Native Village
Youth and Education news

Volume 3, January 2012
Reservation dogs find homes through Navajo Nation's Blackhat Humane Society
Condensed by Native Village

Arizona: Boss
In 2004 Jason Gross began a solo cross-country run to raise diabetes awareness. He began in New York City. He finished at the West Coast with a new pet:  a stray dog that began following him on the Navajo Reservation

It happened near Kayenta. Gross was running about 15-20 miles a day while two friends followed in an RV.

"Basically, I was out running and I had gone back for my sunglasses, they had fallen off," he said. "There was a dog on the side of the road. I picked up the sunglasses, and he started running right beside me. The dog followed me for 5 miles straight."

That night Gross and friends parked on the side of the road and fed their new friend hamburgers.

2012 Dogs of the Navajo CalendarThe next morning, the dog followed Gross again, this time all the way to Tuba City.

Gross named him Boss after Bruce Springsteen and his song "Born to Run." In Tuba City, he took him to a vet clinic and Boss got all his shots. Bossdid not go away. He kept following Gross for days along the roads of the Southwest.

At times, Boss had to catch a ride in the RV, but he made it all the way to the West Coast.

"He is the sweetest, well-mannered, very smart dog," Gross said. "You figure, he was following the sucker that is giving him food."

Jason adopted Boss who is featured as January's dog in the Blackhat Humane Society's Dogs of the Navajo 2012 Calendar. He

"I think people have the idea that these dogs are mean dogs, that don't make good pets," said Cindy Yurth, president of the Blackhat Humane Society, about the Navajo Reservation dogs.

"The calendar features how beautiful they are. The stories are the stories of the people who adopted them, to shine a more positive light on the dogs."

July's dog also has a compelling story.

A family driving through Chinle spotted a box moving around on the side of the road. They pulled over and got out of the car to find an abandoned puppy inside the box.

"Blackhat fostered this one," Yurth said. "He was named Bud, after the Budweiser beer."

The Dogs of the Navajo 2012 Calendar is the only calendar with all the Navajo holidays in it. It was designed by Elise Bennett, one of Yurth's coworker at the Navajo Times.

"She takes so much care, this calendar looks as professional as anything," Yurth said.

February's dog is a stray who possibly got run over and abandoned.

"He had broken bones and lots of cuts," Yurth said. "One leg had to be amputated."

Ned was fostered for more than a year. It was difficult to find someone interested in adopting a three-legged dog. Then Kevin Wilbanks, from Seattle showed up.

Kevin was driving home through the Navajo Nation and was shocked by the numbers of stray dogs running loose on major roads. When he stopped in Las Vegas, Kevin research the Navajo Nation's stray dog problem on his computer. He learned that more than 200,000 stray dogs were killing cattle for food, getting run over, or being euthanized at high rates because no one wanted them.

Kevin drove back to the Navajo Nation and the Blackhat Humane Society to adopt their "least adoptable dog." Ned,the three-legged dog, now has a new home.

Cindy Yurth and stray puppy

View the dogs being adopted through Blackhat Humane Society:

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