Story of a shelter dog is a regular occurrence at the Roice-Hurst Humane Society in Grand Junction
Special to the Free Press
I am a shelter dog. I was a regular dog a few days ago. I lived in a beautiful home with a backyard and a kitty, but then my humans brought me here and haven’t come back. I thought we were going for a ride, my favorite thing! But instead they left me here at this strange place; full of strange sounds and smells. They said they couldn’t afford me anymore when my human dad lost his job.
You wouldn’t believe what happened that first day. Two strangers looked me over from nose to tail to make sure I was healthy. They poked and prodded and drew my blood. Finally, they put me in a kennel by myself so I could start to get used to this place and so the staff could get to know my personality.
We get to go out at least three times every day, and when volunteers come to walk us and socialize us we get out even more. They feed us, play with us and love us, but I know this isn’t my forever home.
My favorite part of the day is when they take me to the play yard. I run to the fence and search for my humans, but they don’t come. I miss them so much. I’m starting to get used to being here, and everyone is so kind to me. But it’s hard.
There are so many reasons we turn into shelter dogs. We’re not all badly behaved, or picked up as a stray. The pit bull across from me was brought in because her humans moved to a new home and they couldn’t take her with them. The little dog at the end of the row lived in a small house with 15 other dogs and one day a bunch of officers came and took them all away. They say he has some serious health issues from so many years of neglect. The purebred here had too much energy for his humans to handle, and the mutt next to him was brought in because his humans just didn’t have time for him anymore.
The old hound dog in the kennel next to me has been here a long time. His owner died and there was no one to take him in, so they brought him here. He lived with the same human for 70 dog years, that’s 10 in human years. I can tell he’s taking it pretty hard. He barks a lot and growls when people come by his cage. They say that barrier aggression is common with us shelter dogs because we can’t do what our instincts tell us to do — sniff and greet someone new — so we get frustrated and growl and bark instead.
Oh, did I mention I went up for adoption today? The sooner I get out of here the better. With each passing day, my kennel behaviors get worse. When you come visit me, please don’t judge me — this isn’t how I normally behave. It’s hard to adjust to this new life. I’m stressed from all the noise and the unfamiliar faces that peer in at me all day long. Not to mention the tiny living space, and the feeling of abandonment after being left here by my family. The anxiety also makes my tummy hurt, so sometimes I go potty in my kennel. Can you blame me though? After all I’ve been through?
I know all of this seems pretty bleak, but it’s our reality. We’re normal dogs deep down, but for now, we’re shelter dogs. But if given another chance in a real home with a forever family, I know we can be great dogs again.
Please come spend some time with me and let me show you what a great ball fetcher I am, or how well I sit, or how wet my kisses are. The staff at my shelter can tell you a lot about me and what my unique needs are (and you’re not going to get that from a puppy breeder!). I just ask you for a little time to win your heart and a little patience as I learn to forget what it is to be a shelter dog.
Anna Stout is the executive director of Roice-Hurst Humane Society. Roice-Humane Society was established in 1963 as a nonprofit organization to provide safety, shelter and care for homeless dogs and cats in Mesa County. For more information on Roice-Hurst visit their website at http://www.rhhumanesociety.com.
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