At the Dog Hotel we are often faced with what could either be called dilemmas or opportunities. The dilemmas are that there are so many pets and creatures desperate for saving from awful circumstances but none of us have any room left in our homes. The opportunities are those same situations but recognising we are in a position to make a huge difference in a dogs life.
One such opportunity was presented after a number of our customers at the Pet Hotel had asked if we knew anything about the stray dog at the abandoned farmhouse outside Midhurst. We decided ( Talis and I) to take our lunch hour and head over to Midhurst and figure out what was going on. At that time we had not yet met any of the by law officers for that township. Because of the dog boarding services and cat boarding services we offer, our local animal control were very known to us through the routine inspection and licensing process for the renewal of Dog Kennnel privileges. As the farmhouse was located at the edge of the township, we were hesitant to seek help from an unknown source.
Upon arrival we found one wall at the back missing revealing old furniture and stairs and doorways to the rest of the house. Scattered around the opening were a number of dog bowls with traces of food or water. We too had brought some bowls with food and a jug of water. Good Samaritans had obviously been keeping an eye on this dear soul. We settled down to wait and started to gently whistle and do some generic calls for the dog. We were soon rewarded when a hesitant and scared face peeked out from the bottom of the stairs. Our scared black lab cross had a choke chain on and had obviously come to indentify with the farmhouse as home. She desperately wanted to come close but just couldn’t get past her fear. We tried all the tricks we’ve learned at the Pet Hotel to gain trust. We lay prone on the floor so she could sniff us at her leisure, which she did, her leisure was really gonna be a process of days. We tried playing ball, you could tell she wanted to, but was too scared. Our lunch hour was running out and we tried one last trick. We opened the door of the back seat and threw a toy on the seat. She jumped in. Her instinct of wanting to go for a car ride won out. We took her back to the Pet Hotel and began the work of making her feel safe and secure, loved and well cared for. Over the next couple of weeks we realised through Vet visits, socialization attempts with various staff and visitors, that we had made the right decision about not contacting animal control. Most townships have a time limit (understandably so) for pets to be collected before surrendering them to local shelters. These shelters do the most amazing work, but of course the cost of running them provides them with limitations. Had we surrendered our lovely lady to a shelter they would have done an assessment over a week and determined that she didn’t like men, barely tolerated women and if it’s possible was even more scared of children. She was very fear aggressive and a definite bite risk. They would have had no choice but to deem her un adoptable and destroy her.
We performed a very thorough and valiant campaign to find her family because it was obvious she used to belong to one. She was trained in fetch, and had very good house manners etc. She had stuck close to the abandoned farm house for weeks, so it was very unlikely that she had run away. Our vet, Taylor Mobile Veterinary, determined she was a spayed female of approximately 4 years of age. Fortunately it was a time of year when the pet boarding industry is slightly quieter so we were able to take care of her at the Dog Hotel whilst trying to rehabilitate her.
To make a long story short, Talis made the decision around that time to move out of her family home with her fiancé. This meant that by leaving the menagerie of rescues she’d already performed, with her mom who now loved them all, she could have the ability to adopt. With lots of reassurance and patience they won the trust and love of “Ruby”. They adopted her and everyday Ruby comes to Doggie Daycare here at the Pet hotel with her mom Talis. She’s still very fearful around strangers, and her definition of stranger is almost everyone outside her tigh little circle of trust. But with the expertise and patience of her new family they are able to manage her fear and behaviour so that she gets to have a full life as part of a loving family. Whilst it doesn’t make up for the horror of being abandoned and the fear of living on her own , it certainly is the outcome she deserves.
We’ve since worked with all our surrounding townships through consulting and providing advice on dog boarding, and can assure everyone they are caring professionals doing a great job with limitations imposed only by funding and space. They, just like the many shelters and rescues out there are just trying to do the best with the limited resources at their disposal. The role that individual rescues can play outside of the larger OSPCA’s and societies is to provide more long term and rehabilative shelter to pets like Ruby. She has blossomed into the most devoted and loving dog you could dream of.
It’s always worth looking into breed specific and smaller foster rescues when considering adoption.
Jenn Dahinten has been involved in health and pet care for over 20 years and is currently a part of the caring team at The Royal Pets Hotel & Spa, a 5 star Pet Hotel just north of Toronto in Barrie, Ontario.