The shepherd-mix found in June 2014 along a highway outside Ignacio, covered in feces and urine and suffering from severe sores, has finally found a permanent home after 17 months at the La Plata County Humane Society.
Affectionately known as Lt. Dan, the stray animal was one of several maltreated, malnourished or crippled dogs brought in to the shelter between May and June of 2014 by Animal Protection.
Humane Society volunteers found Lt. Dan had a dislocated vertebra on his lower spine and required hydrotherapy, acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments to treat his back legs, which do not bend.
The shelter’s executive director named the homeless animal after a character in the movie “Forrest Gump” who loses both of his legs as a result of war injuries. The pup spent time at the shelter and volunteers’ homes. But after months of not finding a home, the Humane Society was concerned Lt. Dan would never be adopted.
“Staff and volunteers were wondering if that would ever happen since caring for a handicapped dog is a lot of responsibility, but their hopes were finally realized after so long,” said marketing coordinator Jonell Jones.
Christy Douglass of Grand Junction had a dog pass away a few months ago. Just before Christmas, she went on the Humane Society’s Facebook page and saw Lt. Dan for the first time.
“I found myself looking at a lot of pictures and videos of him,” Douglass said. “But I didn’t think I could personally manage a dog with a disability.”
A few weeks passed, and Douglass couldn’t forget Lt. Dan. As an owner of the Harmony Acres Equestrian Center, an equine-assisted therapy facility, she said Lt. Dan’s new purpose became clear.
“I wanted to get a therapy dog for our organization, and he just checked all the items on our list: his personality, how he gets along with other people and animals,” Douglass said. “And I think our clients, some of whom are disabled, see themselves reflected in Danny.”
Douglass said Lt. Dan is adjusting well to his new surroundings. He spends his days on the ranch, meeting people and playing with the other animals.
“But his favorite time is when he comes into my house at night,” Douglass said. “He wants to sleep on my bed and bond with my other dog and cat. I think having a home to go to makes a big difference for him.”