About eight years ago, we went to the ASPCA in NYC to adopt a dog. While completing the adoption papers, a lady walked in with a scruffy matted little dog named Barkley. She said she had adopted him a few weeks before and was returning him because of his aggressive behavior. I went to pet him while she was at the counter and she warned me that he would bite.
He licked my hand instead and at that moment I wanted to bring him home. Surprisingly the staff at the ASPCA took Barkley in and said he was most likely not going to be adoptable as this was the second time he had been adopted and returned for being aggressive. For three weeks we fought with the ASPCA to give Barkley one more chance, and finally after signing a waiver that he would never be allowed outdoors without a muzzle, he was released to us muzzled like the character in Hannibal.
In researching his past, we learned that Barkley was part of the largest single rescue operation undertaken by the NY ASPCA. 50 wire fox terriers were taken from a breeder in the Bronx. The breeder "Wolfman" kept three dogs living in single carrying crates. Several dead dogs were found along with electric cattle prods. It was a three story house and the second floor had collapsed onto the first from the weight of animal excrement.
Officials had to wear gas masks to enter and remove the dogs from the property. There was a lot of media surrounding the rescue and an episode on Animal Precinct was dedicated solely to this rescue. Multiple cruelty charges were filed against Wolfman and the house was demolished afterwards. Though most of the dogs rescued were puppies, several were older dogs like Barkley that were used as breeding stock.
Upon arriving in his new home with us, we could tell Barkley was severely effected by the six years of confinement, deprivation, cruelty and abandonment that were all part of his past. He would sit in a corner and would always face the wall away from us. We gave him all the time he needed and took a bite here and there. I made it a goal to make his tail wag, and one day after several months it finally did. He had finally accepted us and his new home. A relationship of trust had begun.
Over the years we have seen Barkley grow and mature into his own unique personality. He was a great doggie and we loved him very much. At the age of 14, Barkley passed away in my arms and on our bed where he spent most of his later years absorbing the sun.
Barkley taught us about forgiveness, acceptance, love, and letting go.