So I always wanted a dog. And I mean, I’d had a dog before, but he was hyper and rowdy and bit my dad while my mother was pregnant so as you can imagine, he wasn’t a part of the family for much longer after that. But I yearned for a dog every day after my first was gone. And the day came when I had the chance to find the perfect one. It was my dream come true. Imagine it, a huge building just full of dogs of every shape, size and kind to browse through. I was in heaven. I was also severely overwhelmed. And I think the whole time I knew that I couldn’t really make the choice all on my own, I mean, for real, I was 11 and we had a toddler to think about and a puppy was out of the question. So I just hung back and visited with each dog that my mother disapprovingly passed by. And then we came to the last kennel in the last row of the basement and there lay the most ugly dog I’d ever seen in my entire life. I mean I HATED this dog. He was matted and didn’t move around in his cell when we approached like all the other anxious pooches we had so far come across.
As you’ve probably guessed, this was the dog that my mother had decided was the one for us. The “nice lady” that worked at the shelter brought it out for us to see. As soon as he was out of his cage the enormous ball of black wiry fur sat and stared my mother in the eyes. He didn’t wag his misshapen tail, he didn’t lick her face, he didn’t even roll over in invitation for a nice belly scratch. I didn’t like him. But 20 minutes and 75 dollars later he was ours. I cried all the way home. My dream had been ruined. Cut down at its very roots. A week later, Bear was shaven, cleaned and had been taking a daily dose of heartworm medication. He was much livelier, and certainly smelled better, and I found that his lack of tail wagging was due to abuse that had left him crippled. He still doesn’t know what his tail is. But that’s beside the point. Bear has taught me many things, but above all I’ve learned that everyone deserves a chance, no matter who or what they are. To really get the best from someone, you’ve got to give them the opportunity to prove they’re worth it. Bear’s given me everything he has, from the moment we gave him the opportunity for a happy life and he trusts that I’ll take care of him, so he holds nothing back. That kind of unbridled affection would have never been given to me if I had not given him a chance. I’ve learned that if I give someone a chance before I assume they’ll let me down, often I’ll be surprised and find that what I think is just the ugliest dog in the pound turns out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.