Dog from overcrowded home shines as an individual

Silver Sword the dog outside
After a puppyhood spent in a home with over 50 other dogs, Silver Sword is finally stretching his legs and soaking up some one-on-one attention.
By Sarah Thornton

Like his name, Silver Sword’s joy and enthusiasm can easily cut through the gloom of a bad day. A boatload of energy in a 20-pound package with wonderfully large, expressive ears, it’s impossible not to smile around him. And seeing his friends smile sets his own tail wagging — like an endless loop of happiness. Silver Sword simply thrives on good vibes.

It's a relatively new feeling for the young pooch though. For the first year of his life, Silver Sword lived in a home where there weren’t many chances for him to interact with people. He shared the house with over 50 other dogs, his close and extended furry family, all growing up in severe neglect. He’d been just one of many, discovered by authorities without food or clean places to sleep.

Things started looking up for Silver Sword and his family, however, after that discovery landed them with Best Friends Network Partner Bernalillo County Animal Care Services. From there, they’d travel on to nearby shelters and rescue organizations where they could receive care and help being placed with new, loving families. Along with 19 others, Silver Sword’s journey took him to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. And that’s one of the most important ways communities across the country are achieving no-kill — by working together to save pets who need extra time or care.

Settling down for snuggles

Everything at the Sanctuary was new and exciting for Silver Sword. The wide-open sky stretched above him, the fresh desert breeze in his nose, the warm sand in his toes, and, of course, all the people. While many dogs in his situation might have, understandably, shrunk back from having so many eyes on them, Silver Sword went completely in the other direction. The spotlight was new, but he reveled in it.

“When he first came in, I don’t think he knew what to do with people,” says Anabel Kirk, one of Silver Sword’s caregivers. “He didn’t know how to handle himself around people. He was very jumpy; he was very mouthy. He was very much like a puppy who had never had attention before.” He was eager to interact with all these potential new friends; he was just a bit clumsy about it.

[Scruffy pup goes from scared and broken in an overcrowded shelter to healing on a hammock]

It was an overwhelming situation but still a rather endearing one. And to help Silver Sword make new friends like he so clearly wanted to, his caregivers got to work on some basic training. He was a thoroughly engaged student, happy to be the focus of his teachers’ attention, even if his excited wiggles sometimes got the better of him.

He had to learn how to hold still to get his harness on for walks (he’d not been out on a leash before), and they quickly became one of his favorite things. Being out on the trails was exhilarating, with so much to see and smell. But also, they were the perfect opportunity to show off the other thing he’d learned: sit.

“He loves to show off that he knows how to sit; it’s his favorite thing on the planet,” Anabel says with laughter in her voice. “He’ll look back at you like, ‘Did you ask me for a sit? I know how to sit!’ And he sits down all excited and proud of himself.”

Sit may be the only trick Silver Sword’s mastered so far, but he’s really, really good at it. Plus, it helps keep all his paws on the floor when he sees visitors coming, so he’s not jumping and grabbing with his mouth in excitement. This trick, coupled with time to settle in and catch up on the quality cuddles he’d been missing out on his whole life, has allowed the delightful dog to relax.

And with that newfound contented calm, Silver Sword has been able to have way more fun.

Finding friends everywhere he goes

Just as quickly as Silver Sword became special to his caregivers, he became a hit with volunteers looking for a dog to take on a sleepover at the Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile. He walks perfectly on his leash, plays with all his heart, and never tires of snuggling in bed or on the couch. He’s like a sponge for affection, soaking it all up every chance he gets.

“He met a family who had five children — the oldest was 12, the youngest was 2 — and Silver Sword was just perfect with every single one of them,” says Anabel.

And it’s not just humans Silver Sword loves hanging out with; he enjoys his canine companions nearly as much. Almost every day, he joins a playgroup to run, wrestle, and tumble with other dogs who call the Sanctuary their home-between-homes. “He’s often a good little helper for dogs who maybe need to work on their dog skills or who are a little shy,” explains Anabel. “He’s really good at taking them and showing them that they don’t have to fight; they can play. They don’t have to sit in a corner and be scared. He loves doing it.”

[Loving a shy dog: An adopter’s story]

Cats aren’t out of the question either. When Anabel brought Silver Sword home for an extended sleepover one weekend, not only did he fit right in with her pack of pooches, but he was also fascinated by her feline family. He was respectful of their space and just watched curiously as they darted past him in their own playful tumbles. He was a bit startled when the cats woke him from a nap by crawling over him, but once he figured out what was going on, he just sniffed at them and settled back down.

From walks to sleepovers, tricks to car rides, pretty much every activity is one of Silver Sword’s favorites. He just likes everything that much, and he finally has the opportunity to do it all. And, like the family members who arrived at the Sanctuary with him who’ve gone to homes of their own, Silver Sword is more than ready to get adopted into a home full of the attention and affection he craves.

Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025

Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets. 

Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.

Silhouette of two dogs, cat and kitten

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