We received an email in February, 2017 from Desert Harbor Doberman Rescue, of Arizona, about a lonely 6 year old dog in desperate straits who needed a Home for Life, after passing thru 5 homes including two adoptive homes and fosters.
Holly, a large female Doberman, again found herself in need when her longtime owner passed away after cancer claimed his life, and his wife felt she was unable to continue to care for the dog any longer. Because of insurance issues, Desert Harbor was unable to place her again because Holly had a bite history - At age 1, she bit a woman in the face who bent down to hug her ( duh!). Since then, the rescue reported that she had never bit anyone like that again but did have some degree of separation anxiety which was expressed as nipping . As an 80 lb dog the behavior could be intimidating.
Holly was surrendered with a steel tie out cable and 2 shock collars - we told Desert Harbor not to send the cable or collars with Holly, when she flew to Home for Life from Phoenix in late February 2017, with her arrival recorded for posterity by the BBC who were in town to film a feature about Home for Life! ( see more about the BBC at Home for Life here: http://bit.ly/2n4VdQv and see the BBC video here.
Shock collars have done damage to more than one dog we know of, and nothing makes dogs more aggressive than tethering them. No wonder Holly was head shy! At Home for Life we offer 4 large fenced meadows - the smallest about a 1/4 acre the largest nearly 10 acres! So, our dogs can safely run and play off leash and so they don't need to be controlled by shocks and other severe means that frighten and hurt them.
Holly has bonded to several of our employees, and is a sweet and loving girl. The best news is the friendship she has formed with another lonely dog, Huckleberry Finn, a beautiful Redbone Coonhound and one of Rory's puppies( more on their rescue here: http://homeforlifesanctuary.blogspot.com/sear.../label/puppies ) Finn, as he is known around town( Home for Life), had been adopted out by Home for Life as a puppy when about 3 or 4 months old, and made his new home in Houston Texas. Unfortunately, Finn's new family was experiencing stress, different from what Holly's family had gone thru, but with a similar outcome for the dog - the result was that Finn was lost in the shuffle, and in the process had developed several significant behavior issues: food aggression, hyperactivity and aggression to kids. He was dominant with other dogs, having never learned boundaries, and could be aggressive even with older females dogs with whom we initially tried and who tried valiently tried to teach him some manners.
As it became clear that Finn would be staying with us at Home for Life( we had hoped his adoptive owner would have been able to reclaim him after she gave him back last spring, 2016, but that didn't work out for her), we encouraged Finn to settle in and paired him with our blind Plott Hound, age 10 Smokey, with whom Finn mostly got along - Smokey went his way, Finn his. But Smokey wasn't interested much in being a companion to Finn. When Holly arrived, after she had a chance to get to know us, and settle in and when the activity settled down after the BBC, we tried the two lost souls together - and what a great match! Finn keeps Holly young and on the go and has allowed Holly to more quickly overcome her heartbreak at losing her owner and home, his friendship assuring her that she will not need to be given up again and that at last she is home for life!
There is nothing like a canine best friend to heal the heart of a lonely and lost dog. Finn and Holly have a great time together playing and the companionship and fun they enjoy at Home for Life have restored their joy and helped them overcome the behavioral challenges which left them in need of the option of the third door, a care for life sanctuary, when each dog still had much to live for and much to give. Our staff captured the companionship, healing and fun the dogs enjoy since becoming part of Home for Life in a short video which you can view below.
As Holly has become older, she has grown less patient with the high energy of Huckleberry Finn and after a few incidents where she very sternly put him in his place for perceived oversteps. We decided that he could use some younger companions, while Holly might be happier with a dog her own age. So Huck joined his brother and sister, Georgie and Reggie, Rory's puppies in their large townhouse and run while Holly is now paired up with Jacques a very dashing Standard Poodle who is about Holly's age and who will not take her bullying but also offers friendship and fun. Huckleberry Finn was relieved and happy to be reunited with his siblings, and they are now known as the 3 Stooges of Home for Life, goofy, loud and fun loving. Holly had been lonely and bored after living in her own townhouse as a singleton for several months, so was very happy to meet Jacques and have a new companion, roommate and friend. Creating dog groups is more of an art than a science and requires constant observation and knowing the dogs well; just like people, dogs can grow and change overtime and need new friends and companions to be happy and fulfilled. As a care for life sanctuary, we have the opportunity to know our dogs well and find the perfect match and friend so our dogs, who do best with the understanding and companionship of their own kind, can live their best life at the sanctuary