Rescuing Dimitri: An Adoption Story

Dimitri was rescued by The Humane Society of the United States in August 2012.

Sarah Barnett, who works for HSUS, was aware of the case from the start. “Local law enforcement and organizations called HSUS to ask for help with a puppy mill/hoarding situation,” says Barnett. “The HSUS went and worked with local organizations to rescue more than 200 dogs; mostly Chihuahuas and Shar Peis.”

Because many of the dogs had health issues, rescue organizations stepped in to take some of them. Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation took over the care of Dimitri in October, but it wasn’t until December that Barnett offered to foster him. He was between five and seven years old at the time. “I had fostered another Shar Pei who I loved dearly, from the same case as Dim,” says Barnett. “She found a fantastic home, and the shelter that had Dim reached out to me, as he wasn’t doing well in the kennel.”


Meeting Dimitri

When Barnett first met Dimitri, she realized he was funny and goofy, but also fearful. “When he got scared or excited all sense went out the window, which is why he would often run into things,” says Barnett. “After having him for a few weeks and seeing how far he had come, I really liked him; he was doing well in my apartment, and didn’t seem to need a yard—just patience and structure.”

So after a month of fostering, Barnett decided to officially adopt him.


Health Concerns

When Dimitri was first rescued, he needed entropian surgery to fix his eyelids so that the lashes didn’t rub against the eyes, a problem common with Shar Peis because of all the wrinkles. He also needed medicine for his skin and treatment for ear infections. While the HSUS and Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation took care of that, Dimitri’s eye problems didn’t end there. “Unfortunately, he continued to have eye issues later, both pigmentary keratitis and cataracts, along with a tumor that had to be removed,” says Barnett.

Dimitri could see a little bit when Barnett first met him. “The ophthalmologist said his vision was like seeing through a muddy windshield,” Barnett says. Unfortunately, as his vision got worse, his eyes had to be removed. “After that, I really had to be more careful in newer environments; things like taking him for walks and making sure to stop him before we go down a set of stairs so that he doesn’t get completely confused,” says Barnett. “Thankfully, he has learned the word ‘fence’ and will stop when he hears it and shift direction, so that way he can still go off leash but not run into things.”


What Life Is Like Now

Because the Humane Society allows its employees to take their dogs to work, Dimitri is always by Barnett’s side. “He lived with me in an apartment, and then we moved to a farm, and now live on a different farm, and he loves going to work with me almost every day,” Barnett says. “It’s great because it’s quiet at the farm, so he can sniff all the different, smells from the horses or the neighbor’s cows and not get scared by loud noises.”

At home, he likes to carry his toys around and laze around on one of his beds. “When he still had a little bit of vision he also loved going off leash in one of the horse fields, running around through the tall grass,” says Barnett. “Now he still runs around, but not as quick as he used to.”

Meet the Author: Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and avid adventurer. She's gone hiking in Siberia, snorkeling in Thailand, and canoeing in the Mekong River. She also loves caves and has been known to get lost in one or five around the world. Diana's work has been published in the Discovery Channel website, Yahoo!, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can read more of her work on her website at

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