This Story Is A Real Treat

, , , , , | Working | October 29, 2020

In 2013, I spend a few weeks in Ireland, where I volunteer full-time at a small local dog rescue. English is a second language for me and I speak it fairly well, but I don’t speak Irish at all.

In the afternoon, when most of the daily chores are taken care of, I am free to take some of the dogs for a longer walk or cuddle and play with them.

One of the dogs in the kennels is a very timid adult male border collie, a stray who arrived a day or two before I did. He is very wary of humans and the constant barking and noise in the shelter stress him out. Consequently, he doesn’t eat well and spends most of the day curled up in the far back corner of his kennel. Whenever I can, I take him out for a long walk so he can get away from the stressful environment and relax a bit. It is quite a challenge as he is not used to walking on a leash, and close contact with humans makes him incredibly nervous. We usually walk for a bit until we find a nice, quiet spot where we sit down two or three meters apart and just enjoy the view.

Over the course of about two weeks, we manage to build some trust and he calms down considerably during our walks. One day, when we arrive at our usual spot, instead of keeping his distance as usual, he sits down right next to me and even accepts the treat I offer him!

Back in the kennels, I find the manager to tell her about the progress I made with the dog.

Me: “We’ve come so far! He came right up and sat with me, and he let me give him a treat!”

The manager seems confused for a bit.

Manager: “Which dog is that? What’s his name?”

I tell her and describe him. Suddenly, she starts laughing out loud and can’t seem to stop.

Apparently, this dog didn’t have a name when they picked him up from the pound. Because they received a few black and white border collies from two different locations on the same day, she just wrote down the name of the location on the little whiteboard at the front of the kennel and forgot to change it to a proper name later on. However, I didn’t notice this and just assumed it was some Irish name I had never heard of before. We laugh about it and agree to find a good name that suits him.

A few days later, the manager approaches me, asking about the dog’s progress.

Manager: “The other volunteers tell me that the dog outright refuses to be taken out of his kennel for a walk and that he still doesn’t eat properly or take treats from anyone.”

Confused, I grab a collar and leash and take her to his kennel, where he is curled up in a corner as usual. I call him by his name and he immediately comes to the front, shyly wagging his tail. I put the leash on him and take him outside the building where I hand him a few treats that he basically inhales.

Manager: “Well, I guess the dog is yours now.”

She turns around and goes back to work.

For a few days, I contemplate whether I can actually take on the responsibility of having a dog — I am still a university student on a tight budget — especially a former stray that has no training and probably comes with a good load of bad experiences and trauma. But finally, I decide to take him with me to Germany. We still haven‘t come up with a new name for the paperwork, and since he already responds to the one accidentally given to him, I decide to keep it.

And this is the story of how my dog, Mayo, got himself a new home and a rather unique name.


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

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