Written by Sara Weaver, Amos' Rescue Mom.
It was the fall of 2015, and I was still reeling from the loss of my dog, TJ. Brittani Guerra was a student in one of my chemistry classes at Harvard High School and a volunteer at Glory Bound Rescue Ranch. Knowing I’m a dog person, Brittani would often tell me stories about the newest arrivals to Glory Bound. When she told me about an older fellow named Nate and showed me pictures, I was smitten and knew I wanted to adopt him. Nate’s story deserves its own article, however, and I really hope Jennifer will invite me to write another one!
I’ve always had more than one dog, and in the spring of 2016, I started to think about a brother or sister for Nate. Before and after chemistry class, Brittani and I would talk about the dogs available for adoption at Glory Bound. At the time I was certain I wanted to adopt a puppy, but all that changed when one day, out of the blue as I recall, Brittani said, “I think you should adopt Amos.” When I asked Brittani why I should adopt Amos, she said something along the lines of “He needs a good home.” I contacted Jennifer to further inquire about “da Smoose,” as my brother and I sometimes call him. Jennifer kindly explained that Amos probably wasn’t adoptable. She had taken him to a couple of adoption events and he sat in the back trembling with fear. I have a soft spot for seniors dogs like Amos, so I knew immediately I wanted to adopt him. Amos came to live with me in mid-March, and the rest as they say is history.
Amos is unlike any dog I’ve ever had. I will never know Amos’ story before he arrived at Glory Bound, but it’s clear to all of us that Amos’ life was not easy. He frightens easily and is extremely slow to trust new people and new situations. Amos has been living with me for approximately seven years now, and he continues to make progress. About two weeks ago he did something that my brother and I have never heard him do… he barked. It was late evening, and Amos was “playing” by using his nose to push dog beds around the living room while my brother watched TV. He was so excited and pleased with himself that he barked, a single bark, but it was something we’d never heard before. I messaged Jennifer to let her know, and we talked about how important it is for rescue parents like myself to give dogs the time they need to gain trust and acclimate to their new homes. In my experience, most rescue dogs do not need multiple years, but as I said, Amos is special. Jennifer asked me if I would share elements of his story and I am happy to do so!
I’ve got more Amos stories than I can count, so I’m choosing a few that really highlight our journey together. My brother, Wayne, and I share a house. Wayne is also the advisor to a men’s group, which includes Amos and Wayne’s dog, Clay. Amos and Clay sleep with Wayne every night and take full advantage of Wayne’s passion for midnight snacks. Almost from the beginning, I have known that Amos prefers Wayne. Yes, Wayne gives him snacks. But Wayne and I are also very different people, and from Wayne, I learned the best way to approach Amos. I talk loud and fast, and I generally move quickly. Wayne, on the other hand, has a slower and deeper voice, and he never really seems to be in a hurry. For these reasons, I believe Wayne is less intimidating to Amos. Once I started to think about the differences between Wayne and me, I had to make a conscious effort to talk quietly and move slowly, but it made a huge difference in how Amos responded to me.
We cannot discount the role snacks have played in building trust with Amos. A few years ago I had to travel for work, so Wayne was in charge of taking care of the dogs for several days. One night Wayne decided to have some ice cream, and of course, shared it with the dogs. He put a scoop of ice cream on a paper plate and placed it under my bed. (Amos takes comfort in laying under things, like beds and tables. As a testament to his progress, he now spends less time under my bed and more time on his dog bed in the living room.) A few minutes after delivering the ice cream, Wayne saw Amos come down the hall carrying the plate. He brought the plate to Wayne as if to say, “More please!”
One of the most significant things we’ve done to build trust with Amos is to let Amos come to us. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always come to us at the most convenient times. Wayne is a night owl and often falls asleep on the couch. No worries though, as Amos will almost always wake him up. Sometimes he nudges Wayne with his nose until Wayne wakes up and pets him. Other times he lightly bites Wayne’s foot, usually if the first option doesn’t work. Once, when Wayne was covered up with a blanket, Amos grabbed the corner of the blanket and pulled it off. He was not to be denied his nightly pets!
No article about Amos would be complete without the story of what was arguably a turning point in Amos’ view of humans. Several years ago Amos developed a pinched nerve in his back end. He was unable to walk with his hind legs and spent a couple of days dragging himself around the house and yard essentially trying to get away from us. I was finally able to get a sling under him, and I used it to lift his back end for him when needed to go outside or otherwise move around the house. Wayne also helped Amos up the stairs by holding his back legs while Amos himself used his front legs. After a couple of days of providing as much support as Amos would allow, everything changed. Amos relaxed considerably and welcomed our help. He’d patiently wait for us to get in position before he tried to move, and he allowed me to administer the medication I’d picked up from our vet. In approximately one month Amos returned to normal, with one exception. He put considerably more trust in Wayne and I, and we began to see different sides of his personality emerge, for example, the playful Amos that uses his nose to push dog beds around the living room. From that experience, Amos learned that we could be trusted and would not let him down.
Sunbathing, as he really doesn’t mind the heat
Standing on the sofa to eat, as that’s the only way he would eat when he first arrived
Amos, on the left, cousin Clay, and brother Dozer (who has unfortunately passed away); all dogs from Glory Bound Rescue Ranch
Asleep on Mom’s bed, but turned away from the camera
(Amos is very camera-shy and will almost always run away when he sees my phone come out!)