We received Joe, an American bulldog, as a stray from East Palo Alto. He was old, could barely walk and was riddled with mange and an obviously uncomfortable ear infection.
Apparently, Joe wandered into an open residential yard and basically collapsed. The homeowners who called us said he hadn’t moved for hours and that they’d never seen him in the neighborhood. All signs indicated Joe was a poorly cared for dog who likely led a sad life relegated to someone’s yard.
Not our most promising adoption candidate, given his age, breed, condition and supposed history.
We quickly brought him back to our shelter where staff aged the male American Bulldog at 9 years old. Medical staff noted his significant skin condition and ear infection, plus possible arthritis. Still, we saw a good-natured, lovable dog who began to move much better while in our care, and, in general, felt much better after we began treating his skin and ear conditions.
Time with our behavior staff confirmed what our medical experts figured: he likely spent all or most of his life outdoors. Still, since he progressed, physically, and showed us an indomitable spirit and great demeanor, we made Joe available for adoption in September. And, while awaiting adoption, Joe and his volunteer handler also took part in our Second Chance Class, a weekly gathering for shelter dogs with potential. Joe was the class star: friendly, outgoing and playful with all volunteers and good, if not a bit over exuberant with other dogs.
While we weren’t able to match him with an adopter, we found the next best thing: foster parents. This meant he would get a quiet home in which to clear up his skin condition, work on interactions with other dogs and learn how to behave inside a home.
He got much more – his foster parents adopted him!
They returned last week to have Joe pose with Santa Claus at PHS/SPCA. Joe and his adopters made the nice list as far as we’re concerned. Joe’s story illustrates PHS/SPCA’s open door policy. Like a so-called no-kill shelter, we find homes for 100% of the perfectly healthy (medically and behaviorally) dogs and cats who come into our care. But we go much further to save lives. We don’t limit our admissions to the perfect, ready-to-be-rehomed right now dogs and cats. Dogs, cats and other domestic animals aren’t categorically denied a second chance if they are a certain breed, if they are in their twilight years, or if they have medical or behavioral challenges.
In a way, our old American Bulldog was an “average” Joe. Routine for us. Every month, we treat and give hope to approximately 180 animals like him, vital work made possible by generous contributions to our Hope Program. That is the extraordinary part. To contribute, please contact Lisa Van Buskirk at 650/340-7022, ext. 327 orLVanBuskirk@PHS-SPCA.org.