Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Twins First Real "Job"...

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

This is Juan - weighing in at 2 lbs 15 oz and dumped in what is considered by many to be the worst shelter in Southern California. He was dumped most likely because he contracted kennel cough and treatment wasn't an option for his owners. Juan was neglected and tossed aside, but what a little sweetheart...Lucky for Juan, he got a second chance...but many are not so lucky...

This cutie was waiting for her family to come for her. Swollen nipples indicated she had given birth, though she was just around 2 years old...I waited for her to move to the adoptable list, but she never made it there and I am still trying to find out if her owners came for her or she was put to sleep without even being given a chance to find her forever home.

Shelters across our country are filled with beautiful, loving dogs that have been thrown away like yesterday's newspaper...

Over 450 dogs on average are waiting in this County Shelter. Many don't last more than a week or two after being removed from the waiting list (waiting for their owner to come claim them). They are simply put down on a metal table and thrown into a refrigerator, piled one atop the other, to be disposed of...

But lucky for Juan, there were four rescue organizations in line for him. The first one never showed - probably because of the kennel cough. We were #3...but the 2nd organization did come for him and I am sure they are treating his kennel cough, which had progressed to the point of him sounding like a barking seal. At under 3 lbs, his poor lungs just can't take too much more...he was full of kisses and a tiny waggy tail for me and the girls. We will always remember little Juan...

This summer took us in an unexpected direction. I have always been an animal lover - growing up surrounded by a variety of them. I used to be unable to even set foot in a shelter, within a minute, breaking down in a flood of tears. I tried once before I was married and literally had to pull off the road where I cried uncontrollably for about 30 minutes before I could pull myself together enough to make it safely home.

It's just not fair...

This is a beautiful picture I took of four purebred corgi pups - three of which couldn't find homes. They were bred by someone we know through one of the local homeschooling groups.

We had just rescued Jacky from the shelter, but even though it upsets me when people breed for money - each pup that is born takes a spot in a home that might otherwise open their heart to a shelter dog on the clock that is ever-ticking - my husband and I vowed to help find loving homes for them. There are people that don't want to rescue from a shelter - without knowing the dogs history, they are unable to take a chance...

~ Rescue organizations are wonderful for those who need a little more reassurance, especially those who foster dogs in homes. The foster homes usually do basic training (potty and behavioral) with the incoming dogs and the foster family can tell you whether or not that dog is a good candidate for a home with children or other animals, etc.

Pet Finder is a great source and you can even plug in particular breeds that Breed Rescues have saved!

We found a home for this little guy, whom the girls called, "Little Bear"...

A business associate of Tony's just lost her corgi mix and was broken hearted. Little Bear helped fill that void...we took him home that night and drove him to her office (about 40 min away) the next day...

He was just beautiful...It was fun to have a pup for a day, but it was also a lot of work...I tried to convince Tony to let me rescue another chihuahua mix from death row, but because Jack is "damaged goods", we are working hard to fix the wrong that was done to him. Tony just wasn't ready for another hard case while we are working to heal Jacky - but Jack is so playful and Farley is just too old to scamper around with him. Jack so badly wanted a buddy to play with.

More time passed and still no homes for the other two corgi's...corgi's are Tony's weak spot...(Farley is 1/2 corgi and we're not sure what the other half is...) - but...

Tony kept talking about *what if* we took one of the other pups - they were getting old. I was told even the pet shop turned them down because they were too old to sell. I struggled a lot with the decision - taking in a perfect purebred corgi puppy???? who didn't have a bad past? who wasn't in a shelter????


I have never had a purebred dog. I'm a mutt girl - a shelter girl - I'm drawn to the ugly, the damaged, the rejected - this corgi was p-e-r-f-e-c-t...Well - now he's our "perfect" corgi...

After I told the breeder that we couldn't take him off her hands, I couldn't sleep that night and started to feel guilty. I mean, it was either rescue no one and just stick with Jacky & Farley until Farley passes away someday...or we can open our home to a perfect purebred that needs a loving home. How could I turn my back on this little guy who had no control over how he was brought into this world...besides, he could play with Jacky...

So, we informally rescued him...and he's wonderful...

You can feel the difference in this dog - there is no sense of nervousness/anxiety or skittishness that you see in just about any dog who has been caged - whether it be at a shelter or a pet store. This dog came directly from a home with children to dote on him, both of his parents, and his siblings - into our home. He's different than the other dogs Tony & I have taken in.

That got me thinking about the link to the calmness of many homeschooled children, especially those who have been Attachment Parented. There is just this - calm...

And he just loves his *brothers* (and his twin sisters :D)

We've named him Koda - which is Lakota for "friend".

Well (squeamish beware...) that wasn't all we *rescued*...we had our very first rattlesnake sunning on a rock in our front yard...

Our neighbor, who grew up in the hard core desert removed him for us and Tony and Tom set him free in one of the nearby canyons...

Meanwhile, Jack finds comfort on the silks...

And the doggies bond...

The girls and I are now working for a rescue organization ISO small breeds - mainly chi's because they are the most seen breed in the So Cal shelters. We have been assigned to a pretty nasty shelter which is about an hour and a half away, but that is our main focus. We are identifying and transporting candidates that would fit with the rescue org and eventually hope to foster, when Tony is ready. The girls are so proud of their first "job" - Charley kept telling everyone that she and Elena are working to save animals! It has taken much of our free time this summer, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Each life is so important, even if you only save one.

To that dog, YOU are the world...


  1. congrats on the new additions to your family....sounds like you made some tough decisions...but with a warm and open heart:) what a great lesson fir your children! hugs

  2. So very heartwarming to read, Jen! How I loved it all. What an amazing family you guys are.

  3. Wow! Very inspiring! You have such big hearts!

  4. Thankyou so much for this post, the timing could not have been better. I just told my husband this evening that we could purchase our first dog since he has been waiting so patiently. We have gone to pet finder already to start our search and will be looking to rescue one rather than our original plan to buy one from the pet store. Thankyou for the inspiration!


  5. Thank you guys! Kat - you just made my day & I feel teary-eyed at the thought that this post will save at least one very lucky pup! By taking in a pet from a rescue, you open a spot for them to pull another one on death row. So THANK YOU and I would love to make something special for you as a gift of thanks. Once you find your furever pet, please send me a picture and your story and you can pick something from my shop or describe something you'd like me to needle felt for your family and I will send it to you as a congratulatory gift! Extra hugs to you, Kat!


  6. SO sweet! Let me know if you have room in your car for another worker :) Amelia would love to be involved with this but I obviously can't do it at this day when she is older she hopefully will be able to volunteer at a local shelter here. You are amazing Jen and I am honored to be your friend!

  7. What a beautiful puppy and it has found such a beautiful place to call home too :)

  8. aww Jen you are the sweetest! I would love to send you an update as soon as we get to the next step. We have had one pup before and it was a challenging experience. Our whole family has to prepare for a new addition and all the responsibilities that come with it (I actually have a fear of dogs!). Not to mention it's going to take some time to find that special pup who fits with our family. I am so excited though and I can't wait to share the details. It is also so kind of you to offer us a gift, I will have to check out your store as I would never dream of asking you to make anything special. You have such a blessed heart. Thank you for caring, it clearly makes all the difference in the lives of those you touch!


  9. Shauna - I will call you when we go to rescue the next dog or when we're heading up to the shelter. It's a long drive, but we'd love to take Amelia! I know how much she loves animals and the girls adore her :D

    Arromyf - thank you for your sweet comment:D


  10. Kat - sounds good! It does take time to find the right match sometimes and is best for all parties (including the new addition) that it is the right fit. With rescues, they want to meet everyone in the family and most insist on a homecheck to make sure there is adequate fencing and safety checks are in place. Lots of questions and forms, and a fee for the dog, but it is much less than pet shops are and it covers the costs of pulling the dog, taking it to the vet, spay/neuter cost, food, shots, etc. The rescues never end up making money in their endeavors and have tax deductible status', so it's all good :D

    The biggest perk is saving a life, of course and you will be amazed how *good* you will feel. And the people who meet your dog will feel good, too and will hopefully want to do the same!

    No hurries on your newest addition - just would love to hear all about it whenever it comes to pass ;D I'm very proud of your family!


  11. It is so so strange, that just last night I went on line and looked up lab rescues and something we might be able to do as volunteer work for the upcoming year. Then today, I read this. Wow! That made ME cry. I chose labs because it is what we have, but also, it is one of those dogs that everyone gets as a present and then tosses away when they are no longer cute pups. I have come 360 degrees in the past few years, and don't believe in pet stores in the least. I despise what they encourage. This is a remnant of archaic Victorian ideals that leads to too much cruelty and suffering.

    Thanks for posting. Now I really am going to go find that rescue organization.

  12. YEAH Mama! Oh Labs are just the best family dogs (and goldens). You are so right, there are so many out there (esp lab mixes) and they are so loving and sweet. Congrats on your endeavor and please keep me updated! Would love to hear all about your volunteer work!!!

  13. This is awesome Jen! I know what you mean about bawling your eyes out.. the thought of going in a shelter, is almost too much. I know my girls would LOVE to do this, as they are both animal crazy, but right now I can't think of how I could add anything to my plate.. but possibly in the future.. You are such a wonderful inspiration :)

  14. I thought I would share a nice newsletter that just arrived in my inbox, especially since they have a 'success stories' section, which I think you will enjoy.

  15. How wonderful! I can't think of a better first job. My kids would also love to do something like this-- though of course I would have a hard time NOT adopting everything in sight. We've already got a running list of the pets we NEED to get once we move back to the states. It grows almost daily, lol.

    Congratulations on your new pup!!

  16. OK...whew...having a hard time seeing the screen through my tears. So much joy in loving something that needs protection and healing. We adopted a cat...that has been through some awful things. He is so proud of the love and comfort we give him. He shows so much gratitude for the chance to be loved. Thank you, thank you for sharing and being who you are.

  17. Oh! Koda will be wonderful for Jacky!! My dad rescued a lab/collie mix from the Oregon Humane Society about 5 years ago and just a few months later I brought home my puppy. I think Tumalo has been a great healing influence on Lucky and vice versa - both are crazy in their own ways, but those ways are different and soothing to each other, I think.

    The Oregon Humane Society, where Lucky came from, has a great program where they take dogs from shelters around the reigon and place them in Portland. I know we get dogs from No Cal, and I know chihuahuas just don't stay in the shelter long around here. See if your shelter can partner with others like OHS!

    Good luck! And remember to take care of yourself first. Self care allows you to help even more :) Thanks for all your good work!

  18. Jen,
    That was a great post! I am an animal lover, too. We just adopted three cats from a rescue shelter. The two cats we had for years both passed away within the last 6 months, and I was feeling the "emptiness". We went to the shelter with the plans of adopting two litter mates, but I felt so sad for the older cats who don't find homes as easily, so I was able to talk my hubby into taking home three cats. What's one more when you already have two, right? It was so hard to leave all the others there. :( Now we're up to 3 dogs and 3 cats. That will be it for us for awhile!

  19. Congrats, Jenn! That is so wonderful that you were able to open your heart up to three special kitties :D I am so sorry to hear your other two passed, but I agree - once you reach a certain number, what's one more - lol! Would love to see a picture of all your animals (hint...hint)! Have a good night, Jenn!

  20. I would love to send photos of our four-legged friends.
    I also forgot to tell you how cute your new puppy is!
    Also, there was a three-legged cat at the shelter that I had my eye on, but they weren't sure how he would do with three young kids. But, I think if they are loved, they will adapt to just about anything!

  21. Awesome, Jenn! Would love to see your photos - will you post on your blog? Or else, email me!

    And I have a total soft spot for the hard cases :D - missing limbs, one eyed, blindness, demodex mange, etc...I hope someone takes the 3 legged fellow home :D Otherwise, I'd advise you to contact a cat rescue - usually they are the first to grab the ones that no one else wants, esp those with issues like this. That's sweet that he grabbed your heart (((hugs)))! You'd be surprised if enough people email a rescue org about a pet (and even pledge a donation to encourage pulling of the animal) - just those few moments you take in your day very often lead to the saving of an animal's life!!!!

    Can't wait to see your animal pictures! :D