Cover Dog Winner: LOUIE
Photo by Mel Hammonds of Fetching Images
Louie, a stray rescued from Afghanistan through the help of the Puppy Rescue Mission, was a runner-up in the 2012 LIFE+DOG Cover Dog Contest. We were originally only going to use one winner for a cover of LIFE+DOG, but when we heard about Louie’s story, we knew we needed to share it, too. We surprised Louie with his own celebrity cover with HGTV’s David Bromstad while we were in Los Angeles for a recent series of photo shoots. Here is Louie’s story, as told to us by his mom, Meghan Warner.
“While my husband was deployed in Afghanistan with the Navy, I began following Puppy Rescue Mission on Facebook. Around October 2010 they mentioned that they might have a puppy looking for a home. A dog that was travelling to the U.S. had shown up on the military base with a puppy tagging along. With my husband currently deployed, I immediately commented to the group that I would be interested, and after a few weeks they chose me and Louie arrived on December 17, 2010 (my birthday). He couldn’t have come at a better time. My husband had been deployed for seven months, the holidays were upon us and I was very lonely. Louie, as dogs happen to do often, brightened my world immediately.
Initially, Louie was very timid and afraid of everything. The soldier that took care of him, for the short time he was on base, was probably the first person to ever be kind to him. It took about two days before Louie would trust me enough to let me pet him and take treats from me, but it took him weeks to venture into various rooms of our house. We couldn’t go anywhere, because he was terrified of the leash. I had been told when he arrived on the base he had a rope tied around his neck, so this wasn’t surprising.
Louie’s apprehension didn’t stop with the leash. He was terrified of the car, the stairs, and our cats. Everything new was a huge adjustment. Every step was monumental. We were so lucky to have a wonderful friend that had great dogs that showed Louie how fun it can be to play, chew on a toy, and roll around on the ground. Knowing Louie would learn faster from another dog, we had these dogs show him how to get in and out of the car and walk up and down stairs. There were a few places we could hike off leash safely, and it took weeks before he would venture away from us. The other dogs would run and play in the creek, or run up the sides of the canyon and he would start to go with them, but then immediately run back to us. He was constantly looking over his shoulder for danger, and because of his behavior, our vet diagnosed him with PTSD.
After about six months Louie began to show fear aggression. He was lunging, growling and barking at people, bikes, and cars on our walks. He would walk with his head up, eyes darting from side to side, never relaxing. I was trying basic training methods but Louie wouldn’t take treats during training sessions. He wouldn’t even drink water if there was anyone he didn’t know around. It was difficult to hold his attention. Subsequently, I met with three trainers, but Louie just wasn’t responding well with them. Finally, I found K9 Companions. Within a few sessions, Louie started calming down. He stopped snapping at them. He stopped the barking and growling. He behaved and listened to me. But most importantly, he began to enjoy his life. He started relaxing and wagging his tail. He started to smell everything around him. He stopped looking behind him every time someone passed by.
You could feel Louie’s happiness. In a word, he was joyous. When we hiked off leash, he was running up the sides of the canyons, racing across the grassy fields, leaping in the air. He still isn’t a fan of water, but he’ll wade in until his tummy gets wet. It’s hard to imagine that this was the same dog that came to us from a horrible past.
Having Louie join our family has been the most wonderful and rewarding experience. He has brought so much happiness and joy into our lives. I’ve met so many incredible people and even more incredible dogs because of Louie.
During this time, Puppy Rescue Mission (PRM) has been so wonderful and supportive. I have had many phone conversations and emails with board members. I received sound advice from members and other people that have rescued dogs from Afghanistan. It’s so great to know that after these dogs get to their new homes, PRM is still actively involved and invested in the happiness of these animals. They are an incredible, dedicated organization and our family cannot thank them enough.”
LIFE+DOG salutes the Puppy Rescue Mission for recognizing that all dogs deserve love. These dogs that appear on base overseas are lonely, scared and they don’t know kind humans. They immediately grab onto the caring soldiers of our Armed Forces and stick by their sides in the most trying of times. How could we possibly leave them behind?
To learn more about the Puppy Rescue Mission, find them on Facebook and join their network. To see photos from PRM of various dogs in combat zones, click through the gallery below.