“He was putting his paw out and begging to be saved.”
JJ was desperate for attention — any kind of attention. When people walked past his kennel at a small rural shelter outside Dallas, Texas, he reached out his paw, trying to touch them.
The 9-month-old pit bull had recently been picked up as stray on Dowdy Ferry Road, frequent dumping ground for dogs in Dallas. Traffic is heavy on this road, and many dogs end up getting hit by cars. But JJ somehow managed to survive.
“Animal control found him out there living on his own,” Patti Dawson, president of Dallas DogRRR, a local rescue group, told The Dodo. “He was pretty emaciated … you could see his rib lines. I don’t know how long he lived out there on the streets, but he pretty much fended for himself out there until he was rescued.”
Getting off the streets was a good thing, but the shelter environment didn’t offer JJ much comfort — and it wasn’t going to be easy for him to find a home.
“It’s not really a shelter — it’s really a shack, and there are only six kennels,” Dawson said. “Nobody visits it, and you can’t even go and reclaim your dog there. If you’re missing a dog in town, you have to go to the city, and the city will go check and see if the dog is there.”
After two weeks, JJ’s time was up — the shelter needed to free up space, so JJ was put on the euthanasia list. But then, to JJ’s good fortune, he caught the eye of a woman named Marina Tarashevska, who regularly visits the shelter to help network the dogs.
“The ACO [animal control officer] said he was not eating, and that he was blind and deaf,” Tarashevska told The Dodo. “When he pulled him out of the kennel, he looked lost and was running under our feet, and just laying really, really low … like he was expecting to be hit.”
When JJ was put back into his kennel, and Tarashevska went to leave, JJ reached out with his paw.
“He was putting his paw out, and begging to be saved,” Tarashevska said. “It was so sad because it’s so scary at that shelter … and he was so lost in there. It’s the most heartbreaking thing to leave a dog who’s begging you like that.”
Knowing JJ had little time left, Tarashevska reached out to Dawson, and asked if Dallas DogRRR would pull him out. Dawson immediately agreed — after pulling him from the shelter, she got him to the vet, then placed him into a foster home.
JJ turned out to have a few quirks, and no one really understands where they came from.
“When he gets into the crate, he’ll start jumping … and the plastic will hit the metal, and he’ll bounce and bounce and bounce and bounce,” Dawson said. “It’s funny to kind of watch, but you can see how obsessed he gets with it. I think the kennel is his safe place, and it’s like a toy box for him. And he plays in there, and he gets very obsessed in the kennel.”
He’s still very skittish, too, which makes Dawson believe he went through something traumatizing when he was younger.
“If you approach too fast … he either gets scared or he reacts just a tiny bit,” Dawson said. “He definitely did not come from a great environment, but he’s sweet and loving.”
JJ is improving every day, and he’s developing his inquisitive nature at his foster home.
“He runs around the backyard,” Dawson said. “She [the foster mom] takes him on long walks. He loves his snacks. He loves just laying there and chewing on a Kong.”
But what JJ loves more than anything else is affection.
“She said he’s pretty affectionate, and he wants to be with you all the time,” Dawson said. “He’ll stay pretty close to your side. When she gives him attention, he’s so appreciative of it … and wanting more and more and more.”
JJ will stay in foster care for a little while, and the team at Dallas DogRRR plans on getting him evaluated by an animal behaviorist, and to have his vision and hearing fully checked. But eventually, he’ll be up for adoption — and he’ll be looking for the perfect family.
“We want to get him into a nice, loving home,” Dawson said.