It doesn’t matter who we are or where we are, we are all dealing with the stress associated with the coronavirus pandemic. That includes people who are living in “sober living houses.” For example, at the Solid Ground Recovery house in Frederick, a dog named Sierra was one that visited and one of the residents, Dawn, realized that the dog was the one for her.
Lucky’s Legacy Foster Dogs was the organization that had partnered with Solid Ground Recovery, owned by Sean Nicholson and Bradley Meadors. They have four sober living houses in Frederick and they wanted to do their part to keep the residents of those homes safe. In order to do so, they partnered with the nonprofit, foster-based rescue and agreed to foster one dog at each of the homes.
It was more than just a way to help, they wanted to uplift the spirits of those who were dealing with the stress of COVID-19 and the stress of recovery at the same time. They knew that their residents would be lacking personal touch outside of the home, unemployment, and a lot of boredom. Any one of those factors could grind their recovery to a halt.
A spiritual awakening is part of the recovery program and Dawn said that Sierra has helped her in that way. When she is with Sierra on those walks, the dog pays attention to nearby creatures, such as rabbits and squirrels. The names of Dawn and the other residents in those recovery homes were only given on a first name basis to safeguard their privacy and security.
“I’m more mindful when we’re having walks of nature and the creation and God and … it just centers me,” she said. “She’s helping other women in the house, too … just livening up the house.”
Sierra is cared for by everyone in the house. Dawn is the house leader and she says that the dog “adds to everybody right now considering what we’re up against.”
According to Nicholson, Kye was the sole dog who lived in one of the Solid Ground Recovery Homes, prior to the time that Hazel, Cookie, Sierra, and Leo came along. He also said that Kye was the “coolest dog in the world.”
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“The guys were so appreciative that we allowed them to have a dog and … it teaches them responsibility and it helps with people’s mindset and mood,” Nicholson said, according to The Frederick News Post.
Not all that long ago, Kye died as the result of a stroke and Nicholson said it was a very difficult time. It also made them rethink having dogs in the recovery homes because veterinary care can be expensive.
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Once COVID-19 became a serious issue, Nicholson, along with his fiancée, wanted to do what they could to add some positivity and boost morale in the homes. They decided to provide dinners for every house on a nightly basis, something that has been assisted by restaurants and individuals in the nearby community.
Dawn said they were doing all they could to keep the homes together and provide for those who were recovering
Nicholson was also contacted by a friend around the same time to see if he would think about fostering dogs. All of the veterinary needs are covered by Lucky’s Legacy, so it wasn’t a concern. It seemed to be a great fit for Solid Ground Recovery.
Many in the community are also helping out with the dogs as well. Offers to buy food, toys, and provide donations have been coming in. Since the dogs are helping people to stay busy in those recovery homes, they are providing a routine and a purpose.
“We’re just stepping up to the plate and doing the best that we can to try, you know, to keep the house together, and take care of each other, support each other and the dogs,” Dawn said.
Jimmy is also a resident in one of the Solid Ground Recovery homes. He helps to look after Cookie, a puppy. He said that morale has improved quite a bit since Cookie came to the home. He considers the addition to be a real blessing.
One of the house leaders at a Solid Ground Recovery House is Angel. She says that unconditional love is one of the many benefits these dogs bring to the homes.
“A lot of us, you know, we don’t have a lot of family members or anything to help us, and not only that, but it shows us responsibility. It gives us an opportunity to, you know, have a daily routine with the dog,” she said.
Hazel is the dog that benefits from the personal attention provided by Angel. Both Hazel and cookie get along quite nicely and it seems that Angel has a thing about chewing on her own leash. She feels that Hazel has helped them to get through the coronavirus situation.
According to Angel and Dawn, the dogs help to keep boredom to a minimum.
“[Hazel] loves to play,” Angel said. “We just taught her how to catch and she brings it back now and they like to play with each other, too.”
These dogs are not tied to one particular person in the recovery home. Sierra seems to play with everyone in the home, regardless of who they are. They say there is more laughter and mindfulness with the dogs in the homes.
According to Jimmy, Cookie is doing a great job of opening up at the recovery home where she lives.
“She’s a good girl,” he said, according to The Frederick News Post. “She’s very affectionate, at least with me. I mean, it’s definitely been good for other people when she gives them the opportunity. She just needs to feel secure.”
He also says that there is a lot more interaction in the home where Cookie lives. Everyone comes out into the common area now and boredom is almost a thing of the past.
There has been some thought about the dogs being adopted but that doesn’t appear to be something that is of serious concern at the moment.
“I don’t want to let her go, that’s all I know at this time,” Dawn said of Sierra. “When people have pets, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had them for a week or for a hundred years. They’re like your children, you know, and the last thing you want to do is be separated from your children.”
The founder of Lucky’s Legacy, DJ Stauffer, says that he is very appreciative of the partnership they have with the recovery homes. As a nonprofit organization, they help many animals, including dogs, cats, and reptiles. They have their base in Hagerstown, Maryland.
In order to find animals to rescue, they visit high-kill shelters and if an animal has been there for a while, they are a candidate for rescuing. They also look for dogs and cats that are on the euthanasia list or who aren’t adjusting well to living at the shelter.
Lucky’s Legacy cares for all the veterinary needs and when someone agrees to foster one of the animals, they give them supplies, such as collars, leashes, litter boxes, and food. They want the new owners to be equipped for their new companions.
Typically, public events would be used to introduce the animals to people but due to coronavirus concerns and social distancing, those events have been put on hold for now. The rescue could also go to a person’s home for off-site adoptions.
At this time, social media is the primary way that they are spreading the word about the available animals.
“These guys are giving these dogs a second chance like they’re getting a second chance, basically, so it’s a win-win situation,” he said.
Positive energy is something that Hazel, Cookie, Sierra, and Leo bring in great measure. According to Angel, “For a very long time, a lot of us haven’t laughed,” she said. “A lot of us haven’t had fun and I think these dogs bring that out.”
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