I adopted Harley from my friend, Talitha, who was fostering him. He was 18 months old and had belonged to her brother’s ex-girlfriend. On a Tuesday evening in June, 2010, Talitha posted his picture on Facebook and I thought I was looking at a ghost. This little dog looked just like the Cocker Spaniel I had growing up. The next evening I went to Talitha’s house to meet Harley and I learned that he had been abused, probably beaten, while he was with her brother’s ex. He was terrified of me, and it took more than an hour before he would even let me pet him. I was disgusted the poor thing had gone through so much in so short a life and determined to bring him home with me.
I had been unemployed since November 2009, living with my parents and suffering from depression. It didn’t take long before I convinced them to let Harley come to live with us; after all, he looked so much like the dog we’d loved for so long. The first night, he cowered behind me when my mom approached to pet him. We quickly learned the repercussions from Harley being mistreated. Anytime he would get scared (often for no reason) he would pee. The Vets call it “submissive urination;” the peeing is a subconscious reaction that he is recognizing his person as the boss. That can be very frustrating; however, I found it more upsetting than anything. There was no reason for him to be scared though it was his clear he expected someone to hit him when they walked by. It was apparent he had been hit in his former home. We suspect that he was beaten with a leash because when I put his leash on him he will fall submissive and pee.
Because I was not working, Harley and I bonded like a mother to her child. We went for walkies, snuggled watching TV, and he “helped” me with school work for my Master’s Degree. My mom feeds him in the mornings, though he sleeps in my bed (he keeps me warm) and I feed him in the evening, though he snuggles with her until bedtime. He essentially has a dad, a daytime mom (me) and a night time mom (my mom). Re-teaching a mistreated animal to trust people again is a long, heartbreaking process. There are times when I could cry just thinking about how evil someone would have to be to hurt my little dog. He is a loving creature, despite being abused. He is exactly what one would expect from a Cocker in terms of companionship, energy, and unconditional love. His entire body wags when we come home. Harley & I needed each other and I thank God everyday for bringing us together. What the first part of his life was will be the direct opposite of what it will be now. He is the perfect example of how love and comfort can prevail.