After visiting about a dozen animal shelters looking for just the right dog we met Hogan at the Huntington Animal Shelter in Nassau, NY on August 12, 2001. Actually, he wasn't at the shelter at all. After visiting the dogs there and talking to a volunteer who walked us through, she suggested that we might like a particular dog she knew of.
Hogan was in foster care about ten minutes away. The lady made a call and told us that he would arrive in a few minutes. In the meanwhile, she told us what she knew about him. He had shown up at the shelter in April or May (it was now August) just skin and bones. As a result of his malnutrition, Hogan developed a kidney problem which required a special diet. When people saw the "special needs" box checked on Hogan's cage, they just walked by. I guess it was too much trouble to buy bag B of dog food instead of bag A.
After a long stay at the shelter, it got full and Hogan was next to be killed. That's when Dot stepped in. She is a volunteer from The League for Animal Protection (LAP). She saved his life and put him in a foster home- something we didn't even know existed for dogs! Unfortunately, after a few weeks the foster parents were going on vacation. Back to the shelter for Hogan. Back on death row.
Once again he was saved by Dot who put him in her mother's house. As we found out months later, Dot was quite attached to Hogan. She kept a picture of him in her "special book" which for a person who has saved countless dogs is quite a distinction.
That's where we showed up. He was immediately a hit. While taking him for a test drive he showed us what would become one of his most endearing qualities. I held up a small treat and told him to sit. He tried so hard to sit but couldn't because he was too excited about the treat in front of him. His front paws tapped the ground and his butt never reached the ground. Val asked for his paw. Without missing a beat, it was in her hand. SOLD! Dot handed us his leash and we went home. (No real paperwork since he wasn't in the shelter).
"Val! what'd you do with the sausage that was thawing on the counter?"
"What sausage? Bye the way, why did Hogan have to go to the bathroom at such an odd time?"
He even had a bit of just about every course of Thanksgiving dinner- although not being invited to do so didn't seem to slow him down..
Eventually, Hogan learned some manners. He stopped stealing off the counter and even sat in the living room until we finished dinner. One thing he never lost was his passion for food. He danced by tapping his paws just like at the shelter every time we gave him a meal or a cookie. When finished he was truly grateful. He would come up to us wagging his tail while licking his chops. He was badly starved on the streets and knew the value of the gift he was given twice a day.
I've had dogs my whole life and never met a dog so in love with his people. He would stare at us for hours, and if he saw you look at him his tail would start thumping powerfully on the floor. The running joke was that his tail was dead because he beat it to death against the floor. From another room, I could tell when Valerie was looking at him because of the tell-tale thumps. It would go on and off like a switch as she looked at him and away. When he wasn't staring at us he was licking our faces which he could not get enough of - first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
One of the saddest things of knowing Hogan was his nightmares. Almost every night in the beginning he would bark and cry in his sleep while running in place. I woke him up and comforted him each time it happened and his tail would start thumping. The nightmares came from the abuse his last owners gave him. He was pretty hand-shy, especially in the kitchen. It was a comfort to see that over time the nightmares faded and he stopped flinching all together. He even started having dreams where his tail would thump.
Sadly, as with all pets, Hogan passed away. On October 3, 2002, after only a year together, Hogan died suddenly from an unknown tumor that ruptured in his spleen. He died in our arms shortly after surgery.
The happiness that we gave each other will be deeply missed.
Because of our experiences with Hogan, we soon adopted a new shelter dog, Buddy. Shortly after Buddy moved in we decided that we needed to do more to save more dogs like Hogan who was saved by a foster person. We applied to a group called the Long Island Golden Retriever Rescue to become Foster Parents. They were pleased to hear from us as families willing to foster dogs are in great need. After an indepth interview and home visit they brought over Ginger- our first foster dog.
We still felt like we weren't doing enough so now we volunteer at the Brookhaven Town Shelter. Every week, we go and walk dogs, give a few baths, take their pictures and get to know them a little. We put the pictures on petfinder.org to help match homeless dogs up with dogless people.
Every dog we help, save, or bring a little happiness to is all because of meeting one special dog for what seems was too short of a time.
This are the earliest known pictures of Hogan. They were taken at the shelter when he first arrived.