Local couple has canine soft spot
February 12, 2009
In his 28 years in the Army, Task Force Marshall Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Hagan has worn different styles of uniforms, taken part in numerous missions and has followed orders by five commanders in chief. Throughout those changes, there has been one constant -- his life has gone to the dogs, literally.
Hagan and his wife Debra, a human resource specialist with the 81st Regional Support Command, share their 15-acre property with two rescued German Shepherds, Havoc and Sheba, and five horses.
Rescuing dogs has become a passion for the couple, who had as many as five dogs at one point.
"Christmas at my house that year was lots of fun. We had dog bones and dog toys strewn about everywhere," Dan said.
One of their former dogs has a particularly sad history. Dan recalled how Debra ended up with a new four-legged friend, Bella, during a vacation in Florida.
"Some woman drove up in a truck to the pier and she threw the dog out of the car and drove away," Dan said. "Debra spent three days trying to coax this dog into coming to her."
Havoc and Sheba, both are 3 years old, were adopted two years ago in Alabama. Havoc was training to become a police dog, but when the Sheriff's department ran out of funding, he was given away to a man who crated him up to 22 hours a day, Dan explained.
When Dan and Debra found out that the dog was up for adoption, they moved quickly.
"We walked in the door, and I took one look at the dog and said, 'Well, that's easy,'" Dan said. "We actually took him and the crate that very day."
Sheba belonged to an elderly couple who could no longer take care of the rambunctious 1-year old dog.
"(The owners) were looking for somebody to take care of her, so we went ahead and we got her, too," Debra said.
The dogs now roam the Hagans' house and pastures and also have some responsibilities.
"They guard the house, that's their daytime job," Dan said. "Sheba herds the horses. She moves them from pasture to pasture. It's incredible to watch. Now Havoc is starting to do it because he's watching her."
The rewards of giving animals a new lease on life are plenty, the couple said.
"The dogs that you rescue are usually already trained. They're already housebroken. They know right from wrong," Dan said. "They give love unconditionally and don't ask for anything in return."
Dan never had dogs before he got married, but could hardly imagine life without them now.
"They're like adopted children," he said.