Meeting Cora

Cora's adoption picture

When we finally reached the decision that it was time to bring another dog into our lives (10 months after we had to say goodbye to our beloved Roxie), we started to search The sheer number of dogs needing homes in our area was overwhelming and heartbreaking. Years before, we had discussed adopting two dogs instead of just one “next time.” So in our search, we looked for dogs who had a proven ability to get along well with others. We had no breed in mind, although we didn’t particularly want a large breed.

The Saturday after we’d started our Internet search, we came across Amy, a year-old Basenji mix with one brown eye and one blue. We called the rescue organization and learned that Amy was at a nearby Petsmart store with a couple of other dogs and some volunteers. Of course, we left the house immediately and headed east to Whitby.

Amy was a lovely dog. She was lively and happy…and barked the whole time we were in the store. But in an adjacent crate sat a sad little beagle, lying scared and silent, and seemingly hoping no one would even look her way. Our hearts went out to the poor frightened dog, and so after going for a short walk with Amy, we asked to meet the dog the rescue organization had decided to call Cora.

Cora was nervous about leaving her crate and, once out, seemed to want to crawl immediately back in. She cowered, her tail between her legs, and froze on the spot. My husband and I looked at each other: we both knew we had to give this dog a home. Okay, she was older than we’d been looking for (she was guessed to be five)…. She had “issues,” which we really would rather not have had to deal with…. She didn’t crawl into our laps and lick our faces to say we were the ones…. But she had the saddest brown eyes and the gentlest little face. We were putty in her paws. We took her for a short walk outside the Petsmart and learned from the volunteer that Cora was a stray from Kentucky, where she had spent a short time at a kill shelter (a shelter that euthanizes within hours, days, or (if the dog is lucky) weeks rather than focusing on rehousing dogs). She had been spayed only a few weeks before by a Kentucky vet who, as it turned out, aborted a litter she was pregnant with. After her surgery, she was transported up to Canada because the Animal Guardian Society (TAGS) had seen her picture and read her story and decided she had to be saved. We will be forever grateful to TAGS (a great organization I’ll share more about later)!

Cora’s background is a mystery to us. We have theories and suspicions. We suspect that she was caged more often than not because her canine teeth are rounded at the back and her front bottom teeth are broken, indicative of chewing on cage bars. We know she’s had at least one litter; perhaps she was a breeding dog. We think she’s probably hunted—we see evidence of her well-honed instincts almost daily on our neighbourhood walks (there are lots of bunnies in our neighbourhood!). We know she’s afraid of all human strangers but loves to interact with other dogs, so she’s likely been mistreated in one way or another, whether through neglect or abuse. And we know that as a stray, she had to eat when she could. As a result, the first time she was given free rein in our house, we found our garbage can upended and sifted through. (Fortunately, the compost bin is well out of reach in a cupboard.)

Cora has scars on her nose, her chin, and one hind leg; a torn ear; a fairly large (3 cm long) bald spot on her neck; and several broken and missing teeth. She’s seen some hard times. But those days are over.

That Saturday after spending 30 or 40 minutes with Cora, we rushed home and called TAGS. Kathy, the owner, fortunately picked up the phone that day (we later learned she’s a busy lady, with many foster dogs, and isn’t always available). We told her we desperately wanted Cora. She explained to us that a frightened, timid dog like Cora would do best with a second dog to teach her people can be trusted and suggested that we go to another Petsmart the next day, where we could meet Dusty, a basset hound mix who would be a good match for her. And then she directed us to the application form on the website, and our first real rescue experience was under way….

(P.S. Amy was adopted shortly after!)

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