Every dog deserves a chance at a loving home, but some dogs are more likely to be adopted quickly from shelters and foster programs than others. Small dogs, puppies, trained dogs... they usually don’t stay for extended periods of time at a shelter because they are seen as immediately able to integrate into one’s family. So what happens to all of those dogs that are scared, lonely, and nervous -- the ones who just need a little extra time and help to love humans again? For some of those dogs, the answer is A NEW LEASH ON LIFE , the rescue program created by Meadowlake Pet Resort in October of 2010.
A New Leash On Life is a free in-house training program at Meadowlake that partners with local rescue groups to train, rehabilitate and ultimately rehome abandoned dogs that have behavioral issues. Meadowlake’s lead trainer, Tori Hankey, is actively involved in the New Leash On Life program. When I met with Tori to photograph some of the aspects of the program, she had this to say, “This program is intended to enhance the life of a rescued dog by working on behavioral issues that might otherwise prevent the dog from finding a forever home. Meadowlake will work with a partnered rescue group to train dogs with specific behavioral problems in order to improve their chances of being adopted. The dog will reside at Meadowlake Pet Resort up to 30 days and undergo basic obedience and socialization, as well as establishing proper house manners (jumping on people, mouthing, barking, leash walking) and managing issues of resource guarding or fear based aggression.”
Read more in this article to hear the personal story of Gypsy, the current program dog pictured above.
A New Leash on Life has already had a string of successful fosters, starting with Mattie from the Gulf Coast Cocker Spaniel Rescue . I met Mattie at a previous trip to Meadowlake just prior to her adoption. Mattie was transformed from a matted and dirty mess of a pup into quite the charming Diva with impeccable manners. Currently, the New Leash on Life program is working with Gypsy, a beautiful Catahoula dog who needs time to welcome humans back into her life. Gypsy came to Meadowlake after being nursed back to health by the Friends of Mongtomery County Texas Animal Shelter after they rescued her from the Shelter. She was picked up as a stray dog and showed signs of extreme abuse and neglect that included a shattered jaw, upper respiratory infections, starvation, intestinal parasites and a fear of humans. Once she was nursed back to health, Meadowlake and Tori were contacted to see if Gypsy would be a fit for the program.
When I met Gypsy, you could already see a strong bond had formed between her and Tori. You can see that this little girl has a huge heart, even though she has been beaten down in the past. Tori told me that Gypsy acts like a completely different dog when she is around humans than other dogs. Near dogs, she begins to perk up, her tail and ears are high, and there is a lightness to her step. (I get a feeling that this is what the “future” Gypsy will look like.) Around humans, however, she is still timid and stays on the outskirts of an enclosure with her tail between her legs. I know that with work Gypsy will soon be running to greet me at my next visit to Meadowlake .
Gypsy’s trainer Tori has an incredibly calm demeanor that is suited to dogs like her that need a little extra time and attention. In the incredibly brief time that they have been working together, you can see immediate signs of progress. Gypsy allows Tori to freely approach her and place a leash on her while she is exploring the yard. She is handling the leash well, and to my amazement, goes “down” when Tori asks.
Of course, these are baby steps and Gyspy has quite a long way to go until she is fully recovered from her traumatic past, but through Tori and the entire Meadowlake staff’s attention and dedication, Gypsy will soon be able to be placed into a permanent and loving home so she can live out the rest of her life as she always intended... as a good dog and a devoted companion.
Stay tuned to this blog for more updates on Gypsy’s success. Contact Meadowlake Pet Resort if you would like to adopt Gypsy into your own family today.