Gem’s Journey – A Magical Rescue Story

Pregnant and stranded in a high-kill shelter, Gem’s transition to motherhood was a challenging one.  She was scheduled to be euthanized when a German Shepherd rescue stepped in to change her fate forever. And through the power of one simple word—“yes”—Gem’s life and future changed forever. But even though she was out of danger, poor Gem was still so frightened she had to be carried to the rescue van and into her foster home.

One week later, Gem gave birth to nine adorable puppies, six of whom were claimed by adoptive families as soon as they were old enough and three of whom, like Gem, waited patiently for a forever home.  The rescue’s “yes” had saved nine more lives.

Gem was a beauty, a pale blond shepherd with a frosted black saddle and a thin black strip on her forehead. Her eyes were soulful and kind, and underneath her quiet demeanor lived a regal soul. I asked her to describe herself and what she wanted in a home. She said simply that she was humble and shy and that her only desire was to feel safe. And while she was cautious, she warmed up to people once she became comfortable with them.

I asked Gem what she had gone through at the shelter, pregnant and alone. Her response: People don’t realize that we understand our plight and our situation. I knew I was pregnant and stranded. I knew my puppies depended on me and on the kindness of people I had yet to meet. It was a desperate time.

In her foster home, Gem worked hard on building her confidence.  She gained emotional strength and support from the two resident dogs, and she followed them everywhere when she wasn’t tending her puppies.

At the same time Gem arrived in our rescue, a husband/wife team put in an application. They had always had GSDs and their most recent, Schatzi, had been imported from Germany to join their current fur family that consisted of three small dogs and two cats. Schatzi was a character. He stole beer, carried the small dogs around in his mouth like lollipops, and toted a Barbie doll crown in his teeth. He visited dog parks frequently and attempted to play with his other pack members, but within weeks, his family knew that something was missing from his life. And they knew he needed a dog his size to play with.  So we scheduled a meet-and-greet for Schatzi, Gem, and the original five furry family members. Gem was a pro. It was like she knew she was home. Her shyness melted away, and she greeted the new “furmily” with grace and reserve. No feathers or fur ruffled in the process.

Gem was welcomed into the family and became Lily. Now, the “yes” that transformed ten lives expanded to touch seven more. The family reports that Lily fits in like she’s been there forever.  Schatzi no longer is tempted to enjoy a lolli-pup, has forsaken his Barbie crown for good, and has stopped stealing beer! And Gem’s life is no longer desperate.

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How Nemo Found His Way – Part Two

Nemo Part 2

 

Then his healing journey began. He was taken to the vet, shaved, vaccinated, X-rayed, and crated for transportation to the kennels. All the while, Nemo was brave, curious, gentle, grateful, and fearless. He needed medicated baths for months. They were long and painful, and there was scrubbing and bleeding. But all the while he seemed to know that everything we did was to help him on his road to recovery.

A foster stepped up to continue his arduous care routine, and after months, Nemo began to gradually respond. He gained weight, his front leg healed, and his fur filled in. He morphed into a stunning, regal black and tan shepherd who was far younger than we originally expected. nemo before and after

Nemo was a relatively laid-back dog. He spent his days in his foster home going for walks, fetching tennis balls, and playing with other dogs. But he also loved just “chilling” in the backyard or sitting with the humans to watch television, even seeming to enjoy the family pastime of watching football games. Nemo often went with his foster mom to visit other rescue dogs who lived at the kennel, watching while his mom tended to them. He looked on from afar, happy and relaxed in a long run, observing the activity as kenneled dogs came and went on their walks.

Once he fully recovered, Nemo morphed into a strong and powerful and protective shepherd. And we knew he  would need a structured and disciplined environment with another well-settled dog in the home to be a role model. So we all hoped that we could manifest the right home for him.

In his foster home, we learned he was housebroken, had good house manners, was friendly with other dogs, and was respectful of boundaries. He knew basic commands and had a genuine desire to please. Most likely, he had once been loved and well-cared-for before he found himself alone as a stray.

A few weeks ago, Nemo was invited to stay with the mother and father-in-law of one of our volunteers and their resident canines. They were looking for a very special dog: a German Shepherd Dog with excellent temperament; a dog who would be dog-, cat-, and bird-friendly; a dog who would be gentle with kids and responsive to all family members and friends.

The lucky dog would have more than an acre of fenced grass yard on which to run and play with all the doggie friends, a swimming pool in which to cool off, and, of course, love and attention from many dog lovers.

Nemo moved in and settled beautifully, every puzzle piece fitting perfectly together, as though it was meant to be. They found Nemo, and Nemo found his home. And while we’ll never know the full extent of the tragedy and hardship Nemo endured, we can sleep peacefully now, knowing that our regal Nemo is no longer lost in a sea of unwanted dogs looking for his forever home. He is now thriving and languishing in the love and care he needs, deserves, and welcomes.

When I asked him to describe his new home he said simply: Paradise. My home is paradise.

 

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Sandy’s Heartwarming Rescue Story

By the time the rescuing officer found her, she was skin and bones, extremely malnourished from her time wandering the streets alone. But slowly he nursed poor, neglected Sandy back to health, and soon life was good.

Sandy was a super sweet, super outgoing one-year-old black and tan female who had the odd habit of sitting with her feet jutting out like a ballerina in second position. She reveled in going on trips to the beach and dog parks, and just hanging out with her new dad. She was a perfect walking and running companion and mastered training and simple cues while in his care. She learned sit, stay, down, come, leave it, and in and out, but her favorite thing to hear was “good girl.” She loved other dogs, although she could initially be dog-selective as is common with some rescue dogs who haven’t had proper training and socialization, but she adored people and this super affectionate girl never wanted to leave her person’s side.

bebeWhen a sudden job change meant a long-distance move for her dad, Sandy’s fate was uncertain. Fortunately, Sandy’s dad contacted our German Shepherd rescue and she became part of a pack in one of our kennels where she enjoyed daily walks, playtime in the pool with other dogs, grooming, andmost importantlots of love while we searched for her forever home. Sandy was with us for about a month and won volunteers hearts with her loving personality. On picture day, several dogs waited their turn to be photographed for our website. Sandy was last in line and just couldn’t wait for her mug shot moment. She trotted up to the photographer and deftly licked the lens with her long tongue. And the photo opp must have worked because she caught the eye of a family who drove across two states to meet her. Now she spends her time racing around a huge fenced yard, chilling in her new air-conditioned home, lounging by her new pool, and partying with her new people. Congrats, Sandy. We know you’ll never want for anything again.

When I pondered the way that connected Sandy with her new home, I was told she has a heart with purpose. What I felt about the message was this: when one has a heart with a purpose, they have so much love to give that they may be paired with many people in order to give again and again. It’s a selfless journey, a humble undertaking, and a noble dedication. And just one more example of why dogs are so special. And one more reason why I am in love with Sandy’s heartwarming rescue story!

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Bonded Sisters Find Their Happy Ending

Brooklyn and Cali – Part Two

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.

Cali_Sept152013_0Now 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.

Cali_october72013_2Because 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!

 

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Bonded Sisters Find Their Happy Ending

Brooklyn and Cali, Part One

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!

Cali_october72013_2

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!Brooklynsoakingwet_sept152013_2

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Seven Myths About Dog Adoption

There are so many reasons to adopt your next dog. But many people have misconceptions about what they’ll experience in the process. In this post, we debunk seven myths about dog adoption.

Dogs in Shelters or Rescues Have Behavioral Issues.

Some dogs in shelters or rescues can have issues stemming from abuse or abandonment or lack of training from their previous family, but quite often this is the exception rather than the rule. Recent economic challenges have forced families to relinquish their companions due to a variety of issues. Which means there are plenty of fabulous animals waiting for a new forever home.

I Won’t Be Able to Get a Purebred.

Many shelters have dozens of purebreds to choose from, and if you do some homework, you’ll easily find breed-specific rescues that not only have purebreds but may also have animals with papered pedigrees.

It’s Expensive.

While shelters and rescues do require an adoption fee to cover some of the expense of spaying, neutering, microchipping, and tending to the medical needs, this fee is generally a fraction of what you’d pay to purchase a pedigreed dog from a breeder.

I Won’t Be Able to Get a Puppy.

Shelters and rescues have dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages, which means you can quite often be able to select a puppy if your home and living situation is deemed a good choice.

Shelters and Rescues Have Plenty of Room for New Dogs.

The sad fact is that about 4 million dogs are euthanized each year because shelters need to make room for incoming dogs each day. In high-kill shelters, a dog’s lifespan is about seven days. Rescues struggling to run on meager funds can only take in a finite number of dogs and can’t take on new dogs until they adopt out dogs they currently have. Both rescues and shelters can only save a finite number of dogs each month.

Rescue Dogs Have Physical Issues.

Dogs in shelters and rescues have usually been checked out by the vet, have been fixed, and are up to date on shots. This means that you’re adopting a dog you know is healthy. If there are any issues, the shelter or rescue will be upfront with you so there are no surprises. A breeder might not. Reputable breeders are diligent about the health of their dogs, but backyard breeders and—even worse—puppy mill breeders are less diligent.

Rescue Dogs Need Training.

All dogs need training in order to peacefully coexist with their human families. Dogs from rescues will generally receive some training in their foster homes, from volunteers, and in some cases from professional trainers. These dogs will also have been evaluated for temperament so that they can be placed with the appropriate family.

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