Gracie looked at me today. I know that doesn't seem like much but it is. She came out of a puppy mill in Missouri and was then thrown in a shelter to be destroyed. Her breeding days were over at 3 years old. Maybe she wasn't producing enough puppies in each litter or maybe the pups she did produce just weren't up to par for the miller. Whatever their reason for dumping her she was pulled from the shelter by rescue and flown to New Jersey by Pilots for Paws. (Yay! Pilots for Paws!) Then she came to my house. I was supposed to foster her so she could find a good home. And I've fostered over a dozen dogs so she was just another one of the little loves that came into my home.
When she arrived Gracie had an infection in her spay, was shaved down to her skinny little bones (due to matting) and mostly just hung her head. She was the saddest sight you've ever seen. And she avoided eye contact at all times. This is something I see a lot in rescue dogs. They are afraid to meet your eyes. When held up they look anywhere but into your eyes. When you do get a glimpse there is only fear reflected back.
Something in Gracie touched me. As tough as I thought myself to be, this little girl reached me in a way I couldn't deny. So she stayed and I became a foster failure. :)
She slowly came out of her shell. It was two weeks before I knew she could bark. Another few before she'd move toward the food bowl on her own. Each day she did a little more and slowly made our home her own. Then the day came when Gracie looked me in the eye. She didn't turn away or avert her gaze. She looked up at me and wagged her tail. I'm sure she didn't understand the tears in my eyes or the joy in my heart.
But today Gracie looked at me.