The family had come to the shelter to surrender their dog, and one of its volunteers couldn’t believe her eyes. People talk about seeing emotions in their pets, but rarely had she witnessed a scene so touching. Indeed, it was moving enough to melt even the hardest of hearts.
The witness in question was Californian resident Nancy Klein, a keen animal enthusiast. In fact, such is her love for our furry friends that she volunteers at Modesto’s Stanislaus Animal Services Agency – and it was there that she encountered a dog called Moses.
Moses the pit bull was only four years old, but he was already being surrendered by his second family. And while it’s true that pit bulls do have a reputation for violence and aggression, that type of behavior is mostly due to their mistreatment by irresponsible owners.
However, it does mean that pit bulls like Moses find it harder to get homes. And not only are they prevalent in shelters, but according to Save-A-Bull Rescue, they are also the breed most frequently euthanized. As Klein can attest to, though, it’s hard to see how anyone could give up a sweet dog like Moses.
Klein described her touching meeting with the dog in a post on Facebook on January 23, 2017. “Last night as I was leaving the shelter at closing this dog was being surrendered,” she wrote. And although it’s a sad situation, it was the dog’s reaction that touched Klein so deeply.
“The way he clung to his owner… it’s like he knew,” Klein said. “I had to catch my breath.” The scene was heartbreaking, and Klein had to ask Moses’ owners what was going on.
It transpired that Moses had been adopted from the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency a year earlier. However, the family were now moving, and their new home wouldn’t allow dogs. Despite Moses being so gentle and affectionate, then, his human owners felt they had to let him go.
“I took out my phone and, well, you can see for yourself,” Klein wrote. Moses did indeed appear to know that something was wrong. At one point, the poor pooch stood on his hind legs, placed a paw in his owner’s hand and looked like he was begging them to stay.
It was as if Moses knew his family were leaving him and he didn’t want to let them go. When that didn’t work, moreover, Moses looked for comfort from the other humans around him, and Klein was taken aback by his desperation for love in his time of need.
“He’s one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met,” Klein described. “He immediately crawled in my lap as if to say, ‘Please take me with you.’ He wanted to meet everyone there, including the boy and his mom who were in the lobby.”
“My heart literally sank [and] it took everything in me not to just take him,” she concluded. Hoping that Moses’ loving nature would get him a nice home, then, Klein went online to tell the pooch’s story and even uploaded her video of the heartrending goodbye. Very soon, a lot of people had heard Moses’ story, and many also had opinions about his surrender.
In fact, the family came under fire from animal lovers for leaving their dog at the shelter. Despite Moses at least being surrendered the responsible way, many criticized his owners’ reasons. Indeed, some even thought that the family should be reprimanded for their actions.
“People who surrender their pets due to new living quarters should never be allowed to adopt pets again,” one social media user wrote. “You CAN choose a new home that allows pets. Period.” Other users were even less forgiving of the family.
“Humans that discard their animals as if they are trash are horrible,” another person wrote. “[They] don’t deserve the kindness of an animal.” However, some people think that without knowing the family’s full circumstances, perhaps they did what was right for Moses.
“Better to surrender than to be abusive,” someone replied to one of the family’s critics. Regardless of how they feel about Moses’ family, though, the users all agreed on one thing. Everyone wanted to see the touching story end happily for him.
And the good news was, it did! Klein posted an update revealing that Moses had found a home with a loving family. Yes, the adorable dog is now living with his new owners and is showered with affection by their two children.
But Moses’ situation isn’t unique. Indeed, there are many cases where surrendered dogs seem to know something’s wrong. So, just how much are these poor pooches aware of? Any dog owner will tell you that their fur baby has a full range of emotions, not least love.
Moreover, research suggests that dogs do understand abandonment and surrender on some level. Dog expert Dr. Stanley Coren told Psychology Today that the animals have an emotional capacity on the same level as that of a two-and-a-half-year-old human child. That means they’re incapable of emotions that humans develop in later years, such as guilt, contempt, pride and shame.
However, it also means they have a toddler’s capability for love. And if you’ve ever witnessed the emotions that a child has for their parents or siblings, you’ll know just how strong that bond can be. Dr. Coren explains it best in his own words.
“The good news is that you can feel free to dress your dog in that silly costume for a party. He will not feel shame, regardless how ridiculous he looks,” Coren wrote in the 2013 Psychology Today piece. “[But] your dog can still feel love for you, and contentment when you are around, and aren’t these the emotions we truly value?”
It is because of our pooches’ abilities to recognize and react to human emotions that they are often the first to spot when someone is in danger. And so when one man’s dog began barking frantically, he had an inkling that something was wrong. However, nothing could quite prepare the owner for what his clever canine had discovered.
As this father followed his beloved dog down to the dam, he knew that something wasn’t right. After all, in the nine years of owning Leala, David Kenney had never known her to act so frantically. Then, when they reached an opening, David got a glimpse of one of the most horrifying scenes that a parent can imagine.
The Kenneys hail from the town of Glenreagh in New South Wales, Australia. The family consists of mom Lisa, dad David and their children Lani and Alexander. They also have a pet Staffordshire bull terrier named Leala.
The family have owned the dog since 2008, and the adorable pooch goes most places with them. So, when the Kenneys went to visit some friends in nearby Nana Glen in September 2015, naturally Leala went too. But for some reason, the dog began acting strangely.
While the family hung out with their friends inside the house, Leala suddenly barged in from outside. Uncharacteristically, the staffy frantically barked for attention, her fur drenched with water. Surprised at her erratic behavior, then, everyone stopped in their tracks.
On instinct, dad David decided to follow Leala back outside, and the nine-year-old dog led the doting father to a nearby dam. Only, once there, David set eyes on what is surely every parent’s worst nightmare.
“It was what I was wishing not to see,” David told The Coffs Coast Advocate in 2015. “It was a mixture of disbelief, horror and sadness, it was indescribable really, but then everything was a blur.”
Leala had directed them to the lifeless body of two-year-old Alexander, who was floating face down in the water. Fortunately, David and his friends retrieved the youngster from the dam and began performing CPR. Then, almost half an hour later, paramedics arrived on the scene.
Over at the house, Alexander’s mother Lisa had no idea about her son’s condition – until she heard the whirring sirens of the arriving ambulance. “I didn’t think it was my kid, I didn’t think it had anything to do with us and then I came to [see] a helicopter in the sky and the whole place just alive with police and ambulances and my son just lying there completely comatose,” she recalled to The Coffs Coast Advocate.
The helicopter rushed little Alexander to the Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane. And only then did the paramedics warn his parents to expect the worst. “They pulled me aside and told me this is as bad as it gets, there’s not a lot of hope, you should prepare for the worst possible outcome,” Lisa told The Coffs Coast Advocate.
Yes, doctors told Lisa and David that Alexander might not pull through. And if he did, he would likely have some kind of brain damage. “From a parent’s point of view, it doesn’t get much worse,” Lisa said in her interview with The Coffs Coast Advocate.
But, just two days after doctors admitted him to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Alexander shocked everyone. In fact, he was doing well after they’d brought him out of an induced coma. Amazingly, he soon began to breath on his own and could even speak to his worried parents.
What’s more, David and Lisa were happy to see that Alexander was still their same, loving little boy. “The thing that I think got everyone was that he wanted kisses, that was the first thing he wanted – he wanted kisses off us,” David told The Coffs Coast Advocate. “It was quite miraculous that he came back so soon and so clear and fine and unchanged.”
Alexander’s inspirational recovery shocked even his doctors. Still, medical professionals said that if it wasn’t for David and his friends’ quick thinking to perform CPR, the outcome could have been very different. Thankfully, their actions provided the little boy with enough oxygen to prevent any major brain damage.
But while doctors hailed him as a hero, David laid the credit elsewhere. According to him, it was Leala’s instinct that had saved Alexander’s life. If she hadn’t alerted everyone to the situation, he said, who knows how long the toddler could have been left in the water.
“Without obviously the dog and my two mates, he would be…” the dad-of-two told The Coffs Coast Advocate, stopping himself as he reflected on the horrific reality of what could have been. “Everything that went along in its little series, what happened was just flawless with maybe a little bit of luck chucked in.”
Some dog experts have said that a canine’s instinct to protect children comes from a built-in pack mentality. Indeed, these experts agree that dogs have a clear idea of who their human families are because of the social structures dogs are used to in the wild. Therefore, dogs will go out of their way to protect one of their pack members.
It’s true, however, that some people consider Staffordshire bull terriers to be dangerous dogs. But in the English county of Staffordshire, where the dogs are from, people believe they have soft natures. Nicknamed the “nanny dog,” the canines have a reputation here for looking after kids and playing with them. So perhaps this latter stereotype rings true in Leala.
As for Alexander, he soon returned to his normal self. In fact, after the medical team released him from the hospital, he quickly began causing mischief. And despite his traumatic ordeal, his parents still had to discipline him as usual.
“You don’t want to rouse on him because he’s had a pretty rough time, but you’re blessed to have him doing these little ratbag things, being a little monkey and getting into trouble,” dad David explained to The Coffs Coast Advocate. “But you know, he’s cheated death, but he can’t get away with murder, you gotta do what you’ve got to do.”
So it’s safe to say that Leala went far beyond the call of companionship for her family. After all, if she hadn’t alerted everyone to Alexander’s plight, the spritely little boy might not have made it. As mom Lisa put it on Facebook in 2015, “Without her we wouldn’t have our little boy with us today.”