Orville is a 101/2-year-old Labrador retriever who came to the Sanctuary as a stray from a neighboring community. This poor guy was overweight and in lots of generalized pain, and as a result, very cranky. But luckily all the people taking care of Orville at the Sanctuary realized that his bad temper was likely because of how uncomfortable and scared he was.

Pain can make anyone grumpy. And Orville didn’t have any other way to show caregivers where it hurt but to snap in their general direction when they did anything remotely painful. He also knew that the best defense was a strong offense, so if he thought you might try to do something that was apt to hurt him, he'd go for you. Leashing him was not something he was going to allow without a fight. But fighting was the absolute last thing on anyone's mind.

So very carefully Dogtown caregivers started to try to help Orville realize that they weren't going to hurt him. And of course, he went right over to the Clinic to start to find the source of his pain and get him relief. It was an odd and at times comical balancing act. Orville really like to get out of his run, and hang out with people. You just couldn’t touch him. He also showed an interest in getting outside to sit in the sun and to slowly amble around and take in the sights and smells. But how do you get him from here to there safely without attaching a leash to his collar?

Very slowly, it turns out, Dogtown operations manager Chris V. discovered that if you just looped a leash over Orville's head and let the leash drag he didn't seem to object. And as he ambled about in the sunshine, he didn't move very fast, so caregivers could grab the drag leash before Orville could get into any trouble. He would walk slowly up to the admissions play yard to sniff and explore. He’d wade in a kiddie pool. He had fun!

When he was done, the caregivers would basically “clear the runway” and loop the leash back over Orville’s head, and he’d walk himself back to the admissions building to take his nap. Of course, they were right there when he made his way back to admissions, but good old Orville was a man on a mission and went straight to the door.

Orville ambles back to admissions

Time and pain medication started to transform Orville. He's less grumpy old man and more distinguished gentleman. He has learned to walk wearing a harness. And most important of all, his pain has been minimized and he is feeling confident and safe enough so that he no longer snaps first, but is willing to take a chance that you don’t mean him any harm. And that has allowed us to try even more ways to make Orville feel better such as hydrotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, laser — you name it. If Orville will let us try it, we’ve tried it. And the benefits are showing in his happy face, when before it was suspicious and fearful.

Orville is now ready to find a home of his own. This reformed grumpy old man really just needs a kind human pal to spend his golden years with — someone to help him onto the couch from time to time if he needs it, and someone who will just love him for the character he is.