The Other Side

November 27, 2012  

Life through the eyes of a shelter dog who faced uncertainty and found hope

By Honor, as told by Elaine Fuerniss

A Scary Place

Number 521. That is what they called me at the shelter where I was taken to in late June 2012. It meant I had no name and no identity anymore. A man said I was a stray. He brought me to this shelter and the shelter workers didn’t say anything to him, but thought I was probably his dog because they didn’t think anyone could handle me except my owner.

The two guys that take care of the animals at the shelter didn’t talk to me much or even look at me. They said they had to “hold me” for seven days because I was reported to be a stray. I found out that “hold” did not mean they would come touch me or comfort me, but that they would feed me and clean my kennel for seven days, and then my time would be up. I’m not sure what that meant, but I didn’t feel good about that.

The kennels were loud with dogs barking and it was kind of a scary place. I liked to spend my days in the outside part of my kennel. I could see the dogs across the yard and see the sky and feel the sun’s warmth. Most of the time I just rested and waited, dozing and thinking about what had happened to bring me here. My face was all sore and swollen. There was a big sore by my nose. I can’t tell anyone what happened, but I knew it didn’t look good or feel good.

One morning, a couple days after I was brought to the shelter, some new faces appeared. One was a man with a machine in his hand. The machine made a clicking sound. They tried to call me over to the kennel gate. I came pretty close but didn’t know them and just wasn’t sure. The machine made clicking sounds at me, but didn’t hurt me. The woman would take the dogs out of the other kennels in the aisle and the man would make the machine click some more. The dogs were all excited, barking and carrying on. I sat and watched, but didn’t bark or jump around. I was just trying to figure out what this was about.

Before they left, they came back to talk to me some more. They said they were taking pictures for Facebook, to help the dogs find rescues. Did that mean I’d have a picture too? I guess if I’d been a little more social, I would have gotten out into the aisle for a picture too, and not through the kennel gate.

Facing My Fear

Days passed and the two men took good care of me with lots of food. Sometimes, one guy would stop and spend extra time talking to me, but he never touched me. I didn’t know what to do, so I just looked at him. The woman and the man with the clicking machine (I found out later the machine is a camera and the man is Wes) came by about three to four times a week. They always stopped by my kennel and talked to me. It was hard to know what they wanted or if I could trust them. I thought I could and one day the woman stopped extra long and talked to me. She opened the kennel gate and came part way in. I was afraid to look at her, so I looked at the ceiling, wall, and the floor and once in awhile I’d sneak a peek at her face.

She kept holding her hand out to me. I did smell it and after awhile she left. The next morning she was back with something special. Treats! Chicken meat! She gave all the other dogs box treats but I was the only one that got chicken! Then Wes came and took more pictures of the other dogs in the yard. I watched from my kennel and he went and got me a sandwich, I loved that and licked his fingers in appreciation. When all the other dogs had been out for their pictures they came back to my kennel. The woman came in and put a slip leash on me. They opened the kennel door, and for the first time took me to walk out on the leash.

I was a good girl, trying to remain calm and obedient but wondering what was happening. The kennels were kind of quiet, it was a nice day and we walked outside! Imagine my joy to be able to look off in the distance and see new things. I wondered what this was about, but enjoyed the attention. The woman was looking in my ears, mouth, checking my feet, pinching me, pulling my tail…all kinds of silly things. I just sat and looked around. Wes was making the machine make a lot of clicking sounds again, pointing at me. It was a nice change from what my days had been like. I wasn’t very happy when they said I had to go in the kennel again, but I did as I was told. Then they left and life went back to the usual.

The Best Day

The next morning, earlier than usual, the woman was back. She had a big smile on her face and said it was my lucky day and that I was rescued and was leaving with her. Then Wes appeared with some more good treats and after I was done eating, we took a walk again. This time we went the other way, out to the front door. Wes was ahead of me with something in his hand. It wasn’t a treat anymore but I heard them talk about making a video so people could see me leaving the shelter. They told me my name is Honor because they want to “honor” another dog that was also a pit bull that did not get out of the shelter. I like the sound of that name and will try to live up to it.

I jumped into the woman’s car where she had a crate for me to ride in. We went to her house, where I spent the night and today, Friday the 13th of July, I will go see the veterinarian for the first time in my life, I think. He’ll help me get ready for the rest of my life. I’ve heard that I’ll be going to another house to live in while all my new friends decide where my forever home will be. This new home will be fun and exciting. I’m looking forward to showing everyone what a good dog I am and to say that my life began on July 12th, when I walked out the front door of the animal shelter … alive!

Editor’s Note: Honor was adopted by her foster family and is living the good life.

(photos by Wes Allen)

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9 Responses to “The Other Side”
  1. DianaJones says:

    The apprehension in Honour’s eyes is clear. I am sure she could smell the death of the other dogs killed there. The seclusion in her kennel from dogs and people, most probably based on breed discrimination, must have been torture. I cannot imaging how overwhelming a place like that is for an animal. It is so unnatural. Is there no other way to house animals to take the stratospheric stress levels down? A different layout, different ventilation systems, housing dogs together in small groups rather than separated? I don’t know, but someone must.
    And then she is adopted by her fosters? HA! goes to show what a home will do for a dog. Bet she blossomed into the best wiggle bummed tongue lashing princess the family had ever known. And there is no way that could happened in the hell hole we call a “shelter”. Even the best shelter is a hell hole to a dog.
    A great lesson to be learned, but can or will anything ever change. The story and video are wonderful because Honour made it out to a happily ever after. It just makes you think of the poor souls who don’t.

    • StubbyDog says:

      so well said Diana, Honor’s name is to honor all those that don’t make it out, and her journey is just one journey with luckily a happy ending. It would behoove us all to figure out how to make that happy ending happen all the time. The no-kill movement is all about that, and we agree, some huge reform needs to happen with shelters to make the experience better for dogs and set them up for success. Thanks for your comments.

    • DianeM says:

      It’s awful to think of how scared they are. I have 4 dogs – 3 dogs pulled from death row. I never had a Pit Bull type dog until I met my Boxer/Pit mix at the kennel where he was boarded by the rescue group. He was so sad that I took him home. What a joyful, goofy dog he is now. I am so grateful to have him in my life .

      • StubbyDog says:

        So nice, he was scared until you took him home and he quickly realized he was safe and loved forever.

  2. AnnVanderlaan says:

    Love those “foster failures”. Congrats Honor.

  3. JeneenBurns says:

    She looks a bit like my Molly. Love those Pibbles.

  4. Tsukigi Racing says:

    I am Honors foster failure!! Just want to let everyone know she is an amazing dog and we are so lucky to have her as part of our life!! I promise you she is not the same dog you see in the video….she is so loving and just wanted a chance! Thank you to all who helped save her! To everyone else please do what ever you can to help save others even if its donating $$ or your time….there are hundred’s of other “Honors” looking for a chance!!

    • StubbyDog says:

      Thank you so much for giving us all an update. We are beyond thrilled to know that Honor blossomed into the dog she always could be under your care. Your message rings true, let’s all give the ‘Honors’ waiting a chance. Thank you again.

    • AnnVanderlaan says:

      Hello fellow foster failure. Good luck to you and Honor.