Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dog on the Blog: Dean and Jeanne - Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime...

Dean, left, and Jeanne, right, are an unlikely love story.

Dean came to us from the Animal Shelter in Savannah, Georgia. He was just one more dog who had not been adopted, had run out of time, and was going to be killed to make room for the next wave of dogs overwhelming the shelter. There was no reason to see anything out of the ordinary in little Dean, the tan boy with white boots and the lady-killer smile.

And that is where Dean's story would have ended, if Beanna, a rescuer in the Savannah area, had not stepped in to save Dean and arrange for him to come here to Smiling Dog Farms. He arrived in April with eleven others from his shelter. He needed a friend, and we thought of Jeanne.

Jeanne came to us from Dallas. From a woman who claimed that she had been evicted from her home, and her five dogs were still living at her former house. She assured us that her dogs were wonderfully friendly.

She lied.

The transport was an endurance test. Our friend, Mary Griffin, who drove the dogs from Centerville to Sugarland, had essentially a feral pack in the back of her SUV by the time I met her. We both got bit, just moving the dogs from her vehicle to mine!

I called Ricky on my way back to the farm to say that these dogs would NOT be candidates to live in the house for a while (like most newcomers) and we needed to clear out a yard so they could go directly into a play yard. We brought a group inside who were easy to handle, so that the feral pack could go directly into a yard when I returned to the farm.

We moved the dogs into their play yard by erecting plywood on either side of the station wagon, like a cattle chute. Then we opened the tailgate and just let them run into their new yard. We figured we were all set.

We were wrong.

A few hours later I was shopping at the grocery store when I got a frantic call from Ricky. The new feral pack had managed to break the connectors that hold the fence panels to the posts. They were now roaming the property!

I dropped everything and dashed back to the farm. We called in a worker, and from 10:00 pm until 1:00 am, with only the lights from our vehicles and our tractor to guide us, we managed to get four of the five dogs rounded up and back into their yard. Ricky secured the fence panels with a much heavier gauge wire, and later retrofitted all the yards on the property with same material.

Sadly, the fifth dog would not be corralled. In fact, she escaped down our driveway and the last we saw her, she was heading toward Bay City on Highway 60! It was Jeanne.

We thought there might be a chance she would return to our property to be near her friends. And that is exactly what happened. Within a few days, we spotted her roaming the farm. She would not let us get close. As time went by, she crept closer and closer to us. Soon, she was within 10 feet or so, but still not ready for us to touch her. Then she started biting people's ankles from behind as they walked on the property!

After a couple months of this, Jeanne finally allowed us touch her. At first, it was just a quick touch and then she would run away. But over time, she came to trust us. Finally, she allowed us to hug her and pet her and love all over her. We got her into a yard so that she would be safe, and not be roaming the property any more.

The irony is that Jeanne, the most feral of those dogs, the one who ran away, is now the most gentle, friendly baby of the batch! When we visit Jeanne, she puts her paws up on us and kisses us with wonderful big kisses.

When we introduced Dean to Jeanne, and it was love at first sight! Jeanne adores Dean -- they play together, and nap side by side in their cottage. They stick their heads through the fence panels and bark at the cats together.

The picture above captures their feelings for one another. Jeanne and Dean came from completely different backgrounds, and yet it is as if they have always been together. Theirs is a love that was worth waiting for.

Jay Hellerich, executive director
smiling dog farms
a 501(c)3 corporation
wharton, texas

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