BALTON came into our lives September 2012, and in May 2013, we decided to keep him there with an adoption contract.
We don’t know where Balton’s life started, but we do know when he was found by the Florence Area Humane Society in May 2012, he was estimated to be about a year old and his collar was embedded in his neck. So, wherever it was, our best guess is it wasn’t anywhere good.
Balton didn’t let his past get in the way of making new friends, and was obviously grateful to the nice shelter staff and volunteers that helped get his wound healed up – they noted he was a bouncy, friendly boy who LOVED to play, and arrived on one of Lucky Dog’s July transports. Balton bounded off the transport van and enthusiastically embraced his new life as a Lucky Dog.
Balton went to a total of 5 homes in DC before landing in ours September 5, 2012: an overnight foster, doggy daycare, two foster homes, and then the last before ours was thought to be his forever home. Sadly, Balton got returned to Lucky Dog after only a few days.
During that initial adoption, we were surprised to learn of fears in Balton that had never shown themselves previously. Balton – goofy and loving as he was with his adoptive family, became very fearful and reactive towards anyone outside of it. It’s unclear whether those fears came about from scars on his heart through a young life of neglect, from too much transition in too short a period of time, not having anyone pay attention to messages of discomfort he was trying to send earlier on, or perhaps a combination of things. But, when Balton came back, he came to us. Our plan, as it had always been with each foster before him, was to help him build some skills, learn the love of a foster home, and ultimately find a forever home.
While Balton was in our care, we came to realize that he is a dog who will need a lifetime commitment to training, management, and trust building, and his window of potential adopters became very small. Still, it didn’t take long for Balton to capture my foster heart and show me his best self alongside his challenges. He’s smart, loving, affectionate, playful, and very well mannered when he feels safe and secure. When he’s home with us, he does feel safe. However, the outside world can go from fascinating and delightful, to terrifying in an instant.
He loves fetch, tug, treats, walks, belly rubs, and playing with other dogs. When it comes to new people coming into his house or greeting him on leash, he worries and puts his guard up. But with every new relationship he builds, with each level of trust he builds in “his” people, and with every new coping tool he adds to his tool box, we see the guard fall a little, and the beautiful soul of Balton emerge.
He is hopelessly devoted to his people and deserves a family who will see Balton for all he is – the good, the bad, the sometimes exhausting. And so, we will be that family for him and continue our journey. It’s not what we expected when we started on this road together, but I find unexpectedly beautiful things in Balton, and in myself, with each day we spend together. We continue to share our challenges, our accomplishments, and all that we learn in the process.