By: Katie Walsh
I remember when I saw the post from Rural Dog Rescue several months ago. They were raising funds to rescue several dogs from the illegal dog meat trade in Thailand. As a dog lover, I was horrified, and immediately pulled out my credit card to make a donation. These dogs were the ultimate underdogs, fighting for their survival, and I was determined to do my part.
Fast-forward to today: I’m not the only one who felt that way, and today, the girls, Asha and Crystal, are at a foster home in Maryland and making huge strides toward finding their “furever” homes.
And when I say, huge, I mean HUGE. Asha and Crystal had been kept in large pens with hundreds of other dogs, had to learn house training, how to walk on a leash, and how to interact properly with other dogs and people -- essentially, how to be, well, a dog.
Rural Dog Rescue knew it would take a very special foster family to help Asha and Crystal adjust to life as pets in America, and the rescue found one in Jeanne and Paul Bellis.
The Bellises currently have four dogs -- Asha, Crystal and two dogs of their own -- as well five cats who were also rescues. While the Bellises aren’t certified or professional dog trainers, they have a lot of experience handling dogs, and Jeanne even taught obedience classes previously. The task of teaching Asha and Crystal how to be be American pets was a challenge, but one they could undoubtedly handle.
Jeanne said she uses a combination of training methods with the girls. She said she looks for the environmental triggers that cause the dogs to behave in ways that are less than ideal, then figures out how to train them out of it. Jeanne takes the dogs out for many short outings to get them accustomed to walking and interacting with people and other dogs. She specifically lets people pet her dogs first so that Asha and Crystal see the other dogs receiving attention and decide to seek attention for themselves.
It’s been a long, slow process, but the girls have come a long way. They have even started to initiate play with other dogs, which was a huge milestone, Jeanne said.
Asha and Crystal have unique personalities, Jeanne said. Crystal is more outgoing; Asha is shy and easily freaked out by things. However, both dogs’ suspected breeds -- Thai Ridgeback and Jindo, respectively -- are typically extremely loyal, meaning neither one of these girls really needs or wants attention from strangers. They are intelligent and active dogs, so an ideal owner would be someone who can keep them moving!
Jeanne has some fantastic ideas for who would make an ideal owner for both of the girls. For Crystal, it has to be a combination of Captain Morgan, Ms. Frizzle from “The Magic School Bus,” YouTube sensation Batdad, and 12-time stolen base champion Rickey Henderson, meaning someone who is adventurous, smart, active and willing to laugh at Crystal’s antics… which are sometimes troublesome.
For Asha, Jeanne would like to see an owner who is a combination of Dorothy Gale, Mr. Rogers and Hagrid from “Harry Potter,” meaning someone a little softer spoken, calm, nurturing and empathetic to Asha’s previous trauma.
It’s plain to see from the passion with which Jeanne talks about these dogs that with the right owner, someone who is consistent with training and doesn’t have young children at home, that the girls will be wonderful pets someday.
And for all of us who donated to their cause and have been rooting for them, that’s all we can hope for!