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When rescue dogs presented themselves, this woman acted to save them

A shelter dog waiting for rescue from people like this lady.
A shelter dog waiting for rescue from people like this lady.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Johanna J. has 4 dogs of her own and also fosters dogs. Though she didn’t plan on getting a dog, she acted when they presented themselves in her life. Long ago Johanna decided that the only dogs she wanted were “dogs that end up in shelters through no fault of their own.”

She knows it is really hard to pass up the cute puppy the neighbors are selling or walking past the pet store in the malls “ to love on the little puppies,” but since she knows their history, she must stick to rescuing dogs from shelters. She reminds us that many puppies die every day because of one “oops” litter.

Johanna considers herself very fortunate since has had minimal problems with the dogs she took into her home. Her very first dog was n 8 month old American Bulldog. She named it Kate. This dog was under socialized and untrained. This was most likely because she missed those crucial months for exposure to all kinds of situations and never learned how to deal with them or relate to other dogs. This lack of exposure resulted in some problems as she aged. One problem was the fact she did not tolerate nay dogs near her and would attempt to bite them. A second was that she barked at any person she did not know. Johanna admits, the years she had her were her own learning years as well as the dogs. She claims she knew little about different breeds or what to expect from them. She knew very little terminology and nothing about nutrition. Training was another unknown and so sometimes even her reactions to the problems increased the stress and reactivity she was already going through. Johanna knew she had much to learn so educated herself about the dogs motions and body language. In some cases she then could prevent or be prepared for the problems that arose. Sounds like love and patience conquered all since Kate is now 10 years old and living peacefully with three other dogs. Johanna says about Kate that she got older, but also admits the Johanna got wiser.

Her most recent adoption is from the Humane Society and is a 9 month old Pit Bull and French Bulldog mix. She knows this as she did a DNA test on him. This male dog is Burt and was a stray. She first met this dog when she volunteered to walk dogs when so many pets were displaced during the Black Forest Fire. Johanna said that Burt was happy, smart, but very laid back. Johanna calls him “awesome”. She started by fostering him, but it soon became apparent, she could not let him go. Burt has one big issue and she is trying to learn how to deal with it. When Burt decides he does not like a situation, a dog or person he snaps at them. There has been one occasion where he ended up picking on the wrong dog and a fight ensured. Fortunately, this resulted in minor injuries according to this owner. She, does however, need to work on this problem constantly. She usually keeps Burt separate from the other dogs living in her house and this has relieved stress and she set a good schedule so they can stay separated. She feels confident that she and Burt can move pass this issue.

Max is one of her current foster dogs. He has a tough background. He is Dogo Argentino about 4 years old adopted from Roswell, New Mexico. His own owners left him chained up all day long and when he broke away he headed to the neighbors’ yard every time. Finally, the neighbor offered to take Max into her home and foster him till a forever home could be found. Eventually, Max found his way to Colorado. His destructive habits made it hard for him to last in any home and he has even hurt himself in his attempts to escape. His worse episode included escaping a crate, jumping through a window, over a 6 foot fence and waiting on the front porch for the family to come home. Bouncing from home to home he has been abused and suffers from separation anxiety. Johanna says “Max is a great dog in every other way getting along great with dogs, cats and kids. He is housebroken and knows most commands. Max needs a forever home with someone with lots of patience to work with him till he regains trust and confidence. There has been training for Max, but the seriousness of his actions made them resort temporarily to medication to keep him safe. They are using positive training and Tellington Touch to help him get ready for a forever home.

Johanna reminds us it is hard work adopting a rescue of unknown disposition and behaviors, but all worthwhile when” they play with their first toy or curl up on a soft bed and relax for the first time.” It is rewarding , says Johanna.