"She looks so mean, I'm sure she is sweet but if looks could kill!" - Facebook user
The above photo was once Athena's "mugshot" while she was held at the county animal
The shelter where we adopted Athena from has a tradition of posting each dog's "mugshot" to their Facebook page as soon as the animal gets adopted. After bringing Athena home, I stalked the shelter's Facebook page hourly as I waited for her picture to be posted in celebration of her adoption. Once finally posted, many of the shelter's Facebook fans commented and congratulated Athena on finding her forever home (for the second time). Alongside the many positive comments came this comment: "She looks so mean, I'm sure she is sweet but if looks could kill!"
My heart was breaking inside as I read the comment over and over. I stared at the photo and tried to find the meanness that this person saw in Athena, but all I could find in her face was fear.
I will admit that the comment offended me, because obviously Athena is not a mean dog. The more that I thought about the comment, the more that I realized just how many shelter animals are often overlooked due to their one photo that is listed on a shelter's website. Many dogs don't stay at a shelter long enough to receive a biography written about them and therefore their mugshot is all that they have to lure a potential adopter in to meet them.
Would B and I have driven out to the shelter to meet Athena if all that we had seen was the above photo? I'm not sure. All I know is that Athena has brought so much happiness into our lives and as I look through the hundreds of pictures that we have taken of her the past few months, I don't see a mean or fearful dog. I see a dog who knows that she is home and that we will love her forever.