On a day that I was dropping my two labradors off at our local grooming/training/boarding facility I noticed the most beautiful golden retriever I had ever seen. I inquired of the owner who explained that they were boarding two golden retrievers from As Good as Gold, a rescue that I had heard about in the past. The one I had seen in the play yard was a small golden with a beautiful flowing coat. The owner explained that “Simba” was there because he was deathly afraid of men. Unfortunately, the only man involved in the facility was the owner’s husband who was not around regularly. So, having a ridiculously soft heart for any animal, especially a dog, I asked if I could visit him and sit outside his kennel and read to him. She excitedly said yes, so that was the plan. Prior to meeting him I dropped off a piece of clothing that I had worn and asked that they put it in his kennel. They wanted to introduce him to me, so the first day they brought him into the lobby, and I got to just talk to him. He was very scared and apprehensive. Each day there was some improvement, but not a lot. I finally got him to take a treat from me as I stretched as far as I could reach. Then I touched his muzzle and finally got one pet of his head. That began the relationship.
As we progressed each day, yes I visited him seven days a week for an hour or more, I was able to do more and more with him. After a period of time, I would go to his kennel, put his collar and leash on him, and then we would go for walks. We started a daily ride in my truck so he could stick his head out and feel the clean, fresh air in his face. Added too was play time in the day care area. I found that he loves to play fetch and is very good at it. He was, however, somewhat reluctant to come very close to give me the ball, until the day I threw it! He came running back and jumped into my lap and let me kiss and hug him. I knew this was a huge breakthrough! Over several months he did nothing but improve, however, to this day he is very hesitant around men and even some women.
We completed a foster application along with an adoption application with no real intention of adopting him, mainly because my wife and I are both 73 years old and have always adopted senior labs. I wanted to help get this boy into the perfect home, and after working with him for so many months felt I had a pretty good idea for that home. Well, you guessed it. We introduced our girls, two labradors, to him and they did well together. So, one day after foster approval we brought him to our home for foster care. We immediately fell in love and felt we were his home. All of us, my wife, our girls, and even Simba had a different and confident feeling after the adoption decision.
Yep, he’ll always be high maintenance when it comes to emotions, but we don’t care. You see we are used to high maintenance; his sisters are a 10-year-old fox red labrador who is blind and diabetic, and a 12-year-old chocolate lab/border collie who had been horribly abused before we adopted her. It took eight months before we could touch her. All is good in our home, and we love Simba as if we had raised him from a puppy. Thank you As Good as Gold and JC’s Bed and Biscuit of Lena.