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Extraordinary Joe

Joe, an American Bulldog, arrived at the Peninsula Humane Society with mange, arthritis, and a bad ear infection. But his story has a happy ending.

We received Joe, an American bulldog, as a stray from East Palo Alto. He was old, could barely walk and was riddled with mange and an obviously uncomfortable ear infection.

Apparently, Joe wandered into an open residential yard and basically collapsed. The homeowners who called us said he hadn’t moved for hours and that they’d never seen him in the neighborhood. All signs indicated Joe was a poorly cared for dog who likely led a sad life relegated to someone’s yard.

Not our most promising adoption candidate, given his age, breed, condition and supposed history.

We quickly brought him back to our shelter where staff aged the male American Bulldog at 9 years old. Medical staff noted his significant skin condition and ear infection, plus possible arthritis. Still, we saw a good-natured, lovable dog who began to move much better while in our care, and, in general, felt much better after we began treating his skin and ear conditions.

Time with our behavior staff confirmed what our medical experts figured: he likely spent all or most of his life outdoors.  Still, since he progressed, physically, and showed us an indomitable spirit and great demeanor, we made Joe available for adoption in September. And, while awaiting adoption, Joe and his volunteer handler also took part in our Second Chance Class, a weekly gathering for shelter dogs with potential. Joe was the class star: friendly, outgoing and playful with all volunteers and good, if not a bit over exuberant with other dogs.

While we weren’t able to match him with an adopter, we found the next best thing: foster parents. This meant he would get a quiet home in which to clear up his skin condition, work on interactions with other dogs and learn how to behave inside a home. 

He got much more – his foster parents adopted him! 

They returned last week to have Joe pose with Santa Claus at PHS/SPCA.  Joe and his adopters made the nice list as far as we’re concerned. Joe’s story illustrates PHS/SPCA’s open door policy.  Like a so-called no-kill shelter, we find homes for 100% of the perfectly healthy (medically and behaviorally) dogs and cats who come into our care.  But we go much further to save lives. We don’t limit our admissions to the perfect, ready-to-be-rehomed right now dogs and cats. Dogs, cats and other domestic animals aren’t categorically denied a second chance if they are a certain breed, if they are in their twilight years, or if they have medical or behavioral challenges. 

In a way, our old American Bulldog was an “average” Joe. Routine for us. Every month, we treat and give hope to approximately 180 animals like him, vital work made possible by generous contributions to our Hope Program.  That is the extraordinary part. To contribute, please contact Lisa Van Buskirk at 650/340-7022, ext. 327 orLVanBuskirk@PHS-SPCA.org.

Judi December 17, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Thanks Maureen! You made my day!
Phyllis McArthur December 17, 2012 at 12:48 AM
we love this story, however sad his life was, he now has a new begining, thanks for this!
Kim Lloyd December 17, 2012 at 05:40 AM
I am so very happy for Joe. We need to see the value in elderly dogs. They bring so much happiness to our lives. We adopted a wonderful 16 year old yellow lab 3 1/2 years ago. Savannah is still thriving at almost 20! PHS is a needed organization, but we were sad to see that Savannah would've been put down due to her age had we not adopted her. They wrote 'As Is Adoption' on the top of her paperwork, and would not pay for her first vet visit. Sad that they didn't see that it didn't matter how long Savannah would be with us, that we were making the time she had left the best of her life. She has the most amazing temperament, and these years with her have been amazing! Thank you PHS for bringing her into our lives, but I would like to see you posting more on elderly animals over the age of 10. We were told PHS doesn't put dogs over 10 up for adoption. I hope that rule has changed.
Bev Carleton December 29, 2012 at 04:26 PM
We are Joe's adoptive family, and are so happy that his story was shared. Joe has added so much love and humor to our house and quickly became the neighborhood favorite. It took a few months to get him strong enough to go on walks but we now call him "Benjamin Button". Adding an older dog can be a joy, as their maturity and slower ways force all of us to slow down a little. He's not planning to exit this life any time soon:)
Scott Delucchi January 05, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Kim, PHS/SPCA has no such "age" policy. Those folks who have recently visited our Center for Compassion or who visit with some frequency usually see at least a few dogs or cats well into their twilight years. An age is just a number, and often it's our best guess. I'll make an effort to share more of the 10, 11 and 12-year-olds' adoption stories -- they are my favorites as well.

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