice on the TV. He would also leave if you swore, no matter how quietly. One day, I made the mistake of bopping him lightly on the bottom with an empty paper towel roll. He cowered and shook so–it took me a while to settle him down. If I did the same thing to King, he’d go into puppy crouch and try to grab the roll, but with Mickey it was a no-no for years. He did get over it, though. Some gradual exposure to non-hitting sticks may allow Lily to adjust.

  50. 50
    👾 Martin says:

    I don’t know. Our corgi is really afraid of brooms and rakes and cowers and runs and if feels cornered will attack them.

    But we got him as a puppy from a litter bred for show, from people that also run a corgi rescue. No way he was abused, but he’s just really, really weird around people holding sticks. We were told by the trainer that a lot of dogs react that way – didn’t surprise him at all.

  51. 51
    Karen in GA says:

    Poor Lily. Humans can really suck sometimes.

    @JPL: I think the point of that approach is to show the dog it’s no big deal, rather than reinforcing their fear, correct? I know last time we had a dog, I did that with everything he seemed unsure about. Thunderstorm scaring him? I’d ignore him and go look out the window. New people? I’d ignore him looking at me, and walk right over to them. He’d get over his skittishness pretty quickly. He ended up a confident, happy little pup.

    He’d never been beaten as far as I know, though. If he’d been like Lily, I don’t know if I would have had the heart to act like the stick was no big deal, even knowing it would probably help. (He had, however, been abandoned to die in the woods in January. If my neighbor had found him a day or two later, it might have worked. Did I mention that humans can really suck sometimes?)

  52. 52
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I have one dog who is completely neurotic, she’ll be fine and then all of a sudden develop a strange phobia about someting.

    Our usually very mellow rescue Zevon went completely nutz when we tried using air cleaners. We finally figured out that the occasional high-pitched zitz of a particulate hitting the filter was giving him flashbacks to the noise electric fences make. He’s an incorrigible runaway — apparently the mild shock wouldn’t keep him from escaping but it would discourage him from going back home again, according to further research.

    He’s been living with us for almost seven years now (he was five when we got him), but he still decides upon occasion that it’s too scary to come in the door after we let the dogs out in the (securely fenced) back yard. Again, the runrunrun glitch in his brain presumably led him to dash out an open door (which he’ll still do, the little punk), but once he’s outside he remembers “hey, I’ll get punished when I go back there”. And when it’s late at night, raining buckets, and/or there’s a foot of crusted snow I have to trump thru to go pick him up & carry him back from the side yard, I’ll admit I can understand the temptation!

  53. 53
    Loneoak says:

    My dog is still terrified of trucks, especially if they have a rattling trailer, almost a decade after being abandoned on the freeway as a sick puppy. Fear runs deep, and unfortunately human cruelty runs just as deep.

  54. 54
    Kay (not the front-pager) says:

    My kitty that died 2 years ago was deathly afraid of men in billed (baseball) caps. He could be sitting on my husband’s lap purring contentedly, then hubby would put his cap back on in preparation to go outside & Medieval would take off like a bat out of Hell. Same thing happened when he heard spraying water, such as a shower. I don’t know what happened to him but his fear stayed with him almost to the end of his life.

    If my son is reading this he’ll know it’s Mom both from the behavior and from the cat’s name. He (the cat not my son) was pure black and the teenager at his foster home thought the name fit. We did too so we kept it.

  55. 55
    marindenver says:

    @Culture of Truth: Yeah, that’s just like my cat Twyla. She was a rescue – about a year old at the time and no signs she had ever been abused but she’s just neurotic as hell sometimes. ;-)

    My other rescue cat, Ginger, though, was probably on the streets at some point as she has a shredded ear. She will not get in your lap – gives me a look of “please, please don’t do that”. So I’m assuming some former owner did something bad to her when she wanted to be a lap cat. Which breaks my heart as she is the sweetest, most loving kitty ever. However, after 4 years with us, she will now come and lay on my chest if I’m reading in bed and gives me the most loving look! So maybe she’ll try the lap again one of these days.

    It just breaks your heart to think that these wonderful, sweet rescue cats and dogs endured the abusive shit that former sociopath owners inflicted on them but remained sweet and loving companions. And thank goodness we found them and took them home.

  56. 56
    YellowJournalism says:

    Oh my god…reading that just about Made me cry. Poor, sweet Lily.

  57. 57
    wmd says:

    A friend’s dog used to be very upset with me when I needed a cane to walk. He’d bark at me until I sat down and wasn’t holding the cane any more. I’m pretty sure this dog has belonged to the friend since he was a puppy and was never beaten, it just had a phobia about people holding a cane.

    Now that I don’t need a cane the dog is totally fine with me.

  58. 58
    JohnK says:

    My dog runs away whenever I drive by on the lawn mower and I’ve never run him over even a single time!

  59. 59
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    People suck. I’m not usually affected by commercials but that one of abused animals run by the Humane Society gets to me.

    My dog showed no fear of loud noises till he was about 4, then thunder or fireworks scared the crap out of him. He’s crossed over the bridge, but I permanently soured on fireworks cause of him. He hated the vacuum, too, he’d leave the room, but I somehow always got the sense he was annoyed rather than frightened.

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    Poor Lily.

    this is a sad story

  61. 61
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Southern Beale: So Beale, I was wondering what effect that Slate link had on traffic at your blog?

  62. 62
    Schlemizel says:

    When we brought our rescue (the late, great, ripper)to bed with us she freaked. It took her weeks to learn we were OK with her on the bed. I assume she got kicked or hit by her previous owner.

    OTOH my daughters cat, which she got as a brand new kitten will start & cower if I reach over to scratch her & she is not prepared. She has never been hit even once (except perhaps by the other cat). I have no idea why she does this but if anyone ever saw it I bet they would assume she has been smacked on more than one occasion.

  63. 63
    Schlemizel says:

    @Southern Beale:
    Hows your hand?

  64. 64
    mai naem says:

    @catclub: I am going to be might pissed off if he appoints Summers. Seriously, this is one of the fuckers who thought Christine Romers ideas were shit because all we needed was a motherfucking bank bailout but fuck any real stimulus that would go to the working class. Seriously, have we not gotten fucked enough by Goldman Sachs that Obama has make sure that even the fed chair has to be a Goldman Sachs asswipe?

  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:

    Sometimes you can create a fear like that yourself, accidentally. G once went into the bedroom not realizing that Annie was trying to slip inside with him and closed the door on her paw by mistake. It’s two years later, and she still runs out of the bedroom if he comes in no matter how many times he apologizes. :-(

    (She’s fine with him in other rooms — it’s just the bedroom that she thinks he was punishing her for going into.)

  66. 66
    geg6 says:

    Grrrrrrr, I hate the whole idea of the cretins that beat animals.

    Our Otis used to have the same reaction to newspapers. No doubt he was beaten as a puppy with newspapers. And if we left a newspaper laying around where he could get it when we were gone, we’d come home to it in little tiny bits. He’s finally gotten over that, with lots of time and love. But he still hasn’t gotten over what we think came from him being kicked: he really hates to have your feet come near him unless he initiates it. Unlike every dog John’s ever had and certainly unlike Koda, Otis will not let you rub his back or belly with your feet. We’ve both tried to show him how nice that is, but he will not have it. Poor boy. Such a loveable big lug with the prettiest face ever and the most soulful eyes, and some vicious nitwit beat him. If I could get my hands on the asshole, I’d show him what a beating really feels like.

  67. 67
    dance around in your bones says:

    It’s hard to say what might make your dog act skittish. Once I was walking my dog out in the hills and a long black snake slithered across the path we were walking on. She jumped sideways about four feet (I’d never seen her do that) and from then on when we walked along the same path? the shadows from fence posts would provoke the same reaction in her, i.e. she thought the shadows were snakes.

    This is not to denigrate Lily’s reaction to the walking stick, just that sometimes you never know what the triggering behavior was.

    I agree with rubbing the walking stick with something great smelling (raw bacon? haha!) and leaving it lying around the house so she can get used to it being a big nothing.

  68. 68
    Eric U. says:

    our dog flinches when I reach to pet him — almost every time. I am not sure it’s really something from his history. He loves being petted though. He was abandoned, but I get the impression he was otherwise spoiled. It seems like the abandonment wasn’t really intentional, the owner thought the roomate would take care of the dogs and the roomate was a heartless bastard. I believe they both were prosecuted.

  69. 69
    opie_jeanne says:

    @Paddy: We had a kitten that was terrified of men wearing glasses. He was so young when we got him, 6 weeks, that we could hardly comprehend that he had terrors of a specific thing/people. This lasted his entire 15 years, poor thing.

    Mr opiejeanne couldn’t wear his glasses at home because of this, but his vision was good enough that he only needed them for driving.

  70. 70
    Keith G says:

    @Violet: As WereBear seconded. this is a worthy effort

    There will be other sticks, so taking the time to begin a desensitization process is a good idea. If in doubt, consult a professional trainer.

  71. 71
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    I bent over to pet our cat once when I was holding a drink in my hand. It slipped out of my hand and landed on the poor kitty’s head. Forever after, she ran away at the sound of ice in a glass.

    I wonder how Lily would take it if you broke the stick in pieces and gave her the bits to gnaw on.

    (I know, it was a gift, but maybe kill another stick for her?)

  72. 72
    Original Lee says:

    My first rescue, a black Lab named Bo, was apparently abused by a man who smoked cigarettes and wore a leather jacket. We had him for several years before we discovered this because we don’t smoke, and we’re still not sure if he associated the smoke smell with the abuse or if he was actually abused with lighted cigarettes. It broke our hearts the first time he cowered away from someone who tried to pet him. And it took a very long time for him to warm up to our bartender friend, but he did eventually.

    One of our current rescues, a border collie named Layla, was apparently disciplined with a ladle. She is usually underfoot all the time, but the minute somebody picks up a ladle, she shrinks and cowers and is very nervous until the ladle disappears again.

  73. 73
    PaulW says:

    Lily needs to be comforted and told she is loved.

  74. 74
    Anne Laurie says:

    To be fair, I should point out that some dogs are just ‘naturally’ phobic — just like people, one dog can be mistreated in myriad ways and still find the strength to trust, while a littermate who’s never been so much as yelled at will decide to freak out over every tiny change in the environment. Breeders call it “temperament” and it is, to a degree, inbred… although hard work can help.

    A friend brought home a twelve-week-old male from a carefully-planned purebred litter, and the damned animal decided he was afraid of an ever-growing list of Terrible Things: strangers (i.e., anyone he hadn’t seen in the last three hours), people in white jackets, women wearing hats, some cats, bigger dogs, smaller dogs, as well as all the standard dog phobias like loud noises & vacuum cleaners & bicycles, ad infinitum. Because my friend was an experienced dog trainer and a damn fool, she dedicated years to keeping him & everyone who crossed his path “safe” while he finished his conformation championship, beginner agility titles, and eventually even his Canine Good Citizenship certificate. At the age of eleven, he’d setteld down enough to get certified as a therapy dog!

    As it turned out, the other four males in his litter were all euthanized before their second birthdays, for fear-biting or because they were “unshowable” by professional handlers; the two females had excellent show careers & at least one ended up on the breed’s Registry of Merit. Speaking of the advantages of neutering male companion animals…

  75. 75
    MomSense says:

    I’m so sorry. I don’t understand how people can be so cruel.

  76. 76
    Gvg says:

    Lot of dogs are afraid of sticks and brooms. Not all were abused, but of course some were. I don’t think our current newest was because we got him as a puppy, but he does act afraid.
    on the other hand my last cat was a resale purebred who turned out to be afraid of dark haired men for a few years. I think she hurt my dads feelings at first. she got over it eventually. Cat magazines back then said that pets who’s soft hearted owners tried to keep all the scary stuff away from them forever, ended up with pets who were afraid of more and more things so try not to overreact. Desensitizing sounds like the better idea. crutches or canes can happen in the future.

  77. 77
    Rob R says:

    @Original Lee: My best friend has two rescue spaniels (Kaley and Zoe – the man’s a Firefly fan, what can I say?), and for years, Kaley treated me like an invading Cthuhlu every time I walked in the house. Hid around the corner, barked, cowered, the whole nine. This went on for years… right up until I quit smoking. Once I quit (with an e-cigarette, so I’m still holding something that looks like a cigarette, and still exhaling what looks like smoke), Kaley became the sweetest damn dog to me you ever saw.

    I’m guessing whatever cocksucker these dogs were rescued from liked his Marlboro Lights when he did whatever he did to make his dogs require rescue, and she still knows the smell. Which means if I ever fall off the wagon, I’m gonna have to go straight to Lucky Strikes and hope for the best.

  78. 78
    michelle says:

    My Murph and his three siblings found me when they were 5 weeks old. Murphy is still — 5 years on — scared of the broom. I blame the idiots who dumped them all in a public park — luckily by my house. I’m sure Murph is not special in his fear of the broom.

    Otherwise he is an upstanding young man and can apologize, unlike some of your commenters.

  79. 79
    michelle says:

    @Anne Laurie: Not helpful.

  80. 80
    MathInPA says:

    Our larger dog, a mastiff/hound mix, is probably coming on a year and a half, two years; we got him when he was about one from a local rescue organization. It took us a while because just around when we decided to adopt him, they took him off the list because he was so traumatized that he was nearly insensate with panic. We adopted our smaller dog, partially because my wife couldn’t live without a dog (and me to a slightly smaller degree), and partially because he was the mastiff/hound mix’s only friend at the rescue kennel. At one point during December, while he was still being rehabilitated (by a sweet guy, disabled vet), he slipped his leash and ran out into an area not too far from the highway. Even without regular food, for 1-2 days (>_< I still have nightmares about my poor sweetie out in the cold) it wasn't until I lured him in by taking the other pup out there that they were able to get him into a small enough area to be contained by temporary fencing. Even then, even after playing a lot with our boy, our boy's favorite toy, and another friend from the rescue kennel, he would panic and bolt– he has beautiful, muscular lines and is gorgeous in motion, even when it's breaking your heart– and run at high speed around everyone, male or female, food or no food. We eventually had to basically get all four people to corner him in a part of the yard and gently get him back on the leash.

    It took a week or two after that before they finally decided he was ok to join us. This is an absolutely sweet dog. He has an amazingly soft mouth– all of his teeth are fine, and he loves treats, but he VERY carefully mouths to avoid even the slightest touch of teeth– he will come over and just snuggle your feet if he has half a chance. If you're sitting somewhere he can get to, he will come up and cuddle if he's permitted, and he learns quickly 'this is ok to snuggle mommy and daddy on, this is not.' He has a gorgeous smile whenever he sees his people and isn't in Panic Mode, his tail wags freely outside of that mode, and he's always enthusiastic for snuggels, pets, and catching anything you'll throw in the air.

    And anywhere outside of the house, we have to strictly keep him on a leash because every time we've taken him off to run, we've been extremely lucky that the area is fenced off. He can play for hours, he'll come as close as he feels safe… and then he'll bolt off at speed again. On the leash, he plasters strictly to the left side in what we thought was heel training, but the instructor we worked with for the other dog said was probably just fear– that's the "safe place. If you turn wrong, or if he misjudges where you're walking and he ends up in front, he'll circle around your back, very close, trembling, until he can get back to The Position. In the house, the slightest noise will put him into a plastered panic where he glues himself to the floor, either tucking in all of his limbs as far as he can or splaying them out to go super-flat, and in both versions, tremble constantly. 80% of the time he's not in the rooms we figure he thinks are The Pack Den (our computer room we vaingloriously call the study and our bedroom), his tail is lashed to his underbelly.

    He'll come close to snuggle, and hide behind whichever of us he feels he hasn't seen in a while– usually my wife these days because I'm out of work– and the slightest motion, moving back the chair, a small plastic diet food tray falling, a SOCK falling once, will send him bolting. He's actually damaged both of our computer cases because he likes the warmth and pushes off against them, to the point that we're carefully putting obstacles between him and them. He will bury himself deep under the desks, get himself tangled on some cords, and alternate between trembling, frozen panic and desperate thrashing to get free. If he's eating and any person in the room gets up out of their seat, he will stop eating entirely for 15-30 minutes, sometimes until hours later.

    And it breaks my heart. When he feels truly safe, like in our bedroom or when both of us are home and petting/playing with the dogs (and nothing has startled him recently) he prances around, tail wagging, ears perked forward in that loveable hound dog way, mouth open in doggy smile, sniffing at the air and running from person to person to get pets, playing and bouncing around with his adopted brothers. He's sweet with the cats– hell, defers to them on food– is extremely affectionate… until something, anything, terrifies him. Like jeans. Or floorboard squeaks.

    We've had some progress. He's not trembling as much on walks, and especially on sunny days, he looks up at whoever's walking him with a smile and even a little, hesitant tail wag. When we try to teach him to sit– generally involving a VERY light touch on the base of the tail and using the other dog as an example– he no longer plasters to the floor, but now goes into a very pretty sit and rubs his head against our hands. When his must-stay-to-the-left routine goes awry and he manages to tangle his foot in the leash, instead of flattening to the ground and trembling, he's started to pick up how the other dog has learned to untangle himself. It's easier to bring him out of his panics now, and instead of hiding when my wife and I come home, he runs up to the gate, tail wagging.

    It's been seven months, and the only signs are fairly slow. We've learned to adjust to him and his panics; I try to be very smooth about how I get up, for example. One of my recent tactics has been to slowly move away from the desk, calling him over and petting him. I'm desperately hoping he'll associate our movements with praise and pets, not whatever was done to him. I get so ANGRY whenever I think about it. Who did this to him? Why? How could they be this insane? The people who rescued him, W.A.G., think it was a result of meth addiction, which is depressingly common out here, but I've never had a rescue dog this absolutely starkly frightened, almost catatonic at times. I will not, however, give up on my boy. Ever.

  81. 81
    Keith says:

    I hope you gave her some treats to let her know she’s a good doggie.

  82. 82
    MathInPA says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: People suck. But there are some non-sucky people who clean up after their messes: http://www.youtube.com/user/eldad75 Warning, there are some fairly abused dogs that he rescues here, and the looks make me sob, a lot. He manages to get them in, though. The transformations after care, time, and vets are amazing, but it’s some truly sad stuff to get there.

  83. 83
    michelle says:

    @MathInPA: My first dog had had distepmer at one point. For what ever reason, after investing in her cure, they dumped her.

    We lived with her raging fits for 15 years. Of course the fits got calmer over the years, but we always knew that they would pop up.

    Now that she is dead all these years, all I remember is the walks with her and how sweet she was. If you remind me, I will remember her troubles. She was my best and only pup. Now Murph shares her place, but she was my only one.

  84. 84
    Funkula says:

    I don’t want to belittle the problem of animal abuse, but I do think some of these are just quirks of behavior rather than evidence of mistreatment. My cats tend to get well clear of me when I’m handling something bulky (shipping boxes, laundry) but I’ve had them since birth and I know there’s no trauma there. I think they just think it looks heavy and they don’t trust my dexterity enough that they’re willing to risk me dropping it on them. Lots of animals get spooked by brooms or any other long-handled implement, particularly if they see it moving quickly. Spooking and running away from things that might be dangerous is pretty normal behavior. It’s when they cower (usually dogs) or go aggressive (usually cats), or just panic and take forever to calm down (like MathinPA describes) that there’s probably some trauma there.

    As for the cat flinching when you reach for his head, that wouldn’t necessarily be a sign of abuse either. Lots of cats are just touchy about personal space, even in different ways for different parts of their body.

  85. 85
    MathInPA says:

    @michelle: I see what you mean. My past views of the dog before these two has already rose colored a bit. I don’t think of it as entirely a bad thing; we treasure the ones we love anyway, living or dead, so why obsess over the bad things? Happy face is best.

  86. 86
    michelle says:

    @Funkula: It all has to do with knowing their history.

    Or we could just concluded that you are a bad parent since my cats have never done what yours have.

    Stop hitting your cats and they won’t flinch.

  87. 87
    michelle says:

    @MathInPA: Great video at your link. It made me want to go for what I had only thought about. We have a huge problem with fighting dogs being dumped. Since I am not afraid,I should get into that.

    Thanks for the video for inspiration.

  88. 88
    SG says:

    This makes me so sad, Cole. Poor, sweet Lily. It’s heartbreaking, but not surprising when you consider how miserable the little dear was when you rescued her and gave her the best home and love a dog could want.

    I won’t write what punishment I would mandate for animal abusers. If it were suctioned up by the NSA, I’d be picked up as a dangerous maniac.

  89. 89
    MathInPA says:

    @michelle: Lack of fear is a big thing, one of the best ones, but so is training and/or experience. If you want to get into rescues, fosterage, etc., I would highly recommend that you work with an existing group. There are so many out there, especially local ones that struggle to get recognition and assistance (one of the reasons why I like this guy is because, while he’s usually only fostering what looks like three to five plus his own animals, he clearly links and names the organizations he works with who do have greater resources). Look around in your area, see who’s working– I guarantee you, any animal rescue organization that’s actually working does need volunteers, and they’ll help provide training and experience.

    Just stay away from PETA or PETA-backed groups. It’s not a secret that they are extremely unethical and misleading with the way they treat animals, and most of their money goes towards “awareness” and internal cash. And their euthanization rates are huge.

  90. 90
    Smileycreek says:

    We had a recently rescued border collie who loved everyone and was settling in well until a new friend came over wearing a sheepskin jacket and floppy leather hat. Poor Kyle McDog cowered and growled and shook. I asked the friend to go outside, take off the hat and jacket, and come back in.

    He refused, saying Kyle needed to learn to “get over it.”

    Obviously he was never invited back and was never again considered a friend.


  91. 91
    Pogonip says:

    I could never hit a dog that sweet.

  92. 92
    Anna in PDX says:

    Poor little Lily! She is so sweet. It is so hard for me to imagine why people hurt the animals in their care. I got my Tunch gear today, a mug and a t- shirt. They’re beautiful! I hope the rescue people are still getting donations from your store?

  93. 93
    SectionH says:

    (I never even think about posting before I read the entire thread, which explains why I’n usually srsly late, or never bother), but:

    Damn straight I can imagine that.

    In fact, I was horrified to see the same behavior in my own cat a few years ago. Even worse, it was a toy we’d had in Lexington that she had played with before, just a “cat dancer” plastic thing. Well, we’d had a couple of cat sitters at times, one in Lex and one in Cali, so I never knew. And there was no question of either being hired again. But whatever happended pissed me off.

    We won’t go into the trauma our newest kitteh must have gone through. She was mostly fetal – I mean hiding curled up in a box – even when the Humane Society here (and they are really good here) deemed her ok to go to us (and we’d gotten weeks of vetting as ok ppl to take her). I don’t think I want to know. She’s much better now, but Mr S still can’t walk into the bedroom without her fleeing under the bed.

  94. 94
    asiangrrlMN says:

    This whole thread is breaking me heart. People are the worst some times. I just take comfort that Lily and all the other rescue animals in this thread found better homes. Give her a skritch for me.

  95. 95
    Tithonia says:

    You’re a good man, John Cole.

  96. 96
    The Moar You Know says:

    My dog has never been abused by anyone – she’s led just about the most perfect life you could envision for a dog since day one – but she freaks out over fireworks and anything that goes bang. She’s now pretty much wholly deaf, but she can still obviously hear/feel something because she was a very unhappy camper this 4th of July. I lifted her up onto the bed with me – she’s 16 now, and very big and needs the help – and then she calmed down enough to eventually go to sleep. I did not. Her idea of comfy is to take up as much of the bed as possible. I hope Lily comes to terms with whatever happened to her, and if she was abused I hope the abuser is raped to death by bears.

  97. 97
    RoonieRoo says:

    Oh Jeezus Krist on a cracker! This is one of my biggest pet peeves! An animal reacting with fear from something is NOT PROOF THEY WERE BEATEN! Dogs will react with fear of things/movements/situations for a whole host of reasons. Usually it is a result of poor socialization when they were puppies during that crucial socialization window when you need to expose them to a variety of things/surfaces/environments/people etc…. When they aren’t exposed, that can result in genuine fear and reaction when they encounter that.

    There are several weeks during growth that a dog has a fear period. That means that if you have a puppy that is 10 to 12 weeks of age (a common fear period) and you drop a bowl of apples that you were carrying right next to them, they may end up with a lifelong fear of apples, bowls, things being carried over their heads or anything that they associated with that moment.

    Our cat Sasha was a feral before she moved in with us and it took us a year to be able to pet her. I do not have the crazy belief that she was beaten in her previous years before finding because I know how cats develop.

    Unless you know 100% the history of your beloved furkid and that you KNOW that they were physically mistreated, I’m pretty sure that your imagination as to what caused whatever fear reaction in them is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Drives me nuts. Animal abuse happens. But when every Tom, Dick and Harry talks about their rescue that they just know was beaten before they saved them it belittles it and proves they know dick-all about dog/cat behavioral development.

    This topic is a giant RED BUTTON for me since it does minimize the true horror of animal abuse. Criminy!

  98. 98
    SectionH says:

    And to go own about Ziran (it means “Beloved” in Adunaic), she was guestimated as 12 yrs old, and she’s a black Persian with lots grey fur, especially on her belly and flanks. She’d had to be shaved because she was so matted when they got her, and Mr S actually noticed her curled up at Petsmart, and mentioned her to me. Now, I’ve always thought the overbred Persian face was awful, so I was srsly hoping she was just a fluffy shaved cat, but no. But somehow, it didn’t matter. I decided I would just consider her a little alien creature that needed help. Srsly. And then we had lotsa time over several visits telling the local HS lady about all the other cats we’ve had, and finally taking Ziri home.

    I didn’t want even to mention Ziri’s on-going tale until John had gotten beyond a point, but one of the things about the recent tragedy with Tunch and the MARC goodness and the new boy was it’s made me double down on helping the innocents of this world.

  99. 99
    SectionH says:

    @RoonieRoo: Ok, fine. We adopted Layna at 6 months when she showed up at our door. She never cringed about anything, and played with that specific toy for years with no problems. Possibly her reaction was caused by something else, but damfino what. And as I said, I worried about past sitters, but wut?

  100. 100
    angelfoot says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Agreed. However, the thread brought this song to mind:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2DF1m0b6c8 and this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y22Ityt7n6Q either of which invariably cheer me up and might be considered the theme song for this blog.

  101. 101
    way2blue says:

    Note to JGC »

    Do not start a post with ‘Probably one of the saddest things ever happened today.‘ unless you want people’s hearts to drop. Just say’n…

  102. 102
    MacKenna says:

    People who beat animals are psychopaths. Period. I mean, who does that??? How hideous do you have to be to beat a defenseless animal?

    I’d like to airdrop such people in a field of grizzly bears, just to watch the bears break the sticks in half before they eat the abusers.

  103. 103
    Original Lee says:

    @Anne Laurie: Our other current rescue, a border collie named Lucky, goes berserk when anybody runs a weed whacker. He goes absolutely crackers – he has chewed off window sills and has bitten a hole in a chain link fence when left home alone on a yard maintenance day. But it’s not aggression, it’s terror. We think his previous owner threatened him somehow with the weed whacker. (The same previous owner left the shock collar on him 24/7, so that he didn’t bark AT ALL for a YEAR after we got him.)

  104. 104
    Mrs. Polly says:

    It’s impossible to know for certain that Lily was beaten, and I think Ronnie Roo is right on about dogs having fear periods. Lily might also have had a neurotic owner who convinced her to be afraid of certain objects without meaning to.

    I used to walk dogs, and one beautiful and beloved husky mix was terrified of every shadow and noise because her nutjob owner would “reassure” her thusly: “Now Nikki, FRIEND Nikki, FRIEND, EASY Nikki, Nikki Nikki Nikki EASY, EASY” while pulling Nikki back from other dogs, people, bicycles locked to trees, and so on. Nikki’s owner was so frantic that Nikki learned to fear anything outside of her apartment, and noises in the hall when she was home.

    It’s difficult to balance reassurance with the sort of cheerful, matter-of-fact alpha calm that a fearful dog needs, but I hope you hit the right mixture. Rubbing good scents on the stick could work, and leaving the stick around, giving Lily a little something something for approaching the stick might be good too, but try not to lavish too much reward on her fearful behavior. Maybe let her see you walking Rosie while using the stick, and save the big loving caresses for some other time. Nothing like seeing the Other Dog out with Big Man to make the stick less scary!

    Also, it’s wonderfully comforting to a dog to know that she can refer all problem-solving to you, so that if she wants to know if she should worry about something, your attitude tells her it’s no biggie.

  105. 105
    Original Lee says:

    @RoonieRoo: We know that all of our rescues have been abused. Lucky has a bullet in his hip because his previous owner decided he needed a lesson about digging holes in the yard, plus the whole 24/7 shock collar thing. Layla is fine with other long implements – brooms, wooden spoons, canes, walking sticks, curtain rods, rolled-up newspapers, etc. – it is specifically ladles, regardless of whether or not they are metal. Layla is afraid of other things, such as plastic bags, but we don’t associate those things with her abuse.

  106. 106
    Mrs. Polly says:

    Oh and also too:

    General Mungo.

    Titles are good for cats, our General would have been tickled, and, well, it’s Boss with epaulettes.

  107. 107
    p says:

    there are times i’m ashamed to be a human, feeling a need to apologize for the insensitivity and obliviousness of my species.

  108. 108
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Anne Laurie: Showdogs aren’t bred for temperament, they’re bred for body conformation first and foremost. One of my landlords had a Boxer, a lovely pup with all the right features that promised a great future in the showring. Then one day when the dog was a few months old they were walking along a road and a car swerved up onto the pavement (obUS: sidewalk) and clipped the dog, doing no real physical harm but after that it was a neurotic wreck, barking, lunging and cowering at everybody. I saw that dog for about a year while I lived there and it never settled down with me or any of the kennel workers it came into regular contact with.

    He couldn’t bear to have it put down but he had it neutered as he figured that the neurosis was a result of its breeding and besides without show certificates he couldn’t have bred from it anyway.

  109. 109
    Booger says:


    Sorry. Re-watching “Lost.”

  110. 110
    ADS says:

    Had a super sweet cat, Emma, who would run in terror any time someone picked up a frying pan. Heartbreaking to think what she must have experienced.

  111. 111
    Thymezone says:

    Just post the name and address of the asshole who beat the dog and we’ll take it from there. The s.o.b will be wearing a walking stick as ass jewelry when we get done with him.

  112. 112
    LT says:

    Things that make me want to kill people number, well, about 2 I guess. Just awful.

  113. 113
    J R in WV says:

    Late to this thread, but here goes.

    All of our fuzzy babies have been rescues in one way or another, drop-offs on our dead-end country road, walking by in the winter looking lost, etc.

    Our only current dog, Happy, we adopted from our Vet hospital, which never throws a dog away. Happy was dognapped from the end of a chain about 2 or 3 am. A neighbor couldn’t watch her being mistreated any longer, and took her away to the hospital the next morning. Forget the name, but she was middle-eastern, showing (as we all knew) that wonderful people are everywhere…

    Puppy was at the hospital for 9 months recovering. Part was the heart-worm infection, and part was the open sores from nose to tail from being whipped with an electrical cable.

    When we brought her home, she wouldn’t bark or make a sound. She would go to the door and shiver until she couldn’t hold it and would piddle a little at a time. I taught her to bark by barking around her… the other dogs also barked a little from time to time, and now she’s free to bark as needed.

    She soon became Happy, and so we named her that. She really loves being with us, and waits for us to come home. We lost Boomer (see the top right picture on July) a year or so ago, and adopted another puppy from the vet, Emily. She was a little dog, 20 lbs, white with black and a few brown spots.

    Happy loves to run in circles and back and forth in the woods, in the house too if encouraged.

    Emily disappeared a couple of months ago, pretty certain it was a coyote. My beloved tomcat Roscoe Adkins disappeared a few days later. The surviving cats are stay at home girls, and Happy isn’t inclined to wander at night, and is also bigger than the other critters at 44 lbs.

    Tomorrow I’m going to the shelter next county over, they’re full and need help or they’ll have to start euthanizing the less adoptable critters, so I’m going to get at least one more dog. Maybe a young tomcat too…

    Guess I’ll have to take a crate…

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