In the spring of 2006, a black lab mix entered a Central Illinois shelter as a puppy and was named
Honda. Over the years, Honda was adopted by at least 9 different families, but was returned a short time afterwards each time, never through any fault of his own. Day by day, Honda waited in a dirty concrete kennel inside of a barn, and his chances of adoption became slimmer. Not only was he a black, senior dog at over 100lbs, but he was never properly introduced or socialized and was now
labeled as needing to be “the only pet in the home.”
The shelter Honda was at was not a nice place to be. It was frequently overcrowded, did not always provide basic veterinary care and the barn did not properly shield the animals inside from the elements. Relief only came for Honda when some dedicated volunteers came by a few times a month.
“[Honda] was known as the ‘Secret Keeper’ by volunteers because if they ever had a sad day, they’d go visit Honda [in his kennel] and he’d just lean into them and comfort them,” says Becki Holloway, a former volunteer.
In March of this year, the shelter was shut down and all animals were adopted or transferred to other groups. Everyone thought that Honda finally had a chance at a normal life, but that was not the case.
Honda was adopted out yet again through the new group. It wasn’t long before the teenager in the home allowed Honda to get too close to another dog out on a walk, and he bit the other dog as well as that dog’s owner when they tried to intervene. Neither the human nor the dog needed any medical attention since Honda is missing a lot of teeth and the rest are severely worn down from a lifetime of poor nutrition.
Regardless, Honda was deemed “vicious” by the city. He served his bite hold at a local veterinarian
but faced either a return to animal control or euthanasia when he hit the one-month mark of being held.
I had met Honda personally years back when I visited the shelter during my undergraduate days at UIUC. When I received a plea for help through email about a senior black lab mix named Honda facing execution, I couldn’t believe it. I knew exactly who this dog was, and I went on a mission to save his life.
My Facebook post (offering to admit Honda into my rescue, Newman Nation: Senior Pets United, and cover all medical care) about Honda reached 1.6K shares and garnered a lot of outcry. We all knew it would be difficult to place a large, senior, black dog who needed to be the only animal in the home, but everyone hoped the right person would come across this post. Then, Jenna Gilman did.
“One of my friends on Facebook shared the post about Honda’s story. All I could think was that’s not fair, someone should do something, he doesn’t deserve to die,” says Jenna.
Jenna contacted Newman Nation: Senior Pets United and kickstarted Honda’s journey to a better life.
A volunteer picked up Honda a few days later, July 21st, and drove him to Indiana to meet Jenna and her boyfriend, Cody.
“[Honda] deserves to know a warm home, good food and people who love him. So, when it is his time to go, even if we only have a month with him, he will die with us beside him as part of our family,” says Jenna.
Honda settled into their home quickly, discovering the comforts of the couch on Day 1. While looking through his many pages of paperwork, we noticed that his birthdate on veterinary records was listed as 7-31-2006. Jenna and Cody knew that this birthday had to be special and the most memorable one yet for Honda. An Amazon wish list was created and Honda fans from all over sent him toys, treats, and more.
July 31st arrived, and celebrations started first thing in the morning. Honda was given all of his gifts, enjoyed a dog birthday cake and many treats, and spent the day surrounded by love for the first time.
Honda had a thorough exam by a local veterinarian and his bloodwork results looked great. He is on medication and supplements for arthritis, but will improve each day with proper, high-quality nutrition and TLC.
There are overlooked senior cats and dogs across the country who have spent their entire lives in and out of shelters. Speak up for those without a voice – you may just find someone with the ability to give them a second chance.