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!