Adopted Dog Helps Middle School Student Find His Confidence

Fred’s unconditional love helped Jordan overcome bullying and find his smile again.

Jordan + Fred

When bullying left Jordan feeling self-conscious and isolated, Fred showed him the true meaning of unconditional love.

"Just six months after Fred joined our family, Jordan asked to go out in public for the first time in years, as long as Fred went too."

Fred the dog

The world can be a rough place for animals and for people. As adults, we learn to cope with the tough times, but for children, it’s much harder. When our kids struggle, we struggle, figuring out how to erase the pain, turn back the clock and prevent bad things from happening. My son went through this. I tried everything to help him, but nothing I did seemed to make the situation better. Until we met Fred.

My son’s name is Jordan, and he has Alopecia. We live in an area that lacks diversity, and Jordan has always been one of the only kids in school with a different skin color. He has endured bullying because of this, and because he has no hair, no eyebrows, and no eyelashes. As Jordan finished elementary school, I saw a change in his personality. My happy, smiling, outgoing child became moody, sad, and isolated. Middle school started and the bullying intensified. Jordan refused to go to school, stopped playing sports, and wouldn’t spend time with friends. Soon, he wouldn’t go outside to play in his own backyard.

Fred the dog and Jordan

We’d always been a cat household, but Jordan asked if we could get a dog. He was lonely and needed a friend who wouldn’t ask questions, make judgements, or crack jokes. I reached out to Paws for Life, where we’d adopted our cat. We received an immediate response, “You have to meet Fred.”

Our lives have never been the same. Fred instantly loved our cat and the two of us. We learned that Fred came from neglect, and he’d spent two years in a crate. His nails curled under, causing him to walk funny. He had a skin condition, hip dysplasia, and torn ACLs. In addition to surgery, Fred needed a lot of TLC. But he trusted and loved us instantly, as if he knew his life was about to turn around, that he’d found people who would take care of him and meet his needs.

Fred the dog and Jordan

Paws for Life covered Fred’s medical expenses while we cared for him during recovery. It was such a bonding experience for us. He needed us and we needed him. Jordan had found the unconditional love he craved, a judgement-free zone where he could just be himself. I saw my son smile again. His bond with Fred is immeasurable. Soon, Jordan was venturing out of the house, throwing toys for Fred in the backyard. Just six months after Fred joined our family, Jordan asked to go out in public for the first time in years, as long as Fred went too. They now take walks together around the neighborhood. Fred joins us for car rides when we need to run out. They spend endless hours together. Fred can now run, jump, and play. Jordan can now smile, laugh, and play, and I can breathe again watching my kid come back from the brink of emptiness. My son had given up on having a best friend. He’d given up on almost everything. Until Fred.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Cheri won Paws for Life Animal Rescue in Michigan a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.

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