The past week has been a busy one for Shiloh. The pet therapy dog has visited multiple assisted-living facilities, spreading holiday cheer to residents and staff of all ages.
It’s a far cry from his humble beginnings 16 months prior, when as a puppy, he was given little to be cheerful about.
Shiloh was one of seven border collie puppies found in a North San Juan dumpster on a hot August day in 2011. He and his litter mates were rescued by a few good Samaritans who heard their cries and brought them to the Nevada County Animal Shelter in Grass Valley — where Sammie’s Friends volunteer Krista Putnam fell in love.
She adopted the young pup, dubbed him “Shiloh” and took him home to meet the family.
“A couple of 8-year-old springer spaniels, three kitties, a bird, rat and fish, as well as the grandchildren next door. Shiloh was in heaven,” Putnam wrote in an email to The Union.
Putnam said shelter dogs are the best because they understand the concept of a second chance and will do almost anything in their power to prove they deserve it.
“We don’t know their background, and they may have some issues, but they move forward in a positive manner and amaze us at every turn,” she added.
As a puppy, Shiloh took some work to house train. But with love and care, she was able to get him to love her.
“Invest a little patience and care and love and just get them to trust you,” Putnam advised anyone who brings home a rescued dog. For Shiloh, that meant a village helping to raise him, from the grandchildren next door to the vet to groomer Sabrina McCombs, an expert with border collies, according to Putnam.
Putnam exposed him to everything and everyone. Since border collies are known for their intelligence and need to work, Putnam channeled his energy and love of people and dogs into training as a certified pet therapy dog.
He now spends his days bringing cheer to his family, those in assisted living facilities and medical centers and other dogs.
“He loves other dogs he meets. He doesn’t have a bad day with a dog,” Putnam said, much like a proud parent.
Chester’s beginning wasn’t nearly as awful. The pug spent his early years in a home with a guardian. But after spending most of his life in one place, the guardian passed away.
By then Chester was aging and blind — not ideal to place in a shelter, let alone with a permanent home, according to Pam Gorman of Rescue For Pet Sake.
But Gorman’s nonprofit pet rescue organization received word from Yuba City that Chester needed a home and a shelter wasn’t a good option for his condition. Evelyn Maniaci, a volunteer at both Rescue for Pet Sake and Sammie’s Friends, offered to foster the pug. Gorman said that Maniaci would update her constantly about how amazed she was by the dog and his intelligence. He is a “social butterfly, loves everyone … and gets right in the middle of all the crowd,” she added.
After bringing Chester to many adopt-a-thons, a Grass Valley family gave him a forever home. It took work to accommodate Chester’s handicaps, but he has fit right into the family, Gorman said.
That’s the best possible outcome for Gorman, who said Chester would have been euthanized if he had been returned to the shelter in Yuba City. Her organization takes last-chance animals as long there is a foster home. Rescue For Pet Sake is always looking for foster homes to hold dogs like Chester until a permanent home can be found.
“Ultimately, there is a home for every dog. The dogs that we think will never get a home always get homes. They are amazing little fur-babies that just want to live, and that is what we do is keep them safe. Once they feel safe, they blossom,” Gorman said.
Putnam wanted to tell her story to shed light on the rewards of adopting from a shelter as well.
“This story just goes to prove that shelter/rescue dogs are not hopeless, untrainable, dumb animals,” Putnam said. “They have just not been given a fair chance to prove their loyalty, love and general worth to the caregivers that chose to take on something they found they weren’t ready or able or willing to handle. As one friend aptly put it when we were on a recent therapy visit. ‘Dog saliva (kisses) is the most powerful drug you can get with out a prescription.”
Shiloh is now gainfully employed by the Grass Valley Host Lions as a certified therapy dog, visiting local residents in need of dog smooches.
Both Sammie’s Friends and Rescue for Pet Sake can use additional support, volunteers or supplies throughout the year. For information about either organization or the next adopt-athon, go to http://www.sammiefriends.org or http://www.rescueforpetsake.org.
Features Editor Brett Bentley can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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