Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday's Dog: Tatiana

My friend, Cindy, canine massage therapist extraordinaire, and I recently spent some time at Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury, MA playing with and photographing some of the dogs there available for adoption. The idea is to feature different dogs here each week in the hope of getting them in front of more people - one of which might just be looking for this dog to add to their family.

Today's dog is: Tatiana!

Isn't she cute!?!

Tatiana is a very shy, 9 year old Sato who has been at Buddy Dog for about 4 years. She's so shy in fact, this was the second time I tried to photograph her. The first time, whenever I picked up the camera, she turned her head and hid. A little wiser on our more recent visit, I set up a blind of sheets and took pictures of her while she played with Cindy, paying "no attention to the 'man' behind the curtain".

Tatiana was adopted out once before but she came back even more traumatized by the experience than she was in the shelter. In fact, she's not unhappy at the shelter - she's not terribly bothered by other dogs and she doesn't get a lot of attention from the public, which is just fine by her.

When I first arrived yesterday, she had her face tucked into her blankets and her back to any visitors who might want to befriend her. This, as you can imagine, makes it unlikely people will stop to inquire about her.

Oh but they should. She's playful and sweet to those she knows and is comfortable with - she was giving Cindy kisses before she even got the leash on. She just needs to get her head out of her blankets so the right person(s) can find her.

She will need a gentle, patient owner, one who is familiar with shy dogs and ready to give Tata the space she needs to adjust to a new environment. She would not do well in a noisy, busy home and I would not recommend children in the home of any extremely shy dog.

It's also likely that, due to her first bad adoption experience, Buddy Dog would rather she continue to live with them as the shelter mascot than be put in the wrong home again.

But every dog deserves their own home with their own people who love them above all comers. And Tatiana is no exception.

If you want to help that special person find this special dog, please consider tweeting her information or posting her to your Facebook profile.

You never know who might be looking for a dog just like Tatiana.

Oops, the Great Oz has been discovered.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thank you very much

I should have written this post ages ago (okay, at least before Christmas anyway) but time just got away from me. For that I must apologize to some really lovely people who thought enough of us here to present us with the Kreativ Blogger award.

First, Roxy the Traveling Dog gave us the award and we were truly verklempt with the nice things she said about Bella and our blog. Then, probably because it took me so long to write this, Brando and Bogart and Pauley James Former Foster Baby gave us the award as well. I am really touched by their kindnesses.

Doing some research about the award, I found it has evolved over time and the 'rules' are slightly different depending on the blogging community sharing it. It started in 2008 as a small and informal award given by Norwegian arts and crafts blogger, Hulda, to a few of her friends in recognition of their creativity. I think it's neat how this award has continued on and morphed into so many varieties.

This time around, thankfully, the rules seem pretty simple: I have to share 10 things you don't know about us and then I get to pass the award on to 6 of my favorite blogs.

10 things you don't know about me and Bella

  1. Fetch is a foreign concept to Bella. She will, on occasion, chase after a thrown ball but generally just keeps running as opposed to picking up the object and returning it.
  2. I have hypothyroidism. So does Bella.
  3. Bella likes to smell my breath. As she has not yet fallen down dead from the experience, I assume my dental hygiene program is sufficient. (Come to think of it, however, she also likes to roll in dead things on the lawn...)
  4. I am a pretty good cook. I wasn't always. When we first moved into the house (Fall 2000), we had a party and Jan tasked me with the grocery shopping. I was doing just fine until I realized I had to ask the grocery clerk in which department I would find cilantro. (Ah, it's an herb.)
  5. Bella doesn't like toys that 'squeal' and 'scream' like real animals (see: Talking Pipsqueak and Flingshot Flying Animals). She whimpers and cries and delicately carries them around with her. We think she's 'worried' about it, which is strange because, well, see #6.
  6. Bella is addicted to jerky treats. Seriously addicted. It's like puppy crack. With all the FDA warnings about chicken jerky from China, we have done our research and found only Blue Buffalo and Kona's Chips use US-sourced chicken. I also bought Jan a dehydrator for Christmas. I'm sure you can see where this is going...
  7. I am an avocational musician. Or at least I was until Bella arrived. She's afraid of the guitar so I haven't played it, or any other instrument, in a few years. I do still sing and dance with her though. She remains unimpressed.
  8. Taking Bella's collar off used to send her into a state of panic. She got the collar when she came home from the shelter with us and, of course, had never worn one as a street dog in Puerto Rico. She apparently associates the collar with her family and her home. Over the years, we have had to make a point of taking it off occasionally and putting it back on to assure her we're not sending her back to Puerto Rico when it does come off.
  9. Bella always uses the pillows when she is on the couch, a chair, the bed or the futon. Now if she'd only discover that human laps make great pillows. (Oh yeah, obviously, Bella is allowed on the furniture. ;)
  10. Bella and I have spent the last 3 years hiding in the basement during thunderstorms - she goes into an absolute panic during storms and leads me desperately to the basement door. Don't feel too bad for me, this is where our television set is and once we're down there, I turn on the TV to a nice quiet music station, Bella hops up on the couch beside me and goes to sleep. It's a small price to pay for her comfort - even if it is usually at 3 am.

And now the fun part:

We are really pleased to forward this award on to 6 of our favorite blogs. I tried to find blogs that I love and haven't been given this award yet. (If I take any more time to write this post though, I'm sure somebody will come along and beat me to the punch!) So without further ado, may I present, in alphabetical order, our selections for the Kreativ Blog award:

  1. Chronicles of Cardigan - 'Chronicles' the adventures of Cardigan Welsh Corgis Dewi, Jon Farleigh and their scribe, Elizabeth. Seriously funny stuff that always makes me laugh. I also very much appreciate their efforts to promote pet adoption and shelter animals.
  2. CindyLu's Muse - CindyLu is the sweetest little Shih Tzu you'll ever meet. She and her hu-mom, Kim, host a blog full of information, funny stories, giveaways and other pet-related treats they find of interest. Tireless in their support of adoption and rescue, they also offer a weekly Fab Feline/Furry Friend Friday featuring animals in need of a home.
  3. Declan's Dogs Blog - Declan is a retired racing Greyhound who, per his profile enjoys eating, sleeping, walking, eating, sleeping and farting. And eating. He is a very silly boy and totally aware of his own awesomeness. Accompanied by fantastic photos, the blog also promotes adopting Greyhounds and has a great page of resources on where to adopt one in the UK.
  4. Greyhounds CAN Sit - Sue and her pups, Beryl (the Greyhound) and Frankie (the rescued 'muttley dog') spin their tales from New Zealand and invite us to come along with her fabulous photos and wonderful stories. Beryl recently started visiting a local resthome (that's a nursing home for us Yanks) and both she and Frankie are awesome ambassadors for adoption. Greyhounds CAN Sit was the first pet blog I "followed". I'm not sure whether to thank Sue for my blog addiction or curse her. ;)
  5. I Still Want More Puppies - Pup Fan, the blog author is an enormous fan of "pup and pop culture". She's also a freakin' riot! The blog features her pup, Bella (the first ;) as well as all sorts of entertaining original content. (Her Christmas "caroldies" were a highlight of the season). Sundays feature her "Adorable Adoptables" theme highlighting shelter animals looking for their forever homes.
  6. Life With Desmond - I have a soft spot in my heart for Desmond and his hu-mom, Lauren. Another slightly crazy rescue dog, I see so much of me and Bella in their often hilarious, always entertaining antics. Disillusioned with the overbearing, outdated training resources available to her, Lauren took matters into her own hands and is now training to be a trainer herself. Way to go, Lauren!

I really would like to thank everyone for the warm welcome we've received from the pet blogging community. It has been both sweet and humbling. We always knew Bella was special. We're glad to find some of you think so, too.

Wordless Wednesday 21 - My beautiful Beau

3.14.1994 - 5.16.2008

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bella really does love Christmas (video)

A little video 'evidence' that Bella really does love Christmas. (Or at least she loves the tasty treats waiting for her on Christmas morning!)

Merry Christmas one and all!

(Ooh, and 5 points to the first commenter to name the Christmas musical playing in the background. ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 20 - The Best Gift of All

Click for larger view - you really should, it's beautiful. :)

Note: This is not my picture. The photo was taken by Michael Bilotta who used to go to the same dog park we did. I added the text by photoshopping the note that came from Bella's rescuer, Nilsa, into Michael's photo. I should add that I then printed it out, framed it and gave it to Jan for Bella's first Christmas with us.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bah humbug - a scared-y dog's view of the holidays

First, allow me to say, I LOVE the holidays. L.O.V.E. them. I love the traditions. I love the music. I love all the cookies and movies and lights. Hmmm, this is starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss thing so we'll just cut to the chase: I love Christmas.

Bella, on the other hand? Not so much.

Well, actually, she does love Christmas (See: video evidence here). What she doesn't love is all the company the holidays bring. And well-meaning animal lovers who want to pet her.

Four years

Bella is almost 4 years old and the only people who can reliably pet her are me, my husband Jan and my mom. My sister and my youngest nephew are about 50/50 and my oldest 2 nephews have to wait for the rare occasion when Bella is worn-down-to-the-bone exhausted for a chance to sit quietly next to her and get a snuggle in. (See: only existing photographic evidence of such below.)

This picture was almost 2 years in the making...

Bella doesn't want to make toys er, friends...

It's nothing against you, really. Even Bella's trainers, vets and behaviorist aren't immune. One trainer, that magical Sheila again, can usually coax Bella into a chin scratch but only when there's food involved. We are working with a few select friends and neighbors as well as her vets so someone will be able to handle her in case of emergency.

I wish for her sake and yours that it was different and I know some will not believe me so, on behalf of Bella and all the other shy and fearful dogs out there, and for those who feel they absolutely must pet the pretty dog's head, allow me to offer this advice:

    Over head = bad.

    Under chin = good.
  • Don't try to pet the pretty dog's head! It will not happen. She will still, on occasion, duck away from me and Jan if we approach her from above. She's much more comfortable with an under the chin approach.
  • Pay attention to what she's telling you. Bella is very (very, very, very, very, very) communicative. She will tell you how she's feeling with her body language. If she's ducking her head, leaning back, moving away or just averting her eyes, she's telling you she'd rather you not try to pet her. Don't.
  • If she approaches you to sniff, let her. She's assessing your risk to her. Offer her the back of your hand to sniff, a loosely closed hand is best. This is not the time to try and pet her!
  • If she thinks you're not hearing the messages she's sending you with her body language, she will actually try to speak to you. (Did I mention she's very (very, very, very, very, very) communicative?) It's okay to listen to her. She's scared and she's doing her level best to tell you that, so go ahead and let her have the treat. Drop it on the floor and end the game. She won that round. It's okay, really.
  • Finally, if the barking doesn't work, Bella will leave the room. Please, for the love of all that is holy, let her leave. Bella is a dog. She's a fearful dog. If you remove her option of flight, well, there's only so many options left, right?

As her owners, Jan and I take our responsibility very (very, very, very, very, very) seriously. If we sense a situation getting out of control, we will leash her or remove her from the room. But we're trying to teach her that people = good things and we can't do that if every time company arrives, she gets thrown in another room.

Every person she meets in her life will teach her something. What do you want your lesson to be?

To all who enter our home, we want everyone to be comfortable, including our dog. To help us achieve that for Bella permanently someday, we're asking for you to help us by following these few simple rules.

To our friends and neighbors who are working with us to help Bella overcome her fear of people, thank you! It takes guts to offer a piece of food to a 60 lb barking dog.

To my family who didn't sign up for this, has put up with the crazy dog and done everything right every time, including sometimes just treating her like a normal dog, I love you all so much.

To strangers on the street, yes, I know my dog sounds like Cujo. You shouldn't get so close to an unfamiliar dog.

And to all our friends in the blogosphere, we here at Bringing up Bella would like to wish you the happiest of holidays and all good fortune in the New Year.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Social Media for Social Good - It's Twitter Time!

As noted last week, I'm participating in the Social Media for Social Good holiday event hosted by Two Little Cavaliers and Pamper Yourself in Pink. It's a neat opportunity for bloggers to get together and give something back to the animal welfare community, as well as directly to our readers.

See, the bloggers created this pool of cash ($325 to be exact) that will be awarded at the end of the event: $112 to an individual (that could be you!) and $213 to the animal charity of the winner's choice.

You have up to three ways to enter as each week we'll present a new "Rafflecopter" with some tasks you have to perform. Last week, every blog "Liked" on Facebook was an entry in the contest - and you can still enter there if you haven't already.

This week, it's Twitter's turn!

Just click on the Rafflecopter buttons to "Follow" any or all of the blogger accounts on Twitter. Each follow = 1 contest entry. (If you already follow someone, you can still enter - just click the "Enter" button.) Follow all the bloggers to unlock even more chances to win.

As a side note for anyone wondering, I promise, my next post will actually be about Bella. Thanks for sticking with me through these blogging-about-the-blog-more-than-the-crazy-dog days.

Now - go click on the Rafflecoptor. Let me know who you're playing for in the comments. And GOOD LUCK!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Saturday's Dog: Milla

Hello friends,

Well, it's not quite Saturday any more (nor, despite what the publishing date notes, is it Friday either - guess I've been trying to write this for 2 days) but I didn't want to neglect my commitment to my "Saturday Dogs" - dogs that are waiting for their new homes in local shelters and rescues I volunteer with. Dogs that, for whatever reason, can't seem to get the attention of that perfect family they just know is out there looking for them.

I've been planning to feature today's dog all week and she certainly needs and deserves the spotlight but before we get to her, I did want to take just a moment to recognize the tragedy in Texas and express my deepest sympathy to Sandra and her family (both 2-legged and 4.)

For the few people that may not have yet heard, "The Houston Pittie Pack" suffered a devastating fire Thursday night losing their home and 5 of their 7 rescue dogs. Their grief and pain is unimaginable.

Some folks in blogville have set up a "ChipIn" to raise cash for the family while they work through this terrible time. I've posted a picture link to the ChipIn on my side bar and it will remain there until the ChipIn closes on February 15. If you have any cash at all to spare, these folks could surely benefit from some holiday kindness.

You can also visit the blog and leave a comment for Sandra to let her know you're thinking about them.

And now a word about Milla, our "Please-adopt-this-dog" dog of the week.

I usually try to feature dogs I've actually met here so I can personally speak to their temperament. I'm breaking that "rule" today because I'm worried this dog may be running out of time.

Milla is a beautiful black Lab mix that North East All Retriever Rescue was asked to help find a home for because the new baby in her home is allergic to her. She didn't enter our program because the family said they were willing to keep her until a new loving home was found so we started featuring her on our "Referrals" page. Unfortunately, that was four months ago and there seems to have been no interest generated by her post or from the ads the family is running.

She's a pretty dog and has been raised by a loving family. She loves people and gets along with other dogs (no mention of cats). She just can't seem to get anyone to notice her. And that's where you come in. Can you take a moment out of your busy day to tweet or post Milla's information to your friends and followers? The perfect family is out there looking for her, I just know it. Maybe your tweet will be the one that helps them find her.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Liebster means Dearest

Wow. This has been a pretty hectic week what with us participating in the "Social Media for Social Good" (SMfSG) holiday event campaign, Pet Fiction Theater's "A Blogville Christmas Cabin" (I make no apologies for my goofy love of the creativity behind these shows :), Bella's agility class and the normal blogging schedule.

Add to that a big project at work and oh yeah, Christmas preparations(!) and I'm so stupid tired right now it'll be a miracle if this post makes any sense at all due to my failing-by-the-minute cognitive skills.

Breathe, Leslie, just breathe.

First I'd like to welcome all our new visitors (and Facebook followers) that found us via the SMfSG campaign. Lovely to have you here. I hope you'll poke around and join in the conversations.

Today I woke up to a very nice surprise on top of all this fun (2 somethings, actually, but I feel it's important to cover them separately to give appropriate attention):

Bringing up Bella won our first award!

Jet from over at Jet's Furkid Palace chose us as one of their recipients of the Liebster Blog award. I am very touched. And they called Bella gorgeous, too! (We agree, thank you!)

So here's how it works:

"Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. As with any award, there is a bit of ceremony involved. In order to accept the award, we must do the following:
  1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
  3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
  4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs."

Now onto the fun part.

I have really enjoyed discovering lots of awesome blogs over the past few months. Being new myself, I like to specifically search out smaller blogs that are either just getting started or for some reason or other haven't gotten the attention I think they deserve. This "Liebster" award with its "less than 200 followers" requirements fits nicely into that and I hope the blogs I've chosen will end up on your regular reading list, if they're not already.

Our 5 blogs (in no particular order):
  1. A Coonhound's Tale - Prudence is a beautiful rescued Coonhound living in NJ and entertaining her mom. She shares her adventures with us with lots of pictures of the pretty dog. Being a big fan of hounds, I can't resist checking in to see what Prudence has gotten up to in any given week.
  2. Doodling Dogs - I have to admit, I was surprised to see this blog didn't already have, like, a thousand followers. Emily and her pup, Leila, offer up a variety of dog-related topics including a "Breed of the Week" spotlight that can leave even canine fanatics like me stumped on occasion.
  3. Two Collies and a Mutt - Marquie is a lovely young blogger with a penchant for Collies. Her blog is full of wonderful photos and commentary about her mutt, Ella, and 2 Collies, Petal and yes, Lassie. How can you not check that out?
  4. Pupparoos - Continuing in the Sheltie category (Editor's note: Edited to correct breed. I'm a dolt, I know the difference between a Collie and a Sheltie - ack! Sorry Ellen! See "cognitive skills" above. ;), Ellen from Pupparoos blogs about Stewie (not the Sheltie) and new pup, Tucker (the Sheltie). Blogging about a fantastically adorable puppy certainly ensures this blog's success but we're kind of infatuated with Stewie here.
  5. Pauley James, Former Foster Baby - Pauley's Mr. and Mrs. are those incredible kind of people we all probably aspire to be: they're fosters. Pauley, it would seem taught them the meaning of "failed foster". ;) The blog is full of the fun-filled adventures of their 3 dogs and 5 cats as well as the heart-warming, and sometimes heart-breaking, stories of animal rescue.

I hope you enjoy visiting our "Dearest" selection of blogs. And once again, I'd really like to welcome everybody and to thank Jet for thinking of us when selecting their award recipients. It made my day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 19 - New Friends

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging. :)

Bella and her little friend, Chipper, at the Tufts Farm Field.

Let the games begin!

The "Social Media for Social Good Holiday Event" has started and you can be a part of it!

How you would like to start the New Year by winning some cash for you AND your favorite animal charity?

Two Little Cavaliers is giving a bunch of us pet bloggers and small businesses the opportunity to bring you a special social media holiday event. The winner of the event will receive $112 via Paypal for themselves as well as $213 sent directly to their favorite animal charity. And that winner could be you!

To enter just:
  1. Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite charity. What 501(c)(3) organization would you donate the charitable portion of the prize money to if you win?
  2. "Like" any (or all!) of the Facebook pages of the bloggers and small businesses who are participating in the event. Already "Like" one of the pages? That's ok, just click the "+1 Do It!" button on the Rafflecopter widget and select "Enter".
Our chosen charity: Save a Sato

I've mentioned previously that if we win, we will be donating 100% of the proceeds to Save a Sato in Puerto Rico, Bella's rescue group. Here's a little more about them:

"Save A Sato is a non-profit, all volunteer organization dedicated to easing the suffering of Puerto Rico's homeless and abused animals. "Sato" is slang for street dog. We rescue Satos from the streets and beaches, give them medical care, food and shelter, and plenty of love. When they are healthy, we send them to one of our shelter partners for adoption into loving homes."

They have an ambitious Mission Statement that includes everything from providing basic care like feeding and vaccination programs to legal advocacy and, most notably, "re-homing services" in which they partner with shelters on the mainland to be adopted into loving homes here.

Conditions in Puerto Rico are rough for stray dogs and cats and the Save a Sato volunteers save lives every day with little money and even fewer resources. Every donation goes towards improving the conditions of the animals in their care.

Your turn

Remember each activity completed earns you an entry into the random raffle at the end of the event. So check out the blog hop to get started and don't forget to tell us what charity you're participating for in the comments section. Good luck!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"One Day @ Save a Sato" (video)

Last night I announced in my post about the "Social Media for Social Change" event that I would be participating on behalf of Save a Sato in Puerto Rico. Shortly afterwards, I happened upon this video by lolavibemusic on Youtube. It is the most extensive view I've found of Save a Sato, the shelter and organization that rescued my Bella.

These are not the conditions we're used to seeing in the States. But please remember, this is the rescue. The conditions of the non-rescued on the streets and beaches is far worse and very dangerous.

This video was taken during June 2011. I am pleased to tell you the shelter is under-going a much needed update and you can see the progress made as of November 2011 at the Save a Sato web site. Much still needs to be done.

It's very difficult for me to imagine the silly, spoiled scared-y dog currently lying behind me on the couch as being rescued TO these conditions. However, I also know that Gloria and all the volunteers at Save a Sato are there every day caring for and loving these dogs. They are saving lives. Every day.

One day, a little over 3 years ago, they saved Bella's. I will never forget that.

And now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go hug my beautiful little girl.

PS - For all my dog blogger friends who love to "Guess the Breed", new sato blogger Enzo is running a fund-raiser to benefit Save a Sato. $5.00 gets you a guess and all proceeds go directly to Save a Sato. How fun is that?

UPDATE: Enzo's Guess My Breed contest has ended but I'm keeping the link to his post up so you can all check out his blog. He's a very handsome and silly guy.

The "Social Media for Social Good" holiday campaign

"A Holiday Blogging Event for Animals in Need"

Hey, have you heard about the terrific holiday event Two Little Cavaliers is running from December 14th through the 28th? "A Holiday Blogging Event for Animals in Need" is designed to help us bloggers get a little publicity and our favorite charity a decent pile of cash!

Participating bloggers (and non-bloggers, too!) chip-in $10 and, at the end of the event, that pool of funds will be randomly awarded to one of the entrants in a 60/40 split between charity and blogger. (Non-blogger donated funds will go directly to the charity of the selected blogger.)

For the record, if I happen to be the one selected, I pledge 100% of the funds to Save a Sato in Puerto Rico - Bella's rescue organization. There's also a prize for the blog that sends over the most folks who sign up to participate so if you happen to hop on over and join, you can mention you saw it here at Bringing up Bella.

The more folks who participate, the bigger the pot at the end of the event! So blogger or non, I hope you'll consider heading over to the Two Little Cavaliers' site to contribute to the "Chip In".

Think of it as a holiday gift you'll open to you see who wins when all the other presents are gone.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday's Adopt-this-dog-athon: Lovely Lekoda

Allow me to introduce today's dog: Lekoda

Updated: I am VERY happy to report that Lekoda has been adopted! She went to her forever home in February 2012. Thanks to everyone who helped get her story out so her new family could find her. :) (You can continue to follow her progress on North East All Retriever's "Happy Tails" page.

Available through North East All Retriever Rescue, I met Lekoda at the Woofstock event I attended in October. She's a real sweetie. And just beautiful, too, don't you think?

Lekoda is a 9 year old Lab whose disabled owner very reluctantly had to surrender her due to moving. She is good with cats and dogs and kids, has no bad habits and is even excellent off-leash.

As you might be able to tell from the photo, she's wearing a Thundershirt which means she's a bit of a scared-y dog but the shirt and some homeopathic remedies help with that. She is very Labbie and needs to be with her people. She will be happiest lying quietly at your feet or nearby while you're working or watching TV.

If you or someone you know is looking for a gentle, loving companion, Lekoda would make an excellent choice. Please don't let her age discourage you from welcoming her into your family. Or perhaps you could take a moment to Tweet her story to your followers? Someone out there must be looking for a dog as wonderful as Lekoda. She is certainly waiting for them to find her.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 18 - Thor's cushions

I had a different picture planned for today but recently received this in an email from my sister. Apparently her Bull Mastiff*, Thor, didn't appreciate how she had the cushions laid out and decided to, shall we say, 're-decorate' according to his needs.

I love this big guy! (Bella, however, does not so we have wisely chosen to limit their interactions since Thor has about 70 lbs on Bella and probably wouldn't be as gracious as Gus in her ill treatment of him.)

* Donna, did I finally get it right - Bull Mastiff, not English, yes?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Notes from Home - 12.04.2008

It's been a while since we've had an installment in our "Notes from Home" collection. With winter approaching, we were learning some new things about our 'hot-blooded' pup.

December 4, 2008

Jan: The dog is curled up on the bed.

Just for jollies, I wrapped her in the heavy blanket earlier.

Thirty minutes later, she is still snuggled under the blanket.

What did you expect? I'm from Puerto Rico and you people have SNOW here!

Wait, where ya' going? My shoulder's untucked... Come back! Please?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday's Dog: Meet Mr. Ed

This is Ed.

Ed is an awesome Shar Pei mix from Puerto Rico waiting for his new awesome family to take him to his new awesome home.

I know they're coming....

He's available at Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury, MA and is just the coolest dog you can imagine.

I had the pleasure of spending about half an hour with him last Sunday and, apologies to Bella, but she almost had a new little brother. I absolutely fell in love with this guy. He's a very strong boy even for his short stature but he's playful and fun, loves to lean and give kisses.

He's been in the shelter too long. I think people might be a little afraid of him but if they could only see him romp and play, they'd realize he's just an overgrown puppy with the best personality. Want to help me help Ed get the exposure he deserves? Just click to Tweet his profile - maybe Ed's forever family is reading your Twitter stream right now. :)

Come on - how can you resist those eyes?

UPDATE: Ed was adopted and is now living happily in his forever home! Thanks to all who helped tell his story.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 17 - Gorgeous Gus

For your viewing pleasure, allow me to present once again, Bella's best beau, Gus!

Monday, November 28, 2011

"A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet."

If you've been reading the blog for any length of time, you may have picked up on the fact that I am a big supporter of animal rescue and shelter pets. Not only is Bella a rescued shelter dog, but I volunteer with a couple of different rescue groups as a sort of pay-it-forward gesture to those who saved her in the first place.

Well, shortly before Thanksgiving week, I received an email from a 'fellow animal lover' (thanks to Christine from Brando and Bogart for that bit of phrasiology) asking me to share some information with you, my dear readers. Since the request had to do with saving lives and getting animals out of shelters and into loving homes, all you have to wonder is how quickly I said "Sure! Where do I sign up?"

Have you heard of The Shelter Pet Project?

You've probably seen a few of the ads floating around cyberspace lately but did you know The Shelter Project is a collaboration between The Humane Society of the United States, Maddie's Fund and The Ad Council with the primary goal of making "shelters the first place potentional adopters turn when looking to get a new pet?" The current series of ads is designed to highlight the bond between shelter pets and their adopters in an upbeat, light-hearted (not soul-crushing) way.

According to the Project's web site, "seventeen million people will acquire a dog or cat within the next year." yet "2.7 million healthy and treatable pets are still losing their lives in shelters each year."

Think about that: it would only take about 15% of that 17 million to save all 2.7 million pets!

Pet adoption is on the rise having increased by 2% in the last 2 years and euthanasia is dropping but myths and stereotypes about shelter pets still abound. We need to continue increasing public awareness to the joys of adopting shelter pets and The Shelter Pet Project is a great way to start.

Check out one of the ads from the current series:

Isn't that great? How would you like that to be your dog? And that's the goal of the campaign.

So, how can you help?

The easist thing you can do is to help spread the word by telling your friends:

  • Like The Project on Facebook, 
  • Follow them on Twitter, and 
  • Subscribe to their channel on Youtube.

But you can also direct all your friends, and anyone else who tells you they are thinking of getting a new pet, about The Shelter Pet Project website. There they'll be able to search for dogs and cats in their area who are looking for new homes. The web site can also put them in touch with shelters and rescue groups in their area. All they need to do is enter their zip code.

So I hope you'll help me in spreading the word about this wonderful campaign to help make shelter pets the first option people think of when looking for a new pet for their home. And when it's your turn to add a new pet to your family, please remember: "A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet. Be that person. Adopt."

Bella and I thank you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday's Dog: Canine Eye Candy

Another first on Bringing up Bella - today we have our first guest blogger! Well, sort of. Ok, not exactly.

Here's the scoop: My friend, Cindy, sent me an email this week about a dog who just came in to Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury, MA, where she is a volunteer. Seemed a perfect Saturday 'adopt-athon' post to me, don't ya' think?

"Canine Eye Candy"

"Copper, a 10 month old Dobie pup at Buddy Dog. He was surrendered when his owner's landlord discovered him -- it was a no-pet apartment. A tough dog to sneak around!

Isn't he gorgeous? He's sweet, loves to play, does tricks -- what a dog. Normally I'm against the ear cropping, but his are fantastic!"

~ Cindy

Of course, I totally agreed on the "Isn't he gorgeous?" part. If you do too, do me a favor and tweet him around and let's see if we can't get this handsome guy a home, ok? Thanks!

And for some great lazy Saturday, Thanksgiving recuperation reading, be sure to stroll on through the rest of the blogs in the hop.

UPDATE: Jen from The Elka Almanac just confirmed that Copper has already found his forever home! Thanks to everyone who tweeted and networked on his behalf. He made it out in record time. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 16 - Orchid

And now for something completely different: Not The Larch.

Just needed a different color today. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

(Sorry for the bizarre Monty Python reference. My sister will appreciate it. ;)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gus and Bella, a love story

Finally, the post you've all been waiting for since I introduced him in a Wordless Wednesday a while back. Today I get to tell you the story of Romeo er, Gus.

Once Upon a Time...

I've mentioned before how lucky we were to find Sheila, our brilliant trainer who is just as good at reading people as she is at reading dogs. We have her to thank for introducing us to our now good friends, Cindy and Rick, and their beautiful dogs, Gus the Borzoi and Molly the Greyhound. We'll meet Molly in another post as she is a new addition to their family and focus first on Gus, Bella's best boyfriend. And really, I kid you not, this is love. (At least on his part, sorry Gus.)

Gus and his hu-folks were taking the same class with Sheila that we had taken previously and she saw something in the dogs that she thought would make them good companions for each other. She asked us if we were interested in bringing Bella by after class sometime for a meet and greet. "Sure!", we thought, "we're always looking for ways to socialize our little girl. This would be fun!"

We were on our way into the classroom when the door opened and this ENORMOUS beast came through it on his way out. Bella spooked, feeling trapped in the little hallway and did her usual less-than-polite "I'm big and scary so stay away from me" routine (read: she barked and growled and lunged then ran away and hid behind my legs.) When the big scary dog lunged and growled back at Bella, we promptly shuffled her into a nearby restroom to regroup.

Of course, the big scary dog was Gus, the dog we were there to meet. So, you know, that went well.

If at first and all that...

Sheila was not disuaded from her original opinion that these dogs were perfect for each other and recommended taking them outside to walk around the parking lot to settle down. That went a little better but on the drive home half an hour later, I have to admit Jan and I were dubious. I'm sure Cindy and Rick were right there with us. However, when Sheila suggested we do it all over again the next week, the crazy canines and their human accomplices showed up on demand.

Subsequent meetings went better and we made plans to meet one night after work at the farm field across from Tufts Small Animal Hospital. A 37-acre agricultural field with a mile+ walking trail around it, we were finally going to let the dogs walk "near" each other. This turned out to be a revelation.

The walk started tentatively, the dogs recognizing each other but able to be in their own space as they acclimated to getting closer and closer. Finally, once we were deep enough into the field to be away from too much other dog interference, Gus was let off leash. (Bella was on a very long lead as she didn't have the recall skills yet to be off-leash in a not fenced area...)

Cue the romantic music

I'll let the pictures speak to what happened next.*

Ok, so it wasn't love at first sight

The most remarkable thing, one that I don't think Bella had comfortably experienced before with another dog, was that when she "yelled" at Gus because she was getting scared, he backed off. He actually listened to the scrawny dog! In fact, he seemed to like having a dog tell him what to do because from that day forward, he followed her around like a lovesick, well, pup.

She seemed to give him a sense of direction. And he seemed to give her a sense of security. (It never hurts to have the biggest, baddest boy in the dog park watching your back!)

A few snarks and grumbles later and, well, again, pictures speak louder than words....

Unfortunately, those halcyon days are behind us after some "bad apples" changed the face of the field (although there are other reasons). And while we were unable to get Bella and Gus together there for over a year, their "love affair" picked up without missing a beat when we were finally able to re-unite the lost lovers this past summer. Bella was immediately more at ease with Gus even after such a separation than she is with any other dog.

And Gus still follows her around ignoring almost all other dogs at the park. He sees her coming the moment we step into the park (well, he IS a sighthound, I suppose) and all else fades from view. He can be in mid-play with another dog but when he sees Bella, the music swells and gorgeous Gus comes running in slow motion, hair blowing in the breeze, to the gate awaiting her arrival. It's like a Fabio commercial. (Ok, the slo-mo might be an exaggeration.)

Gus gave Bella something I am not sure we would have ever been able to offer her: security in the freedom of being off-leash. He is so big and so well-loved at the field, and as a member of his pack, no dog dared push Bella beyond her limits (not without facing the wrath of Gus!)

This love story continues. As for this blog post, alas, I'm afraid it is:

The End.

* (I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures - it was cold, I was freezing, lighting was low and the dogs were fast. Don't fret, though, Gus and Bella will ultimately litter my Wordless Wednesday pages so there will be better pictures to make up for these...)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday's Dog: Meet Diego!

Would you look at this ridiculously happy, handsome face? Meet Diego - the happy wanderer. Diego is in a Vermont shelter where he turned up as a stray. As a result, we don't know much about him except that he seems to be eternally happy.

Diego loves being around people. He's also friendly with dogs as well as cats but kids aren't advised (they can be a bit too rough for him). Smart, playful but not over-exuberant, this handsome fella will make an exceptional partner for the right people. Maybe that's you or someone you know?

Hop on over to see his full profile on the North East All Retriever Rescue web page. You can check out some of the other dogs we have there who are also waiting to find that perfect forever home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 15 - Daddy's girl

Yes, I am Daddy's little girl. Why do you ask?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Saturday's Dog: Featuring Wesley

Big fluffy Wesley

Today's entry in my Saturday "Adopt-a-dog-athon" for the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop is Wesley.

Wesley was one of the dogs I helped bring up from North Carolina last weekend. Most of the transports were from a South Carolina shelter but Wesley hitched a ride from a high-kill shelter in NC.

There appears to be some confusion over his age and breed but I'm going with the St. Bernard/Border Collie mix somewhere around 1 - 2 years old.

Wesley is just a big goofball, very gentle and easy-going. He's great with kids and dogs, ok with cats. He was a perfect traveler in the car, no signs of anxiety. He's very playful but also likes to get his snuggle on.

You can view Wesley's full profile at this link on He is available through Big Fluffy Dog rescue. Please visit their site for more information on the adoption process.

And please, spread the word on Wes. Thank you.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mayzie's Rescue Week: Kinja

Every day I am more and more impressed with the pet blogging community. This week there has been a tremendous outpouring of support for Mayzie's "Rescue Week" that both honors her Grampa J and supports animal rescue.

The idea is to have bloggers post pictures and profiles of animals in need of a home and next week, Mayzie will pick 5 (yes 5!!) random "winners" out of those who participate and donate $100 (that's right $100 x 5!!) to each winner's favorite rescue group.

Well, that is a mighty generous offer and I couldn't resist throwing one of "my" dogs into the ring.

But who would I choose for such a special event? Since I volunteer with a couple of different rescue groups, I was having a real hard time selecting who I wanted to write about. All of our dogs are special and Mayzie didn't specify any criteria. I was just going to have go with my heart this time and pick one. That's when I saw her and knew who I had to spotlight this time.

The Lovely Kinja.

Kinja is a 12 year old, female Basenji looking for her forever home. Isn't she pretty? And so full of character. She loves people and is a bit of a couch potato (pretty unusual for a Basenji) but she does need some exercise and daily walks.

She is sweet, shy and very curious but not especially destructive. A backyard to romp in, a little playtime and a lot of snuggles would be just what she is looking for in her new family.

If you want to learn more about her, visit her profile on the Basenji Rescue and Transport (BRAT) website.

All BRAT dogs are spayed/neutered, fully vaccinated and tested for heartworm and Fanconi (strip-tested).  "BRAT provides free lifetime post-adoption counseling to help deal with behavioral issues" as well as free lifetime identification connected to their own "lost-dog toll free number"! Yes, Basenjis are escape artists. ;)

Thank you, Mayzie for bringing attention to all these lovely animals. Grampa J would be very proud.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Moving Mayhem: The chaos that is rescue transport

Do you have a rescue dog that came "from out of town"? Or maybe you've visited your local shelter and seen signs noting dogs that came from Georgia, Tennesse, Texas or Puerto Rico. Have you ever wondered how these dogs got to your local shelter?

Mostly they got there through the efforts of volunteers all across the country who offer to move dogs out of danger zones to receiving no-kill shelters and rescue organizations in an 'underground railroad' type of operation. Volunteers who, on their own dime, in their spare time, sign up with rescue groups, monitor email lists, Facebook and Twitter feeds looking for opportunities to help save dogs and puppies from almost certain death.

Last night I was lucky enough to take part in a tremendous effort moving dogs from Marion County Animal Shelter in Mullens, South Carolina, to various rescues up and down the eastern seaboard, some dogs travelling as far north as Augusta, Maine.

As usually happens, everything went wrong: legs ran up to two hours late, puppies got sick, pick-up locations were mixed up... I ended up with 5 dogs in my car, two of which didn't get along. But consider this: this rescue took place over two days through 10 states, involved 32 drivers, 21 dogs and 10 shelters/rescue groups. Suddenly it's hard to imagine how it happened at all. And it happens every week.

Yesterday's Dogs

My five dogs were all beautiful, sweet and gentle young souls who were so grateful for any kindness extended. All but one of them came from Marion County Shelter and all but one of them were little more than a rack of bones. Here, let me introduce you. (You can click on the pics for a better view.)
Jewel, a hound mix, was described on her transfer form as weighing 40 lbs. Maybe once upon a time but she barely weighed twenty when I picked her up last night. You could see every rib and her hip bones stuck out like little mountains on her back. She greeted me with a kiss and slept with her head on my lap the entire ride. (She also raided every treat bag I had in the car, took out my GPS and stepped on the horn while we were loading up the other dogs. She's going to be a fun little companion for someone with a good sense of humor.) She was heading to a rescue group in Augusta ME.


Monica and Magnolia were two little Jack Russell Terrier puppy mixes from the same litter and they were just babies. Their records said they weighed 10 pounds. Maybe together! I'd say they were closer to 4 or 5 pounds each. Magnolia had a slight cough and an upset tummy but they cuddled up together in the blanket and slept most of the way to the next drop-off.

We try not to handle puppies too much (for their health and ours) so I didn't get to interact with them except to move them between cars. Doing so required wrapping them in a towel and they both just snuggled so deeply into the warmth of the towel and human contact, it was hard to let them go. They were headed to Augusta with Jewel.


Jasmine came to me with an injured back leg. I don't know if this happened during transport or before. I suspect before. She was very thin but not as appallingly so as Jewel or the puppies. She was a gentle, timid and lovely young Coonhound/Foxhound (mix?) who fell asleep as soon as the car started moving. When I picked her up to get her in and out of the cars, she was compliant and uncomplaining. She was going to her forever home somewhere near Portsmouth NH. Her new family will be very lucky to have her. She was just lovely.

Wesley, my hitch-hiker, was a beautiful St. Bernard mix who was going in to Big Fluffy Dog Rescue's care. The original instructions had Wesley leaving the railroad in Worcester, MA but there was a bit of a mix-up and his new 'picker-upper' was meeting us in Lowell. He and Jewel didn't get along very well so it made for some interesting accommodations but everybody settled down once we got moving. Wesley was very goofy and playful, a real sweetheart of a dog. He's going to make someone a very fine, very big, fluffy dog.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Over the past few years that I've been involved with rescue, I've had the pleasure of transporting a few dogs. It seldom goes exactly right and you have to have a bit of a "roll with it" personality or you'll be driven nuts by the constantly shifting schedules. On the bright side, there's usually a great story waiting to be told afterwards. A few of the highlights:

  • The good: Lucy, the gorgeous black Lab/hound mix who simply needed a lift from one foster family to another. One driver, beautiful dog, picture perfect transport.
  • The bad: My very first transport was picking up "Mister", the elder Lab, from his family who loved him dearly but were losing their home. They were doing the best they could by him sending him to a rescue group with foster homes rather than a shelter. It was unbelievably tragic and I cried the whole way to the next drop-off point. In fact, I'm pretty sure I cried for the next 3 days.
  • The ugly: Benny, the Basenji, was a little darling who bit me when I didn't recognize his stress and mishandled him. He had traveled up from Pennsylvania in the middle of a heat wave and now I was bleeding profusely as I tried to keep us both cool and calm and on-time for our next hand-off. I still got kisses - maybe he regretted biting me.

I remember every dog I have moved. And I have fallen in with every one of them.

So why do we do it?

Not everyone feels called to forfeit their Saturdays and Sundays to go move dogs around the country. I'm really glad there are folks who do though.

My husband, of course, thinks I am insane. While he very graciously helped me figure out how to turn a Subaru Forrester into a mobile kennel with one crate and some panels from our portable puppy pens, he was still nervous when I left wondering how I could possibly manage 4 dogs in one car. (I didn't tell him about Wesley until after it was over. To be fair, I didn't know about Wesley until it was too late either...)

And while he doesn't share my compunction for rescuing dogs, I think I was finally able to put why I do this in terms Jan understood: Someone, probably many someones, had done this for Bella.

Where they came from

Yesterday's ride was initiated by the rescue group Paws to the Rescue. Paws contracted with Marion County to run the local animal shelter in 2008. They have made significant improvements to the living conditions of the animals in their care including adding heat to the dog and cat runs, providing basic medical care and letting the dogs run in an outdoor area at times throughout the day.

The shelter, however, remains desperately under-funded, tragically over-filled and entirely too high-kill. With limited space and even more limited resources, the animals that come into the shelter have little time to find willing adopters and rescue groups before facing euthanasia to make room for the dogs and cats that continue to pour in. In 2009, 2,700 animals were admitted to the shelter. Only 750 of them made it out alive.

It's hard not to be moved looking into their faces knowing you helped 21 make it out this weekend.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday's Dog: Introducing Missy

Click on Missy's pic to view her full profile.

How gorgeous is this girl?

With that ever-present big smile on her face, Missy is the perfect Lab for folks who don't actually want a Lab don't necessarily want all the work associated with young Labs.

The saying is Labs don't grow up until they're 7 or 8 years old so Missy has just passed that major milestone and all the hard work is behind her and all the best parts of Lab ownership - a trustworthy, loyal loving companion who is happy just to be with you - await if she becomes part of your family.

When I met her at Woofstock, I was impressed with how spry and happy she is - even in a crowd. But really, Missy's best selling point is how loving and lovable she is. She wants to "be your one and only".

She was surrendered to North East All Retriever Rescue (NEARR) due to owner illness. She was well-loved and well-cared for. That is obvious from her good nature and demeanor. She deserves to get back what she has lost.

Won't you consider making her part of your life or sharing her story with your family and friends? You never know just who might be thinking of adding a beautiful new friend to their family.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 13 - Boxer Lovin'

This is my friend Cindy (Gus's hu-mom) getting loved on by a young Boxer we were fortunate enough to watch grow up one summer at the dog park. For the record, this is not Cindy's dog. LOL (Thanks for being game, Cindy!)

Captions anyone?