We all handle grief in out own way. But for this 10 year old dog, named Rio he was all alone after his owner passed away. He must have been confused and scared his whole world was gone. He went from his comfortable bed and home to a cold chaotic shelter.
Rio had no one left, he was brought to the Detroit Animal Care and Control shelter. Once there the staff knew he was in trouble. He refused to eat or let anyone touch him. The only thing he did was stand and face the wall.
Rio couldn’t understand why he there. He thought over and over why was he taken from his home? Why did his owner leave him all alone? The poor guy was heartbroken and confused.
It was clear that Rio was depressed and mourning the loss of his home and owner. His head would just hang as his ears drew back. The staff knew something had to be done and quick. They called in the experts.
“We take on [the shelter’s] tougher medical and mental health cases, so dogs who may be shutting down or suffering from kennel neurosis,” Kristina Millman-Rinaldi, executive director of Detroit Dog Rescue, told The Dodo. “A lot of people don’t realize what intuitive and sensitive creatures dogs are. They sense, like humans, everything that’s happening around them.”
By the time Rio arrived at DDR, he had become even worse. He wouldn’t perk up when his name was called or even turn away from the wall. Kristina knew Rio needed to be placed in a loving foster home where he could receive special one on one attention. Maybe then he could begin to heal and move on.
Kristina contacted a volunteer named Ryan Callahan. After hearing about Rio and his story, Ryan agreed to foster Rio.
“It was just the right dog, right place, right time,” Ryan said. “He needed us, and we were able to provide the one-on-one time he needed.”
Immediately, after moving in, Rio began to improve. He no longer shook when Ryan tried to touch him. To make him feel safe and comfy, they made him his own space in Ryan’s office. So when Ryan worked from home, Rio could spend precious one-on-one time with Ryan.
In only a short week, Rio had made drastic improvement. He began to lay on Ryan’s feet and gaze up at him with loving eyes. It was as if he was saying ‘thank you for being my friend.’
“I don’t know if it’s becoming more familiar, or learning that he’s still loved, but over the last week, he’s gone from not leaving the corner of the room and howling nonstop to sleeping through the day,” Ryan said. “Every time we walk by him, he wags his tail, and he loves going for walks in the woods with us.”
Rio has had a tough time adjusting so the DDR is taking things very slow with any future placement.
“My hope is that he doesn’t have to go another day wondering where he is or what is happening around him,” Ryan said. “That his new life — whatever that ends up being — is even better than his last one.”