"Broken" was the word Theresa Devins says Ringwood rescuers used over-and-over again to describe the German Shepherd she was hoping to adopt last November.
Not vicious. Not hostile. Just broken.
The dog was estimated to be around three years old and was kept in a pen with no human interaction except for when someone came to drop food for her for the entirety of her life.
Officials at Southern Paws were certain that Delilah would be a difficult turn-around and warned Devins right up until the late-November day she came to pick her up.
For months, Delilah sat in a corner of Devins' Danbury home with her back to the family ignoring everyone and everything.
But less than three months ago, Devins noticed that the sad and broken dog had found a friend in the family's other dog, a two-year-old Chinese Shar Pei named Pablo.
Weeks went by and the changes were small and happened slowly. But day by day, Delilah learned to love and trust -- largely because of Pablo.
"He brought her out," Devins said. "He's like this crazy little dog with a delightful personality and he brought her out.
"They fell in love."
Delilah has become a new dog. She has full-blown conversations with Devins every morning and stays by her desk at home all day long, happy to simply have company, her owner said: She's part of the pack.
"I felt like she was mine before I even met her," Devins said.
"I had to give her time. We all had to.
But now Delilah is home. And she gets better every day.
This isn't the first time that the Devins family rehabbed a dog. In fact, the first was Pablo -- a leftover puppy from his litter that no one else seemed to want.
His breeder warned Devins that he wouldn't go near people, but she soon realized he just couldn't see: There was only a tiny part of his eyes that wasn't covered by drooping skin.
"We had a surgeon cut all the skin away," said Devins, "and he went from most quiet, timid dog that lived under the dining room table to a clown."
The Devins family had been looking find Pablo a sibling and a new German Shepherd ever since their last died at 14 years old.
From the moment Devins laid eyes on Delilah's photo online, cooped up in her crate, she knew she was going to be the one to give her a better life. Her best life.
"Delilah was posted with us for about four months when Theresa called about her," Southern Paws owner Ashley Gardenier said.
"And even with how terrified she was, they still adopted her and were looking forward to working with her."
Devins looked at Delilah's photo every day for weeks since the first day she saw it. The first time she met the dog in person was when she drove from Connecticut to New Jersey to adopt her last November.
She noted how the rescue was extremely careful making sure that the Devins would be the perfect fit, calling each and every reference, going on home checks via FaceTime.
Even the night before the adoption, Gardenier warned Devins: "Delilah is broken."
Sure enough, when Devins arrived the next day, she saw for herself.
"I got there and she was broken," Devins said. "She wouldn't look at us."
The first month was hellish -- emotionally. Delilah sat in a corner and tried to make herself small. She didn't bark. She barely moved.
It broke the family's heart.
The glimmer of hope came in early spring, when Delilah began bonding with Pablo.
Devins, her husband and their two kids continued to give her space. They watched hopefully as the dog, slowly but surely, followed Pablo's lead.
It wasn't until last month that Delilah walked up to her new owners.
That was the turning point. Since then, Delilah has become a new dog.
"She's the most gentle thing," Devins said, teary-eyed.
"I still get choked up when I see that picture of her in her crate.
"But now she sits beside me at my desk all day every day, her eyes always on me knowing I’ll be here and be with her and talk to her.
"That’s what we did. But she's coming along and every day is better."
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