In this episode, we talk to the Porth family, who used the lockdown period to rescue and re-home 20 dachshunds with Dachshund Rescue of Los Angeles. 12-year-old Greyson Porth explains why it feels so good to help these dogs, and how he's able to bring music to their ears.
MJ: No matter where you are, living through this pandemic has changed us all. For many, our lives will never be the same. But for the Porth family in Los Angeles, the lockdowns – which started last year – became a time for them to help others even more than they already were. And by others, I mean dachshunds.
I’m Mitchell Jordan and you’re listening to Love Is A Doxie. In this episode, you’re going to hear how 12-year-old Greyson and his mother, Sonya, have used the lockdowns to rescue and rehome 20 different dachshunds who might have otherwise been forgotten. And helping them make it all possible is their own doxie, Dandy.
Dachshunds are nothing new to the Porth family. When their first dog passed away, they knew they wanted to stay with the breed and adopted Dandy from Dachshund Rescue of Los Angeles. Dandy and Greyson, who was ten at the time, bonded immediately, as though they were old friends.
SONYA: Greyson was really bonded with Dandy. I think Dandy loves him dearly and so does Greyson. Dandy’s senior so he’s not acting like a puppy, he doesn’t run around with Greyson but when they sit together, they look one another in the eyes, like they’ve been together forever since Greyson was born. I think they know each other, they feel like they lived in the past together all their life.
MJ: But this wouldn’t be the last dog they brought home. When the shelter Dandy came from got in touch to see if the Porths wanted a female named Penny, they decided to welcome her too.
SONYA: And we picked up Penny, she’s a red, kind of mahogany dachshund, 12 pounds and she’s the most beautiful girl. But on the other hand, she’s very scared. So they said ‘do you want the opportunity to foster’ and we were like ‘we never know how to foster, we never done it before, but we’ll try.’ All that time we took her into our home, another dachshund in our lives. Basically, we take her for a walk, we train her and we give her the opportunity to let her know we love her, she can trust everybody. She doesn’t have to be scared, that’s how it started …
MJ: But, as so often happens to rescuers, what starts as one or two dogs soon turns into a whole lot more. Once Penny found a permanent home, Greyson and his family wanted to keep helping no matter how challenging it might seem.
SONYA: Some days it’s very overwhelming, but the moment you see them find a good home just like we just did the last couple of weeks, the overwhelming feeling is gone, I don’t even remember how overwhelming it was. The thing is the feeding time, the walking, it was kind of challenging, but in the meantime it’s really fun. And it’s fun to see them grow with us, trusting us and loving their foster homes.
MJ: As months turned into a year and lockdowns started, Greyson experienced the frustration and uncertainty that challenged so many of us.
GREYSON: It really sucked, and I couldn’t do things I used to do before Corona; I couldn’t see my friends, we couldn’t go on bike rides and stuff and I just didn’t get to really spend much time with them and I missed out on a lot of things I did before.
MJ: But sometimes all you need is a dachshund – or two or three – and suddenly your sadness becomes joy. Especially when you know you’re saving them.
GREYSON: It made me feel a little better and it helped me do more stuff and it motivated me so I could at least have someone to play with and do stuff with.
MJ: Although the Ports enjoyed the company of dogs, knowing that one day these new members of the family would be leaving their home could be challenging, too.
SONYA: I think in the beginning after fostering it was really hard, I cried at night or the day before. But I think since then – I don’t know if I’m supposed to do this – I put a wall up on my heart and know they’re going to find a good home, a better home than my home so whenever I have a foster I tell myself, ‘they’re gunna find a better family, a perfect home for the rest of their life.’ So I think that helps me overcome the sadness.
MJ: There have been two things that have made it all a little easier. First is Dandy. As any dachshund owner knows, these dogs don’t always like to share their owners. But that isn’t the case with Dandy.
SONYA: Dandy is the sweetest boy, we talk about this, we discuss this over and over again. If we didn’t have Dandy in the first place, if we had a different dog, a different dachshund, we probably wouldn’t be able to do this. Dandy opens his heart, his loving heart, to anyone that comes in. He doesn’t give any problems, or bother them, he walks with them, he actually shows them around; he really doesn’t mind having anybody. He knew, he came from the shelter and he knew how rough it was. I feel like he talks to them like ‘Make yourself comfortable, here’s your home, my home is your home.’ That’s how I feel.
MJ: And then there’s Greyson, who has a real knack with animals. What’s his secret? The 12-year-old believes that playing music for the dogs helps make them feel at home. So, let’s take a listen to this skilled young musician.
GREYSON: Well, usually when I play music, they enjoy it a lot, get sleepy. So they just enjoy it a lot and it calms them down.
MJ: Sonya has also witnessed the effects of his music.
SONYA: We have the routine every night, so when he practices piano after dinner we all sit down – the whole family sits down – the dogs pile up on the couch, some sit on the floor. But we have every night’s routine that we sit down in the living room while he plays piano and the dogs fall asleep and after they run around, they get so rowdy they calm down and fall asleep. They know, everybody’s waiting for that moment, for the practice piano. It’s really soothing and feels really good and I think the dogs feel the same way.
MJ: Rescuing dachshunds is something the Porths plan to keep doing. As Sonya explains, it isn’t only the dogs who benefit.
SONYA: I think they rescue us instead of we rescue them, to be honest. Having them around – I know a lot of people having depression, a lot of people are sad, but we don’t have time to feel that way, we keep going, we look forward. We plan our days, we have so many things to do with the dogs that come around, we have to keep moving. Our weekend is always full taking the dogs to the beach, for a walk, to the vet mostly and it keeps our mind busy. On the other hand, it keeps us thinking forward instead of stop in this situation. And the more we do it, we feel like the more we can save dogs, we think let’s keep moving.
MJ: Greyson’s message to everyone listening is to adopt and save a life, and to also consider senior dogs, who are often the ones left behind. At the time of speaking, he’s been responsible for rehoming 20 dachshunds, and I’m certain there will be a whole lot more, because it’s been an experience that has been very enriching for him.
GREYSON: It taught me to do stuff for others and it’s nice to help others instead of yourself. I would definitely want to keep doing this because we get to meet so many more dogs and it feels really good to save them.
MJ: And Sonya has every right to feel proud of her son.
SONYA: I’m very proud of him, I didn’t know we could do all this. Without him, I couldn’t do it all myself. We need teamwork and he’s my team and my husband too, we do everything together and I’m so proud of him for the commitment he has. I understand that some kids lose their interest but he doesn’t, and he keeps going.