The 22 Vicktory dogs settled into their new surroundings.
The dogs, all individuals with their own personalities, arrived at the Sanctuary with unique challenges.
Most of them suffered from kennel stress because they had been living in kennels since the previous April. None were house-trained. Some had severe fear issues and would flatten on the ground when introduced to new people and places. Some dogs had more energy than they knew what to do with, while others simply hid in their kennels. The caregivers and trainers had their work cut out for them, but they embraced these challenges wholeheartedly.
Oscar arrived at the Sanctuary scared and shy. He had a hard time connecting with humans and refused to eat with anyone in the room. Slowly and with great patience, his caregivers drew him out and he started to seek affection from people. It took several attempts, but he was finally able to pass his canine good citizen test, the first of the Vicktory dogs to do so. The court ruled that the dogs pass this test before they could be adopted.
As the grand champion of Bad Newz Kennels, Lucas was under court order to live out the rest of his life at Best Friends. He arrived at the Sanctuary with a condition called babesia, a blood parasite that can be passed between dogs through deep puncture wounds, like those inflicted during fighting. His condition was managed with medication. Once Lucas realized he was safe, his friendly and outgoing nature emerged fully and he became an ambassador for his breed.
“He won our hearts and taught the world about the integrity and depth of character that is a dog,” said Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends.
Lucas’ health took a turn for the worse and Best Friends had to say goodbye to him in June of 2013. But he had some wonderful years at the Sanctuary where, for the first time in his life, he came to know love, friendship and freedom.
Georgia came to Best Friends scarred and terrified. All her teeth had been pulled out, her ears had been cropped, and her jaw and tail broken. But none of that stopped her from being one of the most adored of the Vicktory dogs. With TLC from trainers like John Garcia and others, Georgia learned to trust and went on to star in the National Geographic series DogTown. She was featured in The New York Times and appeared on the Ellen show. Despite her celebrity status, she never stopped loving belly rubs and plush toys.
Meryl’s trust issues caused her at first to react fearfully to those around her. Like Lucas, she was ordered by the court to live at Best Friends for the rest of her life. She’s made friends with other dogs at the Sanctuary and has grown to trust and love new human friends, too. She’s perfected her leash manners and serves as an example to other dogs who have trouble relaxing around their canine companions.
Like many of the Vicktory dogs, Little Red was extremely shy when she arrived at the Sanctuary. It took her close to three years to come out of her shell and trust humans. By attending a wallflower class and hanging out in one of the offices, Little Red conquered many of her fears and was able to approach people for treats, something that was nearly unthinkable when she first came to Best Friends.
Halle was a sweet, bashful girl who was afraid of her own shadow. To her, the world was a terrifying place. She would flatten out on the ground and shake when she was introduced to anything new. Through positive reinforcement — and lots of treats — she learned to trust people and overcome her fears.
Five-Year Vicktory Dog Reunion
On March 11, 2013, six of the adopted Vicktory dogs returned to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for a reunion. Cherry, Handsome Dan, Halle, Little Red, Mel, Oscar and their forever families gathered at Angels Landing to share their stories and celebrate the remarkable progress of the adopted dogs. More than 150 fans of the Vicktory dogs showed up to join the celebration.