Although very thin, Lennox looked like many of the other black Labradors that had ended up at the West Virginia shelter. But looks can be deceiving. While Lennox had no visible scars, it became instantly apparent that this sweet dog bore some hideous internal wounds. Sudden movements would cause him to flinch and cower in terror. Loud noises or voices would do the same. It was very obvious that Lennox had spent the first years of his life being terribly abused.
Further proof? As his ex-owner dumped Lennox off at the kill shelter, all the man snarled was, “Get rid of him” — not “Please find him a good home.” No. Just a cold and heartless, “Get rid of him,” which in a kill shelter is as good as a death sentence for a dog. The shelter was so shocked by who the owner was that they even made a special note in Lennox’s paperwork.
The public shelter kept Lennox for as long as it could, but it only had so much room. And no one seemed to want or even notice the black dog cowering in the back of his cage. It wouldn’t be long before Lennox would have to be put down in order to make room for more dogs. But fortunately for Lennox, he had won the hearts and dedication of the staff member, who couldn’t help but notice that under the quaking exterior was a lovable sweet pup who truly deserved a second chance at a better life. So they got in touch with a no-kill shelter in Virginia called Friends of the Homeless Animal (FOHA), and in February 2014, Lennox was transferred to his new home.
At FOHA, Lennox soon became a favorite among the regular volunteers who immediately felt sorry for the terribly frightened animal that spent most of his days shaking in abject terror in his kennel run. Everyone tried their best to make Lennox feel comfortable. One volunteer, Amy Hardy, fell especially hard for the black Lab and worked diligently to win his trust.
Progress was made in miniscule steps. First, Amy spent time in his kennel just talking to him. And then after a while, Lennox paid her patience back by not running to the back of his kennel when she came to visit. Then she started taking him on slow walks on FOHA’S many shaded trails. It wasn’t easy — every loud noise, cars and unexpected movements would cause him to jump and want to run back to his kennel. The next step was socializing him with other dogs. Turned out, Lennox loved being around other dogs. Finally, one day, Lennox actually greeted her at his kennel door, wagging his tail.
While Amy and many of FOHA’s regular volunteers had fallen in love with Lennox, visitors searching for a dog kept passing by his cage in favor of the other more eager pups, flinging their bodies with abandon against their cage doors, begging for attention. Each weekend, Lennox would watch as dogs who had been at FOHA for much shorter periods of time would leave with new owners.
In addition to his extreme shyness, Lennox also had two more strikes against him. He was a big and black dog and — as everyone who works or volunteers in shelters know — these canines are typically the last to be adopted. Some refer to the problem as Big Black Syndrome. Handsome Lennox was even the poster dog for FOHA’s Back in Black campaign, where potential families could pay less to adopt a pup wearing an ebony coat. (Add picture of LENNOX in poster)
As the days turned into months, the shelter environment began to take a toll on Lennox. Although FOHA is one of the nicest rescues a dog can end up at, Lennox had a hard time dealing with the noise and constantly meeting new people and dogs. He began to lose weight and the caring staff at FOHA knew they had to find this sweet dog a new home before the stress might bring a premature end to his life.
Fortunately for Lennox, Amy came forward to foster him, even though she already had a cat and a dog. Once in her home, Lennox began his road to recovery. According to Amy, it only took two weeks for her to see a big difference in the lovable Lab. And, guess what, under that shy, frightened exterior, Amy discovered that Lennox actually had a goofy side.
Today, Lennox has made an incredible transformation and is finally comfortable in his own skin. He has, in fact, improved so much that Amy now feels comfortable bringing him to adoption events. In the past, the stress of meeting strangers in a new environment with lots of loud noises and sudden movements, would have simply been unbearable to the emotionally traumatized dog.
In the end, all Lennox needed was time. And if it weren’t for no-kill rescues like FOHA, where dogs can have the time they need to recover from both emotional and physical trauma, pups like Lennox wouldn’t get the chance to find the loving families they deserve.
If you want to help dogs like Lennox and the other canines pictured here recover from emotional and physical wounds and find a new home, please donate to FOHA here. FOHA is also a cat rescue.
Oh, and that man who owned and emotionally abused Lennox — you might be shocked to learn what his job was. The man who caused Lennox to live in fear was someone who had taken an oath to help others and to protect the weak. Lennox’s former owner was a sheriff.