Stella & Ronan - Shelter "Siblings"
First impressions aren't always the best ones with rescue dogs - the happy-ending experience of Irish and Dean Oden and their two adoptees shows that persistence pays.
- story by Denise Jacobs
Scroll to the end of the story to see future Shelter Stars now available for adoption at the Hancock Animal Shelter!
In March 2016, Dean found Stella’s shelter picture online, invited Irish to lunch, and surprised her with a trip to the Hancock County Animal Shelter, but Stella was nowhere to be found. She had been fostered and was living in Gulfport. The shelter volunteer offered to bring Stella in, so Irish and Dean busied themselves for a couple of hours and returned.
“Stella had no interest in us,” Dean says. “She just walked around in the shelter and kind of ignored us. We thought, well, she’s not the prettiest thing, and she’s not showing any interest in us, so we were prepared to pass on her."
Surprised, the shelter volunteer said, “Really? You don’t like her?”
“Well, I don’t think she likes us! She’s indifferent. We were hoping for a little more enthusiasm than that.”
“No, no—she’s great! Take her home and see how it goes.”
So, the Odens put Stella in their car and took her home. “She pouted the whole way,” Irish remembers.
Once home, Stella began looking around the house. The more she wandered, the more her demeanor changed.
“She picked up speed,” Irish remembers. “She tore through the house, up the stairs, out to the yard, and around the pool. Then she came up to me all happy-like and seemed to say, ‘Hi! I think I’ll stay.’”
From that moment on, Irish says, Stella has been a perfectly obedient dog, and, Dean adds, “sweet to all people.”
If there’s a fly in the ointment, it’s that Stella is a picky eater. Irish and Dean are accommodating people and serve up refrigerated dog food, which they cook in the same pan as they have cooked their own dinner, so it has some flavor in it.
Dean says, “I pour a little olive oil over Stella’s food and add some salt and pepper. She likes it! It tastes like maybe it’s the same thing we’re eating.”
Dean notes that Stella is happiest when the family is moving. Irish adds that, after a walk, Stella positions herself on the couch, where she pouts until the next time they open the door. She never has to wait very long because both Dean and Irish are steadfast walkers with an active lifestyle.
Two years later to the month after Stella's adoption, Dean and Irish decided it was time to get her a companion. Enter Ronan.
This time serendipity played a role, as the Odens happened upon Ronan at a Lazy Magnolia Brewery event benefiting the Hancock County Animal Shelter. Ronan was the right size and seemed to be about the right age. The thing is, he seemed a little traumatized, but the couple chalked that up to the brewery’s loud band and noisy crowd.
“Ronan was biting and breaking skin that first night,” Irish notes. “He wasn’t a good dog then, but we thought he was just scared.”
It turns out that Ronan had been relinquished by his previous owner that very day, so he really was traumatized. Apparently, the dog had spent “life before Dean and Irish” in a crate and had never been socialized. He was afraid of the front door and green grass. He was nervous all the time and, if his growls were any indication, disliked women in particular.
“For a while, I was sorry I got him,” Irish says. “I thought for sure he was going to bite me, but I knew that if I returned him, the shelter would put him down. I didn’t have the heart to do it. I thought, ‘We’ll figure it out.’”
And figure it out they have.
Irish, who spends the most time with Ronan, eventually realized that he was acting out of fear.
“We worked to gain his trust slowly,” she says. One strategy was to ignore the dog—to take care of him, of course, but to give him space. Playing hard-to-get proved successful. Eventually, Ronan relaxed and came to Irish on his own.
Seven months later, after some tears and a lot of trial and error, Ronan is a different animal. “Now, he never leaves my side,” Irish says. In Ronan, Stella gained a brother, and Irish and Dean, cosmic merit badges in compassionate problem solving.
After being interviewed for this article, Irish said she hoped their story would inspire more people to adopt.
Hancock Shelter Adoptables
The dogs below are available at the Hancock County Animal Shelter as of November 12, 2018. Call the shelter at (228) 466-4516 for availability. Check out the Facebook page of the Hancock County Animal Shelter for latest adoptables!
This beautiful, sweet girl is CHARLOTTE, a 2 yr old American Pit bull Terrier mix, who has endeared herself to our staff and volunteers, and to all of the kiddos who volunteer with us on Saturdays at Pet Smart. It's safe to say that Charlotte has a fan club! ?
This gal has it all...lovely personality, beauty, and smarts! She is friendly and playful with other dogs of all sizes and demeanor, and she seems oblivious to cats. She has a real affinity for children, and loves to play and interact with them. Charlotte sits for treats, "gives paws," walks well on a leash/harness, and is very well-behaved in her kennel. She is also house trained. She is very affectionate, and gives hugs and kisses very generously. ?
She is so even-tempered and sweet-natured that she could join any family dynamic...a family with children, or she would be a wonderful companion for a single person/couple, or active retirees. Like we mentioned...Charlotte has it ALL! ? Come meet this awesome dog!
*Charlotte's adoption fee is sponsored $40 ("Lonely Heart"), which includes spaying, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians. Charlotte is light heartworm positive, but she is currently on a monthly heartworm preventative and responding great.
TILLY, a three-year-old mixed breed, is a remarkably sweet girl, who has every reason to be dubious of humans, yet she truly loves everyone! She yearns to be petted and held, and she gives appreciative hugs and kisses to all.
Poor Tilly was dumped by her previous owner in Shoreline Park, left to fend for herself and her six-month-old puppies. All four of her puppies were either adopted locally, or were transported to the Northeast via our Rescue Transport Program. So, now it's Tilly's turn to be pampered and spoiled! She would be a wonderful family dog, as she is super loving with kiddos of all ages. A single person/couple, or a active retirees, looking for a quiet, sweet-natured best friend would be a perfect match.
We think she is delightful in every way, and we hold Tilly in very high esteem. We are unsure if she is house trained, but she walks well on a leash/harness and keeps her kennel clean. She is awesome with other dogs, so she could easily join a home with existing pets. Come meet Tilly, and you'll know why we're crazy about her!
*Tilly's adoption fee has been sponsored by a wonderful supporter of our shelter, but an approved adoption application still applies! Her adoption contract includes spaying, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians. Tilly is heartworm positive, but she is currently on a flea/heartworm preventative and doing great.
SPIKE is a handsome 2 yr old Manchester Terrier/Hound mix. He has quickly endeared himself to our staff and volunteers with his easy-going personality, sweet nature, and intelligence. He sits on command, walks obediently on a leash/harness, and enthusiastically "shakes" paws or hands. ? This smart boy also "rolls over." He loves to have his back and tummy rubbed, and he often rolls in the grass while sunning himself. He's such a sweetheart, and funny, too! ♥️
Spike is friendly with other dogs regardless of gender and demeanor, and he even greets pesky puppies with good humor. He is also accepting of cats. ? We feel that Spike could join any family dynamic and be a welcomed addition. A single person/couple, or active retirees would find a loyal and fun-loving pal in Spike. And, he could easily join a family with children and other dogs.
He appears to be house trained, as he keeps his kennel very clean, and he is crate trained. Please come meet Spike...he may be the furry family member that you've been looking for! ?
Spike's adoption fee is $75, which includes neutering, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians. Spike is heartworm negative.
HONEY is a 10 month old Belgian Malinois mix puppy, who most definitely lives up to her name. She is the sweetest! ? She is a beautiful pup recently surrendered by her family because they moved from a home with extensive acreage to a home in the suburbs.
Honey would do best in a home with lots of land (securely fenced - wooden privacy) to explore and romp-n-play and enjoy the outdoors. Her previous home included both elementary school aged children and small breed dogs, so she could easily join a family with kids. At our recent adoption event at Pet Smart, Honey made many new friends, including some pretty cute kiddos and doggies of all sizes and shapes. She loved them all! ?
Honey would also be a great partner for an active single person/couple, or retirees dedicated to giving this growing puppy the exercise she needs to a healthy, happy dog. Robust walks, playtime, and lots of quality time with her family would be perfect for Honey.
This smart pup sits on command, behaves cooperatively in her kennel, and appears to be house trained. She walks great on a leash/harness once she settles down from the excitement of going for a walk. If you feel like Honey would be a good fit for your family, please come meet her. She is loving, beautiful, and smart! ?
Honey's adoption fee is $75, which includes spaying, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
This cutie is MANNY, a 5 yr old Miniature Pinscher mix. He's such a little fella, but he has a BIG personality, so we are recommending that he join a home with similar size dogs. He met many new friends at Pet Smart this past Saturday at our adoption event, and our volunteers discovered that this smart chap sits on command, but especially for treats! ?
If you're seeking a small companion to pamper and spoil, we are pretty sure this mature boy will love being the center of attention. He would be an ideal little friend for retirees, seniors, or a single person/couple. Manny also enjoys the company of older children, who can respect his size and need for gentle play and affection. He is waiting to meet you...come in soon!
*Manny's adoption fee is $50 (senior 5+ yrs old), which includes neutering, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
This adorable little fella is ROCKY, is a 2 yr old Miniature Pinscher mix, who was surrendered by his owners in hopes he would find a loving home more well-suited to his needs and personality. Understandably, Rocky is confused and grieving, but he still seeks out the affection and reassurance of our staff and volunteers. He just wants to love and be loved. ❤
Rocky became overly protective of the adult female in his previous home, to the point that he would show possessive behavior when the male adult in the family came near his "momma." Obviously, Rocky has a deep need to bond with just one person, and does not want to share allegiances. So, we feel he would do best as the companion of a single woman of any age in an adult only home.
He does, however, get along with other dogs. Rocky is house trained and is very responsive to praise and affection. Please help us find an appropriate, loving home for this loyal, sweet boy!
*Rocky's adoption fee is $75, which includes neutering, worming, vaccines, microchip, and a free vet check with one of our participating veterinarians.
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