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Geneva’s Phoenix Launched – A Rescue Shelter for Belgian and German Shepherd Dogs

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Earlier this month, we launched “Geneva’s Phoenix,” a rescue shelter for German and Belgian Shepherd dogs (

Roxy, as we eventually learned her name is, was found on Pa'akea Road in Wai'anae on June 18. Reunited with her owners on June 19, 2011.

We wish that every attempted dog rescue had a fairy tale ending, but the sad fact is that not all of them do. In fact, it is because of two beautiful German Shepherds — Geneva and Phoenix — and their inter-twining, tragic story that this website and indeed the Geneva’s Phoenix Rescue Shelter exist at all. But theirs is a story for another day. For now, we’d like to share with you the story of Roxy and Rusty. This one is genuine “happily-ever-after.”

Roxy & Rusty

Driving home from Waimanalo is usually an uneventful trip across the island. Barring any traffic hold-ups, it usually takes about an hour, even pulling a horse trailer, which I was on this particular Saturday afternoon. I’d spent the morning riding at New Town & Country and was looking forward to a shower, lunch and a power nap — in that order.

Suddenly, a large fawn-colored dog emerged from the tall grasses on the side of the road. Swearing under my breath at the uncaring people who think nothing of “dumping” their unwanted pets along this particular stretch of the usually-deserted back roads, I immediately braked, hoping the dog wouldn’t be too fearful for me to approach him. Sadly, we see these no-longer-wanted and abandoned dogs often here — painfully thin creatures with apprehensive eyes and dull, dusty coats stretched tightly over sharp ribs and knobby spines.

However, today’s dog was different. Instead of being emaciated and appearing to be near death, he looked well-fed. His coat was shiny, and he was wearing a collar. Hmmmmm. Maybe not an abandoned dog, but certainly one that was out of his element. There was little to drink and less to eat along here, and if the dog managed to avoid being banged by a car, he would almost certainly starve to death or die of dehydration.

As I slowed the truck and trailer, I reached for the Zip-Loc bag of dog treats I carry in my purse for just such occasions. Hopping out of the truck, I called softly to the dog, hoping he would come to me. He eyed the treat in my hand, but shied away from letting me touch him. I tossed the treat to him; he eagerly consumed it but still wouldn’t come close.

About this time, a second dog emerged from the tall grass — a beautiful Chocolate Lab. I called to her, and she trotted over. However, at the last minute, she reconsidered and darted away. I repeated the “toss-the-treat” maneuver, and to be my delight, her tail began to wag, and hurried over to me. I opened the door to the backseat of the truck and she immediately jumped in.

OK, one down, one to go. I hoped that the male would see his pal in the truck and decide to join her, but no such luck. He turned and trotted off down the road. I hesitated. I really wanted to take both of them home where it was safe and where there was food and water. However, the truck and trailer were too big to turn around on the narrow road. Besides, the horse inside was hot and tired and needed to get home sooner rather than later.

So reluctantly, I headed home with the horse — and now the lab — who by the way, smelled to high heaven. She had clearly been rolling in something that had been dead for a very, very long time. And of course, she was making a very determined effort to climb into the driver’s seat with me.

I dug the last remaining treat out of my purse and gave it to her, hoping it would keep her busy long enough for us to get home before she climbed all the way into my lap. And what I was really worried about was that the horrific odor she exuded would be absorbed by the upholstery in my truck, reminding me of her presence for weeks to come.

At home, I leapt out of the truck almost before the wheels had stopped turning, and turned to urge the dog to follow me. She needed no second invitation and bounded out joyfully.

Leaving the truck doors wide open so it would — I hoped — air out, I took “Cocoa” as I had unofficially dubbed her, into the yard, gave her a drink and grabbed a bottle of doggie shampoo. The bath helped — a little — but she still smelled pretty ripe. I snapped a couple of pictures on my cell phone, planing to e-mail them to the Human Society and post notices on our Shepherd Rescue site (, on the Tradewinds Pet Suites Facebook page, and on Craig’s List.

After the impromptu photo session, “Cocoa” went into a kennel with a bowl of food (which she immediately consumed) and another bowl of fresh water.

“I sure hope her owner sees the notices and we can get them back together,” Alex said. “She’s really a nice dog — very friendly and
well cared for.”

That night I was planning to go to my Hanai nephew’s graduation party. At the party, though, I kept thinking about the fawn-colored dog and wondering if he was OK and if he might let me catch him now. So I headed out again, this time armed with more treats and a gallon-sized Zip-Loc bag of Eukanuba.

Although I drove the entire length of Pa’akea Road twice, there was no sign of the dog, so I poured the dog food into a bowl, placed it well back from the road, and hoped he would find it and stay close to it so I could find him the next morning.

Early the next day, Alex came rushing excitedly out of the kennel. “I just got a message on my cell phone,” she exclaimed. “It’s the owner of the Chocolate Lab.”

Turns out the owners had been out early passing out flyers and asking people in their Sea Country neighborhood whether they had seen the two dogs.

Coincidentally, they stopped at the home of my good friend, Becky, who was watering her yard. They gave her the flyer and asked her to let them know if she saw the dogs. An animal lover in her own right, Becky instantly agreed.

When she finished watering the lawn, she went inside and logged onto Facebook. There she saw the pictures and notice we had posted the previous night. Grabbing the flyer they had given her, she quickly called the owners, gave them our telephone number, and the rest is history — almost.

While the owners were overjoyed to have the Chocolate Lab back (her name, they told us, was Roxy), there was still the matter of Roxy’s missing “partner in crime.” His name, we learned, was Rusty.

Deciding to drive back over to Pa’akea Road where I had left the food the previous night, I showed the owners where I’d last seen him. Parking their car by the side of the road, they climbed out and began calling and whistling for him.

Meanwhile, I got back in my car and drove the length of the road again, hoping to see him –although I still wasn’t sure he would let me catch him.

Driving that back road, memories flooded over me of the dozens of times I had walked it and hiked along it trying in vain to find Geneva. I prayed that somehow these owners would find their beloved pet.

At the end of the road, I turned around and started slowly back. Suddenly, on the left, I noticed the owners kneeling down and hugging something. A golden tail waved furiously. They had found Rusty, lying in the shade under a huge piece of Quarry equipment.

Rusty’s and Roxy’s tails wagged joyfully as they greeted each other. The owners had tears in their eyes, and I felt my own stinging, as well.

Yup, I decided as I drove home in a warm fuzzy glow. This definitely qualified as a “happily-ever-after!”

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