Thursday, January 7, 2010

Leo and Me

I wanted to annouce that I have officially adopted Leo. I know many people thought that I already had but he has been an Our Pack dog all this time (of course all the time knowing that he's my lil soulmate). I have never felt like he belonged anywhere else. Whenever I'd imagine him in another home or if someone was interested in him it was sort of a kick in the stomach. I thought it was just "something I had to get through" happens in rescue right?
One day there was a trailer on TV for the rerun of Animal Witness: The Michael Vick Case. There was a shot where there is a dog that I'm sure is Leo (it could have been another that looks like him but I KNOW his body movements so well now) that was on a catchpole being put into the AC truck. I had a twinge inside like, "oh no, wait, that's my dog, don't hurt him!" I know he was being taken to safety at that time but to just see him on that awful property made me cringe so bad inside. I thought to myself I just never, ever want anything bad, painful, scary or neglectful to happen to him again. He IS my boy!
It's funny because a little over 2 years ago when he first came to me he acted like a monkey at a banquet I thought, "what the heck was I thinking?"
Leo was work as he came to us jumping on us to get attention with bad manners. He didn't know what a couch was and he acted like a big overgrown kid with shorts that were too big showing up on the short yellow bus and chocolate ice cream spilled all over his shirt. But heck, he wanted to have a good time.
Training, training, training for good manners because when you're a therapy dog you can't put ONE paw up on anyone one. There's IV's in a patient's arm, injured patients etc. Leo was certifed as a therapy dog in 5 weeks to be around hospitals, rest homes, wheelchairs, fire alarms and people who don't always know how to pet right. He wanted to please so much and do the right thing it was tear jerking to me that he could be this way after all he'd seen and experienced. Even after 5 weeks he still had things to get over and desensitize to. After time it all seemed to get better for him. Still I wonder what he dreams about when I hear sounds of a nightmare.
He didn't necessarily trust my dogs initially but over time he realized that this was a place of love, leadership and stucture (aka "no jumping") and that I would manage things safely for him not unsafely. All of the above changed so much for him AND me. Since the beginning Leo has taught me about unconditional love, sharing, patience, a zest for life, more about canine behavior, and the most admirable of all courage and a willingness to forgive no matter what and to go on and serve a community that needs it. Now, that's what it is, Leo and Me.......

Marthina McClay, CPDT
Animal Behavior College Mentor Trainer
Certified Tester/Observer for Therapy Dogs, Inc.
AKC Certified CGC Evaluator


  1. Even though I posted this for Marthina, I just had to add my .02 about this wonderful pair. Leo is such a special dog, unless you have met him it's really hard to put into words. I really believe that the two of them are soul mates. She helped him become the loving dog that was just waiting to be seen, and he helped her and all of us lucky enough to have spent any amount of time with him to know that tomorrow really can be a better day. Thank you Marthina and Leo for sharing your lives with us!

  2. Thanks Mary! How sweet! I'm getting all teary. Leo actually has made it easy. I just love him so much.
    Also, thank you for your wonderful help and being a part of it. We couldn't have done it without you!
    It's great that Leo has gone on and see many do well coming from situations just like his.

  3. :) So glad you have him and he has you. :)

  4. I haven't visited your blog in a while (I messed up my links, long story) but today, you made my day. Reading about Leo and his adoption! You go Mary!!! You lucky lucky rascal, Leo. I'm so happy for both and all of you.

  5. They are both very special beings that belonged together. I ALWAYS knew Marthina would keep him. They deserve each other. He couldn't be in a better home, and I couldn't imagine Leo anywhere else.