Happy Tail: Jamal weathers storms with his family

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Jamal, an Irish Wolfhound mix, was 6 months old and scared of his own shadow. He and his outgoing brother were sheltered at Miami [OK] Animal Alliance, and when Amber Hawkins of Carterville, MO, went to meet him, he cowered at the back of the kennel.

Jamal waits out a tornado watch in the family's laundry room.

Jamal waits out a tornado watch in the family’s laundry room.

“It made me want to cry,” she says.

Amber and her husband had decided to add a puppy to the family because their Pit Bull mix, Zephyre, was lonely and needed someone to mother. Amber thought Jamal’s sad little expression in his photo on Petfinder looked like a pup that needed some serious nurturing, so in spite of his fear, he seemed to be just the dog for them.

The shelter staff said his extreme fearfulness suggested he had probably been abused. “This just made me feel for him and love him more,” Amber says.

“After an hour of trying to coax him out,” she recalls, “we put a leash on him and tried to get him to walk. He wouldn’t budge, so I carried him to the car.”

Zephyre took him under her “wing” and raised him, but it took almost two years before Jamal began to really trust humans. Some people would have given up on him, but Amber and her husband didn’t. They showered him with constant affection, love and training. Gradually, he transformed into a “ball of love and hyperactive fun,” she says, and he shows when he’s happy by smiling, “like, actually smiling.

“He’s very attached to my husband, or the word he knows him by, ‘Daddy.’ I think Jamal is probably at his happiest when ‘Daddy’ comes home from work. He is also very happy, and very stubborn, when he gets to swim at a pond or lake. My husband once had to pick him up and carry him out of the water because he refused to leave.”

He’s about 8 years old now and no longer a scared little pup – although storms still make him a little nervous. Still, a loving family helps him weather all the storms that come his way.