We All Need a Sanctuary

I just dropped off Dixie for her spay surgery and 4Dx test. She stood shaking beside me on the passenger side floor for the entire drive.

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I tried to explain to her that this was for the best and that it would move her a step closer to her new life – the one that won’t include puppies or horrible people who don’t take her to the vet when she breaks her leg (or who possibly broke that leg in the first place).

If her heartworm test comes back negative, Continue reading We All Need a Sanctuary

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.”

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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.

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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

Sometimes it’s Easy

Sometimes it’s really easy to foster. Sometimes it’s not.

Willow has been one of our easiest foster dogs to date. Absolutely housebroken, wonderfully crate-trained, not overly-chewy (except stuffed animals). She loves our visitors, tolerates visiting puppies, and listens in an I-will-do-anything-you-ask-especially-if-you-have-a-treat kind of way.

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Little Zander is also one of the easiest foster puppies we’ve ever had. A house-broken, mild-mannered, relatively calm puppy who’s worst habit is his penchant for shoes.

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So, I didn’t hesitate to leave my 15-year-old in charge of the foster dogs, plus Gracie and Frankie overnight last Friday. Nick and I headed to New Jersey to see our daughter perform in a benefit showcase. We would stay over and pack her up the next day and bring her home from college.

I left Ian a list of instructions and even measured out the dogs’ meals and labeled them so he wouldn’t be confused.

No worries, right? Continue reading Sometimes it’s Easy

A Puppy for Frankie (and NO more puppies for Willow)

Frankie got a puppy!

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At least that’s how he sees it.

His interactions with our new foster puppy completely personify the Abominable Snowman’s interactions with Daffy Duck-

“I will hug him and squeeze him and name him George!”

He is delighted to have a new playmate/toy and finds Zander simply irresistible. He paws at him and grabs him by the hind leg to drag around, but then flops on this back and lets Zander jump all over him. They race around the kitchen with Continue reading A Puppy for Frankie (and NO more puppies for Willow)

My One and Only Amstaff

Amstaff?

I read the labels below the puppies in the puppy bowl bios and asked, “What’s an Amstaff?”

I thought maybe this was some new designer breed I’d never heard of, when in fact, my very own Amstaff was lying beside me. Or rather, at that particular moment, careening around Nancy’s living room.

Frankie, Nick, and I watched the Puppy Bowl on Sunday with Nancy and Matt, who adopted Edith Wharton. While we sampled some excellent beers, Edith and Frankie wrestled and played with abandon. Frankie was thrilled to discover the huge cache of toys Edith had – many with squeakers intact! (There are very few of those at our house, as Gala considers it her job to keep the squeakers silent.)

We arrived just in the nick of time to see Frankie and Buford on the television. Unbeknownst to me, the pregame show started earlier than three, and Frankie and Buford turned up larger than lifesize around 2:40. (I apologize to any of you who had hoped to catch it. You can see it here. Forward to minute 30 and then wait through a batch of forced-commercials and you’ll see their segment.)

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The game was fun to watch, but what was more fun was watching Frankie watch the game: Continue reading My One and Only Amstaff