At Petfinder, one of our goals is to elevate pets to the status of family members. And today we’re teaming up with Petside.com for the Pet ‘Net Family Event, in which we and 19 other blogs are writing about the special role pets play in our families (see links to all the Pet ‘Net blog posts here). Here, we’re sharing one of our favorite Happy Tails, in which one pet changes the life of a special boy — and his whole family.
At Petfinder, we regularly get happy-ending stories that touch our hearts and show us how much pets make a difference in people’s lives. One of these comes from Margo Eichholz of Grundy Center, Iowa.
“No smiles — no jokes — no happy laughter.” That’s how she describes the change she’d been seeing in her son’s behavior. Eichholz’s two sons are on the autism spectrum, and the oldest, Alex, was showing signs of depression. She worried about how she could help him. She wondered if getting him a dog of his own would help.
“Although we have a regular Noah’s ark with cats, birds, tortoises, fish and a chinchilla,” she says, “there seemed to be no ‘true’ best friend who openly and routinely showed a preference for spending time with Alex.”
She began looking on Petfinder. With more than 350,000 pets in shelters and rescue groups across the continent listed, surely she could find the perfect match.
She wanted a dog with an even temperament to bring serenity to the household. She wanted one who was housetrained, because she had enough on her plate. If she’d been adopting for herself, she would have chosen a Pomeranian link to breed gide, but this dog wasn’t for her: The goal was to adopt a dog who would help build Alex’s self esteem and confidence.
A friend suggested a Basset Hound, so that’s what she began looking for. She knew them to be loyal, calm and good with kids. She found 8-year-old Flash, listed on Petfinder by the Animal Rescue League of Marshalltown, Iowa.
“The shelter said that the previous owners had given him up because he was too hyper,” Eichholz says. But she was skeptical about that. “A Basset Hound being hyper, in and of itself, appears to be an impossibility to begin with; however, too hyper? For whom? If you have a pulse and can walk a block, I think a Basset thinks he’s been well-exercised.”
Another bit of information, however, may have explained why the Basset was really relinquished: He was heartworm-positive. Eichholz adopted him anyway.
The treatment will be expensive, she says, but it’s well worth it:
Based upon the smiles and looks of confidence from Alex when he proudly walks his new best friend every day, this is a very small price to pay for the remarkable psychotherapy that Flash has accomplished in only a few short days with my son. My hope and prayer is that with rigorous treatment and routine preventative care, this 8-year-old gentleman will see Alex off to college some day. And when indeed this fantastic dog is called to the rainbow bridge, many years in the future, I will still be indebted for the joy, serenity, self esteem, laughter and love he brought our family. WE LOVE YOU FLASH!
This family saw its life change, for the better, in a “Flash.” The unconditional love of a dog has a way of doing that.