This story made my heart hurt

Update: Gunner has been adopted. He was in foster care for less than a week.

The other day I came across a post on the Facebook page of the Westside German Shepherd Rescue that started with the title:

A photo of the saddest German Shepherd was attached with this story. It broke my heart.  And days later I still can’t shake it off. Here is why…
When Gunner was turned in to the rescue yesterday, he didn’t know what he had done wrong. His tail was tucked between his legs even though volunteers were trying to cheer him up. The little boy in the family had little bags of treats for Gunner along with little handwritten notes. The poor child’s heart was breaking along with Gunner’s. It was difficult to look at either of them, the little boy’s face with tears streaming down his cheeks, and Gunner’s excruciatingly sad face.
We certainly weren’t feeling very charitable when we learned why Gunner was given up! His big “crime” that resulted in him losing his home was that he had gotten into the garbage and peed on the new couch! The dad would not listen to any suggestions, so for Gunner’s sake, we just wanted to get the paperwork done so we can find him a better home with someone who deserves a wonderful dog like him!Gunner is an incredible dog, he loves kids and is good with other dogs, although best to be with females. He has a face that will melt your heart, and we know he will find his home soon!!

 What hurt my heart was not only that this wonderful dog was given away because of what seemed like  minor infractions, but that a father made one of the worst mistakes of his life… separating a boy from his dog.


As a parent and psychologist – I know that this event will be a life defining moment for the young lad. And I have this terrible feeling that a parent that gives up on his dog this easily may also be infringing some kind of emotional pressure on his children that is beyond reason.  Yes, it is conjecture – but I can’t help but wonder.

Gunner will be adopted (and rumor is he has been already) and learn to love another family.  I hope he has another young boy to romp and play with and heal his heart.  But, for the young boy who showed more compassion in his acts of kindness than his parent, I know that this will be never forgotten.

I get that there are “two -sides to every story”.  People who I have met who work at dog rescues and shelters tell me this story is not unusual and sadly this scenario is repeated often.  Sigh.

What can we do?

First – Don’t buy or adopt a pet without understanding that there is a learning curve.  Dogs need to learn how to act within human parameters.  Humans need to learn that dogs are not people.  Educate yourself about dog needs, behaviors, different types of breeds, etc.

Secondly- Dogs need to be schooled and given care during their day. They need trainings, care and basic necessities. Just like what you get in a people classroom.  Seek out dog trainers, private dog walkers, etc.

Thirdly- Kids don’t forget. They may forgive. But they are making mental notes that will shape the rest of their lives from a very early age.  I wrote an article earlier about adopting a dog and when to know if your family is ready.  You can read it here.

Lastly – Recognize that life happens.  Families get displaced, people become ill, and dogs can bite. So, while this scenario broke my heart, there are a lot of reasons why people need to part from their furry family members that are (in my opinion) more understandable, although tough to digest.
If you are interested in the Shepherd Rescue where Gunner was surrendered to see if you are a match for many of the other dogs up for adoption – then please check out this link:
Saying a special prayer for kids and their dogs everywhere tonight.
Thanks for reading.
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We adopted a teen mom – of eight puppies! #DogAdoption

Meet Bayla Scout Sattler
Meet Bayla Scout Sattler

Each year thousands and thousands of dogs are placed in shelters for a variety of reasons.  Some owners cite allergies while others indicate their dogs have behavioral problems – regardless the  number of canines that are “given up” is astounding.  Over the past few months I have visited a number of shelters in the Southern California region.  It had been years since I walked in to a shelter as we had stopped fostering and adopting dogs once we had welcomed Bingo and Tess in to our home.  Now that Tess is a senior and Bingo has passed, it seemed the right time to add to our family and save the life of a furry friend.  First stop the Devore Shelter in San Bernardino County.  I had heard about this shelter as having a “high kill rate”.  I have been following the Friends of Freddie Facebook group dedicated to broadcasting the shelter’s daily list of available dogs. They also posted those with sadder outcomes with captions reading “RIP”.

This pup was already amassing a lot of interest by the time we arrived.  Adopted out asap!
This pup was already amassing a lot of interest by the time we arrived. Adopted out asap!

One day I spotted on their Friends of Freddie Facebook wall a photo post of a little black and tan shepherd puppy.  The Facebook followers were certain that the puppy would be a “goner” so off I drove with hubby for nearly two hours to come upon one of the saddest shelters I have ever seen.  After walking up and down I decided the puppy wasn’t a good fit for a variety of reasons. It  obviously was a dog that had a lot of interest – and indeed was adopted out the very day it was able to be released from the shelter.  As for the other dogs sitting in the over two dozen kennels- many who were pit bulls or seniors of mixed breed – it would be hard to say if they all found homes or were at least had their care sponsored. Unable to handle a dog as strong as a pit bull, mastiff or doberman – we drove home sans a dog. But, we made sure that we left a donation – to help sponsor care for those who didn’t have a list of potential adopters – like the little shepherd we came to see.

Next stop was a much nicer, cleaner, and amiable shelter in San Pedro via the LA County system.  There I spotted an adorable dachshund mix.   But again- a lot of interest and it seemed he wanted to be an “only dog”.

Third time is the charm…

Cute little dachshund who preferred to be an only dog in the home.
Cute little dachshund mix who preferred to be an only dog in the home.

For many years I have seen comfort dogs that help children and adults post- disaster work magic! I have longed to adopt a dog that could become a comfort dog to those who need to feel safe and emotionally more stable when their world is topsy – turvy. Hence the reason I started to search direct my search for breeds that would be people friendly and could deal with a little “stress”.  Via PetFinder I spotted Sparky and the Gang / West Coast Animal Rescue from Long Beach, California. They had a dog that was purportedly a retriever mix, but had survived one of the worst cases of malnutrition I had ever seen.  Off I went (again) to visit this survivor only to spot in a nearby kennel a young rhodesian ridgeback- shepherd mix that had just weaned eight puppies. Yes, I said eight.

All the pups were quickly adopted and little “Annie” was left alone in a kennel that once housed nine.  When I passed her she rolled over – did a little wiggle and seemed to be quite the energetic little gal.  After a nice time playing and snuggling in the yard I was in love.

It was love at first sight!
It was love at first sight!

“Annie” was to become Bayla (Hebrew for beautiful) and with not much issue settled in to our home. Quiet as a mouse not a peep for five days.  She was fine in a crate, walked well on a leash and seemed to be getting along fairly well with Tess. Then all hell broke out on Day 6!  OMG – she became a teen-age dog overnight! Chewing shoes, bouncing like a kangaroo, barking like a crazy dog and gulping her food as if there was no tomorrow. Plus, she went from docile Bayla to a prize fighter in a blink! What on earth happened!?!

Quickly I searched “what to do with dog aggressive and food aggressive teen/ young adult dogs”. So much advice so I took a step back and decided to “see life her way”. First, she was a stray in Mexico and a young mom.  Then was an empty nester before she even was an adult! Finally she lands in a home where she has everything she would want except for a lot of limits. Unsure of herself – she is testing her boundaries and trying to be the one in charge.  Our mission – to make sure she understands that this home has a hierarchy and she is not the Queen! Secondly, she needed to feel safe, secure and that we weren’t going to “dump her” – as we suspect had been the case before.

Daily walks, quiet voices and lots of rewards at intermittent times (yes I used people psychology on her!) – she seems to be going in the right direction.

Always watchful and that toy in the photo didn't last the day this photo was taken!
Always watchful and that toy in the photo didn’t last the day this photo was taken!

So, while we are now in “Operation Bayla” in order to seek some peace in our home – I would like to open up this blog for any helpful hints, discussion or words of encouragement.

In the meantime – we are sure progress will continue to be made as she already has come so far in such a short amount of time.  Thanks to social media I have found some wonderful resources and even plan on taking her to a group doggie trot where guidance for dogs and their humans is given!

And please remember – adopt, don’t shop – there are too many shelters full of dogs (and other animals)  that need homes.

Here are some of the scores of dogs that are available for adoption via the West Coast Animal Rescue.  Please note that they are available the date of this post and you should check out this link for updates and to obtain information about adoption or fostering.

Thanks for reading!



The  Campaign continues – Imagining a Better World please check out this amazing story of human survival