No one at OAS could remember just when the young, scruffy black Staffordshire terrier mix with the black-spotted tongue showed up. It seemed like he’d always been there. Was it New Year’s? Christmas? Maybe Thanksgiving – yes, probably around late November. He didn’t know much then – he sure needed work on his manners. And he was both so scared and excited to see people that he couldn’t control his body; he wiggled and jumped, and sometimes he urinated or just dropped to the floor. But there was a real sweetness to him that soon made him a volunteer favorite.
We named him Jeb, and Jeb loved his treats. He would do anything for a biscuit. That food fondness made him trainable, and in short order he was sitting at doors and looking at his handler, doing quick “downs” and not jumping quite as much. He also began to gain confidence at the shelter and no longer had those fear “accidents.”
Volunteers and mentors took him on outings to Park Street in Alameda, where he got a lot of good attention from the public. He especially liked to go into Dog Bone Alley, where he got lots of treats. At first, crossing busy streets was a little scary for Jeb, but with a volunteer on either side of him, he got brave. And week after week he enjoyed those outings.
Months passed, and Jeb had the chance to play regularly with several other dogs at the shelter. He was so good at reading them, and he lured the shy ones to interact with him but backed off from the ones who didn’t seem to like his style. What a good dog! Yet month after month, no one came to adopt him. You see, Jeb was a black dog, and a pit bull mix – and there are many people who couldn’t get past those attributes to the sweet soul wiggling for their attention.
Sadly, we find that the pit bull mixes are often the slowest animals at the Shelter to be adopted. People who like pit bulls usually want a full bloodied pit, while those who are tentative about the breed look for a non-pit mix – therefore, these dogs often sit for months waiting for a home.
Then in June there was a big adoptathon at the shelter, and Jeb was one of the first dogs picked to go to a forever home. But it wasn’t forever because his adopters weren’t really ready to add a new member to their family. And so Jeb came back to OAS two weeks later. Volunteers went to the family’s home to try to work out a plan for Jeb to have another chance with them. But it didn’t work out, and the stress of being at the shelter was causing Jeb to have some behavioral issues.
By August things looked bleak for the boy. But two volunteers couldn’t just sit and watch him languish in the back of the shelter any longer, and so they approached Best Friends Animal Society, an enormous animal sanctuary in Utah, to see if he could be placed there. And although there were no slots available, the team leader for their “Pitbulls: Saving America’s Dog” campaign went to work to try to find a placement for Jeb where there were adequate resources to work on his behavioral issues. The OAS staff and volunteers were on pins and needles for a few weeks, and things didn’t look good. But then came the call: the Longmont Humane Society in Longmont, Colorado, could take him into their shelter and have their staff behaviorists work with him in hopes of getting him a home.
On Saturday, Sept. 18, two volunteers got Jeb ready to leave. As he was wagging good-bye to some of the staff, one of them said that he was the favorite of Patty, an animal care attendant, and that she would be upset that she didn’t get a chance to say good-bye. But Jeb had to leave for San Francisco Airport for his flight to Colorado. The flight was financed by Friends of Oakland Animal Services (FOAS), the nonprofit that funds surgeries for sick animals and does countless good things for the shelter inhabitants. Before he was loaded onto the plane, a volunteer asked Jeb to be brave and strong, to make those of us who love him so much proud of him, and to be good to his new people. She promised him new things to learn, new dogs to play with, a comfortable bed and good food.
Before he could take off, his crate (with him in it) was weighed – a whopping 93 pounds! That put our little porker at about 88 pounds, probably 25 above goal weight. Seems like he had been scarfing up those treats that no one could resist giving him.
Jeb arrived in Colorado that night and had his first play group the next day. And then the really big miracle happened: Patty, the OAS attendant, used to live in Longmont, and her ex-husband and daughter still live there. She called and asked them to visit Jeb. They did and, like Patty, they fell in love with him. And they’ve adopted him!! Now Jeb is at home on a big ranch with a new loving family that includes horses and other dogs. And he’s still in the OAS family. Jeb’s long journey turns out to have a fairy-tail ending after all.
Jeb in his new home in Colorado!