WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) - Sometimes life gives second chances - even to dogs.
To see Louie, a 6-year-old vizsla, joyously bounding around, one would be hard pressed to know he spent the first four years of his life in terror.
His new life now revolves around Teresa Pavish-Paradiso, a licensed clinical social worker who, besides participating in a network that rescues abused animals, works in Walla Walla with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
She said there are similarities in dealing with anxieties in humans and animals. Fear is fear. And love, patience and developing a sense of trust are elements in dealing with restlessness, nightmares and fears that something else bad is going to happen.
"He really responded to consistent love and nurturing," she said of Louie. "He's a blessing to everyone who knows him."
She got Louie in November 2009. But Louie's recovery began in July of that year with Carmen Ogg, a rescue volunteer with Best Friends of Baker in Baker City, Ore., part of the animal rescue network.
Louie had been taken to the Humane Society for biting the man who had been beating him. That particular time Louie was defending the woman and child from the abuser in the dysfunctional family's Salem home.
Ogg knew that vizslas aren't aggressive dogs, but Louie was scheduled to be euthanized when she intevened and pursuaded the woman to give Louie to her.
"We drove back to Baker and it was evident that he had been abused and had health issues," Ogg said. "He had broken teeth from being kicked and fear of men since he had been abused by a man. He had trust issues, but he knew when I put him into the car that he was going to be safe."
She learned the people who owned him were in a bad marriage full of frustration and abuse. The man took his anger out on the puppy, beating him and confining him in their small condo, Ogg said. Both Louie's physical and emotional health needed attention.
"He had a solid four years of abuse," Pavish-Paradiso said. "As a puppy, he'd be sleeping in his little bed and the guy would pick him up and throw him against the wall. He was in horrific pain and very thin."
The first task for Pavish-Paradiso was to bond with Louie, who comes from an energetic Hungarian breed of dogs known for their upland game, rabbit and waterfowl hunting skills.
"He was afraid of the big backyard," she said. "It really helped him to find a place to run. We go out to Bennington Lake. With the fun of running, we were able to really bond."
The next step was to work on Louie's social skills. "He was afraid of everybody. I took him with me out to L&G Ranch Supply. Those people are so wonderful, they talked to him and gave him treats."
Because his abuser was a man, Louie was more comfortable with the women at first. But as time went by he gained trust of men at the store, realizing they wouldn't hurt him. She also took him to Home Depot and he was treated kindly there, too.
Louie gradually began to have more trust for his new life in general. Last March he did his first play bow, a common dog gesture to indicate it's time for fun and frolic.
He was sick in May and spent a lot of time at the clinic, where he befriended everyone.
"Now he can't wait to go to the vet," she laughed. "He got a second chance because people were willing to help."
His road to get to a place of peace was long .
"The first year he had nightmares and he would cry in his sleep. He was restless. If I got up at night I would speak his name to reassure him. Now he sleeps like a log, deep quality sleep."
Rescuing an abused animal is hard work, she said, but "they turn your life around. I have so much fun. I come home after working with people with trauma issues. Then Louie and I go for a run. It's so fulfilling to be his companion."
Nowadays Pavish-Paradiso and Louie often visit the neighbors. In a house full of people, he bursts through the door as if to say, "I'm here!" she said.
"He didn't let the pain of what happened stop him from having a life," she said. "He's made such a difference in my life. I respect him for giving us humans a second chance."
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