But wait – there’s more: Bella & Millie & Zoe

I saw this picture on a shelter website and I fell in love. It happens that way.

So, I contacted the rescue, and then I contacted the shelter manager. And, you know how when you are shopping on Amazon, they recommend other items? If you like that, you’ll love this!  Well, the shelter manager was quick to let me know that this darling came in with two others, probably siblings. Rescuers don’t like to leave family behind. If we take puppies, we take mom. If we take one puppy, we also take its siblings. I was ready to take two of the three girls if I could find a foster for the third, and then we hit a snag. Another rescue that I work with had just pulled a mama and her litter of pups from this same shelter and they had kennel cough. Kennel cough is highly contagious. It is treatable, but dangerous in puppies. Left untreated, it can become pneumonia. One of the rescued puppies that had it was being hospitalized.  An outbreak of kennel cough at the shelter. This was a problem.

If you take your dog to boarding or daycare they require a bordatella vaccination because of the easy contagion. All of my dogs are vaccinated.  Just like the flu shot that we all get every year, the bordatella vaccine doesn’t cover all of the strands of kennel cough, just the two most common ones. After the giardia outbreaks of the past summer, and the joys and expense of treating every dog here for it, I am being cautious. Mya has a suppressed immune system and I am particularly concerned about exposing her. I ended up pulling the little black one, Bella, from the shelter and leaving the other two behind. I had only found 1 foster willing to deal with a quarantine situation. Bella was the sickest and most stressed in the shelter. She has a little cough. The vet tech working at the shelter said that all three dogs had tested positive for heartworm, and Bella was highly positive, so I got her out first. I asked if they were treating the 3 for kennel cough or heartworm. No, she said. We don’t have the funding for meds and we don’t give them anything unless it gets really bad. So, every dog that is brought in is given a bordatella vaccination, but thats it. They are all exposed, and not treated. It breaks my heart.

I spent a week begging for fosters for the other two. The problem is, there are just so many dogs in need, and never enough fosters. Taking in a contagious dog isn’t an easy thing. I understand. But I wasn’t going to give up on these puppies. I share my fostering stories constantly, and introvert that I am, I ask total strangers if they would like to become fosters. It has been such an amazing positive experience for me. If you show interest, I ask if you want to try it. I followed up with a woman who commented on a Facebook post about these puppies. I talked with my waitress who was really enthusiastic about fostering one of them. Unfortunately, they both said they would love to, and then didn’t fill out the necessary application to become a foster. In the meantime, I felt awful about leaving the other two dogs behind. Really awful. I finally got to the point where I couldn’t just leave them there. I had an interested adopter for one and a potential foster for one and so I went and got them both. I’m so glad that I did! There have been a few coughs and sneezes, but nothing bad. They are all three house and crate trained and as sweet as can be. They all have adopters lined up. Best news is, we took them to the vet this morning to get spayed and I asked them to repeat the heartworm test – all 3 came back negative! I am overwhelmingly happy about this!!! Best news ever!

These 3 puppies were lost, or thrown away, and then locked up in puppy prison. I am so happy to be able to get them out and into forever homes. They are going to make three families very happy! The is why I rescue. I spread love.

Look at them now.

In need of forever – Bella and Homer

Why do people give up or abandon their dogs?

Not enough space. That is why Homer was taken to the Mississippi shelter by his family. Not enough space. Homer is a great big puppy for sure, and he has no idea how big he is. His family let him down. They kept him when he was cute and little and then gave him away when he got too big. (Did they think that he would stay small forever? Didn’t they plan ahead?) I think that Homer was probably kept in a crate all day and then got wild when he was finally let out. Homer was chill for me, but he loves to play. He is a very social lab-hound.  He came to me with Bella, a beautiful black lab who had been used as a breeding dog and given up to the same shelter when they were done breeding her. Bella acted like she had never been an indoor dog before, like she had never received much in the way of affection. Her owner (I won’t even call him family) was known at the shelter. He brought other dogs there, once they were no longer useful to his business. Think about that. This guy might be considered a “reputable breeder”, but do you want to support him? Would you like to buy one of Bella’s puppies knowing that after she has given birth to three or four litters she will be dropped off at a kill shelter?

It was the 3rd week of March, 2017 and I had gotten to the point where my eyes had been opened to a lot. So many things that I never knew about the world of dogs in the southern US. I was at the point that when Lu’s Labs asked me to foster a dog  I said yes, then they asked if I could take two, and I said absolutely. Not long before, I would not have done that. I would have thought it was too hard. It isn’t really. Because I work at home and I’m not fighting deadlines, I have time to give to these sweet dogs. They need the same unconditional love that they give us. Some need to learn to feel safe again. Some need to learn to be pets, because all they’ve ever done is breed puppies for someone else benefit. Bella needed to learn how to be loved as a pet. She was calm, shy and sweet. Homer was gregarious and needed to be touched and rubbed and snuggled. He needed to run with the other dogs and wear himself out playing. He needed to be a puppy. I guess his first family thought that  he needed those things and they could not give them.

I don’t think my neighbors could fully appreciate Homer. He has a bark that makes you stop what you are doing. It is the best guard dog bark I’ve ever heard. He is a big, dopey hound, but he sounds fierce and he has the size to back it up. If you spend any time at all with Homer, you fall in love with him. He has these eyes. You can read him through his eyes, and he exudes happiness. Where Homer was the life of the party, Bella was my wallflower. She was low energy, she would play fetch, but mostly just lay and watch the world go by. Every day that she spent with us she got a little more relaxed until she was just absolutely zen.  It was a little hard to say goodbye to these two. Homer was such a big personality, and Bella had made so much progress. I knew when I handed her over to the second transport driver (of the dozens that took her north) that she was scared. I knew that it would take her some time to settle again once she got to Virginia. Before a dog leaves the state, we have to go to the vet and get a Health Certificate that lists the dogs vaccination record. I told them her ears were bothering her. Bella had chronic ear infections and was undergoing treatment. I had detailed notes about her food and medications. I was worried about her.

You might wonder about the logistics of transporting dogs from the south all of the way to Virginia or New York. We do it with a lot of volunteers. There are these angels that drive transport and that organize the whole thing, One leg at a time, with sometimes as many as 20 legs. I pack several days of food in individual portioned ziplock bags with their names on each bag and instructions about when to feed them. (Abrupt changes in diet can cause undue gastric stress.) We also send along a blanket and/or a toy and a bag that contains all of their medical records, rabies tags, and pertinent information. All of this and the dog get passed from transport angel to transport angel, people who give up a few hours of their weekend to help these dogs make it to their new homes up north. Why you ask? Why not just have them adopted in the south? Because up north dogs are indoor pets, and there are more adopters than available dogs. There are even waitlists to adopt a dog. In the south, dogs are too often kept outside, and un-spayed and un-neutered, they roam. The result is so many strays and unwanted litters of puppies that the shelters are overly full and there are never enough adopters.

I had no idea.

Homer and Bella were not meant to be used and then given away. They were meant to have wonderful, loving forever families, and that is what they got. I am always so happy to see and share Pupdates, updates on my foster dogs with their forever families. Look at these pictures. You can feel love pouring off of them. They are getting the forever they deserve. That is why I do this.


Bella - fostered 22 March -  1 April 2017 ; adopted in VA
Homer - fostered 22 March - 22 April 2017 ; adopted in VA