PHOENIX, Ariz. — Two Missouri natives are sharing their Show-Me State love with rescue dogs in Arizona.
Erin McManis and Chad Schatz fell in love with Arizona Beagle Rescue just shortly after moving to Phoenix in 2008, and since then, have fostered a number of dogs through the organization.
“We had a dog pass away and knew we wanted another,” explained McManis, a Kirksville, Mo., native. “We have a passion for rescues and it just made sense that we went there, and that’s where we found our home.”
Along with the typical responsibilities that come with owning a pet, the couple was presented a challenge with their first rescue dog. Snickers was brought into the shelter weighing almost 75 pounds — roughly three times more than what was recommended by veterinarians.
But, Schatz and McManis were on a mission to help her reach a healthy weight. With lots of love and patience complete with adequate diet and exercise, the two helped Snickers reach a healthy 22 pounds.
“They eat about 600 calories a day total and go on walks regularly,” said Schatz, who is originally from Billings, Mo. “Sticking to what the vet has mandated is key.”
And since then, the two have developed a passion for inspiring fosters from the Arizona Beagle to not give up.
Last summer, the couple took in Wolfgang — dubbing him their ‘unicorn,’ complete with a sparkling personality and even his own horn (pictured).
“He was like this magical and never-before-seen creature and we just think he’s so unique,” McManis laughed.
Wolf was left at the shelter weighing 90 pounds in May, but that hasn’t stopped him from defeating the odds. Daily walks and lean, homemade food have helped the dog in his journey from ‘obese to beast.’
“He has such a good attitude about his journey,” said McManis. “He could be digging his feet in on a walk if he didn’t want to go or he could be a picky eater, but he’s neither of those things. So when we see how hard he’s trying, it motivates us to try in other things we may not feel like doing.”
Of course, throwing in some ‘treat yourself’ days too with Puppichinos from Starbucks — one of Wolfgang’s favorite treats.
Wolf has since dropped down to 52 pounds and has even found his fur-ever home along the way, with the two adopting him for McManis’ birthday in late July.
But, just when the family thought that ‘unicorn’ Wolfgang was the only of his kind, in came Jameson. The beagle was taken in by Arizona Beagle Rescue weighing in at 100 pounds and was fostered in by the family in January.
As they soon realized, Jameson (‘Jamie’ for short), was in pain that needed treatment before moving forward. McManis says that although it can be heartbreaking to think of what brought the dogs to where they were, keeping their eyes on the progress helps them move on.
“We try our best to focus and move forward, but we do want people to realize that extreme obesity in dogs like Wolfgang or Jameson is a form of animal abuse — that strain it puts on their hearts and that pain they would be in just by carrying that weight around,” said McManis.
The couple has also been documenting the dogs’ journeys on Instagram and Facebook. From finally being able to jump on the bed, to fitting through the dog door, to simply increasing mobility, the two say that logging what may seem like the smallest moments can make a monumental difference in the end.
“Small steps can make big changes in the long run, which is what we try to encourage other people, too — that it’s never too late to start,” McManis explained.
Although COVID-19 has presented some challenges, the couple say that some minor adjustments have kept the family doing just fine. Above all else, they say that people find hope in taking a leap of faith on a rescue pet.
“We just hope that through following Wolfgang and Jameson’s journeys, people can see that it’s okay to take a chance on a shelter or rescue dog — especially one that may otherwise be considered high-risk. I hope they see that he’s made the perfect dog for us,” said McManis.