Courtesy Handsome Dan’s Facebook page
Handsome Dan has over 120,000 Facebook Likes and that number rises every day. It’s an astounding following for a once abused and neglected Pit Bull Terrier from the fighting ring. Handsome Dan’s popularity is due in large part to his posts: he is witty, informative, observant, humble, conscientious, and extraordinarily talented for a four-pawed creature but most importantly, he posts lots of awesome photos of kitties and doggies.
Handsome Dan spent the first part of his life in Virginia chained and unfed in the yard of an NFL football player eventually charged and convicted of crimes in connection with dog fighting. Of the fifty dogs seized only 21 made it to the Utah animal shelter where Handsome Dan would eventually meet his new family. These survivors, known as Vicktory Dogs, named after the infamous footballer, are now spread out across the United States and Handsome Dan regularly keeps in touch with the survivors.
After settling in, and becoming a sensation on Facebook, Handsome Dan’s new family decided to name their Rescue operation after him. The Rescue is for Pit Bull type dogs that have extreme behavioural issues or are in need of medical attention. These dogs are considered un-adoptable at the Shelters where they languish but Handsome Dan himself is proof that even extreme cases can be rehabilitated. He has proved that every dog deserves an individual assessment.
The woman Handsome Dan calls his mother is Heather Gutshall. Heather is in touch with Shelters and Rescues in and around her home state of Rhode Island and on the lookout for dogs in desperate circumstances. When she finds, and is able to take a candidate into her care, she starts working with the dog and attempting to find it a foster home. After intensive socialization training, medical attention, and neutering or spaying the dog is ready for adoption. In some cases, the foster family becomes so attached that the foster home becomes the dog’s forever home. One such case was Luna.
Pink NewTrix for bully breeds only!
Luna was a stray at the Providence Animal Shelter. She appeared to be only about 4 or 5 months old. She wasn’t pretty, suffering from severe Demodex Mange, but Heather instantly recognized that this small black dog had a loving and lovable disposition. (You can find more about Luna on Handsome Dan’s Facebook page – here.) Heather selected Luna as a member of Handsome Dan’s Rescue. She was placed in the foster care of Johanna Croteau and after a few months of working with Luna, Johanna welcomed her into the family permanently – a beautiful outcome for everyone.
Heather Gutshall is as remarkable as Handsome Dan. She devotes herself to some of life’s neediest creatures: the dogs most unlikely to be adopted. Heather helps rehabilitate and find homes for these desperate cases. Dr. Robert Curran of NewTrix dog halters met Heather at the IAABC Conference (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants) in Rhode Island in 2012. Since that time, Heather has been using the NewTrix dog halter on Handsome Dan rescue dogs and with some of the clients at her dog training organization, Outbound Hounds. The manner in which the NewTrix dog halter works, no fear, no pain, only triggering an automatic reflex, fits in with the LIMA principles Heather ascribes to: Least Invasive Minimally Aversive. We at NewTrix are honoured to be part of the journey with both Handsome Dan and Heather Gutshall. Together we hope we can help more dogs find forever homes.