There was a time when Minerva’s future was unclear, but now she has found her rightful place. Brought in as a stray to the Bonnyville and District SPCA on July 2, Minerva was distant, showed aggression towards food, and wasn’t a fan of dogs or cats.
Judith Rodriguez, executive director of the SPCA, saw something in her no one else did: potential. Her first impression of Minerva, a one-year-old German Shepherd, was that she is a handful. I noticed she needed a strong hand, someone who cares about her but isn’t soft, Rodriguez explained. Describing her as a smart, stubborn, and receptive animal, Rodriguez worked with Minerva on her behavior. Eventually, she earned Minerva’s trust and was able to feed her without being concerned she would be barked and growled at or bitten.
In order to train her further, Rodriguez knew she needed help. She reached out to the SPCA board and asked to bring in a training specialist to see if there was any way they could curb Minerva’s aggressive tendencies. After getting the green light, Rodriguez reached out to Kristi King, a dog trainer who works with animals with behavioral issues similar to Minerva’s. I called her and explained that we have a piece of work here for her, but that we can’t pay for her services. She’s an angel, she said that’s okay and that she would come and meet her, detailed Rodriguez. In the end, they agreed that Minerva would never be released for adoption, even after working with her for days at a time.
Rodriguez explained, Not all dogs are fit for all families. Every dog is different. In this case, Minerva was a total challenge, because she wasn’t meant for any family. Not just a family with no kids or no dogs, she wasn’t for any family. She isn’t meant to be a pet, she is a working dog. King, owner of the K-9 training academy that took Minerva on, said when she first met her she was “very high strung. In order to keep Minerva active while they continued to work on training, Rodriguez purchased a small pool. She loved it. She would jump and play so much in that tiny pool. She broke it in two days,” she laughed. Fifteen-minute walks weren’t nearly long enough for Minerva, so Rodriguez started coming in early to take her for longer ones.
On Sunday, Aug. 5, she and Minerva went for a run when Rodriguez stepped into a gopher hole. She held on tightly to Minerva, refusing to let go in case she would run away. Her reaction was running back to me and pulling my coat. She was trying to lift me up, she wanted to be sure I wasn’t hurt, detailed Rodriguez. The SPCA was unsure of Minerva’s future. They knew she was trainable, smart, and needed to be kept busy, but sadly, wasn’t releasable through the SPCA adoption program. It was during one of Rodriguez’s brainstorming sessions that she received a phone call that would solidify Minerva’s destiny.
Kristi called me. I guess we were thinking about Minerva at the same time. She told me that she had talked with a friend who works at the Toronto K9 Centre, Rodriguez said, adding she was so thrilled she was in tears. When Kristi called me, I just started crying because it was such a relief, she said. With the board’s approval, Minerva is scheduled to fly out to her new home early September. Rodriguez is overjoyed to see Minerva find a future doing something she will love. Minerva is very confident, she has a very strong intensity when she works, she really wants to work. Her drive is fantastic,” described King. When I met her that very first day, I knew she needed a working home, just because she needs that stimulation just to keep her balanced. The more she has to think, the more balanced she becomes. According to King, Minerva will finish her training with Roger Richards, a dog trainer at the Toronto K9 Centre. Once she completes her training, Minerva will go to a permanent home where she will work and live with her handler full-time.
For Rodriguez, the end to Minerva’s story couldn’t be happier. I’m going to miss her, but I’m really proud of her. King said there is a lesson to be learned from stories like Minerva’s. When people get these high-energy or working dog breeds, they should really think about the breed they’re getting before they get them… In Minerva’s case, I think whoever had her initially bought her as a pure-bred German Shepherd… I think they didn’t realize what they were getting themselves into and they just said enough is enough and let her go, King noted. She added, “If people would really think about what they’re getting when they adopt or buy a dog, there would be a lot less homeless dogs.
Saving Dogs – Save One More Life
Would you like to save one more life just like Roger Richards, you can, Contact the Humane Society of Durham Region and adopt a loving dog or cat today. Be the one that saves a life.