A Forever Home: Avery’s Second Chance


Today’s Happy Endings is comes from Allie Clarke, a media and marketing coordinator for Animal House Rescue and Grooming. It was Allie’s Happy Ending that inspired her to get involved with rescue animals! I was so touched by Allie’s story and I hope you feel inspired to share her story with someone who may just be willing to give a sick shelter dog a second chance.

The dog that changed my life

I wanted to tell you about me and my sweetheart Avery. He is a Boxer/Red Heeler mix, about three and a half years old now, and he completely changed my life.

Three years ago, when I was 21, I knew that I wanted a dog. I had never had a dog before and didn’t know anything about how to care for one, but I was convinced my life was missing a dog. I went to the humane society not even sure what I was looking for. I fell in love with a sweet two year old black flat coated retriever who was already on hold. I was about to leave the shelter but decided to walk through the last row of dog kennels on my way out.

In one of the last kennels in the row I saw the back of a tan dog who was sleeping soundly despite all of the ruckus his kennel-mate was making. I couldn’t see his face but I felt I  needed to meet him. At the time there was a 30 minute wait to meet with dogs, and I almost left multiple times during the waiting period, fully aware that as a struggling college student I didn’t have any of the necessary supplies to impulsively adopt a dog that day. I didn’t leave.

A very sick dog

When I met Avery that day he was a skinny, shy, six-month old mess of a dog. Dried mud was caked all over his haunches, clinging to his dirty, dull fur. I didn’t know much about dogs and I didn’t realize how odd it was that a six month old puppy wouldn’t come over to meet me, preferring to stand cautiously against the wall instead of bouncing off the walls demanding attention. He had bloodshot eyes and his nose was yellow and crusty. He had trouble walking and was not interested in pets or ear rubs in the slightest. The kennel staff member said, “um, I think this dog might be sick…”, and took him away. In hindsight, it seems undeniably obvious that he was extremely ill but somehow that was overlooked during his time at the shelter.

I left the meeting room, unsure if I was interested in adopting him because he seemed aloof and distant when I tried to give him attention- not what I was looking for in my new best friend. A different shelter staff member approached me in the waiting room and told me that the dog I had met with seemed to have kennel cough, and his temperature was extremely high indicating that he was most likely dehydrated.

I looked through his known biography and learned that he had been picked up at four months old as a dirty stray. He was at a shelter in Southern Colorado for a month and was then moved to a different shelter where he spent an additional month. It was noted at his initial intake that he was covered in mud, likely meaning that he had not received a bath during his time at these shelters. My heart broke for this poor baby who had spent so much time in cages, clearly filthy and uncomfortable and very sick.

I immediately filled out the paperwork to take him home, including signing a wavier indicating the shelter would not be held responsible if he didn’t survive.  I paid the $90 adoption fee and loaded him up into my car. I took him to a veterinarian near my home where he was seen right away.

I found out my new dog had pneumonia, kennel cough, mange, and lots of intestinal parasites. He was very, very sick and might not recover from this level of illness at such a young age as his immune system had probably not developed properly. I spent the entirety of my savings account, approximately $850, on treatment and medicine to take home, and I spent the next two weeks nursing my sweet Avery back to life.

Avery’s Second Chance

Happy Endings - Avery

When Avery finally recovered he turned into the true Boxer puppy maniac that he should have been all along. I soon realized that I had no idea what I was getting into when I brought him home! He had never been taught basic obedience. I quickly realized that Avery was a very nervous dog with severe anxiety problems. Additionally, he had terrible digestion issues that my veterinarian could not seem to cure with any amount of medication.

I spent the first six months of my time with Avery learning everything I could about basic dog care, training techniques, nutrition, general health, and how to assuage his anxiety.

I eventually realized that food allergies were probably the cause of Avery’s upset tummy and after many unsuccessful attempts at feeding him high quality kibble, I began to cook him a homemade diet of beef, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies. His digestion issues cleared up and he hasn’t had them since! I cooked homemade food for him every day for six months until I found a high quality kibble that didn’t upset his tummy.

Avery’s anxiety has decreased significantly, though he still whines a lot. The key to his anxiety cure was a combination of wearing a Thundershirt, DAP hormone releasing plug-ins, plenty of exercise, obedience training, mental stimulation, occasional melatonin supplements, Rescue Remedy, and three years of consistent love and friendship.

Happy Endings - Avery & Allie

My deep love for Avery led me to pursue an internship with Animal House Rescue & Grooming, where I eventually I became a paid animal care tech and the Foster Care Coordinator; now I work on marketing and media projects to increase Animal House adoptions so that we can help more dogs like Avery who need a second chance. Some of the best, kindest people in my life are from Animal House.

I honestly don’t know what my life would be like if I hadn’t brought Avery home that day. My heart hurts for all the Averys- sad, sick, and wasting away at shelters across the United States. I want to dedicate my life to helping high-kill shelters reform their programs to place more dogs in loving homes and I especially want to help shelters improve their medical treatment standard operating procedures for dogs like Avery who are sick while waiting to be adopted.

Share your happy ending!

I’d love to share your story and feature your pet on Tails of Fort Collins- just send me an email at chrysta@tailsoffortcollins.com !

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