Strangely enough, once she was outside, Suzi stopped limping. Slowly and patiently, volunteers have worked with her. She still cowers in her kennel and holds up her leg when unfamiliar people approach, but time has helped Suzi trust. She even participates in playgroup with well chosen friends and will approach certain volunteers for well deserved pats. She is equally picky about her canine friends and there have been one or two that she seemed to love. She fol- lowed them around the play yard eagerly and ran “zoomies” with them. Each time one of her friends got adopted, patient volunteers worked with Suzi to help her discover another dog that she could trust. Shelter dogs like Suzi have taught us that time and love can heal even the deepest wounds. Watching them emerge from their personal darkness and despair fills our hearts with joy. Footnote: Suzi was one of 20 dogs adopted at the annual Adopt-A- Palooza event in August. We wish her a world of happiness and have given her new family contact information should they need support. There is an old expression that exists

in most cultures in one form or another. It has many variations, but basically the mes- sage is that there is someone for everyone. Shelter dogs have taught us that is also true for dogs and their families. By taking the time and making the effort to get to know the dogs’ personalities, we can match them with the right family. Considerate match making goes a long way to giving dogs their true “forever homes.” Many of our favorite memories are

matches that seemed to be predestined. One such match made in heaven hap- pened with our long timer, Darwin. He was an older guy, kinda slow, very depressed in his kennel but very affection- ate in the play yard. He didn’t play with other dogs, but didn’t mind being in the yard while they did. He just minded his own business. How sad we all felt each day when we had to return him to his kennel where he would lay down with a long sigh and sink back into a funk. But one sunny day, 345 days after his arrival at the shelter, Darwin found his people. They drove into the parking lot in an old red pickup. The woman explained that they lost their 14- year-old dog to cancer about a year ago. After a year of missing him, they were finally mentally prepared to welcome

another dog into their hearts. As she described her former dog and shared her hopes for a new one, we quickly realized that there was a perfect match waiting inside for them. We headed straight to Darwin’s kennel and leashed him up. Darwin was delighted to come outside and perked up slightly. What hap- pened next was quite touching. Within minutes of bringing him out for introduc- tions, Darwin jumped onto the bed of the pickup. sat down and happily licked the face of the man who would be his future dad. He turned to his new mom and gave her a similar greeting. “I guess we’re done here,” said the woman, and left the two guys outside while she came in to complete his adoption paperwork. Darwin taught us that knowing

the dogs at your shelter will help facili- tate these kinds of matches. When it’s right, everyone knows it. Lesson Number Three: There is a lid for every pot. Oftentimes shelter dogs have clear bad

habits that prevent them from being adopt- ed. Take the case of Chester. Quite bluntly, Chester was a first class humper, well deserving of his nickname, Chester the Molester. From a physical perspective, Chester had a lot going for him. He was medium sized (around 35 pounds) looked like a Beagle-hound mix and had gorgeous markings. Behaviorally, however, Chester was a challenge. Chester humped every- thing and everyone he could find. Volunteers hoped that neutering would help, but it was not to be. Although he was able to play with other similarly inclined dogs, who joyfully took turns in their gyrations, we knew that in order to get adopted, Chester had to change his ways. Enter the volunteers favorite behavior

modification tool…the simple spray bottle of water. Capable of spraying jets five to six feet away, the spray bottle is a quick and harmless way to get a dog’s attention. Every time Chester began to hump, a well aimed spray and a gentle reprimand reminded him that it was not a great idea. When he dismounted, he was rewarded with praise and/or a treat. With constant gentle train- ing, Chester learned to play in other ways and it wasn’t long before he was adopted, debunking the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Lesson Number Four: It’s never to late to learn.


Darwin’s shelter photo.

There is someone

for everyone. Darwin

finally found his humans.

For Chester,

learning manners took some time, but soon paid off.


Manatee County Animal Services 305 25th Street West, Palmetto. 941.742.5933 -

Friends of Manatee County Animal Services is a volunteer organization working to enrich the lives of shelter animals.

Winter 2018 THE NEW BARKER 37

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