By Janet McAfee

A good Samaritan found them huddled together by a path in the Palm Desert Civic Center Park. The two small dogs were very still, not on the run like most strays, and by some miracle the man was able to pick both of them up and put them in his car. Young and resourceful, Nigel Stephens went on his iPhone and located the nearest animal rescue organization.

Their stiff bodies and their frightened eyes told part of their story. The two dogs made no eye contact with any of us at the Loving All Animals office, their eyes reflecting terror, from whatever experience we will never know. “We’ll take them” was my immediate response. We checked for id tags and microchips, and finding there were none, made other attempts to locate an owner, including posting flyers at the county shelter in Thousand Palms. Volunteer Judy Anderson stepped up to foster the female Spaniel mix puppy she named Ellie Mae. I called the fluffy boy puppy Darcy, and the lucky fellow went to live in style at the BG Bird Gardens.

It was no surprise that no owner came forth. Dogs are “dumped” all over our Coachella Valley, and sometimes left behind in homes when people move out, but at least these two were placed in a spot where someone could find them. But the weather was still hot, and the dogs were overheated and thirsty. Their first trip to the vet revealed a nervousness about travel.


How could it be that such young, beautiful animals could be abandoned? In all likelihood they were left in the park by a “human” who has no awareness of how loving and loyal a dog can be.

Tracy Habijanac, a Loving All Animals volunteer, agreed to foster Darcy, taken in by his friendliness and complete cuteness. What Tracy didn’t know when the pup arrived to live with her and her husband Ron, is that that Darcy is an incredibly intelligent dog. Tracy reports, “We found out Darcy had never been on a leash before, so at first we didn’t know what we were getting into. Ron and I put him on a leash, and he became trained and ready to go for a happy walk within 10 minutes! He is so affectionate with people, and he quickly fell in love with both of us.”

None of us were surprised when Darcy became DJ, even though the Habijanac’s were originally set on adopting a Chow. This smart dog knew that Ron would be the harder human to convince that he should become a permanent resident. DJ made sure Ron received equal treatment of love and attention, hanging his side and becoming his best buddy. Tracy explains, “DJ was great in the beginning, but he quickly became nothing short of fabulous. DJ did everything right. He played with the cats, he became house trained in 2 weeks, even though we think he was an ‘outdoor only’ dog in his previous life.”

Last month Ellie Mae, DJ’s little buddy abandoned in the park, went to Loving All Animals’ Super Pet Adoption Festival and found her forever home. Just like her little partner in the park, this sweet Spaniel mix puppy with the soft curly hair is living a life filled with love and luxury. Thanks to the good Samaritan, Nigel, both pups are home for the holidays.

DJ will spend this holiday season in a wonderful home. Thankfully, he did not have to spend part of it in a shelter, or wandering the streets. With the open heart and mind of a dog, DJ lives in the moment and expects only a bright future.

Don’t spend the holidays feeling lonely. Let your children experience the joy of a family dog. You can find the largest number of adoptable animals at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms, view their adoptable dogs at, or call them at (760) 343-3644. And if you want to join our movement to end pet homelessness, contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000. Happy holidays to you and your fur friends!