by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.
Impossible situations can become possible miracles. -Robert H. Schuller
Well, it’s been crazy busy at Animal Rescue of Fresno, and this blazingly hot weather is making us all a little nuts. Despite soaking our hats, downing gallons of water, and even cooling off with garden hoses, we volunteers just keep sweating ourselves silly. This unbearable heat is like a never-ending blast furnace, destroying any brain cells we have left. Showing potential adopters around ARF requires mental and physical stamina, and is equivalent to taking a scorching stroll across the surface of the sun. I’m surprised my tennies haven’t melted by now. But it’s definitely been worth all the deodorant and sunscreen, due to several noteworthy adoptions recently. Although it’s been a long bumpy road for these dogs, they can now look forward to smooth sailing ahead. And, hopefully, a lot of air-conditioning.Nobody deserves a thermostat set to 76 degrees more than Shy, a Poodle mix with an unfortunate past. He came to ARF with his sister Mumbles after their destitute family could no longer care for them. Living in their car, they would lock the leashes inside at night, while the dogs remained outside, attached to the other end. They were not only vulnerable to the elements, but heartless humans and aggressive animals too. Shy’s distrust of people began after being terribly beaten by another dog, and tortured by neighboring kids. Eventually, the family realized they could no longer protect their pets, and made the compassionate decision to surrender them. ARF’s volunteer coordinator, Mindi, was there when they arrived. Both were afraid, but it was obvious that Mumbles was much more outgoing than Shy.
The siblings slept together at night, and while Mumbles loved all the petting and treats, Shy was the opposite. Mindi explains, “He would run into the kennel corner, far from the opening, avoiding human contact. I climbed in and just held Shy, and slowly, as the days passed, had others do the same.” Advertised as a package deal, the dogs remained at ARF for over a year. Then a lady came to see them, and despite their history, adopted the pair. Mumbles began to improve, but Shy took longer to come out of his shell. Two years later, the dogs were surrendered back to ARF, as their owner was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer; she was given less than a year to live. Her brave request was that if she didn’t return in a year, we were to adopt the dogs out, meaning she hadn’t survived. Mumbles was adopted after the year passed, but not Shy. He had progressed, but people weren’t interested in a highly fearful dog, requiring extra work and attention. Then out of the blue, a certain someone came calling…
That someone turned out to be Shy’s fairy godmother, Anne, a Bay Area resident. She found Shy’s photo on our website, and told me later, “He had a great face.” After talking with Mindi on the phone, and learning Shy’s background, she drove three hours just to see him. It was a cautious meet and greet, but Anne trusted her instincts and made an educated decision; they would go home together. Shy settled himself onto a gigantic pillow in the passenger seat, and the last thing Mindi and I saw was that delighted dog’s face smiling from the window. Weepiness ensued. It was late in the evening when they arrived home, and after checking out the place, Shy settled back down on that same pillow and slept all night. The next morning he investigated his new digs, without being skittish or trying to hide.
According to Anne, “He loves pillows. I have several on my sectional, and guess what? He sits on the softest one, looking over the top of the sofa, watching what’s going on.” They’ve been to the groomer, and Anne happily reports, “He’s obviously been there before! Did very well, looks great.” Renaming him Scout, Anne claims they’re doing something every day to make new memories. Like a proud mama, she boasts, “Went to a party yesterday and had a good time, with nice manners!” Just like a good Boy Scout.For some folk, dogs are like potato chips; you can’t just have one. This was the case for Bridget, who was browsing ARFs Petfinder page. Looking for anything but a puppy, Bridget points out, “I don’t have the time or dedication to train a puppy, and am proud I can admit that.” After spotting “Chalupa,” a senior Chihuahua mix, she visited our facility. She noticed Chalupa under a shady tree alongside Murphy, a Terrier mix, and thought they looked like siblings. According to Bridget, “I was overwhelmed by all the senior dogs, and was very emotional when I left.” After a couple more visits, she adopted the duo. Still, there was a slight hitch in the process, as Bridget had just purchased a house. She’d been renting for a while, so when her landlords opted to sell, she jumped at the opportunity. ARF was glad to offer an extended hold on the dogs until escrow closed. Since both pooches are black, I asked Bridget if she was familiar with “black dog” syndrome. She eagerly responds, “I find it so odd. But I wear a lot of black clothes, so it’s actually a bonus their fur doesn’t show up!”
In their new backyard, Chalupa chases squirrels and Murphy pursues planes. Bridget says, “They actually get along great, and very rarely bicker.” Murphy is independent, but Chalupa is quite the “Velcro dog”, so they’re working on some confidence building. “She never leaves my side, and is very protective of me. I love her dearly, but want her to feel we can be separated for a few minutes, and I will always return.” The dogs picked up Bridget’s routine quickly, and now accompany her to work. She says, “They get super excited in the morning, and Chalupa does spins when seeing her car safety harness. She has a booster seat for peeking at her surroundings, while Murphy lounges in the back.”
Bridget’s co-workers love the dogs, and she thinks it’s a nice morale boost for everyone. Previously employed at a dog-friendly campus, it feels normal to have them with her. Murphy enjoys back scratches, and Chalupa fancies the post-lunch scents, especially pizza. Back scratches? Pizza? Now if that doesn’t lend credence to the term, “You lucky dog,” I don’t know what does.Back in June, I wrote a piece for this magazine about my participation in the euthanasia rescue of a senior dog named Piglet. Piglet was placed in our Senior yard, and quickly scrambled under the largest overgrown tree. She wore a leash 24-7, to make it easier for volunteers to round her up at bedtime. Snacks became a great motivator. Piglet was quiet and kept to herself, never getting involved in playtime with the others. If I called her name, she would skitter from tree to tree, before gingerly moving inch by inch toward me. After rolling into a little sideways ball, she’d finally allow me to pick her up and stroke her weary head. Due to her age and apprehension, it seemed like a long shot to find this little loner a home. But if that shot is one of Cupid’s arrows, it travels straight to the heart.
If you don’t believe in love at first sight, then Karen’s story will change your mind. Karen had been searching rescues for a senior dog, without any luck. The reason she wanted an older pet was simple, “They’re much easier to care for.” She saw Piglet’s photo on ARFs website, and thought our tiny Terrier might be the one. Accompanied by her sister, Karen came by ARF asking to see Piglet. Huh? OUR Piglet? I excitedly raced outside to get her, and upon my return, the sisters let out a collective “AWWW.” The arrow had found its target. In her new home, Piglet was encouraged to roam and explore. Karen says she’s learning fast, doing great, and loves the new bed that auntie bought her, though it seems like she relishes a certain recliner even more. When Karen’s in her favorite chair, Piglet jumps on her lap, takes over, and makes herself comfy. Other popular Piglet activities include licking Karen’s hands, walking around the neighborhood, and early mornings on the patio. I had always envisioned such a future for this gentle soul, from the minute I carried her out of that cement cell. When asked how she knew Piglet was the right one for her, Karen replies, “I knew it when I saw her.” Cupid scores again.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.