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Lessons in Forgiveness from a Rescued Dog

Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to most people, including me. Part of the basic human struggle, forgiveness is referenced in almost all religions and has been pondered by philosophers, therapists, and artists throughout history – and yet many of us still struggle to forgive. But dogs are different. They don’t hold grudges or let hurt define them. They instinctively live in, and for, the moment – and they have much to teach us about forgiveness.

Safe Humane Chicago's Court Case Dog Edwin's lessons in forgiveness

Rescuing Dogs From A Fighting Ring

Edwin was one of thirteen dogs rescued by the Chicago Police Department from a known dog fighter’s residence in November 2015. Edwin was in the worst condition of all the dogs: he was emaciated, his teeth were filed down, his left eye caved in, and his ears ripped. He was covered in bite marks, old scars as well as deep gaping wounds on his face, neck and front legs. His rear legs and lower back were also extremely weak with little muscle control.

Eyewitness accounts describe the scene as a dungeon from a horror movie – cold and dark with dogs chained to the walls and in small crates, living in their own waste without food or clean water. These dogs were trapped in unimaginable terror and misery for who knows how long.

Court Case Dog Edwin was rescued by Safe Humane Chicago and Guardians of The Green Mile
Photo courtesy of Guardians of the Green Mile

All thirteen dogs were brought to Chicago’s Animal Care and Control; seven were saved and five were humanely euthanized due to severe aggression towards humans and other dogs. The seven surviving dogs joined Safe Humane Chicago’s Court Case Dog Program.

Edwin’s current foster mom, Claire, remembers seeing his picture for the first time on Safe Humane Chicago‘s Facebook page. In spite of his obvious discomfort and the hell he had endured, Edwin looked out at the world with hope and light in his eyes. It was love at first sight and from that moment on she followed his progress closely, checking daily for updates. Because she was fostering another dog, Claire couldn’t take Edwin immediately, but she felt in her heart that their paths would eventually cross.

Court Case Dog Edwin's lessons in forgiveness and triumph over cruelty and pain
Photo courtesy of Guardians of the Green Mile

Court Case Dog Edwin Gets a Second Chance

Edwin remained at Chicago Animal Care and Control for about a month and then was rescued on Christmas Eve by Guardians of the Green Mile, an Indiana based rescue. Much of his first few months were spent visiting a variety of veterinary specialists and he soon began treatment for a severe bacterial infection. Sadly, he also tested positive for heartworm and Ehrlichia (a tick born disease similar to Lyme).

During the healing process, Edwin’s skin lesions were so terribly itchy that he had to wear t-shirts and take anti-anxiety medication to relax. Finding a food his body would tolerate was also a struggle, as he was so malnourished that his organs weren’t fully functioning. His condition was extremely fragile and they decided to delay treatment for his heartworm and Ehrlichia until he was stabilized and strong enough to endure the treatment.

Court Case Dog Edwin found is forever home with a family adored him and a very comfy couch

At the end of March 2016, his first foster family had to return him due to a family emergency. Still following his story, Claire jumped at the opportunity to welcome him into her home.

A year after being rescued, Edwin’s body is still healing though he has many scars and bare spots where his fur may never grow back. He recently started his treatment for Ehrlychia and continues to see a physical therapist weekly to strengthen his legs and lower back. Claire says that his strength and coordination are improving, but it is still difficult for him to sit and climb stairs. As a Safe Humane Chicago Court Case Dog, Edwin will also receive a lifetime of behavioral support.

Edwin currently lives peacefully with three other dogs and Claire hopes to adopt him once his treatment is complete. She describes Edwin as loyal and loving, and wants nothing more than to be a good boy and please her. “His heart is open. He is not judgmental or apprehensive about anyone. He has forgiven his past 150% and loves everyone he meets,” she says.

King Edwin's lessons in forgiveness from a rescued fighting dog
Photo courtesy of Guardians of the Green Mile

I met Edwin at a Safe Humane Chicago event in September and have been thinking about him ever since. His sweetness, resiliency, and enthusiasm for life are contagious. He harbors no resentment or baggage from his cruel and painful past – his body bares the scars, but his heart and spirit remain untouched and gentle. Edwin has forgiven the world for the violence and suffering he endured and perhaps, we should follow his lead. Make a fresh start, leaving our personal and collective baggage behind and move into the holidays and new year with forgiveness and compassion. It may feel impossible, but if Edwin can do it, so can we.

If you would like to help with Edwin’s ongoing medical bills, please visit Guardians of the Green Mile and make a contribution in his name. You can learn more about and support Safe Humane Chicago’s Court Case Dogs here.

Court Case Dog Edwin, a rescued fighting dog, spends his first Christmas in a forever home

Edwin Is Finally Home – UPDATE

Edwin was adopted in February 2017. He lived on a horse farm with three other dogs and a family who absolutely adored him. Sadly, he passed away on November 22, 2017, a month short of his two year rescue anniversary. Edwin was all about living in the moment and his heart was filled with love in spite of his painful past. His forgiveness and triumph over cruelty, indifference, and hate has inspired thousands around the world and his legacy of unconditional love will live on. Rest in peace, sweet Edwin.

Edwin is part of The Specials, an award-winning blog series focusing on special needs pet adoption. Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as overlooked or misunderstood breeds like Pits and black cats. If not for the courage and compassion of their adopters, many of these animals might have been euthanized in shelters or died alone and hungry on the streets. You can read more special needs adoption posts here.


  1. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat
    December 19, 2016 / 6:26 am

    What a handsome dog, with a horrific and heartbreaking story. Forgiveness often comes hard for us … and it's one of the many, many lessons we can learn from our furbabies 🙂 As I often tell people, Bear Cat is better than at least 99% of people I know.

  2. Bella Roxy & Macdui
    December 19, 2016 / 8:55 am

    A horrible story. We are so happy Edwin has been given a second chance. And that he has given humans another chance, too. What a big-hearted fellow!

  3. Bouncing Bertie
    December 19, 2016 / 8:58 am

    That is so heartening, to read that Edwin is now safe in a loving home and receiving all the help to enable him to be the best he can. What an inspiration!And well done Claire.Cheers, Gail.

  4. Molly and Mackie
    December 19, 2016 / 9:55 am

    You needed to do tissue alert at the start, Ruby. Our hearts are so happy for Edwin♥

  5. Mark Muller
    December 19, 2016 / 10:30 am

    my tears are sunning but I'm so happy for Edwin… thanks to all good people and I hope hope hope that this sick persons who initiate dog fights land in jail. all of them. they should feel the same what the dogs feel they misuse for this bloody and bad fights…

  6. Sketching with Dogs
    December 19, 2016 / 11:50 am

    Omg, it breaks my heart to see anything like this. Thank heavens he was rescued, he is such a beautiful dog. I hope there is a special place in hell for people who do these things.Lynne x

  7. Yamini MacLean
    December 19, 2016 / 12:45 pm

    Hari OMWhat a ruggedly handsome dude!!! I am so glad there are such peeps as Claire and all the rescue and support peeps to ensure Edwin never knows hurt again. Thank you for bringing us his story. YAM xx

  8. Sheltie Times
    December 19, 2016 / 1:08 pm

    So glad he's found a safe spot to land

  9. Frankie Furter and Ernie
    December 19, 2016 / 3:02 pm

    WE are THRILLED that Edwin ESCAPED that horrid situation and is now living in PEACE.

  10. Casey
    December 19, 2016 / 3:52 pm

    Oh Edwin, we are SO GLAD you were rescued and found a loving foster home and hopefully furever home! The things that people do to us dogs is just unbelievable, but we keep on wagging!

  11. Three Chatty Cats
    December 19, 2016 / 4:27 pm

    What a horrifying start to life for this poor dog, but a wonderful rescue story. Kudos to his foster parent and future adopter. I'm so glad that Edwin was saved.

  12. Madi and Mom
    December 19, 2016 / 6:28 pm

    Oh my word…how can one living creature do that to another. HORRID HORRID HORRID.I am a believer in what goes around comes around. They will get what they deserve.God Bless Edwin's foster family and sweet Edwin for somehow not hold a grudge against anything with 2 legs. Edwin sleeping peacefully with the Christmas tree in the background is beautifulHugs madi and cecilia

  13. Laika
    December 19, 2016 / 6:33 pm

    Poor Edwin. We are happy someone saved him, and even happier that he got a loving home 🙂

  14. ♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥
    December 19, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    It makes us all so very sad and breaks our hearts to know that there are furries who have to endure such horrific injustices. We send our very best wishes to Edwin to heal thoroughly and to his human for her loving care and very big heart.Woos – Lightning and Misty

  15. Jennifer Shafton
    December 19, 2016 / 7:59 pm

    It's beyond amazing how dogs can forgive and move forward after the cruelty and suffering they are put through in the hands of horrible people. If only people could learn from dogs the world would be a much better place.

  16. The Swiss Cats
    December 19, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    It's horrifying. Reading what happened to that poor dog before he was rescued is heartbreaking. We wish all the best to Edwin in his forever home. Purrs

  17. Bryn Nowell
    December 19, 2016 / 8:19 pm

    I'm so happy to know that there are good people in this world who help to care for animals who, unfortunately, suffered at the hands of other people. I hope to hear more success stories about Edwin. Thank you for sharing his story and for helping to raise funds to support medical care for dogs in need.

    • Christa Velbel
      December 22, 2016 / 8:39 pm

      Bryn, I'm with you — I would love to hear more about Edwin's progress. It's so heartening.

  18. Nellie Kowalik
    December 19, 2016 / 8:28 pm

    What some people do–should be done to them. then, maybe, they would change. KissesNellie

  19. Henry
    December 19, 2016 / 9:34 pm

    What a heart-breaking, but also amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing with us.Have a great week & Happy Holidays! Amanda

  20. Idaho PugRanch
    December 19, 2016 / 10:32 pm

    How heartbreaking that any animal should go through such abuse. So glad there is a happy ending herehugsMr Bailey, hazel & mabel

  21. Lola The Rescued Cat
    December 19, 2016 / 11:38 pm

    I knew I couldn't read this at work, and I was right. I would have been sobbing at my desk. Edwin has a beautiful soul, and it shines through his eyes. I am so happy he and the other dogs were save. And I hope the offenders got what they deserved. What a horrible thing for any living being to endure. Dawn

  22. 24 Paws of Love
    December 20, 2016 / 12:28 am

    So glad Edwin found a home and a new chance at life. Also glad he got the medical care he needed. Wonderful story.

  23. Brian
    December 20, 2016 / 1:29 am

    Such a joy he is and if there was ever a critter that deserves a great big happy it is Sir Edwin!

  24. Sara B.
    December 20, 2016 / 1:59 am

    Edwin is my God Child and I adore him. He is the sweetest and most loving dog I have ever met. The first time I met him I knew I had to be part of his life and help him in anyway I could!

  25. Sara B.
    December 20, 2016 / 2:04 am

    Edwin is my God Child. He is the sweetest most loving dog I have ever met. The first time I met Edwin I knew I had to be part of his life. I wanted to help provide for Edwin in anyway I could! I love this boy!!!

  26. Two French Bulldogs
    December 20, 2016 / 2:20 am

    Mommy got all chocked up. So happy you found a safe placeLily & Edward

  27. tubby3pug
    December 20, 2016 / 11:36 am

    Poor baby he's so cute

  28. Jan K
    December 20, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    It is so true that we can learn so much from dogs. What a heartbreaking yet amazing story Edwin has. Thank goodness he has found a safe place and we hope and pray he can fight through all of his illnesses and finally live a happy life. The important thing is that he is so loved by so many now.

  29. K9s OverCoffee
    December 21, 2016 / 2:28 am

    It is truly unbelievable what some people are capable of. My blood starts boiling when I think of that horror movie scene you described. Like someone else mentioned, I hope there is a place in hell for the scum that mistreats other creatures. Edwin does, indeed, teach us all a huge lesson.

  30. Valérie Desmet
    December 21, 2016 / 2:04 pm

    This story just breaks my heart :(! I always have to cry when I read stories like this! I'm SO delighted this handsome fella gets a 2nd chance! ATM, i'm fostering a little Stafford/shiba mix. She has some issues, but we're working through them. Hopefully she will find her forever home soon! <3

  31. Edie ThePug
    December 21, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    I have no words! How can people do such things! Edwin I wish you all the best in your new life

  32. Bocci
    December 21, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    Another gorgeously written story of bravery and hope. Hoping all the best for sweet Edwin!

  33. Dash Kitten
    December 21, 2016 / 8:31 pm

    What a brave dog. Well done that lovely pup. Good One and Merry Christmas Edwin.

  34. AmyShojai
    December 21, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    This made me cry. Lovely story and so glad Edwin has finally found peace and a safe place.

  35. Pawesome Cats
    December 21, 2016 / 9:14 pm

    What a heartbreaking story – although we're very happy that Edwin has found a loving and safe home now.

  36. Talent Hounds
    December 21, 2016 / 9:47 pm

    "They don't hold grudges or let hurt define them. They instinctively live in, and for, the moment – and they have much to teach us about forgiveness." Dogs are so amazing! Happy to see Edwin finally having the life he deserves. Merry Christmas!

  37. raisingyourpetsnaturally
    December 21, 2016 / 10:24 pm

    What an amazing dog. Such a soulful face. I'm glad he's in good hands now. Thank you.

  38. Cathy Armato
    December 22, 2016 / 12:54 am

    What an incredible story! Perfect for feeling some holiday story. What a special dog. Merry Christmas, Edwin, may love follow you for the rest of your life.Love & biscuits,Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  39. Cathy Armato
    December 22, 2016 / 12:54 am

    What an incredible story! Perfect for feeling some holiday story. What a special dog. Merry Christmas, Edwin, may love follow you for the rest of your life.Love & biscuits,Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    December 22, 2016 / 1:20 am

    This post made me cry and smile! :') It was so heartbreaking but heartwarming in the end. <3 What a miracle for Edwin to survive all that he's been through, because of us humans. We will be praying for his happy life full of love for rest of his life! <3 Thank you always for writing this special series!

  41. Ruth Epstein
    December 22, 2016 / 3:28 am

    What a sad story 🙁 but he was at one of the lucky ones to find a forever home, G-d Bless her

  42. meowmeowmans
    December 22, 2016 / 4:10 am

    This made me cry. First at the horrors and abuse that poor Edwin suffered, and then with joy that he was saved.

  43. Sweet Purrfections
    December 22, 2016 / 6:08 am

    I get so depressed when I read about abuse with animals/humans. I'm glad there was a happy ending to this story.

  44. Tenacious Little Terrier
    December 22, 2016 / 7:33 am

    I'm so glad he was saved! I hope the treatment is successful and he settles in nicely to his new home.

  45. Princely Paws
    January 3, 2017 / 1:28 pm

    What a heart breaking story but i am happy to know this ended well for Edwin. Thank you for creating awareness against dog fighting

  46. A Nelson
    January 10, 2017 / 5:36 pm

    What an incredible story, we're so happy he is getting a second chance and a happy ending.

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