Eighteen months ago, Carmen’s world was shattered. Her elderly owner, a woman she’d lived with her entire life, passed away. Unfortunately, the remaining family members did not want her, and Carmen was left at a kennel while the family paid for her monthly board. She languished there for more months, waiting for the only human who ever loved her to return to take her home. That woman never came. And as a result, Carmen began to give up.
As our rescue volunteers came each day to care for our dogs sheltered in the same kennel, it was hard to ignore Carmen. She was sad, fearful, and downcast. In her first and only home, Carmen was isolated with her elderly owner and so she was shy and afraid when she met new people. And as her time in the shelter grew, so did her fear.
Our volunteers made a promise to themselves and to Carmen. A promise to do everything they could to help find her a home. Volunteers began spending time with her. Trying to bond. Trying to connect. Trying to gain her trust.
At first, Carmen would approach them slowly and hesitantly. But at the first hint that one of them might touch her, she’d turn and run for the safety of her bed. Then she’d work up the courage to approach again, only to turn away and cower.
After a few days of cat and mouse, she crawled toward our volunteers on her stomach. As she came closer, a glimmer of life crept into her eyes and the emotional walls that had imprisoned her began to crumble. As days and weeks passed, she learned to trust her new friends, one at a time.
Finally, she allowed herself to be petted and even began to give kisses! And in the play yard, we found that she could run faster and jump higher than any of our dogs. She somersaulted over hay bales, flew around the play yard, and romped in the pool with her new toys. Her favorite game was thrusting her face into the water bucket, rolling in the dirt, and then diving back into the bucket once more to wash the dirt away!
Then we were leveled with bad news. Carmen’s remaining family had decided to relinquish Carmen to a sanctuary—a world of forgotten dogs that belonged to no one. And we knew we had to keep our promise to this little girl and help her find a home with a family who had the patience to work with her and build trust. If the eyes are the window to the soul, anyone who looked into Carmen’s eyes saw the sweet, intelligent soul that resided inside.
Fate finally intervened, and the family finally agreed to relinquish Carmen to our rescue. And she began to attend adoption events and meet prospective families. But she was still fearful of strangers. Especially men. Adoption applications began to stream in, but none of them were the best of fits. Some had small children; others had unfenced yards. So we continued to search for the perfect family.
One day, a new application came in. The family wanted to meet Carmen. They met us at the kennels, and as the husband and wife approached her, Carmen ran straight toward the husband. Even though she was afraid of men!
Within minutes of meeting them, she was offering him kisses and her paw. When the husband and wife returned to see her a second time, Carmen ran to the fence to greet them, wagging her tail with joy.
I think dogs know when they’ve found the right family. They know when they’ve met “the one.” Carmen had bonded with many of our volunteers, but when it came time to say goodbye, Carmen quietly acknowledged the volunteers who’d grown close to her, jumped in the back of her new family’s car, and never looked back. Little Carmen had waited so long for the right family and finally it happened. And that’s how Carmen found the one!