The Giant Doghouse
How do you restore a dog to psychological health who has known nothing but abuse? How do you persuade such a dog to trust and love people again? At The Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary we have an answer: The Giant Doghouse. There are no cages or pens in this house. It’s actually a home—a group home for 25 to 30 rescued dogs, presided over 24 hours a day by our founder and director, Natalie Owings.
The Giant Doghouse is filled with soft beds, which are covered with freshly laundered blankets or towels. Soothing music plays quietly. The dogs wander in and out. They are free to play outside, to explore the woods, to lounge, socialize or nap on the wrap-around covered porch. At mealtimes they are given top-quality, nutritious food, ladled with a meat and vegetable broth from a simmering crock-pot. Any dog would enjoy living in such a home. But its effect on dogs who have known only hunger, cold and damage is truly remarkable.
Take Rosie. She’s a delicate white Australian shepherd, deaf and half-blind, with milky blue eyes. Some months ago her elderly owner suffered an incapacitating stroke. Rosie and her sister had to be placed in a foster home. There, Rosie was attacked by other dogs and starved. Her sister was killed. The day Rosie was brought to us she was a skeleton, with open sores on her face and pure terror in her eyes. We thought she might never overcome her handicaps and traumatic past. But that first night, she climbed on the bed and draped herself over Natalie as if hanging on for dear life.
Gradually, she began to feel more at home. She began hiking in the forest with Natalie and the other dogs. She licked the faces of the puppies. She shyly approached visitors, wagging her tail. One happy day in November, a wonderful couple from Los Alamos fell in love with Rosie and took her home
Such is the power of love—and the Giant Doghouse—to restore even badly damaged dogs to health and happiness. It’s stunningly clear that this environment supports the fundamental rights of dogs. By contrast, cages promote loneliness, howling and mental degeneration.
This is the heart of what we do at The Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary. We are here to give these dogs a second chance at a happy life, with as much freedom to be themselves as safety will allow. That is our great gift to them. Our great regret is that we aren’t able to take in every dog who needs and deserves a life like this.