EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — They say dogs are a man’s best friend. Quite frankly, I don’t think we always deserve the unconditional love dogs give us.
It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in when I come home from work (or the golf course,) our dogs are always there to greet me at the door (toy in mouth) with the same excitement each and every day. It’s a pretty special bond between man and dog, a bond that teaches us life lessons in the process.
Right now in El Paso, there is an alarming number of strays on the streets who wind up in shelters. El Paso Animal Services says they have over 700 dogs at their facility, with new dogs showing up every day. Shelters across the city are continuously at, or even over capacity, which makes it extremely difficult for animals to receive the personal care they need. This is why you always hear how important it is to adopt or foster if you’re willing and able.
With two dogs of my own, I never really had the desire to get another dog, that is, until I saw this post:
Pedro Pascal (yes, he was named by Animal Services after the actor) is a senior German Shepherd who arrived at Animal Services in pretty rough shape back in January. We’ll never know his story on how or why he wound up a stray, but this dog tugged at my heartstrings in a way that’s hard to explain. Pedro is currently suffering from a serious case of hip dysplasia, which will have to be surgically corrected to give him his best chance to live out his glory years in comfort, something all animals (not just dogs) deserve.
Large dogs at the shelter are often overlooked by people. Furthermore, large senior dogs have an even harder time finding their forever home. I’m an animal lover, and I looked at Pedro a little differently than maybe most people would have. I saw a genuinely sweet dog who was going mad in the shelter and just wanted a bed, with some love to go with it, which was something I knew our family could provide him with. Knowing that, how could I say no?
Since Pedro needs serious medical attention, my wife, our two dogs, Galy and Morgan, and myself decided it would be best to “foster to adopt” Pedro. It took significant financial responsibility off our hands while we provided him with a safe place to rest, as he recovers from surgery. That’s where this story really begins.
I picked Pedro up on a Friday in February at Animal Services. I’m not really sure he knew what was happening at the time, but I could tell he was happy to be out of his kennel in the very least — that is until I lifted him up into my car. Pedro, I’ve come to learn, isn’t too fond of car rides, which I assume is because the destination was never a happy one for him. In my opinion, he associates car rides with bad news, which is understandable given the story we do know about him.
Unfortunately for Pedro, we had one stop to make before arriving at his forever home, the groomer (poor guy needed a bath after spending two months in the shelter and who knows how long on his own.)
En route to the groomer, Pedro did not sit down or lay down once. If he could’ve thrown himself from the moving car, I’m pretty sure he would’ve done it. He wanted out of there.
After a tough 25-minute drive to the groomer, we found out Pedro was in even rougher shape than we thought. During his bath, it was discovered he had a really serious cut on his tail that had become infected. It stems from something known as “happy tail,” which is extremely hard to treat and can often times require amputation.
It broke my heart knowing that I had to take Pedro back to Animal Services to get the infection treated immediately, which was just an hour after he finally was able to leave the shelter in the first place. As I placed him in the back of the car, for the second time that day, you could see and sense how anxious he was. Even though I was only trying to help Pedro, he was so scared of what was about to happen next.
In that moment, I laid him down in the back of the truck to try to get him to relax a little bit. I scratched his ear and tickled his belly as he put his ears down and let out what felt like a huge sigh of relief, in what was probably his first moment to relax in months. It was in that moment of temporary relief that Pedro started crying actual tears from his big brown eyes, which was something I’ve never seen before from a dog. Talk about a defining moment in our relationship just a couple of hours in. I knew I had to do everything in my power to get Pedro well.
After we were given a plethora of antibiotics and pain medication at Animal Services, it was time to go home, finally. Pedro had met both of our dogs at the shelter before we agreed to foster him. It was important to me that Galy and Morgan continued living their normal everyday life and that Pedro was just another dog added in the “pack.” They say three’s a crowd, but our dogs have been so welcoming to Pedro from the moment he stepped foot (more like paw) in our home.
In just a couple of weeks, Pedro is a different dog. He went from eating almost nothing, weighing 60 lbs. (extremely underweight), to eating a full bowl of food twice a day (it helps when my wife mixes in chicken and rice with his food.) He has, remarkably, gained seven lbs. in less than three weeks. While he sometimes limps around the neighborhood, Pedro loves walking with his new family. He loves treats, toys with squeakers, bones, blueberries, apples, belly rubs, and most notably, his bed. He might be a senior dog, but he has become a puppy once again, which warms my heart.
Pedro still has a long road ahead and he just can’t seem to catch a break. He was unable to undergo surgery last month after it was revealed he had a bacterial disease that needed to be treated to get his blood platelets back to a normal count before these procedures. As we wait for his treatment to take effect in what we hope will lead to a life-changing surgery for Pedro, he continues to rest at ease in our home, no longer a stranger.
It’s amazing to me how after everything he has been through, his natural instinct was to let his guard down and trust us. That trust has been built into an unconditional love that dogs are so notorious of giving. I’m still not entirely sure how Pedro ended up at the Morgans’, it just happened. Maybe we came into his life to save him, but more importantly, he has come into our lives and made it better.
Pedro is one dog out of hundreds who share a similar story to his. So, if you have that same love for animals and have ever had the slightest urge to foster or adopt, I promise the fulfillment makes it entirely worth it. As other dog parents with similar experiences would tell you, it’s already one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
A place in my heart has been filled watching Pedro go from a scared, hopeless dog inside a small kennel, to a sweet, loving and spirited dog after just a few weeks in his forever home.
For more information on how to adopt or foster an animal from El Paso Animal Services, visit: https://elpasoanimalservices.org/adopt/.
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