Every now and then there are days in life that you will never forgot. Today was one of them.
This pretty lady Lola was adopted. It is always an awesome feeling when dogs you care for and work with go home, but this one is extra special and I’ll tell you why. It all started on May 18th, a Thursday, two days before I was leaving to go on vacation. I was asked to evaluate a dog at a city animal shelter to see if we could transfer her to the RISPCA and put her up for adoption. You see, the volunteers that went to visit her there could only see her once a week for a very short amount of time and they saw her deteriorating in her kennel for the past year. Yes, A YEAR!!
While they loved Lola and saw great potential in her, their hands were tied and Lola wasn’t going anywhere. So, on that Thursday, Becca (another trainer at RISPCA) and I went to visit her at the shelter in the hopes of bringing her back and placing her for adoption. Once we met Lola we realized this would not be the case. We walked into the room where we were to evaluate and in walked Lola, a kennel crazed dog that would not approach us at all. We couldn’t get near her to pet her and we offered her cheese only to have our fingers nearly taken off. At this time Lola was fixated on the few toys she had in this room and it was clear there was no way we could come near her when she had them. After seeing her like this and knowing she did not get along with other dogs, I had a sinking feeling in my heart for her.
We continued with the evaluation to see how she would be with the food bowl test to ensure she wasn’t adoptable. The second the bowl dropped she chased me out of the room showing me a full mouth of teeth and lunging towards me.
The decision was made.
Not transferable, nor adoptable. And so there at the city shelter she would sit. I talked to my boss at the RISPCA with Becca and I told them both my heart hurt for this dog and that due to her circumstances, as crazy as it may sound, I wanted to devote a month of my time to see if I could help her. I spoke with the head animal control officer at the shelter where she was, told her my plans, and that I realistically may not be able to save her. Everyone was on board and knew the outcome was slim. Becca and I loaded her into the backseat of our truck that day to begin her training trial run. When she was in the truck with us her demeanor started to soften and you could see that she breathed a breath of relaxation…. there was hope!
I left for vacation and she waited at our shelter until I got back. Once back we began working. Over the next few weeks Lola showed me her intelligence and her potential. Each day, Becca would help me work with Lola on what sometimes seemed like daunting tasks to normalcy. She began to overcome her food guarding, slowly, but we got there! She started to learn how to walk nicely on a leash and sit and lay down automatically. We practiced trade and drop it for toys. Lola worked on her dog reactivity and began to walk past other dogs without having a reaction. And the biggest win of all – she learned how to be loved and accept affection. Throughout this time she met a few volunteers that were as dedicated to her finding a new home as we were.
Jon, one of our great volunteers, would take her on weekly field trips for rides in the car and to explore other areas besides the shelter; he become her VIP volunteer (a program we have at the shelter where volunteers are matched to individual dogs until they are adopted). Jean and Kevin would take her on walks several times a week and help her get her energy out. Dave and Daniela would spend time hanging out with her and expanding her horizons whenever they could. Many other volunteers began to fall in love with Lola too.
In the middle of this training, in walks a guy named Jack. Jack heard about Lola and the adoption day event we were having at the shelter. He applied for Lola, sight unseen! Of course, this made me a little nervous that if he met her she would be too much for him… or that he wouldn’t be willing to work with her on her quirks. But, in mid-June Jack met Lola and fell in love. For weeks Jack has been coming to meet with Lola at the shelter and learn her quirks. He has watched her continue to blossom into the great dog that she is today. He thought of everything he needed to in order to prepare himself for taking Lola into his life… and today he did just that! LOLA WAS ADOPTED!!!!
Jack and Lola will always be a part of my life and I will always be there if they need any training support. I am so happy to say Lola did it… she proved herself Adoptable and was ready to be loved. Happy Adoption Day my sweet Lola. I wish you all the happiness in this world and I am so glad you hit a home run with your new Dad. I am forever grateful for the dedicated team that helped me save Lola. ❤️
~Jen Reynolds, Head Trainer RISPCA