“She looked pitiful,”
Annette said of her first time meeting Snow. Annette was at Anderson Humane’s South Elgin shelter with her grown daughter, Ariadne, looking at adoptable dogs. Snow, a white terrier mix with spotted ears, was cowering in her kennel, wearing a cone, and sporting a shaved hip from a recent surgery.
When Annette asked what had happened to her, a staff member explained that Snow had come to the shelter with a lump on her hip. Assuming it was a cyst, they sent her for surgery to have it removed. “Turns out it was a bullet,” the staff member explained. “Want to see her?”
Snow wasn’t at all what Annette had come to the shelter looking for, but she agreed to spend some time with the dog in a meet-and-greet room anyway. “The moment we got in the room together her fear vanished,” Annette said. “It was all oh my gosh I love you so much.”
Though she was moved by Snow’s loving nature, especially given what she’d been through, Annette still wasn’t convinced this was the right dog for her and her family. Throughout her search, she’d been looking for a hound or hound mix, the breed she’d grown up with. “My brain needed to switch gears,” she said.
When their previous two dogs had died in recent years after being with the family for most of her adult kids’ lives, they’d all been devastated. Annette became a pet sitter and dog walker to get her pet fix, but eventually realized it wasn’t enough. She needed a dog of her own. Was this unexpected rescue the one?
By the next day, Annette couldn’t stop thinking about Snow. She called the shelter and discovered the dog would be at an adoption event not far from their home the next day. The plan was set.
When Annette and Ariadne walked up to Snow’s kennel at the adoption event, she was barking at the people around her. “She stopped barking when we got close and started talking to her. It really seemed like she remembered us,” Annette said. “She went from looking stressed and barking loudly, to quiet and happy-looking, with her tail wagging a mile a minute.” They adopted Snow that day, brought her home, and renamed her Aoife (EE-fa).
Aoife still had stitches in her hip and was filled with anxiety. “First she was afraid to go in the house,” Annette said. “Then into each new room.” But she, her husband, daughter, and son all understood her hesitation. Aoife had been shot – and never treated for her injury.
The family also suspected Aoife had had puppies recently. “Her nipples were distended and she would take any squeaky toy and bathe it,” Annette said, adding that she also had some scarring on her neck, perhaps from being tied up for long periods of time.
“But that first night I scooped her up in bed with us and she relaxed some, and slept,” Annette said. It was a start.
Aoife had ongoing anxiety issues. She would start shaking at the sound of anything like a gunshot, which made July 4 difficult. She would hide under a certain chair, her safe place, or gobble up the calming treats Annette and her family gave her in those moments.
The best success came with a weighted blanket. “Now when she’s scared, we’ll go find her under her chair and she’ll come out and even sit on the couch with us under her blanket,” Annette said, grateful they found a way to soothe their girl. “She recovers from her fear faster now and spends most of her days loving life.”
Other successes came with time as well. “When we first got her, she was afraid to go for walks. For the first couple of weeks, we could only go a few houses down and then she’d pull to go back home,” Annette said. “Now, she loves her daily walks and would go for miles if we let her. She has accompanied us on hikes in the woods, car outings to Foxy’s Ice Cream Shop, and road trips to North Carolina and Arizona.”
Annette feels a special kinship with Aoife, as she deals with anxiety issues too. “We get each other,” she said. “She is awesome. Such a good dog. She’s so smart, and sometimes so stubborn, but also so loving and snuggly.” The family is even able to give Aoife the run of the house when they’re gone and she’s never bothered anything.
“She is loving life now. She looks at us with so much love,” Annette said of the dog she never anticipated calling her own. “She was absolutely, without question, the right choice for our family. And we think she’s happy with her choice, too. Because she really did pick us.”
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