Am I Becoming a Broken Record?

I’ve been kicking around ideas for this post—lots to say, not enough space (the usual for me).

My thoughts are scattered because part of me is in North Carolina worrying about the dogs at the three shelters we visited who were all evacuated. I know they’re confused and frightened, but so far, at least, I know they are safe.

In a news story about the Anson shelter, I saw footage of several of the dogs I met – Oreo (who is coming to my home at the end of the month), the Great Dane that Lisa and I flirted with (whose destiny is uncertain), Sparky (the shy, adorable pit mix with bandit eyes that Lisa coaxed out to say hello to us), and a large gray pitbull whose sad face I’ve been carrying around with me ever since I met him. Of all the dogs we met, his eyes seemed to sear my soul – the depth of sadness and the resignation broke my heart.

Seeing those friends crammed in crates and stacked in a van, while the people around them talked in panicked voices and the flood water closed in on them was unbearable. I want to be down there, doing something, and yet again, Continue reading Am I Becoming a Broken Record?

Dogs, Dogs, and More Dogs!

There are so many dogs in my house, it’s hard to keep them straight. After everything I saw on my shelter/book tour, I just can’t say no.

I feel an urgency I didn’t have before that trip. There are simply too many good dogs dying in our shelters; foster homes can buy them time.

If you’re waiting for someone to ask you to foster dogs – I’m asking. More foster homes can make a difference. YOU can make a difference.

Here’s our current roster:

Flannery O’Connor is a quirky little southern sprite.

Dixieland and Flannery-18

We picked her up as scheduled on our last stop of the tour at Scott County Animal Shelter in Gate City, Virginia. In fact, we picked up six dogs there, but Flannery was the only one without a committed foster home, so Continue reading Dogs, Dogs, and More Dogs!

Finally– a Rescue!

After a fun night and day in Nashville with my hubby in which we discovered my book at Parnassus Books (Ann Patchett’s bookstore!), visited a few honky tonks, got some much needed rest, and I bought new cowboy boots (!), we headed to Scott County, VA to visit the shelter that inspired my book.

Back in summer 2016, I was about forty foster dogs in to my rescue adventures when I attended a training seminar with OPH. We heard about how the rescue came to be, how many dogs we had collectively rescued to date (6000, I think it was), and then we heard from some special guests. Rachel and Ashley had come all the way from Scott County, Virginia. Ashley was a volunteer and foster mom and Rachel was a volunteer, foster mom, and rescue coordinator for the Scott County Humane Society.

As I’ve learned, at many rural shelters the intake is handled by animal control and the ‘shelter’, but the actual saving of dogs is done by volunteers, many times a Humane Society organization. If not for these amazing people, the dogs would just be held until their owners came and found them, or they were euthanized. Sadly, there are still rural shelters where there are no volunteer organizations like the Humane Society.

Rachel and Ashley had come to OPH’s meeting so they could tell us about the impact OPH had on Scott County. OPH began pulling dogs from Scott County in mid-2015. At that time Scott’s kill rate was well over 60%. Now, a year later their rate was just 3% thanks in large part to OPH. They just wanted all of us to know we were making a difference. It was the moment when I realized that fostering dogs was critical not only for the dog in my home, but for the people who worked in the shelters.

I was excited to go to Scott County because this time instead of just delivering donations and touring the kennels, we were going to get to spring six dogs! The van was almost empty and Nick and I Continue reading Finally– a Rescue!

It Can Be Done (but it may require SuperWoman)

I’m home again now and only just beginning to process all that I saw and learned in the last ten days touring shelters in the south. Images of the dogs haunt me – their eyes full of sadness and confusion, their bodies tense and leaping with stress or shut down and still.

They scroll through my mind when I wake in the night and when I sit down at the computer now to write this. There is much to feel hopeless about in the world of southern shelters and rural dog rescue.

But there is also much to be hopeful about. There were two shelters we visited that made it clear that while there is still so far to go, Continue reading It Can Be Done (but it may require SuperWoman)

Anger Won’t Bring Change; People Will

The range of emotions on this trip swings wildly from devastation and hopelessness to joy and gratefulness. Almost every night we’ve stayed with old friends who I rarely see, but are dear to my heart. It has been wonderful to catch up with them and they’ve also proved a delightful distraction from the reality of rescue in the rural south. There hasn’t been time in the evening to dwell on what we’ve seen during the day; there also hasn’t been time to write.

I mentioned this to Lisa and she said, “But it would be really hard to go back to a dark hotel room after what we’ve seen.” And she’s right. We’ve been blessed with wonderful hosts and hostesses all week long who’ve shared their food and homes and hearts.

I’m writing this post from my second hotel night. Lisa has flown home to PA and Nick has arrived to help. He’s taken over the driving and I’m trying to ‘be Lisa’ which is a much bigger job than I realized. She has been a wonderkund at social media – tweeting and posting and tagging.

She has been the one getting the word out, which I’ve discovered is probably the most critical part of this trip. People need to know. If they don’t, they can’t help. They need to know what the shelters need, how they can help the dogs, and the truth of what we all wish was not true. So, Nick has been doing the driving and I have been doing my best to gather the pictures and put them out for you to see.

I’m way behind on recapping out shelter visits, but really want you to get a picture of what is happening. On Wednesday Continue reading Anger Won’t Bring Change; People Will

Look Around You, You Can Save These Dogs

The dogs and shelters are beginning to blur together.

Thank goodness for Lisa, who is traveling with me and taking copious notes, asking the questions I forget to ask, and handing me crackers with cheese as I drive the behemoth van between stops. Our days and hearts are filled to the brim.

If you knew Lisa you would be surprised and not surprised that she is traveling on this journey with me. Lisa is not a dog-person, but she is a Cara-person. When she visits my dog-filled house, the dogs will flock to her and she will inevitably say, “I don’t even like dogs, but this one is nice.” (every time)

Here’s what this trip is doing to her – she is often the last one out of the kennels as we finish our visits, lingering in front of cages, tears on her face, snapping pictures. One dog, at Anson, stole her heart – a fluffy, older white dog, not one likely to be pulled by OPH or many rescues. One likely to spend its final days there. She keeps bringing her up and yesterday said tentatively, “I would foster her.”

Jenny (2)

On Wednesday night we stayed at my friend Melanie’s Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary. Melanie and Jim have eight dogs – every single one friendly and sweet and engaging. After seeing so many dogs through chainlink kennel doors, it was wonderful to finally get our hands on some dogs.

lisa with melanies dogs
Tuesday morning we stopped at Anson County Animal Shelter, an hour outside of Charlotte, NC where we met Maureen who is single-handedly trying to save every dog she can. She has no fosters, no volunteers. No one comes to walk dogs or play with the kitties or take pictures or help Maureen with moving dogs out through rescue. This is a one woman show.

There are too many dogs at Anson, which like all the shelters we have visited is at capacity. This is Oreo, a 45 pound male boxer mix whose kennel I came back to over and over. He was starving for a human touch. If you put your hand against the kennel, he would place his face against it and stay still as long as you would stand there. He just wanted to be touched and loved. Continue reading Look Around You, You Can Save These Dogs

Another Good Dog ON THE ROAD!

I am the queen of best laid plans. I almost always assume the best. The way I see it is – why waste all that negative emotion dreading and worrying and stressing something when you can instead bask in the view from your rose-colored glasses?

Or – more simply – as the poster in the guidance office says, “Save your drama for your llama.”

Save the drama for your llama

We are now four days away from the start of my southern book tour and Billie Jean and Grits are still here.

DSC_3602

Still not adopted.

Billie Jean is Continue reading Another Good Dog ON THE ROAD!