After enduring years of neglect, Abner learns to trust thanks to the dedication of his foster parent.
OHS foster parents play a critical role for pets who are part of criminal investigations. Often, these animals have special behavioral or medical needs due to the abuse or neglect they’ve endured in their past.
For a group of cattle dogs from Klamath Falls, their legal process was long and complex, delayed further by the challenges of COVID-19. Many of the dogs spent time in foster homes, like Abner.
Abner’s foster home
Lynn Esser, Abner’s foster parent, reflects on the two years he was in her care.
I can still remember first meeting Abner – such a handsome boy. He immediately caught my eye, and then quickly broke my heart with his eyes big as saucers, head hung low, and tail tucked. Although it would mean a year or two while his case wound its way through the courts, I knew I had to foster him and brought him home August 24, 2018.
Then began the long experiment in what our routine would be. The first days were spent with him preferring solitary time in a kennel indoors, in the garage, or racing in circles on the deck. He edged around the house like it was a foreign land filled with things he had never seen before. When night came, he was rarely in the bedroom. Instead, he chose to sleep alone. During walks, he would freeze in a panic for no apparent reason. I would spend time quietly talking on his level, while waiting for him to cope with what was making him anxious, so we could move forward again.
Some things evolved quickly. When Abner began smelling every blade of grass in the neighborhood, walks became fun and relaxing. Running in circles stops when you’re given a chance to burn off energy in a different way. Other things we continue to work on. For example, cars are not an appropriate target for herding dogs, and throwing full water dishes up in the air really creates a mess.
Today finds Abner crawling in my lap or fluffing up a favorite bed for a nap, things he’s learned from my other dog, Oliver. He’s not shy about letting you know its dinnertime, prancing in circles to get you moving to the kitchen. He’ll sit endlessly for chest scratches and equally loves rubbing his head in your hair. He’s rejected nearly every treat I have offered, but for some reason loves rotini pasta. I’m certain he’d opt to sleep in a human bed if it my other dog had not claimed it as his territory. Instead, Abner settles into his spot just an arm’s length away. Each night, he props his head on the edge of the bed to say good night and get a final pet. Eager to start his day, every morning his front paws are on bed with tail wagging ready to go.
What makes a dog who’s been through so much want to try a new life? No matter what scary new thing was thrown at him, he was still willing to take a leap of faith that he could trust me. Nothing that happened in his previous life has broken his sweet, loyal, loving spirit. Abner is a constant reminder of why I love dogs and find joy in working to make their lives better—because each one of them deserves the very best life offers.
On Saturday, January 23, Abner was adopted. Before heading home, Lynn and Tanya, Senior Manager of the OHS Training & Behavior Department, met with adopter Stacie to ensure this was the right home for Abner.
“Tanya and I knew from the minute we saw her interact with her own dog that Stacie was something special,” says Lynn. “Stacie is kind, mellow, and patient which is the exact kind of mom and life that Abner needs to succeed.”
Abner became fast friends with Stacie’s dog Kona. The two dogs are settling in together and enjoy playing in Staci’s yard.
“I feel like Abner has found a home with somebody who will love him as much as I love him,” says Lynn.