When Storm, a sweet and petrified pregnant one-year old lab/border collie mix was transferred to IMHS from an overcrowded shelter in Southern Colorado, we knew she couldn’t stay in the shelter.
Rescued from a hoarding situation and scared of the world, she was expected to deliver any day and the shelter is no place for puppies and a stressed out mom. With no immunity to many of the diseases or illnesses that might pass through the shelter, the puppies would be at high risk. Plus, the crazy hectic shelter environment is not a good place for a momma dog who is worried about keeping her pups safe. So after Storm had her vet checkup, she was immediately sent to a foster home. We were so lucky that Nicholas Faraco-Hadlock and his family were willing to take them on such short notice.
And then……the call from the foster family came. Storm, the very pregnant momma had escaped! It wasn’t anyone’s fault – a sharp piece of bark hit the leash at what must have been a weak spot, and SNAP, the leash broke and Storm went running. While the foster dad was following her trail from Conifer Mountain all the way down to Shadow Mountain, shelter staff, volunteers and our great community all joined the search. Over creeks, through backyards, in garages, under decks, the search went everywhere but Storm was not to be found. Her track was obvious – to a point, and then was gone. With no luck on Saturday, we planned to start searching again Sunday morning and the outpouring of support from our community members willing to help was something we won’t soon forget.
Much to our surprise, a call came in with an offer to utilize scent tracking dogs to find Storm. We were floored by this offer, and immediately asked everyone to stand down Sunday until these dogs had done their job. Various folks were stationed in different spots should we need help, but what we really needed was to let the dogs search unobstructed. The search team of Deb Diver and Tressa English, along with Tressa’s 4 dogs came up to the foothills on Sunday morning and after reviewing the tracks and the scent articles, Tressa and one of the ground scent dogs started to work. The pooch picked up Storm's scent immediately, proving that we were in fact on the trail of the right dog. And when the time was right, this dog was swapped for the now famous Yeager, a young Vizla known for his ability to air scent. Yeager caught her scent right away, and off he went dragging Tressa into the woods and through the snow with him. It didn’t take long – we were shocked when Yaeger found Storm within about 15 minutes.
She wasn’t alone! Sometime during the night, she had given birth to her litter, and was staked out in a den under a tree caring for them. She was also quite intent on protecting them, and no way was she letting anyone near them. As Tressa and Yeager backed off, IMHS staff members Sandy and Susan trekked into the woods to see if they could get her while volunteers stood by making preparations for transport.
Lucky for everyone, the Johns family (whose property she was found on) allowed us to stage ourselves on their front porch, offering support and supplies. Their entire family (kids and dog included) had helped us search the property the day before and once again stood by to provide help. We just love how much our community pitches in when we need it the most!
It took Sandy and Susan quite some time to convince Storm to let them take her and the puppies anywhere – but after exhibiting a great deal of patience Storm must have realized they were there to help and let them take charge. We were quite happy to see what a good mom she was – all the pups were cleaned up and healthy, woohoo!!!! Exhausted mom and newborns were carefully loaded up into the car and brought back to the foster home where we got them safe and secured.
Here's the gang in the foster home with the pups celebrating their first night in a home. Too cute, and we know this is making you think how awesome it would be to sign up as a volunteer foster family!
Storm and her pups stayed with their very patient foster family for 6 weeks before returning to the shelter for socialization and training. We are happy to report that all the pups have now been adopted. And Storm, well, with her new lease on a life in Colorado has a new name as well - Scout, and is staying in the home of IMHS staffer Susan who is helping her to learn how to be a dog! Prior to coming to IMHS, she had been in a pretty horrific hoarding situation and Susan is helping her learn to live in a real home and do normal dog things like going for walks, car rides, and relaxing in a house. Scout has also been hanging out at the IMHS front desk, enjoying the company of the cats around her and starting to relax a bit more with people. We are looking for a very patient family – where someone will be home a lot to help Scout gain confidence – which will come in time as she learns to trust. She is making a great deal of progress in foster – and the big news was that she actually played with a toy. Can you imagine – over a year old and didn’t even know about dog toys? How sad for her past – but how bright for her future! We hope someone out there can recognize what an amazing dog she will be, and is willing to take the time to continue to allow her to grow and understand that the world is not the scary place she experienced throughout her first year of life.
IMHS would like to send out some very special thanks related to this adventure. First and foremost – Deb Diver and Tressa English with the search dogs. We would NOT have found these dogs without their help. Of course, the entire Faraco-Hadlock family deserves a big thanks as well for fostering a mom and puppies for 6 weeks. The IMHS staff, the volunteers, and the community members who pitched in in so many ways – well, we just can’t thank you enough. It’s such a special feeling to know how much you all care about the animals and were willing to weather this Storm with us!