When you walk up the cobblestone pathway leading to Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary, you quickly realize that this is far from your typical animal shelter. There are no black bars. No metal crates. Instead, chandeliers hang from the ceiling; a subtle but satisfying perfume fills the air. Betty, the owners’ large and blonde Great Pyrenees, rests easy in the front entrance, knowing only the best kinds of humans enter through that front door.
This place was built with love in 2014, from the hearts of two humans in particular – a husband-and-wife team that Betty—and the other 129 dogs currently calling this place home—have come to appreciate and adore. Their names are Danielle Eden and Rob Scheinberg.
The safe and luxurious shelter is located on 50 acres of property, featuring walking trails and rolling hills. Dog Tales is also a sanctuary for 77 beautiful—yet sadly abused—horses that Eden and Scheinberg have rescued directly from auction, where they would otherwise be slaughtered for meat.
Beside the horse fields are large fenced-in areas where the dogs routinely play. All of the dogs here have their own “rooms,” separated by tall glass windows and doors, except for the pairs, who arrive at the shelter bonded to a roommate. The décor is something out of a magazine. The dog beds are built in the shape of vintage dressers and bedframes. “We wanted to create an area where the dogs feel at home, even when they’re not,” says Eden.
It’s a stark contrast to the environment Eden and Scheinberg have come across in the many city pounds they visit, not just in Canada but also across the world. “It’s just the worst thing; concrete floors and dogs behind bars, sitting in feces, waiting for someone to come and hose them down,” Eden says. This is exactly the type of setting that inspired them to launch a rescue and sanctuary of their own.
Dog Tales is privately owned, and funded by donations. They accept, but don’t actively seek, monetary contributions, as well as supplies such as towels, pillows and blankets. “I like to say God is helping us,” says Eden. “But the bulk of the funding is coming from our family.”
Eden and Scheinberg spend a lot of their time travelling, rescuing dogs from city pounds located around the globe. One year ago, the pair took over a hoarding situation in Israel, bringing a total of 280 dogs back home to Dog Tales. Most of the dogs grew up in the shelter, where they experienced very little (if any) human interaction. Having been accustomed to fighting for food, it was not unusual for the dogs to have large scars, or to be missing part of an ear.
“When I go to city pounds, I always take the dogs that have been there the longest,” says Eden. Often, these are the older and larger dogs, dogs that are crippled, blind or deaf, as well as the dogs with black fur (because they’re considered bad luck).
Eden calls these the “hard cases.” They’re the dogs that tend to have the most difficulty finding a home. Often they come with some behavioural issues – although they’re more scared and timid than aggressive. “The more broken the dog is, the more I want to take it,” she says.
Scheinberg explains that the Canadian culture around dogs is quite different from the other parts of the world they visit. “It’s very easy in these places to just surrender or give dogs to a shelter,” he says. “The dogs are more of a tool or commodity than a pet or family member.”
But when they come back to Dog Tales, the staff of 50 and its many volunteers work hard to find a new family to care for them. The facility is open to the public for Adoption Sundays, and available for private appointments scheduled throughout the week.
“The families we get here, to adopt these dogs, it’s a blessing,” says Eden. More than 220 of the dogs rescued from that Israel shelter have now been placed in permanent, loving homes. To date, Dog Tales has placed over 800 rescued dogs.
When you adopt a dog from Dog Tales, you’re saving not just one, but two animals; the one you’re taking home with you, and the one you’re creating space for at the sanctuary.
by CHARLOTTE OTTAWAY
Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary