Some dogs are terrified and untrusting of humans, making it difficult to catch them for rescue. And so was the case with Larry. Larry spent five years on the streets of East St. Louis. He was part of a pack of feral dogs that included some other long-timers, like Aubrey, Buki, and Spice Kid. Volunteers fed this pack daily, but they never let them get too close. He would come when they called, but was still very afraid of humans. Although he lived on the streets for five years, he was a favorite to GPG volunteers, and they always looked forward to seeing him.
Fosters Sarah and Brian Meyer fell in love with him and watched him from afar. As foster homes became available, they watched as one by one these dogs were rescued. In fact, one of the dogs in the pack, Aubrey, found refuge at the Meyers home and later became a permanent resident. Which made saving Larry all the more special of a quest.
Larry’s day finally came on December 20, 2015. Sarah and Brian volunteered to foster him, and so began the mission to rescue him. He was elusive and dodged every attempt, and had to be tranquilized with a dart gun to be rescued.
Once rescued, he began his road to recovery. He was relatively healthy, but he tested positive for heartworms and had really bad teeth. He had to have three of his teeth removed. He was underweight with dozens of scars from a long life on the street. Most of his recovery, though, was on an emotional level.
First, Sarah and Brian had to gain his trust. He was really sensitive to human touch for a few weeks so getting him used to a harness, collar and a leash was a real challenge. It took a really long time to get a harness on him just so he could begin to learn to walk on a leash. He also didn’t take to the inside life right away and tried to escape multiple times. To accommodate, the Meyers built a special indoor kennel to better contain him while they worked on gaining his trust.
It was a long journey, but once they gained his trust, he learned quickly. Larry loves the indoor life now. He is fully potty trained, crate trained, walks great on a leash, and knows several commands. He now loves to be around his people and dog siblings, go on car rides and is very loyal. He is even starting to play with toys and give kisses.
Sarah and Brian specialize in rehabilitating and gaining the trust of street dogs. Most of the animals they bring into their home are fearful of people. These dogs thrive in packs of other dogs, though, and the Meyers have plenty of those around – seven to be exact! At any given time, they have their seven dogs and 2-3 foster dogs in the mix. Combining their mix of confident family pets with fearful street dogs has been a powerful combination that helps foster dogs learn what it’s like to be a family pet.
When asked about their favorite part of fostering, Brian explains: “We love seeing the transformation of all the feral dogs into loving, loyal pets and then seeing them blossom in forever homes, being loved by their people. And there’s nothing like watching a street dog really sleep for the first time in a long time. Our families are not really dog people so it’s been wonderful to make new friends and to be able to socialize and talk to people that are also ‘Crazy Dog People’ and actually get us. We also love GPG’s mission to educate and help the citizens in ESTL. But to tell the truth, there’s also some selfish reasons, too. We get to do something we’re passionate about, work with dogs, and have someone else pick up the bill. Our dogs also love and get the benefit of new playmates and socialization without having to go to dog parks or daycare all the time.”
Sarah and Brian are an incredible team, and we are so lucky to have them as part of the Gateway Pet Guardians family. If you would like to adopt their current foster, Larry, learn more about him by visiting www.gatewaypets.com/adopt. If you would like to join our team of amazing fosters like Sarah and Brian, visit www.gatewaypets.com/foster!