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So after volunteering with TAS for all these years, I've probably developed a bit of thick skin because going on crying jags at the shelter after hearing another hardship story is not only unhelpful but quite possibly unmanly.

For some reason, though, when I met Beauty, some pepper flakes got into my eyes.

She's a black Labrador Retriever and I think it's the contrast that got to me. I usually think of Labs as being exuberant to super exuberant dogs, full of life and good cheer. A Lab's ambition is to be a fat happy dog surrounded by a family of happy people. Labs might be way too excitable or even out of control with their crazy butt wagging energy or they may be more sedate but still enthusiastic about getting any human attention. In some Labs, this energy might even turn nasty as I've seen one too many times.

What I've never seen is a Lab like Beauty. She is afraid and a huge sadness surrounds her, not so much in her face but in her manner, the way she carries herself. She's always ready to flatten against the floor at the slightest unexpected movement or noise. And she's skeletal. And she has mange and there's a cut behind her left eye.

The first time I tried taking her for a walk, she sat just outside the door and wouldn't budge. She sat for fifteen minutes looking around at the parking lots and big brick buildings while I photographed her. She would have sat there longer but I coaxed her onto the grass and we went for a short walk before she had enough and sat again and would go no further.

I reached down to touch her and she cringed. I've had this reaction from a few dogs before - feral dogs, little trembling dogs, but never from a Lab. Beauty's knees buckled and I thought she was going to fall to her belly to get away from my touch. I waited and she waited and then the anxiety lifted from her and I reached out to her again and this time her head stayed in my hand and she did not flinch away. She relaxed.

Here was an animal we created to adore us, who still wanted to adore us, and yet someone had neglected her and exploited her to the point where she was afraid of that which she had been bred to cherish. But she still yearned for it, for us. Beauty should have been one of those fat happy Labs who live a fat happy life but instead she'd been kept in a cage and used like a machine for all of her days to produce puppies for someone's profit and she was neglected and then discarded.

Is it not evil to create something which needs to love and then deny love to that creature, imprison it, abuse it, throw it away?

Outside still, and eventually Beauty shows a preference for chin scratches. She likes chest rubs as well. Perhaps it's not too late to save this dog. I mean, of course she will be saved. Of course a home will be found for her but perhaps she can still be saved in a way so she will not be afraid of what her gentle nature desires, so she will not be afraid of us anymore.

Beauty has a facial injury, maybe a deformity. It looks like a cleft palate or it could be the result of an old, deep cut. If she were a character in a novel, the wound would be taken as a metaphor mirroring the wound within. The wound on her face won't ever heal but perhaps the wound inside her will.

For adoption information on this dog and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

More on Beauty here.

10 Comments to “Beauty - Black Labrador Retriever”

  1. deva says:

    Thank you for posting Beauty's story. It takes a long, long time for an abused dog to come out of her shell. However, whether she knows it or not, there is hope in Beauty's life now. I hope that soon someone with a gentle nature and a great deal of patience will help Beauty to become the dog she should have been - and can still be.

  2. ToniaK says:

    Hey Fred,
    I was really hoping you would post on Beauty. I had a similar experience walking her last week. I basically fell in love with her immediately.
    She responds really well to positive, verbal reinforcement - 'Yes! Yes! That's a good girl!' when you're trying to get her outside. I found that she loves to roll in the grass and just lay there having her belly rubbed.
    You know how there are some dogs that just touch you? Beauty is one of those dogs. She deserves a very special home as she is an incredibly special dog.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I met Beauty yesterday ... she did not want to leave Room 3 but with a lot of coaxing and promises of the outside world doing her some good ... she walked with me. As we got off the elevator .. she did not want to budge again. Eventually got her outside with more positive talking ... made it to the grassy area where she had a long pee. She was extremely shy? and rolled on her back as I rubbed her tummy and scratched her chin. She did not want to pass the horse palace entrance but wanted to head towards the Direct Energy building. So we headed that way but she stopped in her tracks and headed back to where we came from. After more rolling on her back and belly scratching, we made our way back inside. I so wanted to walk around longer with her but she did not want to and I did not want to make her. Beauty needs all the positive energy we can give her and hope she will be the lab she should be.

  4. Amy says:

    She looks and sounds exactly like a black version of my chocolate lab, Lucky. She was so terrified when we got her that we had to carry her in and out of the house. She fear peed and fear pooped all the time and broke my heart every day. We've had her for 2 years now, and she will never be a normal dog, but she has reached her version of "normal". She is so loved and treasured by my husband and me. Beauty just tugs at my heart strings because she reminds me of my Lucky. I pray that someone with much patience, love, and affection will give this sweet baby the loving forever home she deserves. God bless her.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This just breaks my heart. Please keep us posted -- I pray Beauty finds a loving forever home, someone who will shower her with love and show her the gentler, sweeter side of life that she has been missing. She deserves so much better.

  6. rika says:

    Hugs, dear Beauty.

    And yes, please keep us posted.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have a whole sandbox in my eyes right now after reading this.
    I wonder if she wasn't born with the deformity and that's why she wasn't sold as a puppy but shoved into a cage in the back and used only for breeding.
    Anyway, whatever the reason, you are absolutely right...the people who do this are evil, money-grubbing wastes of life. Why do they bring animals into this world only to make them suffer?
    I lost my beloved lab a couple of years ago & I still miss him every day. Even at the age of 13 he was still a big, happy goofball who never failed to make me laugh and, like you, I've never come across one that wasn't the same way. To see one this depressed totally breaks my heart.
    I just wish I could help the others have said, please keep us updated on her.

  8. Fillyjonk says:

    What's so wonderful about TAS is how much the dogs change for the better once they've been there awhile. I can't believe the transformations sometimes from sad, cringing, bewildered animals into cheerful pets-to-be that look forward to games and walks like "normal" dogs. I have every confidence that this will happen for Beauty, especially with so much love, support and kindness around her.

  9. SBrown says:

    I had the pleasure of hosting Beauty for a little over a week while her current foster family went on holidays, such a sweet girl. Hoping she finds her forever home soon, she certainly deserves it.

  10. Fred says:

    SBrown, thanks for looking after her!

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.