Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tara (aka "Bali")

Long-term resident, Tara (aka "Bali") passed away June 11th. Volunteers from 2007 will remember Tara (aka "Bali"), as a smart, strong-spirited and perpetually happy petite pittie who could not help but win over all who she met. Tara came into the shelter in mid-2005, was adopted out in the latter part of the same year, but was returned after six months, malnourished and broken-toothed from having been kept outside.

Thus began Tara's second residency at BACS for many more months. But Tara did not seem to mind, for as the hands-down volunteer favorite, she was doted upon, walked often, and became a star pupil of BadRap trainer, Donyale, who took her to class to keep her mentally stimulated and sane.

But a shelter is not a permanent home, so the quest to find Tara a permanent home began in earnest. Volunteer Loraine answered a posting for her in hopes of finding Tara the right forever-home. A woman (Roma) with a large estate in Sebastopol placed the ad, stating she had been looking for the right bully-dog to rescue to become a companion to her dog, Misho. Roma and Misho came by the shelter and it was instant love! Soon Tara was being whisked away to the spacious home in Sebastopol, where she would be treated like the princess she was (see pictures above).

Finding herself in a veritable heaven-on-earth for a dog, Tara had free reign over the acres of Roma's estate, both inside and out, and basked in the warmth of Roma's effusive love for her. Best-devotees of Tara, Alan C., Loraine, and Dorothy went up each Spring and Fall to visit Tara, Misho and Roma. It warms a volunteer's heart to see a former shelter dog being treated with the love and adoration that Tara was fortunate to receive every day of her life with Roma. Would that all our dogs find such happiness as Tara did for the three years she was with Roma, until she passed away in June.

Rest in Peace, sweet Tara.
pictures courtesy of Loraine

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Six Week Update on Ted and Dana

The Summer fun continues with Ted and Dana. Things with my internship didn't work out, but the good news is that I get to spend the rest of the Summer with these two!

One of the most amazing things is how buff each of these guys has become! With all of the playing and running and exploring they do, their muscles have really bulked up. Dana is a compact, buff little wrestling and hunting machine, and Teddy is too statuesque and manly to believe. Everywhere we go people comment on our cool looking dogs, especially since the suburban area where I live is filled with yellow labs and golden retrievers (not too many pitties).

Ted, most often referred to as Tater or Tootle, can usually be found lounging on a pile of pillows on my sister's bed (he would snuggle there for eternity), on the living room couch, or in his favorite room, THE KITCHEN. Sure, we've lost some snacks off the kitchen counter, but one goofy look from Tater with his yellow eyes and floppy ears usual clears any tension up. Ted has really transitioned into a mellow and laid back guy. I can see his maturity and easy going attitude increase every day. Ted is also the best at making us laugh constantly. We have no idea what trick he'll pull next.

Sister Dana, on the other hand, finally has the opportunity to just be a puppy. I am amazed at the difference in her personality. At the shelter, I had no idea what a little puppy she really still is at heart. Now that's she's at home, this little youngster has the chance to play and act like the goofy puppy she is. She rolls around on her back, her eyes gleaming with puppy-like playfulness and excitement, and she almost always instigates the wrestling with her brother. She just wants to love and be loved, and fill the days with as much exploration and play as possible. She gets as many hugs as she pleases at home, so now on walks she just focuses on having fun with Ted rather than feeling the need to have a hug every five feet.

It is too much fun for me to see my best buds adjust to their homes and to transform into different dogs. I love to see my family become attached to them, and to see them be made a part of our family.

Monday, June 28, 2010

BAD RAP class moving to Sundays on July 11

Hi all,

If you take a dog to BAD RAP class, please be aware that the class is moving back to Sundays starting on July 11. I believe the time of the class is the same (11:30AM - 12:30PM) but I will double check that as well.

If you haven't seen it yet, check out the nice writeup the BAD RAP team gave our volunteers over on their blog last month.

Working with one of our shelter pitties at BAD RAP class definitely takes consistency, discipline, and patience, but it pays off for the dogs. Since Azul and I are such good pals after working together for so long, I feel like I can tease him about his shenanigans (also, he can't take offense because I know he doesn't read the blog). But his behavior has definitely improved since we started the class together. He's more responsive to correction, enjoys taking instruction and completing tasks, and is calmer on his leash.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Avea is living it up

Here is an update from Avea’s adopters, Mike and Kai. Avea has a new name, SweetDee, and now lives in Sacramento. It sounds like that’s about all that has changed. She's the same goofball dog we knew at the shelter! She's making up for a long 12 months in her kennel with all sorts of fun activities.

It's our one month anniversary with Dee so we wanted to write and say hello and thank you for taking such good care of her. I think all her socialization and training during her time at the shelter has helped her transition so easily into our lives and we love her so much. Her personality has really come out in the past few weeks and while she still keeps us laughing, she's become very calm, sweet and loving. Most of the time, she's totally happy just to keep us company doing whatever it is that we're doing and she'll follow us from room to room checking up on everything and making sure everything is up to standard. We take her to the dog park daily where she's made some new friends and I've gotten compliment after compliment about how well she plays with other dogs and everyone is amazed that she was at the shelter for as long as she was.

Our only complaint was that we always thought that we would never let our dog on the furniture and while she's generally respectful of the couch and our bed, she's completely taken over the spare room. We had no choice but to embrace that and now we take naps together with her on HER bed. She turned out to be a huge cuddler, often making sure that we're touching somehow before falling asleep. Recently we took her to Tahoe for a few days where she got to play in the water and hike. She turned out not to be a swimmer or much of a retriever but she was an excellent hiker. You can see her showing off her new hiking backpack and her slimmer figure. She's lost about 6 pounds in the last month and is now weighing in at a trim 56 pounds.

Dee also turned out to be super smart. We taught her shake, bang, roll over, leave it and up within a matter of hours and working on bed. She has become very responsive to her name and she walks well in the leash and generally only needs to be told something a few times before she learns not to do it again.

She is so wonderful.

Mike, Kai and SweetDee

Avea/SweetDee at Lake Tahoe:

At her favorite pet-friendly restaurant:

Resting at home:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grendel at Home

Grendel's new family sent these pictures to Amelia. How wonderful to see and read that this boy who we cared for with tenderness and love is being similarly cherished for the wonderful soul that he is.
In describing the above pictures, his person writes, verbatim:
1) his beautiful self!
2) his monstrous paw in my hand!
3) with Scout licking his sores and in front of the chickens with no prey drive whatsoever! You guys were
right!!! Wonderful!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adopt-a-thon Success!

by Alicia deB.

The Maddie's Foundation Adopt-a-thon at BACS this weekend was a huge success! A whopping thirteen dogs found their forever homes this weekend, including Trudy, Afia, Duchess, Sparkle, Ziggy, Lightning, Gerdie, Fuji, Reese, Jillian, Papi, Francesca and Kilo! Whew! Now that's an awesome Adopt-a-thon! All adoptions to these wonderful forever families were free of charge, and for each adoption, Maddie's Foundation donated $500 to BACS. This weekend was truly amazing and transformed many deserving dogs' lives forever by giving them a second chance at a life of love and stability. Thank you so much to Maddie's Fund for their incredible generosity! For more information about this great organization and the important work they do for animals here in our community, please visit And a heartfelt thank you also goes out to each forever family who changed a dog's life this weekend through adoption. Thank you for making the wonderful decision to adopt a rescue dog. We wish all the doggies and their new families much love and happiness together!

graphic by Alicia deB.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More BAD RAP pics

My wife Holly came to BAD RAP class with me on Saturday and took a few pictures. Here are some photos. You'll notice quite a lot of doggie tongue in the pictures. Saturday was sunny and hot, and it can be easy for the dogs to lose focus in the heat. Azul had been spacing out on me the past couple of classes, but this week I brought a canister of water for some extra hydration and a nice cool rag to sponge him off between drills. He had a lot more focus and did really well - his best class since the weather got hot.

Me with Azul:

Don't let the BAD RAP folks see this one, I would be in a bit of trouble. This is not exactly the dog behavior we are striving for...

Pony Boy and Sue (now that Avea has been adopted, Pony Boy is my wife's favorite):

DeAnna and Mercedes:

Just so there is no confusion or alarm, DeAnna and Sue do still have their torsos, heads, and arms. But you can't blame the camera for gravitating towards these good-lookin' dogs! And that is some textbook leash-holding on display. There were some other BACS residents braving the heat - Hercules, Albert, Boots, etc.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adoptathon This Weekend!

If you are looking to add a canine or feline companion to your household, now is an especially great time to visit BACS! This weekend, June 12th and 13th, is the Maddie's Matchmaker Adoptathon! Any adoptions to qualified homes that take place this weekend will be free. So come on down to BACS (2013 2nd Street in Berkeley, between Addison St and University Ave) and see if one of the wonderful dogs or cats at BACS would be right for your household. We'll see you there!

Text and graphics by Alicia D.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Volunteer of the Month: Alicia

This month, we have chosen Alicia as our Volunteer of the Month. Alicia has been a familiar face around the shelter these past few months, coming by nearly every day to walk, dote upon, socialize and basically give lots of t-l-c to the shelter dogs.

Alicia's creativity can be seen in her prolific blog posts, her handmade kerchiefs for her favorite dogs, her flattering photographs of dogs in action, and her sweet signs for dogs who need a little extra minding when out on a walk with them.

Unfortunately, we will be losing Alicia to New York soon, so it seemed appropriate to honor this devoted volunteer for all the time, energy and love she has given to help our shelter dogs feel a little more comfortable in their new environment, and ultimately, to make them become more adoptable. Here's to you and all you have done, Alicia!

Q.: Did you grow up with animals, and if so, what kind?

A.: I grew up with several really sweet cats, three hamsters, fish, and a whole gaggle of chickens (which was pretty eccentric since we lived in the suburbs). Even though my family didn't have a dog until I was 16, when I was younger my grandmother had an amazing rescue-dog-turned-service-dog named Bobo who I adored. I've always really loved dogs, and the more time I spend with them the more I realize they are such amazing, wonderful animals.

Q.: How did you hear about the volunteer program at the shelter?

A.: I was driving down University and saw a big poster calling for BACS volunteers at the bus stop at the corner of University and Shattuck, to be extremely specific! It took me a year and a half to call, but I'm so glad I finally did.

Q.: What do you like best about volunteering?

A.: There are so many things I love about volunteering that it's really hard to narrow it down to just one. I guess my favorite thing is just working with the dogs. It's amazing to be able to get to know them and their individual personalities, to be able to help them learn basic commands or practice what they already know so they'll be more adoptable, and to see them come out of their shell while they are at the shelter in the care of such dedicated staff members and volunteers. It's been so inspirational to be part of such a great community of animal lovers, who are all so dedicated to the welfare and well-being of these animals. That is another thing I've really loved about volunteering at BACS. And, lastly, I've discovered I really like writing blog entries!

Q.: How did Clementine help change your mind about pit bulls?

A.: Clementine is an amazing dog who will always hold a special place in my heart, and she was also the very first pit bull I ever interacted with for any length of time. Before volunteering here, I had heard plenty of crazy rumors about pit bulls and had based my opinion of them entirely on that. I had come to believe that pit bulls were extremely dangerous and unpredictable animals who could snap at any moment and maul someone. I had never come into contact with a pit bull at all, despite loving all types of other dogs, and I would literally cross the street or hug the curb whenever I saw a pit bull and their owner coming my way. (Which in hindsight was probably extremely rude behavior. Oops.)

So when I started volunteering, I was really excited to work with all the dogs except pit bulls, and it was my plan to just avoid all the pitties like the plague. But as we all know, when you're walking by a dog's kennel and they look up at you with the sweetest expression on their face, it really tugs at your heart and it's hard to just walk on by. And that's exactly what happened with Clementine. Go to for Alicia's blog entry about this special dog.

I had just started volunteering and I walked by her kennel and she looked up at me with these enormous, terrified eyes. She seemed sweet and gentle but paralyzed by fear, and it really touched my heart. I wanted to at least interact with her a little bit to see if I could ease her fear at all. The first time I went into her kennel was extremely awkward, for both of us I think. She was terrified of everything and everyone (probably based on a really hard life before BACS) and cowered in front of me and seemed to believe I would attack her at any moment. And I kept thinking that at any moment this shy, gentle dog would morph into a rabid lunatic and attack me.

So. . . really awkward. But it quickly became apparent that Clementine was one of the sweetest dogs I had ever known and she really needed some encouragement to come out of her shell. So I just kept visiting her and taking her for walks. It was one of the most rewarding things to see her gradually begin to overcome her fear and to enjoy her walks, to see her completely happy and relaxed when she was frolicking in the grass like a big goof, and to help her learn some commands like "sit" and "down," which she picked up so quickly it was kind of astounding. She was even eventually able to rise to the occasion and do pretty darn well at her first BAD RAP class.

I think it would be impossible to work with such a sweet dog like that and still harbor prejudices against pit bulls. And after Clementine got adopted, as I've gotten a chance to interact with more great pitties - Miss Tulip, Mikey/Buster, Sam, Boots, sweet little Clementine, and pitties I now pet on the street (like Soldier, a completely gentle giant who was out for a walk with his owner on Hearst St. yesterday) - it's just continued to show me that pit bulls are really loving, goofy, loyal, smart dogs. They seem to be their own best good-will ambassadors, and I think it's hard to actually spend any time with them and hang on to negative stereotypes. Or at least that has been my experience.

Q.: When you settle down, what does your ideal animal family look like? (ie: cats, dogs, breeds?)

A.: Well, right now my husband and I have an awesome cat, Madame Lucha (aka The Madame!!), who we adopted six years ago. She is like our child, albeit a pretty surly, insane child, and I can't imagine our household without her. She brightens every day with her weird, wonderful personality. I also definitely see us having a dog in the future, but we'll wait for a few years until we're both done with grad school and our lives are more stable. At that point I'd love to adopt a shelter dog, probably a smallish dog as we'll be living in a tiny NYC apartment. And if the dog has the personality to enjoy it, I would really love to take him/her through the therapy dog certification process so we could do volunteer work together, maybe at a hospital, nursing home, or school.

At some point I would also love to adopt a pit bull or some kind of pittie mix, but that probably won't be for a long time as I'd want to wait until we were living somewhere with a fair amount of space so the dog would have enough room to roam around. But who knows what the future holds? I feel like sometimes animals just find us, so I will keep my mind open and see what happens. :)

We wish you the best, Alicia as you make the transition to your new city. Thank you for all your hard, heart-filled work on behalf of the homeless dogs of Berkeley. The homeless dogs of New York will soon have a new guardian angel in their midst!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lucy (formerly Goldie) Enjoying the Good Life

I ran into Lucy (aka Goldie) and her owner today, and Lucy looked as sweet as ever and quite in her element! They were walking down at Aquatic Park and had just come from a BAD RAP class, where Lucy had apparently proven herself to be a stellar doggie student. Her owner said Lucy has settled in really nicely and is just the sweetest, most people-oriented, obedient, loving dog imaginable. They seemed really happy together. It was a really nice sight to see and I was so glad I ran into them!
Text by Alicia D.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

More Happy News!

June is a great month for many BACS doggies because June is the month when many of them found their forever homes! There have been so many adoptions recently, and we couldn't be happier. The latest fantastic pups to find their forever homes are Everest, Nino, Clover, Bonita, Pachanga, and Jojo. Happy t(r)ails to all these sweet dogs. We wish them and their new families much happiness and many sunny walks together!

Despite this wonderful wave of recent adoptions, there are still plenty of very loving and deserving dogs still patiently waiting at BACS for their forever homes. If the time is right for you to add a well-matched canine companion to your household, come on in to BACS and meet some of our great doggie residents. Your future canine companion might be there waiting for you right now.
Text by Alicia D.