Fleur - German Shepherd Dog

Fleur - German Shepherd Dog

Fleur - German Shepherd Dog

This once forsaken junk yard dog with horrible skin and trust issues now has a new life. Read her story and witness her amazing transformation.
Shelter Paws
Date Adopted
We are extremely happy with Fleur!

Happy Tails Story

My Story


A Ruff Beginning

At just 3 years of age I was facing death at a high kill shelter. I was miserable; my skin burned and itched uncontrollably and my entire body felt like it was on fire. As far back as I can remember, I pretty much lived my entire life in a junk yard alone fending for myself and eating whatever was semi-edible. I never had a nutritious meal and that was evidenced by my thin frame, patchy hair loss and red, inflamed skin. I was friendless, lonely, detached and completely forsaken. I existed and that was pretty much the extent of my existence. The neighborhood kids would often taunt me from behind the fence throwing sticks and rocks at me and yelling cruel words. That added to my misery and I learned quickly that if I appeared vicious -- barking, growling, barring my teeth and lunging eventually everyone would leave me alone and, I would go back to being alone ... surviving.


Eventually, I was dragged off to the shelter. I knew instantly this was not a shelter in the true sense of the word. There was nothing safe and calming about that place. Dogs emitted fearful scents and an undeniable stench of death filled the entire building. I felt defeated, scared and alone .. and it was difficult to not let it show.

I did the only thing I knew how to do in order to survive. I began barking vicously, growling and lunging. One thing I learned from those kids who taunted me is the more ferocious I appeared the quicker I would be left alone. I determined in my mind that I would leave this world as I entered, fending for myself and giving the best fight I could. Consequently, I was given the worst label by the shelter; and, no one -- absolutely no rescue, no person -- except for one, gave my existence any value. I was a complete mess with my appalling skin issues and threatening disposition. Despite my dejected condition my savior distinguished something of value deep within me - a beauty that can only be seen through understanding eyes of love and acceptance.

The Evaluation

Details of the Rescue


Facing Certain Death

It is hard to describe the emotions felt when I first saw this dog. She was clearly a dog that was grossly neglected, poorly cared for, and utterly forsaken. She depicted a pup that was completely helpless, hopeless and miserable; and, her behavior revealed an animal who felt a desperation to defend due to a severe lack of trust and certainty. Something about this nameless pup with horrible skin and serious trust issues pulled at my heartstrings greatly. Everyone, including all other rescues, turned their back on her not giving her a second look. However, I could not shake the feeling that there was something special deep within this totally unwanted and undesirable German Shepherd Dog. Our rescue was filled beyond capacity. We were working practically around the clock caring for our rescued animals, nearly maxed out in our own personal funds and completely over-filled. Yet, I chose to begin the week-long journey to find a way to help her -- a pup whom I felt deserved a chance at love, hope and rehabilitation regardless of the extensive time, effort and high cost it would require.

Finding a Solution

I worked tireless each day, desperately trying to find an outlet. The only realistic option was to find an experienced foster since I was maxed beyond capacity. I sent a foster whom I knew well to visit with her to see if she was willing to foster, with the understanding we would back and assist. Unfortunately, she declined after taking one quick look at her terrible and intimidating condition. I further reached out to various people, including other rescues and trainers but no one was interested in helping. Not giving up hope, I continued to keep this poor girl safe each night by pulling her from the dreaded e-list. Still, with no options or outlets in place, I drove the hour drive to the shelter to visit with her. I was hoping perhaps after a few days, she may have acclimated to the environment, but she reacted viciously when I attempted to leash her: barring teeth, snapping and lunging. I spent over an hour trying to leash her, but was not successful.


Does She Live or Die?

I was unsuccessful in leashing her, and had spent quite a bit of time trying. The shelter was under staffed, so there weren't many options left since I didn't have a snare. I couldn't leave her there to die, but what was I to do? Boarding was not a viable solution, since she had severe barrier aggression issues and no foster was willing or able to help. As I resigned for the day I took a moment to observe her ... she had reverted to her corner lying down with the same sad, forlorn, helpless look she had before I attempted to remove her from the kennel. As I studied her, I believed her reaction was a result of never knowing what it felt like to trust; and, quite possibly, her hard life trained her to feel a need to protect and defend herself and to distrust everyone. Perhaps, in her mind if she did not appear vicious, she would be harmed. I felt her demeanor originated from trust issues that she could eventually overcome. Her time was running out, but what was I to do? A decision needed to be made, and fast!

Making the Decision

I vacillated in my mind between a desire to save this poor forsaken dog and the understanding that saving her would create a burden since I was well-over capacity -- there is only so much space, so much time and donations were very small. On the other hand, I could not give up on this girl whom I strongly felt could be helped. The next day, I decided to make another attempt at getting her out of the kennel. Once again, after about 30 minutes of trying I was un-successful. Staff members of both genders attempted to remove her as well using a lead, but it was not possible. I needed to get her out of the kennel and evaluate her, and at this point, the only option was to use a snare. It took some time to finally snare her and remove her from the kennel, as she was behaving highly aggressive. Since I was gone for so long and needed to get back to care for my own pups, I only had a few minutes to spend with her. To the inexperienced eye, she could be considered a highly dangerous animal, however, to a trained, experienced rescue, I knew she was reacting out of confusion, uncertainty and distrust -- All of which are learned traits that could be corrected with proper handling and training. But, what if I was mistaken? What if this dog truly was a highly aggressive dog that could not be rehabilitated? I had only interacted with her for a few minutes outside of the kennel. A decision needed to be made! I could not pull her from the list again, as her time had ran out. My only option was to New Hope the dog and give myself one more day to make arrangements for her.

The following day, emotions were across the board. Networkers and animal advocates across the nation were working hard at finding an outlet, but nothing was transpiring. A friend also visited with her, offering her cheeseburgers for what was most likely her last day on this earth. This dog, in her poor and emaciated body condition, appreciated the food; but, once the food was gone, she immediately reverted back to her aggressive behavior. This friend, who also saw beyond the horrible skin and trust issues, is the person who gave this once nameless pup, the name Fleur! It was at that moment Fleur was given an identity for, quite possibly, the first time in her dejected and forsaken life.

Yay, Sweet Freedom Ride - Finally Rescued!

After a week and many hours daily dedicated to working for Fleur, and realizing how brutal her death would have been being snared and dragged in the back to be killed -- I knew the only compassionate option was to rescue her. As usual, we stopped at McDonald's for a freedom burger, and then headed home. We soon faced another challenge when her lead came off during the ride home, making it difficult to get her out of the vehicle safely. Fleur had been through a lot, was confused, stressed and acting defensively so I chose to leave her where she was for a few hours until she composed herself a bit -- A/C running, with plenty of food/water. It was dark out, she had no idea what was going on, and seemed to have reverted back to how she was acting in the shelter. Let's just say getting her out of the vehicle was not an easy task and could not be done without a snare. Fortunately, we were able to reach out to a trainer by the name of Jason from Lorenzo's Dog Training who came to assist with a snare. Fleur also was enrolled in their program and learned basic obedience training while there.


First Walk in the Park

The next morning, only after a few hours away from the shelter, Fleur's response to me was nothing short of miraculous! She was enjoying a walk in the park, listening to the birds, and watching kids play on the swings. I truly believe she knew I was her savior -- there was a sense of calm and peace in her demeanor, and I think she realized everything was going to be good in her new life. The story doesn't end .. for more on Fleur and to see how she is doing now, be sure to click on the Happy Tail tab above!

Happy Tail




Blooming forth from the once desolate waste is now a beautiful and confident, desired flower referred to as Fleur. She was rescued from the elist at MCACC and is now with Shelter Paws as she awaits her forever home.

A few words from Fleur: "I am no longer forsaken ... my savior came for me when I was at my lowest. He chose to save me; and, for the first time in my life, I feel valued, loved, cherished and wanted --- look at me now! Thank you Domenic!"

If you enjoyed this story and would like to help us create more Happy Tails by saving animals in need, please donate to help us a build our sanctuary.

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Shelter Paws is an all breed rescue in Arizona and is responsible for saving thousands of death row animals from high kill shelters. We urge you to join our life saving mission by helping us give a voice to the voiceless --- your help is greatly needed! We encourage you to learn more about our rescue, what sets us apart, and the many ways you can support our mission to save lives.

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