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‘Sometimes It’s Not About the Perfect Pet’
Beau has thrived since getting one-on-one care from Margaret Sheldon. PHOTO: Karen Bossick
Thursday, November 11, 2021


Mountain Humane workers have a mantra they preach when it comes to connecting people and pets: “There is a pet for every person and a person for every pet.”

But employees at the animal welfare campus west of Hailey have a new mantra, thanks to two very special dogs that recently came through the doors: “Sometimes it’s not about the perfect pet.”

“You may not always find the perfect pet, but you can find a pet that’s perfect for you,” said Kelly Mitchell, senior director at Mountain Humane.

Beau seems inquisitive and interested in everything around him. PHOTO: Karen Bossick

The two dogs that have touched the hearts of so many are Buster Brown and Beau.

  • Buster Brown, a pit bull mix who had been surrendered, arrived having suffered for years with untreated allergies and ear infections that were so severe that the inside of his ear looked like cauliflower, said Heidi Hayes, marketing manager for Mountain Humane. Untreated, the allergies had caused eardrum damage.

    Mountain Humane staff immediately put him in the care of one of the shelter’s foster parents to provide him the one-on-one attention he needed to make sure he was in the best possible shape before being adopted.

    Mario Rojas and his kids couldn’t wait to take Buster Brown home.

    And, when he was ready for a forever home, he was ushered into the outstretched arms of Mario Rojas from Twin Falls and his four children.

    “The Rojas family was looking for a unique dog that could handle their very busy household while also being calm enough to support their eldest daughter, and Buster certain fit the bill,” said Mitchell. “He is living an incredible life in Twin Falls and is so loved. He even got to dress up as a piece of candy corn for Halloween—the sweetest candy corn we’ve ever seen.”

    The Rojas family adopted Buster Brown even though they knew that managing his allergies would be a lifetime commitment involving expensive medications and special foods.

    “But they were all in on adoption day, smiling so hard we thought their faces would break,” said Hayes.

    Mario Rojas said that his family wasn’t even supposed to meet Buster—that they had gone to the shelter to be introduced to another dog.

    “But Lauren asked if we wanted to meet him, and my daughter and he clicked immediately,” he said. “Our daughter suffers from anxiety and a big part of getting a dog was so she might have that emotional support. He was so in tune with her and so accepting. He just sat there and let her love on him. Our other three kids going crazy in the background didn’t bother him at all.”

    Because Buster Brown was a medical dog, the Rojas family wasn’t allowed to take him home that day. Stella, the daughter, was heartbroken that she would have to wait, but she was buoyed by the fact that the foster parent let the family visit.

    “He’s just been such a great addition to our family,” said Rojas. “He’s so smart and so loving. I think every person he comes into contact with has nothing but good to say about him. He loves his walks, he loves just lounging, being around us. He absolutely loves car rides. He has fit right in with our family since the day we met him. And he’s very in tune with our moods. When someone is having an off day, he will not leave that person’s side. We knew he’s going to need long-term or forever meds and care to stay as healthy as possible, but he’s absolutely worth it.”

     “They’re just amazing people,” added Mitchell. “And Buster Brown is great with the kids and he’s got a lot of life to live. It’s another tale of how people find animals and animals find people.”

    • Five-year-old Beau, a Boxer mastiff mix, was brought to the no-kill shelter in Hailey from an animal shelter in Burley that could no longer care for him. It appeared that he had suffered from years of neglect and malnutrition. He was an emaciated 55 pounds—25 pounds underweight. And years of malnourishment had led to early-late stages of kidney failure.

    He had no energy. He just lay on the floor, as if he’d given up on everything. A swollen red rash stretched the length of his inflamed body.

    But, given love and attention, it turned out that his spirit was unbelievably resilient

    “He loves every person he’s ever met, every dog he’s ever met,” said Margaret Sheldon, an animal care lead at Mountain Humane.

    The staff at Mountain Humane immediately set about trying to bring him back to full health—i.e., cure him. But they were too late. The neglect had taken its toll.

    So, they put him in “Fospice”—a combination of foster care and hospice—at Zephyr Ranch in Fairfield.

    Today, Beau eagerly laps up the cheese and hot dog pieces his foster mother Margaret Sheldon cuts up for him.

    With proper nutrition, Beau has gained all but five of the 80 pounds he should weigh. And with love and exercise and being around people and pets who care about him, he’s thrived.  He loves paling around with the horses and sheep at the ranch and racing down the road with the ranch’s two-year-old Labrador retrievers.

    “I took him home thinking he was not going to make it through the night, thinking he deserved a place to call home, even if just for sone night. And look at him now,” said Sheldon

    It doesn’t bother Beau in the least when a child pulls on his face or another dog nips at him.

    “He’s an old soul and awesome in every situation he’s been in,” said Sheldon. “I love that he gets along with all the dogs on the ranch. And everyone who comes in contact with him falls in love with him.”

    “Although we can’t fix him, he is thriving, gaining weight, living with six-plus brother and sister animals,” added Hayes. “He may not live forever, but he is living the best life he has ever had.”

    Mountain Humane currently has about 70 animals in custody—50 of them in the shelter and the rest with foster families. Some are puppies and kittens, but there are more and more senior or special needs dogs needing adoption, surrendered by owners who can no longer take care of them because of economic and housing struggles, said Mitchell.

    Sheldon says stories like those of Beau and Buster Brown are the reason she and others work at the shelter.

    “I thought that working at the shelter I’d get tired of dogs, but I still get excited when I walk down a street and see one,” she said. “They’re just sweet creatures and they all deserve to be loved.”

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