Some shelters label certain animals as “unadoptable” because they haven’t had the perfect health, upbringing or socializing.
At ARF we know all they need is a lot of love, patience and time. As you read the stories below, you will see that these animals have become the greatest pets their humans could ever ask for.
Butch: The Wonder Dog
Butch had less than an hour left before being euthanized for space in a shelter in Georgia. ARF rescued him. After he got here, they found out he had lyme disease, rocky mountain fever, heartworms, and a degenerative eye disorder that would eventually cause him to go blind. He was treated for all his illnesses by ARF’s vet, Dr. McCord.
We first heard about Butch from Ann Jordan. Ann is our 7-year-old chocolate lab, Chauncey’s, petsitter and ARF Volunteer. We were looking for a companion for him. Chauncey had been a rescue dog and cancer survivor. Ann described Butch as a great, special needs dog, calm, friendly, and in need of a home and got along with 99% of the dogs at ARF. His website picture showed a sad looking fellow wearing crooked Christmas antlers sitting in his little green box. When we went to ARF to meet Butch, he was in the 4th kennel on the right, between Max and Li’l Bear, barking with the others and jumping in his pen. We entered his kennel. He wanted nothing to do with us. He seemed aloof and scared. I thought, “ok, this is going to be a real challenge”. My wife, (being the more patient of us) saw a sweet, gentle and shy dog that had a lot of potential. This was the start of our adventure.
We began to visit Butch as much as we could…given our unusual work schedules. After several visits, we began taking him for walks on ARF grounds. Butchie would lead the way around his familiar grounds, at first with his ears and tail down, and sometimes we could not get him to go at all. On many occasions, we just sat in the backyard of the shelter with him and some of his dog friends (he was well liked by the other dogs). We often left there discouraged that we would never get to the point where he would come with us willingly and happily. But in time things changed. He began to seem happy when we visited and would wag his tail when he heard our voices.
Next challenge – meet Chauncey. We hoped they would like each other and get along. After several visits to the shelter with Chauncey and some training exercises taught to us by the shelter trainer, Lisa (Three Dogs Training), they began to walk together and seemed to enjoy each other’s company.
Next challenge: riding in a car. He seemed to be afraid of the sound of cars and trucks. Gradually we coerced him into the backseat and after several attempts, took him for a ride for ice cream. He loved it! He sat with his nose out the window taking in all the smells and sounds. We then added Chauncey in on the car rides. Now Butch can’t wait to go for a ride. It appeared that at last we had gained his trust. He would exit the shelter without being coerced. We could walk him where we wanted to and not just where he wanted.
Next challenge: our house. We brought him home for some short visits and a couple of sleepovers. It couldn’t have gone better!! Butch gets along with our cat and plays well with Chauncey and he’s a good watchdog. He is settling into his forever home nicely. He is a wonderful addition to our family, being well mannered and easy going. For a dog who probably had never lived in a house before on top of going blind, he is amazing!
We could not have accomplished this without the unwavering support of B. Shea and all the wonderful volunteers at ARF. Their dedication and love for the animals who come through their doors is exceptional. We would highly recommend this shelter to anyone who is considering adopting a pet. We would also highly recommend adopting a “special needs” pet. Alot of baby steps for Butch, but well worth it. We know that there will be challenges ahead but Butchie continues to amaze us, and we are very thankful every day that we have him.
Bob & Jeanine Henderson -2011
Tbone came from a shelter in South Carolina (SC) were he was scheduled to be euthanized. Tracy (from SC shelter) saw potential in him and with her love for him, was able to get him saved. ARF decided to take him in because they don’t kill animals. Tbone was on his way to NY!! Hurricane Irene decided to visit the east coast of the US and Tbone got stranded in VA. Luckily Jenifer (SC) was able to foster and care for him until he got to Beacon.
We found him at ARF and it was love at first sight between Tbone and I. I was lost and heartbroken since we had lost our dog to cancer about one month previously. We had looked at a few other dogs at different shelters, but there had really been no connections until Tbone. I walked to his kennel, knelt down, and talked to him and gave him my finger. Justin knew, this was it. The staff at ARF let me take him out for a walk. Tbone and I walked and talked and there was no denying that we connected.
We adopted Tbone that afternoon and took him home with us. He, of course, was timid and shy, but he knew he was warm, dry, and there was food and water for him. Tbone quickly learned that I loved him and was ready to cuddle with him as much as he wanted. He is definitely a “snuggler”. It took a little longer for him to warm up to Justin, but that improved. We needed him in our lives just as much, if not more, than he needed us. We were all saved and given a second chance.
I was contacted by both Tracy and Jenifer and they shared the heartbreaking story of his early life and the difficult road that finally led him to us. This explained his overly timidness for us. Justin and I are so thankful for these two ladies and the job that they did. Tbone is now a permanent member of our family. We love him very much. He makes us laugh and he still always wants to snuggle.
Thank you to ARF Beacon for taking him in when the other shelter was ready to put him down. Thank you for letting us adopt him into our family. He is a great boy.
Maryellen Brown – 2011
It was Christmas Eve and Barb Shea got a phone call from the Newburgh Dog Warden. He said that there was a very pregnant shepherd mix that wouldn’t come to him. He asked if she wanted her and if not, he was going to have her put to sleep. Barb said yes. She has a soft spot for the pregnant dogs. She took this dog in who had piercing hollow eyes filled with fear. The dog gave birth to 8 puppies. She called the dog Mary. Mary was an ugly looking dog with very skinny legs and a long tail and big ears. Her ferocious bark scared most people who came into the shelter. It was her safety net. Mary was at the shelter for a very long time, and Barb and myself were the only people who Mary would come to. I felt honored.
I had a Keeshond that was a few years old and I wanted to adopt another dog for her to have as a buddy. Barb suggested Mary. Nobody had even looked at Mary for a few years. She was considered unadoptable. I took Mary home. She was very obedient, like most German Shepherds are. I started calling her Maria as a nickname. She was very docile and submissive to my other dog. She learned alot from her. Mary didn’t like anyone coming near me. She always had to lay next to me in bed and be touching me. It made me feel very loved.
I was going to adopt my daughter. People kept asking me what I was going to do with Mary if she didn’t like my baby. This annoyed me. I said I was going to take it slow and see how it went. Mary became the best pet ever. She watched over my daughter and then my son when I adopted him. I remember when my son would cry that Mary would go to the crib and then out to me and back and forth until I got up to see what he needed as if to say, “the baby is crying”. My son adored her and laid all over her. She learned to get up and move away from him when he got too rough or bugged her too much. She was so patient with him. He couldn’t say Maria and so he called her Ia. Later her name turned into Ria.
A few years later, one day Mary didn’t want to eat. I took her to the vet 3 times that week to see what was wrong. I knew she was very sick. I had to leave her overnite at the vet’s office. That was very hard to do since she was petrified of strangers. She died in her sleep that night. My Mary was gone and she left a gaping hole in my heart. She was my soulmate. I shall never forget her with her loyalty, concern, and love —- the dog that nobody else wanted turned out to be the best dog in the world.
The Story of “Milo”
Last Monday was our one year anniversary as a family with Milo. He was almost a year old when we adopted him. As a puppy he had lived in a shelter in Virginia, transferred to A.R.F., adopted by a family in a neighboring county, then returned to A.R.F. again. Milo is finally at home with us.
We love every day with him! He continues to have lots of energy and melt the hearts of everyone he meets. He has also become a very attentive and well mannered dog. We have taken various dog training classes together. Although they call these classes dog obedience training, we have figured out that humans are being trained as much as the dogs. We have learned to communicate and build trust with Milo.
Milo and Janine have passed assessments for Canine Good Citizen, Delta Society Pet Partners, and R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs). We have begun doing pet therapy visits as part of Hudson Valley Humane Society Visiting Pets Program. In the fall, Milo will be visiting schools and libraries so that kids can read to him and build their reading fluency.
Milo loves to run, hike, canoe (on one occasion, a woman noted that he appeared to be “a very experienced boater”), and swim and fetch sticks in the water. Janine has even taught him to read by responding to commands on sight word cards (Show him the card with the words “roll over” and he does it!) He is often a guest in her college courses at MSMC as Janine talks with future teachers about the educational benefits of bringing (therapy) dogs into the classroom.
Janine & Jim
The Story of “Sully”
Sullivan was born Dec. 2, a little over 5 years ago. His mom had given birth to 10 pups and 2 were in the corner not breathing. Sully was one of them. We scooped the pups up and started rubbing them like crazy trying to revive them. Sully began to breathe and squeak…so began the story of Sully.
At 7 months he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. At 11 mo, he had his surgery to correct his hips. He came from from surgery aggressive, possibly a reaction to one of the drugs given to keep him calm at the hospital. After 2 years on some medication, real tough love and training, he is really back to being the sweetie he was before the surgery.
He now shares our home with Lucy our other dog and his arch enemy Mr. Peeps the cat (Sully just likes to tell Peeps what to do and when to do it). My husband and I love all our ARF kids (yes, Lucy and Peeps are ARFers, too) and I love getting to be with all the other guys waiting for their new homes at ARF.
The Story of Mulligan
My mom and dad decided they wanted to get a puppy. They called ARF because my mom had gottten my older brother, Kerry, a Golden Retriever and loved supporting ARF.
So on July 7, 2007 they made a phone call and asked if there were any puppies at ARF. They found out that I was there with my two other 13-week old brothers. They went and asked to see me, the mostly white puppy. I was very excited to be out seeing someone. I climbed right onto my mom’s lap, and she fell in love with me right away. My mom filled out the adoption forms, and I went home with my new mommy and daddy. My real mommy was a Pitbull and my real daddy was a Irish Setter. That day we went out to the pet store and got me a bed, toys, collar, name tag and food. I met my big brother, Kerry, and loved playing with him a lot.
When my mommy and daddy adopted me I had a bump on my nose which the vet said was okay as long as it didn’t get bigger. But when I went to get neutered in December the vet decided I needed it removed and biopsied. It turned out to be nothing at all. I was really good with my stitches and recovered nicely. I am a very lucky, spoiled puppy. My mommy and daddy love their ARF babies.
A Boy and His “Shadow”
Here is an e-mail ARF received from a family in the beginning of March 2008. It is a heartfelt and heartwarming story of the human/animal connection.
“My wife and I adopted a mixed breed dog from your foundation about 11 years ago. She was by far the best dog either of us have had in our lives. She was about Arti’s age when we took her home and quickly became a beloved member of the family. After 2 years of living with us, we had a child and were a little apprehensive about how Shadow would react to the baby but that was never an issue. From the day we brought our son home, Shadow and he were inseparable to the point that she would not let anyone but my wife and I in his room until he was almost two year’s old! It was a joy to watch them grow together.
She was healthy and active for all of her 11 years with us but we noticed a change a little over a month ago. Shadow passed away from cancer of the spleen a few weeks ago and needless to say, we were all heartbroken. She was the only dog that my 9 year old son has ever had and it was devastating for him.
We know we can never replace Shadow but we also know that there is a place in our hearts and home for another dog. Our family has decided that we would rather adopt than buy from a breeder and would really rather have a puppy as my son was not in the picture when Shadow was a pup.”
This caring family has since adopted a young pup from ARF. Once again they can experience the unconditional love, joy and companionship that only a pet can provide. In turn, the young pup has found a wonderful forever home.
Hunter & Sandy
In February, 2010, I took a trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, a destination on my “bucket list” for a long time.
My 14 year old dog Mickey, the love of my life, had died in December of 2009 after a long year dealing with pancreatic cancer and various other ailments associated with it. I vowed that I wouldn’t get another dog for at least a year or two, but certainly someday, and I planned to do some traveling and relaxing in the meantime.
While I was away, my friend Linda volunteered herself and me to become “Hunter’s Helpers” at ARF. Linda had taken her dogs for training with Lisa Edwards, who runs Three Dogs Training, and is also the non-resident doggie trainer who volunteers her time with ARF on a regular basis. Lisa was looking for people to come and work with a specific dog, Hunter, a handsome Pointer mix, who had been at the shelter for around a year and a half, and who had regressed such that he was afraid of most anything. He loved the people he knew, was somewhat fearful of strangers, was deathly afraid of any cars in the parking lot, certainly afraid to get into any car except maybe Charlotte’s, and would only go out for a walk with the few volunteers he loved, like Charlotte and Pete for example. He didn’t play with any sort of toys or balls…he just like to steal the other dogs’ rawhides for fun.
So from a distance, I agreed to work with this sweet boy, and the rest, as they say, is history. I met Hunter and was immediately struck by his appearance. He is very handsome. His facial markings are very symmetrical and striking. I began to go up to ARF several times each week and spent some quality one-on-one time with Hunter. For months, he was always happy to see me would jump out of his pen and lie down on his back for a belly rub immediately. Still, he wouldn’t go for a walk with me without Charlotte or Pete along too. Finally, on a Sunday night in June, he came out the back gate with me for our first solo walk…..I was so excited! I came back in and happily told Charlotte, who smiled and patiently told me it just takes time. It was then that I knew that I wanted to adopt Hunter and give him the good loving forever home that he so much deserved.
We continued our routine through the summer and with encouragement from Lisa, even had a few home visits and a sleepover. I finally brought Hunter home for good on Sept. 17, 2010. Charlotte and I had to trick him to get him into the car that day, but we went home and never looked back.
At first, we struggled at home with his not wanting to walk out to the street never mind walk DOWN the street, and he was very fearful of getting into the car. Luckily, I have a wooded area behind my house, and he was willing to walk in the woods each day. I think the woods reminded Hunter of the wooded trail area at ARF, so he felt safe there. For a few weeks, that’s the only place he would walk. I tried bringing him to a local park for walks, but if he saw a person or a car, he would literally become paralyzed. After about 3 weeks, I brought Hunter’s buddy Russo home to my house for a day to visit with Hunter, and suddenly, because Russo would walk down the street, then Hunter, too, would walk down the street. And he’s walked ever since. I will be forever indebted to Russo for that.
Who knew that Hunter was really a mountain goat in disguise…..he loves to walk in the woods at home or even in the park and his favorite thing is to romp up onto big rocks and oversee his domain. And he has lived up to his name..2 weeks after I brought him home he “hunted” down a poor unsuspecting groundhog….and I thought to myself, Oh my god, what did I get myself into?
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him so happy on those rocks and trails, checking out the deep snow of winter, meeting and relaxing with friends and family, opening his own Christmas presents, and sleeping soundly on the couch, the living room chair, the bed (get the idea??). He even plays with toys sometimes now…his favorite is a stuffed spotted cow that looks a little like him!. He adores the neighbor’s grandson, Jonny, and cries at the window when he sees him outside …..ah, there’s nothing like a boy and his dog…..and young Jonny is a very good dog trainer!
Hunter has brought me great joy since he’s come home..…even though he’s probably taken a few years off my life with all his hunting escapades! He really is sweet and loving and just wants to please…..and get belly rubs. And I always said I would like to do some sort of volunteer work after I retired, and because of “helping Hunter”, I’ve found that opportunity in working at ARF with great people and great animals. What more could I ask for……..
And then came Sandy…
A pregnant Shepherd mix was scheduled to be flown in from Goldsboro, NC to ARF, but she gave birth to 8 puppies earlier than expected, so she couldn’t fly until the puppies were not so brand new.
The shelter she was at in North Carolina agreed to hold onto her and her pups for a bit, and then suddenly, Ann Jordan’s contact at the shelter, Sandra, called her to say that The Momma and pups needed to be out of their shelter immediately as they needed the room there. Unfortunately, ARF was full to the brim….including a Momma (Carly) and her pups that were there already. Ann tried to find fosters down south and along the route but was unsuccessful, so as a last resort, she asked if there was any chance I would foster Momma and seven 3 week old pups (one died) for maybe a week. I thought for a second, and said I could do that…..I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The next day, Ann and I went to pickup Sandy and the puppies from the pilot that flew them into Conn. She was beautiful! And the puppies were so cute and very lively, crawling all over the back of Ann’s car on our way to my house. As it turned out the puppies were more like 4 weeks old, starting to eat puppy food, nursing on Momma (who was renamed Sandy in honor of the shelter contact in SC) with sharp little teeth and nails, and peeing and pooping continuously so it seemed. It was quite an experience for me, as I had never had a dog who had puppies before. I didn’t know how much to feed them, whether to force Sandy to let them nurse, and what their poop should look like!!! Luckily, they all survived their stay at my house. And Hunter became an Uncle! Sandy spent time with the puppies in a basement area I set up, and when she wasn’t with the puppies, I let her come up and “live” with us. Hunter was very good with her…she, on the other hand, was tough with him. If he attempted to come downstairs where the puppies were, she would growl rather ferociously at him…so I kept him away from that area for the most part. He was very patient while I attended to the puppies’ needs and escorted visitors in to see the little cuties. After all, this was HIS house!
As it turned out, Sandy and the puppies, who I adored, were with us for 2 weeks instead of one week. When I brought them up to ARF, I cried as I brought Sandy out of the car and into the shelter. Charlotte laughed at me……she knew I was hooked right then and there. My heart really went out to Sandy..…she’s a young dog, maybe a year and a half ish, and she’s already dealt with being homeless, being in a shelter, being flown up to NY just after childbirth, being a good Momma to her 7 healthy puppies, and to top it off, she’d been diagnosed with heartworm down in SC, so she couldn’t be up for adoption until she’d been treated for the heartworm, almost a 3 month ordeal.
Sandy’s puppies were all adopted quickly. She got her 1st of 2 heartworm treatments in the end of May. I had been considering fostering her maybe for a few days a week or something like that while she was being treated, since she couldn’t be adopted and the quiet of a home would be better for her healing than the noise and stressful environment of the shelter. The day she returned from the Vet happened to be a Thursday, my “night” to volunteer walking the dogs at ARF. As I came in the door, Barb asked me if I wanted to take Sandy home for a few days. I said yes, I could do that. She’s never been back to ARF since. Hunter greeted her nicely that night, and now shares everything with her, including, somewhat reluctantly, me. Sometimes she “manages” him, and sometimes, she defers to him. I think he’s happy to have the doggie company. He loves to steal her rawhides just like in the old days at ARF (he was the BEST thief there!). When I open the door to the deck, they both try to be the first one out to run at full speed down the stairs into the yard chasing NOTHING! They are BOTH hunters, smelling every blade of grass and pouncing on scents and sometimes critters like cats. And they both wimper when they see little Jonny outside.
I never expected to have 2 dogs, never. Now, Hunter is my handsome boy and Sandy is my pretty girl. And may we all live happily ever after.
Anyone who would like to submit an ARF adoption story to contribute to our ARF Alumni page, please send your stories and picture(s) to us from the contact page!