And Another Good Dog Is Ruined.

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This Is a Tough Post to Write.
johnny’s first visit

It’s about Johnny, my neighbors’ beautiful young German Shepherd.  When the neighbors moved in next door to me several years ago, they brought along their two dogs — Alabaster, a petite, pretty, white Pittie, and Johnny, a magnificent young German Shepherd.  I was happy to meet the young couple and befriend their pets.  But the couple weren’t as excited to get to know their neighbors, which of course is their choice, obviously, but disappointing nonetheless.  Our properties are divided by concrete block privacy walls, so once Johnny and Alabaster were ushered into their new backyard, I was never able to interact with them again

 Until Johnny began jumping the wall into my back yard.  The first time he came over was quite the surprise.  I happened to walk past my patio door and glance out to see this big guy standing there staring back in at me.  I marveled at his size — large, muscular, a real specimen dog.  Johnny, however, was not trained, even basics like walking on a lead.  He was a good-natured boy, but had lots of nervous energy, making him unable to focus or respond to commands.  It only took a minute or two to recognize that his owners were not invested in managing his behavior.

His owners were away that first time, so I kept Johnny with me in my yard till they returned home a few hours later.  We had fun.  Turns out Johnny loves water — loves it!  The more I sprayed the garden hose for him to chase, the more he loved it.  I loved his child-like joy!  And the more he ran and chased the water spray, the more relaxed he became.  I could see his nerves and anxieties melt away as he played and burned off all his built-up toxic energy.  It was a great time, and I could tell he was relieved.

Our New Normal.

And so began the next three years living next to Johnny.  He jumped the fence on a frequent basis.  I was always finding him in my yard running around.  I adored Johnny but, even tho he was welcome at my home, I couldn’t allow him to keep coming over unannounced.  My own pets were outside with me every day enjoying our yard, and I had no idea if Johnny could be trusted with them.  My dog Bandit is only 11 pounds, and my two cats are quite small as well, especially compared to a 150-pound hyper-active German Shepherd.  I couldn’t put them at risk by allowing Johnny free run of my property.  Johnny might have been friendly and non-threatening, but his size and nervous energy alone could hurt them.  We never knew when he would come over the fence — we just knew that he was always pacing on his side of the fence, and that he would surprise us at any moment.

Johnny’s back yard is higher than mine because we live on the foothills of a mountain range.  So he was never able to jump back over the fence to go home on his own.  And he would freak out — running, crying, pacing, barking, tearing up my grass, my window screens, etc.  I was never angry at Johnny for his anxieties and poor behavior, because it was never his fault.  I knew he was a good dog, who just needed some attention and training.  So I tried to take advantage of the times he was in my yard, and help him burn off pent-up energy so he could learn some commands.  He liked that.  But then the owners would come get him and he’d go back to being ignored and misbehaved.  It was a sad and unfortunate cycle.

Sad Intentions.

It became apparent that Johnny’s time living next door to me was coming to an end.  The neighbors were growing frustrated at having to come get him from my yard so often, and they commented on occasion that they needed to find him a new home.  They listed the typical reasons that people give:  he’s badly behaved, he’s too much work, we have a new baby, etc.  I could tell they were looking for a quick and easy way to unload him, so I began reaching out to people I knew to see if we could get him re-homed safely.  Before I got any takers, tho, the big escape happened.

The Big Escape.

One day last month, I got a notice on about two dogs wandering a nearby neighborhood.  I pulled up the photo and saw that it was Alabaster and Johnny.  I quickly texted my neighbors that their dogs were loose and the finder had already taken the dogs to the county shelter.  I knew the danger they were in there, and my heart was racing.  The neighbors eventually texted back saying they would go retrieve them.  I texted them again and gave them the two kennel numbers to help quickly identify the dogs and get them safely out.  They texted back saying they were on their way to the shelter.

Later that evening, another post came through on about Johnny and Alabaster.  It said Alabaster had been picked up by the owners, but Johnny was still at the shelter.  I was shocked to realize the owners had recovered Alabaster but had deliberately left Johnny behind at the shelter.  My heart sank.

Heartbroken But Hopeful.

Posts on were swirling about trying to get Johnny out of the shelter to safety.  I called everyone I could think of.  Folks were even visiting Johnny at the shelter to be sure he was doing okay and posting status reports on any possible adoptions.  Three days later, the posts stopped.  No more updates on Johnny.  The shelter folks would not let us know if Johnny had been adopted or if they had killed him.

johnny’s first visit

It’s been a few months now, and I still think of Johnny every day.  I fight the urge to judge his owners and be angry with them.  But it’s hard.  Johnny deserved so much better than he got from them.  My heart will always hurt for Johnny knowing he got cheated … and it wasn’t his fault.  I can only pray our networking helped and that he was adopted and is now in the care of loving, diligent folks who prioritize his wellbeing and happiness.  Miracles do happen.

If you don’t have the time or attitude to invest in training a dog, . . .

                                                              . . .   please don’t get a dog.




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God Bless and Happy Pet Parenting!

With love and good wishes,
jeannie.   ?

About jeannie:  I’ve been pro-actively involved in pet rescue all of my life. I founded Milagro Senior Pet Refuge© (Phoenix) in 1998, and BareFootPets (TM) in 2008. Animal welfare has always been and will always be my heart’s work. If my only legacy is that I save a handful of precious souls that would not survive otherwise, I’m good with that.