This month we bring you the story of Monkey, a dog who brought health and happiness to the owner who finally gave him the chance he needed.
Monkey’s owner, Laura, says, “Monkey came into my life five years ago. I have always loved animals and have had one or more dogs most of my life. My last dog passed away at age 15 in 1997 within months of my finally buying a house with a perfect yard for a dog and her own doggy door. It took a long time for me to get over her passing. At the time I was traveling a lot and decided it was not right to have a dog when I was rarely home.
“My health has been poor for the past several years and I was rarely getting out of bed. I was not planning to get another dog at this time because even though the traveling had stopped health care took most of my disability income and I was not well enough to earn more. Pets are a financial commitment, especially when they need vet care.
“My mother in law is also a huge animal lover and had two dogs at the time she rescued Monkey from a shelter in San Pedro. He was such a beautiful dog that she had to take him home after seeing a photo on the internet. This poor dog had been through a lot. She was owner number five and he was barely two years old. One or more of his past owners had clearly abused him mentally and physically. He was absolutely the most traumatized dog I had ever met. She brought him home to meet her other dogs. Unfortunately it was constant chaos. She already had a large male dog who had finally worked his way up to pack leader of her home. He was not having any of this new addition, who was desperately vying to be the new alpha male of the house. It was a constant battle. The dog that she already had was bigger, but Monkey was younger, smarter and stronger and he is relentless. She was heartsick about possibly having to take him back to the shelter.
“I had never seen her so stressed out and asked her what was wrong. She told me about her situation and asked if we would consider taking him. I told her that I would love to take him but with my huge ongoing medical expenses I could not afford to take care of a pet. She offered to pay for his food and vet care. I told her we would take him on a trial basis. Within one day I fell in love with him and could not imagine parting with him. We have no pets or children to compete for our attention, making this the perfect home for him.
“The very first thing he did when he came in my house was lift his leg and pee on the couch. I sent him out to the backyard, hoping that this was not going to be a regular thing. He never did it again and has been the most well behaved dog that I ever had. He only barks if he has a good reason. He has never gotten into the trash, chewed anything up that wasn’t his, or peed in the house again.
“He was so traumatized that he was afraid to go through our sliding glass door if anyone was near enough to touch it. When he did go through with us standing on the other side of the room, he bolted as fast as he possibly could, slinking his 90 lb. body at such an angle to get his entire body through as quickly as physically possible. Obviously some horrible previous owner had made a habit of closing a door like this on him. He also cowered every time he saw anyone near him with a hairbrush or remote control in hand. It was clear that some awful person had been hitting him with these items.
It took a year and a half before he stopped cowering and trusted us enough to come through the door with someone standing next to it. Now if I pick up his brush he wags his tail and ha
ppily comes to me for a good brushing. All of his past abuse manifested itself into some very odd behavior. I think one of the reasons that Monkey was returned to the shelter so many times was because he has unusual ways of showing his happiness. The happier he is, the louder he snorts, snarls and barks. It is intimidating because he is half Pit Bull and half Rhodesian Ridgeback – two of the toughest breeds on the planet. It would be terrifying for anyone who is a dog novice. I could tell that even though he was making frightening noises, he was also wagging his tail so I knew he meant no harm.
“In the five years that I have had him he has never bitten anything other than rodents. He has pulled me off of my feet a couple of times. When he sees a squirrel on the ground he loses his mind and goes after it, pulling me along for the ride. Another time I stepped into a foot sized hole in a park and went down hard. Because of my health it is easy to pull me over, and it can take a while to get back up. Even though I dropped the leash each time I fell, as soon as he noticed that I had gone down, he turned around and came back to me. He stayed with me nuzzling my face until I was able to stand – sometimes for several minutes.
“Even though Monkey can look menacing to some people, he is essentially very friendly and gentle. My next-door neighbors actually used him to help their young son get over his fear of dogs. At age three, this boy had a bad encounter with an unfriendly dog. Ever since, he was terrified of all dogs. His parents did not want their son to go through life with any phobias so they used Monkey to teach him that even big dogs can be nice. At first the boy wouldn’t come near the dog, even when his mother was holding him. After several tries over a period of weeks, his little friends from across the street who have always been big fans of Monkey happened to come over and were putting their little hands all over him. The frightened boy saw how much fun his friends were having and he finally joined in. Monkey just stood there patiently wagging his tail the whole time. He has a special soft spot for children and knows to be extra gentle around them. A lot of people move away from him based solely on looks even while he is calmly walking along doing nothing but sniffing trees and bushes. Monkey ignores most people but is instantly drawn to animal lovers. I was walking him through an outdoor mall when he climbed in to the lap of a total stranger sitting on a bench. I immediately started apologizing and the guy just smiled and said he was happy to share his bench with this dog. He loved dogs and took it as the compliment that Monkey meant to give him.
“It can be difficult for me to get around and is increasingly hard to get motivated for much needed exercise. This dog is obsessed with going for walks and he starts campaigning for his daily walk shortly after he sees that I am awake. He gets really sad if he doesn’t get out and about for at least 30 minutes per day. His head is just the right height to rest his chin on the side of my bed and he stares me down with big sad eyes. If that doesn’t work he starts in with the vocalizations like he is trying to speak. It is impossible to say no to him. When I am too ill to leave the house he lies on the floor next to my bed to comfort me. If it were not for him I would probably not get any exercise at all which would have huge detrimental effects on my health.
“It is a coincidence that he came into my life right about the time that I had lost all of my motivation to get out and walk on my own. Or is it? I often feel that there was some kind of divine intervention that brought us together when we needed each other most. If he ended up back at the shelter for a sixth time he most likely would have been euthanized. If I did not have him to motivate me, chances are good that I would no longer be able to walk. I have lost contact with most of my friends because of my health situation and he has become a wonderful companion and new best friend. His odd behavior that frightens some people is very entertaining to me. He is pure love and I could not imagine my life without him.”
We are proud to have Monkey as our Pet of the Month!
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