Shirley Zindler
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Give a Shelter Dog the Life They Deserve.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Wallace the Pit Bull today.  Wallace was a former shelter dog who had “issues” and spent a long time in a kennel. Thankfully a shelter volunteer and his wife took a chance on Wallace and adopted the problem dog. They spent a great deal of time working with him and he later became a champion Frisbee dog, winning many competitions and becoming an ambassador for Pit Bulls. A delightful book was written about Wallace’s transformation from unwanted dog to adored champion (Wallace. By Jim Gorant). Wallace passed away at a great old age, comforted by those who loved him, after a long and happy life.

As I walked through the shelter today I was struck, as I always am, by the number of wonderful dogs waiting hopefully behind the chain link. Many of them stare eagerly as I walk by, wagging their tails harder and harder the closer I get. Some are terrified and huddle at the back of the kennel, glancing at me furtively. A few are quite aggressive but most of them respond to a kind word and the offer of a cookie. The only difference between most of these dogs and Wallace is a person. One person willing to do whatever it takes to give that dog the life he or she deserves.

Shelter dogs are not flawed or bad. They just need someone to teach them how to behave and to manage them in such a way that they are set up to win. Most dogs will become a problem if allowed to roam or bark incessantly. I recently had a case involving an adolescent Great Pyrenees who barked day and night in the owner’s backyard until the neighbors complained. On investigating, I learned that the owners liked the dog but didn’t understand a dogs needs. The pup had food, water and shelter but they didn’t ever take him out of the yard. He didn’t come in the house, didn’t go for walks or have any kind of enrichment in his life. This puppy wasn’t a bad dog; he was just desperate for company. The owners surrendered the puppy to the shelter and he was adopted soon after. What a wonderful feeling it was to see that beautiful puppy leave with an adoptive family who understood his need for companionship, direction and exercise.

How I wish that every dog had the chance for a life like Wallace had. It wasn’t always easy, but Wallace’s family did whatever it took to help Wallace succeed.

I would love to hear from readers that were able to turn a “problem” dog into a happy pet. Tell me about your dog and how you did it.


Shirley Zindler is an animal control officer in Northern California, and has personally fostered and rehomed more than 300 dogs. She has competed in obedience, agility, conformation and lure coursing, and has done pet therapy. Zindler just wrote a book The Secret Lives of Dog Catchers, about her experiences and contributes to Bark’s blog on a regular basis.

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Submitted by Erin Jonasson | August 24 2013 |

I was rescued by my dog 2 years ago. He was adopted and 9months later returned. The rescue told he was mouthy and not good with small children. I quickly found out that he had fear aggression. Needless to say walks on trash day were a struggle at best. With the help of great trainers he was able to build his confidence through agility classes. We still have some bad days but they are now far out numbered but GREAT days! We are working towards agility and rally competions. Shelter dogs just need love and time to learn how to trust being a dog in a big world.

Submitted by Shirley Zindler | August 25 2013 |

Thank you Erin for sticking with him. It sounds like you are making great progress.

Submitted by Jennifer S. | August 25 2013 |

16 months ago we went to our local shelter to "look" at a dog and came home with TWO.

First, was a senior basset hound, who had been surrendered when his first owner was given the choice between their dog who bayed and eviction. He is loud and loves to greet people and in an apartment setting that would be overwhelming. But for us, who have a house and large yard which he adores, the baying isn't an issue. We come home, he greets us at the gate with a litany of vocalizations: bays, barks, moans, whistles, and howls, like he's talking about his day. It lasts for about 5 minutes and then he's off to nap in prep for his evening walk. For us its charming, sweet & part of his personality. I'm glad he came into our lives and can enjoy his golden yrs and make all the noise he wants.

Our other dog was a young chihuahua mix, we're big dog people (I grew up with Great Danes), so it never would've dawned on us a tiny little girl would steal our hearts. She danced in the cage when we walked by, so we met her and she became timid, but something said she belonged with us. We were told she wasn't potty trained. That wasn't true, but what was obvious was this was an abused dog. We got her home and she staked out a pillow by the fireplace and wouldn't leave it, except for food and bathroom breaks. She attacked the hound when he came too near. Fortunately his mellow nature kept it from escalating. She didn't nip at people, but shrank back or cringed when anyone approached. We worried when she wouldn't leave the spot, but we soon realized that's what she'd been conditioned to do, stay in one place all day and if left alone for hrs on end probably did have accidents. Slowly through treats, cuddles, and patience we got her to expand her comfort zone. It took almost a full year before she realized the entire house was her domain and this year we're trying to get her to feel the same about the yard. She's still timid around people she doesn't know, but with us she's very affectionate and its beyond rewarding to watch her confidence grow. She may not vocalize like the hound, but now when we come home she bounces like Tigger, with her tail wagging madly until you pet her and give a little cuddle. And this supposedly un-potty trained dog is anything but, yet like any animal if not let out will and probably did have accidents.

These were our first shelter dogs (our cats always came from shelters, but there had been a wariness of shelter dogs that now seems silly), but they won't be our last.

Submitted by shirley zindler | August 26 2013 |

Such a wonderful story Jennifer. Senior dogs have my heart and what a blessing that you adopted one. And Chihuahuas are wonderful but need patient, gentle homes. Sounds like your two shelter dogs hit the jackpot.

Submitted by Jennifer McClure | August 26 2013 |

I absolutely adored reading this! Thank you so much for sharing. ♥

Submitted by Jennifer McClure | August 26 2013 |

I absolutely adored ready this. Thank you so much for sharing! ♥

Submitted by Anonymous | August 26 2013 |

I fostered a sad, aggressive, territorial dog about 6 years ago. I later adopted him and he is doing great. I wouldn't trade my time with him for anything.

Submitted by James Doorey | August 26 2013 |

I adopted a little guy, a beagle and lab-mix, he had been returned to his shelter. PAWS Chicago (Pets Are Worth Saving) His last people, got pregnant, they returned him, and I walked in a day later. He was a restless soul, but with a good run every day, or really at least a good 45 minute walk EVERY day. (trust me I don't want to go every day, but I do) He has turned out to be my best bud.

Submitted by deb | August 26 2013 |

the book about wallace struck me right in the heart. my sam was the same way! we worked for years to give him love, rules and a routine that he could handle. he is now able to do agility, go to dog parks and out to socialize with dogs and people without any problems. the redeeming quality he had during the hard part of working into the family, was his incredible love and excitement for us, his people. he desperately wanted to please us and after much work by all of us, sam included, we are very happy. whoever gave him up lost a great dog!

Submitted by Rebecca | August 26 2013 |

Wallace actually helped me save Ruby. She was in the shelter I volunteer at and ran out of time, mostly due to her behavior problems. I found a rescue to pull her and I fostered. She started trying to attack people at adoption events so she was a risk to be adopted out. I decided to keep her, and happened to come across Wallace's book. I decided to try a frisbee with her and it has helped her so much. There are so many dogs in shelters that just need a little help to be the great dogs. I can't even think about Ruby being put down just because she got a cruddy start to life. Thank you for the great article!

Submitted by CS | August 26 2013 |

My American bulldog mix never ended up in a shelter, but he is a rescue, and if he had, his story would have been closer to Wallace's. We're not National champions, but we consistently do great at obedience and rally trials we go too. If I didn't get him as a puppy I strongly feel he would have been euthanized b/c of behavior.

Submitted by ALLISON BLAU | August 26 2013 |

I have adopted many dogs and cats over the years but the one that completely grabbed my heart was my chihuahua who I named Chooch. She was estimated to be at least 16 years old when I got her. I was told she had a bad heart and probably would not live more then 6 months. She was a handful. She tried to bite anyone who tried to lift her. For some reasons she did not do that with me. The staff brought her out to me and she just jumped into my arms. I still have a picture from that very first day. Lucky she had pretty much no teeth so the biting did not effect anyone. I loved her for 3 years. I bought her a little stroller and we would go to the park. What a sight she was sitting up in her stroller, tongue hanging out, bugged eyed. She was so proud. She filled my heart with so much love.

Submitted by Justin | August 26 2013 |

We rescued our Lola from an Albuquerque shelter about three years ago. She was slated for 'termination' the next day. We were told by the shelter's staff that she was vicious,uncontrollable, and that they would not enter her pen while she was in it. We immediately knew this dog was far from vicious, and we requested that we have the chance to take her out of the pen and meet with her. The employee of the shelter proceeded to don protective gloves, and a chain to lead her with. I requested that he allow me to leash her myself, he reluctantly agreed. With no coaxing at all, Lola immediately got on her leash, and we led her to the 'meet and greet' area. She proceeded to lay down, and cuddle up with to my wife, lovingly licking her arm.
We took Lola home the next day, and through consistent discipline, lots of exercise, and tons of love, she has become one of the most gentle, loving dogs I have ever met. Just today I was told by the veterinarian how great and well behave she was. Lola is our second pitbull, and I will never own another breed, as they are the most loyal breed I have ever known.

Submitted by Deb Rogers | August 26 2013 |

I too, have been rescued by my Pit Bull Molly... I will never know her life before me but she came into a loving home scared and full of fear. Loud noises, a mans voice, stressful energy.... She's been with me and her fur sister now for almost 2 years and although she still has some of these issues (and probably always will) we love her with every bit of our heart. I have to thank Chako Pit Bull Rescue for pulling her from the shelter and eventually to me. Knowing what the issues are, and not knowing how they got them, comes the ability to work with them and love them and make them part of your family. Everybody loves my Molly and although she is shy, scared, she comes around in her own time and that is the key... I don't know what it is that she brought into this family - but whatever it is, it will stay here forever... We love her..

Submitted by Teresa | August 26 2013 |

I took a 2 yr old boxer/ Staffordshire mix to foster overnight for an adoption event in Oct of 2006. He was exuberant to say the least; he was known to scale the six foot kennels in the shelter and was often found in the warden's office when he came to work in the morning. The shelter filled up while I had Titus at my house, so he never went back there. He is SO strong and used to pin me to the wall and lick my face until I couldn't catch my breath. Titus didn't mean any harm but was so rough that he was nearly impossible to handle. He could climb over my gates and we had to chase him through the neighborhood numerous times. He is the smartest dog I've ever had and quickly learned how to escape from even the sturdiest crate I could buy. He can open doors, cabinets, drawers and several couches met their end with Titus. He was adopted once for ten days but returned after he escaped a crate in the family's garage, jumped and hit the garage door opener button, and was found wandering the neighborhood! After training, wire "leaners" on the gates, solid core doors installed throughout the house, patience, and a whole lot of love and understanding, Titus is a much loved member of our family. He has taught me SO much about dogs "with issues" and what they need to succeed. He can be left uncrated now and sleeps with his head next to mine every night. Can't imagine life without him!

Submitted by Susan Warner | August 26 2013 |

I am a shelter volunteer and on Sept 2010, our shelter took in 30 Cane Corso's from a backyard breeder. One of the dogs was a 2 yr old male. He bounced around to a couple homes, and was returned because of 1)needed too much attention, and 2) destroyed the home when they left him (they didn't crate him. He was crazy in the kennel and a friend of mine said "take him out", I did, and he settled right down. I took him home to be with me and my other rescue, a female rotti, and two cats. I stayed home for three days with him, and slowly got him used to my being gone. Bubba is now 5 years old, weighs 100#, and is the most loving, sweet natured guy, runs from a fight, and has never been destructive. I have since rescued two female pits along with Bubba and continually foster another female. Bubba is my Man and the light of my life.

Submitted by Angela | August 26 2013 |

We have FOUR rescued dogs, all between 90-150 pounds. All of them had rough starts: my lab was going to be euthanized by her breeder if she couldn't give her away; my St. Bernard/ GR mix was being tied in the yard all day until the rope embedded into his neck because he was "too much of a puppy"; and two Great Pyrenees crosses that came from the shelter (one had been returned three times!) that were misunderstood-people don't understand the guardian instinct these dogs have. It took a long time for all of us to understand each other and there were incredibly trying times but, as I type, all of them are sleeping at my feet and very, very secure and spoiled. They have a secure home, two good meals a day, and a loving pack and family. Rescues are the best dogs to have!

Submitted by Terry Kennedy-Lares | August 26 2013 |

Forrest is my almost 2 year old Speckled Blue Heeler pup, who was turned into the Habersham County Shelter in Georgia with his Mother and 3 sisters. The story was that they had been running feral (there is some conjecture that the owner didn't want to pay the shelter fees). However, they were all fearful and unsocialized. Because of this they were thought to be low re-homing prospects, so the shelter decided that if the rescues wouldn't take them they would be put down in a month. The plea for them was posted on face book and a friend of mine who works with Little House Rescue shared it. I saw the posting, and the mother for some reason reminded me of my ACD/Pit Bull mix who had passed a few years back. So, I posted that I would try fostering a couple of the pups. Several other people who work rescue also spoke up, I'm assuming knowing that Shelters often have an all or none rule for releasing families of dogs. So, these wonderful people made arrangements for saving these dogs, and Forrest came to me to foster. I am still in touch with the people who have his mother and sisters. It was fortunate that he was very social with other dogs, so when he came to my house he latched on to my two disc dogging border collies, Dougal and Fergus. He warmed up to me fast enough since he was the first dog I've ever let sleep on my bed.LOL I did this to help him feel secure. Two months later when the rescue called to ask how he was coming, I knew that he was so shy it would take a while before he was ready to adopt out, so I told them I would keep him. Since then I have fostered and adopted out two other dogs, both to good homes. Forrest goes with us to all our disc dogging events and does meet and greet with people after our shows. He is still a bit insecure in new situations, but knows many of the members of our disc dog club. Every time he sees them he greets them with pure dog love. He is my poster boy for why people should rescue, foster and adopt dogs. He is such a sweet dog. I am so blessed to have him. He does have a talent for catching discs, maybe someday he will be the next "Wallace" to show people what adopting a problem dog can do!

Submitted by Justin Varis | August 26 2013 |

Annie has come a long way. She will turn 5 (we think) in November 2013. We have had her three years or a little more then half of her life. In that time, she has literally transformed from an incredibly fearful animal to a confident, obedient, relaxed and happy dog.

When I started to look for a dog to adopt, I had two criteria: I knew I wanted a Pit Bull as I am familiar and comfortable with the breed and I knew I wanted to bring a dog home that had been abused, neglected or mishandled. I visited a number of shelters and dogs at their foster homes. Of course I saw many amazing animals. When I met Annie, she had just arrived at Pacific Coast Dog Rescue. It was her third shelter in a very short period of time. It is impossible to know exactly what she previously experienced, but it was clear she was shut down mentally and in poor shape physically. She had terrible scars on her neck from pinch collars. She had scars on her face and body from most likely altercations with either animals in other shelters or time spent on the street and was drastically underweight. The shelter said she had a long way to go and would need a very patient yet focused home to help her rebuild her confidence. They mentioned to me that it could take years to see real progress and even then there could be lingering behavioral issues.

Over the next 4 months, I visited her every other weekend as she was receiving basic training from the shelter. I was also having a challenging time finding a new apartment that would allow Pit Bulls as a lot of complexes have breed restrictions. During the visits, we first started with me being in the same area as her. A new person prompted avoidance, as she would put herself in the furthest corner she could find. I have to admit, after some of the first visits, I was not sure about our prospects. But I had committed to her and knew that building our relationship would take time. As the weeks went by, she started to trust my presence and I was able to hand feed her. The next step was short walks around the block. These walks were incredibly difficult as she would dart and pull to find anything to hide under. Getting her into my car was also very challenging. As soon as she sensed we were heading towards my car, she would drop and freeze at about 20 feet from the car. It could take us up to 30 minutes to get into the car. Sometimes even 45 minutes. Nevertheless, we took that time as I understood that any frustration I showed would hurt the chances of her viewing the car as a positive experience to enjoy. Time passed and we progressed to a short home visit, a 1/2 day visit then an overnight stay. This process afforded her the chance to trust me gradually and not have to quickly adjust to yet another home/location. Plus it was important for me to appreciate the level of commitment her rehabilitation called for.

When I brought her home for good, the last hurdle we needed to jump was having her at work with me. I was able to bring her in as long as she was crated. However, I did not want this to be the norm as consequent separation anxiety was a real possibility considering her overall anxiety. In order to ensure she was comfortable with me at work, I took necessary steps in advance (minimum 90 minute walks prior to entering my work place, asking co-workers to ignore her for the first month so she could focus on her routine). After the first month, I worked on leaving her at home in her crate for short periods of time, driving back home and then taking her into work. We slowly progressed this routine into a few hours and then to half a day. She now only comes to work with me on special occasions as she can be at home crated without issue during the day (side note: she does get an afternoon walk every day that in fact we both look forward to).

Annie has continued to blossom in her new home. About a year ago she passed the Canine Good Citizen test with flying colors and just recently enrolled in Agility courses. Annie is truly an amazing dog and we are so lucky to have found her!

Final side note: My fiancée has just recently moved in with her two cats. Annie and the cats are doing incredible with each other!

Submitted by Laura | August 26 2013 |

We've got four rescued dogs all with different quirks, some were from shelters, some were strays. Summer is our social butterfly and a titled, advanced agility dog. Missy is our guardian, very sweet, wary of strangers, smart, talented and fast on the agility field. Buddy is my 'mama's boy', a "pitbull" type, very focused, very smart and driven to please. He's going to be very competitive in agility, as long as I can keep up :) He's the one very protective of me and the house if my husband's gone. And there is Lady, she's a bit on the simple side, not really bright but loves to bring dead things in from the yard as a token of affection. We love all our "kids" and are happy to show off their good manners and social skills to anyone lucky enough to meet them.

Submitted by Maria LaRotonda | August 26 2013 |

I have two rescue dogs, and two rescue cats. My one dog, our German Shepherd, was found in a box on the steps of a pet store in San Francisco. Someone had apparently adopted her from the shelter, then dropped her at the pet store during the night. She was three months old. As she grew that first year, it was quickly discovered she is epileptic; a problem not uncommon with German Shepherds. My husband and I give her medication twice a day, every 12 hours. She suffers a seizure once a month, and they are violent, grand mal episodes that we need to help her through. We cannot go on vacation unless someone stays with her at our house, since the seizures happen usually between midnight and eight in the morning. She needs help getting through them. We are so fortunate to have our German Shepherd because she is a wonderful friend. I am happy she wanted to be part of our family - she is so smart, affectionate, and sweet.

Our second dog looks to be part shepherd. He is black and resembles a small wolf. His previous owners had adopted him from a shelter just a month before my husband found him running the streets, scared by all the traffic. My husband brought him back to the shelter to make sure he wasn't lost or missing. The shelter recovered the dog's records, and that is when it was discovered who his owner is. My husband was told this little black wolf had a seven day window for someone to recover him. After a week in the shelter, no one was looking for this cute, shy, needy dog. So my husband went back and adopted him outright. Today, our little black wolf, although scared of thunder storms, new people, loud noises, and trying new food, is thriving, happy, and healthy. He loves to cuddle, and is incredibly close with our German Shepherd, as well as out two cats.

Shelter dogs are really amazing. I have friends with equally loving stories about the shelter dogs they added to their families, vowing that these canines would have a forever home. If you are looking for a dog to add to your home, please go to the local shelter first. There are a lot of dogs who would love to be a part of a family. I know we are so lucky to have former shelter dogs as part of ours.

Submitted by Joshua Behr | August 26 2013 |

Wallace showed how great of a family companion he became even after his troubled past. It will take more understanding for others to see what great dogs pits are. My wife and I recently rescued a 2yr old pit mix who was returned back to the humane society once already. She has a separation anxiety issue from being abandoned. We are working on this issue because she is an incredible little dog. Loves cuddling and fetch with almost anything you can throw. Izzy has definitely stole our hearts and we don't regret adopting her. When our 10 yr old English Setter passes we are definitely adopting another one. :)

Submitted by Rayne | August 26 2013 |

We had an epic bad boy named Bullet who found us via Hopalong Rescue in Oakland. He was a Houdini; a break-out expert - but only because he wanted to be with his people, or any people for that matter. We learned after the fact that for years, he broke out each day to ride around with our mail man. He's hop the 8 ft. fence to break back in. (We always wondered what those scratches were...) We tried exercise, we got HIM a dog for company, we trained, reasoned, walked, exercised, plead and cried, but he never got over his wanderlust. Luckily, we live in a small, friendly town and he was always returned to us. As he aged, he only broke out when there were fireworks involved, always picking a nicest house on the block having a big party. On Bullet's final escape the people at the party liked him so much they were arguing who got to take him home with them, but we found him in time and brought him home to his blanket set before a crackling fire. At age 17, he fell badly coming through the dog door, breaking his shoulder and we had to let him go to his great reward. We could have named him Trouble, only he was no trouble to us. Inside every "problem" dog there is a wonderful dog. With some dogs, you just have to stick with it.

Submitted by Cindy Jorgenson | August 26 2013 |

4 years ago we adopted a little female min pin/chihuahua mix dog named Fiji. Its the name her foster family gave her. She was rescued at 6 months old from a puppy mill in California, and took a long journey all the way to Northern MN, which is where we live. She was the dog nobody wanted because she wasn't perfect in manners, was wary of people, and had other issues. With lots of love, treats and training by our family, she became the perfect dog for our family. She still has some issues, but we deal with them. She also has seizures, but has been seizure free for 4 months. She is so loved and so spoiled and lives the perfect dogs life. I wish more people would adopt.

Submitted by Galen Hale | August 26 2013 |

We adopted our pit bull last year from a wonderful organization here in Alabama called Bama Bully Rescue. A year later we fostered another dog through the same organization and have now adopted her as well. Both were rescued from shelters and are such awesome pets. I read Wallace's book and and am so proud of the Yoris for taking the time to rescue him and share his story. RIP Wallace, and may your legacy live on for many years to come!!

Submitted by Andrea | August 26 2013 |

I was a volunteer in 2000 at a no-kill shelter. Not the shining example the same shelter is today, they will euthanize if the dog develops an "issue." Here is where I met Scruffy, a schnauzer mix who was shy, had no social skills but looked like Tramp from the Disney movie with a curly tail. Though the signs tell people not to stick their hands in the cages, a woman did and Scruffy nipped. He was put on the "not for adoption list" and I knew what that meant. Fellow volunteers told me if I loved him, I needed to get him out. After begging my mother (to no avail), I moved out, asked the director if he could come live me (she said foster, I knew he would never come back), and he has been with me ever since. Through marriage, babies, new homes, the military, college (you name it), my old man is 15 now. He moves slower and can hardly hear, but my life would not be where it is had I not moved out to adopt my most loyal friend.

Submitted by Autumn Pierce | August 26 2013 |

My dog was in danger of being put down at a "no-kill" shelter because he had already been adopted and returned twice for biting in the home. Our first year was rough and we went through some very low points. With the help of two great trainers, he has not had a bite incident in over a year. He is joyful and loving and I couldn't wish for a better dog. It's not enough to just "love their problems away". But with work and boundaries and consistency along with the love, it can be done.

Submitted by brett herbert | August 26 2013 |

we have rescued 3 pit mixs are first 2 were within' weeks of each other... it all started with a great dane pit mix named Jackson... he was former fighter from los angeles county(they cut his ears off with a pair of shears)... he was and still is alittle bit of a problem when it comes to other dogs... but he is getting better... he truely is a bully all tough on the outside but a scared and insecure on the inside... him and i bounded from day one... he was my best man at my wedding... he truely is my best friend and as for his problems i have problems to and he has not left myside so how could i ever leave his... are other 2 are great dogs and all look up to Jackson...

Submitted by samantha | August 26 2013 |

We adopted zoey a pit bull mix, she was surrendered to a shelter after she was adopted because she was such a sick puppy with parvo,kennel cough and parasites and she was actual 6 wks old instead of 9wks. So we brought her home to a house with 2 big dogs they have a great bond. She did have food aggression but hand feeding her stopped that. she still has behavioral issues at times but we would be lost without her she is just a little sweetie bug at a healthy 50 lbs now. She loves to swim, play ball and snuggle. We will always get shelter dogs.

Submitted by Deniece | August 27 2013 |

Our second oldest pit bull came from a breeder, but we quickly found out that everything that could be wrong with him - was. Severe overbite, nearly hairless, debilitating allergies, and temperament problems to boot. It took lots of vet visits, testing, an extreme special diet, and then a training class which led to agility classes... he began to thrive and actually act like a HAPPY DOG. He loves training for agility. He's competed several times now and done exceptionally well. He's also the reason we began doing pit bull rescue, and have adopted 2 more rescue pits. With all his flaws, we are happy he's with us, we love him more for it, and we will continue to do all we can to make sure he's happy and healthy!

Submitted by Kris | August 27 2013 |

I need some help with my problem dogs. I have three rotts, the mama and two girls the girls are approaching three. With no fault of their own I didn't socialize then enough I just figured they would follow mamas disposition. I now have two aggressive girls and don't know which way to turn. They are love bugs to us and the neighbor kids but I want them to be socialized and not panic every time a strange dog or person come on my property. Do you have any suggestions..

Submitted by Shirley Zindler | August 28 2013 |

Its always a challenge with a group of dogs and especially with two siblings. Its so critical to take them lots of places individually when they are pups. That important time period has passed but there are still things you can do to improve their behavior. Ideally you would work with a trainer but if you cant, you can still start doing things with each one on their own. Even 5 or 10 minutes each day of positive individual work can go a long way. Get some yummy treats and take them out one at a time. Reward any positive behavior at all with cookies and praise. Spend as much time as possible with each of them alone and then very slowly start introducing new things. You can also get books from the library or research online for helpful tips. Just make sure you aren't praising the aggression. Only reward the good behavior. Its also very important to project confidence to them when visitors come or when you go for a walk. They need good strong leadership from you to feel confident and comfortable themselves. Good luck!

Submitted by OxfordDogs | August 27 2013 |

13 years ago I brought home a dog who has shut down in the shelter where I worked. She was feral, and was brought in with her pack, 16 other dogs. Most of them had to be put down as they were not safe with people. I lived in the inner city at the time, not a good place for a fearful dog. Cars, noises, people, it all made her so scared. I took to early morning hikes, and going further and further from the city. We spent lots of our time skijoring, snowshoeing, biking and canoeing in the wilderness. She was a dog happiest in the woods, and I too realized that I was as well. My anxiety started to life, and my depression as well. She lied a year ago next week. I have a pack of three great, well balanced ressue dogs now. I still go to the woods a few times a week. That dog rescued me. We get the dogs we need.

Submitted by Heidi Johnston | August 27 2013 |

we have 2 shelter dogs that were deemed "problems". its been over 5 years and with a little training, lots of exercise, and tons of love (not difficult - they are truly angels!) they are a constant bright spot in every day. thank you for promoting education and awareness about shelter animals!! our pups are great dane/ american bull dog and pit bull so... you can imagine most peoples prejudice. until they meet them! :)

Submitted by Barb Carr | August 27 2013 |

We feel we rescued Neptune FROM the rescue place. She said, "all he's done in the ten days he's been here is bark". (yes, a dog will do that if it is just fed, sheltered and tied outside) She said, "he doesn't like his bottom touched". (why do you continually touch it?) We took Neptune for a walk in the woods of her place. We were very skeptical. We started to walk back to say, "we don't want him". BUT, we just couldn't let him stay. We took Neptune home. He was great in the car for the hour and a half ride home. He did have some issues, but we worked them out. He's been with us for 2 years. All he wanted was love and attention. Oh, and, to go for a walk. We love him to pieces and we are glad we said, "yes"!

Submitted by apbtlover | August 28 2013 |

Rescued a mannerless 6 month old unspayed female APBT/Boxer mix from a literal meth house. Boyfriend was perusing Craigslist, found her ad, copied the cell #, called me, went back to the ad to find it had been deleted. My boyfriend called the # and we immediately drove the hour to meet her. She was skinny stinky, had very flaky skin, and was completely out of control. The guy said that the previous owner (his friend) had her chained to a tree in his backyard and she didnt socialize with other dogs, or go inside. His friend found out a week prior that he had stage 4 Cancer and couldnt take care of her anymore. Thus this guy told him that he'd keep her. But because she was just too crazy for his small trailer and two other small dogs he placed the ad prior to taking her to the pound.
The rest is history and Bella now is a healthy, well mannered, well adjusted, and irreplaceable member of our pack. It took 6 long months of daily training sessions but she gets better everyday. I hope to eventually get her into agility training.
All of our dogs are rescues... and our future ones will be too. I think rescues change the owner more than the owner changes them

Submitted by Shirley Zindler | September 1 2013 |

How wonderful for Bella to have found you. You are so right about the dog changing the owner more than the owner changing the dog. We learn so much from every dog in our lives. Thank you for giving Bella the life every dog deserves <3

Submitted by fran | September 7 2013 |

Hi Shirley,
Your stories are so positive and upbeat. I enjoy reading them. You must be from the more advance animal control shelters in the country. Is your shelter a no kill shelter? And do all the animal control officers believe in the no kill movement like you obviously do? It so great to see these positive stories from an officer. It will be so wonderful when the whole country is no kill just like whatever shelter you are from.

Submitted by fran | September 24 2013 |

No answer? Why?

Submitted by shirley zindler | October 18 2013 |

Sorry Fran, I havent had a chance to look at comments for a while and I'm not notified when new comments come in. Our shelter does not have a time limit on how long an animal can stay and we do everything we can to give every animal a chance at adoption. We do medical and surgical treatments, rehab of injured and abused and work with temperament and health issues whenever possible. We are lucky to live in a fairly progressive community but many shelters are not. Shelters everywhere are in desperate need of caring, committed people to step up and make a difference. Shelters that are forced to euthanize adoptable animals need people to foster, volunteer, support spay/neuter, education and many other programs to reduce the number of unwanted animals. Only by working together can we really make life better for animals in need.

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