Let’s Catch Up!
Pour yourself a cup of tea (or whatever) and let’s catch up.
In 2023, the Animal Welfare world continued to see increased numbers of pets in shelters. Some rescues closed their doors under the weight and responsibility of more pets needing help, more owners needing help, more fundraising needed to support these efforts, and then new rescues popped up to fill the gaps.
We spent lots of sleepless nights trying to figure out how we could do more, but always came back to one of our core values:
Focus on the dogs in our care. Improve their lives now,
in order to find great homes that will last forever.
So, we did a couple of things:
We improved our outside area, creating 3 spaces for the puppies to explore and grow into. In each area, we incorporated novelty experiences for exploration: ramps, stairs, a low swing, sling beds, different surfaces. Over this year, we’ve watched each litter devise their own games in the new yard.
We added the Puppy Mobile to our protocol. A simple garden cart with a crate attached, turned into safe neighborhood exploration for the puppies. As we stroll around town, the pups are introduced to new sounds (motorcycles, garbage trucks), new people (traffic stops, kids gravitate toward the wagon full of puppies), and lots of new smells.
This year, we’ve hosted some very large litters and they’ve stayed with us longer. 10 week old puppies need something different than 8 week old pups do.
So, we introduced:
Feeding meals on trays, transitioning to large flat bowls, graduating to lots and lots of individual bowls. This helps avoid resource guarding later in life.
Crate conditioning. When the puppies are ready, we remove their flat blanket bedding and set up open-door wire crates. Since most forever homes will crate train, what better place to get them used to sleeping in a crate than with their litter in a place they are already comfortable?
Leashwalking. Our focus is on making sure the pup never feels the tug of a leash. We start with lots of games to encourage walking next to us before the leash ever makes an appearance.
Ok, so what about the dogs???
Athena’s litter. While we welcomed Athena in October 2022, she and her puppies found their forever homes in the new year. With this litter, we dipped our toes into the world of asking for help. Our amazing friends gave Hera the spot she needed to launch into her eventual forever home. Read all about it here.
Nathasha’s litter. One shepherd mama, 10 puppies, born in the shelter. Pups got sick with an upper respiratory infection. We lost one. I refused to go through the heartbreak and soul crushing experience I’ve had with other litters, watching pups die in my arms. Vet visits were impossible to get, so I took to the internet. 2 days later, armed with a nebulizer and saline, I fashioned a tent out of a blanket thrown over the baby pool and pumped in the moist air.
When any of the pups started to struggle, I’d make an individual tent and hold that baby in the moisture and silently curse the evils of germs, developing immune systems, and anyone who said that nature would take its course. Not on my watch! We saved the remaining 9 pups. (graphic description alert!) But not before one was blowing snot out of her nose. My neighbor saved the day with a baby bulb syringe. On my front porch, an unbelievable amount of gunk was sucked from that tiny nose.
All the puppies found their homes. Natasha spent a week with potential adopters, but it didn’t quite work out. Back here with us, she slipped into our routine so comfortably. Our ancient pit bull accepted her in a way that surprised us all. Tashi played with our youngest dog who had given up on our seniors. The day she saved me from getting hit by a car, I knew she was mine. She reads my mind. She reminds me to walk every day, twice a day, thank you very much. She filled the hole in my heart, left by Lola’s departure. These mama dogs overcome incredible odds to make it to us. And then they continue to give and give and give. I take every opportunity I can to give a little bit back.
Tashi spends her days moving my shoes to the front door until we go for the morning walk. Then she nestles in, under my desk, waiting for some crumb to drop. She helps me with foster puppies, and she makes me smile. Check, check, check, forever mine.
Bea’s litter. How does a very small mama, successfully raise 11 puppies? With a lot of help from friends.
The first litter we ever fostered, 15 years ago, was 11 puppies. We never imagined that this 20 pound dog would give birth to 11 pups,and then that all 11 would survive. But Bea did just that and all of those 11 puppies thrived! And then they found great homes.
But it was a bit of a challenge to find the right home for Bea. As adopters would focus on the puppies, I noticed that Bea hung back. She did not want to be the center of attention. And she did not really like other dogs.
In this era of overcrowded animal shelters & lots of dogs available for adoption, it’s difficult to place a dog like this. But we’ve accomplished much harder tasks! We kept trying. Potential adopters came to visit. We let Bea tell us when she was ready and who might measure up to her standards. Finally, a worthy family won her heart.
But soon after, she escaped from her home and we all had to dig deep to figure out the best solution for this most deserving dog.
Read more here.
How do we do all of this?
We can only reach our goals with your support. Your generous donations, either financial or through our wish list, allow us to Rescue, Rehome, Repeat. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. We are so lucky to be able to make a difference in the animal welfare world, and most importantly to make a difference in these dogs and puppies’ lives.
We are grateful, every single day for whatever you give –yes, social media Likes and Shares count too!
Watch for our next amazing SAVE, which is in the works, right now…
Loss & Inspiration
On a personal note, we said good-bye to 2 of our own pets this year.
Hunter was a bottle baby kitten of a feral mama, that a friend raised. He joined our family 17 years ago, sleeping in a shoebox before he kicked us off of our own pillows. Hunter schooled every dog he met, even after he lost an eye (probably in an altercation with a car). He mellowed in his last few years, curling up in the sunspots and still claiming his place on our pillows.
Lola. We fostered Lola and her 3 puppies, many years ago.The pups found great homes, but Lola had chosen us before we realized it. She joined our household and started our pit-bull-owner experience.
She played rough, so wasn’t a great candidate for the dog park. We took advantage of every opportunity to let her run alone in open space, while not bothering canine or human. When she ran free, she could not stop her hippo body. She traveled in a straight line, not even trying to harness that momentum that seemed to lead with her huge smile, lips-a-flapping.
At the same time, Lola welcomed our orphan foster puppies – allowing them to climb all over her, and teaching them the art of the open-mouth bitey face game.
During Lola’s life, attitudes toward pit bulls evolved. I know that she changed a few minds about what it means to be a proud owner of a pit bull, mine included. But one thing that was clear from the start – kids immediately loved her, and she was naturally drawn to them.
In her last years, people and dogs made space for our slow sidewalk strolls. We honor her by naming particular dog-walk routes for her: ‘we did the full-Lola tonight.’ ‘It was drizzling, so just a half-Lola for everyone today.’
I will never forget this dog, or the impact she had on ourlives. Love always wins.
As 2023 draws to a close, we remember every pet who shared our home this year. We are grateful to our adopters, our volunteers, our donors, our supporters and all who have become our friends.
….and we wonder what 2024 will bring our way.
If you can’t donate, follow us on fb and Instagram. Share our posts to get the word out about adoption opportunities. Leave a comment to let us know how we’re doing.
Or just follow along to watch a mama and her pups thrive in our care!