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Delilah

  Delilah  

This is the story of Delilah. I first saw Delilah (named Gracie at the time) on Petfinder.com at Christmastime in 2007. She had a sad little photo and a description of her ‘special needs’. I was not looking for a dog- already had two, plus a cat, tortoise, guinea pig, and two rats. My daughter and I volunteer at the Humane Society in Pensacola walking dogs, and I had developed an obsessive habit of reviewing the animals on petfinders, just in case I could match up a pet with a friend or coworker. I thought for sure that this dog would be a Christmas adoption, but she wasn’t. Nor was she a January, February or March adoption. My family decided we were ready to adopt a puppy in March, but found a needy one at our own shelter and adopted him- Kipper. I could not stop checking that ad on Petfinder. I could not forget about this dog. I kept praying that a nice family would take her home. That eventually happened, and that family was my own.

I contacted the Alabama shelter that had rescued Delilah - Helping Shepherds of Every Color. Dawn, the director was very honest and informed about the handicap Delilah had. She put me in touch with a woman named Joanne in North Carolina that had experience with this particular handicap. Little did I know at the time, but Joanne would later be such a great source of knowledge and inspiration. I have never felt overwhelmed or alone with Delilah’s limitations. We have a collective community of shepherd owners whose dogs have the same hind limb issues. I also had a barrage of questions for the vet in Tennessee who had treated Delilah initially. Even after getting all the information, I was convinced that I was meant to have this dog.

Dawn brought Delilah to Pensacola on Mother’s day. Actually seeing her movement was shocking. She was shy and unsure. She was easily accepted by our other three dogs. When she pulled herself around the house she always had throw rugs or dirty clothes hung up on her hind legs. She somehow believed that I was blind, and she was my seeing eye dog. Side by side we tripped and pushed each other around the house- those “wonky” legs banging into everything. Kipper became her best friend. He got her to run and jump and roll in the yard. His puppy energy and joyful personality kept Delilah working her muscles for hours each day. We called Kipper Delilah’s physical therapist. She was gentle and protective of my children. She enjoyed spending her days outdoors digging, chasing lizards, and wrestling with Kipper.

Delilah celebrated her first birthday with a family party. We served ground chicken cake with mashed potato icing. She is in obedience school now and does very well. I hope that she and Kipper can become a therapy dog team to help children with physical limitations. She knows she is different and even uses that to her advantage- pretending she can’t get up if it’s time to go outside. I forget that she has a handicap.

My neighbor has two young sons- ages 2 and 3. When they first met Delilah, they were so excited. She keeps a close eye on them. The best thing, is that they never even noticed her hind legs being any different at all. They never stared, they never asked about it. They just loved her. Delilah teaches my family about the handicaps we all have. She inspires us to overcome our obstacles; but more importantly, she makes us know that we are all the same (both human and canine) and just wanted to be treated that way.