He remembered being with his mom and siblings in a comfortable setting as a little pup, even if to many it wasn’t the most ideal, to him it was far better than what he’d recently been rescued from. He didn’t understand why the humans were always so angry at him, or wouldn’t feed him when his young belly was aching with the need for food. He knew there had to be something much better for him somewhere, but he didn’t know how or if that would happen. He longed to be held and loved.
It was already cold outside and yet a woman came to his rescue who wasn’t really a rescuer, she in fact knew his captors. She just happened to be someone who loved dogs and didn’t like seeing him being treated so badly. She asked if she could take him and they let her. While she didn’t bring him to much better, she at least got him out of the neglect and abuse he’d been suffering under. She brought him home and fed him, the only problem was, he was the youngest of the dogs she had and they all got to the food before him. He was bullied and pushed around a lot, especially by a wolf hybrid she had. The woman in fact, had to eventually make sure she kept them separated so he could get some of the food. It was just so cold outside and she only let her little dogs go in the house. He hoped someone would one day love him. He didn’t look as appealing as he did the day he went to live with the previous humans. He was cute and cuddly then, but the neglect had dwindled away his good looks while leaving his coat looking raggedy, and his body emaciated.
He somehow knew though, that this was not his fate. He knew she was going to find him the perfect home. She didn’t have to really try as God intervened and connected him to the family he had longed for. One week before Christmas, as the weather got even colder, a man and a woman showed up to have a look at him. The man saw him barking and he said, “We’ll take him.” The woman didn’t say much though. They had driven in from another town to look at him having only just a week earlier learned he was available. He wasn’t what the woman was expecting, he could tell, but the man looked past his exterior and looked to what he knew he could become!
On the hour drive to his new home, the woman sat with him in the backseat and gave him little pieces of treats. He was so hungry he wanted to eat the entire bag but the woman was wise not to allow that yet. She kept looking at his emaciated body and also looking into his deep green eyes – he was a bit intimidating to her, even as a 4 1/2 month old puppy.
However, once they arrived at what would become his new home, she led him around the front and back yard on leash so he’d know his boundaries, and then they let him romp freely in their backyard. Still, the only thing he really wanted was some food.
The biggest mistake the woman made was to give him too much food at once. He began to poop not too long afterward, and then in the house and eventually all over the yard. You see, his stomach was not used to handling so much food at once. She should have known better especially since he learned she worked in the veterinary industry. She’d not had a dog in eleven months when their Golden Retriever passed away. She was still longing for a cute, cuddly Golden, when this emaciated, smelly, sick Neapolitan Mastiff puppy was offered to them as a gift. The woman was related to his rescuer. This wasn’t her first rodeo with animals in other words, but it’s like she’d thrown all common sense to the wind that first day expecting something he wasn’t. He also was very emotionally disconnected after all he’d been through in his short life.
Imagine, from a breeder, to the gangster life he was thrust into, then to a short rescue stint with a woman who already had six other dogs, and now to this new couple and at only four plus months old. That’s a lot for a baby dog to have to handle. The truth is, he handled it though. He had some fears due to his life experiences and yet, he was still so brave. It wasn’t too long either before all those fears were conquered and he evolved into the magnificent Mastiff he was.
The first thing she did was give him a bath so he’d not stink as bad, and then decided he needed to eat less at a time – that would’ve avoided the mess he made in the house and the yard had she done that in the first place.
That first night was also less than ideal as well but that should’ve been expected by these humans. The couple had bought him food, leash, collar, and a few other needed necessities. The woman’s colleague and friend loaned them a crate and they placed him in it that first night with a bed and blankets. At least he’d be warm on this cold December night. However, in the middle of the night he woke them up with a long, mournful howl that shattered the silence of their home. The woman came to him to console him. She was wondering what they’d gotten themselves into. Not having a dog for almost a year, they’d forgotten what it was like to have the constant care of a dog, and this one a puppy with emotional baggage. He often had these nightmare dreams but over time, they eventually ended.
The next morning they began the process again, only this time a little less food with the meals split up. Still the issues persisted a bit. The woman was tired after having not slept well, but certainly not worse than this puppy was enduring! She had a family birthday to attend so the man stayed home with him. He wasn’t left alone which was a relief to him although it was something he had endured a lot already in his previous home. The woman complained to others at the children’s birthday party but no one was overly sympathetic, and in fact rather more sympathetic for the puppy. The man and the puppy enjoyed a nice time when she was gone and began building their relationship together during that time. The only thing was, the woman is who he’d spend the most time with since she worked from home, so that was going to be the test.
The woman returned home and told her husband she wasn’t sure she wanted to keep this puppy. Her husband said he wasn’t getting rid of him and that he’d find a way to keep him whether she wanted him or not! The puppy thought he’d finally found a better home that would at least feed him and give him care so he sure hoped he was going to be able to stay. Two things happened that evening to ensure that is exactly what happened.
First the neighbor’s daughter came over to meet him. He crawled willingly into her lap while looking mournfully at the woman. Then later, the woman’s colleague friend called her and gave her a severe dressing down. She told her that this puppy deserved the best and if she wasn’t going to give it to him then she better make sure to find him a home that would. The neighbor’s daughter told her she would love him and didn’t understand why it was hard to see how great a dog he would be if she would just give him a chance. Those two friends are what made the difference in her selfish attitude so she could start to see the beautiful swan in front of her in the making.
The man had to go to work the next morning and he asked the woman not to do anything about this puppy yet. When the woman got up to take the puppy out, she looked into his eyes, and said to him, “Shadrach, that’s your new name. You and I are going to make this work. We will do this together every day. We’ll make this work.” From that day forward they became inseparable.
He celebrated his first Christmas with a dog toy under the tree just for him, and a family to love him. He became their one and only Christmas Dog. He was the gift neither of them knew they needed and the gift that changed the entire trajectory of the woman’s life. He became the best gift they’d ever had, slobber and all!
A week after he arrived, he’d been to the pet store with her, met neighbors, and even went to the park for the first time. He met so many people and dogs. He became the star of the park where she ran and others brought their dogs to interact. It wasn’t a dog park, just a place people came to enjoy a park, run, play tennis, and allow their dogs to play. Shadrach became the leader of the dog pack because they were all females and he the only male. Even though he was the youngest, he was the biggest! He had given the woman the community when she most needed it. She already knew all the dogs at the park but what Shadrach did was help her get to know their humans better too while he was able to have a lot of fun with all the girl dogs.
Shadrach loved his new name! He knew it was the exact name he needed after having been through the fire already, so young. He was sent by the One Who would give His own life for all of mankind to help the woman step into her destiny. He was relieved that she finally could see it and together they became a team of epic proportions. Every time she got stuck in her own former training, and not want to do something out of fear or lack of knowledge, he forced her through his own lack of responsiveness, to go deeper all while going higher. She learned every step of the way and in the process, Shadrach helped her grow all while he became stronger and more vibrant over the years. Even with his poor start in life, he lived on into his older years that his breed normally didn’t live to, all because she listened to him. Eventually, with her, he was able to help a lot of other dogs in the process which made him even happier.
Now he’s with the One Who sent him…and while his earthly work finished for him, for her, he is still and always will be the Christmas Dog that never stops giving the gift of himself in all she does.
Just in case you didn’t know, the name Shadrach comes from Chapter 3 of Daniel in the Bible. Shadrach is the reason I couldn’t stay stuck in my conventional training as a veterinary technician. He’s the reason I began blogging in 2004, and podcasting in 2005. He’s the reason I went back to school and became an animal naturopath. He touched everyone he ever came into contact with. He was compassionate and kind, yet a fierce defender of me and my husband. He loved other dogs. He was absolutely a brilliant dog, so amazing and his life touched so many through all of his blogging here, and all those who encountered him in real life as well. He was our Christmas Dog and I’m forever grateful to my cousin who stayed with us during a family funeral, who helped turn that tragedy in our family for me into something beautiful. As is stated in scripture, “To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” ~Isaiah 61:3, NKJV
May your Christmas be merry and bright, filled with Christmas dogs!
Until next time…
Have a PAWsitively, tail waggin’, Christmas Dog Day!
Kim Bloomer, V.N.D., N.D. is an animal naturopath as well as being certified in small animal nutrition, with years of experience in animal wellness. Dr. Kim is a published author, writer, blogger, host of the DOGgone Truth podcast. Dr. Kim offers Animal Naturopathy Mentoring and Courses. Subscribe to her DOGgone Newsletter for updates. Copyright ©2005-2024 Aspenbloom Pet Care, Dr. Kim Bloomer, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author/Publisher. This article is intended to be educational. However, it is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a qualified animal health professional. Dr. Kim Bloomer and Aspenbloom Pet Care, do not assume any legal responsibility for misuse of the products discussed in this article. The only essential oils referenced on this website are Young Living.