The Perfect Fit

Pure white and stunning, like the snow-capped peaks she was named for, Sierra once had a home and a family and a best canine buddy. She and her buddy spent their days together in the house while her human parents worked. But her family was gone a lot. They didn’t have time to train Sierra, or to work with her, or even to exercise her properly. And Sierra was a bundle of energy, which proved to be overwhelming for her doggie friend who was too old to fend for himself. He’d ignore her invitations to play by flopping on his side or turning his butt to her. Finally, the family made the painful decision to relinquish her in hopes that she could find a brighter future. So Sierra came to rescue and joined the rest of the canine family in the kennels. I tuned into Sierra and asked her what she’d like in her new home. Her response was simple. Busy, busy, busy.

sierra

Sierra was a loving social girl who bonded with everyone—human and canine. Every dog she was introduced to became her best friend. And those who accepted her invitations to play had a special place in her heart. While she yearned and searched for a new family, she had plenty of play time in the yard, dashing around hay bales, jumping over new playmates, and playing tug of war with a rope toy. Rescue volunteers quickly learned that she was highly intelligent and turned the play yard into her personal agility course. And while she had received little training in her previous home, she mastered commands quickly, jumping on and off the hay bales on command!.

When Sierra’s bio was posted to the website, applications streamed in, but there was one that stood out. One that might be the perfect fit.

A young family with two dogs and two young children was looking for another active dog because they had an active two-year-old shepherd (Kiara) and a 14-year-old retriever (Kimba). Kiara was desperate for a more-constant playmate. It sounded just like the situation Sierra had come from. Except this family was active. This family was often home. This family had a young energetic dog as well as an older one. And this family had the time and energy to give Sierra what she so desperately yearned for.

So a meet-and-greet was arranged, and it exceeded expectations. Sierra met Kimba first, gingerly sniffing her, and then gently nudged her with her nose. Kimba sniffed back and then wagged her tail and walked away. Success! Then it was time for Sierra and Kiara to meet. Kiara jumped and spun and play-bowed, turning himself inside out with his delight. It was a bit much even for social Sierra. Mom corrected him and redirected his energy slightly. He settled, and Sierra accepted his greeting. Then it was time to meet the kids. Sierra gently sat on cue and offered a paw. And with that, she sealed the deal.

Now Sierra is settled in her new home and it’s the perfect fit. She’s thriving on her daily runs with mom and her new canine playmate. Sierra also proved to be great with the kids. All mom had to say was “gentle” or “paws off” and Sierra settled immediately. One of our volunteers visited Sierra on her second day in her new home and reported back that Sierra is in heaven now. You can see the joy on her face as she gazes at her new family and the wonder in her eyes as she explores every square inch of her new home. She has finally found her match. Her new mom reported recently that Sierra is being run ragged by Kiara and the kids, and the hikes, and the daily runs. And she sleeps like a baby at night, exhausted by her busy new life. I asked Sierra what she liked most about her new home, although it seemed like a no-brainer. Her response surprised me. She said that there was a collective wisdom in her new home, that the people seemed to almost intuitively understand her needs and desires. Sounds like heaven to me.

 

Home is Where the Heart Is – Luke’s Beautiful Rescue Story

Luke  was a stunning, dramatic boy. Wolflike and intense, he commanded attention and respect. His coat was predominately black, with a strip of tan on his underbelly and a hint of creamy white fluff on his hind legs. Deep golden eyes pierced his ebony face and were rimmed under a dark tan whisper of an eyebrow.  At first glance, you might have pegged him as fierce.

He had the look of a warrior primed for battle, but despite his looks, Luke was a rather shy, sweet, and unassuming boy. But that might have been due to his circumstances, which perhaps masked his sweet, beautiful personality. Because on the inside, Luke was devastated.

Luke_August72013_5

When I tuned into him, he told me that he was a wonderful boy, and he told me that I was right: there was a fierceness to him, but he kept it hidden because he didn’t want people to label him that way or shy away from him because of it. Most of us partition off certain aspects that we’re not ready to reveal about ourselves. We hide our flaws until we can trust enough to show our whole and true selves.

For the first three years of his life, he lived with mom and dad, their children, and a German Shepherd brother. During that time, he’d known the security, love, and protection of a family. That all changed when his family was shattered by a painful divorce, and his future that once seemed so certain was altered forever. Luke was relinquished to rescue.

Now he was scared, depressed, and insecure. The pain in his heart was unbearable. And even though he was embraced and loved in the rescue and showered with affection and attention, Luke longed for a family and a home to call his own. Heartbreak and sorrow were all too apparent in his eyes. When he was alone in his kennel, he retreated to a corner, perhaps dreaming of a home with another dog, children who would know how to properly treat a dog, and a family with some German Shepherd experience.

But we sensed that he’d most likely be adopted quickly. He was not only stunning, but also reserved and well-mannered, although his looks would have conveyed otherwise. And in many ways, he was the ideal family dog: housebroken, socialized, and playful. His favorite thing was to play fetch with the volunteers, dodging their efforts to retrieve the ball and reveling in the game of chase that would ensue when volunteers would attempt to reclaim the ball from his mouth. And he was well-behaved in the car, settling peacefully in the back seat. He also knew some basic doggie obedience.

Within days of joining rescue, it was apparent that Luke was floundering in the kennels. He became apathetic and lethargic. His appetite dwindled, and his depression worsened. So we quickly placed him in a foster home. In foster, Luke improved, but broken hearts are not healed overnight. And like most abandoned dogs, Luke must have been wondering, Why am I here? Where is my family? Who are these new people?

As we predicted, it didn’t take long for our beautiful Luke to find a home. A previous adopter with two older female German Shepherd in her pack decided to add our handsome boy Luke into the mix.  Because of his past, he is quick to form bonds. And the female GSDs in his new family seemed to sense that Luke needed time to ease into the meet-and-greet, so they quietly allowed him to sniff and get acquainted and feel comfortable. Within moments, Luke started to relax, and bonds began to form. Because Luke can be anxious and has a bit of separation anxiety, the two additional female GSDs as constant companions will help keep our boy feeling secure. His new mom is wonderful, calm, and experienced with German Shepherds. Luke’s new home is an extensive park-like property with tons of room to roam and squirrels to chase. Our Luke is in great hands!

When I asked Luke how he was doing, he replied simply that he had never believed that what he’d had in his first home could ever be replaced but that he knew now that home is where the heart is, and he tells us that his heart is starting to heal.

 

 

Rescue Gives a New Lease on Life

He was a stunning black and tan. Classic, noble, and proud with keen eyes and ears. But on the inside, Tobias was falling apart. He had been loved once, but now he was in the shelter. His home, his job, his family, his everything was gone. His eyes told us that he was sad and confused and that he had given up hope. I asked him what had happened; all he told me was that it all happened so fast. Like a tornado had torn through his world, casting everything airborne in a whirlwind of change only to land broken and askew.  Tobias

Our rescue was contacted, and we brought him in. Because he was so shattered, we searched in vain for a foster family rather than place him in our kennels. And we knew through experience that rescue gives a new lease on life. But with our resources exhausted, we had no choice other than to place him in the kennels temporarily. Volunteers rallied around him, showering him with love and affection, carefully introducing him to other dogs, and championing him during his play time.
He struggled with kennel life, but with time, he found a rhythm and settled in. He began to bond with other dogs and come out of his shell. Playtime especially seemed to pull him out of his slump. But we could tell he missed having a real home and a family to claim as his own.
TobiasenteredthepoolforthefirsttimeAs time passed, his confidence grew. And as his confidence grew, his true self emerged. While he had a sweet and affectionate side, he was also a strong athletic male with energy to burn. His leash manners were nonexistent. Walking him meant diverting and directing his energy constantly or you’d find yourself waterskiing behind him.

Meanwhile, a family from another county reached out to us—a large, extended family that had owned GSDs for thirty-five years, with grown children who had children and GSDs of their own. The family had recently lost a beloved male and companion to their female GSD, Bella. They were devastated, and Bella was inconsolable. She would spend hours mourning by his grave in the back yard. They’d been referred to our rescue by their daughter, and they submitted an application for Tobias.

We handled the first meet-and-greet carefully. We’d been warned that Bella could sometimes be a bit barky and pushy, but that didn’t happen with Tobias. Bella looked at Tobias, eyes wide, mouth slightly open in amazement. And she was in love. Later, off leash, they played as though they were bonded littermates.

But possibly the most defining moment was when the new family’s granddaughter stepped up to the fence to meet him. Tobias walked carefully to her as though he was navigating a mine field. He gazed into her eyes with gentle adoration and kissed her through the fence. And we wondered whether he’d been with children in his previous life. Perhaps part of his heartache had been not only losing a home, but also losing a family with children. When I asked him about it he said no, but he loved the innocence of children. They mean no harm, he said.

Now Tobias has a home again. He lives with his new love Bella on a half an acre. He has a large family with parents, children, and grandchildren to love. And he is part of a large pack that romps together when the family reunites for get-togethers. And although chaos and turmoil had separated him from his previous family, he has regained peace and love and all that he once lost.

The Beauty of Adopting an Older Dog

 

Avoid the Puppy Phase

Yes, puppies are adorable, but they’re also a lot of work. Adopting a dog when it’s in its puppy years is somewhat like having a baby. If you adopt a puppy, plan on having some sleepless night and being constantly on watch. Puppies need constant attention and time to adjust to their new homes. They miss their littermates and can be very lonely, which leads to crying and even howling throughout the night. An older dog will likely already be housebroken, will be more likely to resist chewing your favorite shoes, books, glasses, furniture, etc., and can require less training and vigilance from you. The reality is…if you’re not ready for a baby, you’re not ready for a puppy.

Older Dogs Are More Likely to Have Some Training

More often than not, an older dog will have received some training in their prior homes. And even if this isn’t the case, an adopted dog may be coming from a foster home where its temporary family will have provided some training and socialization. The-beauty-of-adopting-an-older-dog

A Great and Grateful Companion

If you’re adopting an older dog, chances are he or she may not have had a perfect life. Dogs land in shelters or rescue groups due to neglect, abandonment, or abuse. This can have a tremendously negative impact on their emotional state. Those giving an older rescue or shelter dog a second chance may find that the dog is eager to be a part of a family and may bond more quickly than a puppy.

Knowing What You’re Getting Into

When you adopt an older dog, you know exactly what you’re getting. Personality, size, and health are already apparent. With a puppy, there can be some unknowns in regard to how they will mature and develop. An older dog, coming from a rescue or shelter, will have been evaluated for temperament and behavioral issues, and they’re done growing, so you know, for the most part, what you’re getting into.

Not Supporting a “Puppy Mill”

When you buy a puppy from a pet store, chances are that the poor dog came from a puppy mill and could suffer from poor health and medical complications down the road. Puppy mills are horrific breeding facilities run by people who care little for the welfare of their breeding dogs and whose sole purpose is to churn out litter after litter of puppies for profit. Dogs in puppy mill facilities receive little or no medical care, are generally caged for their entire lives, and have a poor quality of life. When you adopt an older dog from a shelter or rescue organization, you’re not supporting the puppy mill trade.

Save a Life

It’s a sad fact, but many shelters haven’t adopted a “no-kill policy, which means that if an animal isn’t adopted within a finite window of time, it’s euthanized. In fact, it’s estimated that 4 million dogs are euthanized annually. And since puppies can be more sought after for adoption, older dogs are often passed by for their cuter counterparts. Adopting an older dog from a rescue or shelter not only saves its life, but it makes room for the shelter or rescue to take in another dog so you’ll really have rescued two dogs. And once you bond with your new companion, you may find yourself wondering who rescued who.

So there you have it. The beauty of adopting an older dog…and six beautiful reasons why you should.

 

Top 10 Tips for a Lifetime of Good Health for Your Pet

  1. Spay or Neuter—Spaying or neutering your animal companion is actually healthier for them, reduces the desire to wander, and wards off risks of cancer!
  2. Vaccinate—When your animal companion was born, he received protection from many diseases from antibodies passed through the mother’s milk. These antibodies dissipated by the time he was about three months old, leaving the immune system vulnerable. Talk to your vet about the recommended vaccines for your area. Continue reading

Gizmo’s Grand Adventure

Gizmo was a happy-go-lucky Shepherd mix with floppy ears, white paws, a patch of tan under his chin, and two tan dots centered over each eye. A friendly 18-month-old, he was first adopted from us when he was just a pup. In his family’s care, he grew to be a lovely dog, walking his children to elementary school each day. And on the return trip to retrieve the children, he’d prance as he neared the school, wagging his tail excitedly.

 

Unfortunately, when he was a few months old, he was diagnosed with a congenital condition that was beyond his family’s means to deal with, and Gizmo was returned to the rescue. But every cloud has a silver lining, and lucky Gizmo was scooped up by a volunteer who researched his condition and found a solution. Two more angels stepped in and welcomed him into their family as a foster and continued to treat his condition. With meds and the right care, Gizmo’s health returned to normal. Now all he needed was a savvy family who could cope with his needs and, most importantly, love him forever.

Gizmo_1HS

His foster family described him as a delightful dog who would make a wonderful addition to any family. He was super affectionate. He’d nudge people with his nose or sit next to them in a chair, looking longingly into their eyes as he waited patiently for a petting or scratching session. I asked him how he would describe himself, and his response was “I am happy-go-lucky, and I like tinkling noises and cold on my nose. And I am one in a million. And I am a curious bird.” It was all true. Born a curious guy, Gizmo would watch everything that moved. He’d follow his people everywhere to make certain he didn’t miss anything exciting, and he’d examine anything that moved—bugs, toys, people, birds, squirrels…anything.

 

Gizmo had some basic training, was well behaved, and loved kids and dogs, so we looked for an active home to satisfy his curious nature. I later learned that we also needed to find a house with an icemaker. Why? Gizmo loved ice cubes! He’d trot to the refrigerator, stare expectantly at the icemaker, and pace in place, eagerly waiting to be given one. That was what he meant by tinkling noises; it was the sound that the icemaker made when the cubes dropped from the chute and clinked one on top of another in a glass.

Gizmo_FunGuy

Although Gizmo had many angels in his life, when the time was right, he met some very special ones. Friends of his foster family cared for the family’s dogs when they were away and began to form a bond with Gizmo. Over time, those friends fell in love. Now he finally has the home he has been waiting for and Gizmo’s grand adventure can begin.

How does Gizmo spend his time these days? He spends every moment with his new family. Our little guy is now a companion dog who accompanies his new dad everywhere he goes. He is also making lots of new dog friends he meets during adventures with his new family. And in his spare time, he monitors the icemaker. He’s even learned to push the lever so he can dispense his own ice any time he wants.

 

 

From Isolation to Inspiration – Dagger’s Rescue Story

Commanding and intense, this handsome boy’s piecing gaze could stop traffic. With Dagger on the end of your leash, you’d be sure to attract an admiring glance or two. Dagger lived with his family since he was a small puppy. Although he had a doggie friend (a Rottweiler), both dogs spent much of their time outside in separate kennels. So Dagger lived a fairly isolated life and missed out meeting new people, going new places, and seeing all kinds of new things. Without those opportunities and despite his formidable appearance, Dagger lacked confidence and was extremely insecure. And he was confused about why his people had left him and what the future held for him.

When he came to rescue, a team was assembled to help him adjust to his new life. The leader of his new team was his savvy new foster mom. In his foster home, he learned from the other dogs and gained confidence. He adapted to life in a home beautifully , mastered crate training and housebreaking quickly, and began to conquer basic commands.

Proper socialization brought out his affectionate side, and over time he discovered that he loved to rest in his human’s lap and watch TV. And he discovered how fun it could be to fetch toys, get groomed, and just get some good old-fashioned lovin’.

Despite his progress, we knew Dagger would do best in a savvy home with other outgoing and confident dog to continue to bolster his developing confidence.

When I saw his photo for the first time, he took my breath away. And when I tuned into him, he told me he was a bit of a handful. When I asked him about it, he said, “I like to think, smell, feel, breathe, see…everything. That makes me a handful. I can be a challenge to keep up with once I am comfortable with my surroundings.”

Dagger met his forever family on a Saturday. They had lost their beloved Rebel, a Rottie-Aussie mix, and Tikki, their remaining GSD, was lonely. And the family’s daughter missed Rebel even more and needed to find a dog that would interact with her more than Tikki wanted to. So they packed up Tikki and came to an adoption event at our kennels, where they met several of our dogs.

dagger 2

But Tikki snubbed one after another. The first dog was too playful and too loud. The second dog was too chill. Then Dagger came along. And he was just right. Well…it took some time. Tikki likes to play hard to get. We began the introductions by having the dogs walk side by side. But true to her diva form, Tikki got her nose out of joint, and she looked everywhere except at Dagger. Then they went to the play yard, where both sniffed together, played with the toys, and just hung out in general. Tikki had decided that he was okay. Dagger spent the yard time checking out the people in his prospective family. He sniffed the mom, lingered a moment, and then moved on the daughter. And then back to Tikki. And then back to the people. Every time he came to the daughter, he lingered a little longer and sniffed a little longer. Then he gave her a subtle nudge with his nose.

Dagger’s family has reported that everything is going great. And Dagger is grateful to everyone who supported him during his journey, to the family who will be with him forever, and to Tikki for picking the right one. When I tuned into Dagger one more time to ask him how things were going in his new home, he said simply, “I can be me.” And what a beautiful thing that is.

 

A New Leash on Life!

When Del arrived at Rescue, he was a mess. His ears were clogged with hematomas, and one ear was stitched to his head, his last vet’s misguided attempt to get it to heal properly. And he was a misfit of sorts. A gangly white lab in a sea of German Shepherds. Understandably frightened, Del was timid and unsure of his future. Life had not been kind to him. We took him to our vet; his ears were fixed, and he was placed on antibiotics to help him battle the massive infections. But because his ear ducts were so narrow, he needed daily medication and cleaning to keep him from relapsing. Because of his medical needs, he was immediately fostered by one of our veteran volunteers. Dell9

Over time, the foster learned that Del was allergic to everything. His allergy tests read like a who’s who of symptoms and sensitivities. So, in addition to the treatments for his ears, he required allergy shots and a special prescription diet to calm his intestines. And it helped, but on his most challenging days, Del threw up every twenty minutes. Playtime had to be strictly supervised. Too much excitement would trigger another round of vomiting. His foster dad wasn’t thrilled at first. He was a diehard shepherd lover who gravitated to the classic black and tans, not some white mutt whose serious medical issues required frequent carpet cleaning. Anyone who followed Del’s dad on Facebook knew all too well how often poor Del threw up.

But the foster dad took one for the team, and Del began to thrive in his new home. He bonded quickly with the other dog in the family, a tripod black and tan who’d lost one of his front legs early in life due to a botched surgery. And he loved the cats!

Del had many people interested in him during his stay with the rescue, but they always changed their minds for one reason or another. Three times, a family stepped forward to bring him into their fold, but due to either landlord constraints or their reluctance to deal with his issues, he just didn’t “fit” in any of their homes.

Then the tide turned. A family was seriously interested in adopting Del. They said they were moving to a new house but would gladly adopt Del after the move despite all his medical problems. And then Del’s foster dad panicked. It was too real…it was too sudden…it was too final. If he didn’t act, he’d lose Del forever. The next day, he sent a text to the rescue’s leader and founder. It was a short message. Only five words: “I want to adopt Del.”

 And just like that, in five simple words, our Del graduated from special-needs dog to just plain special, our sweet Del finally found his place on the planet and a new leash on life!

Bristol’s Amazing Journey-Another Happy Rescue Story

It happens all too often. A  lost dog running panicked alongside a stretch of road. It’s a sight that fills most of us with a sense of panic, immediately followed by a rush of adrenaline that sends us bolting from our cars to help.

Worse yet, when the dog is dodging traffic on a busy interstate, it’s terrifying. For us and them. But that’s exactly what happened to Bristol—just eight weeks old, scared and scooting between cars as they rocketed past her. It could have been the end of her life, but one guardian angel leapt from her car, stopped traffic, and scooped the poor girl into her arms and out of harm’s way. Then she contacted rescue to find Bristol a home. Bristol6

Bristol, a brindle Dutch Shepherd mix, had a multi-color coat with a patch of white scruff on her chest. She is a spitfire with a great personality. She loves life and everything about it—people, dogs, cats, toys, everything. One only has to gaze into her sweet eyes, and she captures your heart forever. Never mind that she’s only distracting you so she can grab your snack or whatever you might be carrying. Her ears are a never-ending source of movement and entertainment. One moment one up, the next back, then the next goes up, then to the side, and back toward the middle. Wait. Back down again.

Bristol enjoyed life as she waited for her forever home. No more freeways for this little angel! But she had lots to learn. Sit, down, paw, and especially walk on a leash. When it came to walking with humans, Bristol meandered aimlessly, ignoring any attempts to direct her energy and direction. Bristol3

One day, a family fell in love with Bristol on our rescue’s website. And they came to meet her. They’d recently lost their two dogs and had adopted a twelve-month-old shepherd, Bodie, from us just a few months ago; they thought Bristol might be a good match. Bodie was pure puppy—a jumping, chewing, energetic, pushing-the-boundaries puppy, so we questioned their sanity about wanting another.

Especially since Bristol was also pure puppy. She can easily scale a four-and-a-half-foot baby gate without a running start. She loves to chew; though she’s learning her manners, she’s still very much a puppy. Their answer: “Absolutely!” They met Bristol that weekend. When her new family came, Bristol was invited for a walk with Bodie and family. Mom walked Bristol, and to our amazement Bristol walked calmly by her side, stopping every few steps to look at her new mom for direction. It was as though she had found the leader and companion she’d been searching for.

A few days later, Bodie and family made the second trip to the rescue to pick Bristol up and take her home. And we did one more get-reacquainted walk. One of our volunteers walked Bristol, Dad walked Bodie, and Mom was on the far right. As we walked, Bristol kept pulling to get to her new mom. When she grabbed the leash in her mouth and tugged the volunteer to get closer to her mom, we knew that Bristol had found her forever home.

Bristol, now Cali, is her mom’s shadow, and Bodie is her adoring brother. She and Bodie follow each other around the house and share the toys. They spend hours running, chasing each other, and playing. Training classes are set to begin next week for everyone. Now, our freeway puppy, is now on the road to becoming the most wonderful dog.

Five Reasons to Adopt…Not Shop for Your Next Dog

It’s a sad fact that millions of dogs (and cats) are relinquished to shelters each year. Sadder still almost half are euthanized before they ever have a chance at finding a forever home. Here are five reasons to adopt…not shop for your next dog.

 

save a life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Back and Save a Life

If you’re ready for a new dog, adopting your new companion means you’ve saved a life. Dogs in high-kill shelters often have only days to find a new home before the are put down. You’ll feel good knowing that the pet you just brought into your life is a dog that you saved.

You’ll Play a Part in Solving the Pet Population Problem

When you buy from a pet store or a breeder, you create a demand for more puppies. This means breeders will continue to breed their dogs to make more money. When you adopt, you’re providing  a homeless and abandoned dog a new lease on life. adopt dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get a Dog Whose Training Is Underway

Dogs who find their way to rescue generally receive some training from either the rescue organization or foster families. When you buy a puppy from a breeder, the sole responsibility for training your new canine will fall to you.

great selection

 

Great Selection

Dog shelters have a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and breeds. In some instances, you can even find purebred dogs and puppies. And in most areas, breed-specific rescues are common, which means once you determine the breed you’d like, you can quite often find a rescue with dozens of possibilities.

 

 

Get Help Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right

Shelters and rescues generally evaluate the temperament of each dog and can help pair you with the
perfect partner. If you buy a puppy from a breeder or pet store, you have no idea how that dog will develop. Getting advice from people who’ve had training in pairing people and pups will ensure that you find the right dog for you.