The Long Way Home: Neil the Heartstrings Dog

Dear Friend of Animal Aid,

Neil first came to our rescue in the fall of 2011, a young adult dog from a large county shelter who was suffering from the stress of life in a kennel. At the time, that’s pretty much all we knew about him. As we came to understand his likes (neighborhood walks, playtime in the yard, barking at friendly passersby), his dislikes (cats, lazy mornings, people invading his personal bubble), and his needs (patience, perceptiveness, an appreciation for his independent nature), Neil’s unique personality revealed itself to us. Three homes and seven years later, our journey to find Neil’s match continues. Neil is a Heartstrings animal: a harder-to-place dog in search of a meant-to-be companion.

Many of our Heartstrings cats and dogs are long-time residents who are still waiting for their forever family. They may be senior pets getting overlooked for the youngsters, animals with a medical condition, shy pets in need of extra reassurance, or animals with behavioral struggles due to abuse, neglect, or under-socialization.

That last description fits Neil. It’s likely that at some point during his early life, Neil experienced trauma that has made him react defensively to hands reaching for him. We can only guess what Neil encountered to create this reflex, and we can only imagine how hard it must be on him in a world where the common response to his wide, toothy smile and energetic disposition is to want to praise him with petting. What we do know is that Neil is in need of a little extra space, the freedom to be himself, and help to navigate his path through life with both tools for managing his fears and respect for his particular framework of happiness. When you give to the Heartstrings program, you help us provide the best care for every animal who enters our rescue and enters your heart—especially the ones, like Neil, who may be taking the long way home.

We know that you know Neil’s story, because it’s a story that is becoming all too familiar for homeless animals across our city and across the nation. It’s common to label dogs like Neil “difficult” or a “challenge,” but the real challenge lies with us. Will you join us in stepping up to that challenge? Together we can honor every Heartstrings pet’s individual needs. Together, we can work to make the world a safer, healthier, happier place for them. Together, we can be their next good thing.

Warmly,

Paige España
Director of Operations

P.S. Interested in learning more about Neil? Check out his full bio on our website and send your questions to adopt-dog@animalaidpdx.org. Or, if there isn’t room in your home for a special needs pet, we hope you’ll find room in your heart and donate to the Heartstrings program and animals like Neil today.