Lately I’ve had multiple friends approach me about helping them adopt dogs.  Hallelujah!  When this happens it feels better than if my birthday landed on Christmas and I won the lottery (okay, maybe not that part) all at the same time.  I’m making a difference.  People are listening.  I am on cloud nine!


“That must be one of those large, slobbery, slow creatures that I hear. Fools.”

And then I see friends that to buy.  I did a little Facebook ranting about those people this morning, and considering I hadn’t even had my coffee yet, I think I did a decent job since it launched a huge discussion and led to TWO friends messaging me to learn more about adopting:  It’s such a sad and defeating feeling to see friends wanting to “buy” puppies. If I can’t even change my own friends’ minds, how will I ever change anyones? There are rescues for literally every.single.breed.imaginable! Pure economics tells us that purchasing from a breeder is a poor decision. By spending your money with a breeder you spending a good 5-10 times what you would spend to adopt the puppy (seriously, that much), and worse, creating “demand” which therefore encourages the breeder to continue creating a supply (breeding the dog.) What those that “buy” don’t consider is the fact that the puppies that aren’t sold, are then dumped at a shelter or handed over to a rescue (the breeder certainly doesn’t want to continue to spend money on the dog as an unsold puppy becomes useless to them after it hits about 10 weeks old.) Now, a shelter must spend tax dollars to care for the dog. Tax dollars that could instead be spent on things like education, new roads, etc. And don’t even get me started on the conditions that most of these dogs live in. It’s really easy to take a cute picture where mom and babies look adorable and well cared for, and sometimes that really is the case, but that is an exception, not the rule. I beg everyone, especially with Christmas right around the corner, PLEASE consider ADOPTING a puppy rather than supporting this practice. Google search “(breed of interest) + rescue + (city you live in)”. There may not be a rescue in the exact city you are in, but I promise you, they can arrange transport to get the dog to you. Now you all don’t have the excuse that “you didn’t know” and if you buy, you’re really just an ass 🙂


Sneaking out to investigate the house.

But almost worse than the friends that want to buy, are my “askhole” friends.  These are the friends that tell me they want to adopt, get me all excited, I spend hours looking for the perfect dog for them and answering all of their questions, and after all that, they end up buying anyways.  They “ask” but don’t really listen.  They are askholes.  It’s happened a couple of times now, and it’s confusing.  Why do they ask for help if they don’t intend to actually follow through with it?  Is it to make themselves feel “like they tried”?  Or did I say something wrong?  Whatever the reason, it’s frustrating.  I definitely make every effort to be kind and not pushy when talking about all the great points of adopting (I totally believe in the old adage that you catch more bees with honey than vinegar) but yet I have failed.


On the other side of the gate!

Do any of you have experience with askholes?  Do you take it personally when people ask for your opinion or help then do the opposite?  Aside from killin’ ’em with kindness, how else to you try to make sure people listen to you about a topic you are passionate about?  (And if you’re one of those people that I’ve been talking to lately about adopting, this is not directed at you, I’m loving helping you!  This is about those that have already purchased a dog.)


Now she’s really getting brave!

Remember, adorable Daisie, featured throughout this post, is available for adoption!  Email me at morganrivera518(at)gmail(dot)com for more information about her.

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

I’m happy to report we are making progress with the newest foster here at THPL.  Daisie is still quite the scaredy cat (pun intended) but she is warming up more and more each day.  I think slow and steady is going to win this race!  Check out her sweet face:


And here is a video of her with Rich:

Pardon the poor quality.  As soon as she warms up more I will try and get better pictures of her.  I wanted you all to be able to see how stinkin’ cute she is though!  I have yet to attempt an introduction with her and the dogs as I want to make sure she is completely comfortable with me first, but I will certainly be filling you all in on how it goes.  Happy Wednesday everyone!

You Don’t Know Until You Try!

Which is exactly what I told myself when I decided to try out fostering a kitten.  You see, Buddy lurves him some kittens.  Tag might give a little playful chase if one runs past her but she’s lived peacefully with them in the past.  And then there’s Maggie.  Who knows how she will react?

Growing up we always had a cat or two around and I’ve been missing that lately.  And even more so, I’ve been missing fostering.  So my solution to the two problems was to try out fostering a cat!  If it goes horribly awry I have the rescue to fall back on, and if it goes as well as I think it will, then I can become a regular foster again (albeit with a different species, but still, a life is a life people!)

Buddy 3

Buddy, with one of “his” cats. Photos of Daisie soon to come!

I found a little local cat rescue that I felt really good about and got in touch with them.  With the recent intake of multiple cats from a hoarding situation, they were quite thankful for my timing.  On Saturday morning my first little foster kitty, Daisie, arrived.  We stuck the dogs in our bedroom, which is on the opposite side of the house as the other rooms, and took her to “her” room which I had all set up.  We opened the crate and Daisie wouldn’t budge.  The poor girl was terrified!  It’s hard to blame her, she’s been through an awful lot: stray, to hoarding situation, to the rescue where she had to live in a crate in a garage until the could secure a foster, to my house…with loud dogs (even all the way on the other side of the house.)

For the most part on Saturday I left Daisie alone to settle in.  I did go in there and read aloud a couple of times (Game of Thrones in case you care) to help her get used to my presence.  Yesterday she was still very shy so I decided to sleep in “her” room in hopes that asleep I would be less of a threat and she might warm up more.  Boy was I right!  Around 2:00 a.m. she decided to have a dance party.  Okay, that’s not completely true, but Daisie was all sorts of frisky and playful and it was so sweet, even if it was in the middle of the night.  By morning she had decided she was scared of me again though, so it looks like I’ll be sleeping in there again.  Things we do for our fosters, right?

{Take Action Tuesday} Animal Welfare in School Curriculum

“Children are great imitators.  So give them something great to imitate.” – Anonymous

I have said, time and again, that the way to actually get to the root of the pet overpopulation problem is through education.  I firmly believe that every single life saved is invaluable and deserving, but for every one saved, there are countless ones currently suffering at the hands of abuse, living in shelters or on chains, and being euthanized.  Imagine a day when there was no need for rescue work at all?  A day that shelters merely existed to house dogs that got loose until their owners could be reunited with them?  A day when the saddest story we read was of a beloved pet that came down with an illness?  If we are ever going to get to that day, it will be through education.

Happy black lab

I truly believe that children are our future.  Which is what makes this petition SO exciting to me:

“The mission for Animal Welfare in the school curriculum is to educate and explore the history and meaning of our animal kinship and foster a life-long commitment to animals. Our mission is also to alleviate the suffering of all animals. A classroom presentation program should exist to give the students hands-on learning experience of rescued animals. This will encourage kindness and empathy for both human and nonhuman animals and promotes understanding of our many diverse habitats.                                                                              Field trips to an Animal Shelter and an Animal Rescue should also be a part of this program. It is a powerful experience. Sharing the love of animals also includes awareness of animal overpopulation and the reason for neutering and spaying. Most importantly, humane education strives to establish a sense of responsibility, making the world a better, more humane place. Our children ARE the future.  To end I would like to Thank all of you who sign and share this, and may God bless you all.”

Penny the cat

Imagine the implications of a program like this!  Children that ask their parents for a puppy specifically from the shelter.  Children that ask their parents why Fido has to live on the chain in the yard and can’t come inside.  Children that scold their older sibling when they see them throw rocks at a dog.  Children that become more aware of the world around them.  Rescues currently in existence could begin to focus their efforts on educating low-income areas.  Or helping concerned pet owners with behavioral issues learn how to train their dogs to keep them in their homes and out of shelters.  Government funded animal controls could begin spending their budget on low cost spay and neuter clinics instead.  The potential domino effect is as large as our imaginations allow it to be.

Apollo the cat

 To the handful of people that I know will say something like, “But children should not be exposed to suffering!”  I call bulh$#*t.  You need to toughen up, and so do your kids.  There is a big world out there and by sheltering children the way parents do these days, you are doing them exactly zero favors.  Just because a child plays a sport does not mean he should automatically win a medal.  Just because a child does not like his teacher does not mean you should swoop in and demand they be moved to a new classroom.  Just because a child might come home saddened because they learned that there are homeless pets does not mean you should deprive them of this life lesson.  By learning to lose, work through a tough situation, and that there is in fact suffering in the world children might just begin to work harder, embrace compromise, and best of all, gain empathy for those around them.  And imagine what a beautiful world that would lead to.

Maggie the rescue

If are in agreement, please click here to sign the petition.  The petition currently has less 1/5 of the necessary signatures.  I also ask that if you are in agreement with this message, you hit that “share” button as well and let’s get this out there for more people to see!  Thank you and Take Action!  


Magic Pills

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if magic pills existed?  A pill to make you drop 20 lbs.  A pill to make you ace a test.  A pill to make you regrow your thinning hair.  A pill to make your dog behave precisely how you would like.  As the saying goes, “If wishes were fishes, the sea would be full.”  You have to go to the gym and skip donuts to lose 20 lbs.  You must study hard to ace tests.  You must, err, wear a baseball cap to hide your thinning hair?  And you must work with your dog to help him behave as you’d like him to.


When you make the decision to bring a dog into your life, you are making a roughly 15 year commitment (obviously that varies depending on their current age, breed, etc.)  Have you ever been in a 15 year relationship that never experienced a bump along the road?  Perfect communication from the very first day?  Not a single fight or bad day had?  Yea, me either.  Well guess what?  The same goes for your relationship with your dog.  There will be bumps along the road and frustrations to be had.  The important thing though is to remember that you have made a commitment to this animal and his well being depends on you not giving up at the first sign of trouble.  Together you can work through problems and find a solution.  It may take a little trial and error, but you can do it!

Silly Dog

Did your dog chew up your new pair of leather pumps?  He did not do this to spite you.  Dogs are just not capable of that level of cognitive reasoning.  He might however have been stressed or bored.  Does your dog destroy his crate while you are away?  Your dog is not “bad”.  He is probably scared or confused, suffering from isolation distress or separation anxiety.  Does you dog nearly pull you over when you walk him on a leash?  Your dog is not a “jerk”, he just hasn’t been taught how to properly walk beside you.  Whatever the problem may be, it is your job to try and understand why your dog is behaving the way he is.  And, here’s the most important part, you must then seek out resources to help you work through this problem with your dog.


Below are a list of resources that are fantastic places to start if you are experiencing a behavior you would like help modifying:

 – Your Pit Bull and You – This website (and Facebook page) is constantly posting fantastic pieces about force-free training.  No matter the breed of dog you own, I highly recommend checking them out as you will be able to find an article for nearly any issue you may be experiencing.

 – Two Pitties in the City – Yet another resource for fantastic tips and training methods, all force free of course, for any breed of dog.  Bonus if you are a pittie fan though, because their pups are impossibly cute.

 – Love and a Six-Foot Leash – This should come as no shock, but this blog shares plenty of tips and suggestions for force-free training as well.  Bonus!  They just had a puppy baby and therefore are sharing plenty of tips for successfully bringing home a baby while keeping their pups happy and healthy.

 – Training Tuesday: How to Survive Separation Anxiety – This is probably the most comprehensive, complete, and easy to read article in existence for dealing with separation anxiety and/or isolation distress.  Additionally, And Foster Makes Five is just a great resource in general for tips and tricks.  They even have a weekly training post!


If you are experiencing behavioral issues that are potentially dangerous to you or your dog, I urge you to seek professional help.  It’s true that professional trainers can sometimes be costly, but isn’t it better to invest in a healthy relationship with your dog than risk destroyed property or a sick dog (that’s probably going to cost you more than that trainer anyway?)  I sure think so!  Because of the not-so-fantastic information that finds its way onto the internet you need to be diligent in your searches though.  Look for key words like “force-free”, “reward based”, “positive reinforcement”, etc.  Science based training is growing in popularity and quickly proving the old, outdated methods of past decades as just that: outdated and ineffective.  Wouldn’t you rather have a relationship based on mutual understanding and trust than fear?  Me too!  Look for the same type of key words if you are perusing articles for help or ideas.  If you are reading a piece and it’s all about dominating or proving your “alpha” status, run screaming continue searching.  And remember, there is no “magic pill”.  You might have to go through some trial and error before you find a solution to whatever your problem may be.  Dogs are individuals after all. And your individual dog, that has dedicated his entire life to loving you, definitely deserves you making the effort to understand his needs.

Passively Positive Pit Bull Advocating

Almost without fail every time I take my dogs for a walk someone (if not multiple people) say something like, “Wow, is that a pit bull?”  or “Oh, that’s a pit bull, isn’t it?!” referring to Maggie and ignoring the other two dogs.  I always respond with something like, “They’re my rescues, aren’t they great!?”  Remember this post about just calling them “rescues” or something like that?  I still love it and am pleased when I am able to politely dodge their question and reply with something cute instead.  But then I’ll get home from that walk and check my google alerts.  For every one alert I have set up to flag a variety of different topics, I get literally ten about pit bulls.  (I have it set to give me ten per day per topic, I only wish I was exaggerating this since they are almost always negative!)  So then I post a cute picture of Maggie on Instagram with something like #mypitbullisalover #notafighter but guess what? #I’mFeedingIntoTheProblem!

You gotta love a pit bull's smile.

I recognized once before that my good intentions were in fact adding to the problem and I talked about it here.  It’s a good read for anyone that means well by saying, “It’s all in how they’re raised!” and I would recommend taking a peek at it.  I also recently read a fantastic article about a former “pit bull” rescue that realized their community was beginning to view pit bulls in a positive light so they dropped “pit bull” entirely from their mission and now just focus on rescuing all dogs and educating the public on responsible pet ownership.  It occurred to them that if they continued to focus on just pit bulls, all the attention could undo what they had accomplished.  Check it out here.  But then I read this article by And Foster Makes Five and literally hung my head in shame.  Uh oh, guilty as charged!  If you stop reading this post right now and head over to read AFM5’s piece I would be happy as a clam, because she says it perfectly, and much better than I will.  Go on, I’ll wait.


It was great, right?  And makes SO much sense, right?  I fear that we have almost made pit bulls too popular.  “But that should be a great thing!” you say.  Well yes and no.  The reason it is concerning to me is directly linked to the incredible number of pit bull stories in the news, which I am fully aware of because of those google alerts I was talking about earlier.  Did you know there is no standard definition of what a “pit bull” is?  Click here for an absolutely fantastic article that illustrates beautifully how varied the definition of a “pit bull” can be.  Imagine this scenario: a dog bite occurs.  The first reporter on the scene asks around about the type of dog involved and no one could give them a definitive answer.  A couple of people mention it had a “big head” and was “muscular”.  The reporter doesn’t know much about breeds.  They think back to all the other stories they’ve heard about dog fighting and pit bull attacks and decide that this must have been a pit bull, too.  And there you have it, another negative “pit bull” story makes it to the news.  The dog very well could have any other breed but it doesn’t matter.  The damage is done.


So what’s my point in all this?  Basically exactly what Stephanie was saying in her post.  Let’s stop victimizing pit bulls and coming off as coo-coo pit bull fanatics which is just pushing away those that aren’t sure yet how they feel about the breed.  I don’t know about you, but the quickest way to get me to either tune out or disregard what someone with an opposing view point has to say, is for them to be loud, obnoxious, or worst of all, come off as uneducated or pushy.  Am I saying we should all go into hiding with our pit bulls so that they are never seen?  Never share a picture on Facebook or Instagram?  Never write a positive pit bull story on our blogs?  Of course not!  But I for one am going to stop using things like #lovernotfighter and instead do my best to always focus on being passively positive.  That’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  “Passively Positive”.  I’m not going to scream and shout to anyone within a 10 mile radius that pit bulls are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I am just going to continue writing pieces and sharing pictures of all the wonderful dogs I encounter, pit bull and everything else alike.

We’re All Just Normal.

It has been occurring to me more and more lately that I am failing the mission of this blog in not one, but two ways, and I think it’s time to address my shortcomings!  Tune in tomorrow to hear about how I am being a poor pit bull advocate.  For today though, I want to talk about how I am not being the best foster/rescue advocate I could.

Dog with a scarf.

So here’s the deal: lately quite a few people have made a variety of different comments to me that all allude to them feeling as if they just can’t make a difference themselves.  These comments have also lead me to believe that they think of any of us “rescuers” as more than just average people.  Since the ultimate reason I started this blog was to show that if I could do it, anyone could, this is very upsetting to me!  I know I just talked about some of the easy ways to make a difference so rather than reiterate those, I think I should tell you a little more about myself and just how average I am, which is the case for nearly anyone involved in rescue!  Not a single one of my “rescue” friends has a special degree, millions of dollars in the bank, or some secret knowledge that’s not available to the rest of the world.  Just big hearts.

Growing up we always owned at purebred Labrador.  My dad is an avid hunter and felt (I use the past tense because I am quite certain that at this point he would never, ever dare to buy a dog again) that purebreds were the way to go.  I believe I was six when I found my first stray dog and thankfully my parents allowed us to keep her.  I named her Corky and loved her more than anything in the whole wide world.  I was perfectly content to sit on the couch with her and read book after book.  Which reminds me, my favorite book was Shiloh even though it made me cry, which I hate to do.  We were inseparable and thanks to her I learned at a very young age that there are people out there that don’t consider their pets family and will just dump them.  It was almost more than my little brain could handle.

My mother worked extremely hard as a stay-at-home mom and my father managed a restaurant.  I probably don’t need to spell this out, but we were not exactly rich in the monetary sense.  If you count afternoons spent exploring the woods behind our house, swimming, and climbing trees as rich, we were loaded!  I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  I started working when I was 14 and bought my first car with money I had saved all on my own at 16.  I swam on the varsity swim team and then worked after school.  If I wanted gas in my car, food out with friends, or any clothes more than the roughly two outfits my mom bought us each school year, then I needed to earn the money myself.

Dog with a scarf.

Thoroughly unimpressed.

I decided to graduate a year early and moved out when I was 17.  I started college, and my family moved from Nebraska (where I grew up for the most part) to Florida.  I worked four jobs (simultaneously) to support myself, changed majors countless times, adopted Buddy, and ultimately followed my family back to Florida right after my 21st birthday.  I ended up taking a couple of years off and finally graduated with a degree in Accounting–while working full time, bartending on the side, training for a marathon, and right before graduation, fostering my first dog.

I love nothing more than a good book or a scary movie.  I much prefer to spend a night at home than out on the town.  My favorite color is blue.  I can kill a houseplant faster than anyone I know.  I hate to compliment myself, but am proud to say I can cook as well as any 4 star chef, and I have a secret cookie recipe that friends literally beg me for.  I have 8 tattoos and am likely not done.  I love my dogs as fiercely as if I had birthed them myself.

Dog with a scarf.

I used to think choke and prong collars were acceptable “when properly used”.  I never crate trained a dog until I started fostering.  I allowed Buddy to lapse on heartworm preventative for probably a whole year at one point.  I am a mediocre-at-best trainer because I am impatient and always want to see immediate results, even though I know better.  Sometimes my dogs frustrate me so much that I can’t help but yell at them.  Often times I read a story or hear a statistic that makes me break down in tears, feel completely defeated and helpless, and I will sit for hours convinced that nothing I can do will ever make a difference.  The problem is just too big.

But then I think of the ones that I have helped.  I remind myself they are alive because I refused to accept defeat.  If I never help another dog again, the nights spent crying on my couch will be worth it, because of stories like this.  I am normal.  I am average.  I have never been “handed” anything (aside from great morals) as one person stated “I must have been.”  (I mean really, that’s just rude!)  I am just one of the thousands of people that choose to help be part of the solution, and I started this blog to try and show that.  Do you see just some of my faults now?  Please, do not put me or anyone else that helps animals, up on a pedestal.  We are incredibly far from perfect.  We are simply doing our best to do the right thing when we can.  Even if you only ever adopt one dog in your life, you have made just as important of an impact as anyone else!  I promise you, if I can do it, truly anyone can as well.  You just have to want to.  You CAN do it.

{Take Action Tuesday} #GivingTuesday

Have you heard of this new “thing”?  It’s like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, and I LOVE the idea.  It’s no secret I think our society is a little too wrapped up in itself so the fact that this new movement makes it “cool” to give to good causes is just pure awesomesauce in my opinion!  Here is a link to the official site where all of the official partners are listed.  Peruse through and see if one jumps out at you then click the link to donate to them!  Easy-peasy.

But wait!  You guys know me well enough to know I’m always a fan of the little guy, so of course I’m going to include links to some smaller organizations that I personally know of and feel 100% confident supporting:

Lulu, the beloved rescue pup.

Last Hope Rescue – No surprises here as it is the rescue I am part of!

Allen Babcock Rescue – This is a fantastic Florida rescue whose entire mission is to take in what are generally deemed as “unadoptable” animals.  They have taken more than one dog from the tiny Animal Control I used to volunteer with, who would have otherwise been put down, and given them fantastic lives.

V.O.C.A.L. – This is another rescue from Tallahassee, FL that works to help build fences to get dogs off chains.  I have more than one friend that volunteers with them and they are a fantastic group that is really working to make a difference in the lives of animals.

Be The Solution – Can’t say enough good things about this Tallahassee group either.  They work to educate the public as well as provide financial assistance to pet owners that could not otherwise afford to alter their animal.  I’ve personally worked with them more than once and they are fantastic!  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  I couldn’t agree more!

(Psssst, even $1 makes a difference.  If 1,000 people that felt they couldn’t afford to share, skipped buying a pack of gum at the convenience store and donated that $1 instead, that’s $1,000!)

Take action!