A Rescue Miracle
By Jim Moses
First Printing: The Performer, Oct/Nov 2006
The Official Publication of the American Belgian Malinois Club
In August of 1999, Marti and I drove over the Bay Bridge to Annapolis to meet Sharon Sparks and pick up two Mals that we were to foster. Sharon had picked them up from a shelter in Frederick, Maryland, where they had been found running loose together. In time, we were to name them Mandy and Mia. We got them home and into the runs, but when it came time to get them into the house, Mia just would not come, acting absolutely terrified. A typical late afternoon Chesapeake Bay thunderstorm was brewing, and we had to get her in. The eventual solution was to use a sectional ex-pen to reduce the perimeter until we could get a leash on her. The first leash we tried was a polypropylene kennel lead, which she promptly bit through as cleanly as if it had been cut with a knife. At that point we were certain one of us was going to be bitten; she was acting exactly like a wild animal. We finally managed to get her into a crate, and the healing process began. In time, we concluded that she must have been abused by a dark-haired man with a beard or mustache. She freaked out around me, as well as one of the contractors who was working on our house at the time – large guy, dark hair and mustache. She was much better around women and lighter-haired men, and after a while would play in the yard with Marti as long as I was not around The one glimmer of hope was that through it all, despite her theatrics, she never bit either of us, nor showed real aggression. Just total fear.
Mandy very quickly found a great home with Mary Bowell, a long-time member of the club in upstate New York. Mia took a bit longer, but eventually Marcia called us about an opportunity with Jean Cutter, also in New York. We had planned to visit Marti’s dad in Massachusetts and decided we would come home via Jean’s and see how she, her male Mickey and Mia hit it off. Everything looked ok and we left Mia with Jean, fingers crossed all the way home, just waiting for the car phone to ring.
Fast forward seven years to this April. We got an email from Jean: “I still have Mia and what a gem she is! She has turned into a wonderful dog who holds her own around people.” She said she would be visiting her daughter in the Washington area and offered to bring Mia to see us. We jumped at the chance – we had always wondered about Mia, assuming that if anything really bad had happened we would have known, but there’s always that question.
The day finally came in August. Jean and her daughter Leah arrived with Mia and Mickey. In short, a miracle had been accomplished. Mia was a different dog. She showed no fear, was interested in everything, and played like crazy with our boys. We had an absolutely delightful afternoon, and felt like Jean was someone we had known forever.
In rescue, there are stories that will break your heart. But for every one of those, there are always stories like Mia’s. The love of a caring, patient, and understanding person who will make the effort can truly work a miracle.
Thank you, Jean.
Jim & Marti Moses