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Our MIssion:
A Non-Profit (501(c)(3) Organization, founded in 1998
Chama Valley Humane Society   ©  2014 - 2018   •  All Rights Reserved

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Contact Info:  Ph:  (888) 666-0641   •   info@chamahumanesociety.org
HAPPY TAILS     2015 - older

All our rescues are amazing, but the story of Jinx is plain miraculous. A five-year old red Border Collie, Jinx apparently bounced from the back of a truck, landed on his jaw, and was left along the highway. Alone, in pain, and covered in blood, he would likely have died, but for the tourists who found him.

It was Saturday, but the local vet agreed to keep Jinx if we-the Chama Valley Humane Society- would cover costs. The vet told us that Jinx’s shattered mandible was beyond the capacity of his small clinic. But he stabilized Jinx and boarded him till Monday.

Jinx was in urgent need of surgery, but the estimated cost to repair his jaw was $2,000, nearly 7% of our total annual budget. How would this impact the low-cost spay-neuter and rescue-foster programs for our 600-square mile service area? And who would do the surgery? Lucky for Jinx and us, Dr. Tom Yost, a vet in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, 50 miles away, agreed to perform Jinx’s initial surgery for an exceptionally low price.

Dr. Yost had mixed news after surgery: Jinx still had jaw movement, but several smashed teeth had penetrated his jawbone. He also had a bone-deep leg laceration. Dr. Yost suspected the injuries were much older than two or three days, which made repair more difficult. But like everyone who had met him, Dr. Yost fell under Jinx’s spell. Despite an off-set jaw which was wired and taped shut, a painful, bandaged back leg, and the inevitable cone of shame, Jinx seemed not only grateful, but happy. He never whined or complained-except for more food.
Now, after nearly five months, Jinx is an official member of Gretchen and Aadi’s household. We couldn’t imagine a better home for this high-energy boy, who runs five miles every morning and goes regularly to obedience and agility training. Jinx had to give up sheepherding because his propensity for diving at the sheeps’ feet was putting his jaw at risk, but he may start training as a Therapy Dog in the coming months.

From the first, we knew Jinx was special. The monetary costs were high, but rescue is about miracles, not cash. Thanks to kind strangers, a small volunteer rescue group, a generous vet, and saintly foster families, Jinx’s extraordinary, if slightly crooked smile will, we hope, brighten lives for many years to come.
Jinx’s first foster parents, Jim and Phyllis, hand fed Jinx with a watery gruel of mixed broth and wet dog food-first through a port, then through his tiny mouth opening. Jinx was always hungry and drooled constantly, but he grew stronger and more confident. But Jinx’s guardian angels had pre-existing commitments and had to pass him on after three weeks.

Enter Jinx’s new foster family-Aadi, Gretchen and their dog Zeus. The arrangement was meant to be temporary, but the family kept asking to keep Jinx “a bit longer.” During the next few months they made several 400+ mile round trips for vet visits from their Albuquerque home to Pagosa Springs, including one for follow-up surgery.

Little Brodie came to us in late June 2013 at about 8 weeks of age from Dulce, where she was found in the middle of the road with a broken leg. A border collie mix, Brodie could hold her own with big dogs, but couldn’t put a speck of weight on her foot. In fact, it just hung limply like the empty sleeve of a jacket. We took her to Dr. Yost in Pagosa Springs, who x-rayed her leg and found it was not only broken in the shoulder, but the bone was offset and rotated from where it should be. Brodie had surgery on July 2 and got a couple of pins to keep the shoulder in place (and a cute pink bandage). Several weeks later, she was able to have the pins removed and had her final checkup on July 22. By this time, foster mom was getting very attached to the smart little pup-but had to let her go to make room for others.

Brodie went to Colorado Puppy Rescue in the Denver area in late July; we were disappointed when she wasn’t immediately adopted and offered to take her back. They told us to wait for a few more days until the next adoption event - which turned out to be a good thing. Brodie was adopted, and we got heartwarming note from her new person a few weeks later:

“I adopted Brodie (the lab border collie mix with a broken leg).  I had a note that you thought she was special, and would like an update. She is doing great, we live in Denver, and I think she is the coolest dog ever. I named her D'fer like D fer dog. So far I have her sitting, shaking hands, laying down, playing Fetch and most of the time peeing outside. Her leg has healed up very well. When I got her she limped pretty bad, but now after 3 weeks she does not limp at all, runs all over, plays with all the other dogs like she owns the place, and loves everyone. I could not be happier, and I think she feels the same way. Thank you for fixing her up, and treating her well.”
Michael and D'fer

Talk about a happy ending! And look how big she got in just a few weeks while running and playing-amazing!
1st week after surgery
2nd week after surgery
Brodie with her new family

Tiger Lilly, Gretchen, and Gizmo were three young feral kittens who came to us in May 2012 from a local woman who caught them in her RV park. They were pretty tiny-about 4 weeks old-but thankfully did not need to be hand fed more than a day or two. We kept them in a kitty playpen, but soon Gizmo, the smallest but wiriest of them-who we nicknamed “alien cat”-was able to chin herself over the top and skid around the floor of the living area, careening from cat to dog to chair to table. Tiger followed her, but tended to seek out human attention rather than adrenaline highs. Gretchen, the beautiful but shy calico, typically stayed in the playpen or hid behind furniture peering at the action.

Tiger and Gretchen found a home where they could grow up together as well-loved mousers in a cat friendly garage. Their new mom trained them to hunt outside in the daytime but come in before dark. Now, two years later, they are king and queen of the big garage. Tiger has decreed that he has the upstairs penthouse, while Gretchen is relegated to the downstairs apartment. Both cats get along well with their canine sister, a young Golden Retriever, and are doing a good job of keeping the rodent population in check-especially Tiger.

And Gizmo? Well, she never made it out of her foster home. Her foster brother, Ramses, who was only about a year old at that time, groomed her so assiduously and slept curled around her for hours at a time like a protective barrier-how could we separate them? She is by far the most agile cat in the household, graceful and able to jump to amazing heights. She and Ramses still spend long naptimes curled around each other, though their cuddles are often punctuated by mock-fights which Ramses wins if he can keep Gizmo earthbound. And despite the little cat prints on every horizontal surface in the house-and a few vertical ones-we wouldn’t trade her for a hundred alien worlds!
Tiger Lilly

Yoati was brought to the Chama area from Cuba, NM by a man who thought she would be a good herding dog. She probably would have, if she had been trained. But she was young and had no training-and was left with a family member who didn’t need another dog. Yoati got pregnant and had a litter of eight-cute little pups, most of whom we were able to send to a Colorado rescue. But Yoati still needed a home. She went into a foster home where she did beautifully, despite never having been inside a house before-and we posted her photo on Petfinders.

That’s where she was seen by Betsy from Pagosa Springs, who had recently lost her dog and wanted a new hiking companion. Betsy fell in love with Yoati’s photograph and luckily, felt the same about her in person. Here’s what she had to say in a recent email to us:

“I adopted Yoati May 1st of 2012. She has been quite the character and companion in my household. Can't imagine not having her. I thank y'all for taking her in and making it possible for me to adopt her.

I adopted a second shelter rescue last year locally (Pagosa Springs) and the two of them have a ball together.”

Those are the kinds of happy endings that make our tails wag!

Panther was about six months old when we took her in from her previous owner who had discovered she had cat allergies. For several months, she lived in the upstairs unfinished garage of her foster family with another cat, but when the other cat was gone they felt she had to come inside with the other two cats and two dogs. She was a shy kitten and somehow got crosswise with the big King Cat of the household. After a year and half in her foster home, we decided she needed a quieter home without other cats and dogs, preferably-just a human to cuddle her.

That’s about when we found out that David was looking for a kitten. Panther was no longer a kitten, but we thought she might do well with David as she would get lots of attention and give loyalty and love in return. David adopted her in 2012 and though she was frightened at first, she is now a sleek, well-adapted queen of the household. David brought her by the Humane Place a few weeks ago so we could see how big she has gotten-what a beauty! It is easy to see that Panther and David are well-suited for each other.
Panther - December 2010
Panther and David - July 2014

On 4 May 2011, Chama Humane took in two young puppies from Dulce. They had appeared in the yard of a woman about 10 days prior and were extremely shy and unsocialized. It was hard to catch them, and they were so frightened at being picked up that both of them urinated and defecated all over. We named the black one BB (for BB King) and the shepherd colored one Keb Mo. For several days, both pups would run from us unless they saw we had food or treats. BB was the first to “warm up” and was soon wanting to come inside the house, where he would run into his crate and then refuse to come out. We would have to physically pick him up to get him to go outside. But shyer Keb would scoot to the back of the doghouse and refuse to come out unless we went away. He was really scared! Because the pups were so unsocialized we did not send them to a Colorado puppy rescue as we usually do with pups. We were afraid they would be really traumatized by the activity and that folks would avoid adopting them.

Within a few weeks, BB was adopted locally by a young man. By that time, he was able to be around crowds of folks and enjoyed the attention. But not little Keb Mo - though he was getting better about going on walks and coming up to see us. That’s about the time that Amy Rapp from Durango contacted us. Here’s “the rest of the story” according to Amy:

“I was looking for a medium to large breed male puppy. The search started in Durango, Cortez & Pagosa Springs, but only female pups were available. Then I found Keb Mo and his brother BB available at CVHS on the internet. I corresponded with Konnie & Craig and they said the 2 pups had wandered into someone's yard off the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. A few days went by and BB was adopted but Keb Mo was still available for adoption. On 5/22/11, my son's birthday, we went down to see about adopting him.

We went on a walk with Craig and Keb Mo was well behaved and followed us; we decided that we would like to adopt Rossi. We signed the adoption papers, but then Rossi hid under a car and it took about an hour to coax him out! Finally, we got him and off he went to his new home-but not too willingly. The whole trip, he sat and would not move. At home, he wouldn't even walk to his water and food dish, nor go outside to relieve himself. He just sat there, shy as can be. The only real progress we made was to give him a new name in honor of his new ski bum family-my daughter came up with Rossi (for Rossignol skis).

I called a local dog trainer Juliet Whitfield, and said 'I have a pup that is scared of his own shadow. Can you to train me to train him to at least become socialized, then take him through obedience?' And so, Rossi and I began our training. We also went to Juliet’s weekly 'Puppy Parties' where Rossi stayed behind a baby gate so he could observe the other puppies without too much stress. During the third week, he was introduced to a puppy in his baby gate area, and the next week, a different pup came in to play. Eventually, Rossi got comfortable enough to join the rest of the pups in the party. Our homework was to go visit public places and let Rossi observe, moving gradually to busier places but keeping it at Rossi's comfort level.

Rossi is now over three years old. He loves to play with other dogs, but will only let humans pet him when his family is around. (The one exception is the Willow Tree Kennel employees). Sometimes he still 'hides behind mommy's skirt' if he is not too comfortable with a greeting from a dog/human, prior to his acceptance towards them. Even so, Rossi & I went through basic puppy obedience classes and graduated with flying colors.  Juliet later told me that the initial meeting with Rossi surprised her, during all the years of training dogs, she had never ever seen such a feral dog at Rossi's level.

Rossi lives on a mountain with his family (including his feline companion, 'Mark'), north of Durango. He has 5 acres of yard, loves to swim/lay on his raft, hike, mountain bike ride (a great trail dog), back country ski & cross country ski, go inner tubing behind the boat, boat ride, visits dog parks, very mellow car traveler across the country, fly fishing companion and all around a mellow loving dog. He attends doggie daycare and plays with his 'homies' once a week at Willow Tree Kennels. He has the husky smile, too. He came a long way and his family is very fortunate to have adopted him from CVHS. We will someday make it a point to see Keb Mo in concert, in honor of Rossi's CVHS name.”

In our (CVHS’s) opinion, Rossi is among the most fortunate dogs on earth. We (his foster parents) have not seen another puppy as scared or unsocialized as Rossi in the hundreds of pups we have had over the past five years-though many of them have also come from the Jicarilla reservation. Rossi found the perfect family - without them and their willingness to give him the support and training he needed, he would never have conquered his deep-seated fears or been able to live such a full life.

Now that’s the kind of Happy Tail that keeps us going when we have to pick up all that puppy poopoo or replace our chewed up shoes!

Please meet Harvey.  He is an adorable Border Collie-Shepard mix who came to us last January from Dulce.  The gentleman that called us about him was threatening to shoot him if we didn't pick him up.

We had been fostering him for about a month when we got an inquiry on him from Brittany McKee, a very sweet young lady from Thornton Co.  She saw his picture on pet finders, and just had a gut feeling that he was her dream dog.

Brittany really felt a strong connection to Harvey, so she arranged to drive down on the weekend to meet, but had explained that at that time she was not in a position to take him home with her.  She was house sitting for some people who were not going to be back for another month or so  She asked if I could keep him until they got back if she decided to adopt him.  I happily agreed because he is such a great dog and we all loved him and liked having him around.

Brittany arrived on a Sunday afternoon around 1:30, and left with Harvey that day around 4:00!  They had an instant connection with each other, and she did not want to leave without him.  She was determined to figure out a way to make it work even with her house sitting responsibilities, and she did.

Brittany and Harvey adopted each other, and they have been inseparable ever since.  When you look at these pictures, you can see the extreme happiness on Harvey’s face.  I love that she said "I am confident he is my spirit  animal".

These are the happy endings we strive to achieve.  The Chama Humane Society is very grateful to people like Brittany who help us fulfill our mission of saving lives and finding happy forever homes for  lovable, unwanted pets."

Here are photos from the last few months.
February 2015

Cody came to us in December 2013 from a family in Tierra Amarilla, south of Chama-we were told he was half Border Collie and half cattle dog. He was a cute little black and white bundle and we fell in love with him immediately. So did Rich and Annette Tomshack of Prescott, Arizona, who saw a photo of Cody online. They had been looking for a puppy and Cody seemed to fit the ticket. But how to get him to Prescott?

After several conversations and checking with our volunteers, we decided Cody could meet the Tomshacks in Farmington. They drove in from Prescott and stayed overnight so they could drive back with Cody the next day. And we knew it was a great match when we got this email from them after their return home:

“just wanted to let you know Cody is a bundle of joy...Cody has chew toys everywhere, when he calls it a day, he rounds them all up in a little pile. Potty breaks are about every hour, the kennel area is perfect for him. If I let him out into the bigger area of the property, he picks up his pace, and so does dad!”
The Tomshacks were anxious to know more about Cody’s parentage, but unfortunately we were told that Cody’s parents were dead (one hit by a car and not sure about the other). We were thankful we had gotten Cody before he met a similar fate. Now, a year later, we are happy to report that Cody is doing wonderfully. The 2014 Christmas card we received from the Tomshacks says he is 51 lbs and has turned out beautiful and we got a recent update that he is now 57 lbs, Plus, the Tomshacks had his DNA tested, and of all things, found out he is a Australian Cattle Dog, Bichon Frise, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Weimaraner cross! Annette and Rich knew he was some sort of herding dog as he is “full of energy” and ”forever nipping at our heels.”

Cody finished his puppy training and is a graduate of “Dandy Dogs.” The Tomshacks feel lucky to have such a smart, friendly dog and we think Cody is lucky to have found such a wonderful family!
March 2015

Little Gila came to us almost exactly a year ago, in March 2014. We think she was about 4 months old then and we had her spayed and got all her shots. She was a funny little puppy, very spunky and sweet, but at that awkward stage where her proportions weren’t quite in synch. It was hard to know what she was going to turn out looking like, though we knew she had lots of cattle dog (heeler) in her.

Jacob Mazzone, a Game and Fish employee, and his girlfriend Alicia Goebel saw Gila’s photo online and were interested in her. Jacob needed a fishing buddy and had been impressed by a heeler who belonged to a friend of his, so he was hoping she would show the same sort of loyal behavior as his friend’s dog. Jacob and Alicia adopted Gila on April 3, 2014.

Recently, we were contacted by Alicia about a stray puppy who had wandered up to their house. She and Jacob named her Lavi and are giving her a “trial month” to see how she does with Gila (she is a Border Collie mix and a bit dominant). I asked Alicia how Gila was doing and in return I got these great photos of Gila, plus this quote from Alicia:

“Gila has been a wonderful addition to our home. She is very loving, energetic and all around great. She loves to hike and her favorite thing is the SNOW! She especially likes to bury her head in the snow! Gila is always ready for an adventure, whatever the season or time. We are so grateful to have Gila and we think she likes us pretty well too!”

We have to agree with Alicia about her last statement-just look at the photos!
April 2015

Even Foster Moms have their stories. . .
A year ago, in May 2015, I was looking around for a young lab mix for my nephew. We didn’t have any suitable dogs in foster at the moment, so I started looking at nearby shelters. I found a great young female lab for my nephew. . .and I also found Bertie.

Bertie, formally named Strawberry, came from a hoarding situation in southern New Mexico where she was one of 74 dogs. Many of them had been transferred to the Aztec shelter in NW New Mexico, but now the shelter was overcrowded and most of them were in danger. Bertie caught my eye and I took her in, along with the young lab, on May 1, 2014. My husband picked them up in Pagosa Springs and arrived in the early evening. Charlie, the lab, jumped right out and started to meet our little pack. Bertie was frozen in place in the car. I tried to lure her out, but not wanting to force her, I stood back and left the door open. My first mistake.

She leapt out, but I caught her and tried to guide her to the house. No dice. I picked her up and started to carry her, but she began to defecate on me and I put her down just shy of the door. She ran, hiding the first place she found, which was under the truck. My husband finally dragged her out but her eyes were as wild as a bronco. We got a leash on her and took her to the dog run, where I put some food and water and let her rest, wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into.

An hour or two later I went to check on her. She had bent up the chain link wire on the gate of the run and escaped from a small hole she had made. We have 20 acres, partly forested, and mostly unfenced-next to another 100 or so acres of unfenced land. My husband said she was gone for good, but I spotted her, hiding behind some trees, and went after her. She was too smart and scared to let me catch her, so after an hour or so of stalking her around the area, I alerted neighbors and went back to the run. I left the gate open and made sure there was fresh food and water. Then we waited.

That evening the food was gone, but Bertie was nowhere to be seen. We put out food and water again the next morning and this time I spotted her watching from behind a tree. Soon she was sleeping in the doghouse most of the day and night and hiding in it when she couldn’t escape from the run in time to avoid us. We began to hand feed her in the doghouse, stroking her when we could. She backed as far away as possible, but tolerated it. And she took food from us, especially the good bits.

This was the pattern for the first three weeks. I was thinking we should try to force her into the house, but my husband had a different idea. He decided we should take her on a walk. The first day he had to use a lasso lead and drag her out of the doghouse. She was terrified and spent most of the walk jumping up on his back and legs. She didn’t fight the leash though. The next day she came out of the box pretty easily and followed along on the walk much more quietly. The third day, she slipped the lead, but continued to walk with us and the other dogs-and has never missed a single twice-daily walk since.
But she got smarter. Rather than returning to the doghouse, she made a nest at the base of a huge, ground hugging juniper. By the time I crawled the 10 feet it took to reach her, she would be well away from me, running to another hiding place. Usually, I could get her to come close enough to take a few morsels from my hand, but if I tried to reach for her, she was gone. Still, she always walked with us and started socializing more with our dogs. At the end of the walk, though, she would split off and run as fast as she could to her hidey hole.

My thought was that she would gradually come around, and it was summer and warm, so I didn’t force her. She began coming closer and closer to the house and watching us, and very occasionally, after playing with the other dogs, she would run inside with them as if by mistake. She would never come in, though, if one of us were by the door or if she saw a cat. Twice I shut her in the house, but after an hour or two she was so panicked that I let her out, mistakenly thinking she would trust me the next time and come back in. No dice. She got better and better at avoiding close contact or any possibility of being shut indoors.

When guests visited, she panicked and hid well away from the house. Sometimes we couldn’t even get her out to eat. But even when guests were along for the walk, she came along, staying well behind them like the good cattle dog she is.

Fast-forward to New Years’ 2015. It was cold out, but Bertie still refused to come inside or to sleep in the blanket lined and covered crate I put under the eave of the house. She would, however, sleep in an open basket by the house, so I often dried a blanket on high in the evening and put it out warm so it would help keep her from getting too cold. But sub-zero temps were coming and we felt we had to do something. Knowing that she would often follow me into the garage, I told my husband to grab a lasso lead and meet me in the garage. We shut the door. She panicked, but had nowhere to go, and we finally managed to corral her and get the lead on. Then we took her in the house vowing to keep a lead on her until she adapted to being a house dog.

She came in docilely, but bolted straight for the first dog bed, nearest the door. For 24 hours, she barely moved from the bed unless we made her follow us on the lead. She refused food and water and wouldn’t pee or poop when we took her outside, even on walks. I was sick with worry. But on the second day she peed, then started drinking and eating a bit. By day five she was in the habit of coming inside right after a walk, and I started to let her drag the lead a bit. She avoided the house once or twice, but I was able to catch her and was pretty sure that she was actually relieved to be caught. She was starting to like it inside, though she still stayed glued to the dog bed-her safe zone--most of the time.

It’s April 2015 now. Bertie is the first dog to come in after the morning do-your-business thing. She is on passable terms with the cats (though still a bit wary) and even sleeps upstairs with the all the dogs, cats, and humans some nights. She continues to love her daily walks and has good recall. Strangers are still terribly scary and she will avoid being inside with them if possible, but when houseguests go to the garage apartment to sleep, she comes inside to sleep. She is a happy, silly girl who loves to play and run with the other dogs. We are glad to have her. And yes, she is here to stay.
Rosco, the Tiny Miracle Dog
June 2015

Rosco is an older, six-pound Chihuahua that was found wandering the streets of the Village of Chama.  He was cold and starving, but a kind family took him in for a few days until the Chama Valley Humane Society was able to find a foster home to provide care for him.

It immediately became clear to Rosco’s foster parents that he was having some serious health problems.  After multiple visits to two very concerned and caring veterinarians, Rosco was diagnosed with a malignant tumor of his left anal gland. The prognosis for this aggressive type of cancer, unfortunately, is very poor.
One of the vets who treated Rosco is a strong advocate of homeopathic/natural reme-dies, and he recommended a regimen of Chinese herbs for Rosco that had shown quite good results in shrinking these types of tumors for some of the vet’s other four-legged patients.  Because of Rosco’s age, the vet and Rosco’s foster mom determined this treatment might be better than surgery or other more invasive and drastic treatments like radiation or chemotherapy.  After about two weeks on the herbs, Rosco’s foster mom noticed that Rosco was no longer moaning in his sleep, and he had stopped screaming in pain when he was being picked up.  She kept her fingers crossed in the hopes that Rosco’s veterinary follow-up visit would show promising results.

On May 22nd, Rosco went in for another check-up.  After examining Rosco, the vet an-nounced that Rosco’s tumor was completely gone!

Rosco is now energetic and feisty.  He has gained weight, his eyes are bright and alert, and his once dull, flaky coat is now a glossy black.

It could be argued that this sweet, bright little dog has been blessed with not one, but with two miracles. Not only is he now happy, fit, and healthy, but he has also found a family that adores and dotes on him.  What a wonderful ending for the story of this tiny Chihuahua.