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Every dog has a story

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Photo by Don Benjamin Surrounded by a sanctuary pack, Debbie Faulkner, holds Romeo a Chihuahua-spaniel puppy.

Every dog has a story.

And Debbie Faulk-ner, owner and operator of the Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary, is under no illusion that she's heard them all. Every day brings a combination of emotions familiar to those who work in animal rescue: pain, happiness, anger, love and frustration. The sanctuary, located near the town of Crawford in the shadow of Needle Rock, opened in 2009. Since then the facility has enabled over a thousand adoptions, most involving abused or neglected dogs.

Puppies and classic breeds are quickly adopted. Older dogs take a bit longer but the adoption rate for senior pets is increasing thanks to Faulkner's newest program entitled "Silver Whiskers." The program matches senior citizens with older dogs.

Faulkner keeps adopters, donors, and other followers up-to-date on dog news with regular posts to the sanctuary's Facebook page. At last count the Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary had over 7,500 followers with "likes" approaching 8,000. Some of her posts are bittersweet, such as a recent reflection on a dog that died. Some are progress reports on animals that entered the sanctuary frightened or injured or emaciated only to prosper a few months later. Still other posts chronicle success stories of lost pets reunited with their owners and forgotten animals adopted.

Faulkner has a strong working relationship with animal shelters throughout Delta County and she is sometimes able to take in dogs that are anti-social or otherwise unadoptable. The sanctuary currently houses thirty dogs. Most will eventually be adopted but a few will spend their lives there.

Dogs that mix well and play well with others are free to roam around the 40-acre sanctuary which includes a large building with a heated floor for winter and cool surroundings for hotter months. Fighters and biters are isolated -- usually temporarily but sometimes permanently. Visitors are amazed to see how well dogs of every breed and size mingle and get along in a swirling, tail-wagging pack.

Faulkner's operation is essentially a one-woman show. Her familiarity with the temperament and personality of each dog helps her manage the pack and integrate new arrivals. For this reason, she is not seeking volunteers to help with the animals. And, since she is concentrating on her "Silver Whiskers" initiative which calls for older and smaller dogs to place with senior owners, she is no longer taking in large dogs (defined as any animal over 20 pounds).

Another foster home for cats operates under the Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary umbrella. The cat program, called Katmandu, is located in Paonia where residents, Pat and Mike Gwinn, have operated the facility since 2010.

The Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary is a non-profit 501(3)c organization and monetary donations are always welcome. And those wishing to adopt are encouraged to follow the sanctuary on Facebook to learn the back-stories of available animals. For information or to donate, contact Faulkner by email: debbie@

blackcanyonanimalsanctuary.com or by phone at 970-399-7152.

Photo submitted Lucky dog! Murphy, an 8-month-old Aussie, got adopted just in time for Christmas.
Photo by Don Benjamin Debbie Faulkner holds Yoyo who recently survived being snatched by an eagle. The eagle dropped the eight-year-old Chihuahua and other sanctuary dogs treed the predator while Faulkner retrieved the frightened animal. Cora, who lingers behind Faulkner, is a shy dog that has been slow in adjusting to other humans. The sanctuary is located outside the town of Crawford, near the Needle Rock outcrop.
Photo by Don Benjamin Dogs get plenty of attention and exercise at the 40-acre Black Canyon Animal Shelter.
Photo by Don Benjamin Debbie Faulkner (left), owner/operator of the Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary compares notes with Amy Meyer who supports Austin Pets Alive. Meyer, whose Texas shelter rescued 5,000 dogs left stranded by Hurricane Harvey, learned about Faulkner’s “Silver Whiskers” program which matches older dogs with senior citizens.
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