Written by Becky Monroe
“Many people said I wouldn’t find a purebred Poodle in a shelter,” began Katie’s interview about Buck…but with her strong desire and due diligence to find a large, non-shedding, intelligent and easy-going dog, she actually came across quite a few in need of homes.
There was a shelter in her area that did a lot of work with breeder released dogs. She found “Uriah” listed on the site with a very vague description and no picture. It read simply, “Neutered male standard Poodle. Has done well with other dogs in the shelter.”
Taking a chance, Katie and her fiancé (now husband) applied for the dog. They were approved and went to the shelter a few days later with their 12 year old terrier mix, Toby.
They were so pleasantly surprised when the staff brought out this gorgeous, chocolate standard Poodle!
However, Uriah was absolutely terrified of being outside in the fenced area. When they tried to approach him, he ran circles on his leash and did everything he could to get away.
They waited patiently and eventually he became calm enough to pet.
Katie added, “He looked so defeated.”
While they realized quickly Uriah would be a bigger project than they had planned, they still decided he was the dog for them.
They adopted him and took him home and re-named him Buck.
“The first week was the hardest,” Katie described. “ Everything was difficult and I started questioning if I had made the right decision in adopting such a traumatized dog.”
At 3 years of age, Buck was not house trained at all. He was terrified to be touched. He didn’t do steps. He couldn’t walk on a leash and only wanted to lay in the back corner of his kennel and pretend he was invisible.
Buck was broken. He had no personality and as Katie expressed, “Sadly, he didn’t enjoy existing.”
The biggest helper became Toby. Almost instantly, Buck became glued to Toby.
“We joked that Toby was Buck’s emotional support animal,” Katie shared.
In most cases, puppy mill survivors do best when paired with a confident, outgoing well-adjusted dog. After all they have been through, the one thing they seem to trust is their own kind.
With Toby by his side, they started to see that Buck actually craved attention and human contact but was too scared to approach people. They also realized he was very motivated by food.
Buck was only 58 pounds when they adopted him and now 3 years later, he weighs a healthy 74 pounds.
Katie had a friend, Heather, who lived nearby who had a rescued Doberman named Zoe. Zoe was confident and easy-going. Heather was into rehabilitating dogs and became the perfect partner to help get Buck out of his shell.
They started taking group walks everyday and soon those walks were the highlight of Buck’s new life.
He slowly gained confidence and started learning that new experiences were fun and nothing to be scared of.
Katie worked at a vet clinic on weekends and always brought Toby along. As Buck became more trusting, she started taking Buck.
He would sit behind the reception counter and every time someone asked to pet him, Katie would educate them on Buck’s past, ask them to give him a treat first and then let him lead the situation.
It didn’t take too many weekends at the vet clinic until Buck decided all people were fantastic and he started confidently approaching strangers expecting to be pet.
“Saturday mornings became much more exciting when I said the words,’Who is ready to go to work?’ and watched Buck run to the door with excitement,” Katie described.
How far Buck came when only months before he had no interest in life at all.
Katie explained that clients at work would always compliment her on how well-behaved her dogs were and how beautiful Buck was. Katie always took the opportunity to educate them about Buck’s past and encouraged them to look at shelters first when looking for their next pet.
Katie’s experience with Buck led her down a new path. She was so amazed at his transformation in six months that she wanted to get more involved with puppy mill survivor rehabilitation and help another dog find a perfect home.
She became a regular volunteer at the shelter where Buck came from and took home a 3 year old, 4 pound Maltese who had only been used for breeding.
The Maltese was shy, but adapted to normal life much quicker than Buck and in just one month was potty-trained, confident and ready for her happily ever after.
Since Buck came into her life, Katie has become an advocate for stricter breeding laws, ending puppy mills and adopting from shelters.
After submitting information for this interview, Katie became a volunteer with Bailing Out Benji and is doing events to help educate others on puppy mills with Buck by her side.
Katie has fostered two pups from other organizations, both of whom Buck helped to potty train and teach manners.
Not only have they fostered new pups, they adopted another puppy mill survivor, a cream Poodle named Bodi. Buck was eager to show him how walks can be fun and not scary as well as how to go up and down stairs.
Buck’s life has been forever changed by Katie and her family. He is happy and well-adjusted and the best mentor for all the dogs in need they bring into their home.
Thanks Buck for taking so many other pups under your wing and teaching them how great second chances are and thank you for bringing Katie to Bailing Out Benji!!