Tough dog mellows

Dog once put on a tough girl show, her body language stiff and on guard, sometimes barking at people, but she has since mellowed.
By Christelle L. Del Prete

Azure, the tough dog, and Haven, a dog trainerSince Azure arrived at the Sanctuary, she’s had to adjust from putting on her tough-girl act to becoming Miss Popular. Because at Best Friends, she’s gained a small but loyal following that includes dedicated volunteers and an adoring roommate.

Azure seems to love her new persona. Her playful, puppyish roommate, Guy, often prances up to her, but he knows Azure is the boss. If she doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t push it, especially when she’s sprawled out on her big, fluffy bed in their room. Azure received the cushy gift from a visitor who was so smitten with her that she had Azure’s name embroidered on it. That’s right. Azure gets custom gifts from her fans.

Dog with a once-wounded spirit

Azure didn’t always make such a good impression so easily. Ears up, head tilted and body stiff, she’d give strangers a long, hard look or bark at them. But while some people dismissed her as unfriendly, others saw right through the tough-girl routine and were drawn to her — especially repeat volunteers like Nancy Moore. “She’s one of the most gorgeous dogs,” Nancy explains.

But while her pretty, shepherd-like markings and delightful, black-tipped ears get her noticed, beauty isn’t what sets Azure apart. It’s all about what she’s overcome to let people like Nancy into her world. Before she came to Best Friends, Azure was with another rescue organization where she kept getting overlooked for adoption. An accident had left her back end a bit weak and wobbly. She takes stairs very slowly, and her posterior sways a little as she walks — as if a strong breeze could blow her over.

Worst of all, the accident wounded her spirit. It seemed that, when it became harder for her to move her body, it became harder for Azure to trust people. Perhaps it was because she no longer felt strong or safe. But, as she came to accept her caregivers in Dogtown, they knew it was time for her to expand her inner circle.

The stars line up for tough dog

Azure the tough dogThe stars lined up when Nancy came along. Though she can’t adopt Azure, Nancy makes the long drive from Delaware to Kanab, Utah, twice a year to volunteer in Dogtown, and as long as Azure is there, Nancy makes a beeline for her favorite dog. From the very beginning, Azure sensed she’d found a true and loyal friend. “The first time we met, we just kind of clicked,” Nancy says.

When Azure hears her friend’s conversion van pull into the Dogtown parking lot, she stops whatever she’s doing, perks up her adorable, stand-up ears, and wags her tail. She knows Nancy is there to take her for a ride into town or for a leisurely stroll on one of the many trails that wind through Dogtown.

Full of friendship

More often than not, Azure and Nancy spend long afternoons lounging together in Nancy’s comfortable van. Whether Nancy is reading to Azure or to herself, Azure shows her sweet, snuggly side by curling up close to her friend on the built-in bed. Occasionally, naptime spills into evening, and a sleepy Azure will accompany Nancy back to town for an overnight.

Even when her friend returns home, Azure’s life in Dogtown remains full of friendship. Her new social skills have given her the confidence to make new friends with other volunteers. So it’s never surprising when a gift package for her shows up. And it’s only a matter of time before somebody decides to make Azure a friend for life.

Note: We believe Azure's time has come. She's currently in a foster-to-adopt home.

To bring hope and healing to more animals like Azure, support our work.

Learn more about Dogtown at Best Friends here.

Photos by Molly Wald


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