Dog-Saving Justice League

Finally!  A new foster pup is on his way to us! Bronson (or Buford as he was called in his previous foster home) is a black and white colored lab/hound/possibly Catahoula mix depending on whose report you read. Any way you mix him, he’s pretty adorable, even in a bad shelter picture, see?

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Just last night, Frankie snuggled with Nick watching the Eagles win, softly gnawing on his arm, and Nick said, “He needs somebody his own size to chew on.”

Gracie has no patience for insistent puppies, and here’s the only way he can safely play with Gala (who LOVES him beyond reason or restraint): Continue reading Dog-Saving Justice League

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Frankie and OGGA

This time adoption day was a little weird for me. After all the puppies were adopted…..

Instead of cleaning out the puppy room, putting my feet up and opening a bottle of wine…. Continue reading Frankie and OGGA

Looking for Lucy

Arriving home from the vet’s office, where I had just deposited Gala, I called Nick to tell him what was going on and said, “She just can’t catch a break.”

Later after picking her up and watching her sleep off her sedative, I thought more about it. Maybe Gala’s stream of mishaps and misfortunes have more to do with how fully she lives her life than any kind of black cloud hovering over her.

My little brother was the same way. He broke at least five bones (maybe more I lost count) when he was a kid – falling out of a tree house, taking a header over an unexpected wall, pretending to be Evil Knievel. Seems every summer he had a plastic bread bag over his casted arm as we swam at the beach. As a teen he totaled at least three cars. And later he became a fighter pilot in the US Airforce, flying F-15s all over the world including Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I always enjoy his company because it’s never boring and he usually has me laughing so hard I pee myself. Tommy lives his life full-on.

That’s how Gala lives. She has an exuberance for life that may sometimes lead her into trouble, but Continue reading Looking for Lucy

Starting Over (Again)

First, the good news – Gala is muzzle and cone free!

Her jaw has ‘knit itself back together’ as the doctor put it. She’s cleared for all activities – running, playing, even eating regular dog food!

The transformation was instantaneous. On the drive down to see Dr. Walker, she stood nervously behind me in the back seat. The last time we took this trip, she had a crate to ride in, but my big crate didn’t fit in the only car available for me to use and she refused to stay in the ‘way back’ where she would have been more comfortable. She fretted and I worried she would hurt her jaw being jostled around back there, but eventually she fell asleep as close to me as allowed. (I promise I took this picture while stopped at a light and not driving!) Continue reading Starting Over (Again)

Life in the Fun House

Life sure is fun when you have six lab puppies in the house. I know I say this every time, but these pups are special. They are incredibly loving and sweet. Never mind that they are beyond reasonably cute – completely off the charts of adorable.

Bug is the tiniest pup and she is beautiful, smart, and sweet and has the softest ears!

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Dart is busy, confident, fearless, and so crazy cute. Continue reading Life in the Fun House

The Value of a Dog

Gala. The million dollar dog.

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Okay, not a million, but certain the several thousand dollar dog. Between her rescue, heartworm treatment, four months of foster care, and now the broken jaw, this dog is costing some serious money.

I’ve been thinking about this fact. Why do we pour all this money into a stray dog from South Carolina? She’s just one dog, and a difficult one at that.

And then I think—it’s just money.

That’s the same thing I tell myself when my children cost a fortune or we lose money on something stupid or we need an expensive repair on the car or the house.

Because it is just money. And doing right by this dog is far more important than money.

A noble thought, but it won’t pay her bill. She’s not the most expensive dog OPH has rescued, not by far. I’ve watched much more expensive efforts be made by this organization to save a life. Not that they throw money around willy-nilly; they certainly consider each penny before it’s spent and they’ve made more than a few hard decisions. But it’s rare that money is the only consideration.

Dogs are expensive. That’s a fact that seems to slip the minds of plenty of people. And for whatever reason – ignorance or arrogance—there are plenty of people out there who don’t think a rescue dog should cost a lot. After all, a purebred dog could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. There’s a mindset that since you’re saving a dog no one wanted or possibly a dog someone threw away, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

OPH’s adoption fee is $335 ($375 for puppies, but you get a $60 rebate after you spay/neuter). This includes spay/neuter, vaccines, wormings (with puppies this can be 6-8 times or more), and microchip, not to mention the expenses most adopters don’t consider like the original health screening and treatment, transportation, and food. And with many dogs there are other expenses.

Dug had to visit the vet and be treated for demadex mange this week.

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(And before you freak out at the word, mange, Continue reading The Value of a Dog

ADOPT, DON’T SHOP

Here’s an amazing fact I learned recently from Kim Kavin, author of The Dog Merchants:

If just half of the people who decide to get a dog this year were to adopt one from a shelter or rescue instead of purchasing one from a breeder or pet store, we would empty out the shelters and rescues.

Problem solved. As Kim explained in an e-mail, what we have in the US is not a dog overpopulation problem, but a marketing problem.

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Kim’s a journalist and an engaging author who has now written two well-researched and yet from-the-heart books. The first (Little Boy Blue) tells the story of the rescue puppy she adopted and all that she learned when she decided to investigate the story behind how he landed in her home. The Dog Merchants is about the big business of dogs – not just breeders and pet stores, but rescues, shelters and consumers. As is always the case, where there is big money involved, there are generally people taking advantage and people being taken advantage of, and sadly, many times the dogs pay the real price. Both books are fascinating, entertaining, and will likely make you cry. Kim has been gracious and generous to me, reading the manuscript for a book I’m working on (aptly titled, Another Good Dog) and sharing her experiences and knowledge of the world of dog rescue.

One of the topics we’ve discussed is the wide range of rescues. She’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, but probably a lot more of the bad and ugly than I have. Her experience fostering dogs has been a bit different than mine. I’m very proud to say that the rescue I work with, Operation Paws for Homes (OPH) does rescue right, in a world where many well-meaning rescues get it terribly wrong.

I’ve tried to remember how I discovered OPH, but think it came down to dumb luck and Facebook. I just happened to see a post at just the right time and found my way into this amazing organization. Hearing Kim’s stories only makes me more committed to doing all I can to promote this fabulous organization that is not only passionate about dog rescue, but professional in how they treat volunteers, adopters, fosters, and shelters, but most importantly, dogs.

One of OPH’s mottos is “Together we rescue.” And there’s not a truer sentiment. Together we can rescue, but we need more people so that we can rescue more dogs.

Right now shelters all over the south are overwhelmed with a deluge of dogs. It’s also puppy season -the time when many dogs are giving birth and they and their offspring are being dumped at shelters daily. The brave people at OPH and other rescues who have the job of fielding the requests from shelters and then deciding which dogs we will pull, are receiving near daily emails asking for help. The more dogs we can pull, the fewer these shelters have to euthanize.

It weighs on a heart. I see the posts and the pleas and the pictures of these deserving dogs and I feel anxious. I want to do more, but right now my house is at capacity with Gala and Darlin’ and my own dog, Gracie.

I want so badly to take one of these mamas and/or their puppies, but I have nowhere to put them. I consider asking another foster to take one of my pups, but then I look at their sweet faces. Darlin’ has been here over three months and Gala nearly a month and a half. They have finally settled and feel like they are home, even though they aren’t. Both of these girls are sensitive souls- their next move must be to their forever homes. I feel my soul tap, tap, tapping impatiently. Time for them to move. There are too many dogs to rescue.

I used to hesitate to use the hashtag #adoptdontshop, but I’m ready to tattoo it on my forehead. Yes, I understand that sometimes allergies dictate the kind of dog you get, and yes, I know there are responsible breeders out there, and yes, I realize that sometimes a rescue dog needs more time to develop trust or requires an extra effort with training. But here’s the bottomline – until we no longer have to decide which dogs must die each week because no one wants them and no rescue has room for them and no shelter has the funds to continue to house them, we need to keep shouting it from the rooftops:

ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!

Please, please, please, adopt your next best friend from a rescue or shelter. Let’s fix this fixable problem. Let’s make the next problem be – we don’t know what to do about all these empty shelters.

If you’d like to part of the solution, get involved. If you’re looking for a dog, adopt. If you have room, foster. If you have time, volunteer. If you have money to give, give.

If you’ve ever considered fostering dogs for a rescue, I would encourage you to give it a try. The need for foster homes this time of year is huge. If you are in Maryland, Virginia, DC, or south-central PA, click here to find out how you can foster for OPH. If you live elsewhere check out a rescue or shelter near you – they all need foster homes.

OPH (and all rescues and shelters) always need more volunteers to check references, transport dogs, organize events, and a hundred other jobs, so if your home can’t hold another dog, but you’d like to help, jump right in. To volunteer for OPH, click here.

If you’d like to help OPH, consider making a donation. Adoption fees don’t begin to cover the cost of medical treatment and transport. In addition, OPH rescues pregnant dogs, litters, and heartworm positive dogs, but also pays to keep dogs in boarding when there are not enough foster homes available. Without fundraising, they could not do these things. Click here to donate to OPH, or look up a rescue near you.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Go for a hike with your dog!

Blessings,

Cara

P.s. If you’d like to know more about my writing (or my next novel coming out JUNE 6!!), visit CaraWrites.com.