'We want to see them together as long as possible': Pair of old wild dogs reunited by Alberta rescue group

Two old and grumpy wild dogs will spend the rest of their lives together, with full bellies and a warm place to sleep, thanks to a Lethbridge rescue group.

The dogs are nearly blind and mostly deaf, but somehow managed to survive together, living outside, for the past 14 years.

Separated by a harrowing experience, the dogs have been reunited thanks to the efforts of police, firefighters, and volunteers with the Prairie Pit Bull Rescue Organization.

"Dog resilience always surprises me," said Prairie Pits founder Natalie Kent.

It all began when she received a call from Blood Tribe Police about a dog that had somehow gotten into the basin of a dam structure on the St. Mary Reservoir, northeast of Cardston, Alta.

Thankfully the water wasn’t flowing yet.

Volunteers found the dog curled up on a soggy mud patch, the only half-dry spot he could find.

"At that point the fire department came, went down into the basin, and brought him up in a basket," said Kent.

The mud and rain made for some tricky maneuvering, not to mention the dog was angry, scared and stressed by the experience.

"We had to make sure he wasn’t a coyote actually," said Kent. "He was really not impressed that we were trying to help him."

The organization reached out to the local community, to see if anyone recognized the old dog and wanted to claim him back.

Turns out he had a reputation as a grumpy old dog, who had been running wild for years, surviving on handouts from staff and friends at the Kainai Board of Education Building.

They also indicated he had a mate who was acting distressed that he was gone.

"She wasn’t eating, she was wandering around really quite panicked, and they asked if we could take her too," said Kent.

Armed with canned food and a trusty dog trap, Prairie Pits soon reunited the two dogs, who immediately recognized each other, despite their vision and hearing problems.

"Their noses still definitely work," added Kent. "He smelled her, and they started crying and kissing through the bars, and wagging their tails."

The reaction was something the rescue volunteers hadn’t seen before, since the dogs were both extremely wild.

“They’ve never been happy to see us, but they were very happy to see each other, which was really, really cute.”

The dogs have been given names, Elmer and Deloris Plops — the surname chosen because Elmer has limited control of his bowels and bladder.

They also have other challenges that come with old age and a tough life, including worn down teeth, arthritis and mobility issues.

Tattoos in their ears show they were part of a spay and neuter program conducted by the Canadian Animal Task Force in 2009. According to Kent, their surgery admittance forms say they were two years old at the time.

"So these dogs have been outdoor dogs, in our Alberta winters for 14 years, which is really surprising."

Kent said the dogs are still a bit confused about being indoors, and still haven’t warmed up to the volunteers.

"They are very set in their grumpy ways. They are not looking to be anybody’s pet or even be friendly either."

She said they just want to be given soft blankets to lay on, and food every day. "So that’s what we’re going to provide for them until it’s their time."

Kent added, "We want to see them together as long as possible."

The dogs have been taken to a vet, where they were checked over and received a bath. The rescue group is still waiting for blood work to learn more about the medical challenges the dogs are facing.

The continuing care will cost money, but for Kent and the other volunteers, that’s all part of being a rescue.

"Rescue is a challenge every day and I think if you look at it like that, it would run you down," said Kent.

"But we see a cute little couple that we were able to reunite, against all odds."

If anyone wants to help, the rescue organization is accepting donations of canned food, since the two old dogs are the only ones in their facility that require soft food.

You can find more information on the group's Facebook page