Your Shopping Cart

It appears that your cart is currently empty!


Celebrating "Gotchya Day," by Will Anzenberger, Kaua'i Humane Society

by Carole Feeny |

So, today, July 9th, is Dexter's Gotcha Day. For rescue dogs, birthdays are not as commonly known, and, ultimately, are not nearly as important as the day they find a place that gets called home. That is a rescue dog's "Gotcha Day". It's another day of transition that a rescue dog goes through. Hopefully, most of these transitions will be heartwarming, but, along the way, some are heartbreaking.

For Dexter, his Gotcha Day started out with a great and loving foster family that initially had hoped they could keep Dexter to play with their French bulldog, Louie. I came down from the San Francisco Bay Area to Camarillo, California about a week after getting a call from French Bulldog Village Rescue & Adoption had approved my application, which had included a home visit.

When I came into the foster home, Dexter had what is now commonly referred to as his "Game Face" on. He checked me out for a few seconds, but was more intent on playing tug of war with his foster guardian. The first thing I noticed was that Dexter was really lean for a French bulldog. This was due to the difficulty he had in keeping food down due to his acid reflux and acute esophigitis. I stayed a little bit longer than I had planned, mostly because I could see the foster guardians were not really ready to stay goodbye to Dexter. But with a long drive back to the hotel, I needed to get going. Dexter eagerly climbed into the car, but spent the first 5 minutes in the car staring back at the best home (of four) he had known in his 15 months of living. Just another time of transition for Dexter, but for me, it marked a dramatic transition. Suddenly, I was now part of a pack of two.

When we got out onto the highway, he settled down a bit and actually rested his head on my lap for a couple of minutes, but then climbed into the back seat and basically fell asleep with his back turned away from me. I have to admit, I had a few thoughts that Dexter was going to take awhile to warm up to me. We got back to the hotel room, and Dexter immediately went to a dog bed I had ready for him and went to sleep: no play time, no hopping up onto the bed and lying next to me, just a matter of fact snort and off to bed.

When we got back home to the Bay Area, Dexter stayed away from me for most of the first day in the apartment. He played with his toys, he ate his food, he looked at me when he needed to go outside. There wasn't a lot of bonding going on, and basically everything was on his terms. In addition to my day job, I am also a photographer. I had my camera poised for taking these great pics of Dexter, but he wasn't really having any of that. Towards the end of the day, I started to put together a toy for Dexter, and he inched his way towards the couch. This picture perfectly captures the moment that Dexter "accepted" me, and we have been basically inseparable ever since.

It didn't take Dexter long after that to exhibit that he is, in fact, a bulldog. About 2 weeks into having Dex home, he climbed up onto the island kitchen counter and tried to jump across to another counter and ended up dislocating his hip. This required very expensive surgery, and now Dexter had about 16 weeks of post-surgery recovery and rehabilitating. This transition was pretty scary for both of us, but we managed to pull through ok... together.

For nearly a year after that, things seemed to be going great. We both learned what to expect from each other, and I got to bring him to work everyday. This probably kept me at my job an extra year based on the fact the stress of my job lessened having Dexter by my side.

This peaceful time started to fade, though, as Dexter's medical conditions, the acid reflux and esophagitis, began to resurface. It was frustrating to watch (and clean up after), and eventually I had to take him to a specialist to have his palate resected. Another transition for Dexter and me. For two weeks, I slept on the floor with him because he wasn't allowed to move around a whole bunch. During this time, I connected with someone who had just moved back to Kaua'i, and she told me about this program that the Humane Society runs where they were transporting dogs to mainland shelters. I lived on Oahu back in the 1990s, and I knew that Kaua'i Humane Society had done something less formal during that time.

Since Dexter's recovery was still going on, we were home for the holidays and decided to help out. Two days before Christmas, I picked up Samson from the Oakland Airport. He'd stay with me until Christmas Day, and the I would drop him off at the East Bay SPCA. Small transitions for Dex and me, but a big, big transition for Samson. Kaua'i has some interesting breed mixes, which sometimes get taken for granted on the island, but mainland adopters are eager to see these dogs from the Kaua'i Humane Society because they just are not that common on the mainland. Between reconnecting with a friend on island, and the transport program, I realized that Dex and I might be ready for a bigger transition: relocating to Kaua'i. So, in January, I started the process of getting Dexter eligible for what is know as direct release through the animal quarantine that Hawai'i has.

Over the next few months, I would end up transitioning a dozen dogs from Kaua'i to the East Bay SPCA, and the week before I was to visit my friend, Kaua'i Humane Society posted a position on their facebook page. I don't know if I really believe in fate, but I guess that would have been a sure sign that it exists. I had really great weekend, and was offered the job, and a really big transition.

For both of us, the transition has been tough, but, ultimately, it will be rewarding. Working to make sure each animal that comes through humane society's door gets to make a positive transition to forever home takes a lot of work, sacrifice, and money. During July, you will read a couple of stories about the innovative programs the Kaua'i Humane Society has involve transition and what we call "voluntourism". You often hear the axiom "It takes a village" to describe efforts to achieve group objectives. For the Kaua'i Humane Society, our village starts with our garden island and extends back to the mainland. As we rebuild as an organization, we hope that you will help us with that transition, and, in doing so, you help the animals in our shelter transition to a better tomorrow.

It can start by purchasing a Blue Collar =  Give One, Get One.


Will Anzenberger

Development Director and, more importantly, Dexter's roomie

See a video celebrating Dexter here and follow him on Facebook.

Comments (0)

Leave a comment