I moved quickly through the kennels at the San Bernardino City Shelter checking the availability dates on the dogs’ kennel cards.  Many of the animals were still on hold for an owner to claim, though sadly the percentage of owner retrievals is small.  I spotted an interesting looking male poodle mix.  He was listed as part Maltese, but was clearly a blend of several breeds.  His kennel card contained the notation “fearful”.

I waited in the visiting area to assess the pup.  A kennel attendant told me they were having trouble getting the dog out of the kennel, and finally three attendants had to retrieve him.  Most shelter dogs bounce joyfully from their kennels, tails wagging.  This time was different.  The dog spun wildly around the enclosure, not coming near me.  My heart sank, and I wondered if he would ever calm down.  Finally I sat on the ground and just waited.  His frenzied run continued for about 15 minutes.  Finally he calmed down, inched toward me, and let me comfort him.  

Rescue organizations such as Loving All Animals have foster homes that can assess and help train fearful dogs.  “Chance” seemed like a fitting name for a dog that now had a second chance for a new life.  Chance quickly metamorphosed into the sweet and charming dog he was meant to be.  We don’t know if he was an abused animal, or simply frightened in the shelter setting.

Foster mom Jeni Greenfield recalls Chance was a bit shy when he arrived and was not housebroken.  Eager to please, he quickly learned to use the doggie door and became a happy pack member with her dogs. 

Sara Fenimore and Steve Stoddard saw Chance’s photo on our website, and he reminded them of their dog Parker who recently passed away.  Chance didn’t disappoint, greeting his new “mom” and “dad” with kisses.  Sara recalls how well Chance adjusted to their home, “Chance has been a joy!  He strolls around our home and yard with great confidence.  Thanks to Loving All Animals for saving lives, finding homes, and bringing joy to humans and animals!”

Chance and the couple’s other rescue dog, Sophie, soon became best of friends.  Sara notes, “He’s brought out Sophie’s personality and made her more playful.  He makes cute little monkey sounds when he plays.  Always in play mode, he has a stuffed monkey he loves to toss in the air and play fetch by himself.” 

Now renamed Caesar, this pup struts around like a little emperor.  He has his own chair in the front room where he loves to look outside.  Caesar has 5 doggie beds, and 2 doggie doors give him access to the lovely landscaped yard.  Once a fearful stray on the mean streets of San Bernardino, he is now a treasured pet in a beautiful home with his loving humans.  

Steve enthusiastically describes Caesar, “He won the dog lottery!  He runs this place.  His personality is incredible. He’s glued to my side, and wakes up every morning expecting a belly rub.  He filled the ‘hole’ we had after losing Parker, and now it’s like he’s never NOT been here.  He’s a gigantic smile walking on 4 legs!” 

Some animals are frightened in the shelter environment, but they make fabulous pets given the second chance they deserve.  If a dog appears frightened, relax, sit on the ground, and let him approach you.  Contact the San Bernardino City Shelter at (909) 384-1304.  Contact our Riverside county shelter in Thousand Palms at (760) 343-3644. 

For assistance with getting a rescue animal, or to save a life through fostering, contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000 or  Every “fearful” dog we have rescued is now living happily in their adoptive home, proving that love and patience can overcome the darkest past