How Sniffspot helped a nervous rescue work through his fears — and change his family’s life

This is the story of a family and dog rescuing each other.

“It was love at first sight,” said Beth Batig about her family’s mastiff, Sherman. “I remember telling my kids on the way home from meeting him that it was okay if we didn’t get this dog because he’d go where he needed to be — but I was thinking to myself that I’d be devastated.”

At just over a year old, Sherman had already lived in two different homes. His first owners gave him to a friend when they relocated out of the country. While on his second family’s property, he was attacked by a loose neighborhood dog — and because of the yard’s electric fence, Sherman was unable to escape. The other dog, who was much smaller, sustained a mild injury, and its owner insisted that Sherman either be put down or rehomed.

At this point his family agreed to foster him until he was adopted through Misunderstood Mutts rescue.

Meanwhile, when Beth’s son asked if they could finally get another dog — it had been six years since their family’s chocolate Labrador had passed away — she was immediately drawn to Sherman’s Petfinder profile. She’d always loved large pets (“100 pounds is my minimum,” she said, noting that her husband Paul laughs at her size requirement) and had thought “Sherman” would be a great name ever since the Seattle Seahawks won the 2014 Super Bowl.

Well, there he was: a 120-pound mastiff named to perfection. It felt meant to be!

Beth’s family was one of three who went to meet Sherman. He was nervous but quickly settled in their presence — the rescue said there was no question. They had chosen him, and he had chosen them right back.

Beth’s family gave Sherman an important chance

Sherman carried his past trauma with him at first — he was clearly afraid of other dogs and could be reactive in their presence. Since he’d already been through so much in a short amount of time, the rescue stressed how important it was that his next home was his forever home.

Thankfully, Beth is a preschool teacher with a background in behaviorism. “Creating routines and keeping things simple, that’s what I know and do,” she said. Her family felt confident they could help Sherman with whatever he needed.

From nervous rescue to quirky best friend

And help they have! In just over two years, Sherman has completely come out of his shell. The Batig’s rescue mastiff is more confident and goofy than ever.

Visiting a Sniffspot helped Sherman feel safe around other dogs

One huge part of Sherman’s new life? After being attacked, he’s finally gotten the opportunity to safely interact with other dogs thanks to Sniffspot.

Sherman was quite reactive to the Batig’s next-door-neighbor’s young German shepherd, Ryker, when he first came home. He showed an obvious fear that this unfamiliar dog would get into his space — and who could blame him after what had happened in his last home?

Beth and her neighbor decided to take both dogs to a nearby Sniffspot to see how they’d do in a secure, neutral location. Sherman had the space and time he needed to warm up to his new friend — and after an initial period of uncertainty, he started to loosen up.

“They parallel played like children do. They didn’t actually play together but we could throw balls near each other, and we could even share snacks,” Beth said about their first Sniffspot experience. It was amazing to see him have fun in a situation that used to be scary — and since that day, Sherman and Ryker’s bond has only grown!

“My husband even built a doggie door in our wooden privacy fence so we can connect the two yards when we aren’t able to make it all the way to a Sniffspot,” Beth said. The two now greet each other nose-to-nose every single morning and love being neighbors.

Sherman has since made other friends in the same way. He’s still unsure of dogs he hasn’t met in other spaces like public parks, so visiting private spots has been really special. “I don’t think his life would be as full without being able to access those safe, neutral areas through Sniffspot.”

Beth’s lovable mastiff transformed her family’s lives in return

Just as clear as the impact Beth’s family has had on Sherman? The impact he has had on them. Beth says Sherman is the best “untrained therapy dog” in the world now that he’s settled into his new home and built confidence.

Prior to adopting their mastiff, The Batig’s middle-school-aged son was struggling with anxiety to the point that he barely wanted to leave the house. Beth felt at a loss as a mother — but Sherman knew just how to sense and ease Tyler’s worries. The big dog provides a form of deep pressure therapy by laying his big head on her son’s lap and acting like a living weighted blanket, which helps him stay grounded.

Sherman has also helped Beth’s shy daughter come out of her shell. Now Emily has something to talk about at school (“my dog weighs more than me!” is a favorite fun fact) and the mastiff regularly tags along to pick her up after classes, where Beth laughs at the juniors and seniors hustling over to get their Sherman love.

There’s always laughter when Sherman is around

In fact, laughter is a central theme of life with Sherman. For a dog with a rocky past, he certainly doesn’t hold himself back — family, friends, and neighbors all love his goofy antics.

Here are just a few quirks Beth shared. (It’s impossible to narrow it down to one favorite!

  • Sherman has “zen” moments where he walks very slowly in the Batig’s backyard. He rubs against cedar trees with eyes closed, just taking in the world.
  • He knows what “Sherman, cheese!” means and loves cheese (or whipped cream from a can) above everything else, including squirrels.
  • He thinks toll booths are drive-thrus where he might get a treat — sometimes much to the surprise of their operators!
  • While visiting their friend’s house, Sherman will pick blueberries one by one off of bushes in the backyard.
  • He herds the kids away from the campfire when the Batig’s hang out with friends and then lies between all the teenagers on the ground, belly up, to get all the affection he can.
  • Sometimes he sneaks up when they’re eating dinner to rest his head on the table. Beth says he can be surprisingly quiet for a large dog (though they do joke that he’s a “teacup mastiff” because he’s “only” 120 pounds).

Sherman is an integral part of the family

Today, the Batig family couldn’t be happier to share their life with Sherman — and he seems just as thrilled. “My son’s anxiety has become very manageable, and our home is filled with so much love and happiness,” Beth shared with a smile.

In an average week, their rescue mastiff has at least one Sniffspot playdate with his best friend (and sometimes more in their adjoining backyards). He follows his mom loyally around the house. They amble through the neighborhood on leisurely walks and snuggle up together at home.

Sherman is a central part of the family — and it’s only been two years. Here’s to all the adventures ahead!