Shultz’s Guest House: A Sanctuary for Homeless Dogs
Taking homeless pets from shelter to forever home.
The passing of a family pet can be tragic. They are not just warm and cuddly pals, they are truly a part of the family and their absence can be traumatic. When I was a child and my very first pet died, my parents eased my pain by describing a serene, heavenly farm in the sky. While this was a very difficult time, these images of Tarheel rolling around in fields, chasing squirrels, and eating to his hearts content eased my heartache a bit.
About two weeks ago a very special dog passed away. Shultz, a rescued German shorthaired pointer, was the inspiration behind a very unique rescue shelter, one that truly embodies this vision of dog heaven. In honor of Shultz, this temporary place of solace for homeless dogs was named Shultz’s Guest House. And even though he is now gone, his legacy will live on and grow stronger than ever through the hundreds of homeless dogs that will stop over in his fields before moving on to their forever homes.
Three months ago my husband and I visited Shultz’s Guest House, expecting a typical shelter. What we found instead was a true dog sanctuary. We had seen a perfect little puppy named Caramel on PetFinder™ and just had to meet her. As we drove through the wrought-iron gates and onto the grounds, we were transported from a suburban neighborhood to a quaint country estate. Located on 200-acres along the Charles River in Dedham, Massachusetts, the rescue is completely unexpected. The forest sprawled before us, and as we drove further up the hill, a stately white home revealed itself. My heart leapt with excitement and anxiety as we pulled in behind a beautiful barn and parked. We were warmly welcomed by Jill Greblick, and so began our journey to find our ideal pup.
Jim, the owner of this former horse farm, wanted to create a quiet, stress free setting where dogs could make their transition to a permanent home. What he created is nothing short of paradise. Before opening the shelter, dog pens were built, horse stables were converted to heated kennels, and a portion of the barn was taken over for administrative offices. Each dog that enters the guest house not only has a warm place to sleep and food to eat, they have their own large, grassy pen to romp around in.
The day of our visit to the rescue we brought home a sweet puppy named Maizy and our lives were instantly changed forever. Maizy is a mixed breed rescue dog – one part Lab, one part Pitt Bull, and one part something that is still a mystery. She had a very rough start — abandoned on the side of the road in Tennessee, flea-ridden, half starved, and infested with worms. But this is a happy story because Maizy was found by loving people, nursed back to health, and brought north to find her forever home. We just happened to be the lucky ones who met her that morning.
This type of beginning is unfortunately true for many of the dogs that come to Shultz’s Guest House. But with the help of a truly committed owner, loving staff, and volunteers, 115 dogs have found homes since August 2014. But despite the story these numbers tell, the journey from homeless to forever home is not a short and easy one. Many of the dogs come from the south, where the culture of dog ownership in some areas is much different than in New England. Many dogs live outside in the milder weather, and spaying and neutering dogs is not always the norm. This results in an excess of homeless dogs and overflowing shelters.
Shultz’s Guest House finds the majority of their dogs in Tennessee through their rescue consultant Merry, who helps identify adoptable dogs at high kill shelters. She conducts a temperament test on each dog to make sure they are suitable for adoption and then coordinates transport to Shultz’s. Often times Jill and the other staff members make the long trip south to pick up the new pups and bring them back to find their new homes.
On my second trip to the rescue I was given the opportunity to meet even more incredible dogs – some that may still be in need of a forever home. This new group of dogs hailed from Maryland, and since they were very skittish we were only able to meet a daring few. First, to get started we met the veteran of the rescue, Sally. This gorgeous elk hound mix with striking light amber eyes had been at the shelter for about a month. She was very lively, had a sweet disposition, and loved to play. We couldn’t figure out why she was still at the rescue. We then went into the barn where we were able to take a peak into the puppy room, and into a few other stalls where the dogs were partaking in their afternoon snooze. We met two more beautiful lab mixes — Kathy and Roger — before tearing ourselves away from the dogs.
Adopting a dog at Shultz’s Guest House is a wonderful experience. The staff is welcoming, honest and accommodating, and they make what could be a daunting experience feel easy. And most importantly, all the staff and volunteers truly love the dogs. When we first went to the shelter we were lucky enough to meet. He was an old pup, but he was gentle and regal. He would wander the grounds with his brother Bronson, welcoming all the soon-to-be dog parents. He was a true representation of what the rescue has become — a loving place where dogs meet before their new lives begin.
Learn more about Shultz's Guest House at www.sghrescue.org