It’s no secret that senior pets have a harder time finding a home, and that victims of cruelty are similarly hard-pressed. So when we met Thelma, a Wheaten terrier who is both of those things, we knew that it would take a special kind of adopter to see her potential and take her home. Luckily, it wasn’t long before this sweet dog met Rachel O. and her boyfriend, Sam. Here is Thelma’s long-awaited, much-deserved Happy Tail!
Last August, the ASPCA and the NYPD rescued Thelma from unspeakable cruelty in Brooklyn, New York. At nine years old, the Soft-Coated Wheaten terrier was underweight, undernourished and in fragile mental condition. Not only was she incredibly fearful around people, but she was also suffering from mammary tumors and dental pain resulting from neglect. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Thelma underwent an operation to remove the masses—which were fortunately benign—and had to have 12 teeth extracted. She remained in the hospital for nearly two months.
By late September, Thelma had recovered enough to be transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center to begin her search for a home. We worried that given her age and anxiety, the shy senior dog would have a difficult time finding an adopter. The poor girl had already suffered so much, and we wanted nothing more than for her to wind up in a happy, loving home. Thankfully, we soon met Rachel and Sam.
Rachel and Sam are both avid dog-lovers who grew up with pets. After moving in together last year, the couple quickly decided that it was time for a dog of their own. “We knew how greatly our quality of life would be improved with a canine addition,” Rachel says. She began searching on the Internet, and that’s when she came across Thelma’s photo and bio in the “Adopt a Pet” section of the ASPCA website. “I instantly thought she would be a good fit.”
At the Adoption Center, Rachel says that they were immediately smitten with Thelma. “She was very mellow and sweet,” she recalls. “We knew that she had come from a tough situation, and loved the idea of providing her with a comfortable environment to grow old in.” The couple was also moved by Thelma’s “expressive face” and felt that there was something special about her. “Once we met her, we couldn’t imagine not having her,” Rachel says.
So it was official: On September 24, after a lifetime of waiting, Thelma was finally going home.
Rachel admits that it took a bit of time for Thelma to adjust to her new life. Given her history, this came as no surprise, but the situation was exacerbated by the fact that Thelma was still on medication from her dental work. “It was a lot of change at once,” Rachel remembers. “We could tell she just wasn’t feeling very good. But as she learned that she was now in a place where she would be fed every day, cared for consistently and loved unconditionally, she showed facets of her personality we had no idea even existed.” As it turns out, there was a playful, goofy dog just beneath Thelma’s shy exterior!
As time went on, Thelma continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Rachel says that she even goes on short runs with Sam, and that when they come home from work, “she literally busts down the door and runs laps back and forth down our building’s hallway.” Now when approached, Thelma wags her fluffy tail, and its rhythmic sound has earned her the nickname “Thumper.”
It’s amazing what a difference a loving family can make, and we hope that Thelma’s story inspires others to open up their heart and home to an older pet. Rachel says, “We know that since Thelma is an older girl, we will not have as much time with her as we would if we had adopted a puppy or young adult. However, she is the perfect fit for us, and it is our hope that we provide her with so many good memories that eventually they are all she remembers.” We’re pretty positive that for this once-neglected dog, Rachel and Sam’s love is the highlight of a lifetime.