With the help of Fort Wayne’s Allen County SPCA, Meredith the dog makes long, difficult journey to adoption
For Stephanie Fries, seeing Meredith the dog leave with a family Sunday was like watching a child go off to college.
“She has the most crazy story of any dog I have ever brought into the shelter,” Fries, the shelter manager at the Allen County SPCA, said Monday.
The challenge of preparing Meredith to join her adoptive family took patience, surgery, nurturing — and some Arby’s roast beef sandwiches.
Meredith, who is about 2 years old and appears to have some Labrador retriever and possibly beagle in her, arrived at the Allen County SPCA about May 1, Fries said.
She had been part of a group of roaming dogs in Abilene, Texas, that had been captured by animal control staff there, Fries said. Meredith had been easy to catch because she was caring for several puppies at the time.
Texas has one of the largest roaming dog populations in the country, said Jessica Henry, Allen County SPCA executive director. The local SPCA has tried to help by going down to Texas to bring some captured dogs back to Fort Wayne to make them available for adoption here.
Meredith’s puppies all have been adopted, Fries and Henry said.
It was a much slower process with Meredith, who was very shy and timid because she had never had much interaction with people, Fries said. Dogs from roaming groups typically don’t even know how to play with dog toys, Henry said.
When SPCA staff and volunteers first started working with Meredith, she would try to chew through a leash or roll over to escape when they tried to walk her on a leash, Fries said.
Whenever Meredith became scared or stressed, she retreated to her dog crate, they said. She also stopped eating, having been used to going without food while running the streets in Abilene.
“As scared as she can get sometimes, she never once tried to bite anyone,” Fries said.
SPCA staff kept working with Meredith to gain her trust. They finally discovered one thing that could break through when Meredith was stressed and refusing to eat — offering her pieces of an Arby’s Roast beef sandwich, Henry said.
Gradually, Meredith began to feel more comfortable around people, Fries and Henry said. She picked up house training quickly, rarely barks and whines only when she want to go out to go to the bathroom, Fries said.
“She is very smart and resourceful,” she added. “She had to be to survive (on the streets).”
PREPARING FOR A NEW HOME
To get Meredith more socialized for living in a family home, they sent her to live with a dog foster care family, Henry said.
After being there two or three days, she chewed through the side panel next to a window air conditioner, jumped out of the house and ran, Fries said.
The SPCA launched an all-out search to find her with staff, volunteers and social media, Henry said.
The house she ran from was located near IPFW in northeast Fort Wayne, Henry said. When Meredith was found four days later, she was picked up near Hessen Cassel and Tillman roads on the southeast side town, with a broken pelvis suffered when hit by a vehicle.
Because they believed she has promise as an adoptable dog, the Allen County SPCA paid the $3,000 veterinary bill needed for Meredith to receive surgery to repair her pelvis, Henry said. Meredith spent the next eight weeks in recovery with a volunteer, finally getting the medical all-OK in late October.
“This should be an illustration of the lengths humane societies will go to save a life,” Henry said.
Fries and Henry don’t know if Meredith ever will be an affectionate dog. But they believed there would be a family out there where she could be happy.
“We asked a lot from her, and we think she has more to give,” Henry said.
Most dogs stay at the SPCA only four to seven days before being adopted, Henry said. For Meredith, it had stretched to six months.
But Fries and SPCA volunteers took her Sunday — the quieter day — of a Saturday-Sunday national pet adoption event at the PetSmart store in the Apple Glen Crossing shopping center.
The people who came to the event included a middle-age couple with no children who live east of Fort Wayne a short distance into Ohio, Fries said. The husband does some traveling, and the wife wanted a dog to keep her company.
The couple came to the event interested in another dog, but they learned after arriving that someone already had adopted him, Fries said.
“While they were there, they saw her (Meredith) and fell in love with her,” she added.
After spending time with Meredith and learning her story, they thought her joining their family was meant to be, Fries said. Meredith also seemed very comfortable with the couple.
Fries told the couple all of what SPCA staff and volunteers have learned about working with Meredith – including bribing her with an Arby’s roast beef sandwich. Fries also invited the couple to call her if they have any questions or concerns.
It was difficult to see Meredith leave with her new family, Fries said, but it was a joyful moment, too.
“It made me extremely happy,” she added.
For more about the Allen County SPCA, 4914 S. Hanna St., call 1-260-744-0454 or go to www.acspca.org.