by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF will be sharing their animal rescue adventures with us now every month.
Love is the ultimate revelation, the final sanctuary
At first, you just hear the bark. Wait, was that a seal? Then you see a flash of fur, and he’s off like a shot from a cannon. Before you can blink, he’s at the kennel door, teeth bared, and drool weeping from those slobbery jaws. For most visitors to ARF, this is their one and only impression of our resident Icelandic Sheepdog, Chachi. Though his name evokes memories of Happy Days, he can seem more like Cujo to the outside world.
It’s easy to take this Dog of the Vikings at face value, until you discover he came from a bad inbreeding situation, which can cause all kinds of genetic and behavioral issues. And though he guards his pen like a Grizzly protecting her cubs, he purrs like a kitten when certain humans arrive. One of our volunteers eagerly shares her thoughts on this misunderstood mutt. “I have loved Chachi from the first moment he allowed me into his world. When ARF was doing basic dog walk training, I chose Chachi. We have walked together regularly, and I have even been with him when he’s hurt. I don’t see the ‘mean junk yard dog’ side of him as he’s been described.” Another volunteer chimes in, “Chachi is a very special boy, I love that little guy. He can be a bit bad with some people, but he is sweet to me and other volunteers. I like to sit with him in his yard, and he will let me love on him.”
Chachi is one of several “sanctuary dogs” that make ARF their semi-permanent home. These dogs may spend an inordinate amount of time with us, sometimes years, before they find a place to call their very own. There are many contributing factors to sanctuary dogs languishing so long at rescues, including temperament and health issues, mistreatment by previous owners, extreme shyness, coat color, and, of course, age. Many people don’t want to choose an older dog, citing the pain and heartache that ultimately comes with losing a beloved pet. They fear becoming too attached to one who may only be around for a short time. But what could be nobler than adopting a senior dog, and giving it the love and affection it deserves? Haven’t these elders earned just that little bit of happiness?
For example, Hoppy, a tan and white terrier mix, with a crooked grin, who enjoys wrapping himself around your neck like a scarf, while stuffing his feet down your shirt. Yes, it’s awkward. Or Stubbs, a silly cappuccino-colored Chihuahua, with a tiny tail and Spock-like ears. He’s fond of toys bigger than himself, and curling up in a ball for beddy-bye. If you prefer something a bit more exotic, check out Ernie, a combo-pack of a canine who resembles a wily weasel, and enjoys riding on your shoulder. You can channel your inner pirate, while he perches like a parrot.
Polly want a Pup-Peroni? All three of these wonderful dogs have spent an eternity at ARF, waiting for that special someone to come along and shower them with attention. If you’ve got the tenderness and treats to spare, any one of them would look stunning on your sofa. Matching throw pillows not included.
Having one dog is fabulous, but how about your own fleet? For the Ranch Dogs, some things just go better together, like four feral friends who came in as a package deal. Living on a country ranch, this quartet freely roamed the great outdoors, enjoying meals provided by the landowner.
After their provider passed away, ARF stepped in, and despite some wrangling challenges, transported the tight-knit group to our facility. Sonny, Fonzarella, and Fluffy Benton are all sheepdog mixes, while Nan is a copper-colored terrier. Nan, having been the only indoor dog of the bunch, keeps this three-ring-circus in check, with a stuffed toy perpetually dangling from her mouth. Initially wary of strangers, this family eventually warmed up to our volunteers, accepting treats, the occasional brushing, and in Sonny’s case, offering a shy smile. It may be virtually impossible to separate this pack of pals, which is why they remain, for the moment, another set of sanctuary dogs.
It’s true that some of our long-term tenants have a few quirky attributes, but we like to think of them as interesting idiosyncrasies. Okay, some of them are just weird. But isn’t that a lot more fun? For instance, Squirt, a little black licorice whip of a lap dog, who spends most days sunbathing on a blanket. Not really partial to bedtime, he can be persuaded gently into his kennel with a treat. Not really thrilled to be IN said kennel afterward, his vocal stylings can be best described as two alley cats in a street fight. Now wouldn’t THAT add some spice to your life? And then there’s Olivia, a smoky smudge of a gal, with crazy golden eyes, whose favorite pastime is a pre-slumber chase. And I DO mean chase. This spunky speedster will literally run you in circles like Mighty Mouse, sprinting past the plastic pools and through the trees, creating her very own whirlwind, and leaving you sputtering in the dust. Wave the checkered flag!
At our rescue, we love all dogs for their diverse dispositions, and wonderful peculiarities. But for some, the stars just never seem to align, and they remain with us until crossing the Rainbow Bridge. This means in order to keep our guests in the lap of luxury at the Hotel de ARF, it can get costly. Food, medical treatment, and general overhead can easily run $5 per day, per dog. No Room Service after 10:00 p.m! Which is why we created our Sponsor-A-Dog Program, where pooch-loving people like yourself can donate to help a specific dog of your choosing.
Maybe you’re like me, and are unable to have a mutt at home. Perhaps you’ve seen one of our animals online or at our facility, but it’s just not the right time to adopt. Simply go to our webpage, www.arf-fresno.com, click the Donate button, and let us know who you’d like to sponsor. We’ll mail you a picture of your pup, and keep you posted on their status via email. That lucky dog gets bed and board, ARF gets a new sponsor, and you get to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Plus, that brand new Arctic-white bedspread of yours remains fur free…for now.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.