Overcoming the Odds: Daisy’s Story
By: Christy Avery
In July 2015, Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS) Humane Law Enforcement Officer Sarah Schmidt responded to a call in south Seattle. A female Pit Bull, tethered at the end of a chain, had dug under her fence and was stuck in the alley. When Officer Schmidt arrived on the scene, she looked over the fence and saw other dogs chained in deplorable conditions. She also noticed the many scars, consistent with dog fighting, on the dog’s face. An undercover investigation conducted with the Seattle Police Department revealed that the dogs were victims of a dog fighting operation. The owners were arrested and the dogs were taken to SAS.
At the shelter, the dog, now called Daisy, was terrified. Like the other rescued dogs, Daisy was evaluated by Dr. Robin Foster, a university professor and certified animal behaviorist, and she was found to have no aggression whatsoever toward either people or other animals. However, she was traumatized, and her refusal to engage with people led SAS staff to wonder if she would ever be adoptable. Former foster care coordinator Laura Mundy used to give treats to the dogs before she left for the night. “I remember Daisy huddled in the back of her kennel. She never moved from her spot. She wouldn’t approach the kennel door when I threw treats in. But after a few weeks, she did approach the door. She was so gentle. I felt that she was ‘in there’.”
To complicate matters, Daisy was diagnosed with heart worm, a potentially fatal disease that requires lengthy treatment. It was still not clear that Daisy would ever be a candidate for adoption, but after all she had been through, SAS staff wanted to give her every chance they could. She moved to Ballard Animal Hospital for treatment, and during her three month stay there, Daisy tentatively began to come out of her shell. She bonded with staff and started to enjoy her jaunts out into the animal hospital yard.
As her health improved, it became crucial that she move into a home where a foster parent could evaluate her as an adoption candidate. Elise Silvay provided that chance that Daisy desperately needed. Though still shy, Daisy “was as sweet as she could be,” she remembers. Relived to be somewhere quiet and comfortable, she slept for three straight days on Elise’s sofa.
As she bonded with Elise, her silly side came out. She loved to sleep on blankets, to jump in circles, and to chase and be chased. “She’d jump on the couch and nudge me, egging me on to play with her and tease her. She has a little mischievous side to her that was playful and just adorable,” Elise says. Crucially, she became comfortable with the other people in Elise’s life. She was gentle with children, and she gradually became more accustomed to the outside world. Daisy had shown that she was indeed adoptable.
In April of 2016, Daisy found her perfect forever home. Richard Huffman, who has held leadership roles at PAWS and Purrfect Pals, lost his 16 year old dog Ruby in March. He explains, “I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the special animals that might be a bit tougher to find a home for.” When he saw Daisy’s profile online, he said “I guess in Daisy I just saw in her that same thing I saw in certain other animals at PAWS and the shelter; they are scared; medical or emotional issues might have kept them in foster care for an extended period… they just didn’t present themselves as the perfect pet. I know how these are often the most important animals to gravitate towards; the ones most in need of a permanent home.”
Daisy is now completely healthy. She has three feline housemates who, according to Richard, “assume that they own her and she is their pet.” Richard works from home so Daisy has a constant companion. She wags her tail, jumps around her backyard, and solicits play. She is still shy, but she is happy.