One year ago today we adopted our pup Koda and, since he came to us without a known birth date, we decided his adoption day is a pretty darn good substitute.
The first time we met Koda his name was Lazie, pronounced “lazy.” Prior to meeting him, volunteers and employees at the shelter warned me that he’d been there the longest because of how timid he is and that he’s a chow so there’s no telling what his personality is truly like. As we were waiting to meet him for the first time, I explained to Brandon how scared he would be and that we should sit on the ground so he wouldn’t feel intimidated by us. Finally a volunteer walked in with Koda and let him off his leash. He stood there for a moment shaking with fear, and then did something I will never forget.
He ran across the room, sat as close to me as he could without sitting on my lap, and gently set his head down on my hands! It still makes me well up with tears! This sweet boy had been neglected and was terrified of everyone and everything around him, yet he saw something in me that was safe and comforting. It was such an overwhelming feeling.
We had previously agreed not to sign any papers until after we’d met him and had the chance to discuss / sit on the decision for at least a full day. We went out for dinner that night and had a heavy discussion about how he would fit into our small 900 square foot, 3rd story apartment, with a cat (Lila) who has epilepsy and is terrified of dogs. We worried he would never be affectionate or trusting of us, that he could be dangerous, and that he might not be safe around kids once we started a family. We agreed there were simply too many reasons not to adopt him.
It was such. a hard. decision.
Over the next couple weeks I began volunteering with the shelter on a weekly basis. I always visited Koda first and last, hoping he’d disprove everyone and show me that he was capable of becoming affectionate, but he would only tremble, avoid eye contact, and cower against the fence. Despite all the other dogs I was spending time with in the shelter though, I couldn’t get him off my mind. I kept dwelling on the first time we met – the only time he’d shown a ray of hope that he was capable of trusting someone.
I kept asking the shelter’s staff how much time he had left before they’d have to put him down to make room for new dogs entering the shelter. I tried calling around to chow rescue organizations in an effort to find him a new, no-kill shelter. His odds were not looking good and I knew we were his only way. Finally one morning as I was driving to work with Brandon, I tried to casually bring Koda into the conversation. So it naturally poured out as one frantic, slurred mess: we-have-to-adopt-that-dog!
And that night, we did!
We battled one thing at a time. Koda was severely underweight and had five different kinds of worms living in his digestive tract (five!). We put him on a grain-free, high-protein diet and once the parasites were cleared from his body, we saw his health and coat color rebound. Then we battled his severe anxiety. He had frequent panic attacks and an immense fear of the stairwell up to our apartment at the time so, for the first two months, we had to carry him up the stairs after every. single. walk.
We taught him how to walk on a leash (oh my gosh, he would have made a great sled dog!) and how to walk around the apartment without being scared of simple things like furniture.
We even convinced both Koda and Lila to coexist!
I’m so happy I trusted my gut and that we took a leap of faith in adopting Koda, because knowing what I know now it’s hard to believe that this sweet, cuddly boy is the same dog we adopted one year ago.
Happy adoption and 5th birthday, Koda boy!
We first saw Koda (previously known as Lazie) on Petfinder and seriously recommend using this website, especially if you’re looking for a particular breed. There are too many homeless cats and dogs out there to buy from breeders. Please adopt from your local shelter!