Hungry and abandoned, she stood alongside a road in South Carolina as cars zoomed past her. At last, a woman pulled over and stopped. She opened her car door, got out and walked toward the terrified dog. She placed it in her car and drove to the nearby Horry County Animal Care Center in Conway, S.C. She left the 6-pound poodle at the shelter. The tiny dog's luck and life were about to change.
About an hour's drive from the shelter, my friend Evie Jones was searching the Internet for a dog she and her husband, Clark, could adopt. Hoping it might replace Clark's 15-year-old dog that had recently died, she found the shelter's website and a picture of a tiny black ball of fur, a toy French poodle mix.
Clark and Evie drove to the center and when they arrived, the malnourished dog had just been neutered. Her hair had been shaved to her skin because of fleas. Her eyes, one larger than the other, were glazed, and a few toenails were missing.
Evie had reservations about adopting the dog and pointed out potential problems to Clark. Staff members, however, said the dog's eyes would be normal after the sedation wore off. They added that she was a good dog. Holding the tiny poodle, now wrapped in a warm blanket, Clark said, "We'll take her. She doesn't have to be perfect." Evie was touched by his compassion.
After arriving home, the couple became concerned because little Jo (her new name) would neither eat nor drink anything until the third day. Jo finally became more interested in her surroundings. The terrors she experienced in her previous life had left psychological scars. A loud noise caused her to shake uncontrollably. When she trembled, Evie or Clark would hold close her and speak softly until she was calm. At first, she made no sounds, and then one day Evie heard a soft growl, and later that evening, she heard something like three little puffs of air as Jo tried to bark when she heard a neighbor's voice at the door. Had Evie not been beside the poodle, she would not have heard anything.
Despite the cruel treatment the poodle had suffered, she began to trust Clark and Evie, and to thrive under excellent care. She gained 2 pounds, raising her weight to 8 pounds. Although she was a tough survivor, the vet discovered a heart murmur and glaucoma, which had already rendered her blind in the right eye. She's gained lots of energy, though, zipping through the house with the agility of a kitten.
Having grown protective and possessive, she now wants to be close to Evie and Clark. With keen intelligence, Jo understands many words.
Evie said, "She loves us without question. She has become our constant companion at home, staying beside us even as we say our bedtime prayers. When we tell her it's time for bed, she trots over to her bed, located inside a beautiful dog house near where Clark sleeps. It's her protective 'cave.'She sleeps until Clark awakens in the morning. She can now growl and bark ferociously, having that little-dog syndrome, but if a stranger tries to touch her, she scampers away."