Buddy and Squirt are sweet and loyal shepherd/heeler mixes available for adoption at the Ellensburg Animal Shelter in Washington. But shelter staff wasn’t sure they ever would be adoptable, because when the boys were first admitted, they wouldn’t allow anyone to get within a couple feet of them. Volunteers could not leash the dogs or give them medical treatment.
Not knowing what else to do, shelter director Paula Hake ordered them to be sedated. But even while sedated, Buddy began doing flips and jumped up high enough to hit a ceiling.
“But I managed, he finally calmed down and stopped doing crocodile flips,” Hake said. “And I thought, ‘OK, there’s hope.’ That was probably the moment.”
Squirt received the same treatment, and both dogs were able to be taken out of their kennels within a week.
“Once volunteers started being able to take them out, then I knew they could be socialized,” Hake said.
Buddy and Squirt were seized from a property in July along with 60 other animals. They were living in squalor, with urine and feces coating the floors. These two boys were found with porcupine quills embedded in their faces. One of the Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputies said the home was the worst he’s seen in 24 years on the job.
Understandably, the dogs growled and charged at anyone who neared them when they were first brought into the shelter. They had lived so isolated that they were scared of every day, normal city noises.
“They were scared to death,” said Hake. “They literally had to learn everything from the beginning. They had never been on a leash. They hadn’t heard noises that are typical in town, like trucks or cars. Everything scared them.”
Staff and volunteers slowly acclimated Squirt and Buddy to car rides and various noises. They talked to the dogs, and brought fresh food and bedding at the same times every day.
“That’s what it was — a trust issue,” Hake said. “They didn’t trust that everything was going to be OK, and that we weren’t trying to harm them.”
After five months of being rehabilitated, the dogs are now ready to adopt. They have already been traumatized by their ill-treatment, which may have bonded them, and it would likely be adding to their list of hardships to separate them.
It will take a special family to provide for Buddy and Squirt, who are both about two years old. One or two owners, or a family with children over 12 are preferable. Neither dog has displayed a dominant alpha male personality, and Hake says they have the instinct to be domestic and friendly. They need lots of exercise and would do best if enrolled in obedience classes. The might regress and chew or show separation anxiety at first, but owners who are firm, but kind, and can lead a pack, should have minimal problems.
“They’re not your average, easy, happy-go-lucky dog that will adjust to every situation,” Hake said. “They need real consistency and they need confidence.”
But aren’t they cute?