Story and photos submitted by Angelina Martin
Anniversaries feel so important to me as my dogs are getting older. 5 years ago, I attended a volunteer orientation at a local non-profit rescue and met 8 year old Athena ~ she had been neglected in her prior home. She was an 'outdoor only dog' who had fleas and Lyme disease, a cracked & broken tooth, nails so over grown she could barely walk and she was truly skin and bones. She was afraid of everyone and everything and when I began fostering her, she would press up against any wall & just shake. I would take her to work with me & the good folks at the office would come visit with her ~ so many visitors filled with love & kindness and Athena began to blossom, ever so slowly.
It always seemed like we would move one step forward and then two steps backward. It took 6 months to convince her that inside was completely better than outside; that she now belonged in the house. Athena was dog reactive so I had to keep her separate from my other senior dog, who was dog aggressive. It took a year to integrate them and once that happened, Maggie showed Athena the way. Maggie shared her bed, her toys, and her love with Athena daily. If people came over, Maggie showed her people were good and gave butt scratches and ear rubs. Though she was still so fearful, she would greet people with tail wags and her big brown eyes would plead for them not to hurt her. If they began petting her and then stopped, Athena would look up and place her beautiful paw on them as if to say, “Continue please.” I am so amazed at how far she’s come.
Today, Athena sleeps soundly on the bed (it took over 3 years of trying every night to enable this to happen) on her back with her back legs in the air & front paws gently resting on her chest...It brings the happiest smile to my heart knowing this sweet girl can enjoy her life and gain happiness each and every day.
Athena is shedding her past and if there are rough moments, we work through them with good sounds and her favorite toys. They sure surprise us, don't they with how they just live in the moment & so truly enjoy wonderment in things like watching butterflies & the peaceful warmth of bright sunshine. At 12 years old Athena still plays with me from time to time, she likes to get my socks (when they are on my feet) or nudge me from behind if I am bending over. I swear she is laughing…and nothing truly could ever fill my heart more.