Erin Ellis, our Volunteer and Humane Education Programs Manager, has filled many roles in her time at HSTT. She had just started working here in 2008 when she adopted Joie. HSTT looked very different back then, but our mission was the same. A look at Joie's adoption success story is also a look at how far HSTT has come over the past decade.
I met Joie on my first rescue mission with HSTT’s then-Animal Programs Manager. We visited a partnering animal shelter that unfortunately didn't have the capacity to keep all the animals in their care. We would take with us several animals that would otherwise be scheduled to be euthanized. It was the first time I had ever seen what "euthanasia row" looked like. Lots of barking, jumping and clawing on the fencing. There was a palpable sense of desperation. There was one dog that was nestled as close up to the fencing as she could get, imploring us to look at her, but without the noisy antics of the rest of the dogs. Her name was Joy. She was among the animals that we brought back to HSTT that day, along with several other dogs and an entire roomful of cats.
HSTT has always been committed to helping as many animals as possible. HSTT facilities weren't always as comfortable as they are now, but we still managed to help animals from out of the area. From the beginning, we partnered with other shelters in the region to relieve them of their overcrowding. In 2008, HSTT was housed in a formerly abandoned warehouse owned by the Town of Truckee. Joie was among approximately 125 animals rescued from other shelters that year.
Thanks to HSTT's increasingly successful spay/neuter program and the dedicated work of Town of Truckee Animal Services, Truckee has a relatively low number of unclaimed/unwanted dogs to put up for adoption. That puts us in a great position to accept animals from shelters that are overburdened with stray and surrendered animals and in 2017, we rescued 384 animals from our regional partners.
Several days passed and for some reason, Joy was being overlooked by potential adopters. I felt like this sweet dog was just looking for someone to please; she never barked and never once jumped on her fencing or on a person when they went in to spend time with her. She just waited patiently. I could tell there was something special about her and I thought maybe, just maybe she was meant for us.
Staffing at the old shelter was very limited, and much of the work was done on a volunteer basis. We were open only two hours a week for open adoptions. Outside of those hours, adoptions were done by appointment only. Even with those limitations, we placed 275 animals into new homes in 2008. In 2017, that number had grown to 631.
When I'd first started working at HSTT, a colleague told me to wait at least three months before adopting a dog of my own. That’s exactly what I did. I already knew that Joy was the right fit for us, but my husband wanted to make sure, so we brought her home to foster. It didn’t take long for my husband to fall in love with her, too. We decided to make her an official part of the family and changed her name to Joie.
I don't care what you name her, as long as I can keep her.
At two years old, Joie had clearly never lived indoors, had toys to play with or gone swimming. It took time for her to acclimate to those things. But she was a pleaser by nature and never asked for anything more than for us to just be patient while she learned how to live this new life of hers.
One of the best memories I have of her is when we took her to the beach for the first time. We took the leash off and watched her run and run in these huge circles tossing sand in every direction. It was the first time I had seen her let loose. It was the best feeling in the entire world to watch her run and feel free and happy for maybe the first time in her entire life.
Over the ten years that Jo has been with us, she has made three moves to different houses and accepted three human babies into her life. I don’t think you could ask for a better dog. She never whines and hardly ever barks. She waits patiently to be let outside and to eat her meals. She has so much love to give. You can see it in her eyes and when she sinks down into her bed when you scratch or pet her. Being loved is all she ever wanted in this life and we’re happy to supply her with that. She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for us and we think she's the world’s greatest dog.