It’s not always puppies and rainbows

I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve stayed up late sharing links to pictures of dogs in shelters with rescues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried sobbed hysterically over the dogs that I can’t save. The perfect, healthy, friendly, adorable dogs that are in the shelters due to no fault of their own. I can’t tell you how much it BREAKS MY HEART to know that I can’t save them all. Hell, some days I can’t even save the ones I desperately am trying to. So tonight, when I was berated by someone about how I shouldn’t share pictures of dogs who are on the “euth list” at the local shelter if I’m not able to save them, it took everything I had to keep my cool.

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I run social media accounts for a local rescue and I VOLUNTEER my time to share details of dogs in need of fosters, to make sure I include pictures and whether they are kid and pet friendly. I respond to every message we get. I share details on how to get in touch for anyone who wants to foster, adopt, volunteer on the weekends. I control the messages on the site but that’s it. I don’t control the dogs that the rescues choose to pull. I don’t control the adoption process. I don’t control anything but social media. But I can tell you this…

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In order to save a dog’s life, fosters are needed. A foster home is not a permanent home for the dog. A foster home for a dog is similar to a foster home for a child. You provide shelter, love and attention. The rescue will provide food, collar/leash, crates, and any other necessities. The rescue will cover the vetting of the dog. If you can’t transport the dog to the vet appointments or adoption events on weekends, most rescues will have other volunteers that can assist. But without foster homes, dogs can’t be saved. Most rescues do not have shelters of their own and therefore, they rely on volunteers who will open their homes and save a life.

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I can also tell you that all that money you think rescues are making from adoptions, doesn’t even begin to cover their expenses. The average, healthy puppy would cost you around $500 to get vetted through it’s puppy shots and spay/neuter. However, puppies that come from shelters often have kennel cough, or worse, parvovirus or heart worm. Both of which are incredibly expensive to treat. Heart worm treatment can be $500 alone. Parvo, even if treated, is still sometimes deadly. So sometimes, rescues make the call not to pull those dogs that are heart worm positive, have tumors, have parvo, or whatever disease/issue it may be because they simply don’t have the funds. Adoption fees and donations help. Rescues are run by volunteers who spend more time than you could ever imagine working hard to save dogs from high-kill shelters and bad situations (neglect, hoarding, fighting, puppy mills).

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And for those of you who say you couldn’t go in the shelter… I understand, BUT DO IT ANYWAY. Go visit your local shelter. Take pictures. Take videos. Volunteer. Walk the dogs. Reach out to rescues and tell them how the dogs are on a leash, with people, with other dogs/cats/kids. Help with adoption events. Ignorance may be bliss, but I promise it’s much more blissful when you get a response from a rescue saying that they’ll help. Or your video of a broken down dog gets 1900 views in less than 12 hours and people are begging to foster that dog. It is so much more blissful to know that you helped, however little it was, to save a life.

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“I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” – Robert Schuller

I must have shared thousands of dog posts over the past couple years. And begged my husband to let me foster/adopt half of them. And now that I have the lovely TimeHop app, I get reminders of the ones that were saved and the ones that weren’t. Did you know that some shelters have folders for pictures of the dogs that didn’t make it out? It’s heart-wrenching. It’s a powerful reminder that you can’t save them all. BUT, there’s also an album full of pictures of the ones who were saved. And hopefully, there are a lot more pictures in that album than the other. (Gaston County Animal Shelter is a high-kill shelter in rural NC (outside of Charlotte, NC). And while they have made GREAT strides over the past few years, there are still too many GOOD dogs being put to sleep). Cumberland, Rowan and Union County are all high-kill shelters, too. They all need more people to get the word out.

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So, I won’t apologize for the Facebook news feeds that I’ve blown up with pictures of sad puppies in the shelter. I won’t apologize for begging for fosters. I won’t apologize for bashing buying from breeders and pet stores. There are thousands of dogs dying in shelters EVERY DAY. Don’t get angry at the people who are working their asses off to save lives day in and day out. I’m sorry that we might not be able to save that dog. Trust me, it hurts my heart, too. I shared the picture to TRY to help that dog. I shared the picture in hopes someone would want to adopt. That a rescue would want to pull her. But not so you could tell me how wrong it was that I shared her picture in the first place. At least I did something.

Want to help? Research local rescues or shelters in your area and ask them what you can do. Pictures, transport, foster, helping at adoption events. You can’t make a difference by sitting on your ass and wishing. Do something. Anything. Every little bit helps. Even if it’s just a “like” and a “share” on a Facebook picture. EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS.

Saving Stella

On Friday, I decided to meet my old neighbor at Char-Meck Animal Control to check out a dog she wanted. That was probably mistake #1. Animal control is a bad place for me to go for a number of reasons: 1) I will inevitably leave crying (which happened); 2) I will want to adopt/save all of the dogs – and won’t be able to(which happened); 3: I will feel helpless (which happened).

I walked through the kennels and let the dogs sniff/lick my hands, all while my heart was breaking. I did a pretty good job of holding it together until I met Stella. She couldn’t make eye contact with me. She looked like she was ashamed of being there. Hopeless. Lost. Confused.  Sad. Her eyes were the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. I lost it right there.

I made another loop through the kennels, falling in love with Casper, the white boxer, Cooper the small shepherd mix, Jimmy, the border collie, Choppa, the big bully mix and Calley, an adorable pointer mix (all pictured above). I stopped to talk to Stella again. I wanted to hug her and tell her it would be alright. She leaned into the kennel to let me touch her as I sobbed about the situation these dogs were in. I promised her I would do all that I could for her and I would be back. That was a big promise, especially for a dog that I knew nothing about. I had no idea how she was with kids, dogs or cats. She wasn’t overly friendly. She wasn’t a puppy. She was a pit bull, for Christ’s sake. I got it together long enough to walk back through animal control, past the officers and then sobbed all the way home. Falling into my husband’s arms when I walked into the door and mumbling some non-sense about quitting my job to save dogs full time.

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I posted the video publicly on Facebook and asked friends and family to share her story far and wide. I tagged my friend, Laura, who founded a foster non-profit in Charlotte, (Dog Days of Charlotte) who I know loves pit bulls and she immediately started helping me find rescues to save Stella. We had a rescue (Catering to Cats and Dogs) within half an hour of posting and then we just needed a foster and/or donations for medical care. Some incredibly generous soul donated $160 right away. While a wonderful lady volunteered to foster and/or adopt Stella. We worked until about 11 PM solidifying details and once the plan was set, I cried some more. We were going to get this sweet girl out!

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On Saturday, my husband and I drove to animal control and busted Stella out. I had prepped him that I had no idea how she would be out of the kennel. I told the foster she would probably need a few days to decompress in a quiet place and realize she was safe before introducing to other dogs/kids. She probably wouldn’t want to give attention or play much those first few days. And then she came out, and she was… amazing.

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She gave us hugs and kisses. She took treats gently and let us put the collar and leash on her with no issue. She even played with the leash for a minute. She walked happily out of AC and hopped in the car and I swear she knew she was free.

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She took lots of opportunities to give us more kisses and rest her head on us. I may or may not have cried a million more times.

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We stopped at Petco to grab something from the rescue and let a few gals meet her and I grabbed her a stuffed squeaky toy and a bone to take to her foster’s house. She LOVED her toy.

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She was super sweet when meeting her foster family (and they hope to adopt her, too!). She was gentle with the kids, and didn’t want to put her toy down. The hardest part was saying goodbye. She kept pulling on her leash to come with us, which made me run back and hug her a few more times and tell her to be a good girl. We waved from the window and then drove off and as soon as we were driving, she turned and walked happily with her new family into their home. And yes, I cried again. Happy tears, though. I am so grateful for everyone that helped save her and that she will now live a happy life. I encourage everyone to check out your local shelter or rescues and adopt instead of buying from pet stores or breeders. There are a million dogs like Stella out there.

Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ― Karen Davison

Also, I know spending the morning at Animal Control, saving dogs, transporting, stopping by an adoption event and meeting fosters wasn’t my husband’s idea of a great Valentine’s day, but to me, it was perfect. I’m so glad he was with me for all of those moments yesterday. I think Stella was glad he was there, too. ❤

Find these amazing rescues on social media: 

Dog Days of Charlotte: Facebook and Twitter

Catering to Cats and Dogs: Facebook and Twitter

Puppy Love!

This weekend, we fostered puppies (through Dog Days of Charlotte) for the very first time. I cannot tell you how happy my heart is that we were able to do this and give those boys a place to stay, toys to play with and lots of love. If you’re not familiar with fostering, it’s a great way to get involved with rescues without adopting or donating money (although I’m all for adopting and give as much as I can to help those in need – including pups!).

On Saturday, I took the boys to an adoption event at Petco and they both got applications for adoption. I’m sure they will make those families very happy. But while I was at the event, I noticed how everyone cooed over the puppies and ignored the full grown adult dogs. It completely broke my heart, especially with Denver. Denver is literally THE PERFECT dog. He’s sweet, he’s up-to-date on shots, he’s heart worm negative, does well on a leash, what more can you ask for? I fell head-over-heels for this boy after spending the day with him. He gave me the sweetest kisses and he has such kind eyes. You can just tell that he’s going to be a loyal dog. I can’t believe he’s been in foster since August.

Bam Bam (also available through Catering to Cats & Dogs) was the other guy that stole my heart. (Yes, I was there with the puppies but they got lots of attention and both had applications before I starting hanging out with D &BB). This little guy is only 7 months old and so super sweet. He was so calm to be a puppy and just wanted me to hold him. He does well on a leash and being 7 months old, he’s pretty much grown. He’s the perfect small dog, with THE softest fur. I would have taken him home myself if I knew my husband wouldn’t kill me.

If you’re local to Charlotte and interested in getting involved with rescues or fostering or even considering adopting, here are some good places to start:

Fostering:

While all of these groups will gladly take you on as a foster for a weekend, a week, two-weeks or until the dog gets adopted, a good starting point is this Facebook page for Foster Charlotte Area Dogs. They post dogs daily that are on death row in the shelters and need out immediately, and just need a foster to step up. If you think you can’t do it because you’ll get attached or sad when they get adopted, think about the alternative: they’re going to die if someone doesn’t step up. Not to sound like a bully, it just the truth.

If you aren’t in Charlotte and want to get involved, just google it. Or even search on Facebook and you can often find groups local to you. If you insist on getting a purebred dog, please know that 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred and there are purebred rescue groups that can help you find your new best friend. Rescue groups will also help arrange transport to get the dog to you if you don’t live close by.

Give fostering a shot. A lot of times fosters fall in love with the dog and decide that’s the dog they want to adopt. Even if you only do a week or two, you’ll be saving TWO lives. One for the dog that was pulled for you to foster and one for the dog who now has space to live in an overcrowded shelter. If you foster puppies, while two are a handful, they keep each other company and ours slept through the night without crying AT ALL because they had each other.

It’s such a rewarding experience and at zero cost. You will get everything you need from the group you’re working with. Seriously, sounds too easy, right? It is! There are millions of dogs in shelters that will die this year, fostering for a weekend was the least we could do. I can’t wait to get more involved with these organizations.

The last 60 days!

Monday marked 60 days until our wedding. We could technically get our marriage license at anytime now… but we’ll hold off for a little longer. Yesterday was our 4 year anniversary – our last June 20th anniversary, as next year, we’ll be celebrating August 17th! I still remember being so nervous before our first date (and so nervous at work that I went out of my way to avoid talking to LW face-to-face). I was so giddy afterwards and so sure that I wanted to be with him – lucky me, he wanted the same thing!
anniversaryAnd here we are, 4 years later, wedding planning our little hearts out and working relentlessly on the next big steps of our lives together (more details coming soon!). I love that I have a running & hiking partner, a concert/theatre/comedy show buddy, a travel partner and someone who is always up for a quick road trip – especially to a beachy location, my own handyman, grill master, and a best friend. We have so much fun together and really complement each other with our personalities and special OCD issues. I also love that I got a 2nd dog out of this deal, because those boys, they complete us! bowtiesReady for the weekend and another shower thrown by Aunt Jill (LW’s favorite banana pudding maker!). We are excited to celebrate with friends and family and enjoy SUMMER!

Happy Weekend!

Puppy love

When I was five, my mom took me to pick out my very own puppy. It was right after my pre-school graduation, at which we walked across the stage to “Love Can Build a Bridge” – still not sure why that was the song of choice, but I haven’t forgotten it. Here I am with my pre-school class (that’s me, front & center).
blog204As we drove t0 the house with the puppies, I informed my family “If he’s black, I’m going to name him ‘Blackie’, if he’s brown, I’m going to name him ‘Brownie’, if he’s grey, I’ll name him ‘Grey’, and if he’s white, he should have blue eyes and we’ll call him ‘Blue.'” He was a rusty shade of reddish, brown and the cutest mixture I had ever seen with my puppy dog loving eyes. I scooped him up with both of my 5-year old teeny-tiny hands and proclaimed, “His name is Brutus!”
blog203He was THE BEST DOG. He followed us around and let us hold him like a baby. He ran through the fields with us, never leaving our sides. He slept with us each night (or at least laid there until we fell asleep). We loved him, whole-heartedly. On December 10th of my 8th grade year, Brutus disappeared.  We looked for him through tear-filled eyes for days, weeks, months. We wonder if someone shot him because he looked like a fox. If someone stole him because he looked like a puppy. We never wondered if he found a better home, because he couldn’t have found people that would have loved him more. He was ours. He was mine.

Everyone knows that I am a dog lover. That’s probably an understatement. I have a slight obsession when it comes to dogs and most dogs seem to have an equal affection for me. On June 20th of 2007, I found the next dog that would truly be mine. A beautiful 11-week old yellow lab puppy that I have fallen head-over-heels in love with.
tuckWe affectionately call him “Baby Tuck” because he is the world’s biggest baby. He 100% believes he is a lap dog and does not understand why all 108 lbs. of him cannot sleep in the bed with mommy. He’s my running partner, my cuddler, my people-pleasing puppy. And it just so happens that I share the same anniversary with him as I do with my soon-to-be hubby.

Tucker was involved in the proposal (melt my heart!) so it’s only appropriate that he be involved in the wedding. While I haven’t quite figured out the details of this yet – I know that both Tucker and our sweet, Bud (Landon’s pre-relationship dog) will be part of our big day, because they are a big part of our lives. And this folks, is our happy little family!
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Also, if you’re looking to give back this holiday season – consider “Operation Christmas Pet” at the animal shelter. It breaks my heart to say this and know it’s true, but the animals at the shelter don’t have anyone to love them and snuggle them on Christmas. They don’t get to open stockings and stay in a warm house. All donations are appreciated.