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Shiloh, winning his battles

From Animal Sheltering magazine July/August 2016

Chihuahua Diego, left, got a new “brother” and playmate when Shiloh joined his family.

I first saw Shiloh in September 2014, a few weeks after I was hired as coordinator of the Mod Squad behavior modification and training program for shelter dogs at Great River Rescue (formerly the Beltrami Humane Society).

I was looking at the shelter dogs in our program, and there was this little tan Chihuahua with big eyes looking at me through the kennel bars. The director told me that he was afraid of men, very timid and had a barking issue. Once Shiloh saw the two of us, he barked a little bit, then stopped altogether, and he wasn’t afraid of me. He started to smile and flashed his snaggletooth, which gives him personality and is one of his endearing qualities.

The staff told me he had been abused by his former owner and had been at the shelter for four months. A few days later, I started fostering Shiloh, allowing him to spend time with my three cats and dog Diego (a tricolored Chihuahua). He was an instant hit at my house, and I officially adopted him within a week.

I enrolled Shiloh in his first obedience class about three weeks later. He did very well for a dog who had not been socialized to people very much. A few of my friends thought he would be a good therapy dog like Diego, so I enrolled him in a therapy dog class and later a reading dog class.

Now Shiloh goes to various health care facilities and hospitals, helping residents recover and making their lives a little happier. He also visits schools, where children read to him, which helps them with their reading skills and self-esteem. Shiloh also takes part in several dog events (fundraising walks, etc.) and continues to take obedience classes.

This spring, Shiloh welcomed Hero (a white apple head Chihuahua) as the newest addition to our family.

Shiloh is also the ambassador for the Mod Squad. The local TV station did a news segment on the program, and he was on TV. He was featured in local newspaper articles about the program as well.

Our crew is very happy with Shiloh in it. Diego and Hero are happy to have a “brother” and playmate in the house.

About the Author

Ethan Larson is with Great River Rescue in Bemidji, Minn.