Out of the ashes of a heartbreaking story arises a heartwarming tale. When 25 pit bulls were recovered from a dog-fighting bust in Muncie, Indiana, Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner (CTP) James Turner gave one of the fatally-injured dogs the chance to experience something it had never experienced before—love and kindness. With no name and extensive wounds, the dog was named Wonder by James, "…because it's a wonder that he had any affection left." Wonder grew close to James, who was able to connect with the dog and give him comfort in the days before the dog was euthanized for his injuries.
"Somehow, God bonded our two hearts and this "vicious" dog had four days of love and affection for the first time in his life," says James. "Bonding and affection were new concepts for him, but for the first time, he was able to safely give love."
James is now mourning the loss of his friend—one special dog, one victim in a violent "sport" with no winners.
Although considered a felony in all 50 states, dog fighting continues to be a bloody reality. There are countless stories of horrifying abuse that dogs like Wonder have endured. But thanks to James Turner, this dog, previously unknown and uncared for, is now known by thousands. And so is Jame's courage and kindness. The Muncie City Council will be presenting James Turner with a "Good Citizens Award" for his work helping these animals.
"People stop me and ask if I am the 'Dog Listener,'" James says. "When I say yes, they say, 'Thank you for what you did for Wonder.'"
One individual even paid for Wonder's cremation and presented James with a beautiful box containing his friend's ashes.
Wonder's story is more than a story about cruelty and one man's kindness. It's a tale of a dog that in his final days became a "winner." The prosecutor told James that because he gave Wonder an identity, it will be Wonder that puts his abuser in prison.
"Wonder is finally free, and now his value will be recognized," says James. "My heart is filled with Wonder."
Thank you, James, for not only showing Wonder love and kindness in his final days, but for allowing us to learn from Wonder what winning is really about. This is a powerful example of how KPA CTPs are making lives better for animals in their communities.