Dog Rescue Stories: Sky and Harlow – From Foster Siblings to Forever Sisters
By Jarissa Aquinde, Positively Woof Rescue and Adoption Story Editor
Sky and Harlow were rescued from different situations by Pet Rescue of Mercer in New Jersey. Sky was an “owner surrender” at a shelter in Pennsylvania and in the summer of 2015, her time was up. She had been deemed “unadoptable” because she was too timid and scared to approach humans who may be interested in her. Pet Rescue of Mercer saved her life.
Harlow was rescued from a home in Trenton, NJ. Pet Rescue of Mercer received a call that the owner wanted to surrender her, but was then unable to contact the owner for five days. On the 5th day, when the owner finally agreed to the surrender, the volunteer discovered that Harlow was being kept in a basement and was emaciated. What is amazing about Harlow is that her spirit wasn’t broken. She came with her own set of issues (severe separation anxiety) but she still loves humans unconditionally. Harlow and Sky were placed in a foster home together around the same time in summer 2015. They were both estimated to be around the same age.
Sky’s dad and mom met Sky at an adoption event at Petsmart on December 12, 2015. She was in an enclosure with her foster siblings and other dogs up for adoption. She appeared perky and alert. But, when she came out to meet them, her tail was between her legs and she walked with her body close to the ground — her army crawl that her forever parents would eventually become all too familiar with. When the walk ended, Sky’s mom sat down on the ground with her, and she very slowly walked up to her and put her head on her new mom’s shoulder. She picked her parents. Sky’s mom’s heart swelled with love and she knew she was theirs. Pet Rescue of Mercer does not do same day adoptions so hen they got in the car that day, Sky’s mom cried! She didn’t want to leave her girl. On December 18, 2015, Sky came home forever.
Sky was definitely not your typical dog. She was terrified of her new humans, noises, boxes, plastic bags, the kitchen, school buses, trucks, you name it. She didn’t seek out or crave attention like a normal dog. She was not food motivated (to this day, she spits out MilkBones). Rather, she recoiled and retreated as far as she could away from her forever parents. On her first full day with them, Sky’s mom couldn’t get her out of bed, let alone outside. She was inconsolable. And she absolutely refused to be alone with her dad. They soon realized she had a major fear of what appeared to be tall men.
Sky’s parents worked hard to socialize her by taking her out in public. First, by taking her out for walks. Dogs love walks, right? Not Sky! It took major coaxing to get her to go outside, move forward on the leash and enjoy smells in the grass. They started walking just a few hundred feet at a time, then she would pull like crazy to go home. Every week or so, she chose to walk farther than before. Still, she would randomly panic in the middle of the walk and refuse to move forward. Sometimes, refuse to move at all. Another way they tried to socialize her was to take her back to Petsmart for adoption days. They knew she was familiar with the smells and the people and the dogs. Sky absolutely loved seeing her foster mom (shout out to Brooke Reeder at PRM, she is the best!) and her personality lit up when she saw dogs she knew from foster care. One of those dogs was Harlow.Harlow’s parents had met Harlow the same day they met Sky. Harlow is a typical dog. She is the perfect mix of black lab and Pit Bull. She is the absolute SWEETEST and friendliest dog they have ever met. A true #pitbulladvocate. She loves everyone she meets and is a cuddle monster. When they met her, she had a ton of energy, asked for belly rubs and head butted her mom out of excitement (ouch!). They loved Harlow, but after meeting Sky, they thought, “Harlow will get adopted easily. Sky needs us more.” And they never saw themselves with two dogs!
Fast forward a few weeks to seeing Sky and Harlow interact again. Sky was so happy and wagged her tail (something that her parents barely ever saw). They started to think, “Should we adopt Harlow, too?” Could Harlow be the perfect crutch for Sky and round out their family? The short answer was yes. They adopted Harlow less than three months after taking in Sky. Sky’s progress immediately skyrocketed. They call Harlow “Sky’s nanny.” She always looks out for Sky and Sky constantly looks to Harlow for direction. Harlow is always leader of the pack, with Sky close behind. Sky has totally come out of her shell in her forever home. She is conquering new fears every day and they know it is because of Harlow’s support. She even cuddles – sometimes!! Most of the time, her version of cuddling is sitting on the couch while her humans are also sitting on the couch (with Harlow sitting on the humans)! Harlow is the perfect role model for typical dog behavior – she’s mischievous, playful, cuddles like crazy and is a good listener. Sky has truly done a 180 with her support. Next up: conquering Sky’s fear of the garbage truck!
Follow beautiful Sky and Harlow on Instagram @the_forever_sisters!!
is the award-winning coauthor of Training the Best Dog Ever
, which became a #1 best seller in dog training on Amazon Kindle. He is Leader of the Pack at Positively Woof
, which helps shelter dogs get adopted by making videos and raises awareness and funds. Larry is an award-winning dog filmmaker and has been a frequent contributor to the American Animal Hospital Association and Dog Fancy