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Johnny—from crippling shyness to king of the road

| 2/10/2012 3:16:13 PM

Lisa Ramos only wanted to get home out of the storm, but then her headlights swept across two pups huddled on top of a flooded dog house. Their small pen was awash in mud and feces. She stopped her car and waded to the front door of the home.  The man who answered her knock said he didn’t want the puppies.

Back home at Companion Animal Rescue and Education, Inc.  she named the brothers Johnny and Axle. As with all her rescues, Lisa paid for them to be neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and put on heartworm/flea prevention programs.  They would never be hungry or neglected again. However, because CARE, Inc. didn’t have volunteers to help out back then, the pups spent their first two years with little human contact. Few dogs have personalities that can withstand lack of early socialization, and being half Great Pyrenees, suspicion came natural to Johnny and Axle. When I started volunteering to walk dogs twice a week, Johnny’s sad face that looked so much like my own rescued pyr just broke my heart.

One day the kennel manager helped me catch Johnny, and I took him out for a walk. From that day on, whenever I arrived for my volunteer stint, Johnny would jump on the fence and bark until I took him out. Even though he loved his walks with me, he remained fearful of everything from falling leaves to fish splashing in the pond. It appeared he would stay at CARE, Inc. until he died of old age, an unthinkable sentence for a two-year-old dog.

Eventually a spot for fostering opened up here at my home. I took him, knowing he might be here forever since he was still so spooky. On his Adoptapet listing, I posted photos of him running in my pasture and woods with my dogs. I wrote a frank blurb about his background and fearfulness.  In less than a month, a woman named Jennifer Hogan connected with his photos and story. She told me she had looked at approximately 100 dogs in the year since her dog died, but Johnny’s photos and story kept calling her back to his listing.

Surely she didn’t understand that he wasn’t ready for adoption. I was the only person in my family who could catch him. However, I knew that meeting new people would help with his socialization, giving him one more new experience with a kind person.

When Jennifer came to meet him I realized I was watching a true case of love at first sight. In spite of his fear, Johnny clearly felt drawn to her and stood with his paws on my picket fence long after she had driven away. Jennifer and her son Gabe visited Johnny several times as they waited for the Christmas holidays when they would have three weeks to settle him into their family.

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