Rescue of the Year: One shelter dog gets the greatest gift of all

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By Hannah Richardson

For our local shelter animals, the one gift that they wish for is to have a loving family. While this wish has come true for several, it can be hard for some to find the perfect home, especially when they have obstacles or disabilities. Lexus, a deaf American Bulldog, has been waiting for a family that would be willing to work with her and give her the time and attention she requires. This year, her wish was granted.

Lexus in the shelter.
Seamless Gutters

Lexus was originally from the City Shelter, but was seen by a Natchitoches Humane Society (NHS) volunteer who worked to bring her to their Happy Tails facility in 2018. NHS President Juanita Murphy said that while shelter workers interacted with her, there are other dogs that need just as much attention. With Lexus being deaf, she needed someone to constantly work with her so she could reach her full potential. It was with Robert and Karn Richoux that Lexus got the help she required.

The Richouxs, both professors at Northwestern State University, unexpectedly lost their longtime Boxer mix, WhoDat, in January, who developed an autoimmune disease and blood disorder right before Christmas. Before he passed away, the two saw Lexus online, thought she was cute and joked about adopting her. “We did not, because WhoDat was an only dog in our house for so long, so we didn’t want to upset him. Once he passed away, Karn and I decided to give back to dogs in need. We wanted to find a dog in our area that was the most in need of a foster. We wanted to do this in honor of WhoDat,” they said. The Richouxs contacted Murphy, who said Lexus was not doing well in the kennels because she was deaf and bored. They decided to foster her, as she was in desperate need of a change in scenery.

She had previously given birth and the two assume that she was dumped because she was deaf and they were done breeding with her. She played rough at Natchitoches Humane Society and loved chasing shadows, but would get bored and lick her fur off spots she has on her legs.

Lexus with her new family, Robert and Karn Richoux.

The Richouxs have been fostering Lexus since February of this year. “She has been a lot to handle. You don’t realize how difficult a deaf animal can be until you can’t tell them not to do something or call them to you from across the room. After a few months, we changed how we lived. We had to make sure she was not able to get into certain rooms in our house, everything was off of table tops, or out of reach of her,” they said. “She is a great cuddler and got better as she fell more into a routine and enjoys running around in our big backyard. She loves being on furniture and being a 55 pound lap dog with a ton of energy! She has quite the smile and underbite and some impressive jowls, which make her often photographed and makes her seem like a cartoon character. Despite all of these qualities, because of her behavioral issues, as well as our work life and families, we did not think we would adopt her. She showed some promise with the training we did do on our own, but it was slow going and without professional training, she was going too be too much for us to handle.”

Then came an outside organization, Core Paws. Core Paws, based in Portland, Ore., is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping hard-to-place animals find forever homes. “Our focus is on senior animals, animals with special needs and/or behavioral challenges,” said Kara Hamada, the founder and advisor of Core Paws. “We are a digital organization and help rescue and shelter partners across 28 states find potential adopters for their most challenging cases. We do this by showcasing their hardest cases on our website. Core Paws recently celebrated its five-year anniversary, and with this accomplishment, we decided that we would slowly close down shop due to limited upcoming leadership availability. Knowing this, we wanted to help a few special Core Paws animals in a big way through our Odie’s Fund and Lexus was a chosen awardee.”

Robert and Karn wrote Lexus’ story on the organization’s website, http://www.corepaws.com/, and submitted an applications for the Odie’s Fund. The next day, Robert received a call from Hamada, who said they fell in love with Lexus’ story, voted on their application and granted them $4,500 for special training at Delta K-9 Solution in Monroe.

Hamada said Odie’s fund is not a grant, but a donation directly from Core Paws in support of animals like Lexus. “This fund was inspired after Odie, a 12-year-old dog who waited over 10 years to find his forever family. When we met Odie, we made him a promise that we would help him find a wonderful home. We paid for him to go through behavioral consultation(s) with a leading Veterinary Behaviorist and he found the most wonderful home. After this, we decided to create this fund in his honor. Thus far, we have used it to support a paralyzed cat receive stem cell therapy to help her walk again. We also used Odie’s Fund to help build an outside enclosure for a feral dog to heal in and learn to trust humans. Most recently, we used Odie’s Fund to support a cat with a medical defect and a dog that has serious medication needs and behavior needs.” Now Odie’s Fund is supporting Lexus with her deafness training.

“We could not be more thrilled for Lexus,” said Hamada. “We are supporting her to have one on one private training sessions as well as a four-week boarded training stay. Because of this training, Robert and his wife made the amazing decision to adopt her. We are so happy, as everyone at Core Paws was rooting for Lexus and love her very much. Robert is going to take what he learns in these private lessons and bring that knowledge back to the humane society to help many more dogs to come.”

“This is huge for Lexus,” said the Richouxs. “We fell in love with spunky little Lexus but knew without training she was not a good fit for us. This has been a game changer and has given us the opportunity to get her the training she needs and made us feel comfortable with adopting her. We love Lexus and are very happy she has become part of our family.”