From a Spark to a Flame – The Story of Sparky
By Greta Weiner
Sparky is a terrier. Terriers are barkers. I’m pretty sure some ogre in Southern New Mexico thought slicing him up and tossing him in the back yard was a good way to stop a dog from barking. A little 9 lb young terrier.
That’s the beginning of this tale. A little dog tossed, knifed, in the back yard.
For a week.
A neighbor asked if he could take the dog to the shelter and it was there that Sparky got the medical attention that he needed.
But with being sliced open, tested, operated on, given medication and more, Sparky had decided he’s not that interested in humans. In fact they petrify him. He didn’t get adopted out of the shelter because whenever a human was around he ran or he froze backed into a corner. Who wants a little dog that you can’t touch?
Almost Home NM is a dog rescue group that is known for taking the hard cases. You may remember a dog on the news who was chained so long the chain was embedded in his neck. That dog is now healed and living permently with Almost Home NM. Because of the animal cruelty, that dog – they’ve named him Dokken – can not be adopted out. He’s not that fond of humans either. He makes an excellent guard dog for the family. Almost Home NM is run by Janelle Chavez and her daughters.
Other dogs, though, can be rehabilitated and learn to trust humans again. The staff at the shelter and Janelle both thought this of Sparky and so the little guy went to Almost Home NM in an effort to teach him that not all humans are awful, and see if he could find a – as they say in the rescue business – furever home. Having big hearts, Janelle and her daughters also took in a lot of dogs from a hoarding case and soon realized that Sparky was not getting the attention he needed from them. They put out the call on Facebook. To any previous adopter, Sparky was free to someone that already had been through Almost Home NM’s vetting and placement.
That’s where I came in. I had adopted a little terrier from Almost Home NM about 4 years earlier. I saw that little face on Facebook and read that sad tale and immediately wanted to save his little soul. I already had four animals in my menagerie, adding Sparky would be a little bit of a burden. But I let Janelle know that if the New Year rolled around and she still was looking for a home, that I would take him. Sparky came to live with me right before Valentine’s Day in 2015. I was ill prepared for a dog that could not be touched. I understood that he was going to be a dog’s dog. But I did not quite realize what it’s like to have a dog that does not want to be leashed, caught, bathed, or even remain within the confines of a large backyard and a large house.
He quickly became a Houdini. Bolting through the gate or the front door, ducking under couches and beds to avoid being caught. My dogs run naked in my house, but not him, I had to leave his collar on to double the chances I could get a hold of him. There is no taking this dog for a walk. There is no catching him for a bath. I’m over 50 and over weight. There was just no catching him.
But Sparky would come up on the bed every now and then and lick my foot. He would wiggle and squirm as I petted him with my foot. So he did accept me and he did want affection and attention. He had just learned that hands are dangerous.
So we quickly got into a routine. Every week I would catch Sparky, hold him, sing to him, pet him, talk to him and let him know he was loved. Soon that was twice a week, then daily. Two and half years later, it’s become a game. Sparky runs for his life from me, not from fear but to be mischevious. He jumps on the couch looks over his shoulder at me, as if to say, “You’re going to pet me now, right?”
He learned to come when he was called by following my other dogs Jack and Cinnamon. He learned other words from his dog siblings too. Like bath, treat, cookie and bedtime.
Sparky has been on a leash though he really doesn’t like it. He walks behind me as the other two dogs pull me forward. And he’s even more annoyed when I bend down to take it off of him then when I put it on. He’s only been to the dog park twice because it takes about 5 people to help me corral him to take him home.
It has taken a village. Whenever someone came to the house, they were required to let me catch Sparky and to pet him. When I took him to the groomers, I asked people there to either pet him or hold him and pet him. Same thing at the vet clinic. These days if he knows you, you can hold a treat and Sparky will come right up to you. And if he knows you, he’ll still come up, lick a finger and run away. Just his way of saying “Hi. Nice to see you, but I’ve got some birds to chase.” Some people are special enough that he’ll share the couch with them.
A little miracle happened last month. I had some friends over, one couple brought ther dogs, and our dogs weren’t getting along. So their dogs were out in the yard, mine were locked inside. We were talking and setting out food. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one friend walked over to the couch, bent down and reached up to pet Sparky.
And he let her.
No one can just walk up to him and pet him, he bolts. But he stayed. He gave her the side eye, but he stayed. After the shock wore off, I quickly snapped a picture. Two and half years, and my little miracle made his first human friend, on his own.
It’s a constant act of love to have Sparky in my house. If I yell, it will set him back a bit. If I go away on vacation and the dog sitter is here, it will set him back a bit and I have to earn his trust all over again. But I do so happily.
I used to sell jewelry, and I still have access to some wholesale sites. So every now and then I pick a dog related item and sell it, sending the proceeds to Almost Home NM. I’m selling these dog charms for $8. $5 from the sale will go to Almost Home NM. I also run a corgi club, you can see the charms and message me through that club’s facebook page. Here’s the link.
Feel free to just donate directly to Almost Home NM (or maybe you need your own Sparky? www.almosthomenm.org
Greta Weiner is an online content provider and manager. She also is the Associate Editor and Online Marketer for Elbow Room NM.