Rescuing Red

Rescuing Red

In this installment of Barkzy’s Stories, a series devoted to the stories of dogs who’ve been rescued by the Barkzy community, we’re putting the spotlight on Red, a 10-year-old dog that’s suspected to be a chow-golden-shepherd mix. Typically a happy dog but with some anxious moments, he was rescued by Tom Graner several years ago. The journey for Red hasn’t always been easy, but luckily he’s in good hands with Tom and his family. Read more about Red’s tale, as told by Tom, below. 

Once you’ve had a dog you can’t imagine your life without one, so when ours passed away, it left a large dog-sized hole in our hearts. We missed having a pet to care for, and also, just having a four-legged creature tail us wherever we went. After a year of pining after a furry companion, we decided to bring another one into our lives. It took several months of searching, but the moment we stumbled upon photos of Red, a 6-year-old mutt named after the color of his fur, we knew that he was our dog. 

We adopted Red from The Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue (GRCGLARescue), but had been staying in the Chesterfield Square Animal Shelter. As far as anyone knew, Red was a stray that had been living on the streets before he was found by a kind stranger, who brought him into a shelter for the chance of finding a home. Otherwise, his backstory, like most dogs that are homeless or that have been abandoned, is unknown. Soon after seeing Red’s photos and reading what little there was of his story, we applied to adopt him. This involved standard protocol: paperwork, a home inspection, and a “meet” date with Red’s foster family, which is essentially a “meet-cute” between a dog and their potential family. Lucky for us, the meeting turned out in our favor, and we were able to take Red home. 

Though Red was, and remains, to be a furry ball of sunshine, he was sometimes as anxious as he was happy. This was something we learned when we took him home, when an introduction that had happened too soon quickly turned sour. Red, like most dogs who were afraid, reacted the only way he knew how: he became aggressive. Fortunately, nothing serious came of it. The only person (or animal, rather) Red never ever crossed was our 16-year-old cat, Dotty. She was the house alpha and established all the rules, which Red would learn later on. We found that the best way to ease Red into his new home was to take it one step at a time, whether we were introducing him to a new friend, bringing him on a walk, or teaching him a new trick. When it came to Red, “slow and steady” was our motto. 

Over time, Red’s bouts of anxiety subsided. What never went away was Red’s difficulty walking. We noticed this when we first took him home — he hadn’t been able to walk very far without stopping. This only worsened with time, and eventually resulted in multiple trips to a couple veterinary specialists. Red was experiencing serious spasms and after several tests, including an MRI, it turned out to be herniated discs in his lower back. While surgery was one option, it might’ve left Red incontinent or unable to walk. Since we didn’t want to risk either of these, we opted to take him to what’s now become twice-weekly appointments at an animal rehabilitation center. There, he receives acupuncture, physical, and has recently started aquatherapy. This has been ongoing for a year, and while it hasn’t cured Red of the problem, it’s helped alleviate some of the physical pain. What used to be hours of violent shaking and crying when a spasm hit has now been reduced to a passing, albeit painful, moment, which Red can recover from more quickly. Although the issue hasn’t helped his anxiety, we’ve also learned to become more patient and understanding with Red.

Red’s medical issues have required us to make some adjustments. For example, we avoid offering too many treats so as not to aggravate his back, and have cut our walks short. We’ve also placed dog beds in both our bedroom and living room, so in the evenings, he can lay underneath us and cozy up to our feet.  Despite the challenges he’s had to face in recent years, I’d like to think that it hasn’t completely overhauled Red’s quality of life. We still take him out, and whenever the opportunity arises, he expresses his excitement by talking or muttering — and on days he is really eager, he will howl. We call this his “happy attacks.” He is also very vocal when it comes time to eat or for the occasional treat. If there’s anything Red doesn’t like, it’s bath time. We shower him outside because every time we attempt to dry him off, he runs circles around the yard. And when Red gets a case of his world-class zoomies, you wouldn’t think he had any trouble walking. Eventually, though, he likes to bury his head in the towel, and wiggles his way under, out, and under the towels again, for as long as we let him. 

Our lives have changed a lot since we’ve adopted Red. While it wasn’t without curveballs and though he likes to embarrass us at times, we’ve learned to take things as they come and appreciate the smaller slices of life. We learn more about Red everyday, and though he continues to surprise us, I think we’ve come a long way. We know that he has a penchant for barking at non-neutered dogs, and to close the windows on the 4th of July because the sound of the fireworks trigger his anxiety. We’ve also come to understand that he’s not the tough 50-pound dog he makes himself out to be. Like any dog, he needs reassurance sometimes and a whole lot of love.

Want to share your dog’s adoption story? Email us at and tell us all about your four-legged family member and the impact they’ve made on you and your loved ones’ lives.