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September 29, 2012

Dog days of Norman

Mayor's adopted dogs fell in puppy love at Second Chance Animal Sanctuary

NORMAN — Lenny and Sandy have a relationship many might envy. They are best friends. They live together, play together and show unabated public displays of affection to one another. They are pack mates who found each other at Second Chance Animal Sanctuary in Norman.

About a year ago, Lenny and Sandy became a part of the Rosenthal pack. They live with Jim and Cindy Rosenthal who found them at the shelter after a terrible loss.

In April 2011, the Rosenthals lost two beloved canine family members. One, tragically, got out of the backyard fence and was hit and killed by a vehicle. Shortly after, the Rosenthals’ other dog, who was very old, died as well.

“It was devastating,” said Rosenthal.

The couple took time to grieve and followed through on summer travel plans. Toward the end of the summer, they began to feel the time was right to move on and began searching the internet for adoptable dogs.

“Interestingly enough, if people get a dog right after losing a dog, they often bring it back,” said Second Chance Executive Director Kay Stout. “You have to go through the grieving process.”

Cindy Rosenthal said she knew it was safer to start their search online rather than visiting Second Chance, the Norman Animal Shelter or other local rescues in person. First hand, the heartstrings become involved too easily, she said.

“Our very first dog we had here in Norman, we adopted from the Norman Animal Shelter,” said Cindy Rosenthal. “We adopt all our dogs.”

Adopting dogs means a second chance for abandoned pets who need a home and loving owner or family. Those dogs no longer have to run the streets or  suffer abuse and neglect.

 Cindy Rosenthal is very familiar with the problem of abused, neglected and abandoned dogs in a city the size of Norman. She has served on the city council and is currently the mayor of Norman, so she is intimately acquainted with the city shelter and local rescues. While the Norman Animal Shelter has an adoption facility and posts dogs on Pet Finders, it also works with local rescue agency like Second Chance. Those rescue agencies are valuable in helping house and find permanent homes from many of the shelter’s dogs and cats.

Second Chance is a no kill shelter that makes use of foster families. Those fostered pets get special attention, and the foster families learn their traits and personalities. Sometimes, good habits are instilled in the fostered pets and bad habits are eliminated through training, making many animals more adoptable.

Stout said she also puts a high value on “failed” fosters. About two out of every 10 foster families end up adopting the pet they’ve been fostering. In reality, failed fosters are more of a success than a failure.

Some dogs, like Lenny and Sandy are fostered over the weekends. Their habits are observed, allowing staff to match them appropriately with adopting families. In August, Stout said there were 63 adoptions and only two of those were returned.

“The staff gets to know the dogs very well,” she said.

Jim and Cindy Rosenthal first saw Lenny online. Despite looking at so many dogs, they kept coming back to his furry black face and friendly expression. They made arrangements to visit him in person at Second Chance.

The couple was getting acquainted with Lenny when one of the staff members from Second Chance (in Jim Rosenthal’s version of the story) said, “Oh, he can’t leave without saying good-bye to his girlfriend.”

Staff explained the close connection between the dogs and brought Sandy out.

“We’re in the business of selling,” Stout said, laughing.

“We came for one and went home with two,” Cindy said.

It’s been a year now, and the family is bonded. The two couples — Jim and Cindy and Lenny and Sandy — walk daily. It’s one big happy family.

But the Lenny-Sandy connection is even more special than the Rosenthal’s first realized. Sandy is not particularly dog friendly. She’s learning, but in most cases other dogs make her fearful and she doesn’t like them. Lenny is the exception and he, along with the Rosenthals, is teaching her to trust again.

It’s a sort of canine therapy for a dog who’s early life wasn’t as happy as it should have been.

Both dogs are unabashedly affectionate to humans.

Dogs like Lenny and Sandy will be available for adoption at the 23rd Annual Dog Day Afternoon from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 6 at Reaves Park. Dog Day activities include disc dog competition and demonstration, canine obedience and agility demonstrations, vendors and rescue groups with dogs for adoption, games, contests and low-cost vaccinations and microchipping, plus food and other entertainment.

Stout said about eight other rescues will have animals available for adoption at the event.

Some of those rescues will offer breed specific dogs for adoption such as black labs, pit bulls and Chihuahuas.

This year is also the 3rd Annual Dog Walk in conjunction with the Dog Day event. Register to walk and get special event day discounts and other benefits including doggie prizes. Walkers raise money for Second Chance as part of the event. Register at www.secondchancenorman.com.


 

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