Nelly, an 18-month-old black shepherd and Labrador mix, may have been thought of as a “bad dog”. He would drag animal shelter workers when they walked him, bark constantly for attention, and jump on people when they came to greet him.
Over a year ago, Nelly was left in the overnight drop box at the Oakland Animal Shelter and “he was the kind of dog that would have been put to sleep because there was no hope of finding him a home.” But the animal control officers did not give up hope and wanted to find a place for Nelly.
A worker at the Oakland Animal Shelter met with Chick Gardner, director of Gap Dogs, an organization that trains rescue dogs. The animal shelter employee started describing Nelly’s behavior and Gardner thought that Nelly may be a good fit to be a rescue dog.
The staff tested Nelly to see how brave he was. They threw balls into deep bushes and he retrieved them every time, and they even put him 10 feet away from a train and he didn’t even back away.
More about Nelly and his transition to a rescue dog after the jump.
From Oakland Tribune:
When Gardner saw the videotapes of the tests, he knew Nelly was a rare find.
“When she showed us the video of how aggressive and compulsive this dog was, I thought, we’ve got a Gap Dog,” Gardner said. “It’s kind of like, ‘Hey, that’s a train going by, never saw one of them.’ That’s called nerve strength.”
Nelly will need nerve strength when he’s done with his 18-month training to become a search-and-rescue dog. Gardner’s Gap Dogs program will evaluate what Nelly’s best at and place him in a program where he could be doing anything from sniffing for bombs to searching for children who have wandered from home, Gardner said.
“We save them, and then they save us,” he said. “It’s not like it’s a pie-in-the-sky sort of thing, these dogs are doing it every single day.”
On Tuesday, Nelly boarded a flight from San Francisco to Dallas to begin his training as a rescue dog to save lives.
Animal control officers at the Oakland Animal Shelter are sad to see Nelly go and will miss his active personality. They were the ones that gave Nelly a second chance to live and serve a purpose and are trying harder to find homes for dogs like Nelly because “there is a home for almost every dog.” Good luck Nelly!