We believe all dogs deserve a second chance. Sometimes they need a third or fourth until they find their forever home.
We first met Luke in December of 2011. He was known as Charlie then and he was living in a trailer in Palmer, Massachusetts and suffering from poor nutrition, crowded living conditions, a weak back end from having been crated for long days at his breeder and severe separation anxiety. Luke had been given away by his breeder for unknown reasons and while his people tried to care for him, his issues and the number of other animals living in the small home were overwhelming them and they asked us to find a new home for him.
One of Luke's biggest issues was the devastating anxiety he felt when his family left the home. The region had recently suffered a historic snowstorm in October, and Luke was home without his family when a tree broke and fell on the trailer and scared him. Since then he was terrified to be home without his humans and would bark and cry, and scratch and bite the walls in an effort to get out...to the point that there were visible holes in the walls and doors.
We loved Luke from the minute we met him. He was skinny, his coat was dull and fear was in his eyes, but he was so sweet. He clearly wanted to be cared for...and loved. After a short discussion with his owner, Luke was surrendered, and while he was not particularly nurtured in his home, he whined and cried as it confused him when we put him in the car to start him on his journey to his next home. German Shepherds form a deep bond with their people, no matter who they are, and it was heartbreaking to see him staring back at his home and owner out of the back window of the car.
We knew Luke would need a new home where his people were home most of the time and who could help him come out of his shell. We were fortunate to find a young family in Lee, Massachusetts with a stay at home Mom who agreed to foster Luke. So, after a trip to the vet, a thorough bath and with a plan for a proper diet and training, off Luke went to join his temporary home.
Luke quickly bonded with the children in the family and grew into a playful companion for them. He was happy and content in this home and was blossoming into the dog we all knew he would be. Luke was (and still is) the sweetest dog imaginable. He was gentle with children, loved people, liked to play with other dogs and was even respectful of cats. If anyone was looking for an intimidating guard dog in this German Shepherd, they weren't getting it! We affectionately referred to Luke as a Golden Retriever in a German Shepherd costume. He had become an incredible, sweet, good natured and wonderful addition to this young family and we enthusiastically agreed when they asked us to make Luke a permanent member of their family.
Luke still suffered from his severe separation anxiety, and while his new family did make some progress with him through conditioning and training, he still could not be left alone for more than an hour or two at a time. The circumstances in his new family changed, and Luke's new Mom had to go back to work within 2 years of adopting him. Luke did not do well with the change. He could not be crated, even for short periods, as he would chew through anything he was in. If gated and confined to the kitchen, he started to destructively chew the cabinets and baseboards. He developed a fear-fueled habit of chasing and chewing his tail. He was having accidents in the house and his anxiety was escalating. Luke was still the same sweet boy when his family was home, but could not tolerate being left alone. His family, unable or unwilling to find a solution, surrendered Luke back to the rescue to again find a new home. And again, we had to pick him up and witness the heartbreak of seeing him whining out the window of the car as we drove him away from the family he had become a part of and the children he loved.
Fortunately, we had a new home ready and willing to welcome Luke. It was here that his name was changed from Charlie to Luke, in an effort to usher in a new beginning...a new start in life. Luke was moving to Northfield, VT to be the companion of a woman suffering with PTSD and the depression accompanying it. She needed a dog to save her, and Luke needed a person to save him...it was a natural fit.
In January of 2014, two of our volunteers arranged to bring Luke to Vermont. Being January in New England, their planned 3 hour trip ended up lasting almost a full day before Luke was finally settled in his new home. One of our volunteers relates his thoughts about the trip: "After 19 hours on the road, driving through one of the worst long-distance crappy, snowy drives ever, I sit here this morning with tears in my eyes, knowing that we all helped a dog and a person come together yesterday, that desperately needed each other. This adoption was the most inspirational ever. I can't thank everyone enough for the help and support you all gave us to accomplish this adoption. To everyone involved in and supporting of GSR&RC a big THANK YOU !!!! For making this adoption possible."
Luke immediately and profoundly changed his new person's life. Suffering through a particularly bad time with depression, PTSD, and caring for an elderly mother with Alzheimer's, she desperately needed some hope and unconditional love and she found it through Luke. He became an important part of her world. As Luke's new person put it, "You know, they say that miracles happen every day but I never thought one would happen for me. Luke is an absolute sweetheart. So please tell everyone at GSRRC that we are both happy and doing well. And I am forever in your debt for giving me this wonderful miracle boy..."
Luke was enjoying himself, too! An email from Luke: "Dear GSRRC... Thank you for bringing me to my new home. I think I will be happy here. My human takes me out to play in the snow and I have learned that if I run around her fast in a circle I can tie her up and dump her in the snowbank. Then I get to pounce on her and kiss her -- I think it's really funny. I am also learning how to play ball and that all really good things happen in my crate. I have to go in it to check a lot because the treat fairy comes and I find good stuff in there. During the day I lay down on my bed and watch my human putter around the house. I have sniffed every corner of my new home and I think it smells good. At night I sleep really well and SNORE because I'm happy, relaxed, and all tuckered out. I haven't whined, cried, or barked. I am eating well, peeing and pooping in my OUT spot. Hope you are having a good day at work...I will keep an eye on my mom for you...love, Luke".
Sadly, in the summer of 2015, Luke's Mom suffered a serious fall and was in declining health. She needed to move into assisted living and could not take Luke with her. She made the very difficult decision to give him up to yet another home. Another devastating loss of a home for Luke, and again we prepared to bring Luke back into the rescue and find him a new family, hopefully his forever one.
Since we had no open foster home for Luke, we brought him to stay at our partner kennel in Danvers, MA. Luke clearly had been loved, as he was about 20 pounds overweight and had turned into somewhat of a couch potato. However, he was sad and confused at being uprooted again and no doubt missed his Mom. He was quiet and withdrawn at first and wouldn't play or engage with the other dogs. He seemed too depressed to even bark. Luke needed some love and a new family.
We put him on a diet and brushed up his obedience training. Luke got to hang out in the lobby and greet guests. He eventually started showing some of his gentle spirit and started playing with some of the other dogs. In time he would bark away happily and seek out people for affection. He was rebounding from his setback and ready to find his new home!
We were thrilled that an approved adopter was interested in bringing Luke home to join their family. They had been waiting for months for the right dog, and when they came to meet him, they fell instantly in love! The family even included a brother for Luke, another German Shepherd named Onyx.
In October of 2015, Luke moved for the fourth time in four years to Millbury, MA and immediately made himself part of the family. He and Onyx get along like they've been together for years and since his new parents are retired, he gets to hang out with them all day long. His anxiety has greatly diminished with the companionship of his new brother and his family cannot imagine their home without him. He has lost 20 pounds and enjoys daily walks, but at heart he is a mellow guy who loves to lie in the sun with Onyx. We are confident that this is Luke's final and forever home!
Every year hundreds of German Shepherds like Luke end up homeless in New England. None of the misfortune Luke experienced was his fault...all he needed was a chance. Our mission has been to give that chance to as many German Shepherds as we can through the hard work of our volunteers, the dedication of our foster homes and the donations of our many supporters. We never gave up on Luke nor any other dog in our care. We are dedicated to helping improve the lives of German Shepherd Dogs in New England through adoption, financial support, and training. While we believe that we have the power to change their lives, we also wholeheartedly believe in the power that these dogs have to change our lives for the better.
To donate to German Shepherd Resource and Rescue Center, follow the link provided and click on Add to My Donation Basket, or use the code 15282 on your paper pledge form.