My friend Don adopted this handsome boy, Jack, about four years ago. He was rescued from a fighting ring in Pittsburgh that the police had disbanded. Jack was the “winning” fighter. Don learned about Jack when he saw him on the news, and he knew he had to adopt him. Don found Jack at a local shelter. Jack was placed in the back off the main adoption floor. It was assumed that no one would want him. Wrong! When Don and Jack met, there was an instant connection.
I’ve worked with animals who have been in challenging situations before, but I had never worked with a former fighter. Although Jack has done well since he’d been adopted, I suspected he was carrying some emotional baggage from his horrible situation. Animals carry the trauma of abuse just as humans do. I had the privilege of connecting with Jack and helping him.
When I arrived, Jack greeted me with a wagging tail. I allowed a few moments for us to get acquainted. I sat on the floor, and Jack sat on my lap–all 80 pounds of him. I asked Jack if there was anything he wanted to tell me about his past. He showed me the fighting situation–dogs growling and barking, teeth bared. He hated it. He told me he was praised for “winning”. He couldn’t understand why he was being praised for something so terrible. He thought he was bad. I assured Jack that he is a good dog and that he was always a good dog. I explained that he was a victim. In spite of the horrors he lived through, he still knew that people are good (at least most of us!) I then did some energy work to clear all the emotional baggage he was carrying. He thanked me. Then he asked me for a treat since he’s such a good dog.