Finding Amazing Service-Dog Candidates in Shelters


A crossbreed of German Shepherds earmarked for euthanasia watched Karen Shirk behind the bars of his cinder block cell in a cacophonic animal control building in the county. With his long black snout and pleading brown eyes, he looked at her with that heartbreaking mixture of worry, fear, confusion and hope. “That’s a good looking boy. Do you know anything about him “Karen called from her wheelchair to a nearby worker.” Can he sit? Can you sit, boy? To sit. ”

The dog was sitting. His hips trembled from the sincerity of his “sitting”. He tentatively lifted a paw a few centimeters above the ground in case the stranger wanted to “shake” it too. She didn’t say “Shake” so he gently lowered his paw and focused back on his excellent “sit”.

He was a “surrender of the owner” although there was no coercion or “surrender”: his people had brought him here to be disposed of for reasons unknown to the shelter. In overcrowded animal shelters, owner surrenders are among the first to leave: Without the required ten-day “stray stop” for lost dogs or cats that someone may be looking for, owner surrenders quickly join the ranks of the sick, injured, elderly People, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and their newborn litters, as well as the defamed pit bull breeds – no matter how gentle – must be euthanized one after the other, usually by lethal injection …

The scratching of shovels and splashing water and the homesickness of detained dogs ricocheted around Karen and the German Shepherd as the dog sat on the cement making anxious eye contact during the most important and possibly last audition of his life. Did the Schutzhund understand on any level that it had caught Karen’s attention, if only briefly? When he looked steadfast and longing into her eyes, it was him deliberately that it had caught someone’s attention, something that was scarce at a county animal shelter? Of course he knew. He asked her with his eyes not to leave him.

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