Buddy, The Heartbreaker

A personal mantra of mine, and I think quite a few others in the rescue world, is “You can only do what you can do.”  This is to save ourselves from something called “compassion fatigue“.  Have you ever heard of it?  It’s pretty fascinating and I think to some extent I experienced it after I got so heavily involved in the little shelter south of Tallahassee.  Essentially, we have to realize that we can’t save them all, and as this well written article points out, we really shouldn’t.  It’s a hard truth but one best learned early on for those of us that want to get involved in this frustrating, exhausting, heart-breaking, yet out-of-this-world rewarding thing called animal rescue.

Buddy

Yes, that is sand all over him from rolling around like a goof.

But.  Then there comes along a dog so perfect you just know there are no lengths you won’t go to to see him have the life he deserves.  You will let yourself get emotionally invested.  You will allow yourself to cry.  You will beg and plead and call in favors that never even really existed.  You will throw your personal mantras out the window and realize that while there is a very real chance your heart will be irreparably damaged, you will give him your all.  Enter Buddy.

Buddy

A couple of weeks ago I received an odd voicemail about “the dog that was trapped” asking me to call back so I can help them.  Wait, what?  My vet’s name was mentioned so I called her first and she explained the situation.  A Good Samaritan had found a dog living under a church and after feeding him for a few weeks without being able to catch him, finally succeeded in trapping him and bringing him in to her office.  Someone had tied a string around his neck which he had grown into and was deeply embedded, causing a nasty little infection.  This Good Sam paid for my vet to get him all fixed up, neutered, and everything else.  He was now healthy but they needed help finding him a home.  Enter little ole me.  My vet knows that I do some rescue work so she passed along my number, which led to the confusing voicemail.  I stopped by after work, met Buddy, and snapped a couple of pictures.  He sure seemed sweet and from what the vet said, seemed to be just fine with other dogs and cats, and definitely loved people.

Get out of here with that cuteness!

Get out of here with that cuteness!

I asked the president of Last Hope Rescue if he could enter our program but there are no available fosters (the typical plight of rescues everywhere),  and started passing around his photo and casually asking if people were interested in fostering or adopting, along with reaching out to multiple other rescues.  I was getting zero response on all fronts and then last week the Good Sam that found Buddy called and left me another message saying he was running out of time in boarding at the vet and she was going to have to take him to the shelter if we couldn’t figure something out.  Crap.  I kicked it into high gear and lined up what I thought where a few potential places for him to go.  Most exciting of which was a family that sounded absolutely perfect that was interested in adopting him.  After chatting with them, they said they wanted him and could I please bring him by after they got back in town on Sunday?  I said certainly and decided to bring him to Tallahassee with me for the weekend to give him a break from boarding and get to know him better.  Big mistake.

Buddy

Over the weekend I realized just how truly amazing this dog really is.  He was totally non reactive to other dogs, even when they got in his face and were a little snarky.  He rode like a gentleman in the car, loved the beach, and would happily go lay in his crate when in the house (even though we didn’t ask him to!)  Buddy came out to restaurants and bars with us where he happily plopped on the ground next to us and just hung out, greeting everyone that stopped to comment on how handsome he was with a soft tail thump and big grin.  This dog was just perfect.  Truly, everything I have ever dreamed of for myself in a dog.  I was on cloud nine while driving back to Jacksonville.  Surely this family, who had already said they want him, would be as head-over-heels as I was after meeting him.

Buddy

We got to their house and they couldn’t have been any sweeter.  To keep a long story short, the husband ultimately decided he just wasn’t comfortable adding a dog to their family with their two year old daughter.  He made it very clear that this had nothing to do with Buddy – it was quite obvious to them just how wonderful he was, even with their small daughter – but it was simply a matter of timing.  I can understand and respect their decision but the moment I got Buddy loaded back in the car I completely broke down.  It was now Sunday night and I had nowhere for Buddy to go.  My vet had told me that if things didn’t pan out over the weekend I could bring him back on Monday morning.  I was stressed to think about having him stay at my house overnight (because of my own dogs’ history with having canine guests, again, not anything to do with Buddy.)  Buddy and I crawled into bed in my guest room and I cried myself to sleep.  I was going to have to take this perfect dog back to the vet where he was going to have to go back to living in a tiny little boarding kennel.  It just wasn’t fair!  He had done absolutely nothing wrong, yet I couldn’t seem to make anything happen for him.

Buddy

Monday morning dawned and I returned Buddy to his home at the vet.  I started placing calls to everyone I could think, asking friends to call in favors and try to pull strings.  The Good Sam had another family that was interested in Buddy so I tried to remain hopeful.  Last night I met them, with their dog, at the vets office.  Unfortunately, while they really liked Buddy, their dog did not and it was quite clear that it was not going to be a good fit.  Once again, not Buddy’s fault.  So.  Here I am waiting to hear back from all of the various places we have been hoping will somehow be able to help with Buddy.  I might be making myself a little crazy, but if you met this big, dopey, sweet, mellow, loving, gentle-giant of a dog, you would be too.

Buddy

This is me, asking for help from my readers.  Can you share this post for me?  If you’re a fan of Instagram, I have quite a few pictures of him on my account, morganlee321 that you could share as well 🙂 Buddy is a dog that I feel extremely confident could seamlessly transition into virtually any home.  He would make a fantastic first dog for someone that has been considering adding a dog to their family but might have reservations about their own level of experience.  (Did I mention that he doesn’t even pull on the leash?  Just trots right next to you!)  He’s a big boy but as sweet and mellow as they come.  Buddy is currently in Jacksonville, FL but for the right, committed person, I would drive him all the way to Alaska.  I broke my own rule and got very emotionally invested.  Help me help Buddy and save my sanity.  Email morganrivera518(at)gmail(dot)com if you are interested in this handsome lug!

Hey there.

Buddy

Taggie

 

Tag

Tag

Hey Friends.  We have missed you here at THPL!  Well, we’ve been reading our favorite bloggies of course, but it’s been ages since we’ve filled you in on the happenings around here.  Really there isn’t much to report other than we’ve been particularly busy with that crazy little thing call ‘life’.  I’m making a big effort to improve my photog skillz.  Can you tell?  Moo is starting a refresher obedience course in a couple of weeks.  After that she will be going right into an agility course which I am beyond excited for!  Buddy and Tag are wonderful as usual.  The first ever Last Hope Rescue – Jacksonville foster puppy was adopted by a lovely family and is now being spoiled rotten.  The Jacksonville Humane Society recently had its 2,000 adoption of the year – quite exciting.  Aaand I think that’s about it.  Oh!  I finally sold a couple of things from my Etsy shop, which is great because as per usual there is an abundance of dogs that I’d like to help, so every little penny helps.  I’ve been trying to find the time to get some new stuff painted and listed so that I can hopefully sell even more.  Whelp, I think that’s all, folks.  Until next time, xoxooo!

Faith in Fate: Dixie Edition

When I was offered the job at the Humane Society, the decision to accept it or not wasn’t as easy as you might assume.  For one, it would mean that I would go from working a little over part-time to working more than full-time.  It would mean long days alone for my dogs.  It would mean working weekends which I hadn’t had to do in years, and frankly dreaded.  But it also would mean that I would have to facilitate adoptions with none of the background work that I was used to doing through the rescue.

Play Group

In the rescue, when there is a potential adopter, they fill out an in-depth application, we check vet references, and we perform a home visit.  You might remember there was a family interested in Maggie and I thought they were an absolutely perfect fit for her.  Everything checked out and I decided to do the home visit and meet-n-greet all at the same time.  When I got to their home it was, to put it lightly, not in a condition that I would find safe for any dog, let alone one that had a propensity for getting into things she shouldn’t and sending herself to the hospital.  I thank God all of the time that I did that home visit and didn’t just let Maggie be adopted by this seemingly perfect family because there is no doubt in my mind that while they would have adored her, she would have been miserable in this home.  So you can imagine my apprehension when I learned that basically anyone that wants to adopt a dog (or cat) from the Humane Society is allowed to.  Unless their is a note in our system about the person, which only happens if they have been convicted of animal abuse (that we know of), or the person basically tells us they plan to leave the animal chained outside (or worse), we must allow them to adopt the dog or cat of their choice, even if we know it’s not a good fit.  Take a minute and think about just truly frightening that is.  Talk about needing to have faith.

Play Group

While speaking with the director about my concerns, because I truly wasn’t sure if I was going to take the job or just continue on my merry way, volunteering as I saw fit, she told me that statistically speaking, the Humane Society’s return rate was actually lower than most rescues.  I found that hard to believe at first but we went into a discussion about the expectations that adopters have when adopting from a shelter vs. a rescue (this is an entire post for another day) and I realized that it does actually make sense that people would, generally speaking, have lower expectations of a dog coming out of a shelter than one coming out of a foster home.  If the dog exhibited an unwanted behavior, the shelter adopters are theoretically more likely to accept it (and hopefully work to correct it) than rescue adopters.  I know it guarantees nothing, but numbers don’t lie either.  It was enough to convince me, and I (obviously) accepted the job.

Play Group

From January 1st thru today, the Humane Society has adopted about 1100 animals out to homes.  That is significantly higher than most rescues do in years.  And we have also seen returns.  When you’re used to a rescue that only gets a couple of returns a year, and you see a couple in a month, it feels like a lot.  A whole hell of a lot.  I know that statistically speaking it is less than rescues, but it doesn’t make it any less upsetting when a dog you did the adoption for is sitting back in her kennel, scared and confused out of her mind.  For me, my normal emotional reactions go something like this: first incredulity, then a deep raging anger, first at the adopter, then at myself, all with constant underlying sadness, to finally a feeling of hopelessness.  How will things ever change if people keep abandoning their dogs?  Not upholding their commitments?  The last one is a fleeting emotion though, because in my years of doing this work I have learned that for all of the bad people, there truly are more good ones, but it still clutches my chest like a vice grip.  Once these emotions have come and gone there are two that remain: sadness and instead of hopelessness it’s now hopefulness.  I will be sad until the day that dog leaves again but I quickly become hopeful for it’s new family.  Because I have learned to have faith in fate.  And that dog is back because there truly is a much better family for them on their way.  Of this I am sure.

Play Group

You’ll notice that the title is Faith in Fate: Dixie Edition.  I did that because as I was mentally plotting out this post I realized there was no way I could pick just one story to share on the topic.  I decided I would randomly share these stories as a way to remind the public, my fellow animals rescuers, and most of all myself, to continue to have faith in fate.  So, without further ado, I give you the story of Dixie, the first of many wonderful stories I plan to share.

Play Group

Dixie, a scruffy little Schnauzer mix, was transfered to us from a rescue and we knew nothing about her prior to that.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  We knew that she was not well cared for.  Dixie had cataracts, a mammary tumor, hair loss, dental disease, kennel cough, and seriously overgrown toenails.  In short, she was a hot mess.  She was allowed to live in one of the offices; the kennel setting was just to scary for this 7-year-young lady dog.  We all adored her sweet temperament and when a nice woman and her daughter came to adopt her, we were all so excited.  Finally she was going home where she would be doted on like she deserved.  When I walked in to work the next day and learned that Dixie was back, I was flabbergasted to say the least.  “But she was adopted just last night?!  What the hell happened?!”  Turns out the “nice lady” and her daughter got Dixie home where she had the nerve to whine.  Imagine, a 7 year old dog, who had been bounced around, countless times at this point, was confused and whined the first night in yet another new environment.  Remember the emotions I mentioned earlier?  I was pretty much just feeling rage over this particular return.

Play Group

The day Dixie was adopted another woman came in to meet her, just as she was leaving with her new family (for that night anyway.)  She had seen Dixie’s picture and knew that she was the dog she had been searching for.  She was so set on Dixie, in fact, that when she learned Dixie had just been adopted she cried.  In a flash of not-yet-realized genius, we took down her phone number and told her that we would call her if another dog like Dixie came along (something we really never do.)  As soon as Dixie came back we called her and she rushed over, in tears again, but this time from happiness.  Once Dixie’s second adoption in two days was complete I walked out with her new, forever mom.  She gave me a big hug and said, “I’m sorry that we have to rush off, but I have 7 years worth of love and fun to catch her up on.”

Have faith in Fate.

All of the dogs in this post, pictured having a blast in playgroup, are adoptable thru the Jacksonville Humane Society.

Sunday Funday (brought to you on Monday.)

Since accepting the job at the Humane Society I have only had one day a week off: Sundays.  My guilt level has been through the roof regarding my own dogs and their lack of entertainment/exercise lately, so you better bet we take full advantage of our Sundays.  Check out some photos from yesterday’s adventures:

Sisters

Buddy

Tag

Flowers

My guilt has been so bad in fact, that when the girls found disgusting things to roll in, I just let them have at it.  I know.  It’s crazy.

Maggie

Sisters

Tag

But really, is there anything happier than a dirty dog?  I think not.  Besides, I’m certainly not going to deny them this simple joy after neglecting them all week!

Water Lillies

Stream

Do you have a job (or jobs) that require you to be away from your dogs for long hours?  Do you share the same soul crushing guilt as me?  We take Maggie to “camp” occasionally, which helps, and of course we leave them with entertainment like Kongs, but that all only goes so far.  Knowing that you are your dogs’ entire world, how do you not feel guilty when you are away from them for long hours?  No really, I’d like to know!

Play!

One of the things that rocks my world is getting to help with play groups.  What does that mean?  Have a looksie:

Pit Bulls Playing

Those are the faces of two very happy girls.  Every morning we take multiple dogs out and put them in play groups.  We rotate through the dogs that we know enjoy playing with friends and give them a seriously needed outlet for their pent up energy and kennel stress.

Pit Bulls Playing

Pit Bulls Playing

Not only does it tire the pups out in record time, and give them a mental breather, it also gives us valuable information about the dogs.

Crazy Eyes

Play Group

Play Group

For example, the crazy-eyed little pooch above seems rather anti-social when in her kennel, but the second you get her out she is a total social butterfly, bouncing from friend to friend, both canine and human.  Other dogs, like Armand (the black, tan, and white boy below) are painfully shy but quickly gain confidence when surrounded by canine friends.

Friends

FriendsAnd how do we figure out who likes play groups?  Well we test them of course!  Everyone gets a chance to see how they like it.  This lets us know if the dogs love canine friends, only prefer human friends, or fall somewhere in the middle.  Talk about valuable knowledge when speaking with potential adopters!  For example, if I know a certain dog really likes other dogs of the opposite sex, but not of the same, and a family is interested in her that happens to have a resident canine of the same sex, then I can warn them that it’s likely not a good match and work with them to find a different dog that would love their current canine and therefore be a success match.  By utilizing this knowledge on the front end I can prevent a dog from going home, things not going well, and getting returned to the shelter where she potentially may have developed behavioral problems.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Adoptable DogsA happy dog is a more adoptable dog; just another reason I am loving my job at the Jacksonville Humane Society.  Have you heard of play groups at shelters before?  What do you think about it?  Have you ever gotten to be part of this magical time?

All of the happy pooches seen here today are still looking for their forever homes!  If you are in the Jacksonville, FL area and in need of a playful friend email me or contact JHS!