The Small Dog Whisperer

Josephine TempongkoAdopt, Dogs, News11 Comments

Darci, one of our Behavior Associates, is affectionately known as the “small dog whisperer” around HSSV. Small dogs, especially shy or fearful ones, flock toward her gentle, calming personality.

“Darci has been an amazing addition to the behavior team because of her natural ability to be calm and earn the trust of our small fearful canines. She has a natural non-threatening and soothing approach to working with them,” says Michelle Suarez, our Behavior Programs Manager. Under Darci’s wing, many of our smallest and shyest dogs have learned to trust people, make new human friends, and come out of their shells. The best part? Teaching these dogs to trust new people helps them find their new homes!

Not only does Darci take dogs under her wing in a figurative sense, she’s also one of our many staff members who foster animals whenever possible. Last year, Darci agreed to foster Morti, a 12-year-old Chihuahua mix with a host of medical issues and a big personality. Just weeks later, Darci decided that Morti would become a permanent member of her family, and adopted him.

Darci with her dog Morti.

Since COVID-19 hit a few months ago, Darci and the rest of our behavior team have had their hands full. As demand for adoptable animals has reached an all-time high, our team has continued to take in as many dogs as possible from our partner shelters both within our community and in the Central Valley. Some of those dogs need a little extra TLC, which Darci is always happy to provide.

Just a few weeks ago, one of our fosters needed a short-term dogsitter for her foster dog. The dog was 10 years old, and had a few medical issues that were still being addressed. Darci quickly agreed to take the dog in, and noticed right away that he was a spitting image of her dog, Morti, but just a little bit smaller.

Morti (right) and Shorti Morti (left)

He hadn’t been named yet, but it became clear that his name needed to be Shorty Morti after his doppelgänger, Morti. Darci fostered Shorty Morti for just a few days before he found his forever home.

Darci ‘s affinity for helping small, shy dogs may look like magic, but maybe the real magic is that she’s not alone. Darci is amazing and special, and she is also one of many of our very special staff members who help care for thousands of animals every year and find them homes. Like the rest of our staff who work with animals, Darci has been trained to care for animals in a way that alleviates their fear, anxiety and stress, and she has worked under the wings of HSSV’s world-class behavior team, which follows HSSV’s model shelter principles in caring for animals. We are so grateful to have staff members like Darci who work hard to care for animals in the best way possible. ❤️

11 Comments on “The Small Dog Whisperer”

  1. Glad to see Darci is so appreciated. I was lucky to be able to witness her magic at the San Jose Animal Care Center. Love 💕 that girl!

  2. Yes! Thank you I have no extra careful these days since my retirement I seems getting more email phone call a lots have living very Private life I just can’t understand what’s happening out side my daily life almost have to practice never pickup phone from out of
    the area call when it rings days and nights

  3. I would love to adopt a dog, however, I live in senior housing and they allow me one pet and the dog cant be over 20 pounds nor be s barker or a bitter small dog friendly people frendly. I have been trying to adopt for 4 months I get an appointment i go and the dog is gone its first come first serve. The wait for an appointment is ads for t times 2 months ahead so by the time my appointment comes, yap dog of my choice is not there.. Im giving up Im so up set. Im thinking I will wait till they open up the ponds for visters. I do have several approved approved applications but to no avail.

    1. Hi there! Our adult dog adoptions have reopened for in-person adoptions. Learn more at

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