Sunday, November 30, 2008

Doggie Duos

Steve and I took several pooch pairs out on Saturday for a bit of socializing.

Athena and Sarge shared kisses on a walk

Coco & Jelly had non-stop wrestling fun

Sitting calmly for a brief moment

Sweetly sharing the water bucket

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Post-holiday walks -- no shopping required!

A small group of red-dot dog walkers convened at the shelter on Friday to get the doggies out for a walk. The Thanksgiving holiday is the one time during the year where the shelter is closed two days in a row. On Thanksgiving day, the pooches were given special doggie treats (thanks Marcie!) and on Friday they were treated to walks. Every dog got out! It was a festive occasion. A good time was had by all -- dogs and walkers!

Harold and new dog Gable exchange playful doggie kisses

Elliott looking pleased to be out with regular walker Summer

Pretty Lia

Silly Jelly boy

Sarge looking playful and relaxed away from his kennel!

Daphne & Jelly traverse the bridge

Ken and I took the well-matched duo of shelter pooches Daphne & Jelly out for a jaunt across the pedestrian bridge in nearby Aquatic Park. Here's what we saw:

Heading up

Pretty Daphne

Two red heads

Visiting with an off-leash pug

Jelly poses

Heading down

Note: Yes, shelter dog Jelly was named after by own Jelly. I couldn't resist once I saw those cute ears

Why did I adopt a shelter dog?

Because her name is Jelly and she is a dog and she is loved. Because she was a scared, submissive stray at a high-kill shelter and was rescued by the local Humane Society. Because she needed a foster home away in a quieter environment and she came into my house where she slipped on the hardwood floors and feared the stairs. Because she would turn over on her back, legs in the air like an over turned bug desperate to flip over every time someone knocked on the door. Because she won over her foster dad who was wary of dog hair by not shedding AT ALL for the first two weeks of her stay. Because she was not my first foster dog but she was the one I couldn’t give back. Because the day we signed the adoption papers she let it all go and shed buckets of hair which covered the floor and furniture. I’m not kidding.

Because she is short-haired, squat and has a small head and I’ve had a life long affinity for long-haired, lean shepherds but I adopted her anyway. Because she would only pee in the backyard for her first six months in our home -- never on her many outings. Because she refused to go in the lake or any body of water for over a year before her little feet left the ground, finally, in pursuit of a stick on a hot day. Because she inspired her dad, a man in his forties, who grew up an only child with distant older parents to feel love and care for another being. Because despite his inability to express the affection I sought in our relationship, he used the word “adorable”, for the first time, to describe Jelly when her lip got caught on her teeth as she looked up at him. Because she has weathered the joint custody after the breakup, in two nearby cities, back and forth every Thursday for over four years now. Because we call each other daily to discuss Jelly’s antics and ask endlessly, “What’s she doing now?”

Because she licks my legs every morning after I get out of the shower, licks the salt off my face after a run in the hills, licks the ropey scars on our next door neighbor’s forearm each time she greets him and she simply “cannot hold her licker.” Because she rides in my truck with her chin resting on the open window and turns her head to watch the dog on the sidewalk like a man’s gaze follows a woman walking by. Because she ever so politely takes the hamburger (without bun) proffered by my mother, her grandmother, who picks her up during the day for company while I’m at work and takes her to the drive through for a snack. Because she’s afraid of loud noises and the two big scary cats next door.

Because I tell her the story of how she came to live with me softly at night as she’s nudging off to sleep and she seems to be listening. Because she snores, farts and yelps in her sleep at the foot of my bed. Because she has many names: Gelatin (formally), Jel, Baby and most recently Jel-Ling as she’s part Shar Pei and thus needed to have a Chinese name as well. Because she’s the only “child” I’ll ever have.

Because she’s there, in the family photograph, taken three months before my father’s death from a brain tumor, smiling up at the camera with us all, captured forever in that impossible moment. Because I was only one of my three siblings without a partner to provide solace during my father’s illness and Jelly gave me great comfort.

Because she pokes her head out of the dog door, sleepily, happily celebrating my return after a long day at work. Because her enthusiasm and joy is undiminished and it buoys me every day. Because she is loved and she is a dog.

Please, excuse this indulgence... Tis the season to be thankful and as you can tell I'm so grateful my little Jelly is part of my life. I wrote this piece a couple of years ago but wanted to share it as an expression of the joys that come with adopting a shelter dog.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Malcolm is on the Mend

Border collie mix Malcolm arrived at the shelter with a HUGE growth on his right back leg. Animals with odd and unexpected maladies pass through the shelter doors and this was surely one of the more obvious. Poor pooch didn't seem to be phased by the growth, he was happy to go running in the park with a volunteer or rolling in the ice plant (a favorite activity) but we assumed it didn't bode well for his general well-being.

Well, surprise. The biopsy report came back and it was declared to be a benign growth. Good news indeed. However, this introduced a few challenges. The shelter was willing to pay for the surgery but a foster home had to be secured before the surgery could take place. Foster homes have been hard to come by lately due to all the financial upheaval. Volunteers were not deterred. We put out the word that a deserving dog was in need. It was heartening to receive responses from several people offering to assist. In the end, a very kind woman came up to meet Macolm. She has several rescue dogs of her own and a large plot of land which would ideal for exercising a border collie who loves to run (don't they all). She agreed to foster Malcolm after the surgery. Yippeee. We're very pleased to report that the surgery was performed and that Malcolm has settled into his foster home. He has been described as "a treasure" by his foster mom, Jill.

Thanks to Kate, shelter staff, Pam, Anthea, Cindi, Suzanne and Jill for their efforts on behalf of Malcolm. He is now available for adoption through Home at Last Rescue.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Doggie wrestling at its Best!

Today was a good one for shelter pooches Chica and Eddie. We took them over to the run for some doggie play. Boy did they have fun! It was non-stop wrestling with a few water breaks in between. It was a true pleasure to see and oh-so-wrenching to return them to their separate kennels. Let's hope they get to meet up again soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What breed(s) is this dog anyway?

So, occasionally a dog arrives at the shelter who is such a mix of mixes that it's hard to pick out a dominant breed. New girl Rainey presents such a challenge. She's a happy, friendly girl with lots of character. As for her heritage? Shepherd? Hound? A pinch of pit? Shar-pei? Any educated guesses or wild speculation?

Curious what others would think, I posted this question and pictures on Craig's list and asked for input. Less than twelve hours later I had received the following responses:

* I would say the dog is a shepherd by the ears I would think GSD and APBT I have seen pictures of purebred pits with that color combination on breeder sites. But, I can safely say a type of Shepherd and APBT mix.
* German Shepard, Pit Bull mix....width of the face is the pit, and the heart shape shading on the top of the head is shepard....Good Luck.. ps shepard's hold their front feet out like that, often crossing their paws..used to work in a Veterinary Hosp.....and we used to play name that breed often, but now you can do a DNA test on dogs....
* looks like greman shepard dobermen mix -- no pit doesnt have the pit eyes or muscle, has long legs and dobe body with short hair coat i got a lab,dobe ridgeback mix
i think it's dobe gremenshepardridgebakmix short coat just what i see im pretty good with finding out different breeds
* I say it's a shepard and cattle dog.
* Could have some Akita in it? Or Beauceron or Malinois?
* german shepherd and boxer with a little great dane thrown in? should be a loyal and very smart family member!
* My guess is a mix of German Shepherd and Pharaoh Hound. Just seeing the ears on your dog brought the image of the Pharaoh Hound to mind.
* I'm no expert but that dog has a Boxer face and Kelpie ears. Just a thought!
* I have a dog that looks just like the one in the pic, she is a Pit bull-Pharaoh hound cross.
* Looks like there is some Great Dane in this dog. My guess is German Shepard and Great Dane mix.
* Hmm hard to tell without being able to feel the texture of the coat. Looks reminiscent of Rhodesian ridgeback... maybe even shar pei.
* my guesses are pitbull, german shepherd, possibly some boxer and/or great dane! A true "Heinz 57" :o)
* Really I don't see any pit in her. I would say cattle dog and malinois. Pits don't have faces like that and their ears are not that prick.
* She is cute though, Reminds me of one I had 13 years ago, he was Akita mix looked a lot like her but with more hair.
* pit/shep good luck
* What does it matter - hes a beautiful mix.
* Your pup looks like a typical GSD/pit mix. I have seen a few where both parents were known, and while the puppies varied in looks, a few looked just like the dog in your ad. I think GSD/pit is a safe guess!
* Hi there, I'm sure that dog has some Belgian Malinois and probably Boxer. Are you adopting? If so you'll need some good training help and will have to keep the dog occupied. Malinois are very intelligent and need tons of mental and physical stimulation. Good luck!
* Ears, coat, color and jaw/face bone shows boxer in there. To be sure you can do DNA test.

Note: I'm kind of partial to the Malinois Shepherd theory. Check out these images:

Malinois 1
Malinois 2
Malinois 3
Malinois 4
Malinois 5

BTW, Rainey is a lovely dog and she's looking for a home! Read more about her here.

Puppy Pile

Look what showed up at the shelter today! Four little girls and one white boy. They're underage and need to go to a foster home. Oh my!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Shelter Smiles

Elegant Athena

Betty Jane out on a walk

Lovely little Lia

Larry, part dog/part frog?

Larry & Athena: A Successful First Date

Big, goofy, brindle-and-white boy wants to meet playful girl pooch for romp in dog run and exchange of slobbery dog kisses. Gorgeous, stately brindle gal with lots of class looking for strong silent type to sweep her off her four feet.

It can happen and it did! Larry and Athena had a brindle-blast playing in the shelter dog run today. They wrestled, they ran, they sniffed, they licked. It was great fun to see these two doggies at play.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Two of our favorite dogs left the shelter this week! After waiting oh-so-long both Hendrix and Ollie found their forever homes. What a thrill. We haven't had a pit bull adopted in several months (sigh). Let's hope this is the start of an upward trend. Both of these stellar pooches would have been adopted some time ago if we had dressed them up as shepherds or pugs ;-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bo (2005 -2008)

Every so often, a dog comes along who changes you, helps you to find something within you that you didn't know existed, who teaches you about the purest form of love, who elicits a tenderness that we save for the most heartrending cases, the most innocent beings, and the most beautiful of souls. Bo was such a dog. I do not think he encountered one human being who was not struck by his sheer enthusiasm for life, his trusting eyes (and after all that had befallen him, hard to fathom), his warm, soft head, layered in folds of skin covered with soft, downy velveteen fur. This was our Bo, who came back to us from the brink of death to teach us about resilience in the face of adversity, about survival in the company of those who are indifferent to it, about forgiveness when you are finally embraced by the open arms of those who would never harm you, but would do anything to protect you.
When Bo came back to us after his first adoption, he seemed to garner a permanent place in the hearts of staff and volunteers alike. Those who hadn't known him well before, were touched by this velveteen pooch, this Bo-licious, Bo-frog, Bo-wrinkle, as he was affectionately nick-named by one of his favorite volunteers, Rachel. We looked at this dog a little differently than we had before, for he had defeated death and miraculously came back to us so that we could love him more than we had loved him before, and more than many of us have ever loved a dog in our lives.
Rachel took this dog with boundless reserves of energy for regular runs around Aquatic Park. Afterwards, refreshed (and hungry) from the exercise, they would eat lunch together on "the bench." Others took him for on-leash romps in the bay, where he lay on his back, let the cool water wash over his stomach, get up and decide he liked it so much that he lay down for yet another chance to let the gentle waves lap across his velveteen tummy-- probably the first time Bo had ever been "swimming."
I believe Bo experienced a lot of firsts in his life, while at the shelter. Upon his arrival at the shelter, Bo was withdrawn and frightened. It took almost two weeks for a gentle volunteer to gain Bo's trust enough to let this volunteer take him for a walk. Having been a backyard dog for most of his life, the walk was the second of his firsts. The kindness shown by this volunteer, was the first of his firsts. Then there was the medical attention to his skin, the daily walks, the weekly socializations, the regular meals, the warm kennels, the blankets, the kurandas, the baths, the CARE.
One of the last moments I spent with Bo, was one I never thought I'd ever have, for this effervescent angel with endless energy never seemed to stop long enough to have a quiet moment. But this late afternoon, after lining his sleeping bin with soft, fluffy blankets, I sat with him-- he lay his head in my lap, and I stroked his big, beautiful,warm head, a gesture as calming to me as it seemed to be to him. He let out that big sigh of relief dogs will give you at the end of the day as they settle into position to sleep, and I knew our sweet, velveteen Bo was at peace, feeling loved and warm as the heating unit in the kennel hummed above our heads.
Good-bye sweet Bo. You taught me about forgiveness; you taught me about protecting those I have come to love, from harm; you taught me that regardless how many dogs I have loved, there is always room for another; you taught me to savor the company of someone who loves you; you taught me the value of living in the moment, and how that moment can last a lifetime in your mind; and you taught me that pure innocence, absent of motive or pretense exists. Thank you for these lessons. I love you Bo. WE love you.