Sometimes people need the help.

Yesterday morning while waking up I laid in bed and scrolled through Facebook on my phone.  This article by Your Pit Bull & You caught my attention and as I was reading it I was mentally screaming “Yes!  This!”  Of course, my mind runs at warp speed in the mornings and I started thinking even more about what they were saying.  As I shared the link on the blog’s Facebook page (which you should totally be following if you aren’t already) I said, “This. A million times this exact message needs to be shared. THIS is why I am all about education and outreach.  It’s great to save one dog at a time, and that should never be devalued, but to make an impact on countless future lives and actually have a chance of one day living in a nation where we don’t kill thousands of adoptable dogs each week, we need empathy. Empathy for the dogs’ driving forces and empathy for owners that can’t or don’t understand the right way to care for them.”


YPB&Y did a fantastic job talking about why it is SO important to understand the driving forces behind what dogs do, and how it most certainly can help keep them out of shelters, but I want to expand a little on the last part of what I said.  Raise your hand if you have ever been scrolling through FB, seen a picture of a sick or abused dog in need, and said something like, “I really hate humans.”  You can’t see me, but I’m hanging my head and raising both hands.  I am incredibly guilty of this line of thinking.  And when you hold a dog like Annie or Hollie in your arms, it’s really hard not to feel some hatred towards the person that let them get like this.  But what I have slowly been learning is that not all “cruelty” is as it appears.  You might remember, but Annie was living under an abandoned, bank-owned house.  I never once stopped to wonder about what devastation must have happened to cause this family to move away and leave their dog.  Annie clearly had been living alone under the house awhile, but she was so trusting and loving from the moment I crawled under there and got her, that it leads me to think that she must have been loved and treated well by this family.  We think she was hit by a car.  What if on the day the family was getting ready to move she got hit and hid because she was hurt.  Her family might have searched for her for hours before they had no choice but to leave.  Her family very well could have been devastated by the fact that they left behind sweet Annie.  But I never once gave any of that a thought.  Instead I just cursed them for being evil, horrible people.

Raise your hand again if you have said the phrase, “I would live in my car before I got rid of my dog!”  I’m hanging my head and raising my hand again.  But would I?  Would you?  Would you really live out of your car rather than give up your dog?  This statement implies that the family giving up their dog just didn’t care or love them enough.  But what if they could only afford housing that cost below a certain threshold and not a single one of the rentals that they could afford allowed dogs?  What if they actually love their dog so much that they realize someone else can give it a better life than them.  Now that’s something to think about.


While volunteering at a rural Animal Control facility we would frequently get dogs left in the “drop box”.  It disgusted and infuriated me beyond words that someone would come in the night and stuff their dog in this little concrete cell until we found them the next morning.  I said to one of the officers, “We should install a camera and post these people’s faces all over the internet!”  And you know what she said?  “Morgan, if we did that, they would just let them run loose or worse, take them in the woods and shoot them.”  Well that stopped me in my tracks.  This was particular conversation was probably over a year ago, and it has taken me until very recently to begin to understand things: Sometimes people need the help.


It’s unfathomable to me that someone wouldn’t know that shelters kill dogs and cats…but many people don’t know that.  And sometimes they find themselves in situations that lead them to believe that turning their dog over to a “shelter” actually is the best way to get their dog cared for.  Let’s think about that word, which is so commonly used: shelter.  You seek shelter from a storm.  You take shelter in your friends’ arms.  Shelter sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?  And you know what?  Some shelters are lovely, well-funded places that do offer the animals a better life until a few family comes along.  And some aren’t.  Some shelters automatically euthanize anything they deem a “pit bull”.  Some automatically euthanize anything after the stray hold is up, which is usually about a week.  Some have 5 or 6 dogs crammed in one tiny cell because they are so overcrowded.  I know these things because I have see them with my own eyes.  But I also have made this line of work my life’s mission.  Average Joe down the block that lost his job and is now losing his house and has to move in with his uncle that is allergic to dogs, likely has never been to a shelter and genuinely doesn’t know any better.

So what’s my point?  It’s no secret I believe in personal responsibility.  And that commitments are kindofabigdeal to me.  (Boy, I was a little preach-y in those posts, wasn’t I?)  And yes, I think there are some horrible people out there that do horrible things to animals.  And some that just genuinely don’t care at all.  But how can I throw out a blanket statement like “I hate people” when it’s people like me and you work to save these dogs?  What sense does it make to make myself unapproachable by having that attitude?  None.  My point it this: All of us in the animal welfare and advocacy world would probably be best served in our efforts by occasionally taking the time to see things from the perspective of a person that might be seeking our help.  You never know when you might be able to assist someone with training and therefore enable them to keep the dog in their home.  Or help them find a low-cost clinic to care for their pet so they can afford keep him.  The possibilities are endless.  I am probably writing all of this out of guilt for my own negative attitude in the past, but I hope it touches someone and they decide that sometimes people need the help.  And in turn, we all help the animals.

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

Where, oh where is the time flying to?  I have been so stinkin’ busy with rescue/volunteering things that I fear the blog has been suffering.  Whoooopsies!  Tune in tomorrow for a post on what I oh-so humbly think is an important topic.  And then stay tuned for what I hope is a very exciting announcement in the near future.  But for today, try and warm up with these pictures from sunny days past:

Maggie the Pit BullNala and DuncanNalaDuncanHappy DogsOh the lessons we can learn from our dogs.  Stop and smell the weeds roses:

Smell the Roses

Pssst, UnSaidYetUnderstood, we really miss you!

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

Some pictures from Buddy’s day:



You might recognize the pretty little lady from this post.




I’d say those are some happy pups, wouldn’t you?  If you missed it on Facebook, here is the link to my Etsy shop.  It’s sparse right now, but I plan to add new listings every day or so, so check back often if you think you’re interested!

Buddy, my new Etsy model.

Recently I’ve been working on a little fundraising idea I had.  You see, rescue can quickly become a costly business.  For example, if I get the Humane Society here to agree to take a dog from a high kill shelter, they require a donation.  It costs them $50 to neuter a dog, so that is what I would donate.  Or maybe I really want to see a dog rescued but can’t find anywhere for it to go.  I might offer a rescue to help pay their vetting if they will agree to take the dog.  And then of course there is Last Hope Rescue which I am part of and working to branch out in the city I moved to, Jacksonville, FL.  It would feel great to have a little money that I had already raised if anything urgent came up, so I wouldn’t have to immediately dip into our personal money.  (Rich may or may not have been a little upset with me when he realized just how much I spent on rescue last year….whoops!)  So anyways, I’ve been working on way to make a little side money to help fund my rescue habit.


With a brother that bartends and a friend that sells wine, I realized I have literally an infinite supply of free bottles.  I’ve always loved painting and have too many paint jars and samples lying around the house.  Combine the two and my idea to sell hand-painted bottles was born!  It keeps bottles out of landfills and it’s (hopefully) raising money for a good cause.  Maybe I’m biased but it seems like a good idea to me!


So today I’ve been working on getting some pictures of my finished products.  Of course I broke my favorite lens earlier (seriously, I should be named Murphy because anything that can go wrong, will) and I was using the wrong kind of lens to get good detail of the bottles.  While it was frustrating because it wasn’t what I had in mind, it did lead to the idea of getting the dogs in the picture.  And wouldn’t you know it, Buddy stole the show!  It might be because we spent a couple of hours running around on trails this morning (I’m still sticking to my New Year’s Resolution, people!) and Buddy was pooped, but he was great at sitting still where I asked him to.  Of course there were too many bloopers to count, because the girls obviously needed to see what was going on, but that’s the fun part.  I didn’t really get what I needed for my shop, but what do you think, would you buy from an Etsy shop that snuck in a few cute pictures of dogs?  I think I would!

IMG_5107IMG_5074Buddy sure looks thrilled, doesn’t he?

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

If we’re friends on Facebook (and if we aren’t, why not?  There is all sorts of fun stuff not here on the blog!) you’ve already seen the picture below:

Happy Lab

Per my New Year’s Resolution I spent some alone time with super smiley Tag yesterday.  We went to a little park in our neighborhood and ran around like silly kids, played on the jungle gym, and watched some ducks that were happily swimming around.

Happy DogI have to say, it actually broke my heart a little bit seeing just how happy she was to be the center of attention.  What a simple thing that I was denying her.  Yesterday just encouraged me to spend even more one-on-one time with my pups.

Happy Dog

Happy Hump Day Wednesday!

Multiple Female Households

I tend to have a knack for having sometimes unpopular opinions (like this) and today’s topic will be no different.  In fact, it’s something I’ve been debating even bringing up here on the blog for a good 9 months or so now.  A comment from a fellow fosterer who was sharing their story pushed me over the edge and I’m going to do it.  I’m going to talk about why I believe two female dogs in the same household is a bad idea.

Pit Bull

There, I said it.  But before anyone thinks I’m just being a kook, or overly dramatic due to recent and past events, hear me out!  Just shy of two years ago I spent a week volunteering at Villalobos Rescue Center (you might better recognize them from the tv show “Pit Bulls and Parolees”.)  To say it was an eye-opening experience would be the understatement of the century.  While there, one thing I heard Tia say more than once was that she refused to allow a female dog to be adopted into a home that already had a female dog.  “Uh, what?  Why in the world could that be?!”  This was the first I had ever heard of anything like that.  Even though I completely respected her and thought everything else she said made loads of sense, I just thought she was totally off-base about this and didn’t agree at all.  “Everyone knows male dogs are more likely to be aggressive!”  Fast forward to today.

Since my time at VRC I have become even more involved in rescue and made many new dog loving friends.  I’ve also started reading countless blogs about everything from behavior and training, to other rescues blogs, to just blogs about dogs in general.  In short, I’ve educated myself a lot in the field of dogs.  And I’ve sadly started hearing the horror stories about girl on girl fights.  In fact, literally every instance I have heard of by my multiple-dog-owning friends, has been between two females.  Every. Single. One.  And obviously I have now gone through the same thing myself.  Could this just be an eery and unfortunate fluke?  Maybe.  Do I think it’s more likely that there is actual validity behind Tia’s policy to not allow two female households?  Absolutely.


As I’ve stated before, I do believe that the more dogs you own, the more potential for personality conflicts there is.  But I also think that there is just something in the dynamics of females that makes them more likely to squabble with each other.  Obviously if anyone owns more than one dog, be them male and male, male and female, or female and female, said individual needs to make sure they are on top of managing their household.  Triggers like high value toys and treats should not be lying around.  Dogs should be safely crated when unsupervised.  Body language should be constantly monitored.  Regular training and exercise are mandatory.  I thoroughly believe that by taking these steps you significantly decrease the chances of a fight breaking out without warning.  But in my personal experience/research of this topic, it seems that that isn’t always enough when it comes to multiple females.  There seems to be a trend of unprovoked snapping, even in most well-trained, well-managed, and loving of households.

As I’m writing this, as is frequently the case in my house, my two girls are snuggling up to each other and occasionally lifting their heads to give one and other a little lick on the face.  It’s truly hard to believe, even after three fights between them, that it could ever happen again.  They so clearly adore each other!  But that doesn’t stop me from literally never even walking into another room that would take them out of my direct eyesight.  Even when I go to the restroom I ask one of them to join me.


So whats the point in me sharing this opinion of mine with everyone?  It’s my blog and I can!  Okay, I’m kidding…kind of.  I have come to firmly believe that raising awareness is one of the best things I can do with this space.  I’m willing to bet there are more than one of you that have never even heard of this theory before, as was the case for me just two years ago.  The last thing I want to do is offend anyone.  Three of my favorite friends: Kym, Stephanie S., and Valerie all have two females in their home.  I already know Stephanie thinks this is a silly theory, as she stated here, and that’s fine!  I’ve decided I’d rather share my unpopular opinion in case it opens just one persons eyes and they might take extra care in preventing a fight, no matter how unlikely they think it is to occur (just like I thought I would never in a bajillion years experience it myself.)  Do I think that two females automatically means a fight will happen?  Of course not!  But I do think it increases the chances.  And that is why I am talking about it.  Again, I truly hope that I have not offended anyone with this post.  I am simply hoping to prevent some of the heartache that I (and many of my friends) have experienced.  Take a minute and take stock of your home if you share it with two female dogs, no matter how perfect they are with each other.  Are there any triggers you may not have considered before?  Do you crate at least one of them while you are away?  Just do me a favor and spend a few minutes ensuring you are doing everything to prevent an accident from happening.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, friends!

A Quick…


To everyone that responded to my last post with your suggestions and ideas, truly, thank you.  I’m getting to work on a variety of them and attempting to tweak others to fit my circumstances a little better.  I hope to be able to share exciting updates soon!


I hope you are cuddled up and enjoying this Sunday like we are!  (It’s hard to believe the girls ever squabble when you see how much they love each other, isn’t it?)

Help a Sister Out?

Oh my.  Based on some of the comments on my last post, I’m afraid I may have made it sound like I don’t intend to stay involved in rescue!  That my friends is about as far from the truth as Miley Cyrus is from becoming a nun.  It’s true, I will not be taking in any fosters in the foreseeable future, but there is SO much more to rescue than just fostering.  (Obviously fostering is an integral component though…please consider fostering if you haven’t already!)  Don’t believe me?  Read what my friend wrote here.  I have done and/or still do all the things she talks about, and even some other things she didn’t mention.  Rescues are a seriously complicated business!  It’s a constantly moving target.  A target that is also a gigantic jigsaw puzzle that you’re usually waiting to find the last pieces to.


Plus, did you guys forget this announcement?!  Even though I’d love nothing more than to keep fostering, by branching out Last Hope I will potentially be able to help many, maaany more dogs than I would by fostering one at a time.  I’m excited!  But this leads me to the point of this post.  I need your help.  I know many of you that choose to take 5 minutes out of your day to read my little blog are also involved in dog rescue in one way or another.  I need your creative brains, experiences, and opinions!  I’m not having any luck in finding foster families here in Jacksonville, and until I do that, I can’t do anything else.


I sent out an email to basically everyone I know announcing the plans and asking that they please forward the email along to anyone that might be interested in fostering.  There was also a flyer attached that I asked them to print and post around the offices, favorite coffee shops, etc.  (I offered to hand deliver flyers if they didn’t want to use their own paper and ink.)  So far I’ve gotten no response.  I think because I did this right before the holidays a lot of people may have disregarded it just because they had a lot going on.  So I’m going to send out another similar email in a week or so.  And I’ve also ordered cute pamphlets that I plan to distribute to vets office, pet stores, etc. all about fostering.  But that’s all I’ve got.  “Sales” is not my strong point and that’s basically what I need to be doing.  I need to sell the idea of fostering and get people, in a city where I just moved and basically know no one, excited and wanting to foster.  SOS!  I need help.  Ideas.  Suggestions.  How do I get complete strangers on board with fostering?  Brilliant Readers Of This Blog, help a sister out!  I would oh-so greatly appreciate any and all ideas you might have and be willing to share.  Thank you in advance!


As if you haven’t seen enough of them lately, the pups in this post are some of the ones at the top of my priority list.  They are already part of Last Hope Rescue but for various reasons are living in a boarding facility, even though they are fabulous dogs.  I want to get them out but I need foster families to do that!  If one catches your eye or you would like more information about them, or becoming a foster, please email me at morganrivera518(at)gmail(dot)com.  Thanks!

New Year, and a Resolution?

What is this funny clicking feeling under my fingers?  Oh, a keyboard?  And I’m forming words?  I’m blogging again?!  Okay, so it’s “only” been twenty days since my last blog, and admittedly since I’ve even read anyone else’s, but I’m back!  I’ve kind of had a lot going on: hosting a big Christmas Eve dinner, a close family member that was just diagnosed with cancer of the boobies, the devastating realization that I cannot continue to spend money on rescue stuff the way I did last year (damn you budgeting!), other minor things  (admittedly including a lack of motivation), and lastly, something I debated even sharing: my girls got into another fight.


Here’s the deal: I’m embarrassed, ashamed, and heartbroken that I have allowed this to happen…again.  I have sworn to protect these lives.  I am supposed to keep them safe.  I have charged myself with their health and happiness.  And here’s the worst part: it’s actually the third time a fight has occurred.  I never said anything after the second fight because I just didn’t know what to say.  I decided though that the entire point of this blog is to talk about dog related topics, put myself in the blinding spotlight, and hopefully help some people along the way by sharing my experiences; be them good or bad.

Joffy 2

There are different schools of thought when it comes to multiple dog households.  I know some people with even more dogs than me and fights are a regular occurrence.  They liken it to us humans living with roommates.  You live alone, you’re never going to fight.  You live with one other person and likely things will go smooth but maybe you will have little squabbles here and there (Buddy and Tag lived in perfect harmony for 5 years.)  You live with three, or four, or more and the chances of personalities clashing grows with each addition.  I’ll be honest, to some extent this is my mentality.  More personalities = more chances of personality conflicts.  Then there is the opposite school of thought, which is that through proper management no matter how many dogs you have, they should all get along, all the time.  I agree with this, too.  Which leads to my confusion and frustration over the whole situation.  What am I doing wrong?  Am I not tough enough?  Do the dogs not feel safe with me?  Do I not have any control over my own household?!

Elliot II

I’ve analyzed the three fights a million times in my head.  The first time was when we were away at work, so we didn’t see the actual fight happen, but there was strong evidence to suggest that Tag attacked Maggie.  There was also a second foster puppy in our house at the time.  The second fight happened when a friend was in town visiting with her two dogs.  This time the fight was witnessed and it absolutely was Tag that attacked Maggie.  The third fight happened when my brother came over on Christmas with his two dogs.  The start of this fight wasn’t witnessed so it’s hard to say who started it.  What’s the common denominator?  Another dog(s) in our house.

Radar II

As I’m typing this, the girls are curled around each other, almost forming a perfect circle.  There is no arguing that they adore each other…when their world is precisely in order.  It doesn’t matter that they get along perfectly with all of the other dogs that have been present for the fights.  They never fight with other dogs, but their world was out of order with them in it.  As far as I can tell, it’s Tag lashing out at Maggie each time.  And this makes sense if I think about it.  Tag has always been whatever the doggie version of jealous is.  I know their thoughts and emotions aren’t as complex as ours (that’s not to say they don’t have them though!) but if you have ever interacted with Tag, you know what I am talking about.  For the first roughly 3/4 of her life she lived with me and Buddy.  No one else.  No other dogs, no other people.  Then Rich moved in.  Then I started fostering.  Her little world was changing, and she didn’t like it.  Maggie was originally a foster, and I think Tag was okay with her in the house because she thought she would leave one day, too.  But Maggie stayed.  And timid Maggie got lots of attention as I worked to help her gain confidence and come out of her shell.  The first fight happened after Maggie had been in our home for about 8 months.  And there was another dog there, too.  It’s like Tag exceeded her threshold and snapped.


So this brings me around to my resolution.  After a long chat with Stephanie from And Foster Makes Five (who is truly one of the greatest friends I could ever imagine) I accepted the fact that I need to be spending more one-on-one time with each of my dogs.  I am confident that my dogs are in fact well trained, and know what is expected of them, but there is never such a thing as too much training, or continued reinforcement of the fact that I am the leader, protector, and yes boss, of this family.  Obviously they need the alone time and individual attention more than I had realized.  I don’t need to beat myself up anymore about the fights, I just need to actively prevent them from ever happening again.

Daddy II

Obviously this also means that I can not allow any triggers, i.e. other dogs, into our home again as long as Tag is alive.  This hurts my heart more than I can express with words.  Daily I see dogs I could be helping.  I live in a big house with a big yard.  There is ample room here for other dogs.  I have abundant resources.  But my obligation is first and foremost to the dogs that I have already made a commitment to.  So, no more friends over with their dogs.  No more puppies sleeping over as they travel through town on their way to a rescue or forever home.  No more fosters.  Ever.

Do any of you have a New Year’s Resolution that involves your dogs?  Have you ever had to make a really tough decision, like never having another new dog in your home?  Do share!

Every single one of the gorgeous dogs in this post is still searching for his or her forever home.  They are genuinely good dogs and crave the love and attention that comes from a family all their own.  Please share and help them find their perfect match.  And feel free to email me if you have even the smallest of questions about any of them: morganrivera518(at)gmail(dot)com.  Thanks!