How Long Does it Take to Fall in Love?

Well, it's been a little over a year, actually 54 weeks to be exact, since I met Elliott.  Elliott is a cute, little terrier mix that I fostered from a rescue - well, 54 weeks ago.  There was an urgent call for fosters on a Facebook Page of a rescue that I like - Life is Better - and since I had fostered before, I thought "why not save a life?".  I wasn't looking for a dog quite yet (yeah, right) since I lost my buddy Quinn in June of 2012. I sent the email and was told to pick up my foster dog directly from the Denver Animal Shelter.  "Oh, geez", I thought.  I avoid that place like no one's business.  Just the thought of what goes on there makes my heart break!  "Okay", I thought.  Here we go.  We are just going there to pick up a doggie and we will be out of there.  So, off I went not really knowing anything about the dog I was about to meet - just that it was a small dog.   I met the Rescue Coordinator there and she brought out Elliott.  He was a cute, little scruffy terrier that couldn't have weighed more than 12 pounds.  He hung his head down low and just went where the leash pulled him.  His tail was between his legs, he was terrified.  This really broke my heart.  I cleared my calendar the day before so I could spend some time with Elliott and get him settled in and used to his new (and temporary - ha) surroundings.  I was really glad that I had done that, this dog really needed some love and compassion.  We loaded a crate into my car with some dog food and a plastic leash and off we went.  Elliott was very scared and kept squealing and crying all the way to my house.  Once I got him in the house and settled, he paced from window to window, looking for what, I'm not sure.  He did this for hours, poor guy.  I took him outside, hoping he'd really like the feel of the grass and the generous 1/3 acre that I live on.  Nope, he took timid steps and would not relieve himself no matter how many times we went outside.

He still would not come near me after the first 3 hours.  He was terrified of being touched and certainly would not even entertain the thought of being held or cuddled.  He looked at me with the expression of worry, fear and distrust.  After 5 hours, I managed to coax him close enough to grab his collar and put him on his back on my lap and just started to lightly tap his chest.  He fell asleep.  Finally, a small step for us in the trust department.  I sat there silently wondering what had been done to this adorable dog.  Later that night, Elliott liked to be near me, but not near enough to touch or anything.  I went to bed and he paced and paced and paced.  I have hardwood floors, so within a few minutes, I knew I would not be sleeping unless this dog was on the bed.  So, I got up, and he let me approach him and I picked him up!  He actually snuggled into my side and we fell asleep.  I guess the rest is history!

I later found out that he was an owner surrender.  I also came to my own conclusions about Elliott.  He was severely abused.  I believe someone kicked him and hit him.  For months he ducked at my feet when he would get tangled in the leash.  He did not know how to walk on a leash and he was scared of everything and everyone we would come across.  Bicycles terrified him.  People coming up behind us terrified him.  He did not really know what to think of other dogs.  I thought often of what I would do or say to the person who had him before.

A few people were interested in adopting Elliott and something kept tugging at my heart about him.  He did drive me crazy at times with his very VERY special needs, but I knew what he needed most was love and patience.  We received over a foot of snow on the day that I was to take him to his adoption event.  It was divine intervention.  After that, I could not let this dog go.  He challenged me and yet he looked at me with pure love.  It was not an option to let him go, though I did contact the rescue a few times when I was at my wits end.  Each time I told Elliott that he was on his last legs, he shaped up.  Now, we've hit the most amazing groove.  He has blossomed into a well adjusted yet quirky dog.  He loves the dog park, hiking, running and especially car rides!  I take him everywhere I go unless it's too hot.

Some things that I've learned about Elly:  He chases squirrels obsessively, loves tortilla chips, hates water or being wet, can easily sleep for 14 hours, loves wearing his bandanas, loves peanut butter, hates carrots and loves snuggling.

Thanks for reading about my little guy, Elliott (some of his other nicknames are Elly, Smellyiott, MiElly, Smells, EL).  I know he would like to meet you one day!

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