Learning to Be a Dog Again
Jan Viney, Development Director of Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) in Madison, WI, knows all too well that working in animal welfare often means falling in love with a new furry friend every day. Until recently, she had reserved her love for the feline kind, specifically her three cats, but that changed earlier this year when DCHS received an influx of severely neglected dogs who needed extra care.
On May 19, DCHS joined the ASPCA, among other agencies, in a full-scale raid of the Thyme and Sage Ranch, an animal "sanctuary" in Cazenovia, WI. The emergency response teams discovered more than 400 animals housed in deplorable conditions and suffering from neglect—ear and eye infections, rotted teeth, mange, malnutrition and infections were rampant. One such victim was Skylar, a two-year-old dog whose fur was so matted she could hardly walk.
“Most of the animals from Thyme and Sage were very under-socialized,” Jan says. “Skylar had kennel cough, so it was difficult to get her out among other animals and people.”
Looking to lend a helping hand, Jan offered to foster the suffering pup in her office during the day. She admits, “I was a little nervous at first, since I’d never had a dog. July 6 was the first day she spent in my office, and she was terribly timid and wouldn’t even walk on a leash.”
“Within a week, I couldn’t bear returning her to the kennel at night,” says Jan. “So I started fostering full time—and the rest is history!”
Skylar is now happily ensconced with Jan, her partner, Peter, and their three cats, Prism, Maddie and Oliver. The family has adjusted well as Skylar learns for the first time to be a well-loved pet.
“It’s so fun watching her discover what it means to be a dog,” Jan reflects. “She is really coming out of her shell and loves to be outdoors. At first, she was unsure of the grass, but now every time I take her for a walk, she is so happy. That’s why I named her Skylar—the lure of the sky—Skye, for short.”