I Just Can’t Wait to Get on the Road Again…

I am still struggling on a daily basis to accept that Frankie is gone. To say I miss him doesn’t even begin to touch what I feel. Caring for the other dogs gets me out of bed, but moving forward? That seemed out of reach. I need to do something with my grief – so the trip that Ian and I have been planning since winter has been the perfect panacea.

I had hoped to share about this trip weeks ago, but like so much else in my life right now, it was pushed aside. We’ve shortened our originally planned trip in terms of days and distance, but it feels right to be doing this now and I’m grateful for the distraction and the chance to do something to honor Frankie.

Ian is my 17-year-old son, my youngest.

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He’s my baby, despite the fact that Continue reading I Just Can’t Wait to Get on the Road Again…

The Long Haul

We are settling in for the long haul with our pack.

Flannery has no applications (C’mon people! You are missing out on this super fun, super loving, super smart pup!)

and I really can’t imagine anyone Continue reading The Long Haul

A Dog’s Eye View

Flannery is such an interesting dog.

The puppies are cute and Hula Hoop is a sweetheart, but Flannery is complicated and funny and just so not-your-average-dog. I adore her. Even though she is nothing like any dog I’ve ever wanted.

She’s little. Only 30 pounds.

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photo: Nancy Slattery

She’s a busy-body – always in the middle of whatever is happening and worming her way onto the couch or dog bed, even if there is clearly no room for her.

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She is the first dog up at the slightest noise. And weirdly, Continue reading A Dog’s Eye View

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.

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Still not adopted.

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

They Are Killing Dogs Today

I need to talk to you about something.

I know, I know, you came here for puppy pictures and puppy stories and happy endings; I promise there will be plenty of that.

But first, I need to address something that’s been on my mind and my heart, and then, I’ll share lots of puppy pictures. You’ll get so many, you’ll be like – Quit with the puppy pictures, I’m sick of looking at those puppies!

Most days I don’t have a lot of spare time to think about the larger issue of dog rescue because I’m busy rescuing dogs.

Now and again, I have a moment to consider what can be done about the situation beyond the band-aid that is my puppy room, and so many like it.

OPH, and rescues like it, do amazing work, and yet there remains an endless stream of unwanted dogs whose lives are in danger of being extinguished because of any number of situations that have nothing to do with that individual dog’s breed, behaviors, or health.

Last month, I heard the term ‘economic euthanasia’ for the first time at a gathering of our rescue volunteers and it has haunted me ever since.

I’ve wondered, is it possible dogs are dying because of simple lack of funds?

In part, yes. Shelters in many of our southern states and around the world do not have budgets or facilities that can care for the number of dogs entrusted to their care. They need money for food, staff, equipment, buildings, medical care. When there is not enough money to feed, house, and treat the dogs, the dogs are euthanized, regardless of how ‘adoptable’ or ‘healthy’ they are. I think we all want to believe that doesn’t happen, especially in a country as rich as ours, but it does.

Here is a recent message sent to an OPH shelter coordinator from one of our shelters in South Carolina after they learned that we would be unable to pull dogs from their shelter because our foster homes were full:

Over the holiday weekend, the shelter took in 44 dogs – and the inflow continues every day as always.
There was minimal space available for intake last Friday and it was quickly filled. On Monday the euthanizations began. The first to go were dogs surrendered on Friday because their people were going away for the weekend and didn’t want to be bothered with finding someone to care for their pet. Court cases and strays take precious space because they must be held for specific periods of time.
The sight of beautiful dogs lying dead on the floor, to never having another chance at life, is beyond heartbreaking.
We were counting on next week’s transport to save precious lives, so this news is devastating. We are so very grateful for the many dogs saved thus far by OPH.
Today, I’m praying for a miracle.

I read that as Willow sat beside me, her head on my thigh. OPH pulled Willow and the Chocolate Factory pups from that very shelter.

Money could make a difference at that shelter, not just in terms of much-needed food, medical supplies, and space, but to help them increase staff so that more could be done to advertise their dogs, educate their community, and provide resources to the families that adopt from their shelter so there are fewer owner surrenders. Money is what made it possible for Willow and her pups to be flown out of there before their time was up.

So, yeah, money is good. (There are several ways you can help us raise money listed at the end of this post – one only involves the strategic use of your computer, the other does involve your pocketbook.)

But money alone will not solve the problem of economic euthanasia- dogs dying because there isn’t enough money/space/time to save them.

The one thing that can have the biggest impact on the lives of dogs endangered by economic euthanasia doesn’t involve money, it involves YOU. (Yes, YOU, this is not the collective/generic you I’m talking about.)

The bottom line is this: If we have more foster homes, we save more dogs.

If we have enough foster homes, we save all the dogs that are dying from economic euthanasia.

End of story.

No more need for this blog.

If shelters are not overwhelmed stretching strained budgets and trying to decide which dogs they can afford to save and which will have to die, they would have time to do the work they were built to do—serve their community. Not only could they care properly for the dogs in their shelter, they could educate, support, and be a resource for their community and in doing that, perhaps stem the tide of dogs arriving at their shelter.

Because I know that you have many good reasons why you cannot foster a dog, I’m not trying to make you feel guilty (much), but I am trying to make you consider the possibility. I’d like to plant in your heart the kernel of the idea of YOU as a foster. For just a moment, consider what that might look like. You don’t have to foster a hundred dogs or entire litters of puppies, but you could foster one or two or ten a year.

My book coming out in August is not just the story of my family and our first fifty foster dogs, it is also a plea. My greatest hope is that by sharing the good, bad, ugly, and magical reality of fostering dogs, other people will say, You know, I could do that.

Because you could.

And it will change the world.

My daughter gave me a little sign that hangs outside my puppy room. It says,

“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog the world will change forever.

If you’d like to know more about fostering through OPH, click here. If you don’t live in Virginia, Maryland, DC, or South Central PA, look up a rescue or shelter near you. I’m happy to answer any of your questions or point you in the correct direction. Email me at cara.achterberg@rocketmail.com.

I’ll get to the puppy pictures momentarily, but first, here’s how you can help OPH win grant money to save more dogs like Willow and her pups.

All you have to do is vote for our story. Follow this link and then click to vote for Major and OPH. It’s super simple (and they don’t even ask for your email). You can vote from multiple devices, multiple times. Please vote and then please SHARE.

This month I’m taking part in the Spring2Action campaign to raise money for my favorite cause – OPH. If you’ve got a few bucks to spare, please consider making a tax-deductible donation (of any size). I’m raising money to fund emergency transports, like the one that saved Willow and the pups. I’m almost halfway to my goal and I could sure you use your help! Thanks! Here’s my fundraising page.

And, as promised, here are your puppy pictures! The Chocolate Factory pups are adorable and messy and most importantly, safe. All the pups have approved adopters and Willow has several applications, so for them at least, there is a happy ending.

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 and extra puppy pictures, 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 on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.

 Best,

Cara

COMING AUGUST 2018 from Pegasus Books:

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Preorder available NOW on Amazon!

 

 

Homeless or Humanless?

I’ve been reading a lot of dog books lately. Partly, it’s because my upcoming book will be my first in this genre, and I want to get to know what’s already out there and the writers who publish these books. But mostly, I’ve become a bit addicted. I love reading about people’s experiences with dogs. It’s not just educational and entertaining, it’s also inspiring.

Rescuing Penny JaneIn Amy Sutherland’s book, RESCUING PENNY JANE, she writes about her experiences volunteering at a shelter, sharing a perspective I’ve never heard since I meet my dogs after they’ve left the shelter. I like to think that there are volunteers like Amy at the shelters where our dogs come from. Sutherland is a shelter volunteer, walking dogs every Friday for a local Animal Rescue League. She’s also a journalist and author, so of course, she overanalyzes and writes about her experience.

While it can be momentarily dense with information on shelter dogs, Rescuing Penny Jane is an exploration of the rescue dog world, but also Sutherland’s story of adopting a difficult rescue dog and sticking it out. She writes that she won’t be one of ‘them’, confiding that in becoming a regular at the shelter she is privy to the staff’s feelings about people who return dogs. And so, even though it strains her marriage, she sticks it out with Penny Jane, a fearful and more or less, feral dog.

Sutherland’s words remind me of my own experience with more than a few of my foster dogs. I write in this blog about the funny, the touching, the messy, and occasionally the heartbreak, but each story eventually culminates in one happy ending after another. What I rarely write about is how sometimes I reach my limit and more often sometimes my husband reaches his limit. There have been teary late-night walks waiting for a foster dog to just pee, already. There have been mornings spent on my knees scrubbing carpets and grumbling mangled curse words and masked threats (who am I going to offend? The dogs?). There have been plenty of words typed and then deleted, planned posts that never materialized, and frustrations outlined in detail for my husband even as I stroke the furry head of the offender. For a few hours, sometimes a day or two, I’m done. “Once this one is gone- no more fosters!”

So when Sutherland’s husband says, “It would be easier to return Penny Jane than to get a divorce.” I don’t laugh. I know he’s not joking.  Sutherland’s frustration and tears are familiar, and I read her story with a lump in my throat. I’ve thought so many of the same things.

There is one comment she makes relatively early in the book that struck me so much that I got up to find a pen so I could underline it. She wrote – Continue reading Homeless or Humanless?