I have several rescues and over the years, many more have touched my life, none like a little red toy poodle known as Sparky.
It was fall when the Conyers case hit the news: a breeder in North Carolina had over 105 dogs in (yes, I said IN) her house. The ASPCA was sent in to rescue them.
A group of about 20 poodles were coming to Carolina Poodle Rescue from that batch of dogs. The poodles, all toy, were in bad shape and could not be adopted until the court case was settled. Everyone pitched in and took the dogs from the office of the sanctuary. One a time, they went to the grooming room to bath and shave them- attempting to find a dog within the matted filth they wore.
As each dog was cleaned up, they were claimed by volunteers as foster dogs to wait for the courts to decide their fate. The last dog, a red one with bad teeth (well they all had bad teeth), front legs that bowed out, and knock knees shivered alone in a corner.
My daughter was one of the volunteers who was grooming the dogs. I picked up the scared one and handed him over to my daughter and told her that he needs to have a Mohawk, not a top knot. He's got something that's different about him and somehow needed to look it, tougher I suppose. I found out his name was Fairview's Spark Plug.
Sparky was an AKC stud dog and he knew he was a stud. He spent his first years as a stud dog and lived in a room with other male dogs waiting to service the next female. His life was devoid of human contact and years later he still tends to cower from human contact.
Sparky was my first experience with the 'hung the moon' look; anyone who has adopted or fostered a dog from a bad situation knows the look. It's the "thanks for helping me I had given up on people until you came into my life" look. It's the look so many of us do rescue to see; it's all the thanks we need.
Well that little red toy became a part of my every move and he hasn't left my side since that faithful day in October. Sparky has become my service dog as I realize he was alerting me to my blood sugar dips and my anxiety attacks. I worked to train him so he could help me like I helped him. I never wanted a toy poodle, yet I needed this one as much as he needed me. Sparky is now 13 and has slowed down but he still is my rock and my love. Every night he curls up on my pillow to sleep, he looks at me with gratitude, and I look right back to tell him he saved me.
Ms. Karas is a pet adopter and member of Carolina Poodle Rescue, South Carolina.