Ranger spent the first years of his life living on a rooftop in Jordan. The building owner thought a watchdog would keep neighborhood kids away from his property. He chained the shepherd mix to a post and his life was contained to the small, cement roof.
When Matt Roman learned about this dog, he knew he wanted to help. “The way this happened was that I was getting ice cream in Phoenixville with my wife. We happened to start up a conversation with a couple from Devon who had their dog with them,” says Matt, a lifelong dog lover. The man was an entrepreneur and award-winning investigative journalist originally from Jordan who happened to be passionate about animals, too.
They were devoted to rescuing homeless dogs from the city streets and finding a better life for as many as they could. Ranger, who at the time was called Roofie, because of his lonely rooftop existence, had been rescued from the misguided business owner. But he was so aggressive and unstable that no one was willing to adopt him.
“Karen and I take dogs that no one else wants,” says Matt. “We knew this dog was unsocialized and a loner. But if we didn’t take him, who would? ”
After many conversations, Matt and his wife, Karen, agreed to take on the hard case. Ranger was flown to the U.S. from the Middle East and Matt picked him up and brought him home. Then the real work began.
Ranger was extremely territorial. The couple had two dogs already, Suki and Darwin. Ranger adjusted well enough with the animals, but he had an intense fear of men. “He was a very angry dog,” Matt says. If Matt approached Karen when Ranger was near, Ranger growled and barked. It was intimidating, Matt says, and sometimes they felt they were ‘held hostage’ by the dog.
Family and friends received detailed instructions on how to enter the house and when to approach Ranger. Everyone tried to adjust to this new forceful personality. He had been treated so poorly for the first half of his life that learning how to trust people would take more than a year. Because he had only lived on cement, he also had to adjust to some basics of his new backyard.
“Ranger didn’t know what grass was, so at first he was afraid of it,” said Matt. They worked through that, too. Karen and Matt used some basic training tips with Ranger including lots of food treats and gentle head rubs. Initially vet visits were difficult, but Ranger has gradually improved and the Valley Veterinary staff was there every step of the way.
“Ranger shows the amazing capacity of dogs to live, learn and love,” says Dr. Shreiber. For those who are considering adoption he stresses the importance of preparation and training with all dogs, but especially for those dogs who have been neglected or abused.
Patience and a determination to heal this dog with love has been the formula for success in Ranger’s case. Healthy and thriving, Ranger is now a part of a happy family.
“I still get emotional when I think about everything he has been through,” says Matt. “I just love dogs more than anything on this planet.”