When her sister Cali was adopted, it shook Brooklyn to the core. We often try to adopt siblings together if it’s possible, but when a perfect home presents itself, we can’t always wait. Cali had been adopted just three weeks before an application came in for Brooklyn. The family wanted to meet Dennis, a rambunctious male, and Brooklyn to see if either dog would be a match for their female Bambi, a beautiful sable who, as a puppy, had bounced and bounded around so much that she was named after the Walt Disney character.
A meet-and-greet was scheduled. The biggest concern was whether Brooklyn and Bambi would accept each other. Both had lost a sibling, companion, and playmate just weeks earlier. Dennis was up first. Bambi walked alongside Dennis, sniffed him and showed casual interest. Then Dennis growled. Bambi shrunk back on her haunches. The meet-and-greet was over.
Now it was Brooklyn’s turn. She approached the humans first, wagging her tail and leaning into them. It was a good sign. She’d always been cautious when meeting new people. Then Brooklyn and Bambi went for a walk. They wandered side by side, peaceful, and very happy. Then Bambi play-bowed and thunked Brooklyn’s back with her paw. Brooklyn wheeled and play-bowed back. It was a great sign, and a home visit and another meet-and-greet were scheduled.
The next day, Brooklyn and Bambi went on a walk in Bambi’s neighborhood. Then, Bambi showed Brooklyn around the backyard and invited her to play “Queen of the Mountain” on top of the covered Jacuzzi. Brooklyn jumped up alongside Bambi, nudged her face, and took off around the yard. Friendship sealed! A volunteer had led her to meet Brooklyn. She said she had seen Brooklyn in her crate at an adoption event and their eyes had met. She had not been able to get Brooklyn’s eyes out of her mind. Maybe Brooklyn had chosen her.
Because the match has been perfect. Bambi is the type of dogs who loves having a younger dog to mother and care for, and Brooklyn needed a mom. Two more happy endings to this story. First, Brooklyn’s new mom donated extra funds to help Dennis find his forever family. Second, Cali’s family retrieved her from the kennels the same day of Brooklyn’s meet-and-greet. Cali’s new family bumped into Brooklyn’s family when they were coming to get her out of the kennels, and everyone hit it off, so Brooklyn and Cali will have plenty of play dates in the future, including tug of war and squeaky toys and our bonded sisters find their happy ending!
Brooklyn and Cali were bonded sisters. Blond shepherd mixes with floppy ears, stubby tails, and goofy grins, they were two peas in a pod and constant companions. As six-month-old littermates, they’d lived together since birth with their family. They spent their days wrestling, playing tug of war with squeaky toys, and taking naps together on a big, soft bed. Weekends would find them with their family, romping and running on the beach and swimming in the warm Southern California waves. All dad had to say was “bye bye” and the girls knew they were headed for an adventure in the back of the Jeep.
Unfortunately, their family came upon hard financial times, and Brooklyn and Cali joined our rescue to look for a new family. Cali was the more social of the two while Brooklyn was a bit more anxious in new situations. But in time, our patient, talented volunteers coaxed them out of their shells, and soon the girls were giving kisses and hugs to everyone they met. It helped that we had lots of squeaky toys!
In November, Cali was invited to spend the holidays with a foster family. She spent Thanksgiving in her new home with her two new canine sisters: Heidi, an 18-month-old German Shepherd, and Chelsea, a slightly older greyhound. It didn’t take long for the family (humans and canines) to fall in love with Cali, and she was invited to stay through Christmas. Christmas came and went, and the family informed us that they wouldn’t mind keeping Cali until January when they were to leave for their vacation.
Then January came, and it was time for the family to leave for vacation, but not before letting us know that Cali had a home forever. Cali returned to our kennels while her family vacationed. It was a reunion for her, as she reconnected with the volunteers she had come to know and love. She remembered each and every human and dog she’d met during her stay, and she romped in the yard with all of her old doggie pals. But when her family came back from vacation and walked into the yard, Cali only had eyes for them. She ran straight into her family’s waiting arms and never looked back.
Stay tuned for part two of Brooklyn and Cali’s story and find out how these bonded sisters find their happy endings!
Like many of our dogs, Draco was dumped in a San Diego shelter. There he was diagnosed with Giardia. Although it’s easy to treat, he languished in his kennel and depression set in. Physically, he began to weaken to the point that he was temporarily removed from the adoptable list.
Slowly, he began to recover, and a young couple expressed their interest in him. But sadly they weren’t a match. They’d never had a dog before, so pairing them with a strong dog whose boundless energy and intelligence would have most certainly challenged them would have been a mistake. So Draco found himself waiting for a spot to open up in a rescue. And open it did. Coastal was contacted, and Draco joined our family.
Draco was a pure white shepherd with a bunny soft coat and a thick, fluffy scruff that wreathed his neck. Now that he was feeling better, he was a bundle of energy waiting to take on the world. At just eleven months old, he was curious about everything. His long legs and sprawling paws hinted at the magnificent, powerful boy he’d become when he was full grown. Draco loved to play, and every dog he met was a new friend to explore the world with. But his favorite pastime was splashing in the refreshing wading pool in the kennel yards. It delighted him so much it was as though he expected to find treasures lurking just beneath the surface of the water.
When I tuned into and asked him to describe himself, he said two simple words: “Infinite wonder.” It seemed a beautiful and befitting way to portray his curious nature. And when I asked him what he wanted in a home, he replied, “Something to keep me occupied.”
Because of his strength and energy, we looked for an experienced family who would devote themselves to training and leadership to guide his development. Equally important was a home with another large dog and no small critters or children. He needed an active family with lots of activity and an equal amount of time to devote to him so that he could grow into his legacy gracefully.
Meanwhile, Indigo, a five-year-old jet-black German Shepherd in Orange County, had lost her companion. At just eight weeks old, Indigo was found wandering the desert alone and stricken with Parvo, a life-threatening virus. Little Indigo was taken to rescue and treated. Luckily, she’d been found in time and survived the ordeal. And soon, she was adopted by a family with an older dog.
Within weeks, her family noticed that she seemed indifferent to sounds. She didn’t always come when called, and loud noises didn’t alarm her. She never started at the sound of the doorbell or to noises in her environment. An exam at the vet revealed that little Indigo was deaf. But it didn’t seem to bother her. Perhaps she’d never known a different reality. And over time, her bond with both her family and her companion dog grew.
While they loved each other, one problem remained. Indigo tried diligently to entice her best friend to play, but the other dog was not interested. And after a few years, Indigo finally gave up. When her friend passed away, her owners asked their trainer for a recommendation for their next dog. They were told that since Indigo was shy and submissive, they need a dominant alpha male. So they began their search.
They were captivated by Draco when they saw him on our website and asked if the dominant and alpha traits described him. Umm…no! But we wondered if perhaps Indigo needed something different in her next doggy companion. Someone more outgoing, more affable, and more playful. After all, she’d tried for years to create a playmate in her other companion. And that description suited Draco to a T.
Indigo and Draco met that weekend. She and her family arrived at the play yard at our kennels. Indigo sported a purple cast on her left foot from a recent injury. The dogs were introduced via their handlers. It was not love at first sight. Draco bounded up to Indigo and went in for the big kiss. Indigo curled her lip. He tried again, she curled again. He backed up and bowed, waiting for a sign of acceptance, under the watchful eye of his handler. She turned tail and wandered nonchalantly toward the fence that hemmed the play yard. He pulled to follow her and maneuvered himself in front her.
Then he lay down in front of her, got up, and tried again. She curled her lips and snapped. His style of play wasn’t working for her. But he followed her lead and heeded her corrections. That’s the beauty of the canine world. The subtle cues. The almost invisible communication via body language. It’s an intensely refined form of conversing. And in interesting contrast to the verbal and nonverbal cues that we as humans are sometimes oblivious to.
Indigo strolled casually around the yard, sniffing and exploring. Draco watched her every move. Then began to emulate her movement, mirroring her. It’s been said that in psychology, you can create a sense of ease and comfort with others if you mirror their body language. Draco our little doggie psychologist must have taken that course. Because Indigo allowed him to walk alongside her. No more snarling. No more corrections.
But then, his exuberance got the best of him. He went in for a kiss, and Indigo used a little more than a lip curl to signal her annoyance. When Draco didn’t back off, she smacked his head with her purple cast. Okay, so maybe he didn’t take the course in psychology, because Draco thought that was an invitation play. He crouched and play bowed, and Indigo turned her back to him.
Her message was clear. Playtime was definitely not happening. But even though the meet-and-greet had been less than stellar, mom and Indigo went home to think about Draco and the potential of a new companion for Indigo.
Five days later, Draco was invited to visit their home. Draco wanted to go straight for the face-to-face kiss again, but instead he patiently settled for a stroll around the block. Later, inside their home, he made a beeline for the back yard. Then he noticed the pool. A big, oval-shaped structure that dwarfed the pool he knew at the kennels. Draco waded onto the steps of the pool and nosed the water. Indigo watched, her curiosity piqued. She had always been afraid to go in before, but now she was ready to follow. Only problem, her cast. Indigo would have to wait to go wading.
When Draco emerged from the pool, the two met face to face. Indigo stood in front of him for a few seconds examining him. Her next move surprised everyone. She quickly ducked into play bow, turned and sprinted around the yard. Draco followed in hot pursuit, racing after her. Even with Indigo in a cast, Draco had to work to catch up, but when he did, she turned and jumped over him joyfully, spinning in midair. She batted Draco around with her purple cast, and he, the perfect gentleman, seemed to enjoy taking a hit for his newfound friend.
Finally exhausted, they dropped to the ground to recharge. Within minutes, they were ready for round two. As they played, we noticed that Draco began to engage Indigo from the front rather than surprising her by approaching from the rear or to the side of her. Maybe he picked up on the fact that she couldn’t hear him. Maybe he was learning what worked with her. Either way, he now has a very energetic friend, and Indigo finally has someone who will play with her. And the pool…well, let’s just say it’s getting a lot of use. And Draco certainly has a home where he will be “occupied.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
Gilmore, a happy-go-lucky senior, was named after the lead character in Happy Gilmore, the fun-loving golfer trying to make it in the big time. Our Gilmore loves chasing balls and romping with other canines big and small. While old age might have forced him into a more sedentary lifestyle, Gilmore was far from slipping into retirement.
An eight-year-old classic black and tan, Gilmore was found as a stray. But his weight was good and he showed no signs of health problems. And he loved people. He seemed intent on pleasing volunteers and often showed his gratitude for being rescued by leaning into people and softly placing his head in a convenient lap.
The day Gilmore joined our rescue, we got a call from a woman who was adamant about adopting an older dog to join her current pack and get him or her out of the kennels. It seemed like a perfect fit; she worked from home and lived on a property that would be paradise for a bunch of shepherds to frolic. So a site visit was scheduled to check out the new home. A meet-and-greet was scheduled to assess the compatibility of the pack members. Every test passed with flying colors, and it was love at first sight for the dogs and the humans.
I used my intuition to check in with Gilmore in his new home, and Gilmore told me his new life is so much fun. There’s plenty of play time and plenty of hang time. He’s happier than he’s ever been. And he told me that it’s important to stick firm to your beliefs. His foster mom was adamant about finding the right senior. In fact, she waited weeks for a dog like Gilmore to come along. And her persistence paid off, allowing her to find the perfect new pack member. A comment Gilmore shared when I tuned into him was failure to communicate. I didn’t understand the meaning, so I pushed for more information. There’s the phantom of timing I was told. Now I was really confused. The phantom of timing? I had no idea what that meant and the message eluded me. Was the message referring to my failure to communicate? I was certainly failing to understand the purpose Gilmore was bringing to his new human. Hope. I bring hope. “In regard to what?” I asked. There were things there that needed fixin’. His voice suddenly had a decidedly southern twang, and I wondered if he was joking. But I was reminded that our animal companions and their power to help us is one of the reasons we love them so much. They calm us with their presence. They allow us to surrender to the depth we find in their eyes and their souls. They mend our hearts with their unconditional love. So many of life’s most important lessons are solved for us and modeled for us every day in our animal companions and their power to help us. There are indeed so many amazing ways animals help us. Often without us even knowing. Gilmore was right. If there were things there that needed fixin’, he was the man for the job.
She was as sleek and fast as the high-end Porsche she was named for. And she got her name due to her previous guardian’s love of the brand’s premiere model, the Carerra.
Carerra was a graceful, agile bicolor with a shiny black coat that was blinged out by accents of tan on her chest and feet. And at the age of just seven months, she’d lived with her current family for most of her life. Carerra was an affectionate sweetie who loved people, dogs, and just about everything…especially long rides in the car. She slept peacefully in her crate at night in the master bedroom with her people and never whined or complained about not being on the bed. Playtime was a favorite activity, and she adored balls, especially tennis balls. She had a funny quirk of chasing balloons and biting at them as they bounced and bobbed along the hardwood floors in her home. Even better when she could sink her teeth into one and be rewarded by the loud pop as it exploded in her mouth.
Life was good, and all was well in her world. But when a devastating illness struck one of the family members in her home, the family was overwhelmed with the stress and chaos of care-giving, and Carerra was sadly relinquished to rescue. Like her name implied, Carerra was a high-octane girl with energy to burn.
When she came to rescue, she was first greeted by two of the core volunteers who love, love, love, bi-colors…in fact, they already had three of their own. But they seriously considered expanding the trio to a quartet as they were smitten with Carerra at first sight. While they deliberated, Carerra went into foster with other long-time volunteers, a family who’d fostered dozens of dogs over the years. The happy ending? The family became first-time failed fosters and decided to give our girl a forever home. I guess they’d been holding out all along for Carerra, and we couldn’t think of a more perfect home for our beautiful girl.
When I tapped my intuition to check on her, she simply responded timing is everything. The time she had in her first home allowed her to understand and receive love and compassion, but when timing also meant she would lose her home, a window of opportunity connected her quickly with the right family. Timing is everything. It has the power to heal, to put us on our intended path, to allow us to manifest what we need when we need it. Each event leads us to the next step and the one after until we are exactly where we are meant to be.
Eighteen months ago, Carmen’s world was shattered. Her elderly owner, a woman she’d lived with her entire life, passed away. Unfortunately, the remaining family members did not want her, and Carmen was left at a kennel while the family paid for her monthly board. She languished there for more months, waiting for the only human who ever loved her to return to take her home. That woman never came. And as a result, Carmen began to give up.
As our rescue volunteers came each day to care for our dogs sheltered in the same kennel, it was hard to ignore Carmen. She was sad, fearful, and downcast. In her first and only home, Carmen was isolated with her elderly owner and so she was shy and afraid when she met new people. And as her time in the shelter grew, so did her fear.
Our volunteers made a promise to themselves and to Carmen. A promise to do everything they could to help find her a home. Volunteers began spending time with her. Trying to bond. Trying to connect. Trying to gain her trust.
At first, Carmen would approach them slowly and hesitantly. But at the first hint that one of them might touch her, she’d turn and run for the safety of her bed. Then she’d work up the courage to approach again, only to turn away and cower.
After a few days of cat and mouse, she crawled toward our volunteers on her stomach. As she came closer, a glimmer of life crept into her eyes and the emotional walls that had imprisoned her began to crumble. As days and weeks passed, she learned to trust her new friends, one at a time.
Finally, she allowed herself to be petted and even began to give kisses! And in the play yard, we found that she could run faster and jump higher than any of our dogs. She somersaulted over hay bales, flew around the play yard, and romped in the pool with her new toys. Her favorite game was thrusting her face into the water bucket, rolling in the dirt, and then diving back into the bucket once more to wash the dirt away!
Then we were leveled with bad news. Carmen’s remaining family had decided to relinquish Carmen to a sanctuary—a world of forgotten dogs that belonged to no one. And we knew we had to keep our promise to this little girl and help her find a home with a family who had the patience to work with her and build trust. If the eyes are the window to the soul, anyone who looked into Carmen’s eyes saw the sweet, intelligent soul that resided inside.
Fate finally intervened, and the family finally agreed to relinquish Carmen to our rescue. And she began to attend adoption events and meet prospective families. But she was still fearful of strangers. Especially men. Adoption applications began to stream in, but none of them were the best of fits. Some had small children; others had unfenced yards. So we continued to search for the perfect family.
One day, a new application came in. The family wanted to meet Carmen. They met us at the kennels, and as the husband and wife approached her, Carmen ran straight toward the husband. Even though she was afraid of men!
Within minutes of meeting them, she was offering him kisses and her paw. When the husband and wife returned to see her a second time, Carmen ran to the fence to greet them, wagging her tail with joy.
I think dogs know when they’ve found the right family. They know when they’ve met “the one.” Carmen had bonded with many of our volunteers, but when it came time to say goodbye, Carmen quietly acknowledged the volunteers who’d grown close to her, jumped in the back of her new family’s car, and never looked back. Little Carmen had waited so long for the right family and finally it happened. And that’s how Carmen found the one!
She’s a stunning, soft blond German Shepherd. A hint of black peppers her back, and a pale white, crescent moon–shaped choker frames her chest. When she found her way to rescue, she was battling a horrific ear infection so severe that one eardrum was ruptured. The poor girl was in severe pain. Terrified, alone, and unsure of her future, Blondie shied away from volunteers’ attempts to befriend her and win her trust. So we socialized her by using other dogs to win her trust and bolster her shattered confidence. In time, she warmed up to her rescue playmates and slowly, surely, our beautiful girl began to come out of her shell. Volunteers continued to rally around her. Her ears healed. Confidence and joy began to replace her fear and pain. She gained trust in bonding with other dogs during playtime. And she frolicked in the play yard, bounding over hay bales and racing side by side with our other rescues.
During her photo shoot, she posed politely, and with each lady-like image, seemed to know that she was being captured for posterity. It was as if she knew that each photo posted on the website was a beacon to bring the right family to her.
When the day came to meet the resident cat at the rescue kennels, Blondie slowly approached him as he lounged nonchalantly in the arms of one of our volunteers. She sniffed and then sweetly licked the cat through the chain-link fence. Our gentle gem was also good with small dogs. Both of these traits would make her easier to place. She grew to love and crave her time with humans, seeking their affection and loving touch. But still something was missing. Still she yearned for a place and a family to call her own.
One day, a gentleman came to one of our adoption events and talked to a counselor about his wants and needs in his next dog. He had lost his long-time companion dog just weeks earlier. He was still grieving, but Blondie was an imprint of his dog, and the resemblance between them activated the part of his heart he’d closed off after the loss of his beloved Shepherd. A few days later, he put in an application for Blondie.
A meet-and-greet was arranged in order to get a glimpse of the life this gentleman and his GSD companion had had. He is a retired military flier and took his dog everywhere, including Oregon, where he spent summers vacationing and volunteering at the state parks. He and his dog provided tours for the children that visited, and the pair taught visitors from all walks of life how to enjoy and get the most out of park life. A long-time Southern California resident, he’d lived in the same neighborhood for years, and everyone who had known him fell in love with his dog. He knew Blondie would have the same effect for she’d stolen his heart and begun to help him heal within minutes of meeting her. It was an excellent fit. Blondie’s new name is Cheyenne. The neighborhood has already all met her and announced her wonderful. Blondie is well and happy and has her forever home. And her human? He adores her. And he has a companion for his trips to Oregon. He has a companion for life.
When I pondered the importance of their fated meeting, I think it is far more than Blondie finding her forever home and he a lifelong companion to fill the empty void in his heart. I tapped into my intuition and heard the following message.
They are pathfinders for one another. Showing each other the way and bringing each other back to center.
Their relationship is like a mathematic extrapolation of the old adage: Home is where the heart is. I think their union serves as a navigation system of sorts, a beacon to help each other find their way through the world’s energetic structure. Like sonar or radar or an internal homing device, together they will help each other navigate through life and return to center, to home base, and to heart.