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Happy Tail: Patience works wonders with senior dog


Kate Ziebol of Granger, IA, is an example of how patience and persistence with a seemingly broken pet can give the pet his or her second chance.  She was intent on adopting another dog to join her little pack, which included six-year-old Ralph and five-year-old Evelyn, both Chihuahuas, and began searching on Petfinder. It was likely that she would eventually find a new family member because on any given day there are as many as 16,000 Chihuahuas listed on the site.

Gary Ziebol

A big smile shows how happy Gary is in his forever home.

One day, she happened upon Gary, who was estimated to be seven.  He was neutered and housetrained, but the icons on his description said no kids, no cats and no other dogs.  To her that was a challenge.

As it turned out, Gary was flea bitten and had mange.  “Half his hair was missing,” Kate says, “and to top it off, so aggressive that once in a kennel he couldn’t be taken out because he would try and bite the person.” He had already been returned to Cedar Bend Humane Society in Waterloo, Iowa, once.

“I made up my mind to drive the hour and a half to bring my dogs and do a meet and greet. When I got there I couldn’t pass him up. Six pounds of gray and white fluff with cloudy blue eyes and a tail that
won’t quit wagging,” she says.

Once in his new home, things took a turn for the worse.  When she tried to take him out of his kennel, he wouldn’t come.  “I coaxed and waited, still nothing. So beyond my better judgment I reached in for him, and it quickly became clear what I was dealing with,”  Kate says. He lunged at her aggressively.

Instead of taking him back to the shelter, she set up a rigorous rehabilitation plan. “We took regular walks, had scheduled feeding, scheduled potty breaks, rules, boundaries, and limitations. Slowly but surely the cowering, growling, baring his teeth, marking around the house, fearful aggression, and incessant whining tapered off. Almost a year and a half later, Gary is now a sucker for scratches, he gives kisses, and even though he is mostly blind due to advanced cataracts, he even tries to get in on a good romp with the other dogs.”

Today she’s glad she didn’t give up on him, even when she learned from the vet he was actually more like ten or twelve years old not seven, even “when he growled over his food, when he hid under the bed … or when he lost most of his vision and started having trouble getting in and out of the house.”

Kate feels she has unearthed a gem, but her unwillingness to give up on Gary shows that she is the real jewel.

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