The Pawgress Report

Brave is a rescue dog from Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Morgan Donell

Quiet, quirky and quizzical aren’t typical buzzwords to define a puppy, yet for sophomore Morgan Donell, they couldn’t be more accurate in describing her rescue dog.

Despite her timid characteristics, the peculiar pup would be affectionately named Brave.

Donell adopted Brave from the Sterling Animal Shelter, a nonprofit organization that functions as a no-kill shelter. “I couldn’t resist her eyes. Brave looked like she was straight out of an ASPCA commercial,” said Donell.

According to Donell, Brave had originally been a stray in Puerto Rico, a situation that is all too common on the island.

According to the Monmouth County SPCA, Puerto Rico has a terrible problem with animal overpopulation, abandonment and abuse. As a result, it is common to see stray dogs everywhere from beaches to downtown districts.

These strays are referred to as “Sato”, which is slang for mutt or a mixed breed. Due to their nature as mixed breeds, “Satos” can vary greatly in appearance, but they are often small-to-medium-sized dogs with large ears and stubby legs.

Through adoption, many “Satos” have found a second chance in loving homes and Brave is no exception.

However, due to previous neglect, it is often an arduous process to shift a dog’s perspective from solitude in the streets to companionship on the couch.

Since the time of her adoption, Brave has strived to live up to her lionhearted name. “She’s always been afraid of anything and everything. In fact, it took nearly six months to get her to leave the kitchen.

“But it was very rewarding to see her progress and gradually become more trusting towards us,” Donell said.

“She’s always been so quirky, and that makes it harder for people to understand her, but I love that about her,” she added.

If there’s one thing Brave isn’t shy about, it’s eating. “She loves food so much so that if I walk away from my dinner plate to get a drink, Brave will attempt to snatch whatever remains. So I have to keep an extra eye on her,” she said.

According to Donell, Brave will pretty much eat anything, including the occasional dumpster delicacy or a sample of gourmet garbage. However, when Brave isn’t exploring the more exotic tastes the world has to offer, she loves nothing more than a simple snack of ham or cheese.

Brave is a completely different dog depending on where she is, according to Donell. Inside Brave is super shy and quiet, but outside she is as rowdy and rambunctious as ever.

“She loves to be off-leash, and she always stays close to my side when we take walks. We never even had to train her to stay by us, she just does,” said Donell.

In tune with her conflicting name and demeanor, Brave sports one ear that carelessly flops to her side while the other perks up with a heightened poise to it.

If Yin-Yang ears don’t seal the deal on cuteness, Brave easily wins hearts over with her perfected puppy-dog eyes.

“It’s so hard to tell her no. She makes you feel bad even if you’ve done nothing wrong when she gives you those eyes,” said Donell.

They no longer reflect the panic and urgency she had back in the shelter. Instead, they are still, playful and calm, said Donell.

She may be quirky, quiet and oh-so-quizzical, but above all else she’s brave.

“She knows my car, and when I return home, she howls, she cries and gets overjoyed with excitement. … After all, I’m her mom and I miss her dearly when I’m away.”

Editor’s note: “The Pawgress Report” is a bi-weekly column featuring FSU students and their dogs

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