In Loving Memory - Halo
Halo was one of the most amazing dogs I have ever known. She came to form a part of our family, our life, and our hearts on September 2nd, 2006. My husband and I were looking to adopt a boxer, specifically from a shelter or a rescue organization. I was very excited when BRLA invited us to come meet some of the boxers. We had our list of pups we wanted to meet. I would've taken any of them home, but both my husband and I had to agree. One by one, each didn't seem right to him. Then, we were down to Halo on the list. Halo was a three-year old white female boxer. She came out to meet us, and boy was she gorgeous! Unlike the other boxers, she was very serious and calm when she met us. She did not jump on us nor lick us. She just sniffed and seemed to evaluate us as if she were adopting us. As we met, we were informed that she did not do well with other dogs or cats. That was no problem for us because she would be our only pet. We took her for a walk and it was then that we knew she was the ONE for us.
We brought her home and she surprised us at how well trained she was; nevertheless, she did have her issues. She certainly was dog aggressive and did not walk well on the leash at all! These were hints that she probably was not walked nor socialized enough in her previous life. No matter, we were going to train her and teach her how to be a good girl. We were very active and enjoyed the outdoors, naturally Halo came along with us anywhere dogs were allowed--runs at the beach, runs at the park, my husband’s soccer games, hiking in the mountains, and camping. She even helped us run errands by carrying groceries in her back pack!
While we had so much fun, those first few months had their challenges. Halo had separation anxiety. She scratched the door, learned to open doors, chewed four of our remote controls one after the other, and even chewed not one of my favorite pairs of shoes but two! All of those things didn't anger us, this behavior only served to motivate us to teach her that we would never abandon her. It broke my heart that she thought we would abandon her every time we walked out the door. But as time went on, she learned to overcome her separation anxiety and she learned to walk on the leash along with many other commands. However, she still lacked in social skills with other dogs.
Her aggression terrified me! During our walks I would panic when I would see other dogs coming down the street towards us. As soon as she spotted another dog, she focused in on them. She would sit and follow their every move as she trembled. Her fur stood straight up and if they got close, she would lunge at them. But by contrast, she was exceptionally well behaved with people. She loved meeting people and was ever gentle with children and babies. She would allow welcome the affection from anyone. She even allowed children to grab her bobtail, flip her floppy ears, or open her lips to see her teeth. I was in awe at her gentleness and her patience. I did not understand how Halo could be both so gentle and yet so aggressive with the other dogs.
In time though, I learned to overcome my fear. I learned how to be calm because Halo was able to pick up on my anxiety. More importantly, Halo learned to overcome her fear of other dogs as well. I found a dog day camp and boarding facility which accepted Halo. The last qualification on the list was Halo’s interview. The interview involved Halo being introduced to other dogs, at which time she could show no signs of aggression, nervousness or fear. Not surprisingly, I was concerned that Halo may not pass. However we believed in Halo and felt that she deserved the chance and so we scheduled the interview for a Saturday morning. The day of her interview appointment arrived. In an effort to drain all anxious energy we decided to load her backpack with water bottles rather than drive. Off we went on the 3 mile walk to the interview.
She went in for her interview and…she passed! She displayed no aggression towards the other dogs!!! The staff informed us that she was very well behaved and was welcomed into their camp. I will never forget the first day I saw Halo leash-free surrounded by other dogs. I felt as if my baby had been accepted into the best school in the world!!! We were SO proud of her and this gave us the courage to help Halo more so in overcoming her dog aggression.
We now knew she had the ability to control her aggression and we were determined to find her a buddy to play with. Enter Rock. Rock was a male boxer who was a lot bigger than Halo but was a gentle giant. All he wanted to do was play and have fun. Rock and Halo became BFFs! They played and she behaved wonderfully with him. At this point she was 8 years old and couldn't play and run around for too long, but I could see how much she enjoyed her playtime with Rock and it brought so much joy to my heart to see her run around with him.
Then on Christmas 2011, while we were out of town Halo was staying at the dog camp. I received the call that she had displayed symptoms of bloat. She was rushed to the emergency animal hospital, and they determined that she had GDV (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus). Although they tried everything to save her, she did not make it. We were devastated. We didn't understand. How could this happen?! She was very healthy and we took very good care of her. She had medical insurance with check-ups and exams every 6 months. She had no medical issues. How could this happen? We learned that bloat could happen to healthy dogs for no reason. We also learned that it is not entirely understood why some dogs suffer from bloat. I took it very very hard because I had never lost anyone that I had loved so dearly.
Halo was a significant part of our family, our lives, and our hearts. We miss her dearly. Today, we remember her with smiles. We remember her beauty, her intelligence, and her wiggle-butt dance that she did for us every time we walked in through the door. Some day we will go back to BRLA and welcome another boxer into our lives. For now, we remember Halo and cherish all the memories of joy. We also recall the lessons she taught us of
unconditional love, patience, trust, and second chances. Halo overcame her fear of other dogs, and that will always be one of my proudest accomplishments. Halo will never be forgotten and she can never be replaced. I hope her story encourages you if you are struggling with behavioral issues with your boxer. Remember that if we could do it—you can do it too.
Thank you Halo for your unconditional love!
Thank you BRLA for everything you do to rescue these wonderful dogs!
The Altan Family