Justin Scott couldn’t believe it when he took the call – an animal rescuer had found his support dog. Somehow the poor mutt had survived in the wild for a month on her own. Yet as he waited for their reunion, Scott couldn’t help but wonder how his dog would react to seeing him again.
Scott has an inspiring – if very stressful – job. To be more precise, he works as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in Santa Clarita, California. No doubt he’s responded to his share of difficult calls, but one situation in particular stayed with him.
That’s because it was an occasion where the EMT attended to a friend of his. Despite the best efforts of medical personnel, though, no one could save his buddy, who tragically died. As a consequence, Scott was understandably devastated.
In fact, the catastrophic event scarred him so much that Scott wisely decided he needed some additional emotional support. With that in mind, he and his wife – Sarah Adcock, a fellow EMT – decided to get themselves a dog. The canine companion would have a very special job.
To be specific, the couple were searching for a support dog to assist Scott in his hour of need. “We waited until we found the perfect dog for us,” the medical professional wrote on a Facebook post dated July 23, 2018. And when the couple set eyes on Shelby, they knew she was the one.
“The day I paid for Shelby,” Scott recounted, “I looked at her still in the shelter parking lot. And told her, ‘I saved you, and now I need you to save me,’ and she did. She pulled me out of the grips of hell.”
“She’s my best friend and my shelter from the storm,” the EMT continued. Man and dog did everything together, so it’s no surprise that Scott also took Shelby on a family getaway. The canine went on a camping trip with her humans to celebrate the Fourth of July.
The group set off on the six-hour trip to the Eastern Sierras where their camping site awaited. However, when they got there, something terrible happened. Shelby became unnerved for some unknown reason and took off for the perceived safety of the trees.
Needless to say, Scott was beside himself with worry for Shelby, so the family pulled out all the stops in an effort to find her. They scoured the area, laying traps to catch the missing dog as they went. But what the lures ended up attracting no doubt concerned Scott even more.
Although there was no sign of Shelby, her humans watched while their traps drew in a number of inquisitive bears. Would their dog be a match for such a powerful, hungry animal? Regardless, Scott felt he owed Shelby so much; he couldn’t just leave her to the outdoors’ mercy.
As a result, after nearly two weeks’ searching, Scott called on Babs Fry to help find the missing hound. A kind of pet detective, Fry is the founder of the non-profit pet search and rescue group, A Way Home For Animals (AWHFA). If anyone could locate Shelby, she could.
On August 3, 2018, Fry told The Dodo about her initial attempts and how they came up empty. “Through communicating with everyone in the area, signs, camp host and general store we were able to make sure that anyone that saw the dog knew exactly who to call,” she said.
Thanks to her communications network, Fry soon received news that Shelby had been spotted in the general area. The rescue expert then carried out a reconnaissance mission of the vicinity, taking note of any possible food and water sources that the dog might frequent. Next, Fry set out all five traps she’d brought with her and waited.
However, after days spent sticking around, Fry’s efforts to so much as glimpse Shelby were to prove fruitless. Just when the situation looked dire, though, she received a call. Someone had observed her mark 45 minutes away venturing out on a nocturnal food raid.
Fry sped to the scene to lay her traps and, sure enough, the hungry hound fell for one. There was just one thing left to do before chalking it up as a job well done: arranging the reunion between Shelby and her humans. Scott, Adcock and their two kids were eagerly awaiting their furry family member’s return.
Scott recorded the moment the whole family was reunited and uploaded it to his Facebook on August 2, 2018. The video shows how Shelby slowly approaches Adcock, almost as if she’s unsure it’s really happening. Initially a little hesitant, the dog then starts showering her mommy with kisses.
Next, Shelby stands on her hind legs to greet her daddy, the dog’s docked tail wagging at breakneck speed. Now it’s Scott’s turn to see how much Shelby missed him, as the mutt licks his face like she’s enjoying a tasty bone. The pure joy on Scott’s face as he embraces his best friend is tear-jerking.
Shelby’s so happy to see her family again, her little tail stump won’t stop wiggling. Then she settles down into Scott’s lap and rolls on her back for some tummy rubs. All the while she’s with her master, Shelby gazes up at him with unconditional love.
The video ends with Shelby in Scott’s arms surrounded by the whole family. The amazing thing is that the dog survived in the wild surrounded by bears for an extraordinary 28 days. No wonder the pooch was so happy to see her family again!
Before Fry found the dog, Scott had written a message on Facebook. It read: “Shelby, you sat by my side and laid in my lap until I could stand on my own. We will get you back; we will never give up on you. I saved you once, and we will save you again.” Ultimately, with Fry’s heroic help, Scott was true to his word.
Of course, Scott and Shelby’s beautiful bond is just one of many heartwarming relationships between man and dog. Take the story of pup Saki, for example. This pooch started escaping from her yard every day – but not because she was being disobedient. No, the real reason proves exactly why dogs are man’s best friends.
It all started when Saki was a stray puppy roaming around Sacramento, California. Here, she was found by a lady and brought to the attention of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. And on noticing the young dog’s cleverness and temperament, the organization reckoned that Saki could become a great service dog.
So Saki was temporarily housed with a lady called Dennie – a service-dog trainer – and her family for a preliminary training period. It turned out, however, that the dog wasn’t that enamored by her new regime.
This was strange, though, because the young German shepherd was bright, active and had a great nose. She was basically perfect for the job. But there was one thing preventing Saki from becoming a great rescue dog: a young boy with blond ringlets.
The boy was six-year-old Danny Mangold, who lived across the road from Dennie with his adoptive family. Danny had faced many struggles already in his short life. Indeed, he had severely delayed development, though the doctors could not pinpoint exactly why.
It turned out that Florida-born Danny’s illiterate father was just 17 when Danny was born, so he had been unable to take care of him. Therefore, Danny, at just six months old, was adopted by friends-of-friends Dixie Morgan and her husband at the time, Dan.
Back then, little Danny couldn’t eat solid food or hold his head up, and everything came slower to him. He had trouble forming words, for instance, and he took longer than normal to crawl and, eventually, walk.
“It’s frustrating because every parent hopes her child will excel,” Dixie would later tell the Los Angeles Times in 1999. “So we coached him, we urged him, we encouraged him. But we knew from the first time we met him that he had problems.”
Danny started attending a special education program after his first birthday to help with his development. By the age of five, however, the little boy was still lagging behind his classmates. He couldn’t speak in whole sentences, and he was unable to use the toilet by himself.
It was around this time that Dixie separated from Dan and moved to Ojai with Danny and his two older adopted siblings. Dixie then ended up marrying her old high-school flame, who went on to become a father figure to the three adopted kids.
So the Morgan family became neighbors to Dennie, who was by this time training – or at least attempting to train – Saki. Little did the Morgans know, however, that this once-stray pooch would soon become a big part of their lives.
In fact, Saki was so curious about her new neighbors that she began escaping her yard every day and going to see them. And when Dennie went to retrieve her, she found that the dog had made a beeline for Danny. No one could have expected what would happen when Saki and Danny met; it was as if they struck up an instant bond.
Danny and Saki quickly became close friends, with the pair regularly playing catch and taking naps together. “I was touched by the way Saki and Danny connected,” Dixie told the Los Angeles Times. “Socially, he doesn’t always interact effectively with his peers. But he did with the dog. Saki understood him. They understood each other.”
Indeed, the pair understood each other so well that their relationship began to have a noticeable effect on Danny. Just a week after him meeting Saki, in fact, the boy’s speech started improving. His motor skills also improved as he threw balls for the dog. Danny even began using the toilet.
In fact, Danny soon became able to talk in complete sentences. “This is my puppy,” he began to say. “I am Saki’s dad.” Dixie was skeptical at first that this was down to the dog’s influence. But after the two spent more time together it became clear that Saki was indeed a special – and influential – dog.
Dixie therefore reached out to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation to see if Danny could keep the dog, but the answer was not encouraging. Good search dogs are hard to find; the foundation might test up to 50 dogs before finding the right one for the job. And Saki was displaying all the requisite attributes.
The dog herself, though, was clearly happy where she was – and, of course, she was working by helping to fast-forward Danny’s development. So Dixie decided to invite the foundation’s president, Wilma Melville, to come and see their special relationship for herself.
After seeing Danny and Saki together, Melville made the decision to release Saki from the program. “To let the dog go, it was not easy,” she explained to the Los Angeles Times. “But we decided that the dog had a real use here. She and Danny made a very heartwarming attachment.”
What’s more, this attachment only grew stronger once Danny and Saki were together for good. The boy reveled in taking responsibility for the dog’s care: in addition to feeding her, he brushed her coat and gave the pooch a pillow for her head at night.
It’s Saki, however, who’s given Danny the greatest gift of all. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the boy’s older sister Cecily described it best. She said, “You know how a butterfly can’t live without his wings? That’s how it is for them.”