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.