- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - Blue is a big dog in need of a home to accommodate his needs.

“We dearly love Blue, but the shelter is not intended to be a permanent home and it is time to be fair to him,” Becky Rankin, executive director of the Western Hills Humane Society, where Blue has been living since July 2014, said. “He needs a place to hang up his leash and settle in.”

In an effort to provide this for Blue and other dogs with similar needs, the Western Hills Humane Society and the Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in Spearfish are collaborating to create a long-term habitat at the sanctuary, and the nonprofits are working to raise $25,000 to upgrade one of the sanctuary’s buildings and kennel system to create an appropriate space for dogs in need of more permanent homes. Donations above the cost of renovations would go toward the care and medical costs of the animals, including Blue, the Black Hills Pioneer (https://bit.ly/1QE0ZzR ) reported.

The 115-pound Dogo Argentino, also known as an Argentine mastiff, is a type of dog bred specifically for hunting, and in Blue’s case, for wild boar hunting in Texas. Born deaf, Blue was not trained as a hunting dog, but his prey drive remains strong, so he cannot be in a home with other small animals, and he also cannot be left alone in an unfenced yard. With his short, white hair, Blue sunburns easily and gets cold quickly.

Rankin explained that Blue was initially surrendered to the no-kill shelter when he was about a year-and-a-half old because his previous owners were receiving complaints from their neighbors that he was too noisy in their backyard. The shelter staff learned the hand signals and training from the owners that Blue was used to, and a new family adopted him in November. However, he was brought back to the shelter a few weeks later after showing aggression toward one of the family members in his new home.

“For the next several months we did not take applications on his adoptions because we wanted to continue working with him and get to know his special needs better to make sure his next adoption would be successful,” Rankin said, describing that because of his size, Blue needs lots of exercise and loves walks and does well on a leash. “He is not a bad dog, but he does have limits and triggers.”

Rankin explained that Blue thrives on routine and needs a small group of caretakers whose schedules are much the same day to day.

“He needs a very dominate caretaker - when a 115-pound strong dog misbehaves, it is a bad deal,” Rankin said, adding that if his schedule changes, he needs to be kenneled to feel safe. He also loves to eat and responds well to treats.

“He has made many human and dog friends during his time with us,” Rankin said, adding that he plays well with smaller dogs and does well with puppies. During his time at the shelter, staff have worked with two trainers and a dog behaviorist and reached out to Dogo rescues and other large-breed rescues. Every resource has determined that Blue needs the right opportunity to succeed.

“From them all, we have been told the same thing - it is going to be very, very hard to successfully place Blue in a home,” Rankin said. “But all hope is not lost. In our quest to secure his future, the Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary has stepped forward with an offer - why not build Blue a home with them? Unlike Western Hills Humane Society, they are prepared to care for animals for their lifespan. They are set up as a permanent rescue home. With them Blue will have the space he needs, the consistent schedule he craves, and the companionship of other special needs dogs.”

The nonprofits have enlisted the help of an engineer to redesign a current building at the sanctuary used for storage that currently has a small, indoor kennel next to fenced yards for rescued dogs. The redesign would insulate the building and provide heating and additional indoor kennels that allow access to the outdoor yards.

“Blue’s needs may seem unattainable, but looking back over his time with us, we have overcome so many other obstacles that we know we can make this happen, too,” Rankin said of the fundraising goal, thanking the community for all of its support. “We love this big goofy guy and will cry a mixture of sad and happy tears the day he leaves. But it is time. He deserves it.”

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com


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