By Susan Spisak
Downeast Dog News applauds Maine-based shelters, humane societies, and rescue groups who continued to work hard during recent difficult years, placing companion animals in great homes. (For more on the adversity these important groups face, see article “Shelters Struggle with Overcrowding”.) Since October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, what better time to share their happy, feel-good stories?
Kasey Bielecki, Marketing and Public Relations Manager for Pope Memorial Humane Society in Thomaston said she immediately thought of the four Hound puppies they took in who were malnourished and extremely sick. “The PMHS staff honestly wasn't sure if they were all going to make it. Fortunately, each puppy was welcomed with open arms into loving foster homes where they gained weight, were treated for a variety of maladies, and are now all thriving.”
One of the pups, Beau aka Bobo aka Sir Beauregard, now resides at his adopter’s Oyster River Ranch. He received high praise from his new family, the Costas: "He reminds us often that handsome is, as handsome does. He's become quite demanding at his ripe age of 11 months, not afraid to remind us when it's time for breakfast, his walk, a snack, time to go out, or his dinner. Zoomies are super-sized, but so is the love he gives us. Bobo demands our affection, and we are happy to oblige."
Beau Costas adopted from Pope Memorial
When asked if she had a wonderful story, Jeana Roth, Director of Community Engagement for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, responded with a decisive, “Absolutely. Diesel was a staff favorite.” He was a locally surrendered chocolate Lab mix, and a senior at 15 years of age. “He is now showered with love and affection with his new family, for whatever amount of time he has left to enjoy life.” His adopter, Barbara, dotes on him and clearly is thrilled. (See featured photo from ARLGP)
Shannon L. Nachajko, Director of the Catahoula Rescue of New England: Houlas & Heelers Inc., had two successes. Cattle dog Ryder was surrendered by an area family to a shelter. The poor guy had trouble adjusting there so the shelter reached out for help, and she responded. While an amazing pet, Ryder was a hard placement. It took her months to find someone who understood Australian Cattle dogs. “Ryder did find his forever home this summer with a super dad who was looking for a companion.” It’s been a win-win; they have a wonderful connection, and Ryder is an unofficial therapy dog – he’s helping dad heal from medical procedures.
Ryder adopted from Catahoula Rescue
Duke was a stray southern dog with a horrible burn on his back. The rural shelter staff knew his owner, but the man refused to reclaim him. Shannon pulled Duke, who was slated to be put down, and arranged for temporary care in the South. Once in Maine, he also was a difficult placement - Duke was afraid of men. He eventually went into a prior adopter’s home in New York. “I am happy to say that Duke is now part of their family.” She said that with slow baby steps, parental guidance, and affection from mom and dad, Duke learned that not all men are hurtful.
Duke on left from Catahoula Rescue
Shelly Butler, MBA and Executive Director of PAWS Animal Adoption Center in Camden, had a good story. “Despite this time when adoptions are slower, Buttercup had her happy new beginning,” she said. Buttercup, a cute little pup with a white chin, chest, and paws, began her journey in a Georgia shelter, but she was surrounded by other small fluffy pups. Sadly, Buttercup waited as those puppies found their homes, yet no one wanted her.
Thankfully, one of PAWS transport partners, Road Trip Home, decided Buttercup would have better luck in Maine with their shelter. “We watched her grow, and we taught her some basic obedience. We learned she loved to play with other dogs. Finally, after 3 months the perfect family found her,” said Shelly. They had another dog so they could chum around, too. “Her forever family could not be happier and just love their new furry family member who is now named Tessa.”
“At Responsible Pet Care of Oxford Hills (RPC) we've had to think outside the box lately in order to help more animals,” said board member and volunteer, Jill Piper. One of their favorites is Tonka, a 7-year-old, 120-pound Mastiff mix. He was well-cared for by his family, but his dad, who was the main handler for the big dog, became gravely ill, and the family needed to relinquish him. Tonka was a happy, goofy boy who was well socialized and liked cats and dogs, but RPC was out of space.
They put their thinking caps on and remembered Portland resident Gregory. He had previously applied for a large Great Pyrenees, but he wasn’t the best match for that specific canine. After seeing info and pics on Tonka, Gregory was smitten. RPC staffers arranged for Tonka's owner to bring him in, so they could not only update his vaccines but have a meet and greet with Gregory and his Papillon, Lily.
It was a perfect match. “In the weeks since, we have received countless photos of Tonka living his new life – lounging in his kiddie pool in his fenced yard, enjoying trips to the beach, hanging out with his new sister, Lily…It turned out to be a beautiful story, new dog, new friends, people helping people, and people helping dogs. A very sad situation with a happily-ever-after ending,” said Jill.
Tonka adopted from Responsible Pet Care
In early 2021, a North Carolina dog rescue contacted Almost Home Rescue of New England (AHR) about helping an almost 7-year-old flea-covered black and tan Coonhound named Bonnie, relayed Adele Jones, president of the 501(c) 3.
Bonnie was fostered in the south, and in addition to being treated for skin and ear infections, it was apparent she needed an ACL surgery. Once she recovered from the surgery and was cleared to travel to Maine, Bonnie was placed with AHR’s foster Cynthia Veilleux. Bonnie meshed well with her family, proved to be easy-going, silly, playful, and social.
Hind leg swelling caused AHR’s adoption coordinator to advise the foster to take Bonnie to the Casco Bay Veterinary office. She saw Dr. Lee Gregory, was placed on antibiotics, had many follow ups, and required in-depth testing. Eventually Bonnie was injected with strong, specialized antibiotics for 12 weeks. This finally did the trick, said Adele. Through it all, Bonnie remained a loving dog.
So where is Bonnie now? Margaret Holland and her family of New Brunswick, Canada adopted her in July of 2022 – they’d searched for an older pet knowing they’re often over-looked. Since then, Bonnie’s been busy delighting residents in their neighborhood. Margaret is also pleased that the even-tempered Bonne won over their cats, too. “She is a sweetheart, she is a snuggler, and a very good girl around the house,” said her adopter. Margaret added they’re grateful to AHR and Bonnie's foster family.
Bonnie adopted from Almost Home Rescue
Thinking of fostering but unsure? Cindy explains her reason, “It’s because I meet so many amazing and wonderfully dedicated dog adopters out there who welcome dogs into their homes and lives. Those dogs are loved and become such an important part of their family…Myself and my family get so much love and joy welcoming a sweet and deserving dog into our home who usually have had a very difficult life so far.”