Six months ago I met Laverne + Shirley for the first time. I had planned on chronicling their care and rehabilitation, but the day after I documented their first visit to the vet, they escaped their foster home and ran into the woods that was surrounding the property. It was no easy feat - especially as they both still had anesthetic in their systems from their dental surgery the previous day. Scaling one fence and finding a 6” gap to squeeze through, they did it remarkably fast. But once out, they ran in separate directions, not together. We were all devastated. We kept telling ourselves that it was lucky it wasn’t in town where there was traffic - that this was similar terrain to where they had spent the first 6-8 years of their lives… and they were survivors. But we all hoped they could find each other.
Posters were made and shared far and wide. Sighting parties were organized, just to keep eyes open. Everyone was under strict instruction to not try to catch them. The goal was to find out where they were travelling and what their habits were. Reports started to come in from the area where they went missing of dogs seemingly calling to each other. Sounds the residents hadn’t heard before. And then the calls stopped and it was confirmed on an infra red trail camera that they had re-united. But it still took time… 66 days they were on their own until the day they were caught. The volunteers only had one chance, but it worked. The girls were incredibly scared and the re-capture seemed to set them back. But it’s been four months since they’ve been back at ‘home’ and although to the naked eye it would seem that no progress has been made, to those who have been watching these dogs closely, baby steps are being made.
I wanted to give them time to settle before heading over to photograph them again… and this time they had company. Gracie and Maggie May were there too. I had met them, along with Simon last year and shared their story. Gracie was back in care after having been adopted last year, but was surrendered recently. Maggie May had moved to a different foster home, but had also come back. Gracie basked in the face rubs Penny was giving her. Maggie May was still terrified and although she'd glance my way, she didn't want to be seen by me. Laverne just watched me - I would sometimes hold the camera down by my stomach and in the photos you can see her looking up at my face, and not at the camera. She seemed to show interest in what was going on, but was still too scared to investigate. Shirley avoided eye contact as much as possible. But after I put the camera down and just listened to the birds, while basking in the sunshine, the dogs would all lay down and relax - something I couldn’t capture with my camera… this time. But I know that they can relax, which means there’s hope.
When it comes down to it though, this is what rescue is about. It’s about stepping up when others can’t/ won’t/don’t want to. It's what goes on behind the scenes. It’s about standing by the animals you bring in to care. Welcoming them back if the adoption or foster home doesn’t work. It’s about what’s best for the animal and putting a plan in place knowing that things can change in an instant.
The success of animal rescue isn’t always measured in Happy Tails. It’s measured in the knowledge that an animal is getting the help, love, support, care, surgery, food/shelter/water, place to heal, or whatever else is needed.
So although Laverne + Shirley, along with Gracie and Maggie May are on the road to healing, it’s unknown how long it will take and to what level. But whatever happens from here on in, there are people who won’t give up on them.
Thanks to the Victoria Humane Society for being there when needed and never giving up.
Please visit their facebook page to see more of the work they’re doing, where you can pick up some swag, and of course, the adorable adoptables in their care.
The Adventures of Laverne + Shirley facebook page
Mountain Man Dogs - the original story by Crooked Leg Ranch Society