Calm During the Storm

Mercedes spent the first 6 years of her life on a chain, isolated from her family, and was bred repeatedly. Luckily, her life changed when her owners moved and surrendered her to a local boarding facility in West Virginia, and she found her way to rescue. This sweet soul is currently being fostered with 3 other dogs and a toddler who she adores. Her prior family had kids too, so she has a clear affection for children, and really enjoys the company of other dogs.

We can’t change the first 6 years of her life, but we can make sure the rest of Mercedes time is spent in a home with a family who loves her and treats her like one of their own. Because she was an outside dog, Mercedes tested positive for heartworm and is currently undergoing routine treatment, but she will be coming the DC area as soon as she’s finished.

Her foster mom, Kate, has only known her a few weeks but they shared a very harrowing experience together, surviving the recent West Virginia flood. Kate was able to see what an incredible dog she was, even in an extremely stressful situation. Kate sent us this heartfelt account:

I knew Mercedes for less than 24 hours when she accompanied me through one of the scariest and most stressful times of my life. I’ve lived in West Virginia for about 12 years and I’ve often heard the phrase, “I’ll be there God willing and the creek don’t rise”, but I’ve never actually witnessed a deadly flood. About two weeks ago, I came home from work to let Mercedes and my 3 dogs out before I went to pick up my three-year-old at daycare. I realized that, like many dogs, Mercedes was afraid of the impending thunder storm. I decided to take her with me in the car to help ease her anxiety. Little did I know that she would end up literally being the calm in my storm.

 

Those of you who don’t live in the mountains might not know what a “holler” is, but I’ve come to learn that this is the valley between two mountains where there is usually a road, houses, and often a creek. As we were coming down the hill and out of the “holler” the rain was absolutely torrential. I quickly realized this was not your average rain storm. Mercedes was next to me secured to the passenger seat, my daughter was in the back in her car seat. As the water poured down from the skies and rose up from the ground, I knew we were in trouble. I drove through the rising water to where I had cell phone service and could ask for help. Realizing it was too risky to go any further, I pulled over into the parking lot of a local gymnastics gym to wait for the water to recede. Instead, it did the opposite. As the water level continued to rise toward our car, I moved it to higher and higher ground until I was almost backed up to the mountain behind the gym. We were trapped with water on three sides and a mountain on the fourth. When I saw debris, signs, and finally cars start floating down what used to be a road, I realized we needed to abandon the car and seek shelter in the gym.

 

While emergency responders were fighting high water to get to us, and the owners of the gym were working hard to rescue people from a car stuck in the water, I had no idea if they would let us in the gym with a dog. All I knew about Mercedes was that she had lived most of her life on a chain. When they willingly opened the doors, I prayed that Mercedes would stay calm while surrounded by panic, stress, sadness, and dozens of unpredictable children. She not only stayed calm, but as children came by and asked to pet her, I realized that she was providing a release, a distraction, and a wagging tail for children who were scared and confused. After two or so hours of being stranded in this gym, with our car still stuck behind flooded water and vehicles, emergency rescuers walked us to safety with about 6 other young children and another mother. Once we were safe, Mercedes hopped gently into my husband’s car and I realized that she must’ve been there for a reason.

 

She’s lived with us for about two more weeks since then. She’s been no trouble at all. If she has any faults, it’s that she LOVES to be with people, and does not like to be separated. She has been sleeping in her crate at night, but as soon as she hears us milling about the house, she barks until I let her out. Once she’s out, she’s a couch potato who could probably binge watch Netflix for an entire weekend. She has only had one small accident in the house, but I think she is easily house trained, and she gets along beautifully with my three dogs. In fact, I think she would do best in a house with other dogs, as she has learned the feeding and potty routine around here quickly. She walks beautifully slow and steady on the leash. I call her the Mayor of Huntington because every time we go for a walk, someone stops and asks if they can pet her. She walks up to people and wags her tail and almost demands that they smile.

 

I’ve owned dogs my whole life. This dog is special. All she wants is a family to love and to love her back. The fact that she has not experienced that until now breaks my heart. And the fact that she continues to be sweet and loving in spite of everything she’s been through blows my mind. There is a family out there who would be perfect for Mercedes, and she is so full of love that she’s just waiting to share.

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