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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
As 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.
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!
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 →
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
So you think you’re ready for a new dog. And maybe you’re even considering a puppy. Here are nine important questions to ask before you get a puppy.
1. Are you ready to put in the time and energy to train your puppy—even if this means paying for professional training? If you answered no, don’t get a puppy.
2. Are you ready to have your personal possessions chewed, mangled, and stained? Puppies teethe, which means they’ll chew your favorite shoes, purses, books, etc. And they’ll have potty accidents and throw up on things. If you have no tolerance for this, don’t get a puppy.
3. Are you ready to give up sleep? Puppies miss their litter mates and can demand attention when you least want to give it…in the middle of the night. If you don’t want to get up every two or three hours each night to soothe your distraught pup, don’t get a puppy.
4. Are you ready to give up your free time? If you love to lounge around on a lazy Sunday morning (or when you get home from a long day at work) a puppy might not be the best choice for you. Puppies need tons of time and attention and exercise. If you don’t have time to provide this, don’t get a puppy.
5. Are you able to provide the right medical care? Puppies need shots, tests, spaying or neutering, and routine medical care. In the worst-case scenarios, they can require emergency care if they’ve chewed or swallowed something dangerous. If you don’t have the financial means to care for a puppy as you would a child, don’t get a puppy.
6. Are you ready to adapt if your puppy turns out to be different than you imagined? There’s no reliable way to gauge the temperament of your new puppy. What if he or she is more active than you imagined or less easily trained? Do you have the patience and flexibility to stick with it and adapt to the needs of your new puppy? If you don’t, don’t get a puppy.
7. Are you available? Are you around enough to provide for the needs your puppy will have? If you work full time or are away from the home for hours, don’t get a puppy.
8. Are you willing to establish a support system for your puppy when you have to travel? If not, don’t get a puppy.
9. Are you able to financially, physically, emotionally, and mentally provide for another living being? Having a puppy is saying “yes” to a 10‒15 year commitment. If you’re not ready for a baby, don’t get a puppy.