Reader Rona Sampayo sent us this story about Gidget, a terrier mix that she and her husband, Charlie, rescued earlier this year:
When we first brought her home, she was frightened of everything and everyone. She spent most days behind the couch and started shaking when anyone came near her. It was heartbreaking to think of what she might have endured to become this way. This was the first time my husband and I had ever rescued a dog. We had never had a dog like Gidget. All we wanted was for her to be a happy dog who knew she was safe and looked forward to each day’s adventures. It was overwhelming at times. We often wondered if we had done the right thing.
Gradually, after weeks of hand-feeding, encouragement, loving attention and some guidance from trainers, she started to trust us and reluctantly allowed us to take her outside so she could experience the world. It was a joy to watch the change in Gidget as she listened to birds, watched cars go by, saw people and other dogs out for walks, and sniffed every blade of grass. Most new experiences frightened her at first. But once she realized that good things can happen, she started to look forward to going outside and even taking trips in the car.
Watching her transformation has been the most rewarding experience we could ever have imagined. She is an adorable, playful and loving dog who can hardly contain her joy each time she sees us or someone she knows, or hears the bark of her playmate who lives nearby. She loves walking the streets of Toluca Lake, going hiking in Griffith Park (she can even boast of reaching the summit of Mount Hollywood on her second hike) and taking trips to the park. We have yet to hear her bark, but she sings with excitement when she sees her leash and realizes she’s about to go on another adventure.
My husband and I had decided to get a dog for company, as I recently semi-retired and am just working part-time. We could not have asked for a more fun and loving companion than Gidget. I wanted to share this story in case there are others who are unsure about rescuing a pet. I admit that it was challenging at first, but every day we are rewarded many times over with the best gift ever.
The Kindness of Strangers
Sampayo shared another story about Gidget that illustrates our community’s close-knit neighborhood spirit and love for animals:
A few weeks after we rescued Gidget, we took her to Woodbridge Park in Studio City. She got free of her harness, ran into traffic and was ultimately saved due to the extraordinary efforts of several good Samaritans.
We were so shaken up by the experience that we never got a chance to properly thank those who assisted in the rescue and didn’t even get their names. I was so moved by the selfless acts of helpfulness from strangers who put themselves at risk and asked nothing in return. So I posted a review on Yelp that day to thank them in the hopes that the folks who assisted would see it: “Thank you to all of the good Samaritans who saved our dog today…. We were out walking her today at Woodbridge Park. It’s a wonderful park for kids, adults and dogs to enjoy a sunny Sunday afternoon. Something spooked our puppy when we went to put her back in the car and she wriggled out of her harness and got free. She ran across Moorpark and was heading toward Laurel Canyon Blvd. Several people got out of their cars to stop traffic to keep her safe. One particularly skilled woman out walking with her husband ran after our dog and was able to get her calmed down enough to pick her up so we could put her in our car and take her home. It was a harrowing experience. We didn’t get a chance to properly thank the many individuals who helped return our dog to safety. We could not have done it without your help. Thanks to everyone at the park today who assisted in the rescue. I wanted you to know that it was due to you that our puppy is safe.”