Learning to trust someone is almost never a fast—or easy—process. So it’s not surprising that, after being neglected by the humans they once trusted, homeless dogs often fear and run away from people. This can make rescuing them a big challenge.
Eldad Hagar, the founder of California rescue group Hope for Paws, has dedicated his life to helping such animals trust again. When he learned about one abandoned dog, he wasn’t going to give up easily—but would it all be worth it?
Eldad Hagar is the founder of Hope for Paws, an animal rescue group in Los Angeles, California. He’s dedicated his life to saving abandoned and stray pets—but despite his experience, some still give him a run for his money. Such was the case of one female Maltese-poodle mix named Oakley.
Oakley had trouble trusting people, and she managed to evade Eldad during the day. Unwilling to give up, Eldad returned at night with a new strategy. He had to be careful, though: if he scared Oakley too much, he ran the risk of her running away again—and she could die without help.
After several minutes of sneaking around the quiet parking area, Eldad managed to move right behind the frightened pup, ready to make his next move. It wouldn’t be easy, but he had to try…
Things got really intense once Eldad finally secured Oakley with his leash. Immediately, she became terrified and started trying to run away as fast as she could. Eldad tried as best he could to maintain control.
Amazingly, Eldad tried a technique that most people wouldn’t think of. He didn’t try to pull Oakley towards him or try to fight back against the dog’s resistance in any way. Instead, he patiently ran behind Oakley while still holding onto her.
All the while, Oakley was frantically barking, yelping, and growling at Eldad, but the rescue expert remained as patient as he possibly could. He wanted to wait for the little pooch to eventually wear herself out.
It worked! Whether it was because Oakley was exhausted, curious about the unusual situation, or even just starting to feel like she could trust Eldad, she stopped in her tracks and stared him.
What happened next was actually quite beautiful. Eldad stopped and sat with Oakley and spoke softly to her, asking if they could be friends. “It’s okay,” he said to her as he reached out to touch her…
Sure enough, this method seemed to work absolute wonders. Oakley calmed down, and she even allowed Eldad to pet her! His patience was starting to pay off, and the tiny, frightened pup was starting to trust him at long last.
“You smell like you’ve been on the street for a long time,” Eldad said as he gently loaded Oakley into the passenger seat of his car. Still, he kept petting her and showing her affection. Finally, it was off to get her some much-needed help.
Eldad brought Oakley right into the shelter. Despite the fact that she no longer resisted and had calmed down considerably, she still must have been nervous and frightened by the new surroundings. Sitting still just showed how much she trusted her new pal.
Eldad told Oakley that he needed to give her a bath, and she was willing to accept it. Sure, she seemed a bit uncomfortable with the experience, but she still allowed him to do what needed to be done!
There was no telling how long Oakley had been out on her own in the streets, so the bath must have been long overdue. The dirt just washed right off of her! Boy, it must have felt amazing to be clean again.
Eldad told Oakley repeatedly that she was a “good girl,” and she certainly deserved to hear it. Despite her initial behavior when Eldad was trying to catch her, she was really showing how sweet she was at heart.
“You’re going to be white in a few seconds, okay?” Eldad said softly to Oakley as he gently scratched her chin. Indeed, the little dog looked totally transformed by the bath. Just wait until you see her all dried off!
Taking a bath must’ve been somewhat foreign to her, but that bath was exactly what Oakley needed. Once the little dog was finally clean and dry, it must have almost felt like a sort of rebirth for her.
By the time that pampering was all said and done, Oakley looked like an entirely new dog! Her white fur was soft and fluffy again, and she finally looked like she was supposed to. Check out those adorable eyes!
Eldad brought Oakley to his own home for some well-earned rest and relaxation. Once there, he continued to reestablish the sense of trust that she’d clearly lost as a stray. It was a delicate process, but Oakley was a willing learner.
In time, Oakley not only proved to be happy and healthy, but also as playful as just about any dog out there. Each and every day, she became more confident and comfortable in her new surroundings.
Oakley and Eldad’s journey was far from over, however. She was truly a special dog, and everyone involved in her rescue knew that! Just watch what happened after Eldad gained her trust…
How anyone could have abandoned such a sweet dog is a mystery! Living on the streets is a frightening experience, especially for small dogs like Oakley. Thankfully, she is safe now.
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