“Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.”
—His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Olivia is a very special girl who can teach us all something about forgiveness. She began her life in a backyard breeding/hoarding situation. She was very neglected, abused, and never knew what it was like to be treated nicely, much less loved. The living conditions and treatment were so bad, that she and all the other dogs were seized by animal control services.
Never having experienced anything other than her backyard cage, Olivia was petrified at the shelter and growled to show her fear. She was then again let down by humans, and dragged up and down the concrete corridor until her paws bled, as a way to get back at her for growling. Finally, an angel by the name of Karen Kroll, with Aussie and Me Animal Rescue, saved Olivia from her 4 years of torture.
Olivia came to me scared and emotionally shut down. She was afraid of every movement I made, as if she would be beat. She was food aggressive with my other dogs because that was all she knew – fight for food or go hungry. I remember the first time I walked her around our neighborhood, she was so overwhelmed. She just sat down, as if she was exhausted by all the activity around her.
Simple things, like people walking or riding their bikes that we see every day and take for granted, she had never experienced from her backyard prison. I sat with her and cried, promising her that she would never be mistreated again. I knew from the look deep in her eyes, that she had it in her to go on and do great things for others, despite all the abuse she had endured.
For about 6 months, I simply showed Olivia what love was as an indoor dog. I gave her a warm bed, plenty of food and water, regular walks, and continued love and cuddles. She slowly blossomed into the confident, love bug that she is today. A year since I adopted her, she is now an AKC certified CGC and works with me at shelters through the Humane Education Connection’s “Canines Helping Kids in Crisis” program. The program teaches kindness to children that have been taken from their homes due to neglect and abuse. Olivia is not only my baby girl, she is now family to hundreds of kids who connect and relate to her each week because they know she too has experienced what they have.
Olivia is so sweet to the children, as if she knows what they have in common. She gives kisses, wiggle butts, and offers up her belly for plenty of rubs. I think she purposely acts like a silly girl to get the children to smile. She’s showing them that despite the abuse, they too can be the one to forgive, just as she did, and go on to do great things for others.