While Wiley’s story has a happy ending, it’s a sad example of how Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” founder Steve Markwell’s carefully spun story that he was some sort of “Dog Whisperer” that magnanimously provided a safe place for dangerous dogs that other people would “rather see dead” was a farce.
Here’s what he said in an article about the “Sanctuary” in Inside Bainbridge: “I asked him how he connects with dogs most people would never dare approach. He said, “The dogs I started taking wanted to kill each other or people. I understand those instincts and nonverbal communication.” He explained that he can usually perceive a dog’s feelings and intentions before it acts. “I didn’t start off knowing. I’m a good observer, and I process quickly. I figure out what a behavior means and what to do.””
As you’ll see in the Wiley’s story, he didn’t fit this scary profile. Markwell couldn’t even identify his breed. He said Wiley was a “coyote hybrid” when in fact he was a purebred working line German Shepherd. And I don’t see how he could “figure out what a (dog’s) behavior means” when he kept them stuffed in crates and kennels 24/7 and spent more of his time getting free meals at a local Forks diner instead of spending time with the 100+ dogs he kept locked up in a warehouse.
Thanks to Aiko Shenseki from Safe Haven Rescue Kennel for this write up on Wiley. Safe Haven took in several dogs from the “Sanctuary” and provided them with things they never got there: nutritious food, daily exercise outdoors, professional behavior assessment and training, and lots of love.
Because of their work, Wiley was adopted last October, and the horrors of his 2-year incarceration in the “Sanctuary” are now just a fading memory.
Here’s his story.
Correcting a wrong – Helping a beautiful gentle boy find his home
In the summer of 2011, a rescuer named Tamara picked up a 6-month-old male German shepherd (possible coyote hybrid) who was expected to be shot by his owner that day. Upon arriving to pick him up, she found him in the back yard and extremely fearful of people, could not be touched, or walked and extremely difficult to capture. She called him Noel.
Tamara found he was under socialized, mistreated and was scared of the world and people. But even with all that, she could see he was a sweet gentle soft boy and would do very well in a family home.
Shortly after she rescued him, Wiley jumped out of a 2nd story window and broke his front leg in two places. She took great care of him for 6 months while he healed and was taught how to trust humans, walk on a leash and be a house dog with her other dogs and cats.
Noel was a year old when it was time for him to move on to a more permanent placement home. Olympic Animal Sanctuary contacted Tamara upon seeing her reach out video and informed her he was indeed a “Coyote” hybrid. Wiley was picked up on the way home from picking up nine other “Coyote hybrids” in Southern California. That was in June 2012 and the last time she saw him until February 2014.
In March 2014, 2 Dog Farms made the decision to rescue the two Jindo’s (D’Jango and Jinx) and Debra Ross traveled to Arizona to pick them up to foster. Debra was also expected to pick up a single dog to foster for Safe Haven, but came back with Wiley (now 3 years old), Walter/Goofy, and Cookie. All five of them spend time decompressing and feeling the love with Debra and her family. They enjoyed good food, good company, green grass and awesome Paw Palace facilities.
Two months later (May), Wiley and Cookie came to Safe Haven to get evaluated and receive any necessary socialization or rehabilitation work. It is important to note Wiley is not a German Shepherd “Coyote hybrid” but a purebred ‘working line’ German Shepherd. He is a beautiful sensitive gentle boy who needed a soft touch, general socialization and to learn ‘doggie ‘self-confidence.
Upon arriving to Safe Haven, he was paired up with “Marie” a gentle middle-aged German Shepard who showed him the ropes she personally just learned six months prior. Marie gently and slowly showed him how to take walks at the hardware store, have doggie play time, build his confidence with dog toys and even how to romp and run around bouncing as young dogs should.
Wiley was much more comfortable and confident on leash than off leash. When he was concerned, he would retreat to any outside corner area, a behavior he seemed to have learned as a puppy. As we have seen in many of the OAS dogs, Wiley was extremely sensitive to loud noises, metal bangs and stern sounding voices. This was not a behavior he exhibited during his stay at his original rescue. However, he has always shown he was discerning of human interaction but in no way aggressive in nature towards them.
Trust and acceptance of human kindness is a difficult process for Wiley. He would prefer not to engage with them. We put a Thunder-Shirt on him for a few months to help him start relaxing and giving him the ability to build self-confidence. He lived in the shirt for months and learned many things he never had experienced before.
Wiley had a lot of mentors to help him. Not only Marie, but other Safe Haven dogs, and strangers at stores he visited. He learned getting into the car meant fun trips to the park and to go romping in grass and smelling and exploring new things.
As Wiley started moving forward and becoming comfortable being a normal in-house dog, he no longer was concerned with the bangs and metal sounds which normally we hear regularly in our daily lives. He learned about crate sleeping and that crates are not a place for permeance, but a place he could just go in and relax or sleep for the night.
As Wiley progressed in learning about the world and started building his own confidence, we used the ‘yellow dog project’ to support his need of feeling safe and not overwhelmed with people. As a very beautiful looking dog, people like to immediately come up to him and try to engage. But Wiley wasn’t ready for people contact so he got a yellow lead and a yellow jacket asking for space. This yellow jacket allowed him to have ‘people distance’ and helped educate people about The Yellow Dog Project, which is “a global movement for owners of dogs that need space. It hopes to educate the public and dog owners to identify dogs needing space, promote appropriate contact of dogs and assist dog parents to identify their dog as needing space…”
A dog can build its confidence by doing something as simple as them helping another dog! His original mentor Marie was placed in August and his new buddy Duke needed help in learning about the world, as he too had no experience socializing. Wiley (with total enthusiasm) took the lead in helping Ned. The Thundershirt went on Duke and Wiley took the reins showing Duke how to walk on leash in public, run around the park and play in grass and go off lead. This was the step in Wiley’s rehabilitation work that created a huge confidence booster for him.
Although Marie has been out of Wiley’s life for a few months, she did leave a large impression on him. He was starting to pick up a toy on his own taking it someplace or running with it or to get another dog to chase him. This was a huge accomplishment step for him.
It should be noted (prior to OAS) while staying with his original rescue, he did enjoy playing with toys and squeakers but had not displayed any of these behaviors since he arrived from Arizona until then.
We were hesitant to place Wiley so soon but he was showing good progress and we felt maybe in a few months he could be reviewed for placement. In August, Safe Haven sponsored Reiki Level I Class and Animal Reiki Training; The Basics taught by Kathi Richards.
Wiley was not encouraged to join in on the class, but instead he personally volunteered to participate and be in attendance. We are thankful he was accepting of the blessings given and received blessings.
In September there was a couple who had lost their elderly German Shepard recently and was interested in Wiley. In October Safe Haven sponsored the Rise & Walk. Rise & Walk, an “event without borders” in celebration of rescue dogs and in support of the people who save them. Safe Haven attended the Gardnerville event with four OAS dogs and Amber, a Safe Haven rescue.
Although Wiley was not mentally ready to walk with the group, he showed his support with his attendance by hanging out at the start/finish table with the couple interested in him. A few weeks later, we all met again to introduce Wiley with Bella, their Golden Retriever. The visit showed us he was ready to move on and was placed with them that day.
Today, Wiley is helping Bella and Bella is helping Wiley. You see, Bella is a dog that is about the same age as Wiley and had always been just a mellow do-nothing house dog who never expressed herself in play with another dog. Now you can see them running, jumping, smiling and having a time of their life being normal healthy happy dogs in a family home! Wiley also changed his human family by allowing dogs on couches and beds, something they never allowed dogs to do before. Good Boy Wiley!!
We will see you again soon Wiley, be well and be good.
The damage done before and during the time at the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Washington will take time and dedication on our part to unravel. We keep our eyes open for when they tell us they are ready for their next step. Safe Haven — Hope From Despair. www.safehavenkennel.com Our Focus is around rescue, repair, rehabilitate, educate and re-home. We at Safe Haven do not put any expectations on our hard cases.