Zeke finds forever home for holiday

Trainer Kevin Brehan is shown with Zeke. Brehan helped rehabilitate Zeke and the beagle mix has finally found his forever home. (Source: Regional Animal Shelter website)

GLOVERSVILLE — More than two years after he was found dirty, underweight and afraid on Third Avenue in the city, Zeke the dog has found his forever home.

During their holiday party on Saturday, Regional Animal Shelter Director Renee Earl announced that Zeke would be staying with Heather Mach and David Johnson, his foster family for the past year.

The tri-color German shepherd/hound mix was found in the city on Sept. 15, 2015 in poor condition. The Leader-Herald has been following Zeke’s journey along the way.

While at the shelter, the dog was afraid and timid, to the point that even doggie toys frightened him. Needing help, the Regional Animal Shelter fundraised to send Zeke to the Natural Dog Training center in Vermont.

While there, Zeke worked on a variety of training topics including soft biting a toy and carrying it; an on-command deep-rooted bark puppies use; getting used to belly rubs; collecting, which teaches a dog to put their weight on their hindquarters; and pushing.

After coming back, he was placed with Mach and Johnson.

Regional Animal Shelter has been looking for a new home for Zeke for more than a year now. Because of his anxiety and fears, the shelter needed a special home for this special dog.

Zeke needed to be in a home that would work to fit him, and not the other way around. He needed to continue his training and the adopters needed to understand his special needs.

Speaking on Saturday, Earl said Zeke is a very special dog to both herself and the volunteers at the shelter.

“Zeke was one of the special dogs to me. I still, to this day, have an incredible bond with him. I absolutely adore him,” Earl said. “If there is anywhere I would want Zeke to be, because he can’t be with me, it would be [with Mach and Johnson] there is no better home for him and I knew immediately that is where he is meant to be. Things fall into place sometimes.”

Mach said part of the reason the couple knew they would likely keep Zeke was his reaction to Johnson, since the dog didn’t really seem to like most men.

“From the moment he came into our house, he loved my fiancee. He has had a tough time with men, but it was kind of instant when he saw him. So there is a little feeling of ‘meant to be’ to this whole situation,” she said.

Mach said the couple had lost one of their dogs in November, a dog she described as having a special connection with them, a connection she said they also felt in Zeke.

The couple was a good fit for Zeke’s training and physical requirements as well. The couple goes on regular long walks, including on various nature trails, a good fit for Zeke’s activity requirements.

Mach is a trainer, and along with others created a shelter dog program for Regional Animal Shelter to take dogs that were initially too aggressive to place, or were deteriorating in the shelter. The dogs stayed with trainers indefinitely until they were adopted.

Zeke was one of the dogs in the Regional Animal Shelter Rehabilitation in Training Program.

Mach said Zeke was going downhill fast while at the shelter. She said when she first met the dog, she couldn’t touch him. But now he is doing much better.

She said the hope is to expand the program in the future for dogs like Zeke.

“So how could I not take Zeke,” she said. “He was the dog that inspired us to create [Regional Animal Shelter Rehabilitation in Training Program]. When we took Zeke, we didn’t have that program. Upon taking Zeke, we created that program. He was kind of the pilot and he didn’t even know it.”

Kerry Minor can be reached at kminor@leaderherald.com.