We found him at a local park. My dad’s dog sitter, Halle, was walking our dogs. A dog then approached her, friendly and affectionate despite the fact that he was homeless. Not knowing what to do, Halle called my dad for help. He told her to bring him over. Charmed by the dog’s energetic personality, my dad decided that the dog would stay with him for now.

When I talked to my dad over the phone and he mentioned a new dog, I gushed with excitement. I love animals, especially dogs, which is a trait I inherited from my dad, the ultimate dog lover and protector. So the next time I visited my dad’s house, I was greeted by a new family member. Walking inside, a handsome Australian Shepherd rushed over to me, seeking attention from a new friend. His loving gold eyes staring at me, I wondered in astonishment how he could have ever ended up without a home.  My dad named him Kevyn, after the dog from the movie “The Proposal,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, in which Bullock’s character offers the small puffy dog as a sacrifice to the eagle that swiped her phone.

The name stuck. Petting Kevyn, I learned some new information about him from my dad. Living in the park, Kevyn most likely survived by digging through trash cans and eating bugs. One of his teeth was jammed into his jaw, so my dad suspected he had been abused before being abandoned. As a result, his jaw got infected and his breath smelled pungent, something my dad would later fix with surgery.

Anger and sadness hit me. Humans can be so cruel sometimes, even to animals that only desire companionship from us. While dealing with these emotions, I also felt extremely happy that Kevyn got to be a part of our family.

As time passed, I realized that Kevyn still displayed signs of past trauma. The first time my dad tried putting him in a dog cage, he freaked out and wiggled out of his grasp. He wouldn’t jump on the bed for fear of being reprimanded. He basked in attention, but if you tried hugging him from behind, Kevyn would immediately rotate his body so his back wasn’t vulnerable. Needless to say, it took time for him to completely trust his new owners. Eventually, one day, he jumped up on the bed as if it was something he always did. We had finally made a breakthrough.

Since then, I’ve learned so much from this animal. Yes, he had trust issues which will probably never really go away, but his positive energy and cheerfulness never wavered, something I struggle with at times. Bogged down by relationship problems and stress from school, I forget to just relax and be happy. Kevyn came from an abused background, but from the genuinely warm reception he still gave to human strangers, it was clear he was a forgiving dog. All creatures, humans included, have the power to move on from trauma and to still see the world in a positive light. So my advice is to see this world we inhabit from a dog’s perspective: with acceptance, forgiveness and a big heart.