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Happy Tail: A job helps a Great Pyrenees heal


When the Costellos decided to adopt a Great Pyrenees they saw listed on Petfinder by Sierra Pacific Great Pyrenees Club Rescue in Granite Bay, CA, they filled out the online adoption application.

The next day a volunteer called and asked, “How do you feel about dog hair in your house?”

“Since my German Shepherd/Chow mix passed away,” Kelly replied, “we’re not getting enough fiber in our diet and need to fix that.” The application was approved.

Conan guards a kitten the Costellos are fostering.

Gentle Conan guards a one-and-a-half-pound kitten the Costellos are fostering.

Unfortunately, the dog in whom they were interested had a pending adoption. A volunteer suggested they might be interested in Reno.

Kelly told her they had seen his listing but weren’t interested in taking on a project, which is what Reno seemed to be. He had been seriously abused before he came into rescue and was afraid of people, although still sweet-tempered. The volunteer convinced the Costellos to meet him.

“This gentle and shy giant captured my heart in seconds,” Kelly says. “They say you can see the soul of the world in a Pyr’s eyes, and it’s true. I sat down to brush him, and he leaned into me and finally made eye contact. I saw the cruelty and the fear this dog had gone through and knew that our quiet home was the right place for him.” They changed his name to Conan.

No sudden miracle occurred. When they were home, he always chose to be outside. A video monitor showed that when they left he would come in the dog door and interact with their Labrador Retriever — and he seemed happy. They weren’t sure he would ever trust them, but he seemed content and comfortable.

Conan looks after his chickens.

Conan looks after his chickens.

About a year had passed when they decided to add some chickens to their large yard in hopes of giving Conan a job.

“Who would have thought that three baby chicks would change our world? Within a year we were looking at a different dog.” Kelly said. “He has blossomed into the confident guardian and comedian he was meant to be.”

He enjoys some cuddling in their bed each night, and then he jumps down and heads out to be with his chickens. “When his shift is over as the sun comes up, he returns inside to sleep the rest of they day,” Kelly says. “And he wags his tail when we come home. I never thought I would see that huge tail wag to a human.”

Ronald Reagan said the best social program is a job; it worked for Conan.

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