Monty's Story

Home Up Trip Holly Going to the Dogs Monty's Story

 (Montgomery 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.

A 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.

Monty’s 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.

It 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?

One 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. 

In 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

Monty's 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. 

After 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.

My 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 employed there.

At 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. 

Digging 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.

This 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.

In 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. 

But 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 never would.

Early 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. 

Joel 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.

Joel 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! 

At 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.

Good 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.

The 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!

Monty 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.

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