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There is a wonderful little animal shelter located a few blocks from the busy Apple Avenue corridor in the northeast section of Muskegon County. Tucked away in a quiet, residential neighborhood, populated with hard-working middle class families who take pride in their homes and yards, is the shelter for the Humane Society and Animal Rescue of Muskegon County.
Once a semi-rural area, the growth of nearby Muskegon Community College and Baker College has helped fuel the suburban sprawl that has gradually encircled this quiet oasis that serves as a safe haven for the dozen or so dogs and several dozen cats who await their chance at a new life.
When you walk through the door of Muskegon Humane, you are welcomed into a world of hope and compassion. A staff that is friendly, helpful and knowledgeable is eager to help you find the perfect addition to your home and family, while escorting you through the clean, well-lit and pleasant facility.
As you enter the kennel area, there is the noise of excited dogs, anxious to attract your attention. Nearly every one of them is at their kennel door with a wagging tail and a hopeful expression.
If one could read minds, “Pick me! Pick me!” would be the message coming from each dog.
A small beagle-mix named Ruger seems to be sending the message that he’d much rather take a chunk out of you for lunch. There are warning signs to that affect on his kennel door, so hands are kept to your side.
Yet, instinct tells you that he’s not a mean, aggressive dog. He’s just frustrated being confined for long periods. He’s a classic example of a dog suffering from kennel stress, leading to kennel aggression. You’ve learned that he’s been at the shelter for over a year-and-a-half, with one failed adoption during that period. He’s not attracting much in the way of adopter interest, which is not too surprising, given his behavior in his kennel.
At your request, a staff member leashes Ruger and leads you both to the outdoor play area for a chance to get up close and personal. You’re convinced, given a few minutes to run around, Ruger will relax and realize he has no reason to fear you. You are there to make friends with him.
From his demeanor and body structure, it appears that he is a beagle mixed with a dog like Ike: a Jack Russell terrier. So, while he’s given every indication that he’s a dog without an affectionate bone in his body, within minutes he is on his back accepting belly-rubs, gently taking treats, enjoying a scratch behind the ears, then climbing onto a waiting lap and showering you with kisses and hugs.
Ruger is an exceptionally nice dog. But, being a Beagle/JRT, he simply cannot tolerate confinement for long periods. He’s a good boy who reacts badly to an unnatural situation.
But, anyone who looks past his kennel behavior and spends five minutes with him in an open area will see his true personality. The energy, playfulness and affection of the JRT combined with the friendliness, curiosity and devotion of the Beagle.
Ruger would be best served with a home with a fenced-in yard so he can burn off that Jack Russell energy before it can build up. A doggie-door would be ideal, so that he can satisfy the Beagle curiosity and sense of adventure whenever it strikes. Mostly, he needs someone with patience, tolerance and an understanding of his needs. Someone who can create the structure, establish the boundaries and develop a bond of trust through firm, but gentle and affectionate leadership.
Do yourself a favor. If you have any interest at all in finding a great dog to join your family, pay a visit to the Humane Society and Animal Rescue of Muskegon County and ask to spend a few minutes outdoors with Ruger.
If he doesn’t steal your heart, then you just may want to ask your doctor if you actually have one.
Ruger is, truly, that nice of a dog. He’s just badly in need of a home. Somewhere there is the perfect family that would cherish the companionship of this great little guy. Perhaps it’s your family? Perhaps it’s someone you know.
Please share his story so that Ruger can find out that there’s more to life than an 8-by-10 kennel.
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