Shelter Tails: Dog’s Adoption ‘A Remarkable Story’

By Mary Esparra
For the Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 11/05/10

WARWICK — Here is a story explaining why shelter folks do what they do.

It begins in November 2007. Honey, a Korean Jindo dog, belonged to a Warwick family who couldn’t control her.

“She used to get out the door and terrorize the neighborhood, though she was more afraid of people than they were of her,” said Warwick Valley Humane Society President Suzyn Barron. “Finally, animal control took control and brought her to the shelter, where she was finally surrendered.”

Shari Forst of Canine Case Squad dog training volunteered to help socialize and train Honey. After almost a year of working with Shari and shelter staff, Honey was finally ready for adoption.

Eva Hanks of Manhattan was ready for another dog. The 82-year-old law professor at Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University had lost her beloved Jindo dog, Tracy, a few months before.

“I’ve had dogs for 50 years, and I knew I couldn’t really be without,” she said.

Hanks Googled Jindo rescues and found Honey’s posting on

“Suzyn (Barron) wrote a cunning little sentence,” she said. “‘She gives gentle kisses in return for some kindness.'”

Honey’s bio said she needed a home without children with someone willing to learn about her breed.

“I kept looking at that for about a week and then decided to go up to Warwick to see her,” said Hanks. “They brought her out, and my heart sort of sank. She paid absolutely no attention to me. I thought, ‘My God, this dog is so damaged, she can’t relate to anybody.’

“We were sitting in this little pavilion, and Shari came up. Honey wagged her tail and went up to Shari and kissed her face. Obviously, she could connect with people.” When Hanks made another visit to the shelter, Honey “stared at me right in the face with her big brown eyes,” said Hanks.

Hanks adopted Honey Oct. 12, 2008. Honey, now renamed Katie, continued her training when Hanks hired Forst to travel to Manhattan weekly for five weeks after adopting her, helping to socialize her with other dogs, small animals and people.

“She is now absolutely perfect,” said Hanks. “She is the best-behaved dog I think I have ever had. She can now walk past squirrels, and if I tell her leave it, she leaves it. They (the trainers) told me what to do and what not to do with her.

“At first, she thought every little dog was breakfast. You should see her now; she walks past dogs and doesn’t pull at all. She’s as perfect as a dog can be.”

Katie prompts compliments from those witnessing her proper behavior, which includes sitting at busy city intersections waiting to cross.

“I think that with a lot of love, a lot of patience and a little bit of money, you can rehabilitate a dog,” said Hanks. “We couldn’t be happier together. She and I, we are our family.”

““Katie deserved a wonderful, kind, loving owner,”said Forst. “Eva deserved a sweet, loving, canine companion. It was a match made in heaven (after a little work)!” said Forst.

Hanks is grateful to Forst and the Warwick Humane Society. In addition to generous monthly donations, Barron recently received a letter “from Katie” asking to “adopt Eva (the human) all over again, because Eva has much improved since then.”

“It’s the Evas of the world that keep us doing what we do,” said Barron. “Eva and Katie have become great supporters of our Humane Society. A remarkable story of hope, perseverance, patience and love.”

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What is a Behaviorist? What do they do?

A behaviorist is responsible for evaluating a dog to determine what problems are going on, why they are going on and coming up with a plan to correct the issues. In other words the behaviorist looks into the canine mind to figure out how the dog thinks and lets owners understand why the behavior is occurring and then comes up with a plan to correct it

How do I know if I need a Behaviorist or a Trainer?

When an owner states they are having problems with their dog other then commands it is helpful to have a behaviorist get involved. If your dog is well behaved except that he doesn’t sit or heel then you probably want training. If your dog is jumping, chewing items, is aggressive, or you believe has any mental or obsessive problem then you want a behaviorist. This is usually seen in destructive behavior, any form of aggression, ‘the bad dog syndrome’ and many other terms owners complain about.

How do you determine the cause of the problem?

A behaviorist observes and evaluates the dogs body language and personality as well as interviewing the owners and observing their interaction with their dog in order to determine what the causation of the problem is.

How do you solve my problem?

Once we determine what the problem is and what is causing the problem we will give you techniques and exercises to do in order to solve the problem you are having with your dog. We will also explain why you are having the problem in the first place so you better understand it and can prevent future problems from occurring.

At times it requires simple counter conditioning or retraining of owner interactions and other times it rangers all the way to mental disorders requiring medication and advanced behavioral techniques to resolve.

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