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?