County Refugee, CD)
Monty crossed the rainbow bridge in 2007
Soon after I became responsible for GSD breed rescue work in
the Houston area, the director of the Montgomery County Humane Society called me
about a young German Shepherd Dog they were holding.
She said the dog’s time had run out but something had to be done for
him—he was too special to euthanize.
couple of days later I went to pick the dog up. On the way home I named
him Monty--short for Montgomery County Refugee. Fortunately, Monty and my female, Holly, got along OK, although it was
touch and go for a few days as they worked out a relationship.
confident, outgoing attitude with other dogs and with strange sights and sounds
contrasted strongly with his attitude toward people. With strangers, he verged on being shy-sharp, backing away,
avoiding contact, and usually barking. However,
after observing him in various situations and watching his demeanor carefully, I
came to believe that his temperament was basically sound—he just needed to
learn who he could trust.
only took him only hours to place his trust in me.
After that he bonded to me like glue, becoming my shadow as I went about
my daily business. The first time I left the him alone in the yard and later in
the house, I wondered if separation anxiety might lead to destructive behavior,
but to my relief, I found he would wait calmly for my return, doing nothing more
than chasing squirrels and napping in the interim.
There were many intriguing things about Monty that made me wonder about his history. He was a Frisbee star athlete, chasing after the disk and leaping high in the air to catch it. Someone must have taught him that. Someone had also taught him house manners. He was very good about playing with and chewing only his own toys. He also knew how to sit and walk on a leash. I wondered if this same someone taught him to fear men, or if this was something he had learned later?
evening when I was undressing I went to call Monty while I was still holding my belt in my hand.
He took one look at the belt and refused to come a step closer.
Another time when he saw me with a belt, he ran into his crate.
Whatever the reasons for his wariness of men,
my husband Joel was determined to win him over, and found the Frisbee was
the quickest way to his doggy heart. We
decided it would be wise to make Joel the one to feed him and be his main
playmate for awhile.
spite of Monty’s obvious devotion to me, I was determined to find him an
adoptive home. I knew he was only
one of the first of many rescues I would be helping, and there was no way I could adopt
them all, so I was resolved not to even start down that path. I soon placed him with a young woman who seemed like an ideal
owner. She told me that he would
live in the house with her and that she would take him out jogging and to
obedience school. However, to give
us both a chance to be sure that things would work out, it was decided that she
would first take him home for a trial foster, and then sign the adoption
contract later if all went well.
June: The Sequel
troubles should have ended once he came into rescue, but as it turned out, he still had many difficult
dangerous days ahead before he found he found his final home.
his departure with his new his new foster-care-giver, I had expected to feel
uncomplicated relief that we were back to being a one dog household. Instead, I
felt a little uneasy and sad, remembering the trust and devotion in Monty’s
eyes when he looked at me.
first real doubts about the placement began in mid May when rather suddenly I
could no longer reach his fosterer by phone—at her home there was never any
answer and when I called her work number I was told she was no longer
that point all my vague worries about Monty mushroomed into full blown anxiety. The next morning I got
up very early and while it was still dark, I called the house again.
This time a man answered who told me the fosterer no longer lived there.
When I pressed for information about what had happened to the dog,
explaining that I was still the legal owner, he finally told me that she had
been arrested on a repeat DWI charge and was in the county jail.
He had no idea what had happened to the dog.
back through paperwork the woman had filled out, I located her mother’s phone number, hoping that
she or some other family member had Monty.
At first she refused to talk to me at all, sending other relatives to the
phone who said they knew nothing about what had happened. After several vain
attempts to get her to talk to me, I finally left the message that I was ready
to call the police and report that my dog had been stolen.
That worked and she finally came to the phone to tell me that Monty had
been lost for three weeks! She said
that after her daughter left, she had gone over to feed him every day until she
finally decided to bring the him back home with her.
On the trip home she claimed that he had jumped out of her truck and run
off and she hadn’t seen him since! She
hung up before I could even ask her the exact location where this was supposed
to have happened.
left me knowing only that Monty had been lost in the Conroe-Willis area,
northwest of Houston.
With a heavy heart I knew the odds were high that he was suffering or
dead. All the awful fates that can befall a lost dog tormented me.
It was hard not to obsess about whether he had been picked up by someone who was
keeping him on a chain or mistreating him, or if he was sick and starving, or
had been hit by a car.
spite of my discouragement about the odds, I decided to do everything I could to
find him if he was still alive. I began by calling all the area vet clinics and
shelters. That same day I made flyers and placed ads in the local papers,
offering a reward. The second day I
drove to Willis and distributed flyers in area businesses, all the while
grieving because I knew I would probably never see him again.
that very evening a woman called, said she had seen my ad in the paper and that she had twice noticed a black and tan
Shepherd hanging around an
apartment complex and some school
athletic fields in Willis. This was
exciting hopeful news because Monty’s fosterer had once mentioned that
she lived by a school—it seemed likely that he might stay in the same area
where he had been living. The woman gave me directions and Joel said he would
take off from work the next day and go
with me to look. That night I was
too charged up and tense to sleep. At
3 a.m. I was still wide awake, wondering if we would find him and fearful we
the next morning Joel and I drove to Willis.
When we reached the area we needed to search, it was nothing like the
small school and playing field I had envisioned. Instead there were three schools adjacent to each other so
there were several football, track and baseball fields. The area was
surrounded by woods and bordered by apartments, house trailers and some
overgrown residential lots with junk cars and other trash.
It would be easy to pass right by a dog and never even see him.
suggested that we cruise the area first, then park somewhere and start walking
the neighborhoods. Our first break came when a group of young kids from the
apartments told me they had seen a Shepherd with a group of strays.
They offered to show me places where the dogs liked to hang out.
Then the second fateful thing happened.
Just before following the children, on impulse, I stopped to talk to a
woman standing in the yard of a day care center across the street. She said she had seen a Shepherd only about 30 minutes
earlier with a wide black collar heading down the road we were on.
and I didn’t have to go very far down that road before we saw Monty lying
under a tree. He was skin and bones and smelled like a garbage can –and he was
still wearing the little ID barrel I had put on his collar that contained my
name and phone number!
that moment I could hardly believe we had found him!
Deep in my heart, I had been so afraid we wouldn't and I had been trying
to steel myself for that. I wondered if he would remember me.
I was scared that he might take off and run.
Cautioning Joel not to do anything to frighten him, I got out of the car
very gingerly and softly said his name. And
immediately he did start running—straight to me, practically jumping into my
arms. Even if I didn’t know it,
Monty knew all along that he was my dog!
At home we fed him, gave him a bath and took him in for a vet exam.
diet and care have worked wonders. He gained the weight he needed and his coat which was dull
and brittle has become thick and glossy.
Even the washed out pigment has changed, becoming richer and deeper.
day I decided to keep him I simply knew I could not put this dog who loved me so
much, and who had suffered so much already, through any more grief.
What I still didn’t know but shortly discovered was that I had found a dog in a million--one of those rare natural retrievers with wonderful ball drive, focus and a strong desire to please!
has been a real joy to train in obedience, but most of all, his love and
devotion are all I could ever wish for in a dog. The day I drove to the pound
and saved this stressed, scared, skinny, smelly,
scruffy Shepherd turned out to be one of the luckiest days of my life.
And whatever else the future brings, Monty is home with us to stay.
Click here to follow Holly home
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