One of the worst aspects of my job is working with mistreated, neglected or otherwise not-ideally-loved-pets. The majority of dogs and cats who come and stay in our base kennel are loved and properly cared for—ranging from absurdly spoiled to adequately maintained. Sadly, however, not everyone who owns a pet should own a pet. This is common knowledge, and also remains a heartbreaking reality. We have seen several severe cases of flea and/or tick infestations as well as animals whose skittish and nervous tendencies are clearly the result of negative interactions with their owners (or previous owners, in the cases of some pets who have been rehomed from shelters). Their past interactions with humans have created a general sense of fear and distrust.
One customer mentioned as he paid for service, almost proudly, that he had kicked his dog’s kennel in the previous night (while the dog was in it), because his young German Sheppard had defecated in the kitchen while he was making dinner. I was utterly appalled for several reasons. For one, I don’t understand how an adult human can consider acting their rage out upon weaker living beings as acceptable. Also, the fact that this man didn’t understand that his behavior was reprehensible, and casually mentioned his outburst with an arrogant demeanor was aggravating—as if I was expected to be impressed or at the very least agree with his anger-inspired course of action. This whole situation left me in the difficult position of being a compassionate human being with several very choice words to send his way—but also, currently at work in a position of customer service. Therefore, through a moderate internal struggle, I kept quiet.
I mention this as an example the issues my colleagues and I encounter when working with animals and their human counterparts. However, the main emphasis of this post is intended to be positive. While we have seen our share of rehomed pets in need of permanent loving homes, we also see many animals paired with their ideal families.
The dog was another German Shepard mix just under a year and had been permanently kept outside. Therefore, he wasn’t used to interacting with other animals or people except occasionally when his owner would reportedly come out to yell at him for barking or slap him with a coat hanger. (Sadly, a friend of mine was her neighbor, and witnessed his repeated neglect and mistreatment first-hand).
From speaking with various clients, I remembered couple who used to help foster dogs when they lived back in the states. With a combination of curiosity, hope and desperation, we contacted them. He was up to date on his shots, and we wanted to reiterate that he was young, untrained, not neutered and not house-broken. He would be a handful, and we certainly didn’t want them to feel obligated, but he needed a loving understanding and patient home, until he could find a more permanent living arrangement.
They were happy to help. Over the next two months, they paid to have him fixed, kennel-trained, taught him basic commands, and socialized him with their other dogs. With their time, money, patience, and compassion, they eventually rehomed him to a local man who already had one dog and had always wanted a black German Shepherd. They seemed to be a perfect fit and all their unacknowledged goodness helped give one dog a much better life.
Since she had originally intended to leave with her pets at our kennel, we had updated shot records on file. By pure chance, we were able to keep her cat as a lobby pet, while we worked to find him a home. We renamed him Oliver a fresh new name to go with his fresh new start.
At first, he was terrified of all of us. His overly skittish nature suggested he hadn’t had many positive previous experiences with humans. My boss took him to the vet; he had an eye infection from the unsanitary conditions of his litter box. After several days, he slowly began to trust us (I think the treats and wet kitty food helped to bribe his affections). Once his infection healed, he was allowed to roam freely about our office with the other lobby cats. He got on well with them, and it was beautiful to see his transition. The petrified cat we had to pry from his travel kennel and defecated in fear, was now this friendly, loving, playful little man who greeted us as we entered the office each morning.
After only a few weeks, a family with a dog took him home. We let them know if they had any issues with nervousness, aggression or socialization between him and their dog, they should bring him back to us, we would gladly watch over him until a better match was found. However, they never needed to take us up on that offer. We missed Ollie after he left, but we were all exceedingly happy he had found a good loving home.