This story is written by PetSmart Charities’ roving reporter, Cathy Rosenthal
Trooper and Ike spent most of their life together with a family that loved them. But then their pet parent was deployed to Afghanistan.
The soldier’s wife had just given birth to a baby girl and the two energetic dogs quickly became too much for her to handle alone. She called the Orange County Animal Shelter for help.
“The decision to give them up was not easy for this family,” said Beth Hamilton, executive director for the Orange County Animal Shelter in Orange, Virginia. “They loved these dogs dearly.”
Onto the Rescue Waggin’ they go
Orange County Animal Shelter selected Trooper and Ike for the Rescue Waggin’ program – a national transport program that moves adoptable dogs from communities with high pet populations and few adopters to animal shelters elsewhere in the country where adoptable dogs are more in demand.
In September 2011, Trooper and Ike boarded the Rescue Waggin’ vehicle and headed for St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey.
Two weeks later, both dogs were adopted into lifelong, loving homes. Unfortunately, they were two different homes.
Luckily for Trooper and Ike, the new owners soon bumped into each other in St. Hubert’s parking lot.
Saleena Ghanny was on her way home with Trooper; Beth Barber was on her way in to pick up Ike. Because Ike and Trooper had shared the same kennel, Barber recognized Trooper and struck up a conversation with Saleena. Within minutes, the two exchanged information so they could reunite the brothers for occasional play dates.
“We knew they had grown up together,” said Saleena. “We thought, why not let them continue that relationship by taking them to the dog park for playtime once in awhile?”
Trooper and Ike met at a dog park a few weeks later. The dogs frolicked with each other as well as with the other dogs at the park, while Barber and Saleena struck up a new friendship. Their goal is to meet once a month to let their dogs play together.
While Trooper and Ike are brothers, they have very different personalities.
Ike is clearly the more mischievous dog. “He often greets me with branches from the bushes in the yard,” said Beth. “I have a Rhododendron bush that has been around for decades and yet probably won’t make it until spring because of Ike.” Ike also has an uncanny ability to pull glasses, silverware, and jars out of the kitchen sink, which he licks clean and leaves in various places around the house.
Trooper is extremely gentle and loves everyone he meets. He lives with a young child and another baby is on the way.
“He is an awesome dog,” says Saleena. “I have been dying to get a dog again for a long time. Within a week of having him, I can’t imagine life without him. We are so lucky to have him in our lives.”
Beth reached out to the Orange County Animal Shelter so they could pass on to the military family just how well the dogs were both doing. “I wanted the previous owners to know that both dogs found good homes.”
Photo: Trooper and Ike meet at the dog park, thanks to their new owners’ commitment to keeping these two brothers in touch. (Photos by Saleena Ghanny)