Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Daniel is a 2-year-old, 40 lb. dog who was pulled into foster care from Companion Animal Alliance (East Baton Rouge Animal Control). Unfortunately, prior to being picked up by animal control, Daniel had fallen victim to dog abuse, having been made a “bait dog”. With the help of the shelter staff and volunteers, he is on a steady road to recovery and a life of happiness.

Read Daniel’s story; he promises you won’t regret it!

I was just sitting in my animal science class, when my sister (an employee at East Baton Rouge Animal Control) leaned over to show me a picture of a recent dog that was brought in. Being an active shelter volunteer and foster, unfortunately, I have seen many animal cruelty cases. However, the dog pictured here was different from other cases I’d seen. You see, this dog was not any typical dog; this little guy had landed in the terrible position of being used as a “bait-dog”.

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For the next couple of days, I could not get this guy off of my mind. It hurt my heart just to think of the possible hell that the first couple years of his life had been. Dog fighters typically choose the most submissive and mild mannered dogs in order to use as “bait-dogs” for their fighting dogs to practice upon. These bait dogs are restrained in some manner so that they cannot fight back or hurt the prize fighting dogs.

This dog, as all other dogs (even the prize fighter dogs), lived his entire life only wanting to please the humans around him. He had grown up yearning for human affection, probably never being called a “good boy” or having never earned a belly rub. Rather, he was raised in absolute torment, left to wonder what had he done wrong to earn such punishments from his people.  How could this dog still have any ounce of trust in his heart after what had been done to him by humans? I wouldn’t. I knew it was a long shot, but I requested that the shelter behavior specialist give him a look over with a few temperament tests.

Upon hearing that he passed his temperament tests with humans, food, and other dogs, I knew this guy had a fight in his heart. I knew that he deserved a second chance to feel and to know the goodness in the world, in comparison to the living hell he had known his entire life.

With the support of the shelter team, and after much contemplation, I made the decision to pull him to foster. I knew the road ahead of me would be bumpy; it would require lots of patience and understanding as I introduced this dog to a lifestyle and world he’d never known.

On the way to Companion Animal Alliance, I decided upon the name Daniel, in reference to the biblical children’s story, “Daniel in the lion’s den”. In the story, upon being tossed into a lion den to be eaten, Daniel amazingly never loses his faith in the Lord. In the same way, this dog never lost his trust in humans, even after what he’d been put through. I knew I had to document his progress in order to share his story and raise awareness. Today Daniel is kicking butt and taking names. So read on! 

WEEK 1:

The day I brought Daniel home from the shelter is one I will never forget. The veterinary staff at the shelter cleaned his wounds (old and new) as best as they could and sent him home with medication in order to make him as comfortable as possible. On the ride home, the back seat of my car soon became covered with blood from his gashes, but I didn’t mind, because my face was being covered in tentative, but appreciative kisses.

It was at that moment that I knew I had made the right decision, and it was on this day that I learned more about forgiveness from this 36 lb., beat up dog than I had learned in my lifetime.

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The first few days were rough. Daniel was hesitant to show any type of emotion: pain, fear, happiness- nothing. It was very heartbreaking, unlike anything I’d ever seen. However, I was persistent in providing positive encouragement. When he’d give me little kisses, I would make a huge deal, telling him what a good boy he was and showing my excitement. Slowly, but surely, Daniel began to open up.Danny9Danny7

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WEEK 2: 

Daniel’s wounds are healing wonderfully, and he is slowly beginning to pack on weight. We take long walks every day, in order to become used to different sights and sounds. He loves to watch the squirrels climb in the trees, and appreciates pats on the head from passer-bys. Some people stare and give us funny looks (who wouldn’t? I’m walking a malnourished, scarred-up, dog), but that’s all right. It’s all part of the road to progress. Daniel is a grateful houseguest, never barking or potty-ing inside. He gives kisses to anyone he meets, as no one is a stranger to Danny. He enjoys snoozing and belly rubs, and has proven to be a very gentle soul.

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WEEK 3:

 Daniel is enjoying this beautiful weather almost as much as I am! Yesterday, we took a trip to play in the sunshine by the Mississippi River. Danny’s first attempt at fetch was a failure, as he has no clue of how to play. I would throw the ball, and he would sort of look at it, like “Ummm. Mom, aren’t you gonna go get it?” At least we got to take a cruise in the car, as Danny loves to ride with the windows down. We are still taking our daily long walks, now with other foster dog brothers and sisters. Danny loves to play with his dog friends, and is very tolerant of even the most “annoying” playmates. Dan has found a new love of looking out of the window and watching the cars pass by.

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WEEK 4:

Balls are for fetching anyway! That’s what I told Daniel the day he got neutered (he was finally healthy enough!) Although, Danny was not very excited about his cone head. Is that not the most pathetic look you’ve ever seen?

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We will soon be able to start attending adoption events in hopes to finding Daniel’s forever home! We are in no rush, however, as Daniel has become very fond of his best friend and female look-a-like, Clementine. These two play all day, give kisses, and even cuddle. Yes, cuddle. I am amazed with how well Daniel plays with other dogs. He is so gentle, and ever so tolerant. While he does like to play, what Daniel seems to enjoy the most is just laying around his people. He is quick to curl up next to you and soak in a good ear rub. The appreciation is ever so visible in his eyes and body language.

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WEEK 5:

Sit command = check. Danny and I began taking a canine training course this week, and have been working on perfecting the “sit command.” As treat motivated as this little guy is, it did not take long until he knew that his behind needed to hit the floor for a snack to come his way. He now sits directly in front of me whenever I call him over… It’s insanely adorable. Look at that happy face! I am a proud momma.

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With all of this beautiful fall weather we’ve been having, we have been outside as much as possible, which is not much with my busy undergrad schedule. We invite a few friends to come play every now and then, and with a little help, Daniel has begun to understand the concept of fetching. However, he has no where near perfected this. His goofy side is beginning to show more as the days go on and his trust in humans builds. Last night, Daniel discovered for the first time that he had a tail… Talk about one of the funnier things I’ve seen in my life time.

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WEEK 7- or was it 8?

Time seems to be flying by! Daniel has already attended his 1st adoption event, and he was a doll. Usually, 1st time adoption event can be stressful on a dog, as there is so much excitement in this environment. Daniel melted the hearts of the public with his sweet demeanor, and snuck a few kisses in too!

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It’s not a secret that Louisiana has many die-hard football fans, so on Howl-o-ween, Daniel wanted to dress up as none other than an LSU tiger!

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While Dan’s goofy personality is continuing to bloom, it is still very evident that he loves to just chill with his human companions. With a ear scratch or belly rub, Daniel will curl up next to anyone! He is a wonderful cuddle-buddy, and I must admit, I cannot help but let him on my sofa with me (with my permission first, of course!)

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WEEKS 9 & 10

Daniel and Clementine decided to dress up after Halloween once the costumes went on sale. So. goofy. Dan dressed up as a cowardly…I mean fearless… lion. We try to play outside as much as possible when the Louisiana weather cooperates.These two have been wonderful together, and I am very confident that Daniel would be wonderful in a home with another doggy playmate.

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WEEKS 11 & 12

Dan is a superstar! Hurry and get his autograph now! The local Baton Rouge news station, WBRZ, interviewed Dan and I for a story covering dog fighting awareness in our areas. What an honor! Daniel is reaching out to help his other dog friends who have not been as lucky as he has in escaping a life involved in the terrible hobby of dog fighting. I am so proud of my little man. His video reached not only over 3,000 viewers in Louisiana, but also other areas of the world such as Canada and the United Kingdom. Wow. Here are a few pictures from the news story. *Daniel also has another interview coming up with LSU’s own TV station!*

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You can watch the whole video of Dan’s cover of WBRZ here: http://www.wbrz.com/news/animal-control-dog-fighting-big-in-baton-rouge/

Dan has mastered “sit”, “down”, and “stay. Toys used to be foreign objects to Daniel and today, he will play and through his toys around by himself (truly entertaining). He is truly a wonderful dog, and anyone would be lucky to have him as a family member. This special boy has continued to touch the hearts of many. He is still searching for his forever home.

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WEEK WHO KNOWS WHAT #

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I’ve been dreaming of/dreading the day I would take this picture. On the day I picked Daniel up, I knew he was going to be a hard one to let go of. I got the privilege of seeing his personality unfold into something beautiful–a goofy boy who loves squeaky toys and his girlfriend clementine, a boy who is scared of puppies but will chase a squirrel for days, a little man who is taking life and treats as they come, who loves to snuggle and chase his tail. Everyone who met Daniel fell in love with his sweet face and expressive satellite ears.

We all know a bit too much about the reality of what Daniel went through as a bait dog. This dog taught me that it doesn’t matter how ugly a past might be, the future is what you make of it.

I am so proud of the awesome dog he is, and will be with his new dad.

Happy tails my sweet boy!

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3 thoughts on “Daniel in the Lion’s Den

  1. What a lovely story. You make a wonderful foster momma. We can see this in Daniel and how he has progressed over the past few weeks. Bless you!!!

  2. Thank you! Dan man did all the real work. I just gave the extra love he needed! He has greatly surpassed all of my expectations with his progress. I am a proud foster momma.

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