About a year ago, the only person I'd ever known dumped me in a strange place. It was dark & I was scared. I didn't know what would happen to me - I only knew that everything I had known was gone.
I hid behind a dog house. Once the light came, a stranger approached me & took me inside. There were a lot of other dogs there & I was even more scared than I was outside. The stranger was nice. She talked to me, fed me, & gave me a blanket. I waited there for someone I knew to pick me up & take me home. Little did I know that wouldn't happen, at least not the way I thought it would.
That lady, Monica Collins, was so kind & gentle. She told me I was safe & told me she'd help me. She said to be brave & she took my picture. I am not a brave dog but I stood there & she snapped some shots. Of course I didn't know it, but those pictures - they saved my life."
On November 10th, 2012 a young Treeing Walker Coonhound was abandoned at the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter in an outside pen. The photos taken by a dedicated volunteer were posted on the Coonhound Rescue Network page on Facebook and were shared no less than two dozen times by well-meaning hound lovers from across the country. In the post, Monica wrote:
Please help me find a place for a sweet hound they just got here at the shelter today. A young male, doesn't look quite a year old by his teeth, dumped in the outside pen. He has beautiful markings & long ears. Not sure what you would call him ... other than hound. He is very scared, but he does let you handle & pet him. I loved him & made sure he got a nice clean blanket to lay on. He wasn't sure what to do & sat & looked at it. He must have been outside all his little life.
We already had two coonhounds, Clementine, a 6 year old Black and Tan Coonhound, and Sonny, a raucous 2 year old Redbone Coonhound. Naturally, we struggled with the ramifications of bringing a teenage, intact male, unknown dog into the midst of our home. Jerry contacted me via email and arranged, with Monica's help, more photographs and the results of a temperament test. The boy was tested for food, dog, and cat aggression. He passed with flying colors.
Knowing there was a lot that could go wrong, but feeling as though it was the right thing to do, I contacted Jerry and Monica giving the go ahead for the adoption to proceed. Needing a name for the necessary paperwork, my husband picked George. This would seem like the end of a sad story, but really it was just the beginning.
Over the course of the next week or so, flurries of emails were exchanged, advice was sought, phone calls transpired, and arrangements were made. As all the necessary details of a long distance adoption were being set in place the shelter filled up and our boy was placed on the PTS list. His time was up there and he needed to be removed from there immediately.
Dog Runner Pet Transport, the operation run by Elaine and Dave Stutz, couldn't pick George up for another eight days. Through a network of very kind and selfless volunteers a local boarding facility in Mount Pleasant, Texas,was found that agreed to house George for one week. Unfortunately Dog Runner couldn't pick him up there due to logistics. George needed to be transported, for an overnight stay, near Plano, Texas. Bright and early on the morning of November 26th, he was picked up and on his way to us.
That journey of over 1500 miles took four long days. In the meantime, we set things up at our home as best we could. We'd placed a crate in the living room, lined with a soft bed. An extra dog bowl and a new collar were purchased. I'd made a veterinary appointment for George on the following Monday and we had enlisted the help of a trusted friend of ours to help with dog introductions upon his arrival.
On Saturday, December 1st we got the call we'd been waiting anxiously for for over two weeks. The transport was not only on its way and joy of joys, it was running early! I was too nervous so I sat in the front seat, wringing my hands, as my husband drove. We met the transport in nearby Mystic, Connecticut on a cold, drizzling, snow spitting afternoon. Our first sight of George was of him stretching his legs and bawling at a passing horse drawn carriage. He looked young but bigger than I'd thought from the photographs I'd seen. He seemed happy. He seemed worthy. But best of all, he seemed like ours.
Once parked, I nearly leaped out of the car. We introduced ourselves to the Stutz's and thanked them. George was brought over to us and in an instant, he could tell something would be different. He was hesitant and uncertain. Of course part of me expected this but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed he didn't jump into our arms. I tried to bribe him with treats but slowly he backed away from me. I was nearly heartbroken. It was understandable though, this boy had been through so much and I'm sure he was very unsure as to whether this situation would last. In just a couple weeks he'd been dumped in the shelter, from boarding to boarding, living nearly a week in a crate on a trailer, and finally to us.
Dave and Elaine made encouraging small talk and held him as we slipped on his brand new collar. We said our good byes as Dave tenderly lifted him into the back of my car. I rode home in the back seat with George, hoping to make him feel a little more comfortable. He sat politely and quietly. All the while he looked out the window, wondering I'm sure, why he was here, who were these new people, what would become of him, and why it was so damn cold.
It's a very long way from Texas to Connecticut in more ways than one. Only part of George's journey was over, the next part was yet to begin. He was, for all intents and purposes "home" even though he didn't know it yet.
It could have been different. I don't like to think about that. What if there had been no Monica? What if those people hadn't shared my pictures? What if my mom hadn't seen them? What if everyone had turned their backs & hadn't helped? Where would I be?"
The very sad fact is that without the generous help and support of so many kind-hearted people, George may have ended up like so many other hounds that get dumped in shelters – if they're lucky. His story has a happy ending but many, many other hounds won't get that.
Coonhounds, by the dozen, are euthanized every single day because there is no one to help them, to want them, or to see their value as wonderful family members.
In rescuing this boy, experiencing the joy and love he has brought to our lives, I know we've only made a small difference to the situation. To George though, that difference is everything.
— By Ellen Jones