Today, exactly one year ago Amora came to our life. Before we met her, Amora lived in the home of a Crazy Animal Lady that had just recently passed away and left 150 (!) animals on their own in the chaos of her modest home.
They say that it is the dog that chooses her or his human(s) not the other way around. After having met and getting to know our Amora I tend to agree.
About one year ago, we started toying with the idea of getting a dog. And by getting I mean adopting. It is important to point this out because we – my husband and me, that is – are both against buying and selling pets when there are so many mistreated, abandoned animals on the street and in desperate need of a loving home.
This is where we were at one year ago today:
Having gotten married in the beginning of the year and happily moved into our lovely apartment with plenty of space for a smaller/medium-sized dog, we felt that we finally had everything to take on the joy and responsibility of taking care of a dog.
I had wanted a dog my whole life, yet never had one, while my husband grew up with dogs always by his side. Finally, the stars had aligned and we were at a place where we had everything to make it happen – our own little family, our own home, the resources, the stability and a whole lot of love.
So, Don Ferdinand reached out to Caio, his friend from college that runs an NGO called HOPEt and works tirelessly to save abandoned animals and better their lives. Caio heard us out, checked our reasons for wanting to adopt a dog, the preferences and restrictions we had (after all, we are living in an apartment in the city of São Paulo) and started keeping an eye on the options that he thought would suit us.
Meeting the Dogs at the Crazy Animal Lady’s
Caio then sent us a couple of photos of the dogs at the house of Dona Yolanda – the Crazy Animal Lady, that had crammed astounding 150 animals in her own concrete house, had passed away not long ago and left all the animals to their fate. Luckily, the fate was in their favor as the Crazy Animal Lady’s estranged daughter reached out to HOPEt to help take care of the animals and free the house.
One fine Sunday, we decided to drive up there to see the work that Caio and his mother were Edna doing in Dona Yolanda’s house and meet the dogs we only had seen on photos so far. When we got there, only 38 dogs of the 150 animals that had initially been stuffed in there were left. Some had died from diseases and/or injuries from fights with other dogs in the house, others were already happily adopted.
Even with only 38 dogs left and HOPEt having separated them into different rooms according to their temper, health and attitude towards humans and other dogs, the space still felt crammed.
But the dogs – oh, they were so lovely! The gentler and needier ones came to us right away begging for attention and affection. They all seemed to be calling out at us: “Look at me! Look at me! Hold me! Pat me! I am all yours! Look at all the love I have to give! Take me home and be my Human! Please! Please! Please!”
In Desperate Need of Love
There was the small black Preta Maria that did non-stop circles under my open palm that had rested on her back for a while, so that I would not, by any means, stop caressing her. There was the three-legged smaller dog that jumped higher right in front of me than I had ever seen a dog jump before just to reach my eye-level and, this way, win my attention. There were small dogs and big dogs, young dogs and old dogs, there were blind dogs, sick dogs and those that did not even have the strength to get up anymore. But they all looked to us with a glimmer of hope in their eyes.
The one that finally broke me was a smaller bright-haired one that was in the room with all the dogs that were afraid of people. In his serious manner, like he was disappointed in life, he looked at me from the distance without blinking or without ever losing me from sight. When we stepped into the room and I tried to make friends with him, however, he backed into a corner and hid, looking terrified.
Nevertheless, when we left his room, and closed the gate of iron bars that separated the shy and scared dogs from others, he immediately was the first one with his nose between the bars again not losing sight of me. His sad and longing look combined with the fear of people made me burst into tears right then and there. And there was no one to tell what had happened to these dogs or what they had had to go through in their lives.
We Just Had to Take One Home with Us That Day
This is when we knew that that very same day we had to take a dog back home with us, even though this had not been the initial plan. Seeing all those dogs yearning for love and care, made me want to adopt them all. But we had to be reasonable, just one dog would already be a huge responsibility. Yet choosing one was incredibly hard, as it meant leaving all others behind.
However, there was one dog that had won Don Ferdinand over more than the others. She was one of the bigger dogs at Dona Yolanda’s house and somewhat resembled a German Shepard. Whenever she could, she would approach us and keep shyly offering us her paw as if wanting to shake hands over and over again. They called her Jully and she looked so sweet and calm, yet very shy, submissive and oh, so sad.
When Don Ferdinand asked me if we could take her home, I agreed right away. I knew that for her and all the abandoned dogs in the world I would love her with all my heart and take care of her the best I could. And hopefully, there would be a caring person for each of the other dogs left at Yolanda’s house too. They just not had not arrived yet.
Starting Over with a Passport and a New Name
So with the help of Caio and his mother we put Amora on the back seat of our car, where I sat with her, held and patted her whispering in her ear that I would always protect her the whole way to a pet shop nearest to our home. We did not know that we would already be coming home with a dog that day, so we had not prepared for it and needed to go for a shopping spree for our newest family member asap. The emergency kit we purchased that afternoon consisted of a bed, food, shampoo, a collar and a leash and a number of other things that a dog needs.
The next day I asked to work from home to stay the whole day with our scared and sad dog to help her feel welcome. That day we also took her to the vet. Looking at her teeth, the veterinarian thought that she was actually about 6 to 8 years old. She had a broken paw that had grown back crooked and several small injuries on her ears and paws, but otherwise, to our delight, she was healthy and strong.
To celebrate a new start we got her a passport, with a new name that we had picked out for her – Amora – and her birthday which is now the very date we adopted her – 15th of November.
From Depressed & Tense to Happy & Affectionate
Although so scared and tense, almost depressed in the beginning, today Amora is a completely new dog. I still remember clearly how during the first week she peed on the floor just out of fear of going out or being hugged. Fortunately, those days are over now.
Today Amora greets most opportunities to get out of the house. She also does a funny samba out of happiness for having company again whenever we come home. She loves going to the farm and on long walks with us and loves to explore and smell everything, yet never loses us from her sight. Although still afraid of other dogs she does not know and preferring not to socialize with them, Amora does not jerk with fear anymore, whenever she is not expecting a caress on her back, as she did for months after being adopted.
Now, a year later, Amor invites us to accompany her, when she thinks it is time for us all to go to sleep and cries out loud when I have to run to the bathroom first when I get up in the morning instead of going straight to her to give her good morning caresses. She loves it when I run a short distance away from her then crouch down, open my arms and call for her – she will come running like her life depended on it. Furthermore, she is still very obedient, polite and calm and has never made mess in our apartment or bitten anyone. Most of the time she just likes to lie down close to us, keep us accompanied and observe.
Adopt an Animal and Make a Difference!
In all ways Amora has brought a lot of happiness and lessons of patience, trust and love to our life and we are so, so thankful for the opportunity of being able to take care of her and enjoy her company every day. We would not imagine our life without her anymore.
Furthermore, it is thanks to her that we have gotten to know so many people in our neighborhood and even in our own building that we had never even talked to before. Whenever she goes, Amora is always noticed and complimented on the street by other dog lovers. Ans he loves it! All the good words and adoring looks make her lift her head and tail higher and become a little more confident and trusting every day.
So whatever you do, do not buy a pet, adopt one and save the life and happiness of a beautiful living creature who will love you for this forever! It may not be easy, probably it is actually quite hard in the beginning.
Adopted animals sometimes have traumas and they will need special care and attention to overcome them. However, realizing the responsibility from the very beginning, with enough patience, and real love, you will get there eventually and might even be surprised about meeting the ball of happiness you would not have imagined your adopted dog could become one day.
From my own experience I can say that adopting an animal is definitely worth it. Much more than buying one. For the love you give, for the company, love and gratitude you get, and for the difference you make in the life of a pure, unconditionally loving living soul.