: from the Photo Lab :
A few weeks ago, Sonoma Humane Society took part in rescuing 63 lucky Finnish Lapphund dogs from some dire conditions. You are welcome to read their entire back story HERE. For this post however, I prefer to focus on their incredible recovery and progress. With around-the-clock care from veterinarians, vet techs, behaviorists and trainers as well as many, many hours logged by caring volunteers, these wonderfully resilient dogs shed their past, along with their matted and once filthy coats, giving way to a shiny and healthy growth, a new beginning to say the least.
If there is one thing I can say about the “Lappies”, it is that they are a truly wonderful and resilient breed. Everyone involved in this rescue worked tirelessly to get them healthy and feeling safe, and the behavior and training department helped staff and volunteers work with the dogs to start building some trust. For some dogs, the change was very quick, for others a bit more slow. Having never been on a leash, in a room full of strange smells, barking and people going in and out and away from everything you know (regardless of how dire that was), it is no wonder they were at first afraid and weary.
After weeks of medical treatments for ear and skin infections, parasites and bugs as well as dental issues, the Lappies were finally cleared for some much needed outdoor time. I was very lucky to be there that day. To see a dog that has likely never seen grass, be enchanted by the plethora of scents, sunshine and fresh air; and suddenly get an irrepressable case of the “zoomies” is something that brought happy tears to my eyes. Good thing I had my camera to hide behind.
We brought the Lappies out in groups of two or three, often one at a time to let them get acclimated. When comfortable, they approached us for treats and attention with happy tails.
These dogs surely won the hearts of all of us involved. One of my favorite things I saw that day was not only how far these pups had come, but the faces of everyone that walked by the courtyard where we had them all.
Through these play groups, we started to get even more information about their behavior and personality. Taking note of everything we saw to better serve them when choosing the right adoptive home for them. With all the media buzz this story created, Sonoma Humane Society not only received many generous donations of food, toys, blankets, towels and equipment as well as financial support; but also hundreds of applications to adopt one of the Lappies.
Aside from enjoying the company of people, the Lappies are learning what toys are and how fun they can be! It is so hearwarming to see their playful nature start to blossom. For those who think play behavior in dogs has nothing to do with fun, I dare them to spend 5 minutes watching these guys play, you can’t help but smile ear to ear.
I was lucky to catch this moment when Sue allowed Pakko, a male Lappie, to approach one of her foster puppies. Pakko was so gentle with him, wagging his tail and enjoying Sue’s attention.
Stories like these renew my hope in humanity and remind me of what we are capable of when we let love and compassion lead the way. I am honored to bear witness of this human + animal kindness. I can only hope it inspires you to ask yourself how you can make a difference today, who can you be kind and compassionate to?
With the help of Petaluma Animal Services and the Finnish Lapphund Rescue group (an arm of the Tibetan Mastiff Rescue, INC.), a number of the Lappies are now enjoying their new homes or living with foster parents. For updates on them, please visit their Facebook pages HERE and HERE. Some of the Sonoma Humane Lappies have gone to loving homes, and the rest are currently getting a lot of love and attention, getting them ready for home life and the SHS folks are very carefully selecting the perfect adopter for each dog.