Less than two years ago, the Milk River dogs and their rescue from a horrendous living situation touched people across Alberta.
Red Deer’s Josiah Albers got to see and meet the dogs through his father, who worked with one of the kennels that took in some of the 201 dogs rescued between December 2014 and January 2015.
Those dogs were eventually adopted out to new owners after a lengthy process.
For Albers, a 17-year-old student at Koinonia Christian School, it was a chance to see dogs get a second chance.
“We got to see the condition the dogs were in there and just hear about the story and what had happened,” Albers said. “The dogs were adopted out, but they would come back occasionally for check-ups. At that point we got to see the change in the dogs.
“When they first came in they were in terrible condition.”
The dogs, rescued from a farm near Milk River in southern Alberta, were emaciated, they dealt with matted fur and were terrified of people.
“They became much happier, they were clearly much different dogs. They changed and opened up,” said Albers.
Noticing that change inspired Albers to start work on a documentary tracking the dogs as they improved and regained their lives.
“What I find amazing is the dogs ability to overcome such a trial,” he said. “Despite what they’ve gone through, they wake up every day and decide today is going to be a good day. They’re choosing to forgive and forget and they’re choosing to trust humans again.”
In June 2016, Albers’ father Don set up a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the film. Albers then spent 2016 following the stories of new owners of the dogs.
“Some of the adopters put it well when they said ‘who rescued who?’” said Albers. “That mentality took me back a little bit. Every time I went into an interview I was expecting to see the amazing change the dogs had been through. What I wasn’t expecting was the change the owners had been through.
“Having those dogs trust them despite what they had been through really affected them.”