Two neglected Gabbs dogs find Tahoe refuge

Jen Schmidt/Nevada Appeal News Service Joe is the younger of two Labrador-Dalmation mixes taken in by Pet Network in Incline Village after their owner's death in Gabbs in May 2007. Even before their caregiver's death, Joe and Moe were part of a pack of 145 dogs stranded in the middle of Nevada with very little human contact and socialization, leaving them very shy and frightened around even the most benign human presence.

Jen Schmidt/Nevada Appeal News Service Joe is the younger of two Labrador-Dalmation mixes taken in by Pet Network in Incline Village after their owner's death in Gabbs in May 2007. Even before their caregiver's death, Joe and Moe were part of a pack of 145 dogs stranded in the middle of Nevada with very little human contact and socialization, leaving them very shy and frightened around even the most benign human presence.

INCLINE VILLAGE - They might have the saddest pair of eyes you've ever seen.

Joe, a 3-year-old Dalmation-Labrador mix, stares up through the glass window in his room at Pet Network. The minute Volunteer Coordinator Allison McGown steps near the door, he quickly searches the room for an exit. He jumps toward the window at the other side of the room.

When McGown finally enters, Joe paces from one end to the other on long, skinny, shaky legs, avoiding McGown and the bacon she carries.

"He's very curious, at the door all the time, but you can't touch him," said Animal Welfare Manager Susan Paul.

Joe and Moe, who is believed to be Joe's father, are two of the newer additions to Pet Network. They are two of the 145 dogs found at a make-shift animal shelter in Gabbs.

In the town, about 120 miles southeast of Yerington, Dama Wirries, 80, housed the dogs on her property. When she died in May 2007 of a sudden heart attack, the animals were stranded.

Animal rescue organizations throughout Northern Nevada have been looking for homes or shelters for the pets since November.

Pet Network took part in the effort and Paul traveled down to Reno to take on one of the dogs.

"We went down there and we were only going to take one but they were saying Moe and Joe are probably related and they were together," Paul said. "So we got Moe and Joe."

Now Moe, 5, and Joe are on a long road to recovery, which includes resocializing them so they are able to be adopted one day.

But it's even a struggle to get Joe to go near a human.

"The worst thing about him is that you can feel that he wants you to pet him," said Megan Vaughan, who works at Pet Network.

"But he's afraid," McGown said in response.

Moe, on the other hand, will let Paul come close enough to pet him, but his breathing becomes sporadic and his chest begins to heave.

"When you look in his face he's hollow," Paul said. "He's not getting anything out of it, right now it's fear like he's unsure if he's supposed to like it or not."

The recovery process could take an indefinite amount of time, Paul said.

"Everything is a slow, slow process," Paul said.

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