Bumble’s journey – from wildfire to forever home.
From the moment we met Bumble we knew he was unique. He emerged from the long ride from the shelter in Santa Barbara with OHS chief operating officer Brian August with a mile-wide smile and eager to greet everyone. Bumble’s connection to the Oregon Humane Society began during the historic wildfires in California in late 2017. Santa Barbara Animal Services reached out to OHS for assistance and Brian deployed to help with relocation and logistics. Bumble and more than 20 other dogs were already waiting for a home so Brian drove them to OHS in an effort to clear shelter space for pets of people affected by the disaster.
The first time Jessica Haltinner, OHS animal care technician, met Bumble she didn’t actually see him. She heard him. “I was doing the evening walks and heard this stressed out whine coming from a dog,” says Jessica. “It filled the entire path—he had his head back and he was yodeling and crying out.” She knew Bumble would struggle with shelter life so she took him on as her “project dog.”
OHS has a number of resources and programs to help a dog succeed and Jessica put them all to work. First, she gathered her teammates from animal care and the behavior department to come up with a plan to help Bumble contain and channel his exuberance. “At first, getting his harness on was really hard,” recalls Jessica. “The minute I would walk into his kennel he would start jumping. It took a lot of going in and out of the kennel to get him to calm down.” Jessica also used canned food to help divert Bumble’s attention from other dogs when on walks. Patience and consistency were critical. Volunteer Margaret Spear came in hours before the shelter opened every morning to work with Bumble and would check in with Jessica to make sure they were all working on the same things with him.
Giving Bumble an outlet for his energy was also extremely helpful. First, he joined the OHS running team, logging the miles with OHS volunteer John Franko on the Marine Drive path. Next, Bumble joined playgroups with other dogs. It was a delicate process to find the right playmates with similar energy. Jessica noticed a huge difference in his stress level after Bumble started participating in playgroup. “He got over the hurdle of being afraid of other dogs and realized that they could be fun playmates.”
This excitable pup also had a sensitive side. Cars, stairs, toys, even bees would scare Bumble. Again, Jessica, her teammates and volunteers worked with Bumble to ease his anxiety and help him learn skills that would help increase his adoptability.
Bumble became a very popular dog during his time at OHS. Staff and volunteers purchased toys and other items for a care package that would go home with him. Although he made huge strides, he waited and waited for the perfect match.
Meanwhile, Natasha was starting to move past the loss of her beloved boxer and was ready to adopt. “It just doesn’t feel right without a dog,” said Natasha. She and her son, Jeran, scoured various shelter websites looking for the right dog. Then she saw Bumble. “His face just got me,” she said.
Before meeting with Bumble, Natasha and Jeran learned all about Bumble and the training he received. Jessica did the showing and it was a perfect fit. Before making their final decision, Natasha asked Jeran if he wanted to meet any other dogs. “Nope, it’s Bumble,” said Jeran with a smile. Jessica really connected with Natasha and carefully went over the consistency that would be needed to help Bumble succeed in their home. When Natasha mentioned that she was hoping Bumble would be her running buddy, it was like the icing on the cake.
There were tears and applause as staff and volunteers gathered in the lobby to say goodbye to Bumble. “I was so overwhelmed but really proud of him and how far he had come,” added Jessica. “I was also proud of myself, the staff and the volunteers. We could not have done it without the volunteers.”
Reflecting on her work with Bumble, Jessica is emotional yet inspired. “What we do really makes a difference.”