Lance is a Shar Pei/Whippet mix that came from an animal control facility in Illinois. Because of the Shar Pei's reputation as a fighting dog, not one rescue or shelter would take Lance, although he was only 18 months old. The animal control officer asked Home for Life to take him, but we initially declined, seeing no reason he could not be adopted.
Lance's case illustrates a problem with the definitions currently used in animal welfare: although Lance was regarded as "adoptable," that label made little difference to him if no one would help him. An "adoptable" dog is not adoptable if no one wants him.
Finally, a high-volume foster-based adoption group in Minnesota agreed to try and place Lance. When the transport driver arrived to load Lance into her van, he didn't want to go with her and lunged at her in an angry fashion. Maybe he had been in a kennel too long. Maybe he was afraid. Regardless of the reasons for Lance's behavior, it unfortunately aroused enough trepidation that now no one would take a chance on him.
Once again the Animal Control officer called Home for Life and gave us a second chance to help him. She cited a Shar Pei rescue that had fostered him for a short time and found him to be a good dog possessing many puppy-like qualities. She pleaded Lance's case, and this time we decided not to pass up the opportunity to help this young dog.
We are so glad we accepted Lance into our sanctuary, because he is not only a wonderful dog, but he also solved the problem of Ginger's loneliness.
Ginger, a diabetic Boxer, seemed to despise every dog at Home for Life that we tried to place her with. Being strong and fearless, Ginger was formidable when challenged and did not hesitate to take on any dog who rubbed her the wrong way. We had been told by her owner that she was not dog-aggressive, but her behavior demonstrated otherwise.
For the safety of the other dogs, Ginger was placed in her own townhouse. However, everyone could see that she was lonely and longed for company. She enjoyed visits from people, but would look wistfully at the other dogs when they ran and played together in the meadows. There had to be another dog out there who was right for Ginger!
Enter Lance. Within a couple days of his arrival, and with great apprehension, we introduced Lance and Ginger with a fence securely between them. To our amazement, Lance read the situation perfectly and immediately pranced towards Ginger and went into a charming play bow. Ginger watched carefully and decided that this silly boy was no threat, so she approached.
The next day we tried them in the same exercise area—success! They ran and chased together. When Lance got a little too rowdy, Ginger put her foot down by barking gruffly. Lance quickly got back in line. However, he was agile and strong enough not to let Ginger bully him.
Now Ginger, age five, and her good looking younger boyfriend are the best of buddies and a perfect match. Lance has provided the friendship that Ginger so desperately needed to be happy and complete her life at the sanctuary. There is a dimension of understanding and camaraderie that dogs provide to each other that people alone cannot, despite our best efforts. We are thrilled that we could be the vehicle of fate that brought these two dogs together.
Lance, for his part, is happy here too. On one occasion, he spied executive director Lisa LaVerdiere from his townhouse and actually leapt through his window to run over and greet her. It was as if he was expressing his thanks that someone had seen the good in him and given him a chance.
Lance's friendship with Ginger, and his happiness with sanctuary life, validate the hope we had for him. As often happens at Home for Life, the willingness to see an animal's good qualities in the face of others' negative views seems to give the animals space to be their best selves.
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