The Perfect Patient

On a cold winter day, she happened upon a rescue event  in a closed store-front at the mall. In pens and wire cages, they all wagged their tails, barked playfully, and licked cheeks and hands enthusiastically.  There were over 40 dogs and each seemed to know what was at stake as they flirted with anyone that would return their affection: this was their moment to shine, to find a family to change their lives forever. Each dog, that is, except for Harvey.

He was the only dog in a solid-sided crate. Tucked in the corner, only his brown nose was visible from the shadows. When Kristy took him out to take him for a walk, he was pleasant enough, but not affectionate. He did not bark. He did not make eye contact. He was distant, yet she saw something special in him.

He had been in a kill shelter in Tennesee, rescued, and brought back to New York to be adopted. He had either been abused, a stray, or both; he was extremely tentative, and would not acknowledge whoever was holding onto the other end of his leash. He would not even take food from our hands, but he would be ours nonetheless.

Nearly two years have since passed; he still fears strangers, barks at new guests and spooks easily. But when we watch our budding physician place bandages on Keitel’s feet and examine his vision with an ophthalmoscope, we can’t imagine what life would be like without AJ’s best friend.

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