Tied up to an abandoned house for almost 8 months Sam, psychologically, was a wreck.
We first heard about Sam’s plight from a local character on Nevis known as ‘Bee man’; Quentin Henderson originally came to the island as a member of the Peace Corps, fell in love with Nevis and never went home. Beeman called and we came to see what could be done to help an abandoned dog in the village of Gingerland. When we arrived there were various dogs scrounging around, but only one was tied on an 8 ft rope attached to a dilapidated verandah. Sam was able to just get underneath for some shelter but his rope was not long enough to hide from the frequent tropical rainstorms and as we were soon to discover, Sam was terrified of thunder. The owner of the house had ‘moved on’ and had abandoned Sam and his other dogs. Why he left Sam tethered, we shall never know nor understand. He had survived on the scraps that Beeman brought him and took water from a rain filled upturned pot lid close to where he lay. Beeman thought he had been left alone for almost 8 months
When we arrived, he looked at us with distrust but at the same time somehow sensed that we were there to help. We cut the thick rope that held him in his outdoor prison , he didn’t resist as we gently led him to our van. On arrival at the Shelter we gave him his new home with a bed in a sleeping hutch where he would now be safe from the elements. His skinny body had some difficulties in the beginning with eating ‘real food’ His previous diet of scraps and chewing on the wood of the verandah and a few scraps had eleft his intestines in a delicate state but after 3 days, he showed more interest and as it happened the date of his 4th day in the shelter was December 25th , Christmas day. For Sam, Santa’s elves brought him some turkey breast, doggy kibble and a new collar and lead from Beeman.
Sam was very distrustful of any human and knowing how cruel some people can be, there was no doubt that rather than food being thrown in his direction, as often as not, he was the target of sticks and stones. For the first month he would not let me get closer than six feet. Bowls of food would be placed and then we had to back away. Over the next few weeks I spent time getting closer, sitting with my back to him while I read with one arm reaching backwards. He would circle me sniffing and gradually after about 4 weeks I felt the first touch of a wet nose on the back of my hand. Slowly, but surely every day he came closer until he was comfortable to sit beside me as I read my book. At last Sam fully understood that no-one would ever hurt him again. He gained weight and confidence and became the pack leader of the 5 dog pack group within our biggest pen.
Still very shy and unsure of strangers we decided to adopt Sam ourselves, he became the sixth member of our House pack. An intelligent dog, Sam adapted well and put the trauma of his earlier years and months attached to a broken verandah behind him. Today Sam is so confident around people that he is actually the first to greet new visitors at the gate and in September this year had a starring role in a House Hunters International episode filmed in Nevis with the television crew visiting the CARE Nevis shelter. His 30 seconds of fame has gone to his head, he now prances around posing for my camera at every opportunity and playing up to the ladies both canine and human. Healing the psychological trauma of an abused animal takes time and lots of patience and one must always allow the animal to come to terms with their happier situation at their own pace. Sam now assists us with other abuse cases, along with our wonderful Shelter Patriarch, Marley.