Victims of animal cruelty are often the hardest animals to place into a home. Shyness, fear and anxiety regularly plague these pets—and not all adopters feel up to the task.But those who do often discover that underneath the pain, there’s an animal that is eager to love and be loved. Such was the case with Escher, a 55-lb. Shepherd/Collie mix with a mysterious past who proved that sometimes, the greatest hardship leads to the greatest reward. Here is his Happy Tail.
As a photographer for the ASPCA, Stacey Axelrod spends most days meeting with and photographing dogs and cats at the ASPCA Adoption Center. Though she has worked with hundreds of animals, she knew from her very first encounter with Escher that he was special. In February, Escher and five other dogs were rescued from an abandoned van in Brooklyn, New York. Hungry and freezing, all six dogs were suffering from some form of vision impairment, ranging from Entropion (an eyelid disease) to total blindness. They were all incredibly shy and fearful, and though we were unsure of how long they had been in the van, it was clear that it would take a lot of work to restore their faith in humans.
After meeting Escher, Stacey began visiting him at the Adoption Center every day. “I knew I wanted a dog who might have some trouble finding a home,” she says, so she invited her fiancé Jon to come meet him, too. “At first, Escher would shy away when we tried to pet him,” says Stacey. “He was scared of everything and I could tell he just needed someone to give him confidence.” After spending some time with the timid pooch, she and Jon were sold. “I have no idea what he went through earlier in his life, but I just felt like he deserved the life I could give him.”
At home, Stacey and Jon discovered the full extent of Escher’s issues. “He was terrified of stairs and there are lots of stairs to get into my apartment building,” she says. “I spent hours with him just sitting there and trying to coax him one step further.” In addition to the stairs, Escher also exhibited an extreme fear of strangers, other dogs, and being left alone. Stacey did research on dog behavior and Positive Reinforcement Training, and slowly but surely, helped Escher become more comfortable.
“I remember the first time he laid down and rolled over next to me,” Stacey recalls. “It was the first of many milestones and the first time I saw him truly relax. I never really wanted to nap on my kitchen floor, but I couldn’t resist it that day. He allowed me to snuggle up next to him and everything changed after that. It was love at first belly rub.”
As time went on, Escher continued to show signs of improvement. He tackled his fear of stairs, and he even mastered some tricks like sit, down, paw, and high five. “He’s still learning typical dog behaviors,” says Stacey, “but at some point, he realized that he could trust us and that he was here to stay. It was like something clicked. We celebrated the tiniest of changes, and now I can’t believe how far he has come.”
Though working with Escher has been a roller coaster of emotions, Stacey never once doubted her decision. “When I get discouraged, I just play some games with him and remember how amazing and goofy he is despite his fears,” she says. “He’s the perfect dog.” And though she has spent a lot of time working with Escher, he has given her so much in return. “He has taught me so much about commitment, living in the present, and celebrating the small things. I never knew I could have such a strong mutual relationship with a dog until I got Escher.”
Admittedly, the timid Escher is still gaining confidence, but his progress is undeniable. And from the cold February morning in an abandoned van to the warmth and love of Stacey and Jon’s home, he has already come so far.
Three of the dogs rescued with Escher, Caitlyn, Dermott, and Brona, are still waiting for their forever homes. For more information about adopting these sweet dogs, please contact the ASPCA Adoption Center at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120
Princess is a sweet and laid-back cat who likes rest and relaxation. This shy beauty prefers to take things slow and may need some time to warm up to you at first. With some yummy treats and her favorite toys, she’ll adjust to her new home in no time. Once she feels comfortable, she’ll come out of her shell for lots of playtime and cuddles with her new family!
Princess would do best in a quiet household with a patient and experienced adopter and teens 14-and-up. Adopt Princess today!
Princess is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Princess, please visit her profile page.
We all know that physical abuse and extreme neglect constitute cruelty to animals—but one little-discussed form of cruelty is abandonment. Though it seems less dramatic than other violations, abandonment is indeed cruelty—and its consequences can be just as dire. For proof, look no further than Hal the cat, an animal whose health was profoundly compromised due to abandonment—and who ultimately found his happiness in a new forever home. Here is Hal’s Happy Tail.
Hal came to the ASPCA in July 2013 after being found abandoned in a carrier on the street. Left without care or provisions, his teeth were badly decayed and his mouth was bleeding. Because of significant oral pain, he was unable to groom himself and was so severely matted that his entire body needed to be shaved. Already emaciated, Hal’s teeth had to be removed, which forced him onto a special soft-food diet. And that wasn’t even the worst of it. During his time on the streets, he contracted persistent Giardia (an intestinal parasite) that likely came from drinking dirty puddle water. The poor cat had been through so much hardship, all because someone chose to abandon him on the street.
After a year in our care, Hal was stronger and healthier. Despite all he had been through, he was a social and affectionate boy, though slightly shy with new people. He was ready for his forever home, and we were eager to find him an adopter. Fortunately, it was around this time that Isabella R. made the decision to adopt a cat.
“I had been checking the ASPCA blog frequently and reading stories about all of these exceptional animals looking for their forever homes,” says Isabella. “Eventually, toward the end of June, I decided it was time to adopt.” At the ASPCA Adoption Center, Isabella spent two days meeting almost every available kitty, but she was having trouble choosing just one to be her new furry friend. When Hal started meowing suddenly, she asked an ASPCA volunteer about his history. “She told me Hal’s heartbreaking story, and afterwards I asked if I could offer him some treats,” she recalls. “As I opened his door, he started eagerly meowing again, and I knew that my home was now his home, too.”
Isabella adopted Hal that day, and he settled right into her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “I felt instantly connected and devoted to Hal,” says Isabella. “There is nothing I appreciate more than having him curled up on the side of my bed each night, or having him greet me at the door when I come home.” In fact, Isabella was so taken with her new buddy that she went back to the ASPCA two weeks later and adopted Hal’s new brother, Ari!
After his rough experience on the streets, Hal now spends his days happy, loved, well-fed and cared for. Never again will he experience the insidious pain of abandonment, and never again will he want for anything. Isabella says, “I cannot imagine my home without Hal in it,” but we’re pretty positive that Hal cannot imagine a better life than the one she has given him.
By now, you’ve heard of the SyFy channel’s cult classics Sharknado and Sharknado 2. Now the ASPCA is coming at you with our own cinematic masterpiece: Barknado is coming! The forecast includes the cutest storm of the century with a heavy chance of adoptable dogs landing at your feet.
The only way to stop it...is to adopt it! Watch the trailer for Barknado.
We’re releasing Barknado in advance of Bark Week (August 4-9), when we’ll go all out to promote some of our most furiously adorable, adoptable dogs. Stay tuned to aspca.org/blog for all the cute.
Samuel is a friendly guy who loves everybody he meets. This goofy pup is happiest when he’s on the go—he’d enjoy nothing more than an afternoon stroll or run through the park with his favorite people! We think with proper introductions, Samuel could even make a few canine friends.
This smart boy already knows Sit and Paw, and he’d love to have you teach him some other tricks, too. Samuel would like to go home with an experienced and active adopter who will spend quality time playing with him. Samuel would do best in a household with kids 10-and-up. Adopt Samuel today!
Samuel is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Samuel, please visit his profile page.