Oak “The Wash Dog” The Power of Fostering and The Importance of Community

Story and Photos by Kayleigh Murdock, Public Information Officer, PACC

Many of you have heard of Oak “The Wash Dog.” Oak lived on her own in a local wash for at least four years. In those years, Oak – so named because she would chew oak sticks for fun – lived quite a life. She was attacked by coyotes, survived at least one rattlesnake bite, and had multiple litters of puppies. This local legend attracted a following of kind-hearted folks who kept her fed and kept an eye out for her throughout the years. Many also tried to catch her and bring her to safety, but clever Oak managed to avoid capture for years.

Thanks to the collaboration of several citizens and organizations, including a sweet pup named Pablo, Oak was finally captured on August 24th of this year. She arrived at PACC and was immediately brought into the clinic, where our vet team spayed her and extracted several broken and likely painful teeth. She didn’t know it, but she was finally safe from the perils of the outdoors. The next chapter of Oak’s life had begun.

Understandably, Oak was overwhelmed. Many dogs experience some anxiety in the shelter, but for Oak, everything was magnified. She was scared of people, she had likely never been inside or walked on tiled floors, and her nose and ears were filled with foreign smells and scents. Things brightened up a bit, though, when she got to meet some other dogs and play. They brightened up even more when Oak made her way into a foster home with two of our staff members.

Oak’s progress in foster was slow at first, but, as so often happens, Oak’s foster moms slowly started to see her blossom. This shy dog who had lived in a wash all her life slowly became a social, silly girl who loves to wrestle with her canine foster brother and enjoys perching herself on the back of the couch like a cat. Perhaps best of all, she fell in love with her foster moms. Patience, treats, and a whole lot of love helped transform the “Wash Dog” into a loving companion who cuddles in bed and gives out kisses. Oak will likely always be shy with new people, but thanks to her fosters, she learned how to be part of a family. Oak is still in foster learning more every day.

I tell you Oak’s story for two reasons; the first is to illustrate the power of fostering. Fosters help in so many ways; they allow the animal to escape the stressful shelter environment, giving them an opportunity to decompress and show their true personalities. Fosters allow us to learn more about how the animals do in a home, which is often the key to getting them adopted. Finally, every animal who goes into fostering clears a space for the next pet that comes in, effectively saving the lives of two animals.

We are always looking for fosters; whether you can take a pet for two weeks or two months, we’d be happy to help you find the best fit for your situation. PACC provides all necessary supplies and medical care for fosters. To learn more about fostering, go to www.pima.gov/foster.

The second reason I wanted to share Oak’s story with you is to highlight the importance of community. Countless community members, including individuals and rescues, worked together over the years to take care of Oak and eventually bring her into PACC. Oak’s story is a wonderful reminder of the good we can do when we work together for the benefit of the animals.

PACC is still operating in “Code Red” status, and we continue to rely on the community. Whether you are able to adopt, foster, volunteer, donate, or simply help get the word out, everyone is able to help in our shared goal: finding these animals loving homes. We are so grateful for the support that Pima County has given us over the years, and we can’t wait to see what else we can achieve together.

See available pets and read more about how you can help at www.pima.gov/animalcare.



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