This story is not just about one dog’s road of rescue to recovery to re-homing, this story is about an outstanding woman. Her name is Melissa.
We met Melissa a few years ago when she started volunteering for our organization. From fostering dogs, to dog walking, to reference calling, to chaperoning dogs to events, to transporting dogs from high kill shelters to our facility, or transporting dogs to new homes in Pennsylvania and New York, to evaluating dogs for our program, she has always been someone we could count on. She defines the word commitment.
Melissa is a lover of all dogs but has a special place in her heart for German Shepherds. She is a math teacher by day, a therapy dog teacher in her spare time, she owns 3 of her own, all rescues, and has been fostering our very own Yosemite Sam for over a year. Yes, we said over a year.
Sam has been a bit of a project dog, but one that isn’t like most others in rescue situations. Dogs don’t end up in shelters or rescues because they are great dogs – the usually find themselves in those situations because their owners have let them down, they have “too much energy”, they are not good with kids or cats, they are destructive, they need too much attention, they poop in the house, oh, how the list goes on. Sam was once a street dog and when we committed to taking him in that meant we committed. Our mission is to respect the dog and Sam is living that motto. Not only are we committed but Melissa is committed too. If it weren’t for her we don’t really know where Sam would be today.
Sam is a dog that needs time to build trust. He found that time with Melissa and her dogs. Melissa’s cat isn’t so fortunate so when Sam is crated her cat gets run of the house. Melissa has made many personal sacrifices along the way while fostering Sam, including passing up on adopting Rhoda – a dog who came into her life on June 27, 2014.
Rhoda, a 2 year old shepherd mix wound up at the City of Cleveland Animal Control. We were asked by the Friends of the Cleveland Kennel to please step in and help find her a home and we were happy to do so. Rhoda had a terrible skin condition. She was covered in bloody scabs and needed weekly, medicated, baths in addition to dozens of veterinary appointments over the last 6 weeks. Because of Melissa’s availability to open her heart and home to Rhoda all the while fostering Sam and taking care of her own 3 dogs, she made the commitment.
Making a commitment like this is not always easy but it saves lives that would otherwise be tossed away.
Everyone who knows Melissa could see she was falling in love with Rhoda. How could you not connect with a dog when you’ve put your heart and soul into them? When they are napping on your lap on hot summer days, when they are counting on you to provide for them. It was easy falling in love with Rhoda.
We received the “ok” from Dr. Liz at Gateway Animal Clinic that Rhoda was healthy and could move on to finding a home. When we started to receive multiple applications for Rhoda we turned to Melissa to help us select a family. Not only has she cared for Rhoda for a month taking her to vet appointment after vet appointment after vet appointment but she called references and screened adopters for Rhoda at meet and greets. We know this must have been hard but also rewarding to be a part of the process of letting her go.
Before we would make a decision we do what we do with our foster parents and we asked: “Do you want to adopt?”. The answer was yes. However, there was a pause.
“I am committed to Sammy” she said.
Committed. Committed to finding Sammy a forever home. We all want Sam to find a home – our organization, our supporters, and mostly Melissa. He is a homeless dog living in foster home, and we all know there is someone out there for Sam. This gift Melissa has given not only Sam, but us, and now Rhoda, is undeniably unique. There are not a lot of folks out there that would do what Melissa has done for the dogs that have come into her life. We all owe her our gratitude and thanks.
Today, Rhoda is in much better health and spirits thanks to Melissa’s TLC and is in the comfort of her forever home in Shaker Heights. Congratulations to Rie and her family on your new dog!
Sam will continue to stay with Melissa and go to events with various volunteers in hopes that one day soon someone will cross his path and fall in love. There are lots of variables that may make Sam seem “un-adoptable” but there are lots of variables that we sure do think it’s just about finding the right person. Sam is good with other dogs, he’s got tons of energy to burn, he’s treadmill trained, he’s probably best in a home with kids over 12, he’d love to have a fenced in yard and maybe a dog to play with, he’s crate trained, housetrained and not good with cats. Please share Sam and help us find him a home.
Fostering is an extremely rewarding way to save a dogs life and give them stability during a transitional time in their life. If you are interested in fostering for Secondhand Mutts please email us at email@example.com. Chances are you’ll reach Melissa and she can fill you in on how rewarding it is.
Fostering saves lives. Respect the dog.
Photo credit: Portraits by Martha