In 2010, a frightened and very pregnant puppy wandered into a woman’s yard just outside Wicklow, Ireland. The Jack Russell terrier-beagle mix was rushed to Ash’s Animal Rescue, but help had come hours too late.
As soon as the traumatized stray arrived at the rescue, she started giving birth. None of her puppies survived, but the young dog had finally found safety — she just didn’t know it yet.
“She was in a state of total terror [when she arrived],” Helena le Mahieu, of Ash’s Animal Rescue, told The Dodo. “When my husband wrote the rehoming information sheet for her, he wrote ‘Angst’ where her name should have been.”
The Le Mahieus began the slow process of socializing the trembling dog, starting with giving her a more hopeful name.
“We changed her name ‘Angst’ into Angel, only two letters in the difference,” Le Mahieu said. “For days she wouldn’t leave her small area. We spent a lot of time just talking to her, sitting outside her kennel.”
It took time, patience and plenty of food, but Angel began to trust her caretakers, even allowing them to put a collar and leash on her.
As the years passed and Angel became more comfortable around people and other animals, rehoming the most difficult dog the rescue had ever seen became a viable option.
But finding the right fit would prove challenging.
“She was so deeply traumatized by what happened to her,” Le Mahieu explained. “We had often advertised her on our website and on our Facebook page, but whenever people came to meet her, they just couldn’t understand that Angel needs time to make new friends.”
After seven years in the shelter — nearly her entire life — Angel’s rehabilitators had all but lost hope that she would ever find a home to call her own. For the sweet pup’s sake, they decided to give it one final go, this time making a direct appeal to the social media community.
“Angel is a beautiful, gentle soul. She is a lovely girl, good with other dogs who loves cuddles and short walks. When she gains trust, she loves unconditionally,” the post read. “Angel’s dream home would be one with another dog to keep her company and to show her that the world is not so scary.”
To everyone’s surprise … the post worked.
Sarah and Cian Morris, a young couple from Dublin, saw the appeal and knew they could make a difference in the shy animal’s life. “The thought of her being there for so long broke my heart,” Sarah Morris told The Dodo. “We had one dog at the time, so we thought, ‘Why not add another to the family, especially one who really needed a family!’”
Their jobs as a primary school teacher and personal trainer gave the couple the flexibility to visit Angel frequently over the summer. But it was not all smooth sailing on day one.
“We went down to visit Angel the next day, and it wasn’t exactly a perfect start. We brought her for a walk and she escaped from her lead and ran back to the sanctuary,” Morris said. “I think it was then that we realized how anxious and scared she was and how hard it would be to gain her trust.”
For the next two and a half months, the Morrises drove over an hour to the rescue twice a week to get to know Angel, and give Angel a proper chance to know them. After many long walks, Angel got in the Morrises’ car and left the only place she had known as home.
“She was a different dog as soon as she walked in the door of our house. We had anticipated lots of anxiety, but she showed none,” Morris noted. “Instead, she was inquisitive and happy to be in the house. She had no problem checking out all of the rooms, and was very soon asleep in the other dog’s bed, snoring away!”
Though loud noises still spook her, Angel has left behind that terrified puppy of seven years ago, transforming into a gorgeous, happy dog. It’s clear her parents adore her, and relish all her smiles and snuggles.
“Her tail never stops wagging and it makes the house a very happy place to be,” Morris added. “Coming home to her reminds me that everyone and every dog has their place in the world, and it’s never too late for them to get their chance!”