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A Journey from Feral to Foster

Two and a half years ago, the Fire Department, Police Department, and volunteers from Yucaipa Animal Placement Society teamed up for several hours to capture a feral dog with 2 pups out in Morongo Valley. She was named Malki for the street exit off Interstate 10, where she had been roaming for some time, surviving the elements and predators. Malki was street smart and untrusting of humans, so approaching her was nearly impossible when she was first discovered.

She arrived at YAPS in June 2015. The plan for her rescue was to just get her off the street, but no one realized that she would require serious patience, socialization, and rehabilitation. In total, Malki would come to stay at YAPS for 730 days. Early on, she was reactive to anyone that approached her kennel, but still allowed staff in to clean, as well as provide fresh food and water, all while keeping her distance and usually taking cover inside her igloo dog house. Much work would need to be done to prepare her for adoption.

Two months after her arrival at YAPS, volunteer Monica Harris inquired about Malki and what the plan was for her. “No one had attempted to get near her as they were unsure of her reaction and were respecting her boundaries,” says Monica, “so we decided I would give it a try and I recruited a few volunteers and Holly [YAPS Pet Care Manager] to create Team Malki.”

Over a two month period, Team Malki took turns spending time outside her kennel, reading to her in a soothing voice. Sometimes they would even do this from inside her kennel while keeping a distance. One afternoon, Monica performed a test to see if Malki would follow her outside the kennel if she left the kennel door open. After a few attempts, Malki came out and her walkabouts around the YAPS property began.

Malki spent well over a year learning to trust. Every day she got out for free time, following volunteers and staff around the YAPS grounds after closing. During her free time she would not allow anyone to touch her and the very first time she got close enough to Monica to give her a lick was on July 23, 2016, over a year since her arrival at YAPS. “Initially, I would toss treats in her direction, then have her eat out of my hand. I also worked on her allowing me to approach her when she sat to reach the eventual goal of touching her,” says Monica.

Team Malki has been consistent in their methods of training and communication. More than one person could be part of routine walks on the property and during her time in the large play yard. It was common for a few people to sit and talk while she walked around. Naturally, Malki would join the group and lay down, forming a circle as if part of a group therapy session. She proved to be a great listener and was quickly becoming more comfortable around people, no longer as reactive to people or other dogs while in her kennel.

At the beginning of 2017, it was time to get Malki into a new collar and walking on a leash. “It was easy to see that Malki is intelligent and I realized that she was calling the shots and she was training the team more than we were training her at a certain point,” says Annette Florez, YAPS Executive Director. Team Malki began to push for progress, but sometimes Malki just wasn’t in the mood to cooperate. Team Malki remained confident in her progress, and patient.

That patience paid off on March 5, 2017, the day Monica was finally able to pet her. Monica remembers that she was able to pet Malki on three occasions that day, “I just went for it and pet her behind her ears, around her cheek area, and on her chest.” This was real progress, but there was still more work to be done.

Leash training proved to be a slow process for Malki, but after she was fitted with a new collar, a slip lead was placed around her neck every time her kennel door opened for her walk. At first, no one could be attached to the handle of the slip lead, and she did not like it whenever she stepped on the lead. The first few times wearing the lead, she walked back into her kennel on her own accord after a short walk. We realized that she did this to protest having a leash around her neck. Never one to give up, Monica continued with the leash as did the other volunteers.

Last fall, the idea of Monica fostering Malki began to be considered. “I couldn't see her spending the majority of her waking hours in the kennel. Despite the goal of Team Malki to get her out, 3-4 days for one hour periods just didn't feel like it was enough,” says Monica. Soon after, Monica made a move to a new house and discovered that the previous owners had fostered dogs. To Monica, this seemed like an affirmation that Malki needed to be her first foster. As Malki progressed with training, Monica starting discussing the topic of fostering with her husband, Mark. She had his support, but the true test would be if Malki could get along with Monica’s dog, Rio.

Monica started bringing Rio and Mark to YAPS for Malki’s walks on the property. Some days, things went without incident, other days Malki showed hesitation with Mark and some aggression towards Rio. After multiple visits, Mark and Monica felt it was time for Malki to make the transition to their home.

Malki officially became Monica’s foster on June 21, 2017. “I've been amazed how quick she has adjusted to a new situation. She just enjoys being touched now and a new thing is she looks into my eyes when I talk to her, what a love story we have going,” says Monica. 

Malki has spent 6 months in a caring foster home. She walks well on a leash, obeys commands, enjoys getting scratched behind the ears and she has even learned how to bring in the newspaper. Malki now allows humans to earn her trust and is respectful of everyone she meets. Her ideal home should have a fenced yard and cozy spot for her indoors. Malki will blossom in an home where she will be the only dog and can be showered with affection. If you are interested in meeting Malki, please call or come to YAPS.





Pets Placed in 2018


Animals Placed this Year



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