Dogs earned the nickname “man’s best friend” in part because they’re so trusting and loyal. But one puppy’s misplaced trust almost cost him ʜɪs ʟɪꜰᴇ.
Sharon Norton, who works as an animal control officer in Brookhaven, Mississippi, received a call about an abandoned dog. Someone had seen the dog lounging in a recliner on the side of a road, next to a TV that had also been discarded.
As she pulled up to the scene, “I felt sick to my stomach,” she told Today. The puppy, about four months old, was not having a good time sitting there in the recliner — it was starving. Although whoever had abandoned the dog had left some kibble behind, it was not enough.
“That poor baby; he’d been a good four or five days without food,” Norton said. “I mean, he was skinny.”
She believes the pup, possibly a hound/Doberman pinscher mix, was patiently waiting for his owner to return for him and was too ᴛᴇʀʀɪꜰɪᴇᴅ to leave.
“He was just too sᴄᴀʀᴇᴅ because it was a strange area,” she said. “It’s a deserted road. On both sides it was nothing but woods,” she said, adding that a nearby interstate would have been particularly ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴏᴜs had he ventured away.
Initially, Norton couldn’t coax him off his chair. But she hand-fed him food and he quickly decided to trust her. As she carried him to her truck, she could feel his tail thumping against her back.
“He was so happy because he knew he was going to get food now. He was ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇᴅ and safe.”
Norton, who is also a veterinary technician, bathed the pup and got him medical care. She named him La-Z-Boy Gatson in honor of the recliner and road where she found him.
The vets and Norton took care of the healthy dog and put on weight to be ready for his adoption. And after La-Z-Boy Gatson’s story went viral, he was adopted by 32-year-old Dave Trammell. Trammell was thrilled for the chance to adopt the pup, who quickly adjusted to life in his new home.
“Something about the way he looked just touched me,” Trammell recalled meeting the dog for the first time. “He just looked so cute and sad.”
“He’s been through a lot, but I would say by day three or four, he was sleeping belly up right next to me — just settled in as ever,” he said. “I think he just wanted to have a home. You could tell he was really appreciative when we got here.”
La-Z-Boy loves playing with the couple’s other ʀᴇsᴄᴜᴇ dog, Penelope, a 9-month-old mixed-breed dog. The two have become fast friends.
Trammell hopes La-Z-Boy Gatson’s story will inspire other people to give pets a second chance by adopting animals from shelters. Even when dogs have experienced ᴛʀᴀᴜᴍᴀ like La-Z-Boy Gatson, they can make wonderful pets, he said.