Bad Dog Gone Good

A true story, from a friend of mine, about the bravery of one dog that she didn’t want.




The day Snoopy came into our lives, he snatched victory from my hands and I resented him for it.  At this point in time, I was six months pregnant raising a wildly rambunctious animal loving naturalist and my husband was working and attending night school for journeyman pipefitting.  I was twenty-four and this pregnancy was not the walk in the park my first one had been.  The last thing I wanted was a dog, little did I know how important his presence was to our family.

We were at the Humane Society.  Mike, my husband, had promised our daughter a puppy when we got a home of our own.  I knew how to ask questions to make the volunteer turn us down for a puppy or dog.  I had been successful and we were leaving the Humane Society sans bigger mess for me. 

I had not counted on the fact that we might run into the “perfect dog” in the parking lot.  Yet, there he was. Tied in the back of a pickup with a rope around his neck.  My husband began the transfer of “Dopey” from the family that didn’t want him to Nickie, our oldest daughter.

Nickie was thrilled.  Her eyes lit brighter than any Christmas morn before or since.  She wrapped her arms around this skinny brown monster.  “He’s not Dopey.  He’s not stupid.  He’s a Snoopy.” And with that he was on his way to making me question my sanity and testing my patience. 

He had blown my victory out of the water and reminded me daily of all the reasons we did not need a dog.  He would steal packages of meat off the counter and eat package and all.  I began to think that I was having a bad case of pregnant brain.  He had barely been potty trained.  He left reminders everywhere.  He even instructed Nickie on the ways of peeing like a dog.  He knew how to open the fridge.  So, we had to buy a lock for it.  He knew how to operate the baby locks for the cabinet.  One time, even getting and devouring an entire can of beans. 

We were unaware that he belonged to a breed with a high prey drive.  So, our four foot chain link fence was a small hurdle to chasing rabbits.  He was constantly running off.  One evening, he had returned after being gone for almost a day and a half with 6 feet of thick rope trailing behind him.  I was disappointed by this mongrel once again.  It wasn’t until we were watching part of a dog show that we recognized the dog we had was a Rhodesian Ridgeback without a ridge and learned that most of his behaviors were breed specific.

 Of course, due to his wanderings, I had run-ins with the area dog catcher.  The worst one was when the dog catcher simply followed Snoopy home from his meanderings.  The moment the dog catcher got out of his truck, I saw a side of Snoopy that terrified me.  His heckles were up from nose to tail.  He was baring his teeth and his bark was loud and vicious.  I thought for sure I would get ticketed and Snoopy would be taken away for observation.  I did get a ticket but the dog catcher ignored the terrifying behavior.  I shrugged it off guessing all dogs hate the dog catcher.

This was just one more reason I hated this dog.  He tore up my home.  He made me think I was losing my mind.  He encouraged my daughter to lift her leg on her bed.  He had my husband and daughter mad at me for not liking him.  He was responsible for me having to go to a city hall meeting and pay a fine for dog at large.  I really hated this dog.  He was a walking disaster area but no matter my objections, he stayed.  I was overruled by team Snoopy.

We fell on hard times and ended up having to stay with my mother-in-law.  She lived near a lake on some acreage.  There were no fences and other dogs.  I thought this would be the best place.  Snoopy would run off and we’d never see him again.  I am so glad that dog was more loyal to us than I was to him. 

It was a mild early spring day.  I had two rug rats under my care.  Our youngest was just a few months old.  Nickie was in the living room watching cartoons.  I was in another room with her sister. 

I was in the middle of changing her diaper.  I looked up to see Nickie approaching the hind quarters of Boozer, my mother-in-law’s horse.  My heart filled with fear.  I knew what was coming next.  I knew that once Nickie touched that horse, she was a goner.  A boulder filled my gut with the weight of watching my daughter get killed by this horse.

From out of nowhere, a blur of red/brown knocked Nickie out of danger and went under and between the horse’s legs, drawing him away from her and into the pasture.  My mother-in-law grabbed the baby and I ran out to check Nickie for injuries.

Much to all of our surprise, she had no injuries.  We were shocked and stunned.  Snoopy had actually saved our lives.  The electric feeling from that moment was incredible and still gets me when I think about it.  I have never witnessed such loyalty and bravery from a dog.  Snoopy was a true hero.  He saved my daughter’s life.  He protected me from the guilt of having not been able to protect my child.  I owed this dog my enduring gratitude.  He was a true hero.  He had saved the little girl that saved him. 

During Snoopy’s later years he became diabetic.  I did everything to keep him healthy.  I tested his blood sugar.  I prepared his meals.  I gave him his insulin shots.  I fought to give him as much time with us as we had left.  After all, how could I not honor such a faithful companion?

He was eleven when we finally had to say goodbye.  I still cry about it now.  He was such a gentle giant.  He was a trouble maker for sure but his capacity to love us is something I will never forget.

After he passed we learned that Nickie was not the only beneficiary of Snoopy’s fierce loyalty.  Back when I was ticketed for Snoopy being at large and he was on the porch being vicious, the dog catcher turned out to be none other than the serial killer BTK, aka Dennis Rader.  When the local media announced his capture just months from saying goodbye to Snoopy, after chills swept through our bodies, we cried. 

Snoopy started out as a negative, in my eyes.  I had no idea that he had such an outstanding heart.  He knew that he had a hand in saving our whole family more than once.  He stands as a champion in our hearts.  There has never been another one like him.  Thanks to Snoopy I am much more loyal to our dogs and we have made it a point of finding the “trouble maker” dogs, adopting them and giving them the forever family they had always dreamed of. 

I am so grateful for Snoopy teaching me that the most troublesome dogs often come with the biggest hearts and the fiercest loyalty.  Due to his faith in us, we have been a forever home to many other dogs.  We have adopted them all from various organizations, no questions asked.  We look for the ones that no one else has wanted.  The returned dogs that others said were too much.  Snoopy showed me exactly what all that destructive energy can become if you just hang in there and love them like they love you, unconditionally.

6 thoughts on “Bad Dog Gone Good

  1. What a beautiful story! I really love it, Snoopy did even more than saving your daughter’s (or possibly even your) life. Even when he’s gone, he keeps saving other rescue dogs through you.

    1. Yeah, my friend has been an inspiration to me. The fervor that she cares for the “leftovers”(as she calls them) is an amazing testament to Snoopy and his bravery.

  2. Awww my god I cried during this. What a beautiful story and transformation and really captures the amazing bond between us and our dog. And that is CRAZY about the serial killer dog catcher!!! This story could be a movie! Better than Marley and Me! Very sad that snoopy has passed, but it sounds like he made many lives much better. Way to go snoopy!

  3. Wow! Amazing. I have 2 dogs that I love but they’ve never done anything impressive, plenty of annoyances though!! My aunt had a Rhodesian Ridgeback when I was a kid and sometimes we’d take care of it when she went out of town. EVERY SINGLE TIME that dog was at our house he would escape and take our border collie with her and they’d roam around the mountain for hours before returning home. My dog never ever ran away unless Jesse was visiting. But wow, what an amazing story. Curious if you ever saw her behave towards anyone else how she behaved towards the dog catcher?

  4. My friend tells me that Snoopy would growl at alcoholics but the way he behaved towards the dog catcher was a total one off. Thank you for the kind words. I fell in love with the story and asked her for permission to tell it because it is an enduring tale of the ripple effect.

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