Dogs can’t talk. They can’t tell you their side of the story.
Such is the case with Scout, a young black-and-white dog who recently arrived at Meridian Canine Rescue (formerly the Meridian Valley Humane Society) from a shelter in Utah.
Scout “walks like a dream on the leash, knows commands and has been nothing but polite,” according to Jessica Ewing, shelter executive director.
“You look at him after hearing his story and say, ‘What?’” said Ewing.
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The pieces don’t fit.
Scout arrived at the shelter with what you might call a questionable rap sheet. As the story goes, Scout escaped his home with a Labrador retriever pal. A Yorkie ran up to him, started barking, and Scout allegedly shook the dog, killing it. Another account has Scout marauding again. He might have bitten a llama. But he might not have.
“No one knows for sure. It’s all fourth-hand,” said Ewing.
Meridian Canine Rescue is part of a vast shelter and volunteer rescue transport network that connects through Facebook. A Utah shelter reached out to Ewing to provide shelter for Scout. Ewing agreed to take him in. He’s been living with a foster family. He’s been getting along fine. With the people and the resident dog.
The shelter now, said Ewing, is working to find the right home for Scout — and all the other shelter dogs, each with its mysterious back story.
“We are willing to wait for the right fit,” she said. The no-kill shelter does not euthanize dogs for space.
Ewing’s work is a combination of believing in dogs like Scout while gathering as much information as she can, a mix of past history and what she and canine foster parents observe, to share with potential adopters.
“We disclose everything,” said Ewing. That’s why Scout’s bio, featured in the Statesman’s Pets of the Week column on Tuesday, included the more checkered parts of his past that can’t be verified.
“Even if a dog comes to us with what people claim is a perfect record, we don’t believe that either,” said Ewing.
As far as Scout’s breed goes, Meridian Canine Rescue has adopted a policy that a number of shelters are adopting, said Ewing. They’re moving away from labeling dogs by breed. For one thing, knowing a dog’s breed without a DNA test is often impossible. For another, preconceptions can get in the way of good matches between adopters and dogs.
“People come in and say they want a Lab because they have an idea that all Labs are friendly,” said Ewing. That’s not necessarily true. On the other hand, she remembers a dog at the shelter that visitors quickly fell in love with until they read her label: pitbull.
“They’d tell me they couldn’t have an aggressive dog,” said Ewing. “I’d want to say, “She’s the same dog you were just playing with. She didn’t change in two minutes.’ ”
What’s fortunate, said Ewing, is that she’s able to place most of the shelter’s dogs in homes relatively quickly. Because of the high demand for dogs in this area, she’s often able to take in rescues from elsewhere, a common practice of the Idaho Humane Society in Boise as well.
Dogs that would be euthanized in more crowded shelters for the slightest personality or physical defect, or just for being in the wrong place with the wrong people, get a chance at finding the right owner.
This weekend, the Meridian Canine Rescue is expecting the arrival of rescue dogs from Texas, California, Utah and possibly Oklahoma, as well as from crowded shelters in other parts of Idaho.
“We just took in a one-eyed puppy from a shelter that said he was unadoptable,” said Ewing. The pup is at the shelter settling in, being evaluated and is not yet up for adoption.
“We named him Uno. Just to be funny,” she said.
Visit Meridian Canine Rescue
The shelter is located at 501 E. Scenery Lane in Meridian. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Call 208-794-0944.