Saturday, April 20, 2024

Furry Friends Feature: A Howling Story of Perseverance

Meet Howl Holloman, a scared, shy dog accustomed to a life of seclusion, little human interaction and now he’s lost the one person he started to trust. In a heartwarming turn of events, The Heritage Humane Society is giving Howl glimmers of hope and helping him make small but significant milestones along his journey towards adoption.

Building trust after losing his person

“Howl sadly has lived outside with very little human interaction his entire life,” shares Jennifer Lafountain, Marketing & Community Engagement Manager at The Heritage Humane Society. “When we heard that the person who was kindly feeding him passed away, leaving Howl in an even more dire situation, we knew we needed to step in and give this boy a second chance.”

Howl was transferred to the animal shelter on Jan. 12 and was moved to a quieter room here where the team could start to socialize and work with him. He refused to leave his travel kennel for days, however he never showed any signs of aggression. He would cower in a corner terrified when anyone would come in.

Emily Glickman, The Heritage Humane Society Pathways Lead, learned about Howl from another shelter. Originally that shelter partner was asking Emily about a sanctuary for Howl since he was so fearful and since he had not been fully socialized with people, she worried he would not thrive in a shelter.  Glickman assured her The Heritage Humane Society had worked magic with shy, shut down dogs and encouraged her to give them a chance, which she agreed to. Glickman shares, “Howl is still a work in progress, and while his steps have been little, he’s been moving forward. Howl now walks on a leash, and it doesn’t take much coaxing to get him to follow.  He enjoys hanging around other dogs, and we hope it won’t be long before he really starts to shine and come out of his shell. We’re excited and hopeful to follow his continuing progress!”

Magic or a history of dedication

Glickman also had history to lean on when making the decision to have Howl have a chance at The Heritage Humane Society. Four years ago, the shelter transferred in Howl’s brother, Gilligan, from the partner shelter. Gilligan, Howl and others had been kept in a pen outdoors with very little human interaction.

Howl was the most undersocialized of the group, and one of the long-time volunteers at the other shelter knew his chances of getting adopted were slim. So he took him home and let Howl live in his yard because the pup had no interest in going inside. Howl lived alongside some dog friends, chickens, and goats. The gentleman sadly passed away leaving Howl needing a new home.

Since Gilligan had been adopted in March 2020, The Heritage Humane Society reached out to his adopter, Shayla Genegabus to see how the dog had acclimated in the interest of figuring out how Howl might adjust. Like Howl, The Heritage Humane Society team had also worked hard on socializing Gilligan, just like they are now doing with Howl.

Shayla Genegabus adopted Gilligan. When asked how he was considering he shared almost the same path as his brother, Howl, she says “Where do I even start about Gil? He is the sweetest boy, we absolutely love him. He still has anxiety around loud noises, but as the months go on it is less and less. He is gentle and gets along really well with his brother Max. He is never aggressive, loves his alone time, and never met a couch he won’t steal your place on! He likes to be with his people, however is not a huge snuggler. He is not high energy and prefers to just go on short walks and head back to relax. Yes, he really is this chill!”

Hope for Howl

The Heritage Humane Society staff and volunteers have made slow steps to building Howl’s confidence over the past month. A breakthrough came when a volunteer brought in a McGriddle sandwich which Howl devoured! Since then, everyone has played a role in helping Howl meet some exciting milestones: getting him to come out of his kennel, successfully petting him, getting the tiniest of tail wags, and getting him to go outside on a leash. Howl is building more confidence each day. The team has learned that Howl does best when he can follow the lead of another dog, so when they take him outside he is usually accompanied by another shelter pup.

“He has the most gentle soul,” says Manatee Keith, a volunteer at The Heritage Humane Society. “Howl has opened up enough to me to feel comfortable taking chicken from my hands and actually leaned into me for comfort when he was scared on a walk. We are at the point where he doesn’t shy away from my touch. I think he even likes it even though he’s still very nervous. Progress has been slow but it is definitely being made.”

Howl still has a long road ahead of him before he will be made available for adoption, however with the help of the devoted volunteers and supporters, The Heritage Humane Society can give Howl the time and resources to do just that.

Meet Howl’s adoptable pet friends

The shelter is filled with homeless pets who are just as eager to have forever homes as the contact information on their microchips. Over 150 dogs, cats and small pets are currently in their care. Adoptable pets are available to meet during The Heritage Humane Society’s visiting and adopting hours from 12 to 4:30 p.m., Tues. through Sun.

To learn more, visit, call 757-221-0150, or visit The Heritage Humane Society located at 430 Waller Mill Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

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