Unsung Rescue Heroes & A New Training Tool

I’d never want to be an adoption coordinator. Seems like an exhausting, frustrating, thankless job.

As the foster mom, I get all the glory for taking care of the puppy or dog in question. But the adoption coordinator is the one who has screened the applications, asked the hard questions, gone over the extensive adoption contract (for the bazillionth time), and made the final decision. Not having firsthand experience, I could be wrong, but it seems like ACs put in hours of effort for each adoption, and for a litter that is tenfold.

Puppy adopters are like new parents – they have lots of questions, good ones, silly one, odd ones, but lots. I get a few of those, but the AC for my litter gets most of them. Adopting a puppy is a big deal, as it should be, and puppy adopters can sometimes get cold feet and back out last minute, change their minds about what kind of puppy they want or get impatient with the lengthy adoption process and the hold time. Some adopters have lots of lines in the water (they’ve applied for several puppies at several different rescues or shelters). All of this means that the ACs are juggling many, many people and puppies at once and the winds change on whims.

As I said, I wouldn’t want their job, but I am VERY grateful that there are these odd people who enjoy being ACs and do a tireless job for OPH.

This litter had more than its share of switcheroos and moving targets. Deb had her hands full. Last fall when I had Edith Wharton and her darling dozen, I actually had to have two ACs because the job was so enormous. I’ve worked with probably a dozen different ACs with OPH and every time, I’m amazed at the work they do. So, I just wanted to mention them in a post—ACs, along with reference checkers, are the unsung heroes of every adoption.

[If you’re one of those people who read my posts and think—“I wish I could foster, but it would be too hard, messy, heartbreaking, etc.,” but you’d really like to help, consider being a reference checker or even an adoption coordinator for OPH. You do all the work from your home with your computer and your phone. If you’d like more information, click here.]

Okay, enough of my shameless volunteer recruitment. What happened this week in this foster house?

DSC_9587Freida found her forever home with a wonderful couple who already have two fur-siblings waiting for her. One is a Gracie-type (older, not inclined to appreciate rambunctious puppies), and one is a younger Gala-type who would LOVE a new playmate.

Before Freida took off for her new life, she and Frankie joined me at our local library for a program to teach children about dog rescue and how to safely interact with dogs. Edith Wharton was there, along with another OPH dog, Keely.

OPH volunteers led the kids in the program, which included reading a story and making dogs toys to send to shelters in the south.

At the end Edith, Keely, Frankie, and Freida helped them practice their new skills. We all had fun and Frankie and Freida, at least, came home and napped all afternoon.

(Our next program will be at the Paul Smith Library on February 3 at 10:30am.)

Our house is much quieter now that we’re back to the two-ring circus, instead of the three ring. Now instead of keeping the puppy, Gracie, and Gala separated (Frankie has access to all the rings), I only have to keep Gracie and Gala apart. I dream of a day when I live with no baby gates….

I’m doubling down on my efforts to get Gala adopted before she runs out of time at my house. This dog is so deserving of a loving home. She oozes adoration for her people and it’s crazy that we haven’t found her a forever family. She is advertised on Petfinder, Craigslist, and AdoptaPet, but if any of you have other suggestions, bring them on. Here’s the link to her profile on OPH’s website. Feel free to bandy it about on your own facebook and beyond. I know her people are out there somewhere looking for her, now we just have to find them.


There are no new puppies on my horizon, but that’s okay for now. My priority is Gala. We’ve begun using a prong collar on her and I am astounded at the difference it makes. When I’ve seen them in the past, I’ve thought they looked harsh, but after having a specific brand (Herm Sprenger) recommended to me by a trainer I respect, I did a little research. Turns out the prong is more humane than a choke collar, head collar, or slip collar. It’s easier to use and more effective than the easy walk or gentle lead, I’ve been using.

The prong collar doesn’t hurt her and the action of the prongs around her neck distributes the pressure evenly. The prongs aren’t sharp and their pressure mimics the action a mother dog would take to correct/direct her pups.

herm sprenger collar

Gala instinctively responds and doesn’t seem at all upset by the collar. Now our walks are much more pleasant; there is no yanking or pulling. It’s been too icy to try running with it, but I’m looking forward to trying it on a run. Simple solution, although it does take a little hand-strength to put the collar on and off. If you’d like to read more about the Prong Collar, here’s one helpful article, and then another more impassioned, yet helpful article.

I’m trying to add a little structure to Gala’s day and supervising her playtime with Frankie, insisting that she use indoor manners. Each time she jumps a baby gate, she spends an extended period in her crate. She’s a smart cookie and has now only jumped the gate once in the last month. Hopefully, these changes will help her. My house tends to be a bit of a free-for-all (just ask my kids), but Gala needs a more structured, quiet environment, so I’m trying to give her that.

She is responding beautifully, if nothing else, this girl wants to please. I think she’s teaching me as much about caring for dogs as I am teaching her about living with people.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter.

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more regular updates of foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook group.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me through Facebook, twitter, or Instagram.

All the best,


Published by

Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

12 thoughts on “Unsung Rescue Heroes & A New Training Tool”

  1. I think the best training aid for a dog is the one that works. I had a Siberian husky who responded to NOTHING until the trainer used an electric collar. Cheyenne LOVED it. I didn’t even have to turn it on when she came back from school. All I had to do was put it on her and she eagerly and happily showed me everything she’d learned AND she learned new things. It was amazing and so cute.

    The same thing had no effect on Dusty T. Dog. Dusty learned to walk at heel because he wanted to be with his person. He’s usually unleashed now, but on leash I use a head collar if I think we’ll meet other dogs otherwise, his collar is enough. Partly, it’s because it resembles a muzzle to people who don’t know better. It tells them to stay away. Dusty is barky and scary when he’s on leash and though he would never bite anyone, I would rather people just kept their distance.

    My huskies, Jasmine and Lily came with prong collars. I used them once or twice, but they weren’t very effective. It turned out they loved the head collar as did my pit bull but, I think, for different reasons. The pit would charge ahead then freak out because she couldn’t find me. With the head collar she always knew where I was. For the huskies, I think the head collar resembled a harness and they worked together as a team with me as if we were all harnessed together.

    I’ve had dogs who responded well to the old-school choke collar. With Bear I use a head collar because she gets so carried away with a scent when we’re out that I have to have a way to get her attention.

    I’m glad Gala is getting it! She’s beautiful. I hope she finds her people soon. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right – each dog responds to different things. Gala did well on the other training aids, but still pulled when she got overly excited and sometimes would choose not to respond until I’d made a big effort. The prong worked instantly for her, but the trainer did say it had to be that specific brand and fit correctly – the knock offs and/or a bad fit could be dangerous. You have quite a herd – I can’t imagine trying to put prongs on that many – squeezing the links together to put it on takes some handstrength.

      I think you’re right about those head collars – they do make people think the dog is less of a threat. I haven’t decided what to use with Frankie, yet, but since he’s a pitbull, I’ve considered those, not because of him but because of people and their perceptions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually they are in Utah but they have grown to work nationally and sometimes send out regionally email requests. They started the No More Homeless Pets Slogan. They also have major adoption drives for No More Homeless LA and No More Homeless NYC.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t had to use a prong collar but now have the information. Always learn something reading your blogs. Absolutely love the picture of Frankie and Gala looking out the window! I have donated to the “Best Friends” society for year now! They helped with 10 of the “Victory” (pit bulls) dogs when Michael Vick got arrested. Here’s to Gala 🥂 finding her forever home!

    Liked by 1 person

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