SOUTHERN MARYLAND – It’s become the “go-to” dachshund rescue place. Now, the woman who many call the “dog whisperer” is sharing her story of how it all started.
Dawn Shonkwiler founded Just One More Dachshund Rescue (JOMDR) in September 2018 in Southern Maryland, when several rescue friends told her she should just go for it. She says dachshunds are in her blood. She’s had them since she was two-years-old and her love of seniors began when she became a forever foster for a local senior dog rescue.
When COVID hit, she started rescuing disabled dogs; dogs that are blind, deaf, and paralyzed.
“I tend to gravitate to the underdogs – the ones at the shelter that are often overlooked because they may have a frosty face or aren’t ‘perfect’.”
The rescue, whose motto is “saving the world one weiner at a time”, has taken in 88 dogs. Not all of them are dachshunds. Shonkwiler says they have a shiba inu, a lab mix, a pomeranian, a basset mix, and various other dachshund “wannabes”. A few years ago, they took in a senior dachshund and a senior Shiba inu whose owner dumped them in the woods on a 95-degree day in July. That owner received a small fine and was prohibited from owning pets for a couple of years.
“It is heartbreaking when people do something so horrible to an animal that they have had since they were puppies.”
Many of the dogs she has rescued are in pretty bad shape. One is a two-year-old dachshund whose owner had thrown her against a wall and fractured her ribs. Other dachshunds were rescued with broken legs, a perineal hernia, mammary tumors, cancer, and one that is paralyzed and heartworm positive.
“I currently have a seven-month-old puppy who was purchased online from an unreputable breeder. Her family desperately wanted a young dog and could not find any locally. Sadly this pup really didn’t have much socialization and is scared of everything. Her family didn’t feel they could give her what she needed so they surrendered her to me in the hopes that I could find a good home for her. I am hoping that after I work with her and get her more comfortable living outside a barn, she can return to her family.”
Shonkwiler says there is no training for rescue. You learn as you go.
“It is frustrating when people come to us looking for the perfect dog. There is no such thing. They want a dog that is x number of years old, good with kids and cats, housebroken, etc. and unfortunately, I can’t give them what they want. A rescue dog has a past that is known only to them. We don’t know what we are getting and all we can do is make sure their future is loving and the best it can be.”
Shonkwiler says rescue dogs take a lot of patience. It can take several months and sometimes years for a rescue dog to learn to trust and become comfortable in their new environment.
“It doesn’t happen overnight. I wish more people understood the 3/3/3 rule: three days for initial decompression, three weeks to learn the routines of the household, and three months to start to feel relaxed and at home.”
Shonkwiler runs the rescue out of her home. She has a full-time job on top of the rescue. She says she likes to keep the rescue small and get to know the dogs so she can better determine what type of home would be best suited for them.
“I am so fortunate to have an incredible group of supporters and a local vet practice that has become like family.”
Dianne Geissal is one of Shonkwiler’s lifelong friends. Over the last six years, Geissal says the full spectrum of the person Shonkwiler has always been, has exploded.
“She’s bright, funny, intelligent, kind, compassionate, genuine, and possesses boundless energy. But most importantly, she has a rarely-matched, fathomless love for dogs, especially the breed she grew up with – the Dachshund.” Shonkwiler also recently became a handler of a certified therapy dog named Fletcher. Fletcher is deaf and was discarded by his breeder because he was deaf. Now, she and Fletcher visit hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.
“It is so rewarding to see how happy he makes people.”
Most weeks, Shonkwiler says she’s juggling vet visits, ordering dog food, reviewing applications, updating social media, handling the banking, scooping a lot of poop, and doing loads of laundry-and of course giving the pups a lot of love.
“I would love for more people to open their hearts and homes to shelter/rescue dogs – but they also need to be open-minded and patient, and to understand that there is no such thing as a free dog.”
While caring for a dog is a huge commitment and can be pricey, she says 99 times out of 100, the new owners will be rewarded over and over with the love of a dog that is given a second chance.
To learn more about the rescue or to look into bringing one of these dogs into your home, visit their website.
Contact our news desk at email@example.com