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Thursday, November 11, 2010


In May of this year I asked Gloria if there was a particular dog at the shelter that she wanted me to work with, and she said without hesitation “Mecha!”  At that time Mecha had been at the shelter for 3 years, much longer than any other dog there.  She first arrived at the shelter practically dead; she had been taken away from a situation of animal cruelty and was very skinny and malnourished.  By the time that I meet her, three years later, she looked physically fine but still wore the emotional scars of her past and was too timid to be sent to any of our partner shelters.  She was especially scared of men and reacted so strongly to their presence that it didn’t take long to come to the conclusion that it was a man who had mistreated and starved her. 

I started Mecha’s socialization by teaching her how to walk on a leash.  It did not take her long to learn and through the walks I was able to gain her trust.  We would walk around the neighborhood and nearby park, where she loved to lay in the grass.  She started to really enjoy our walks and would get excited at the sight of a leash.  I walked her once a week when I volunteered at the shelter and even though I would be very tired by the time I was done cleaning cages, seeing her so excited and wagging her tail was impossible to resist and I would always find the extra energy needed for our weekly jaunt.  Whenever I would have a male volunteer working with me I would ask him to walk with Mecha; at first she was leary, but eventually she didn’t even think twice about having a guy holding her leash.  We were making progress!! 

Save a Sato volunteers

I would have loved to have been able to take her home and foster her there, but unfortunately I live in a Condominium that does not allow dogs, so I decided to take her to the office with me once a week (luckily my boss is a dog lover!).  The first day she was a bit nervous about the car ride and at the office she wouldn’t come out from under my desk, but each week she got better and better.  Eventually she came to love the car rides and as soon as she saw my vehicle she would get excited and want to jump in before I had the door open all the way!  I had a big, fluffy dog pillow for her in my office, which we called her “princess pillow”.  She loved to jump onto it when first entering the office in the morning and there she would take naps while I had to work!  

Mecha in her princess pillow!!

 At the office she had the opportunity to experience different people coming and going and was able to see that nobody wanted to hurt her.  Although she was not running up to them and licking their face, she would quietly observe them from a distance, which for her was progress since at first she would just want to run away and hide.  My co-worker, Martina, took a special liking to Mecha, who slowly but surely began to trust Martina more and more.  Eventually Mecha added her to her “circle of trust” (a very select group!).

Here is Mecha interacting with Martina

Another coworker liked to give Mecha cheese during her visits (cheese just happens to be Mecha’s kryptonite!), and it wasn’t long before Mecha learned how to look at her with imploring eyes until she got a bite of cheese. Considering Mecha’s history and the time that she has spent in a shelter rather than a home, she had progressed by leaps and bounds. My office is located next to the ocean, so at the end of the day I would take her to the beach so that she could run off leash. She never strayed far away from me and was starting to learn how to fetch (although she didn’t always bring the stick back, but I think she is not far from getting the hang of it!) I always looked forward to taking her to the beach and seeing her so happy and free.
Mecha at the beach!!



 Attempting to play fetch!

Quality time at the beach!

It is now early November and I have been working with Mecha for 6 months.  Yesterday Mecha traveled to one of our partner shelters for adoption, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss her.  However I know that I helped her to open her heart again to people and gave her experiences that will help her adapt to a new home.  Mecha was the first “timid” dog that I’ve worked with and she has taught me so much.  Now I can take what I learned from her and apply it to another dog who needs help being socialized.  Mecha has definitely showed me that every dog deserves another chance.

If interested in fostering or helping to socialize one of our satos please contact us at!

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