Moment of hope in overwhelming week at shelter

Summertime at South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter is like Christmas season in the retail business. The pace is frantic, the hours are long, and it’s a make-it-or-break-it situation. The animals pour in the doors, brought in by animal control officers, citizens finding strays, and owners unable to keep their pets or the offspring of their pets. With the building population at its height, staff and volunteers must spend long hours making sure all the animals get the care and attention that they so desperately need. The pressure to find homes and rescues for all of them is overwhelming.

Last week was especially difficult, because it seemed as though the rest of the world was on vacation. Adoptions were slow and no shelters or rescues were accepting transfers. On top of the usual craziness, all the electronics in the building seemed to have some sort of problem; the air conditioning was on the blink, the phones were acting up, the computers were having issues and the alarm system was going off repeatedly for no apparent reason. It was the kind of week that made me think I might enjoy a career as a barista or maybe a receptionist somewhere. But then, late Friday afternoon, I was reminded of what’s really important, when a couple of my former foster pets came in for a visit.

One of the most rewarding things in my life is to foster animals until they are ready for adoption. It can be a tough letting go when that time comes, but it is worth every moment of angst to see those animals become part of a loving family. If you are familiar with this column, you probably remember the stories about the Valentine litter that I had; born right before Christmas and adopted out in February, they and their mother were one of the highlights of my fostering experiences.

The mother is very special to me; she was part of my family for three months, and l loved experiencing the birth and raising of her pups. She had come from a rough

situation, pregnant and running loose on the streets of Bridgeton, but her luck certainly changed once the animal control officer brought her into the shelter. After delivering and weaning her pups, when the time came for her to be adopted out, it just so happened that the absolute perfect home needed a little girl like her to help fill the void of a beloved Schnauzer they had lost just before Christmas. Searching through the pets listed on the shelter’s website, the little dog’s wiry hair and intelligent eyes caught their attention right away. My precious mama dog, now Gidget, was on her way to live the life of an adored and pampered member of the family.

As fate had it, she would not be the only one of my foster animals to end up in the Burgos’ home. Having suffered the loss of another senior dog, they were soon on the

When they came in to see me last week, they were like a breath of fresh air. What a great job, I thought; who else gets to experience the fruit of their labors in the form of wagging tails and excited kisses? Even if only for a few precious moments, the furious pace of the shelter and the aggravation of the malfunctioning electronics seemed to fade away in the happiness of the reunion.lookout for another companion. As if by divine intervention, I got a text message from them about their possible interest in adopting another pet right at the time that I had a new foster pup. I was ecstatic to be able to place another dog in such a wonderful home.

You don’t have to work at the shelter to experience the joy of rescuing pets. Become a foster parent today. Check out our website at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org for more information on becoming a foster hero.

Source: Moment of hope in overwhelming week at shelter

Some heroes wear leashes instead of capes

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland has dogs of all shapes and sizes — dogs who aren’t going to ever judge you.

It was a heroic week in the world of dogs! Two really cool stories about dogs rescuing their owners came through last week. It’s wonderful to see some positive press about dogs, especially because one of these dogs is a bully breed, which is typically featured in a negative light in the media. The other dog is a special-needs senior.

The special-needs senior, a cattle dog named Max, became a hero when his 3-year-old girl became lost in the Australian bush. Clearly, this is an extremely dangerous situation. The little girl was fortunate that Max followed her and stayed with her through the night. The next day, Max was able to find the girl’s grandmother and lead her back to the child to rescue her. Amazingly, Max is 17 years old, deaf and partially blind. None of his disabilities stopped him when his girl needed help. The local police department responded by making Max an honorary police officer.

Sasha is an 8-month-old pit bull who saved her entire family from a fire in California. Her family claims they don’t typically keep Sasha outside, but that night she happened to be outside and was the first one alerted to the presence of the quick-moving fire. Sasha created a fuss, banging on the door and barking until her owner woke up. As soon as the owner opened the door to see what was going on, Sasha bolted past her, up the stairs and into the room of the 7-month-old baby. Before the owner even realized what was happening, Sasha had grabbed the baby by the diaper and was removing him from the danger. Thanks to Sasha’s alertness, although their apartment was destroyed, the entire family remained safe.

Doing a quick internet search will reveal many, many instances in which dogs heroically rescued people. Police and military dogs take on rescue missions every single day; heroism is part of their job description. There are other dogs who are more quietly heroic – therapy dogs who improve people’s quality of life, service dogs who guide the blind and sense impending medical emergencies. There are dogs who comfort victims of trauma and dogs who help kids learn to read.

Even “regular” dogs can be heroes. Working at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, I have the pleasure of being able to talk to many families about their experiences with pets. Many times, I have heard, “This dog saved my life.” It may not be a rescue from a fire, but sometimes a pet can provide the type of support that allows people at their lowest to keep going. A pet reminds them that they are needed and valuable; their pet needs them to take care of them. A pet provides comfort at any time during the day or night. There is just nothing quite like a pet.

Where do these hero dogs come from? Well, they can come from anywhere. But the best place to find your own personal hero is the shelter. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland has dogs of all shapes and sizes; dogs who aren’t going to ever judge you, and just want to be your family and be there for you. If you find yourself feeling lost or in need of companionship, the animal shelter is the place you need to go.

Source: Some heroes wear leashes instead of capes

A dog determined to go home from the shelter

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; love is blind … and often unexpected. Such was the case for the Fifth family when they came into the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter a few years back looking to adopt one of our big, beefy pit bulls. Mrs. Fifth is big into rescuing the breed, and the family already had a particular dog in mind when they visited. The new pet was to be a birthday gift for their daughter. What none of them expected was to leave the shelter with a half blind Chihuahua/terrier mix that was in pretty rough shape from his time on the streets of Vineland.

Although they had come to meet one of our female pits, you can’t walk into the adoption rooms and not take a look at everybody. Most people who come to the shelter with hopes of adopting like to walk through both the cat and dog rooms, even if they are looking for one specific thing. Curiosity is a wonderful thing and sometimes leads us down paths we hadn’t expected. In the Fifth family’s case, their find was the same species, just in a much smaller package.

As they toured the dog adoption room they came across Butterbean, a pint-sized, scruffy Chihuahua mix who decided this family was meant for him and he was going to get to them – even if he had to dig his way out of the concrete kennel! As they approached his kennel, he took one look at them and started to dig furiously at the floor as if to tunnel his way out to them. His attempts paid off, because he got their attention very quickly and the “love at first sight” thing seemed to go both ways.

Dobby, formerly known as Butterbean, has been a very happy addition to their household and a fixture on Mom’s lap. They are so enamored with him that they have entered him in the shelter’s Dog of the Year Contest. You can vote for Dobby or any of our 12 contestants online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

It’s wonderful that we are able to have such immediate connections with animals, especially when it flies in the face of our preconceived notions. The key of course, is to be realistic about whether the pet you fall for fits into your lifestyle in a manner that suits you both. Dobby’s situation was good because small packages can fit into large spaces, but the opposite can be challenging. People often come in looking for small dogs but are attracted to a big dog or a puppy that will grow into a much larger animal than they had in mind. Serious thought needs to given before taking in a pet whose needs are not what you had planned for. My Old English Sheepdog is from a rescue that took her in when her original owners could no longer keep her. She had been purchased at 8 weeks old as a present for the man’s girlfriend. They lived in a small, third-floor condo. At 13 weeks, the pup had grown to 28 pounds and they figured out very quickly that she was not going to fit into their apartment-style living.

Both Dobby and my sheepdog had wonderful endings to their stories, but the shelter often receives dogs who have outgrown their owner’s ability, or desire, to care for them. We have pets of a wide range of size and age at the shelter. We’d love to have you come in and meet your perfect match.

Source: A dog determined to go home from the shelter

South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: A deaf puppy’s inspiring story

Harry Potter, now Cole (center), sits for a photo with Santain 2017 with his canine siblings.

There are all sorts of challenges that shelter animals face when they are vying for the attention of potential adopters. They can’t all be cute puppies or kittens. They may not be wiggly and happy because of the anxiety of being kenneled or caged. They may be diamonds in the rough who need some time to gain some weight or get their fur to shine. Many things can stand in their way.

Such was the case for a gangly American Bulldog pup who was brought into the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter as a stray back in March of 2017. He was only 4 or 5 months old, which was a huge advantage, but he was deaf and had not been trained in any way. These are HUGE red flags for adopters, making his future very uncertain. Even at his age, rescues for deaf dogs are very difficult to get into because of volume and the time needed to train these special-needs dogs.

For this particular puppy though, his handicap is what attracted the man who would turn his world around. Chris Hannah, a music teacher from Mennies Elementary School in Vineland, would just be starting his search for a new companion to bring a little joy into his life when, at the same time, “Harry Potter” found himself in the clutches of an animal control officer and wound up at the shelter. Chris pulled up our website, clicked on the adoptable dogs section and found the perfect match on his very first search! It so happens that Chris is very involved in the life of his nephew (the two-legged kind), who also is deaf, and knew the minute he saw the puppy online that fate was calling.

Fast forward one year, the renamed “Cole” has become a mascot of sorts, attending many school events and now becoming involved in the Read Across America program at Mennies. The kids in second through fifth grades have come up with their own story, “Captain Cochlear & Maestro Mutt,” about Chris’s nephew and this very lucky dog. It’s a big week as the pup is also taking his Canine Good Citizen test, which is the first step in his quest to become a therapy dog for deaf and hearing-impaired children.

When training Cole, Chris wanted to use American Sign Language so that users of ASL would be able interact with the dog. Some slight alterations were made to make the signals easily readable for the dog. A trainer helped Chris with a remote collar that is used to get Cole to focus on his hands. Apparently Cole is a quick and eager learner, something I’m sure Chris wishes from all his students.

Audrey

This story is a great reminder that all things are possible. Although we viewed Cole’s deafness as a detriment to finding a home, it turned out to be his lucky charm

On top of all his accomplishments, we have just learned that Cole will be a contestant in our 10th annual Dog Of The Year contest, which kicks off in April. Over the past nine years, this contest has raised more than $130,000 for our shelter animals. It’s a great way for our former shelter dogs and their adopters to support the homeless pets who are in the shelter waiting to find their special person or family.

Source: South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: A deaf puppy’s inspiring story

Special help available for senior dogs, owners

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland is proud to have been selected as a Grey Muzzle Organization grant recipient this year.

The Grey Muzzle Organization is a wonderful organization that funds programs run by shelters and rescues that benefit senior dogs. We have had this honor in the past, and our Grey Muzzle grants have helped to form and sustain our shelter’s Senior Society. This year’s grant is extra special because it allows us to expand our Senior Society to include community outreach and owner surrender prevention.

In addition to providing medical care for senior dogs who have been released to the shelter, were found as strays or are cruelty cases, we are now also able to offer assistance to members of our community who own senior dogs they want to keep but just need some help to be able to do so. We recognize that the best place for senior dogs is with the family who loves them, and now we have the ability to provide assistance to some families to keep them there!

We also have had situations where it’s not possible to support the dog staying home. We always strive to respect owners and their particular situation. The welfare of the animal is most important, but as a community-based program, working with and respecting owners is a part of our program as well. When these situations arise, we try to determine if it’s in the dog’s best welfare to be immediately brought to the shelter for care or if we have time to try to find a home or rescue for the dog so he can skip the often stressful shelter stay.

We are currently working with both situations:

  • Scooter’s family reached out for help and he was released to the shelter this weekend because he had developed a medical condition that needed medical care. He’s now receiving medication and soon will be looking for a new home.
  • We are also helping Mikey, a 15-year-old Corgi mix whose family is unable to care for him. They are keeping him at home until we find a family that can better meet his needs.

We also provide hospice care for senior dogs who have medical conditions that we cannot fix. We can give them lots of love and comfort and dignity as they finish out their time with us. We are currently providing a beautiful Labrador named Buddy with hospice care; he’s very loved in a foster home and receiving medication and special food to keep him feeling his best. We are seeking sponsors for Buddy’s prescription food, as we hope to be able to need it for months to come! This is a wonderful way to help us help our seniors.

And, of course, we continue to provide care for the many senior dogs that arrive as strays. We try to get our seniors into foster homes, where they are more comfortable. That’s the case with Amigo, who has been waiting for over 100 days to find a home! He’s a staff and volunteer favorite, and awesome just pours out of him like rays of sunshine! He’s perfect with other dogs and cats, and housebroken. He’s an outdoor enthusiast – loving trees and water and leaves and sunshine and dirt. If you need a devoted companion in your life, he’s the perfect AMIGO for you.

We also are caring for Jack, another favorite of staff and volunteers, who hasn’t found a forever or a foster home yet. Jack is a boxer/bulldog mix who is 8 years old and just about as lovely as they come.  He’s very well-trained, housebroken, neutered and just waiting to offer you his big paw as a sign of goodwill. He loves when volunteers snuggle in his kennel with him. He’s been a bit stiff, living in a kennel during the winter, but fortunately our Grey Muzzle Organization grant has allowed us to keep him comfortable with medication. Jack is a big boy; the only thing bigger than his paws are his heart. Jack would love to find a warm home to curl up in sooner rather than later. Come visit him at the shelter.

For more information about adoptable Senior Society dogs, sponsorship opportunities, fostering or hospice opportunities, or to seek help with a senior dog, please contact me at Rescuepartners@cumberlandcountyspca.org.

Source: Special help available for senior dogs, owners

Bittersweet victory for SPCA’s Dog of the Year

For the past nine years, the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has held a Dog of the Year competition, and it has been one of the most successful fundraisers in the history of our organization. The contest is run with 12 of our adoptees vying to raise the most money to support the animals we are currently caring for in the shelter. It’s a wonderful way for the adopters of these beloved pets to show off their candidates while helping to ensure the future of homeless pets.This year’s format was a bit different in that the dogs in the contest all belonged to our staff and board members. Whether in the hallways of the shelter or out in the cyber world, it made for some rough and tumble competition! When it was all said and done, the winner of the competition was none other than Rosco, a classy and dignified Schnauzer belonging to the president of our board of directors

Rosco originally came to us as a stray from Carneys Point back in April 2011. A middle-age adult at that time, he was purebred, perfectly groomed, perfectly behaved, housebroken and mannerly. None of us could ever understand why no one ever came to look for this perfect little guy. Even after 30 years in this industry, I am amazed at the animals that are never reclaimed by their original owners. We receive a very large percentage of stray pets that have obviously been well cared for, trained and loved, yet no one comes looking. Well, apparently it was meant to be because that person’s loss was his new mom’s gain; a more perfect match was never made.

Rosemary and Rosco became constant companions. He was stubborn, independent and had a mind of his own; yet, he was well-behaved, loving and always up for a new adventure. He loved car rides and, when it was time to buy a new vehicle, the back seat had to have just the right set-up for Rosco to ride comfortably and it had to afford him a great view. He loved long walks, going to the dog park, and sniffing every blade of grass and every tree trunk he came across. Being so well-traveled, he also became widely known and loved by many. It was a successful adoption in every way, shape and form.They were the perfect team to enter the Dog of the Year competition and they blew everyone out of the water, raising over $6,000. Sadly, though, in a heartbreaking turn of events, Rosco became ill during the summer and in spite of receiving the very best veterinary care, they were not able determine the source of his problem and he did not survive. It is a horrible thing to lose your four-legged soulmate. It is especially hard when they go before their time.A new study published Friday found dog owners generally had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, compared to those who didn’t own a dog. Video provided by Newsy NewslookHis victory as Dog of the Year is bittersweet, but it is gratifying to know that he was loved and celebrated. For everyone involved in the contest, it was a very emotional end to wonderful year of competition and camaraderie.

Overall, the 2017 contest raised $18,000; the fight was so fierce that the third-, fourth- and fifth-place winners were with $16 of each other. We’re very proud of our two-legged competitors; they are comprised of a highly dedicated group of people who truly go the extra mile for the shelter.

The funds raised this year bring the total of the DOY contest over the years to more than $150,000. Imagine all the animals that have been saved by those efforts. Thanks to all of you who helped support the candidates with your donations – we appreciate your kindness.

Source: Bittersweet victory for SPCA’s Dog of the Year

Harvey, Irma bring challenges to SPCA in Vineland

This summer has been an extremely fast-paced season here at the shelter. As it should be, pets have been flying out the door – through adoptions, transfers to our sister shelters, and help from our rescue partners. Sadly, though, animals continue to pour in the door, leaving the staff at the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in a constant whirlwind of trying to address the needs of thousands of cats and dogs.Our cages and kennels have been completely filled all summer long, and now, with the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, our options to move animals out to other organizations have dried up as those shelters and rescues are trying to absorb thousands of displaced animals from those disaster areas. What does this mean for the homeless pet here in our shelter? It means they need you more than ever.

You may have seen some local new stories about other shelters in New Jersey taking in shipments of animals from down South and out West; those shelters are the same shelters that typically take our overflow. This leaves us with no transfer options and completely dependent on adoptions. We normally send an average of 150 cats and dogs out to our partners every month, so you can imagine the pinch we’re in. More importantly, please try to imagine the pinch our homeless pets are in.We get new animals in every single day of the year, but we also have some who have been sitting here, passed over time and again while others are chosen and whisked off to their new lives. The cute ones, the young ones, the ones that come in with a sob story behind them, are always the first to be chosen. It’s hard to watch dogs and cats whom we know to have wonderful personalities be left behind because they are Plain Janes or a little long in the tooth or, heaven forbid, have some pit bull mixed in somewhere.

We have little miss Nessa Rose who has been with us for almost two months now. She’s just a little over a year old and has a fantastic personality. Although she has the slighter build and pushed-in face of a boxer, she also has the misfortune of having some pit in her mix. And she has one of those faces “only a mother could love.” She’s truly one of the nicest dogs you’ll ever meet, but no one even notices her.We have a wonderful classic tabby named Connie, who has been with us since July. Tired of being cooped up in her cage in the adoption room, she wheedled her way into the heart of one of our staff and has now taken up residence in her office. Connie is about 8 years old, so she’s a “mature adult.” Are you familiar with the pop song “All About That Bass”? Well, if she could sing, she’d be all about that song; she’s no “stick figure Barbie doll” and she rather likes to throw her weight around. Her age and her matronly figure have worked against her, making her another great pet who gets overlooked.

We also have kittens of every description, and dogs of every size and age, who need to be adopted. If we can just get through the next month or so, the number of incoming animals will slow down and our partners will be back to accepting our overflow. But for now, please consider making one of our homeless pets a success story by taking one home.

Source: Harvey, Irma bring challenges to SPCA in Vineland

Rescue of a lifetime for Wilbur

Most of us are familiar with the classic novel “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, in which a young pig named Wilbur, who was destined for slaughter, is befriended by a young girl and a kindly and creative spider. The spider, Charlotte, spun webs with words in them to convince the farmer that Wilbur was an exceptional pig and his life should be spared. Messages like “Some pig” and “Radiant” appeared in her web, and Wilbur’s life was not only celebrated, but spared. The Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had a Wilbur, with a story that draws several comparisons to the novel. Named Wilbur because of his adorable snout, our Wilbur was a 60-pound, chocolate-colored mix of pit bull and boxer. He arrived at the SPCA shelter on Jan. 23 after being picked up by animal control. Although our goal from the moment he arrived was to find him a great home, he faced many challenges on his long road that threatened his life, but was also given help from special friends.

Wilbur hung out at the shelter pretty uneventfully for his first few months. Although he was a handful, he won everyone over with his affectionate personality. We did grow alarmed as the weeks went by and Wilbur had no interest from adopters or rescues. By the time April arrived, Wilbur’s stress level was extremely high and kennel space became tight; we felt like our desperate pleas for Wilbur were unheard and, unfortunately, there was no word-weaving spider to be found in his kennel to draw attention to him. Wilbur was timestamped, a term that refers to a time limit placed on a dog or cat before they are euthanized.

It’s important to understand that euthanizing an animal the shelter is always a last resort. Every single staff member who works at the shelter is there for love of the animals; euthanasia is something we dread and do everything we can to avoid. But as an open-intake shelter, sometimes it is unavoidable. When space has to be made for incoming animals, there is no good choice. When an animal’s quality of life has declined and no help is to be found, there is no good choice. A timestamp is a final chance to find help that we already had been desperately seeking.Wilbur was lucky and received an adoption application, but only a few short weeks later, Wilbur was returned to the shelter. He was too much for the family, and Wilbur was again in limbo. He was timestamped again – dogs were pouring in and there was no space. At the end of the timestamp, there was no interest in Wilbur, but we had moved over 10 dogs into rescues, so we were able to give him more time. However by the next weekend we had received notice of 20-plus dogs on a property in Bridgeton that we would be taking in, and once again Wilbur found himself with a timestamp. The rollercoaster began again. Hours before his timestamp was up, someone put in an adoption application, but that night they withdrew it – they weren’t as prepared as they promised me they were. I felt despair. Despite all our efforts, I thought for sure Wilbur would be gone in the morning, and it was extremely painful. While he had many online followers who were quite passionate about him, the shelter staff and volunteers were his caregivers. We were hands-on with him, dealing with the bruises his bad manners left yet seeing his potential when he flopped over for belly rubs. No one could feel the high of thinking he was saved or the low of imagining holding his sweet face while he passed like the people who were with him every day.

Wilbur somehow managed to get incredibly lucky again: A local young woman, with the experience he needed, offered to help him and actually showed up prepared to do so. The pieces finally fell into place for Wilbur – a dog meet was successful, TLC Rescue agreed to take him into its care, and his new foster was all set to take him home. Wilbur is alive and thriving in rescue today. He will be ready for an adoptive home once he decompresses and completes his training. We are extremely grateful for Madeline, who took on the task that no one else would: bringing him into her home and taking on his training. Thank you to TLC Rescue in Millville for taking him into its rescue and providing support for his new foster mom. A special thanks to the volunteers and staff members at the shelter who spent months refusing to give up on Wilbur and making sure that he received the exercise and enrichment he needed to make it out.  Although Wilbur has moved on, we will never forget him. That Wilbur, he sure is “Some Dog.”

Source: Rescue of a lifetime for Wilbur

One call from Bridgeton means 25 more dogs

Our Fourth of July weekend started out with a real bang here at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter! I think I must have jinxed myself as I was sitting at my desk last Wednesday, thinking that I might take off on Friday and enjoy an elongated holiday – maybe go to the beach or enjoy the pool while the weather is right for it. No sooner had the thought crossed my mind when the animal control officer from Bridgeton called my cellphone with a frantic “I need help!”Apparently he was standing in the midst of 30 to 40 dogs on two adjacent properties, and the owners wanted to give up the majority of them because they were in violation of city ordinances and were simply overwhelmed in general. Some of the dogs were in kennels, some in crates, some tied up and others in a fenced-in area. It was near the end of the day and our kennels were nearly full to capacity, so my first question for the ACO was whether the dogs needed to be removed immediately. Although there were some violations, he felt as though the dogs were in no immediate danger and

 could wait until we could remove them in an organized manner that would allow us to prepare for the deluge.

Given the fullness of our kennels, I knew that we would need help from one of our shelter partners. Plans were then put into place for St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare

Center to come down and take up to 20 of the dogs back to their shelter up in Morris County. On Friday morning, our shelter staff rolled out with the ACO and removed 25 of the 35 dogs as well as two cats. Each house kept five dogs, which is the legal limit in the city. A date also was set to spay and neuter the dogs remaining on the properties.

As the ACO had described, the dogs were contained in

 various ways, none of which was quite up to standards. They were all of good weight but it was obvious that they were flea-infested and, as we later confirmed, intestinal parasites as well. Some had hair loss from flea allergies, and those that required grooming were seriously in need of a “spa day."

If there is a silver lining to this, it is that all the dogs are young and small. About half of them are Chihuahua or Chihuahua mixes, and the others are mostly Havanese mixes. Staff from St. Hubert’s arrived within minutes of our arrival back at the shelter and took 13 of dogs back to their beautiful shelter in Madison.The poor pups were pretty terrified the day we brought them in, but we were able to handle them on their respective properties so they should settle in just fine once we get them calmed down and feeling safe. They are truly adorable, and we hope to have them available for adoption later this week. You can see video of the rescued pets on our website at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

 

 

Source: One call from Bridgeton means 25 more dogs

Odds against him, Golden Boy finds best friend

Sometimes we get lucky enough in life to have a “heart dog” enter our lives. Heart dogs are the dogs that fill a place inside you – a hole that you may not have even known needed to be filled. It’s the dog who is your constant through life’s hills and valleys, and the dog who brought something special to life that no other animal, or person, could. This is very difficult to explain, but if you have had a heart dog, you will know exactly what I am attempting to describe. Recently, one of our staff members lost his heart dog, a dog that he rescued in every sense of the word. I have worked in animal shelters for 15 years, and the story of George and Golden Boy is one of the most beautiful, touching partnerships I have encountered. I can only hope that I do justice in telling their story.

Golden Boy, a 9-year-old pit bull, was rescued by Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals cruelty agents from an abusive and terribly neglectful situation. Although he was skeletally thin, he was found secured to by a heavy chain, huddled on the hard dirt ground. When he arrived at the shelter, he was emaciated, weak and sick.One particular staff member, George, felt a strong draw to Golden Boy from the day he arrived. As Golden Boy became stronger, he became reactive to almost everyone and would bark aggressively in his kennel. He was impossible to handle. He had so few good experiences with humans to draw from that he found it too difficult to trust most people. The exception to this mistrust was George.

George continued to spend lots of time with Golden Boy, and their bond grew. Golden Boy, unfortunately, had to stay in the shelter for months while his case progressed through the justice system. When the case concluded successfully, George knew that Golden Boy needed a place to go. His behavior made him unadoptable and he couldn’t stay at the shelter. The bond was already so strong that George committed to doing whatever needed to be done so that he and Golden Boy could stay together. He built a gorgeous, heated and cooled kennel for Golden Boy and took him home. Remarkably, Golden Boy quickly adjusted to his kennel and was doing so well that he was brought into the house and became part of the family. He made a flawless transition to being a beloved house dog, even enjoying his Chihuahua brothers.

About a year ago, Golden Boy was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We utilized funds from a Grey Muzzle Organization grant for senior dogs to extend his time and keep him comfortable. The extra months that Golden Boy and George had together were a blessing. Knowing that Golden Boy’s time on earth was coming to a close, George filled their everyday together with love and fun.In March, Golden Boy passed away, with George at his side. I know how incredibly difficult his loss was and how he has been missed every day since. George is a man of few words, but sometimes a few words are all that’s needed to convey a big message.

I asked him how he and Golden Boy connected.“Why did Golden Boy and I click? We both needed one another at the time we met. He saved my life and I saved his!”

Source: Odds against him, Golden Boy finds best friend