Pet parent Julienne Velmonte takes care of six dogs and four cats, but it’s André, her Parson Russell Terrier, who reminds her—in his own small way—how to be grateful and appreciative, especially when things always don’t go her way. When depression creeps in to smother her joys and clouds her mind, he lifts her spirits by cheering her up with his bouncy, affectionate demeanor.
As Julienne puts it, “André taught me to be grateful. He is appreciative of everything that is given to him because he came from a time and place where he had nothing. Also, he taught me that looks can be deceiving. He is my smallest dog and yet I find him to be the bravest and most daring.”
He is appreciative of everything that is given to him because he came from a time and place where he had nothing.
Julienne believes that André had been abandoned by a previous owner. He could show her a few tricks from the time she brought him home and adopted him in June 2017. But it was where she first found him that gave that scenario away. André was under the care of the guard of the Paranaque subdivision where Julienne and her family lived.
“The guard saw André walking around the streets and thought he was lost,” recalls Julienne. “He was afraid that the dog might get run over by a car. That was why he got André and brought him to the gate in case somebody claimed him.”
But no owner, sad and anxious at losing their Parson Russell Terrier, showed up, not even after a week. Nobody posted an inquiry or a reply at the subdivision’s community page on Facebook where the announcement of the finding of the lost yet energetic dog was made. Not long after, Julienne went to the guard’s gate and brought André home.
Maybe it was the way that he “smiled” at her that made her do it. Or maybe it was her years-long experience of being a happy pet parent that made the adoption natural and inevitable. Amazingly, for a dog lover like Julienne, it was also her first time.
Julienne believes that André had been abandoned by a previous owner. He could show her a few tricks from the time she brought him home and adopted him in June 2017.
Julienne elaborates, “Our family always had a soft spot for animals. I regularly donate to animal welfare charities since I cannot rescue or foster. But when I met André, he gave me a big smile and wagged his tail so hard. To me, it came across as if he’s saying he has found his forever human. After that encounter, I just couldn’t find it in my heart to leave him there at the guardhouse.”
Julienne’s mother, who is a veterinarian, checked Andre during those first few days at the Velmonte home and estimated that the Parson Russell Terrier was two years old—a teenager by dog standards—at the time of his abandonment.
Another thing that brought André close to Julienne’s heart was that he was a fighter and did not give in to the effects of a traumatic situation. As it turned out, Julienne’s husband gave him the right name, after Andre Ward, the American professional boxer who won multiple world titles and retired undefeated in 2017.
From the time he set foot in the Velmonte home, André made it clear that he wanted to be noticed. At that time, Julienne only had one other dog, a beagle named Henry, who soon became André’s furry brother. Sibling rivalry soon happened with André staking his claim in his new territory: his home and Julienne’s love.
“André fought Henry just to get our attention,” says Julienne. “He’d pick a fight with Henry out of the blue. Henry was docile but he also fought back when he was cornered.”
André and Henry soon overcame their differences and became frenemies. “Andre would look for Henry,” Julienne recalls. “Then they would play—but later on fight like two Alpha males.”
André did not hold back on giving Julienne his affection in return. “He’d want to ride in the car with me,” Julienne gives examples of his wanting to be with her. “He’d fuss over me while I’m sleeping. Then at 530 a.m., he would wake me up so that I can let him go out of the house to pee. Nangungulit at nanggigising.”
“André does not have a favorite food or meal because he eats everything,” Julienne says with a smile. “I believe this is because of his past life as a stray. He didn’t have the luxury of choosing what to eat because back then in his past life, he didn’t even know if he’s going to eat that day.”
In as much as he valued his place in Julienne’s heart, André did not skimp over what she gave him, especially in terms of food. “André does not have a favorite food or meal because he eats everything,” Julienne says with a smile. “I believe this is because of his past life as a stray. He didn’t have the luxury of choosing what to eat because back then in his past life, he didn’t even know if he’s going to eat that day.”
And during the tough times, André is there to share some of his battle-hardened courage with his pet parent. He comforted her when Henry passed away a few years ago, at the dog’s old age of ten years.
André became even more expressive of his affection to Julienne during her temporary phase of depression. Julienne, who works in maritime training and education, had to relocate to Bataan for work reasons, and the long-distance relationship with her husband did weigh heavily on her spirit. “André was more cuddly than ever. Through all of life’s disappointments, he has always been there. He was there when I was crying alone in bed.”
Things have improved since then, and Julienne is in a happier place now, with a larger pet family. André is still feisty as ever, but he acts that he knows he is secure in Julienne’s life.
“He has always had a happy disposition despite his background,” says Julienne. “One thing I learned from Andre is not to be negative despite what you are going through. It was how I overcame my depression.”
Gallery by The Pet Visuals: André
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