He finally was free from the neglect, abuse and prison cage where he had spent his life of five years. The left side of his tongue had been severed and was numb from his efforts to chew his way out from the bars that kept him captive.
The authorities raided the puppy mill in June. Two dogs had died from exposure to the hot Georgia sun and lack of water, and the rest were emaciated.
The rescue operatives were called, and little Tipper, weak, malnourished and paralyzed with fear, was transported by his foster caregivers to their home to await adoption. He had been a breeder.
When Kent Wehner of Sheltie Rescue of Georgia opened the dog’s transporter cage in the back of his SUV, Tipper bolted before Kent could control him.
“I thought we’d never see him again,” he said. “I hollered at a neighbor for help and soon it seemed the whole neighborhood was looking for him. One of my friends finally cornered him, and the dog, shaking, trembling and traumatized, gave up.”
The Wehners took him to their vet, and the little dog began the long road to recovery.
Kent told us that the dog had serious problems when we arrived to pick him up at their home in Forsyth, Ga., and we could return him if he didn’t work out.
We got him back to our home. His eyes were wild with fear. He ran, not knowing where to run to. He ground his teeth and slobbered profusely from panic. He turned around and around in circles and even when still, his head moved rapidly from side to side.
Totally confused and frightened, he finally found refuge under our bed.
Tipper is free, but he lives in a caged mind chained to the past. Tipper is loved, but he still expects to be hit and abused. He has a family who cares for him, but he feels abandoned.
I am glad to say that Tipper is doing much better today. We can finally hold him without him wanting to bolt. He seems to enjoy being petted now and loves to run free in the backyard with our other Sheltie and toy poodle. He likes dinnertime but will always have trouble eating because part of his tongue is numb.
Tipper has a long way to go, but I think he’s going to make it. He’s responding positively to our love.
Tipper’s story is not only a dog story. His is a people story, too.
How many of us are free but live in the chains of past verbal, physical and sexual abuse? The cloud of shame follows us wherever we go, making us feel unworthy, unloved and not quite measuring up.
We are loved by the Father, but flagellate ourselves with depression and despair from not being able to express or deal with the smoldering, unresolved anger at our abuser that’s always below the surface and ready to erupt at any offense.
We have been adopted into the family of God but feel alone and abandoned in our distorted self-image caused by abuse. We think no one will understand our pain or accept us unconditionally with affirmation and acceptance.
It’s a long, dark and sometimes painful road to recovery that begins with faith in the affirmation of the God who is love (1 John 4:16). His love is the pillar of fire by night, guiding us through the wilderness to the Promised Land.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
THE REV. DAN WHITE IS THE PASTOR OF NORTH COLUMBIA CHURCH IN APPLING, GA.
Contact Pastor White: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR MORE INFORMATION on Sheltie Rescue of Georgia, see sheltierescueofga.rescuegroups.org.
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What an illustration for your topic! It makes humanity's bondage to fear (Hebrews 2) so much more comprehensible. [I suspect your rescued dog was helped by finding other dogs already "in the family" to set an example of freedom under loving care.] Thank you for sharing your insights to help us be better at bearing one another's burdens!