Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Week of Kindness and Learning

This past week was a mix of challenges and opportunities. Our two male dogs, Shadow and Bear, decided they needed to have their first dust up on Monday night. Thankfully, neither hurt the other one - but boy was it loud! Since this was the first time our pack had ever not gotten along, we decided to consult a professional. I was concerned that the back to back fosters was stressing our dogs out, and also that since Shadow and Bear are the same teen age age, we were in for some challenging times. We had a great conversation with Meg of Main Line Mutt Match ( She offered us some great advice on how to minimize the stress on our dogs from fostering. She also reassured us that we were introducing fosters to our dogs in a good way and that we clearly were maintaining control of our extended pack. It was really great to hear what were doing right and where we could improve the experience for all of us. Thanks Meg!

Our talk with Meg was just the start of the kindness we experienced this week. Pepper's Paws received several donations this week! Some people gave us bags of towels because our plea for donations inspired them to clean out their linen closets. Others gave us a bag or two of towels - several of them were not what I would call "old towels" - but they wanted to do something to help us because they love our facebook posts so much (I aim to please!) Some of our donations were the result of adult children "helping" their parents not be pack rats any more (you know who you are :) The result of all of this was a literal car full of towels, linens, and blankets being delivered to Philadelphia ACCT (thanks for dropping them off Peggy!) And the donations are still coming in so we will be checking with other rescues to see if they could use our next donation.

The kindness continued today when I met with Howard Weintraub, owner of The Drafting Room, to go over some details for the All 4 Paws Rescue's fundraiser at the Drafting Room on Saturday November 26 ( Not only did Howard offer to host the event and is donating a portion of draft sales to All 4 Paws Rescue, he also has gone above and beyond in getting local businesses to donate raffle prizes (Thank you Howard!) Be sure to check out the great food and beers at the Drafting Room and please come out and support All 4 Paws Rescue on the 26th!

All of these acts of kindness have made this a great week. The biggest learning point for me, though, came from our current foster dog, Sammy. Sammy is young collie mix who came to All 4 Paws from a high kill shelter in South Carolina. Sammy came off the transport van so excited to be here. He played for hours with the other dogs at the rescue and was a really sweet boy to every dog and human he met. And then he went to the adoption event and proceeded to sleep. He was exhausted, so he didn't make the best impression to the couple who was approved to adopt him. Since I had spent several hours with him earlier in the day, I was pretty sure he wasn't sick or a sad dog, so we decided to foster him. Something about his energy made me think he would be great with our guys.

When we got Sammy home he did OK with our dogs and us. He wasn't particularly friendly, or overly playful so we gave him a good meal and bath, and then a soft, warm bed. This morning, Sammy's true colors came through. He was playful, friendly, and loving. He was respectful of our dogs and showed them the good energy I knew he had. Within the first hour, we were all bonded. Sammy won't be with us long, I'm sure. He's just too sweet of a dog not to find a home quickly (even with it being Thanksgiving week - I have no doubt he'll find a home!)

Sammy has reminded me that just because someone is having a bad day, it doesn't make them bad or negative. We all would always like to make a great first impression, but sometimes things just don't go the way we wish they would. We all have the ability to bounce back and show our best sides, just like Sammy did. Sammy also taught me that I can trust my gut. I had a feeling about his energy and I trusted it, and it was a good decision. Trusting your gut is primal, so why do we sometimes ignore that little voice that says "You can do it!"? The next time you are faced with a situation where you gut is talking to you, think of Sammy and remember - you can do it!

On a separate and unrelated (or maybe it is related?) note, I am working on plans to start a part time dog walking business - more on this to come later :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pepper's First Therapy Dog Visit

For a while now I have been thinking of trying our dogs as therapy dogs. I was at the vet a few weeks ago and noticed a flyer from a local nursing home asking for people to bring in their dogs to visit residents. The nursing home on the flyer was the same one my dad had been for a few weeks so I took it as a sign and signed Pepper up.

Pepper made her first nursing home visit tonight. Pepper was anxious as we entered the building, and as we waited for the activities director her anxiety grew - I think she thought we were in a vet's office and it was time for her nails to get trimmed again! As soon as we started walking around her demeanor changed and she relaxed and became the friendly dog I know and love.

Pepper worked each room we entered like a pro! She greeted the residents respectfully and let everyone get their pets in. When we encountered someone who didn't want to meet her she seemed to sense it and ignore them. She also could tell who really wanted to pet her and gave them extra time for pets. Her only challenge was when she smelled the occasional dropped cracker on the floor - then she forgot all about the residents and pursued her snack. Luckily there weren't that many snacks to find!

One resident that really made an impression on her was a woman who didn't have her teeth in and her hearing aids were out too. The activities director had to shout to get her attention when we walked in - and then she saw Pepper. The woman broke into the biggest smile of the night - all gums and bright red lips (she still had her lipstick on). She stroked Peppers ears and massaged her neck with love. They both enjoyed the experience. As we left the room, the activities director told me the woman is 102 and does all her own care and grooming. Amazing! Aside from the teeth and being hard of hearing (OK, almost deaf!) - she looked better than some 50 year olds I know!

Once again, my dogs have taught me a lesson. Pepper had equal love and attention for anyone who wanted to pet her. She didn't get put off my how someone looked, or whether they had treats for her or not. She just treated them the way they treated her,  and everyone was happy.

We will be going back to the nursing home again. I may even try Bear and Shadow some time. And they , like Pepper, have lots of love give and the gift to make people smile :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pepper's Paws - How it's going and where we're going

I am very happy to say Pepper's Paws is off and running! Although we only exist on Facebook at the moment, we are doing some of the things we set out to do. We have forwarded donations to Darlington Humane Society in South Carolina and begun to collect towels and blankets for local rescues in need. We are also using our network to share donation pleas and adoption needs for other animal organizations. I am so happy with the progress we have made it just a week and so grateful to the people who have "Liked" us on Facebook, made donations, planning to make donations, and helping to talk us up to their friends. This is exactly what we need to be successful in saving shelter animals - thank you!

I want to take a moment to share more about the mission of Pepper's Paws and make sure you understand where we fit in the animal shelter/rescue world. First and foremost, we are not a rescue. We don't foster animals, pull them from shelters, house or shelter rescue animals, adopt animals out, or accept owner surrenders. There are lots and lots of other organization who do that quite well. If you are looking for this type of help,,, are great places to go for help and services like this (among many, many others). We are not yet a legal 501c3 organization so don't write us a check (at least not yet :) - but we are happy to pass on your checks to these organizations!

Pepper's Paws is a support organization. We are a place that rescues and animal shelters will be able to turn to for volunteer support, help with fundraising, awareness campaigns, advocacy, supplies like blankets and towels, dog and cat food donations, etc. Our goal is to be the additional arms and legs that these chronically underfunded and understaffed organizations. We are a volunteer organization - and we are happy to have more volunteers. Just let us know what you can or like to do and we'll find a need - either working directly on Pepper's Paws or with a needy shelter or rescue. We value and appreciate all the support we can get!

I have received a few questions on Facebook that I feel need to explain further. Are goal in collecting donations for needy organizations is not to have you donate to Pepper's Paws instead of the organization you normally donate to. We don't want to take support from anyone - we want to increase the number of donations overall. If you currently donate to the SPCA please keep doing so! If you want to donate to us too that's great too. We are not in competition with other groups - we want to support and to work with them to do what is best for the hundreds of animals in need.

Another question I received was "why not just donate directly to the shelter?" You can - please do! Our idea behind accepting donations and then passing them on is that it may not be convenient to get to a shelter for you, or you may not realize there is a rescue who needs help near by. Also, if you only have a few things, you may not think it is worth the trip all the way in to a shelter - but if we put your few things together with a few other people's few things we can make a sizable donation all at once. We want to be an organization that helps remove barriers to needy animal groups from getting lots of help.

Pepper's Paws is open to idea to raise money, supplies, and awareness for shelters and rescues. If you have an idea we want to hear it! Comments? Feedback? we're all ears!

Thank you for your support and for taking the time to read this!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Pepper's Paws is born (sort of)

They say desperation is mother of invention (not sure who "they" are, or if that quote is quite right - but it fits me tonight!) I had planned to do a lot of homework on how to start my non-profit, completely think through everything and anything I need to know, etc. etc. etc. but then I saw a desperate post tonight from my favorite shelter and I decided I can't wait to try to start this. All 3 of our dogs came from Darlington Humane Society in Darlington, South Carolina. I have never been to the shelter, but I have been told they are way underfunded but the people who run the shelter - staff and volunteers, move heaven and earth to save every dog that comes in. And to their credit, the dogs that come from Darlington are the best - rarely a bad apple in the bunch. I know this first hand - we have adopted 3 Darlington dogs and have fostered about a dozen of their dogs in the past year with All 4 Paws Rescue.

Our dog Pepper was the first adoptee that came from Darlington. Pepper was brought in as a stray in September 2009. They spayed her, treated her for heart worm and hookworms, and kept her there as long as they possibly could. Right around Christmas they called a rescue and begged them to take her - she had made the dreaded put to sleep list - she had been there too long. Lucky for us, the rescue took her and she was fostered by a great foster family. We found her on petfinder after she had been in foster for 2 months.

Shadow was our 2nd dog from Darlington. He was dumped at the shelter by a woman who said he wasn't hers. The shelter knew she was lying. I saw Shadow's picture on the shelter web site and something about him just told me to adopt him. He was fostered by the same great family and has been a great dog for us ever since.

About a year later, I saw Bear on the shelter web site. He grabbed my heart and I enquired about him. And then I asked Di if I could have my 40th birthday present early, and being the loving person she is, she said yes. Bear had to be treated for heart worm and came to us shortly after treatment. He was skittish and hand shy, we're pretty sure he was abused by whoever had him. He was brought in to the shelter as a stray, and I think he ran away from whoever had him. He is now a more confident and loving dog - can't imagine our family without him.

Darlington has truly changed our family. Di and I felt we had a giant hole in our life after two of my parents and one of her parents died. We spent so much time taking care of our parents and their associated needs that when they were gone, we felt lost. So we adopted Pepper, and then Shadow, then we started fostering, and then we adopted Bear, and our lives are forever changed. Darlington was a huge part of that, and they will forever be special to us.

And right now Darlington is in crisis. At last post, they took in 64 animals in 4 days and the unwanted and stray animals are still coming. They need fosters, they need money for vetting, and they need rescues to take dogs and find them homes. If Darlington isn't able to get this help, dogs will die. There is no easy way to say this. Adoptable, loving, deserving dogs will die. I feel compelled to do whatever I can to help. The non-profit I am planning to start will help support shelters like Darlington, and I need help to do this. The one thing shelters always need is money and foster families. Since my non-profit is not set up yet, I am happy to receive checks made out to "DCHS" and I will send the checks to them as one package - or you can send them directly to Darlington (please put Pepper's Paws in the memo :). You can also go to and click on the RESCUE Information link - there is a paypal donation link on this page. If you are willing to foster Darlington dogs, click on the Safe link and click on the green text at the top of the page - it will take you to a list of rescue that pull Darlington dogs. You can also share this blog and share posts from DarlingtonCountyHSRescue on facebook. Any of these things can help this deserving shelter and wonderful dogs in need.

My goal is to raise $1,000 for Darlington in the next week - and to help find homes for as many dogs as possible. They need to move about 40 dogs out to get back to "full" (as opposed to bursting at the seams,  which is where they are now). Will you help?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm thinking of trying something new...

Everyday I read about homeless dogs, dogs that have been abused, and the shelters these dogs are in being desperate for help. I find myself feeling powerless to get my head around the size of the problem of unwanted and homeless animals, let alone how to help solve the problem. But now I have an idea.

One thing these organizations have in common is that they need resources. They need money for medicines and vet services, they need money for food, and they kennel supplies - food bowls, cleaning products, leashes, and collars. And they need voices to speak with them and for them. And volunteers to help at adoption events and to walk kenneled dogs. And they need people to adopt the animals. I have toyed with the idea of starting a rescue, but I don't that would really play to my strengths. I have an idea....

I am thinking of starting a charitable organization that provides resources to shelters and rescues in need. An organization that provides funding, spay/neuter assistance, dog supplies, volunteers, and is an advocate for the shelters and their needs. Underfunded shelters and overworked rescues need arms and legs to help with the work, and voices to help them be heard. I think this is something I would thoroughly enjoy doing. Is there is a need for this? I think so, but if those in the know know differently I love to hear from them. Am I crazy? (let's leave that a rhetorical question :) Can it be done? Where do I start? Would people actually be willing to donate money, supplies, and time to such an organization? I hope so. Thoughts? Ideas?

How do I get started? What is the most important first step? Time to start my research! Ideas, thoughts, warnings, and suggestions welcome!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One year later....

Di and I started fostering a year ago this month. We just picked up foster number 23. Not bad for our first year! What will the next 12 months hold - who knows for sure, but I'm glad it will filled with dogs, dog food, treats, Nature's Miracle, and hopefully lots of adoptions!

Our newest foster is Clarissa, a 7 month old Shepherd mix. She came from a high kill shelter in South Carolina, and is quite a nice dog. She is doing great with our gang - and loves people (in a gentle, friendly way not a I'm-going-to-jump-all-over-you kind of way). So far miss thing has enjoyed a good meal and so yummy snacks (her words on this one :), had a bath (she did great!), and played quite a bit with our dogs. She is now sleepy next to our dogs like she has been here her whole life. Very nice to see. Will she adopted quickly? I think so. She is one of those dogs that people gravitate to - she'll go fast to a great home.

I spent quite a bit of time this weekend at cancer benefit events - a kids cancer walk and a Bark for Life event. Two very different groups of people, but both left me with a profound feeling of the possibilities in life, and an appreciation for my life and the people in it. I have been fortunate so far to experience cancer in terms of others' lives. My mom, my dad, several relatives, and a few friends (who are way too young to have cancer). I have shared many heartbreaking moments with patients and caregivers, and I know I have also been that friend that needed someone to listen to what I was going through when I felt helpless as a care giver or family member on the sidelines. So after this weekend, I have to ask myself what am I going to do to make the world a little bit better? Right now I have no one directly in my life who needs my help with dealing with cancer (I am there for someone who has someone who has someone who has cancer, but it's not quite the same thing) - so what I am doing to make the best use of health and time? I volunteer with foster dogs, and I am also a Big Sister volunteer, but after spending time with folks who really don't have time to do anything because they are going to chemo appointments, and doctor visits, and battling the day to day affects of this horrible disease, then I know I actually do have more time. I am working on my 5 year career plan, and I think I need to work on my 5 year give back plan. More on that later....

To everyone I talked to this weekend, I thank you for sharing your story with me, shedding a tear  or 2 with me, and for having the courage to continue to live and fight and keep on keeping on. You inspire me, and I thank you for that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What our foster dogs have taught me

Di and I began fostering in October 2010. Since then we have provided a temporary home to 16 foster dogs. Each dog has been his or her own unique experience for us. Some have tested our patience, some have made us laugh uncontrollably, and some have made us exceedingly proud and happy to have met them. All have been a learning experience for me - sometimes I learned what to do, sometimes I learned what not to do.


Our first foster was Bonz. Bonz was a year or so old shepherd/lab mix. Bonz was very scared when we picked him up and he sat like a statue in the back of the car. The transport bringing Bonz up was very late so we didn't get home with him until 1 in the morning. We snuck Bonz into the house without Pepper and Shadow noticing and just prayed that he didn't bark. He didn't bark. I took it as a sign that all would go well, and it certainly did. Bonz taught me that I had a love for animals beyond what I expected. His first night with us I snuggled him, kept him warm, and showed him that he was safe. Bonz also taught me that male dogs, like guys, bond. Bonz became Shadow's buddy and the 2 of them spent countless hours laying side by side in the yard.


Our next foster was Buddy. Buddy was a sick, unloved, raggedy papillion mix. His owners literally did nothing to care for him. We only had Buddy for a week, but in that short time we turned his health around, showed him love and affection, and bathed him to soothe his skin more times than I care to count. We showed him it would be OK. Buddy taught me about trust. Even though Buddy had been mistreated by his former owners, he still trusted us.


Our next foster was Stacey. Stacey was an extremely playful and down right nutty young border collie mix. She had a boundless supply of energy and would run with Shadow all day if we let her. We had Stacey for about 3 1/2 weeks and as she got more comfortable, she began to enjoy things like leaping onto the bed with us - from across the room. Stacy taught me to enjoy life, just like she did.


Next came Zoey. Zoey was a shy little lab mix. It took her a while to warm up to us, but she took to our dogs right away. Zoe was immediately picked by a young family who really needed some joy. We had Zoe for 2 weeks, and during that time her new mom would come over to see her - she couldn't wait for the day she could take her home. Little by little Zoe, warmed up to her new family. The shy, timid little pup turned into a sociable, happy girl. Zoe taught that good things are worth waiting for, and change can happen.


Our next foster was Shiloh. Shiloh was a border collie/lab mix who was quite the character. The first few days we had Shiloh she liked to put all of the dogs' toys and food bowls in her crate. A few days after that, she started piling all the toys on the dog bed she had claimed (Pepper was gracious enough to let Shiloh take over her bed). Shiloh was feisty. She liked Shadow, but she had no problem telling Pepper the alpha to back off. The fosters always liked Pepper, but Shiloh did not. Shiloh taught me an important lesson: not all people who say they are experts have any idea what they are doing. She taught me to trust my gut and challenge when I don't agree.


While we had Shiloh, we also had Red. Red was a 2 year old red golden retriever with boundless energy, and a recent history of heart worm. Red wasn't allowed to run and play, which Red really didn't agree with that plan. Red was a wily, playful nut who was more than we could handle - thankfully Red got adopted right away. Red taught me that sometimes it's OK not to do what you are told.


Bear (formally known as Opus) came after Shiloh. Bear was a beautiful shib ino (or something) mix. In the beginning, Bear was very interested in playing with us and our dogs, so much so that we considered keeping him. And then he discovered our cats. He really, really liked our cats. He would sit and stare at them all day, if we let him (I think "stalk" may be a better word to describe his behavior, actually). So adopting Bear became a fleeting thought and off he went to his new home. Bear taught me that all important decisions require careful consideration.


Next up was Duchess, a husky/corgi mix. Duchess was a sweetheart. She was easy, calm, and all around a good dog. My cousin adopted Duchess, which made us very happy. Duchess taught me that some things are just meant to be and that there is someone for everyone.


Evan, a spaniel mix, came right after Duchess. Evan was a big, floppy Muppet-like dog who would jump up in front of me and hand me his paws. Evan was goof, in the nicest. The one thing about Evan that was challenging was that he didn't like his crate. He didn't like his crate so much he would bark and whine when I put him in it. All night he would bark and whine. Even when I slept on the couch next to his crate to he knew I was close by, he would still whine. Even taught me patience and compromise. His last night with us we compromised, he slept in his crate, which was in our bedroom instead of the downstairs hallway.


Gurdy was spaniel mix (I think). Gurdy was a pistol, small but mighty. Gurdy thought she was 100lbs. She is also one of the few dogs that escaped our fenced yard. She pulled her jail break so that she could chase a big husky. Gurdy taught me I can find faster than I think I can.


Ah, Harris. Harris was a shepherd/hound mix who arrived with a bad case of mange, among other ailments. Harris also had no concept of manners or how to be a good dog. Harris was a hot mess. We had Harris for 7 weeks, long weeks. Sometimes fun filled, mostly challenging weeks. Harris taught me compassion and to ask for help when I need it.

Tara and Sara

Tara and Sara, terrier mix mother and daughter, were a trip. Sara loved to run and play, Tara liked to be the mom to all 3 of the other dogs. Little by little Tara relaxed and joined in on the playing too. Tara and Sara were sweet, cute, and fun to watch. Tara and Sara taught me that little dogs are hard to walk with big dogs, and 4 dogs is too many to walk at once.


We took a break from fostering after Tara and Sara. We adopted our 3rd dog and wanted to give him time to settle in. When we returned to fostering, we could not have asked for a better foster than Liam. Liam was a golden retriever mix who absolutely tugged at our hearts. He was housebroken, happy-go-lucky playful dog who was totally enamored with us and our dogs. He especially loved Bear. We considered keeping Liam, but decided we need to work on Bear and our dogs, and he was also a bit too interested in our cats. Liam taught me that to appreciate what I have.


Bethany came after Liam. Bethany, a 6 month lab mix, was the life of the party. She loved to play with Bear and run with Shadow. Bethany was very trainable too. She loved to learn new things. Bethany taught me not to leave my iPhone where foster dogs can get to it.


Our current foster is Lady. Lady is happily little papillian mix. Lady was surrendered by her owner because she was too sick to take care of her (and couldn't afford to) - either way, Lady went from what I expect was a comfortable home life to a scary shelter. And then to us. Lady is a people dog. She likes to be with us all the time. Bear likes Lady too - she looks like a smaller version of him, actually. Lady taught me that dogs get sad too (we think she misses her family) and she also taught me that you can start again. Lady is still waiting for her furever home.

Fostering dogs has been one of the most rewarding and challenging things I have ever done. I have learned so much from these homeless pups, and I hope I have taught them a few things too. I have no doubt that one of our future fosters will join us forever, and hopefully when that happens I can convince Di to keep fostering (c'mon - 5 dogs in one house isn't too many :)!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dogs coming and going, and some staying...

Our world has moved on a bit since my last blog. A few foster dogs have come and gone - Tara and Sara and most recently Liam (the foster that almost didn't get away - he was a sweetie - almost kept him!) And we added to our pack in that frame as well. Our newest pup is Bear, a border collie / "some kind of herding dog" mix (direct quote from our vet), and he has been something else. Bear was a stray who had to be trapped by animal control to get him off the streets. Then he endured heart worm treatment (under the care of a great foster mom at her kennel - lucky him!) and managed to make it through with flying colors. Bear came to us a bit scared and unsure, and it took him about 2 months to learn "sit". Bear seems to have endured some not very nice things prior to being picked up, but he is bouncing back really well and now trusts us more each day.

Bear gets along great with our guys and our cats - which is a huge relief. We said we wanted to adopt Bear sight unseen. Something about his picture just spoke to me. His name at the shelter was Asia, and I just couldn't resist him. He and Shadow had the usual dust ups in establishing which male was tougher, Shadow won, but I'm pretty sure Bear threw the round because he doesn't care to be tough or dominant. Works for me. Pepper really likes Bear too, to the point that she lets him snuggle on her. And no one ever, in all the 15 or so that have come through our house, has ever "snuggled" on Pepper. I get a real kick out of watching the two of them snuggle, and play, and then the three of them play and at the end there is black fur everywhere to the point where our tan carpet looks gray/black. Furry carpet is a cheap price of admission to watch these three knuckle heads wrestle - I love it!

Bear, like every other dog we have had in our home, has a few issues. When we leave the house, he gets destructive if we don't crate him. Now, that may sound horrendous - you leave home and return to destruction. But really, it has been kind of funny. The first time we left he ripped apart a book that I had been putting off reading to "develop my career" (yawn, won't miss that one!) and a few magazines that I had no real intention of reading anyway. He also chewed on a chair in our living room, the same chair that Shadow had his way with a year ago. So all in all, he's destroying things we don't really want, or should throw away anyway. No big whoop in my book. So far. Given that we purchased new leather furniture for the den not too long ago, we now crate him when we go out and are working with him on very short time away (like when I go to the mailbox, the one at the end of the driveway, and sometimes I even jog there - and don't crate him).

Why does any of this matter? Because problems more mundane than this get dogs in trouble with their owners, and that trouble sometimes lands them on death row. Right now shelters are bursting at the seams with dogs are no longer wanted, or their owners can't afford to care for them, or their owners just can't be bothered. These dogs aren't perfect. Some need obedience training, some need to learn in home behaviors, some just need to expend lots of energy to be happy (gee - this sounds like some kids and adults I know - and love :) Some just need love, like the aforementioned kids and adults (I'd do another smiley face at the end here but I'm afraid I will get virtual rotten fruit thrown at me for being too cutesy :+9)

Anyway....given that June is National Gay Pride Month, what can you do to help shelter dogs? (Yes, I know the two aren't actually related, just wanted to throw it in here and to see if you were still paying attention :) What can you do to help these death row dogs? Volunteer with a rescue - foster a dog or help at meet and greet events. Volunteer at a shelter - or donate to a shelter or rescue group. Or adopt a shelter dog. Or tell your friends about these rescues that need fosters and adopters. Anything like this is a huge help, it doesn't take a lot of your time, and - bonus - it makes you feel good. And who doesn't want to feel good? So, what are you going to do?

PS - Friday is National Take Your Dog to Work Day. I am trying to get Di to take Shadow to work with her - I think he would love it, don't you?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another one finds a home!

Harris, our longest foster dog ever, went to his furever home tonight. Poor Harris came to us 6 weeks ago with mange, an injured paw, and no idea of how to be a good dog. He left us tonight on the mend from he mange, paw healed, teeth clean, and a bit of obedience training under his furry belt. Harris has a ways to go yet, but he is well on his way to being a great dog and I think he will do just fine with his new family. His new mom seems very much up to the challenge of taking care of him and giving him the love and attention he desperately needs.

While Harris was a bit challenging for us at times, he is an example of why we started fostering dogs. Too many dogs don't know how good it feels to be loved and cared for and way too many dogs have known much worse. I will never understand how someone let Harris get in the condition he was in. I'm just glad the rescue agreed to take him in, because if they had not I have no doubt that he would not be alive today. It takes a special kind of person to run a rescue like the one we are volunteering with now. No dog is too needy or challenging, and there always seems to be a way. I do still stand behind my belief that you have to be crazy to run an animal rescue, and I am very glad there are those special kind of crazy people out there :)

And now, who's next? Maybe that will be tomorrow's blog :+)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Most Important Lesson I Have Ever Learned, and of Course Dogs

At some point in my life I learned a very important lesson from someone probably old and wise: be nice. Be nice even when you don't want to, and especially when you don't have to. Killing people with kindness is the best thing to do - more people should try it. Aside from the altruistic and self-stress lowering benefits of being nice, another really important reason to be nice is because you never know when you will need a favor, some understanding, or even just a friend. So many people in the world spend their time focused on themselves and their agenda, they don't care who they step on along the way, or who they tick off, or whose enemy list they get on. A myopic view like this is nothing but trouble - if you don't believe me I can give you name of a few acquaintances who are experts at this. But enough about this - just be nice, it pays dividends and it makes you feel good.

Back to the dogs....

Our current foster, Harris, is still in need of a home. He has really become a great dog. He does have some energy to burn every day, and sometimes he is a pain in the butt, but he's no different than the rest of our pack. He loves to snuggle and get pets, and he has figured out that to get what he wants he has to sit quietly - and he seems to enjoy doing it. Really sweet to watch. Harris is a good boy who needs a home. Got one?

Behind Harris is a never ending line of dogs that need homes. Dozens at the rescue we work with alone - and there are probably hundreds of rescues just like it. As much as we have enjoyed having Harris, we can't wait to get our next foster. The fun never ends :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Hound Like No Other

We picked up our new foster today. His name is Harris and he is really something else. He has demodex mange and an injured paw, but don't tell him that because he's a laid back, happy guy who doesn't have a care in the world. Harris came to us from South Carolina, like most of our other foster dogs. I don't know what his story is, but I would guess his last owner didn't provide basic care, hence the mange and the fact that he is bit skinny. But enough about that, Harris isn't bothered by his past so let's move on.

Harris is snugly, huggy, and just wants love. He's a sleeper too. I think he just began his 7th or 8th nap since lunch time. And he's not picky about where he sleeps. The yard, couch, dog bed, or floor all suit him just fine. This is a dog who likes to relax.

Harris is hound/shepherd mix, with a decidedly orange-brown-black coat. He'd make a good mascot for the Flyers, actually. When his fur grows back, he will be quite a handsome guy. He'll also make a good family dog. He's lively but not rambunctious and he wants to please. All he needs is love...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Black Dogs - 3rd one is Chance

Anyone who knows me knows I have a thing for black dogs. I have always liked labs and border collies, and not long after we adopted Pepper my brother told me about a phenomenon known as "black dog syndrome". What is it? In short, it means that black dogs are the hardest color dogs to get adopted and end up being the most euthanized color dog in shelters. No one can say exactly why; some theories are that people think black dogs are vicious, people think black dogs are bad luck just like black cats, or black dogs don't photograph well because shelters are poorly lit. It could just be that black is most common color for dogs, therefore it stands to reason that more black dogs don't make it because of the sheer numbers. Whatever the reason, it is heart breaking.

A few months after we adopted Pepper I went in search of a friend for her - a black friend. I found shelter on the web site of rural, high kill shelter (the same shelter Pepper came from). His picture was not stunning, and he really didn't look like the kind of dog that would catch your eye. He was just one of a dozen or so black dogs that would be put down if no one adopted them. He looked silly and sweet, and I had to have him. I'm pretty sure Di thought I had lost my mind, but she's good at humoring me, so we made arrangements to adopt him. Shadow has turned out to be the most loving, lovable, respectful, and obedient  dog. We aren't sure of his pedigree, definitely lab and "something Asian", according to our vet. Whatever he is, he is fabulous!

And here we are: 1 year after adopting Pepper, 9 months after adopting Shadow, and 10 foster dogs later, we are adopting another dog. No, not keeping one of our foster's, as many have expected. I went back to the same rural, high kill shelter and stumbled on what I hope is the perfect dog for us. Of course, he's black. He appears to be a border collie/newfie mix - which is a best guess, of course. He is also heart worm positive (hence my rant about people not taking care of their pets in an earlier blog). Since he has heart worm, we have to wait another 6 weeks or so to adopt him. He is a bit of a looker, so I think if we hadn't picked him someone else would have - and I can't wait to me him! Right now his name is Asia, but I think we will be changing it to Chance, since we are taking a chance that he will fit with our pack and get along with our cats. I'm sure we'll be fine. If we can break Shadow of chasing cats, we can we break any dog :)

So Chance will make 3, and then we done adopting, but not fostering. I have come to the conclusion that, as long as you have a fenced yard, it doesn't matter if you have 2, 3, or 4 dogs. If you have to walk more than 2, best to bring a friend. My back can attest to that. Look for more about Chance (or whatever we decide to name him) in the future.

So, would you adopt a black dog? If you have never considered it, please do. Our rescue currently has several black lab pups that need homes. They are sweet dogs that aren't vicious, they aren't bad luck, and they need homes. They offer unconditional love and lots of happy tail wags - and who doesn't want that? Check them out at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Have you ever considered fostering a rescued dog?

As I look over the chaos that is our family room - dogs chewing on bones, wrestling, licking my face, stealing my shoes - I wonder, why don't more people sign up for this? I get to have all this fun for free, in fact I even get free food if I want it (for the dogs, of course). I get to go outside at o'dark thirty and follow dogs around picking up dog poop when it's so cold I can barely feel my fingers (can wait for that snow to come over night tonight!) I get to teach basic dog manners too - did you know that it IS possible to say "off!" 20 times in one minute? Try it sometime, see if you can get all 20 in in 60 seconds. Does it get any better than this?

We've had counter surfers, crate barkers, hungry dogs who can jump as high as I am tall. We've had criers, good balls who act like Muppet's, and long haired dogs that we had to blow dry - and we've only been at this for 5 months! Think of the fun you could have!

We've also had dogs who melt in your arms and sleep like babies because they finally feel safe. We've had dogs who want nothing more than to snuggle in your lap and just be. Dogs who have given gentle, respectful kisses, as if they are saying thank you for a little love and some food. Dogs who want nothing more than a good walk on a sunny day, ears back and tail wagging the whole time, happy just to be alive. That's one of the best parts of fostering. I truly believe that our dogs - fosters and family dogs - wake up every morning the happiest dogs in the world - happy to be here another day. We could all learn a lot from dogs.

Have you ever considering being a part of this? Taking in a foster dog takes less work than you think, and while you think you will get to attached to them, consider this: being a foster home for dogs means you get a new dog every few weeks - or less! Really fun stuff. Couple that with knowing that for every dog you foster you save at least 2 lives - the one of the foster and the one of the dog who got a spot in the shelter because there was 1 more free spot. That's a two-fur if there ever was one!

Please consider fostering a dog in need - it will change the dog's life, and yours.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our new foster - and I question I just cannot answer....

We picked up our newest foster today, a 5 year old spaniel mix named Gerty. She's a little dog without the little dog attitude - which is good because the yipping and yapping of typical little dogs makes me crazy. This dog has a great personality - she's submissive and playful with our dogs, comes when called, and isn't driving cats crazy - a win across the board. And now the question I just cannot answer....

What the hell is wrong with people? This dog was rescued off death row in a shelter down south - she is one of many dogs on many death rows in many shelters. These dogs are discarded at these shelters with seemingly no regard for what will happen to them. How can 1 person, let alone hundreds of people do this every day? On top of this, can someone explain to me how so many dogs end up with heart worm in these same shelters? I understand climate and humidity and how mosquito's transmit the disease...yada yada yada. How do so many people do absolutely nothing to prevent this? Lunacy.

The next time you or someone you know is considering getting a dog, rescue a shelter dog. They are wonderful animals and they deserve a chance to live a happy life. Trust me, we have 2 shelter dogs and have fostered many others - and not a bad apple in the bunch!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another good dog day

Today my mom's cousin (from here on known as my Aunt - I never could figure out the whole cousin, 2nd cousin, etc. thing) took home her new dog, Duchess. We took Duchess in as our foster 2 weeks ago - first known as Mikey then Minnie when it became clear he was a she :) Aside from a little growling at our 2 dogs, she was a laid back, easy going dog. I knew my Aunt had been thinking of getting a dog, so I gave her a call and told her about the future Duchess. An adoption app and a couple hundred bucks later, and Duchess had a new name and a new mom.

When my Aunt came to pick Duchess up today I couldn't help but smile watching her with her new dog. My Aunt will always have a special place in my heart because she was one of my mom's closest friends and cousins. And they resemble each other - which right after my mom's death made me sad, now it makes me smile. Not quite as good as having my mom back, but heartening just the same. As my Aunt put on Duchess' new collar and leash, giving her loving pets and smiles, I realized that one of the things I love the most about fostering is watching normally mature, reserved adults become kids again, kids getting their first dog. I love it. I have decided that my goal in life is to find a job where I get paid to do nice things for people, things that make people feel good about themselves and the world, things that people appreciate it and will never forget. Any career suggestions?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Foster dogs - never ending amusement

A little over a year ago I a made a comment to good friend about "not getting crazy dog people". She reminded me of this comment last week, after I told her all about our current foster dog. We enjoyed a good laugh about how my partner and I had gone from being "cat people" to "crazy dog people who also have 2 cats". I still can't quite explain how it happened, but that's what we are.

A year ago, almost to the day, we decided it was time to adopt a dog. My partner said she wanted a border collie, the next day I found one on Two days after that, we brought her home. The whole process moved so fast no one had time to rethink or change her mind - thankfully. We adopted a lovable, spirited border collie/lab named Pepper, and our lives have never been the same. She is amazing. Unconditional love at its best. And then came Shadow.

Shadow is a lab mix. Mixed with what? Good question. The most frequent guesses are Shar pe, Akita, chow, pit, and my personal favorite: pot belly pig (I think this is the most likely, given his love of eating, sniffing the ground in the back yard, and slightly overweight stature). Shadow is the sweetest, most submissive dog ever - except when other dogs ogle his food. But that's a whole other story.

Five months after we adopted Shadow I began thinking of getting a third dog. The family who had fostered  Pepper and Shadow suggested we foster rescued dogs rather than adopt a third. We decided to give it a try. It has been the most amazing, at time frustrating and challenging, and overall rewarding experience we have ever had.

Now in our fifth month of being foster moms, we have it down to a science - pretty much. We currently have two guest dogs in our house. Duchess (who was first named Mikey, then Minnie when we realized he was a she), is a sweetheart. She is more a people dog than a dog dog, but tolerates, even enjoys, our pack. She is being adopted by my mom's cousin this weekend. They are a perfect match. Duchess likes human companionship, shorter walks, and delicious treats. Her new mom will provide all that with endless love and attention. Perfect together.

We also have a foster dog, Evan, with us who needs to find his forever home. Evan is a good, plain and simple. He is floppy like a Muppet, loves people, likes to play with our dogs, and would prefer not to sleep in his crate. He jumps up, to hand you his paws. He would rather be pet than eat or pee or anything else. He aims to please, and when he snuggles into your lap he does just that.

The one thing all of our foster dogs (I think the running total since October is 8 but they all tend to run together after a while....) and our dogs is: how in the world could anyone dump them at a shelter. I will never understand this one. Beautiful, lovable dogs, dumped. Granted, all of them are far from perfect. We have had ball obsessors, shoe eaters, pillow eaters, pee-ers, jumpers, even one pooper - but none that ever deserved to end up on death row. Ever. Thankfully, the people who have the thankless job of running the shelter agree that no dog should end up there, so they do their best to save each one. And as long as their are wonderful people like this who try to save one dog at a time, we will too. Thank you for all you do - wherever and whoever you are. You keep it up, and we will too.