Dog returned multiple times serves as educational adoption tale

Photo by Eric Zavinski Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue volunteer Lynn Gresham pets Shelby, a 3-year-old Wheaten terrier/boxer mix who has been adopted and returned to the shelter four times. NCCR is looking for a home in which she’ll be the only pet. Shelby has a calm temperament and prefers things to be fairly quiet.

WESTFIELD — Shelby’s puppy dog eyes have followed her to four temporary homes. She’s arrived back at Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue, her birthplace, after every failed attempt to find a permanent place to live.

She’s a kind of cautionary tale and shows that adoption takes more commitment and thought than some animal lovers may think at first. Shelby also serves as a warning that, even though someone may love his or her new dog, any new pet owner may find out that a particular dog is not the right fit for their home.

This first became evident when Shelby was adopted from the rescue as a puppy by a family who lives next to a race track. After a while, they discovered Shelby didn’t like all the surrounding noise. She became frazzled often while living there and eventually found her way back to the rescue once the noise became too much for her.

Her second home was a bit calmer. A wheelchair-bound woman adopted Shelby and made her a member of her rural home. Unfortunately, her new home was surrounded by squirrels, and her new owner wasn’t too pleased that Shelby kept getting excited and knocking things around every time she saw one. Some level of separation anxiety contributed to her uneasiness.

Cue home No. 3 in which Shelby shared space with multiple cats. It turned out she got pretty excited around those as well, so for her fourth and most recent home, Shelby was temporarily cared for by one of the rescue volunteers, who owned other dogs. That wasn’t a great fit either; Shelby wasn’t a fan of sharing toys and attention with others.

Shelby has been adopted by four different homes, with each one not proving to be the right fit for her. Volunteers at Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue in Westfield say she sits in her pen dejected and lonely, awaiting someone to make her the center of attention and give her the love for which she yearns.

“Basically, what we’re looking for is a home where she’d be an only pet,” said Marcia Okerlund, NCCR director and volunteer.

The rescue volunteers love having Shelby around, but they want her to find her new, fitting and permanent place to live. Shelby has a sweet temperament and would likely make many future pet owners happy; she wants to be an only pet, making the commitment smaller for prospective owners and providing a perfect source of joy for animal lovers who would want to focus on just one dog. She’s already 3 years old, so her puppy years are now behind her. She enjoys going on walks, playing and cuddling with people. She’s big on licking anyone she clings to as well.

“The volunteers absolutely love her,” Okerlund said. “She loves attention (and) definitely bonds with her owner.”

Volunteer Lynn Gresham particularly enjoys spending time with Shelby. She fishes out toys beneath her bed frame and pets the Wheaten terrier/boxer mix when Shelby lays her head, or entire body, on Gresham’s lap.

NCCR President Anne Moelk said Shelby can and will likely find her perfect home. She reported only one dog currently in their shelter who has lived there for all of 2018. A total of 242 dogs have been adopted from the rescue this year.

She said there are many things to keep in mind when adopting a pet and warns that surprise dogs don’t make good holiday gifts, or even good impulse buys in any season. Research of dog breeds and a reasonable application process are necessary. Volunteers check references to make sure a dog would be a good fit for any certain home, so it’s impossible to go in the rescue just once and immediately come out with a new family member that quickly.

For example, Moelk said to pay attention to the husky mix they have and acknowledge that he would best fit a home with an active lifestyle. Hank, a Great Dane recently taken in by staff, will need a sturdy home with an able-bodied owner who doesn’t get frustrated easily. He’s deaf after all and doesn’t always know his own strength. Of course, there are also smaller dogs waiting for their “forever homes” as they’re called by staff.

“We try to figure out what’s a good fit for the family,” Moelk said.

Mostly strays are cared for at NCCR and those include dogs from a shelter in Indiana when that rescue has an excess of animals. The NCCR carries all kinds of dogs of different breeds and sizes, so any potential pet owners are likely to find a new best friend to fit their lifestyles.

Moelk said they always welcome more volunteers for jobs ranging from marketing and office work to yard work and walking the dogs. Interested helpers or future pet owners can contact NCCR at 326-7297 or email adoptions@caninerescue.org.

The no-kill dog shelter is located at 7540 N. Gale St. in Westfield and can be found at caninerescue.org and Facebook. Visiting hours are 1-3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Open houses are hosted the third Saturday of every month from noon to 3 p.m. Other visiting times can be scheduled by appointment. Donations of shelter supplies or monetary donations are accepted and appreciated.