She sniffed at my hand tentatively, as if expecting me to suddenly harm her. Tail between her legs, eyes boring holes into my own, she gave my palm a tentative lick, then two, then three. The encouraging scratch behind her ears told her that she was safe. Within moments, her tail was wagging as she wriggled and clawed her way up my shirt, searching for additional approval.
A light paw on my chin, a nibble to my nose, a soft whimper as if to say “don’t put me back there.” Breathing deeply that soft puppy smell, I promised her that I wouldn’t. The poor thing had been through a string of nightmares over the last 6 weeks and the last thing I wanted to do was continue her torture.
She’d been born with three siblings, all brothers, in a crate outside on a porch following a harsh winter storm. The heavy wool blanket that had covered the crate had been blown yards away while their mother nestled her pups like a hen, struggling to keep everyone warm. Neighbors had called the Humane Society, but not before both the mother and one of her brothers were lost to the cold.
Helpless, she and her remaining siblings had been bottle fed for weeks and treated for frostbite until they were considered strong enough to be put up for adoption. Now here she was, snuggling her nose deep into my neck, just asking to be loved. We had found each other. I knew there was no way we would let go.