Friday, December 25, 2009

Home for the Holidays - Adoptee Updates

We wish all animals could have Happy Holidays but there are some that we know are having the best of holidays because they are homeless no more. During this time of year we hear from some of our adoptees and it brings us great joy knowing that they are now valuable, worthy family members. We'd like to share some of this year's holiday greetings with you in hopes it warms your heart as much as it has ours.

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Jack was surrendered to the shelter when his family did not want to spend more money on getting a correct diagnosis for his skin condition which turned out to be easily treatable sarcoptic mange. Because of the trauma to his skin from ripping out fur due intense itching, Jack will always look like a marble pound cake as his new hair grew in dark. But just look how handsome he is on his first Christmas with his new family! Click here for Jack's story.

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In January 2009 Higgins was picked up by animal control, a 4-month-old-puppy at the time, screaming in pain after having just been hit by a car. We took Higgins to a surgeon to fix his leg, many people pitched in to cover the expenses of saving his life, and now Higgins celebrates the holidays with a fully functioning leg, leading a wonderful life. Click here for Higgins' full story.

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Portia (on the right) was left at an animal shelter because her humans were having a baby. It was just as well because the care they gave her left a lot to be desired. Portia ended up in a great home 1 1/2 years ago where she is kept meticulously groomed and is a cherished family member. You can click here to read Portia's story.

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Molly (formerly Holly) is living the good life. Three years ago Molly was to be euthanized in a Virginia shelter because the hunters were bringing in more beagles that would not hunt, the shelter was full and those there the longest were next in line for the needle. Molly ended up in the shelter when tenants were evicted, trashed the house and left Molly and her litter of puppies there. No more puppies for Molly and no more new homes either. Click her to read Molly's story. Her family emailed this holiday update:
Molly had a great Christmas...she must've been a very good girl because she got quite a few presents from Santa. Quite honestly, she is always a very good girl!! She is so cute with her toys..she is still as playful as the day we brought her home. She still has the green bunny you had given us when we adopted her. She loves to play with it, but it's pretty amazing, she doesn't hurt green bunny. Many of her other stuffed animals have needed to be sewn, sometimes to the point of no survival, but she is gentle with her green bunny.
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Parker had lived the first year of his life tied to the back porch all day long, all night long. Animal control convinced the owner to sign him over so he could have a better live. Well, just ready for yourself the life Parker has one year later. No living outside tied to the porch, that is for sure!
Parker is really such a wonderful dog. He has brought so much joy and love to our life. He is definitely a mommy's boy and follows me everywhere I go in the house! He loves to snuggle with me on the couch and go for walks. He had a ball in the snow this past weekend. He loves to dress up as you will be able to tell from the pictures.
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Anita was adopted from us as a little kitten n 2002. We get a Christmas card from her every single year without fail. We so look forward to it. This year her family writes:
We're so luck to have Anita. She is our princess. We love her a lot. She is very cute and smart.
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Opie (right) was sitting in the shelter scared to death and in extremely unkempt condition. Those days are behind him now as he snuggles up on Christmas Eve with sister Schatzie (left) and brother Rusty (middle). Click here for Opie's story.

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Sammie (front right) lived for a very long time with a broken wrist. Once in our care his wrist was surgically repaired. Even with his legs permanently deformed, Sammie gets around fine. After being adopted for two years and returned because the teenagers lost interest, Sammie was again adopted 3 years ago. One thing we know for sure: He will NEVER be returned again. He is now in his forever home. Click here for Sammie's story.
Sammie has had a very happy month. He absolutely loves the snow - they all do. I am still amazed that with his legs being the way they are, how fast he can run. He outruns both the other dogs in the yard. It's pretty funny. He's very happy with the new bed that Santa bought for him. All the boys got new fancy Christmas collars, nylabones, some squeaky toys, and of course lots of treats. Smiley faces all around!
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Willie (left) was found as a little puppy sitting on somebody's front porch. Click here for his story and adorable baby pictures. Four years later his family writes:
Willie is doing great! He has brought so much joy into our lives. We are devoted to each other! What a cool dog - everyone who meets him loves him. Thanks for saving him!
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Button was just adopted this past Thanksgiving Day. We took her all the way to Illinois! We had received a lot of applications for Buttons but we were looking for a very specific type of home for her and that home happened to be 800 miles away in Illinois. So we made last minute arrangements to drive to St. Louis, MO to visit family for Thanksgiving and drop Buttons off in Illinois on our way. Indeed, Buttons has just the life we were wanting for her! Plenty of toys, plenty of walks, trips to Grandma's house, getting spoiled rotten and as her new mom says, Buttons has not just found her forever home, she has found her forever-and-ever home! Click here for Buttons' story.

So we leave you with a final picture of Buttons visiting with Santa and wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and the best of holidays!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If Animals Could Talk...

Have you ever wondered where an animal has been before coming into your life? What happened in her past? How did she end up homeless as a stray? We never get those answers except for this case. Buttons had quite a story to tell and tell it she did, all with the help of her microchip. We were able to piece together her entire life as well as how she ended up on the streets and homeless.

On September 17, 2008, Buttons was found wandering the streets of Clark, NJ. Animal control picked her up but let her go to a foster home for her stray hold so she did not have to go to the shelter. She came into our care the next day, September 18, 2008. Turns out that was her 8th birthday. A birthday which was spent hiding under the kitchen table due to stress and trauma. We knew it was her birthday because of Buttons' microchip. The person to whom the microchip was registered was contacted. She had purchased Buttons from a pet store as a puppy. She said she had given Buttons away in 2003 to an elderly person but she had no additional information. The microchip registration had never been updated to reflect the new home. Dead end except for being able to get Buttons' date of birth and her actual name of Buttons, which is part of the microchip registration information.

Although Buttons was not at all in bad shape, she was taken to our groomer to be prettied up. We noted on her page that her grooming had been compliments of Reigning Cats and Dogs Salon in Westfield, NJ.

On September 27, 2008, Buttons was adopted by a young couple who had just purchased their first home and were ready to add a dog to their family. They were looking for an easy, more mature dog since this would be their first dog. That most certainly was Buttons!

Shortly after Buttons was adopted, the groomer called. She had received a phone call from a man named Dennis who wanted to talk to somebody about Buttons. Oh my. Buttons had just been adopted. Was this an owner coming forward looking for her? Why did he call our groomer?

Dennis had found Buttons on He had been to every shelter in the area looking for her. He was not computer literate but had someone help him look on Petfinder. Because we knew Buttons' real name, Dennis was able to locate her on the Internet and called the groomer mentioned in Buttons' bio. Dennis was Buttons' neighbor. Buttons' mom, an elderly woman and dear friend of Dennis and his wife, had passed away on September 11, 2008. Dennis and his wife had been caring for Buttons and her step-sister Me-Sue, another shih tzu, in their home next door. Dennis had found a home that would take both of the bonded dogs. But the deceased woman's daughter intervened, told Dennis to mind his own business, that they were "just dogs" and refused to allow Dennis to place the dogs. Both dogs and the cat suddenly disappeared.

Dennis was able to provide us with the previous owner's name and the name of the vet she used. With this information we were able to obtain Buttons' FULL vet records as her first owner had used the same vet.

While Dennis was thrilled to know Buttons was safe and in a home, he was desperate to find Me-Sue and asked for our help. We posted information about Me-Sue on rescue message boards but heard nothing. Later that night I felt compelled to check the Petfinder classifieds where people can post strays they find. A black and white shih tzu matching Me-Sue's description had been found in a park 10 miles away in Edison, NJ. I emailed the woman. It turned out to be a rescue group and they were having an adoption day that weekend. Dennis and his wife went to the adoption day and positively identified Me-Sue. Me-Sue was adopted shortly thereafter. The cat, unfortunately, was never found.

At this point, it was very obvious what had happened and when confronted, the daughter fessed up that she did in fact dump Buttons in Clark, NJ and Me-Sue in Edison, NJ thinking nobody would be the wiser if the dogs were split up a distance away from each other. She was not aware that Buttons had a microchip that would blow the whistle on her. Animal control pressed charges and the daughter was fined $1,000 for animal cruelty and abandonment.

The bottom line is, all because of a long forgotten microchip an entire life's story unfolded, a guilty person was punished, and we are able to tell Buttons' tale for her. Sadly, her happily ever after has once again eluded her. She was returned 1 year later on September 14, 2009 due to the husband in her new home having developed asthma with the loss of his job and therefore being at home around Buttons more. No job = no health insurance to test for allergies so they felt they needed to assume Buttons was the cause and had no choice but to return her. Fortunately, her first day back in foster care was nothing like her first day a year ago. She had been exceptionally well cared for over the past year and was not at all traumatized from having been dumped out of a car all alone in a strange place. Other than a little initial loss of appetite from the expected stress of yet another change in her life and missing the people she had bonded with, Buttons seems happy. But her story is not over yet. Maybe this time her next new home will be her furever home.

People always think animals end up homeless because there is something wrong with the animal. Clearly Buttons' story shows how animals become the victims of human-created circumstances when there is nothing wrong with the animals at all. Truly, there is nothing wrong with Buttons. She is the sweetest, most well-behaved, meticulously house trained and trustworthy dog and she deserves nothing but the best.

Button's 9th birthday in her foster home on September 18, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

World's Best Cat Litter $4 Coupon

Because we are users of "World's Best Cat Litter" (love it!) and have a blog, World's Best Cat Litter has provided us with a link for a $4 off coupon to share with our readers. Click on the picture below to get to the coupon site. If you haven't tried this litter, it is worth checking out. The cats like it, it clumps well, there is no dust, doesn't give the kitties "cement boots" and it is environmentally friendly! (This coupon link will work from August 19 - August 29 only.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

L'Oreal's "Because Your Dog Is Worth It Too Day"

Companion Critters, Inc. held a microchip clinic at L'Oreal's "Because Your Dog Is Worth It Too Day." This event is huge and thousands of dogs attend. There are tons of activities for the doggies and on a hot day in August, plenty of swimming pools in a variety of sizes for everyone. It's the only microchip clinic we have where all of our customers come soaking wet from just having had a dip in a pool!

A few of our 31 customers who will never have to worry about being unidentified in a shelter! (These three dogs were all homeless at one time and are now beloved adopted rescues!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Day Adoption Story

For today, August 12, 2009, the 1st annual Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Day, we would like to share with you the story of the adoption of one of our less adoptable pets that was published in "Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul."

Persian Love

Lindsey's white Persian head - a snowball with huge golden eyes and a flat, upturned nose - gave her a look of perpetual sourness. Her fluffy feathered tail and paws were worthy of a pedigreed show cat. But everything in between - her skinny little torso and legs - had been shorn to the skin, ridding her of years of heavily matted fur. Still, with a wiggle of her rear and her head held high, she approached everyone as if she were a fashion model sauntering up the runway and displaying the latest in designer feline styles.

She didn't care that the sight of her caused people to giggle. She felt no shame or humiliation, nor did it cause her to think less of any human - all humans were her friends and deserved her affection. I, too, was a guilty party: She made me laugh, that spunky little sprite.

Lindsey, a rescued cat I was fostering, didn't realize my halfway house for homeless animals was not her real home. It was the best she had ever known. She had spent eight years in a shopping cart topped with fencing. Her former people, elderly themselves, meant well and often took in homeless cats. They prevented reproduction by housing each cat individually in carriers. The cats never left their cages. The couple had rescued Lindsey as a kitten when she was tossed from a moving car. The white Persian had been lucky to be given the deluxe accommodations - the shopping cart - but now she had been rescued from her rescuers. I promised her daily that the best was yet to come.

At first, Lindsey could barely walk. A lifetime of confinement left her shaky and unsteady on her feet. Her muscles protested. She wobbled and stumbled. But she refused to give up, and, with practice, she soon began jogging and exploring. Lindsey found such glory in being able to run.

She adored the other foster cats and loved to snuggle with them. At long last, she could touch other cats instead of just watching them through bars. She had never seen a dog before, but that didn't matter - they were living creatures. She approached them without fear, confident of a loving reception.

One day, I found Lindsey upstairs in resident cat territory, with cats she had not yet met. Odessa and Abigail sat together, peering down their long alley-cat noses, wondering what the heck this creature was. They had never seen a Persian before, much less a bald Persian - and such a bold one, who would dare to come in and act like she was everyone's lifelong friend. I let them be.

A while later, I returned to investigate. At the sound of my entry, two heads emerged from a cat bed in the window, cheeks fused as one. The white, fluffy Persian head seemed dwarfed by the huge, coal-black head of my anti-social cat, Claude, who, years before, had lost a paw at the hand of a cruel human. The four-eyed, "Do-you-mind?" glare hastened my respectful retreat. Claude had found a new friend.

Then, suddenly, Lindsey became ill. Refusal to eat and drink sent her to the hospital - and a convalescent cage. It was touch-and-go for a while, but, finally, Lindsey regained her appetite. She joyfully returned to her foster home, free once again of the hated confinement. Tests showed some irregularities, possibly the result of past nutritional deficiencies. I was sure her retests would be fine, since Lindsey's appetite was back. In fact, Lindsey acted like her old self. As the adoption applications started rolling in, I felt certain that the best was now within reach.

Her story touched people, and interest in adopting her grew, despite Lindsey's advanced age. My duty as a good foster mom meant careful scrutiny of prospective homes. Not just any home would do, only the right home - a home perfectly suited for Lindsey's needs.

That mounting feeling of excitement, that intuitive knowing this is the one, ran through me as I studied one couple's application. Laura and Mike, who already had Fredo the Himalayan and Penny the Persian, wanted Lindsey to share their quiet, peaceful and loving home, where cats were cherished family members. A call to their veterinarian confirmed them as the best of pet guardians. Lindsey would meet them and go home the very next day!

No sooner had arrangements been made than my vet called with the long-forgotten test results. I knew he would not be calling in person if everything were normal. The news hit me hard. Lindsey had kidney disease, and the prognosis was grim. "Make what time she has left quality time," the doctor advised.

With a heavy heart, I relayed the sad news to Laura. "We would still like to meet her," she told me. The ache in my throat eased at her kind words. Nothing could have lifted my spirits or restored my faith in humans more. Not only were Laura and Mike the committed pet guardians I hoped to find, but their selflessness put Lindsey's needs above their own, even knowing their attachment to her could only last a short time.

Although Laura, Mike and I were strangers, we hugged, linked by our common goal to make Lindsey's remaining time special. They signed the adoption papers, but more important to me was the verbal commitment they made - a promise to call it a day when Lindsey's health started to fail. Suffering was not to be part of the deal.

Lindsey settled nicely into her new home. Fredo fell in love with her, grooming Lindsey at every opportunity. Penny had to adjust, but soon found Lindsey more than willing to share Fredo's attentions. The three became friends. Lindsey spent her days exploring her new home and basking in a bed of sunshine streaming through the windows. She spent her nights sleeping comfortably wrapped around either Laura or Mike's head. This was the best - exactly what I had hoped for when I'd made that promise to Lindsey.

It lasted two months. Lindsey became weaker, and when she no longer rallied with treatments and medication, Laura and Mike lovingly allowed her to leave life, peacefully and with dignity. Tears flowed freely in grief, but also in appreciation for having known her.

Lindsey had emerged from her long years of isolation and confinement miraculously unscathed in spirit. The love and sweetness she radiated enriched the lives of everyone she touched. I was comforted, knowing that she had experienced a life worthy of her, even though only for a short time. Against all odds, she had achieved the best.

© 2004 Daniela Wagstaff

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Pitfall of Adopting a Senior Dog

We heard about Pepi, a senior guy in Australia, who was adopted by former Olympic Level Michele Brown. Pepi was 12 years old at the time. That was 6 years ago. He is now 18 years old and leads quite an active life.

The Pitfall: Adopt a senior dog and he might be around a little longer than you expect.

We wanted to find out more about Pepi from an adoption perspective so Ms. Brown was kind enough to share the following with us.

What compelled you to adopt Pepi?
Without any preconceived ideas, Pepi was chosen from more handsome dogs because of his eyes. He was in a shelter pen with five bouncy puppies and his eyes pleaded, "Help! There's been a mistake. I'm not supposed to be here." He knew the odds were against him. When I couldn't take him that day, he sighed, dropped his head, and with great sadness turned and shuffled away. He came home the next day. Pepi knows how to speak from his heart.

Do you know how Pepi ended up homeless and in the shelter?
We are told he lived his "first" life with an elderly couple who had to move to a nursing home. He was 12 years (84 dog years) when he was made "homeless." The only thing his bio said was that he did not like riding in cars. He actually loves the car!

Pepi with his adoptive "grandpa" and "mom"

How did Pepi adjust to his new home?
The three (human) weeks at the shelter saved his life. Separation from his first family ripped his world apart. He hadn't been trained to beg on the street. He couldn't have survived on his own. It was tough for him at the shelter but when we got him home, he was so grateful. True, for a couple of months he had sad memories and, though anxious to please us, nothing could console him. He took 6 months to make his first bark. We were stunned and happy to hear it. Pepi was coming out of his shell! Nowadays, he has a huge vocabulary. His rehabilitation included taking walks, playing together, grooming and socializing with other dogs. Slowly at first, he came around. Once he turned the corner, he never looked back. Pepi is in his "second" life.

Does Pepi have any special needs or health issues that require special care?
Love and respect: Pepi is a dog-person, not "just a dog." When we enter a room, Pepi greets us with a tail wag. We greet him with a pat. Pepi lives indoors, as befitting a gentleman of his age. A deep, comfy bed is appreciated.
Responsibilities: Certain tasks are assigned to Pepi - carry in the mail, assist with groceries, accompany the trash out, charm visitors.
Security: He can still hear the front door bell.
Medical: A yearly health check and teeth cleaning. Monthly flea and heart worm preventative. Pepi has NO arthritis! At age 12 Pepi had signs of eye cataracts. Now his vision is down to 5% but it doesn't hold him back. His hearing is also down to 5%. But his heart and vital organs are in great shape!
Food: A fussy eater, but a wide variety of tastes.

What does Pepi do for fun and exercise?
Every day Pepi and I do a 5 mile run. Pepi rides in a child's pram while I run behind and push the pram. He rides 1/4 mile, walks 50 yards, rides, walks...

Pepi sometimes picks up hitchhikers.

Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it, how many Pepis are overlooked in shelters everywhere just because they are in their golden years.

Pepi in the News:
"Plenty of Tricks in Pepi's Pram"

September 16, 2009
Earlier this month Pepi had gone to the vet for a routine dental cleaning. Immediately thereafter he started going into kidney failure, probably as a result of the anesthesia. Pepi was in and out of the hospital and was seeing a kidney specialist. Today Pepi was released from the hospital. After only 5 minutes at home he suffered a massive stroke. Pepi was rushed back to the hospital where he sadly had to be euthanized. Our deepest sympathy to Pepi's family. Rest in peace, little guy. You were one amazing dog!

Pepi's Memorial

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

L'Oreal R&D Health and Safety Day

Not only were we asked to come to the 5th Annual L'Oreal R&D Health and Safety Day to promote microchipping of pets, foster dog Pumpkin was also invited. She played an important role in demonstrating how microchips are scanned. But aside from that, Pumpkin was the L'Oreal employee morale booster of the day. Always ready to meet and greet, Pumpkin dazzled anyone who came near. If any of the L'Oreal employees were having a bad day, you wouldn't know it to see them oohing, aahing and laughing with Pumpkin!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fundraiser: Father's Day Gift Wrapping at Barnes and Noble

Barnes & Noble offers a great community service opportunity for non-profit organizations. Prior to holidays or special occasions charities can sign up to man the gift wrapping table at a Barnes & Noble store. Gift wrapping for customers is free, but customers may leave a donation if they so desire. It is a great way for charities to make some money while saving people the tedious chore of wrapping gifts.

Companion Critters wrapped books at the Barnes & Noble store in Clark, NJ from 9 am - 3 pm on Father's Day 2009. Foster dog Pumpkin came along to help. Pumpkins' schmoozing abilities apparently far outweighed our gift wrapping abilities as Pumpkin earned more in the donation jar for giving out kisses than we did for wrapping! Thank you Pumpkin, thank you Barnes & Noble customers and thank you Barnes & Noble for helping us raise $163.17!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rascally Raccoon Rescue

While at the Union shelter today taking pictures of cats and dogs to post on, an unexpected rescue mission developed. The shelter is located behind a Home Depot store. One of the Home Depot employees came over to the shelter asking what to do about some sickly orphaned baby raccoons that were hanging out in the parking lot. Apparently, the mother raccoon and her 3 babies had been living in the warehouse but mom had not been seen for a couple of days. The employees put the babies over the fence into the park but they came right back to the Lawn & Garden department in the Home Depot parking lot. They weren't looking well at all. Dehydration was setting in.

The first raccoon went into the carrier without much ado, just a little shove did the trick. Not a good sign at all. He had discharge in his eyes and really wasn't feeling well. The second one was a little perkier but not enough to run away. After a brief battle and near escape, my gloved hand won and he ended up in the carrier with his brother. The third sibling was not around.

So now what? I have no raccoon experience. Were they old enough to eat on their own? If not, exactly how was I supposed to give them a bottle when they were obviously old enough to already mistrust humans and put up a fight? I was completely out of my element. They napped comfortably in a dog crate on the kitchen table, out of reach of curious canines, while I emailed and telephoned in an attempt to find a wildlife rehabilitator. I reached one fairly quickly who was unable to take them - she was already bottle feeding a dozen raccoon babies. But she kindly passed along some tricks on how to get to them eat on their own, none of which worked. As I expected, it was because they were indeed too young to eat on their own. At long last an offer from a rehabber who came highly recommended and was "only" bottle feeding six at the moment. She could take them. I packed up the babies and off we went. The rehabber immediately whisked them away to get them on the bottle. It was of the utmost importance. She stands ready to accept the 3rd sibling if he comes back around. The Home Depot employees are on the lookout for him. I'll be checking in over the weekend to see how the babies are doing. Now that they are in experienced and capable hands, chances are much better that they will survive to be released back into the wild.

Sunday, May 24, 2009 Update: I called to check on the babies. They are both taking the bottle, have perked up considerably and are doing great.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Farewell To Our Feline Dog Testers

If you stay in foster care long enough, I put you to work. That is how some of our canine-savvy felines have become official dog testers. I have always had one. Suddenly I have none.

Abigail came into foster care with her two nursing kittens in April 2000. Adoption opportunities never materialized for Abigail. She was a very sweet, schmoozy kitty but sit on your lap? Not a chance! People want lap cats and that she was not. But Abigail had other attributes. She stood on her hind legs for treats and took them with her front paws. She was awesome with dogs. I actually think she was a dog in a cat body. If a dog got the "Abigail Seal of Approval" which consisted of head bonks and rubbing on the dog, that dog was deemed safe to live with cats. If a dog did not get approval, the kitty world was spared a potential tragedy. Abigail was never harmed during dog testing. She simply would not come near a dog that was not good with cats. She was extremely accurate in her assessments. Somehow, she just knew... Sadly we lost Abigail on December 31, 2007 after battling Irritable Bowel Disease for over two years.

Little did I know that Abigail's replacement, or rather, replacements, were already in residence. The raiding of a hoarder's house in December 2007 sent 116 animals to shelters, rescues and boarding. Two cats remained at a kennel after the others had been taken by rescues - Amelia with one eye and JoJo with a cauliflower ear. They came here for a foster stint that ended up lasting 1 1/2 years. If their physical "imperfections" weren't a turnoff, nobody wanted to adopt both cats together. As you can see from their picture, they were a package deal. Amazingly, Amelia had the same canine assessment aptitude that Abigail had. In fact, other rescues would bring their dogs over for Amelia's highly valued opinion. JoJo was her backup. If Amelia said a dog was OK, then JoJo would confirm it.

At long last JoJo and Amelia have made it to their well-earned forever home. Yes, TOGETHER! I am thrilled that they now have a whole house to roam instead of just the one room they had here. They now have a sunroom where they can safely watch outdoor birds and wildlife from their indoor cat tree. Thank goodness I had the foresight to say my good-byes as I was loading them into their carriers for the last time. They were just too busy checking out their new digs to be bothered with formalities when I left them at their new home. (Click here for JoJo and Amelia's adoption page.)

So, dear dog applicants - if you need to know if a dog we have for adoption is good with cats, well, chances are we simply will no longer know with the level of certainty we have in the past. None of the other cats here has what it takes to fill the paws of those who have previously held the position of dog tester.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kindred Canines

That's my Shawnee on the left, watching over her buddy, Billie Joe, on the right. Billie Joe is for adoption through All Star Pet Rescue, a group we share adoption days with. As a rule, we have human volunteers who each chaperone a dog at adoption day. In Billie Joe's case, Shawnee is his chaperone. A dog to chaperone a dog? Oh yes.

On July 11, 2001 I found Shawnee, 4 months old at the time, at a large animal shelter. The shelter staff begged me to take her. She was in the corner of her cage, tucked into fetal position, shaking violently. This was due to sheer terror. Of what? Of people. She had never been properly socialized and the thing she most feared was the unfamiliar: humans. Shawnee came with me into foster care where we played catch-up with her socialization, baby steps of introducing her to the unfamiliar world around her. She was exposed to lots of very social dogs and went to group obedience class every single week for 5 years to build up and maintain self-esteem. Although Shawnee started out as a foster, she became a permanent member of my family. Unless you knew her in her early days, you would never believe how terrified she once was. She is now, for the most part, like any other dog. Except Shawnee now has a job. She socializes scared dogs.

In April 2008, Billie Joe went into foster care with All Star Pet Rescue. Billie Joe was 9 months old and had lived his entire life outside in a yard with 15 other dogs. Another case of extreme fear of humans due to lack of socialization. For almost one year, each time Billy Joe was at adoption day, he would slither (or as we call it, GI Joe belly crawl) smack up against the building in a desperate attempt to hide in the crack between the wall and sidewalk - that same crack Shawnee used to try to hide in. He would duck his head and not look at anyone. "If I can't see you, you can't see me."
People would always assume Billie Joe had been abused. How could he possibly have been abused if nobody ever interacted with him before he was rescued? People could pet him. People could do anything to him. Billy Joe simply never responded. He would pretend you did not exist. He would pretend he did not exist. Until he met Shawnee.

I knew Shawnee was drawn to shy dogs. I had seen it too many times - her honing in on the less social and taking them "under her paw." Those shy dogs would respond to her, feel more at ease, and become much more interactive with humans. It made them more adoptable. So after a year of minimal progress with Billie Joe it only made sense to let Shawnee have a go at him. Shawnee simply had to start coming to adoption day to show Billie Joe the ropes.

The changes were dramatic and almost instantaneous. Billie Joe now walks all fours at Shawnee's side - no more GI Joe belly crawl. Billie Joe no longer tries to hide in a sidewalk crack - he now positions himself parallel to Shawnee on the blanket in full view of the world. Billy Joe now responds to people paying attention to him, even to the point of looking at them as though to say "Why did you stop petting me?"

So until Billie Joe gets adopted, which he is now most definitely ready for, Shawnee will be his chaperone at adoption day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Extreme Doggie Makeovers

In honor of Be Kind To Animals Week (May 3 - 9, 2009) a shout out to our wonderful, animal-and-rescue-friendly volunteer groomer, Anne Marie, owner of Reigning Cats & Dogs Salon!

Anne Marie provides many of our homeless dogs with desperately needed grooming. In many cases these dogs have never been at the receiving end of a comb or clippers. The before pictures don't do justice to the carpets of underlying rock solid mats and the accompanying filth and stench. Anne Marie turns the hideous into high fashion, the disgusting into divine, the stinky into stunning, the unkempt into unbelievable. Anne Marie makes them adoptable. Just see for yourself.

These dogs (and many others) are all in wonderful homes now where they will never want for grooming again. Thank you, Anne Marie for starting them off on their happily ever afters!