It was very late in the night when a Facebook post caught my attention. A dog trainer that I highly regard posted a photo of two dogs behind bars in the pound and wrote, “They really are NICE DOGS! Very quiet and very gentle. I loved them! .... they are so soulful, they would love you forever. Dogs KNOW when you save them and they never forget that.”
While she loves every dog, she does not vouch for every dog like this, so I rescued them through my charity, Forte Animal Rescue. What I did not know was that shelter volunteers were networking their rescue for a month already, and their time was up.
Facebook is like TV, its newsfeed runs like running water, and it’s a fluke that I happened to see the post. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have even known they existed, and they would have been dead by now. Because these dogs came to us as a pair, we named them Hansel and Gretel.
Since they were rescued from a germ-filled impound facility, they had to be in quarantine to make sure they weren’t brewing a disease, then they could be moved to cagefree boarding. At least that was our plan.
The day they were supposed to be freed in the cagefree area, Hansel passed the temperament test, but the cagefree environment is too overwhelming to Gretel, and she did not pass.
Even if they’re dog-friendly, some dogs do very poorly in manmade settings like cagefree boarding or dog parks. In fact, one of my own late dogs was like that. He got along with all dogs that knew canine manners, but not always in dog parks because some dogs bluntly approached him without the ritual; i.e., checking each other out and verifying the hierarchy. He especially did not like happy-go-lucky Golden Retrievers who were in his face. Most Goldens believe all dogs are friends and run up to other dogs they’ve never met before, without properly introducing themselves. My late boy did not like it. He bore teeth and roared like a lion. If you didn't know that he wouldn't bite, it would scare you as he was a tall 70-pounder.
Hansel can thrive in cagefree boarding with new friends, but Gretel will languish if she’s left alone in her cage. It is ideal if both of them can find a foster home, but finding a foster for two large dogs is a tall order. Also, more often than you may believe, many bonded dogs become better dogs individually after they are separated. Why and how will be another article in the future, but among more than 1,000 dogs we’ve saved and placed in their permanent homes, we’ve had many bonded pairs — some got adopted together and some separately. Initially, I kept bonded pairs together at all cost, but more and more positive outcomes have taken place when we separately adopted out these dogs. For instance, some pairs were good with each other but aggressive toward other dogs, and after they were separated, they shed the aggression because they were not forming a pack to protect each other from the outside world. So, we now handle each pair on a case-by-case basis.
Separated pairs will bond with their new family. They move on and adapt to new situations better than we do, especially if their overall quality of life is improving. Even in cage boarding, it’s already better than sitting on death row in the pound, as rescue volunteers are taking the dogs out on walks. So, if Gretel can have a home life with a soft bed to sleep in, she will appreciate it even if she doesn’t have Hansel next to her.
Gretel needs to reclaim her life soon, before her soul wilts and her eyes lose light. All she needs is a home she can call her own or a foster home while she awaits her permanent family.
I hope her special someone is reading this article just because it happened to be in the right place at the right time, just like the Facebook post that led me to these dogs.