You would think that after working in a shelter environment for 10 years, Assistant Director of Animal Services Jamie Wilson would have tough skin after seeing so many animals come through our doors with sad stories. But Jamie is still able to open her heart to the more “challenging” pets that we have, and she was inspired to tell her story about a recent experience with a dog named Gabby.
At first glance, Gabby looked like your average Siberian Husky when she arrived at the Western PA Humane Society in February 2012, but she was extremely scared and a bit aloof. The person that surrendered her explained that he had gone to a breeder for a puppy, but felt bad that she was being used just for breeding so he took her home instead. Once he had her home, he realized that she was not used to human interaction and that she needed much more help than he could handle himself, so he brought her to us. While at the shelter, Gabby shied away from most of our shelter staff; however, she immediately took to Jamie, living and sleeping under her desk.Thinking that going through a rescue would give her the best chance of finding an appropriate family, Gabby was matched with a very promising home. Jamie had to coax a hesitant Gabby into their car, saying her final goodbye; or so she thought.
One year later on January 2013, Jamie arrived at work for a staff meeting. There, she was told that Gabby was returned to the shelter. It seemed that in the year the family had her, Gabby was still uncomfortable around them and was not able to relax. After hearing the news, Jamie said her heart broke for Gabby and that in her ten years she had never felt so attached to a dog. She immediately went to Gabby’s kennel and broke down, sorry for Gabby that she was having such a hard time finding her perfect match.
It was then that Jamie made it her mission to make sure that Gabby’s next home would be her last. She devoted her time at the shelter to socializing with Gabby (Gabby seemed to definitely miss her on her days off!). Gabby, shy dog that she was, even helped socialize a litter of feral puppies that were brought to the shelter. Gabby was made available for adoption once again, but with an application only so that Jamie and other staff could make sure that it was a true fit. Later in January, a woman filled out an application after meeting Gabby. Sitting next to Gabby, Jamie read the application, and at the bottom read, “Gabby gave me kisses.” Jamie read it out loud to Gabby, who immediately showed her approval with a tail wag! The woman brought her own dog in for an official meet and greet which went spectacularly. Gabby was adopted again on January 27, 2013. All it took was the right person (and pet sibling) for Gabby to blossom. She no longer hides in corners or under furniture. She loves to play and just be a dog!
At the shelter, we always talk about having moments of “Who rescued whom?” Even though we as staff do not always adopt our favorite pets ourselves, they still leave lasting impressions on us. Some of us, like Jamie, have a wall of photos of our success stories. Others might just be able to tell you every detail of a particular pet. Our feeling of success comes from knowing that when the next “Gabby” comes through our doors that we will be prepared to help them in their time of need.