By Janet McAfee
Social media is revolutionizing how we find a spouse, a job, a house, and even a pet. There are 1.581 billion Facebook users worldwide, averaging 130 friends each, and over 1 billion of them log on daily. This powerful social media platform now saves the lives of countless shelter dogs, sending their appealing photos and stories electronically to thousands of prospective owners. Animals that might otherwise be euthanized due to lack of shelter foot traffic end up finding loving homes and bringing joy to their lucky humans.
Magen Arquette, volunteer at the San Bernardino City Shelter, posted the German Shepherd dog with the freckled face on her Facebook page. Foster parents Vanessa Ruggles and Curtis Sweesy saw the posting, and fell in love with the dog’s beautiful expression and the distinctive ring of freckles around his nose. They emailed Loving All Animals about sponsoring him. I wrote a Facebook comment to the dog’s Facebook chain asking someone at the shelter to evaluate his temperament and approximate age. A Facebook friend soon reported back, “He’s a sweetheart, gets along with other dogs, about 2 years old.”
A handsome German Shepherd with perhaps a bit of Akita, this young dog proved to be a sweet loving animal whose demeanor is that of a teddy bear. Mahto stands for “Bear” in Lakota Sioux, the name given by his foster dad. Mahto came within hours of being another grim statistic at a high kill shelter, a rustic building at the end of a dismal dead-end street.
With the gait and confidence of a show dog, Mahto pranced into the parking lot and leaped eagerly into our waiting vehicle. For anyone who thinks going into an animal shelter would be sad, there’s nothing like the feeling of joy when you escort an animal out the shelter door for the freedom ride home. Mahto happily gazed at the rolling hills and inhaled the fresh air as we headed back to the Coachella Valley, released from his prison kennel.
Mahto thrived in his foster home, acknowledging Curtis as both savior and pack leader, and establishing his place in the couple’s pack of dogs. The eager-to-please dog was house trained and following basic commands within a day.
I posted Mahto on Loving All Animals page and my own Facebook page. Friend Kathy Barnes “Shared” the post, and soon there was a comment from Cathleen Coombs-Stephens, a former co-worker, expressing her interest in the dog. I noted a happy picture of Cathleen’s dog sitting on a couch on her Facebook page, and Elmo Stephens even had his own Facebook page! I sent a message to Kathleen, and two days later she arrived for a “meet and greet” with her two sons. Our goodbye tears were soothed in knowing Mahto was going to a wonderful home.
Cathleen kept us updated on Facebook, “Can you imagine the joy I am experiencing watching Mahto and Elmo play? Mahto is also regularly getting in the kiddy pool. Today was a good day….Right now my son Declan is sitting on Mahto and he’s not even moving!”
Mahto now leads a charmed life, living on a 3/4 acre mountain property with a loving family. The majestic dog runs along mountain trails, the crackling fall leaves the only sound beneath his feet. Cathleen reports, “He is highly affectionate. The minute I sit down, Mahto forces his head under my hand for a pet. He learns really fast, and looks to our other dog for guidance. There is a definite camaraderie between the two dogs. The boys, Miles and Declan, adore Mahto because he plays catch and chase with them. We made the best decision to adopt this dog!”
Rescued by Facebook, adopted by Facebook, you can now see Mahto Stephens’ adventures on his own Facebook page. Check out Loving All Animals’ Facebook page and website www.lovingallanimals.org to see more adoptable animals. Call us to foster or adopt at (760) 834-7000. When you “Share” a homeless dog on Facebook, you may be creating a miracle for that animal.