Adoption | Adoption Adoption en-us Wed, 04 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0800 Wed, 04 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0800 Orion <![CDATA[Operation ResCUTE Teaches Kids the Importance of Pet Adoption]]> As animal lovers, we all know the importance of supporting responsible pet adoption. But less than 30 percent of pets are actually acquired through adoptive means. That's why it's up to us as adults to teach the next generation of children about the value of rescue dogs. And what better way to do that than with a kid-friendly book-and-toy set, with all of the author's profit going to shelters in need?

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Founded by adoption activist Laurie Brown-Nagin, Operation ResCUTE has created a limited-edition book-and-stuffed-animal set that will warm the heart of any dog lover, young or old. The Story of Jingles is an illustrated book about Brown-Nagin's rescue dog, whom she discovered on the streets of Manhattan just as an animal control officer was taking the puppy to receive some pro-bono veterinarian care. Jingles had been found with a broken jaw in a garbage can in the Bronx at just four months old.

As someone who grew up with purebred dogs and owned Wheaten Terriers for years, Brown-Nagin hadn't been directly exposed to the world of pet adoption before. She's always supported organizations such as the Humane Society and the ASPCA. But with two dogs already at home, the Brown-Nagins weren't exactly looking for another pet. Still, Laurie didn't hesitate to make Jingles part of the family.

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Operation ResCUTE founder Laurie Brown-Nagin hopes to get families talking about pet adoption. (All photos courtesy of ResCUTE)

Like so many adopted pets, the beautiful, mixed-breed dog was incredibly lucky to have found her forever home. "She's loyal beyond what I've ever known from a dog," Brown-Nagin says of Jingles. "She's just heartfelt. She's never been afraid of anyone. She loves everybody."

She's also what inspired Brown-Nagin to leave her career in marketing and product development to launch a nonprofit centered around putting a happier, friendlier face on shelter dogs. "If a kid walks by a pet store, they think that's where dogs come from," she says. "My goal is to change the conversations about pets. One way to do that is to educate the new generation of kids, because they typically prompt the purchase or adoption (hopefully) of a dog."

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The limited-edition book-and-toy set also comes with a special Operation ResCUTE Club Membership sticker.

Three years in the making, The Story of Jingles came out in September, and it aims to get kids and parents talking about pet adoption. It's the first in a collectible series of children's books "authored" by the dogs themselves, with each plush being in that particular dog's image. "With each purchase, a child is empowered to know that they helped a dog be adopted somewhere," Brown-Nagin says.

Readers, especially children, will gain an appreciation for animal adoption and also learn empathy. In fact, kindergarten teachers have been using the book as a tool to teach that all-important emotion in the classroom. Alongside the book is a stuffed-animal version of Jingles and a special Operation ResCUTE Club Membership sticker. For just $29, the purchase of this unique set can make a difference in the life of shelter animals across the country. And an impressive 100 percent of profits from sales goes toward adoption services in shelters.

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The real-life Jingles cuddles up with her plush puppies.

The next book in the series, The Story of Tanner, is set to launch in a few months and will similarly share the true-life tale of a three-week-old shelter puppy who tries to escape and ends up finding her forever home with a loving couple. The third book in the series is about a dog who's overcome a disability; it will publish at a later date, dependent upon book sales. After that, Operation ResCUTE will look to its ongoing contest, through which people can enter their own adoption stories. Periodically, the organization will select a group of contestants whose respective shelters will receive donations, plus one ResCUTE pup to be featured in an upcoming book and toy set.

"Entrants frequently say they didn't just rescue their dog, their dog rescued them," Brown-Nagin says. Of course, for every wonderful adoption story, Operation ResCUTE hopes that many more great lifelong connections will take place. But the realization of this noble goal relies upon spreading adoption awareness through educational channels such as Operation ResCUTE. You can help by buying The Story of Jingles through its website and by following Operation ResCUTE on Facebook and Twitter.

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About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox, and A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by).

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/operation-rescute-dog-book-toy-shelter-dogs-pet-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Birdee, the "Chicken Wing Chi," Helps Other Special-Needs Dogs]]> Last summer, Dekalb County Animal Services in Georgia answered a call about a vacant house with possible abandoned animals inside. They found three dogs, one of whom was a Chihuahua with deformed front legs. According to DCAS director Susan Feingold, they examined the little dog and gave her the medical attention she needed, including deworming and vaccinations. Because of her birth defect, though, the Chi was transferred to Society of Humane Friends of Georgia, a nonprofit rescue, to get additional care and attention.

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The society enlisted Jacki McDonald as a foster for the little Chi, now dubbed Little Miss Birdee Smalls. "The kennel supervisor called me when Birdee came in specifically because I had a 'chicken wing' dog foster previously," McDonald says. "She hopped around like a baby bird, so that's how her name came about."

When McDonald had to go out of town, she left Birdee in the care of Brian and Christina Cribbs. Although the Cribbs had sworn off more dogs when they adopted No. 4, those few days with Little Miss Birdee was all it took to win them over. 

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Foster Jacki McDonald with Miss Birdee Smalls.

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Little Miss Birdee Smalls and her new parents.

The Cribbs were already dog parents to two other Chihuahuas, one Pit Bull/Dachshund mix, and a deaf Pit Bull. Little Miss Birdee Smalls fit right in with their family. Brian and his wife affectionately refer to her as a "Chi-rex," due to her short front legs and habit of hopping around on her back feet. At just over a year old, Birdee weighs a surprising 3.8 pounds and gets around by "hopping around and bracing herself on her more formed arm," Brian says. "We call it her beefy arm." The Cribbs wanted to make it easier for Birdee to get around, though, so they started doing some research on carts.

They met with Alicia Williams, a vet tech at Duluth Animal Hospital. She also had a special-needs Chihuahua, named Roo, who uses a cart and shares his life with a chicken. Williams offered some very useful insight on cart types and fitting, and the Cribbs decided to get one for Little Miss Birdee. Initially, they were going to build their own, but it proved more cost-effective to use Eddie's Wheels for Pets. After taking molds of Birdee's chest and legs, they sent her measurements off to have her own cart specially made. 

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Miss Birdee taking it easy. (Photo courtesy of Brian and Christina Cribbs)

The Cribbs created a Facebook page for Miss Birdee so others could follow as she adjusted to her new life and, particularly, to her new wheels. Although she adapted to the cart very quickly, as shown in many adorable videos, Birdee did need some help with the change in height it created. She loves her chew bone, so the Cribbs made a small wooden block for Birdee to prop it on, and they raised her food bowl. Her cart also enabled her to sit on her side, which, according to Brian, "might not seem like a big deal, but this is pretty huge. The wheels are about so much more than walking. She can sit like an average dog, though she's way better." 

When not wheeling through life, Little Miss Birdee (along with her humans) gives back to the community by volunteering and shares her home with fosters from Laskey's Lucky Ones and Volunteers. She and Christina also recently visited inmates through the Canine CellMates program at Fulton County Jail. Christina is a certified therapy-dog handler through Atlanta Pet Partners, and Brian is going to get his certification soon. And now that Birdee is old enough, they are going to move forward with getting her certified as a therapy dog, like her fur-sibling, Emilio, so that she can do even more in the community.

"We love our dogs and love that other people get something out of visiting with them like we do," Brian says. 

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The whole Cribbs fur-family. (Photo courtesy of Brian and Christina Cribbs)

Through sharing Little Miss Birdee's pictures, videos, and accomplishments online, the Cribbs quickly found out they were not alone in having a little "chicken wing dog" or "Chi-rex," connecting with others such as Bunny Angel and Ellie May and Madi. They've also amassed quite a following from fans who have just fallen in love with the little quirky Chihuahua.

"We like helping special needs dogs," Brian says, "because we like for other people to know they're just like every other dog, they just need some help learning or moving around." 

Paws up to Little Miss Birdee Smalls and the fantastic family she has found!

Read more Monday Miracles on Dogster:

About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it's in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I'm a former quiet nerd who's turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/little-miss-birdee-smalls-chicken-wing-chihuahua-dog-birth-defects-wheelchairs
<![CDATA["Home Is Where the HeART Is" Pairs Artists With Adoptable Dogs]]> Earlier this month, a bunch of artists from the San Francisco Bay area took part in a project to honor 25 dogs in the Oakland Animal Services system. Each painter or illustrator was paired with a dog looking for a forever home and given free reign to interpret the pup's personality in the artist's own style. Even better, anyone adopting one of the dogs also received the accompanying one-off artwork.

The full range of art is currently on display in Oakland -- but if you're unable to check out the Home Is Where The HeART Is exhibition in person, here are five of the best to peruse here on Dogster.

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Oakland-based Bar Davi has built up a spirited portfolio of pooch portrait paintings. Here the artist has turned her touch to Carmelo and accentuated the dog's distinctive black splodge around the right eye.

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The art of printer and illustrator Michael Wertz has been lauded by galleries and corporate clients alike. When given the task of creating a portrait of Dahlia, he spruced up her photo with a thoroughly contemporary process.

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Painter Adrienne Simms decamped from New York City to San Francisco when a teenager. These days, her artwork looks to explore the "tension between the macabre and the humorous," although I like to think her brushwork on young Bauer here imbues him with a stately sheen.

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Kim Roth is an illustrator who also runs a boutique stationery studio. Fittingly, her interpretation of Sally-Jane uses typography to turn the dog's beaming face into a tenderhearted motif.

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Frolicking in the field of mixed media, David Polka bills his art as an attempt to reveal "the lines connecting different facets of our existence with irrevocable patterns of life and death, destruction and rebirth." Frankly, I just think his treatment of lil' Pepper here looks kinda slick and cool.

See more Pix We Love on Dogster: 

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dog-portraits-paintings-oakland-animal-services
<![CDATA[Meet the Pug Who Has Her Own Coffee Shop]]> When Tom Cash and husband Mike Zukoski opened a coffee shop in Asheville, North Carolina, they named it after their prized Pug, Edna. The idea of a business owner looking to a pet for titular inspiration might not be a revelatory one, but in Edna's case it was apt after the dog got caught trying to sneak sips of coffee while Tom and Mike weren't looking.

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These days, if you stop by Edna's of Asheville, you will likely see Edna holding court on the patio while customers slurp their way through cups of java.

Taking a break from his bean-roasting duties, I spoke to Mike about the origins of this coffee adventure, Edna's own java antics, and how the coffee shop works with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue.

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(All photos via Edna's of Asheville's Facebook page)

Dogster: When did Edna come into your life?

Mike Cash: We got her in Long Beach when we lived in California, before we moved to Asheville. We had two Golden Retrievers that were littermates, and Tom decided we'd like another dog in the house, so we got Edna. Then, of course, we discovered that she loves coffee! She really goes crazy for coffee. I remember when we left a coffee mug on the table and saw her getting into the coffee.

So when we decided to move to Asheville to reinvent our lives, we opened up a coffeehouse and called it Edna's, named after the Pug.

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When did you first realize that Edna likes to sneak sips of coffee?

She was probably not even a year old, still a puppy. We drink coffee without any sugar in it, and we found out she really likes Americanos and sometimes coffee with a little cream. But she only drank coffee a couple times before we caught her -- we don't let her drink coffee, but she did enjoy it when we were not looking.

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Do you think Edna is a coffee snob at heart?

Oh, yeah, for sure. We roast our own coffee [at Bad Puppy Roasting] twice a week, and she definitely knows if the coffee is fresh or not. She's pretty good about it. For instance, she's in the shop on a regular basis -- not every day, but she's around -- and she checks up on people. She loves visiting with people while they have their coffee. She loves to dress up -- she has a couple of dresses that were made specifically for her. In our second year at Christmastime, we put [her in] one of those red and white muffs with a little belt on it, and she got excited and ran around, and then when we attempted to take it off of her, she would become depressed. She ended up wearing it until nearly March!

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Do any other customers buy coffee for their dogs?

I don't know if too many people order coffee for their dogs, but we do have a drive-through area, and every dog in the drive-through gets a Milk-Bone. It's pretty funny when you get to know who the regular customers are because their dogs are at the window for their cookie while they're waiting in line. They learn that they're gonna get their cookie pretty quickly. Then, if you come to the patio area, for every dog that comes in, there are always water bowls and free cookies laid out for them.

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If Edna was in charge of the coffee shop for a day, what changes would she make?

Well, we can't actually allow dogs inside the restaurant because of the health code, so we have a big patio, but Edna would definitely let dogs in for the day, and they would get to order from the proper counter. She'd really want a walk-up counter for the dogs.

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You're also involved with the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue organization. How did that come about?

When we started the coffee shop, we really wanted to be active in the neighborhood and the community, so we wanted to work with a charity, and because we love animals and own a coffee shop named after a dog, it was logical for us to work with an animal organization. Brother Wolf is spectacular -- they do such good work. We do pet adoption days at Edna's, and a couple of times a month, we do meet-up days for people with their dogs, just to give people a chance to socialize their dogs and meet with other people. Then we also do pet-food drives twice a year to help get food and supplies for Brother Wolf. 

Read related stories on Dogster:

About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world's foremost expert on rappers' cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it's not quite what you think it is.

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/ednas-coffee-shop-asheville-north-carolina-pug-dog-friendly-restaurants
<![CDATA[Update: Burned and Abandoned Puppies Have Been Adopted!]]> Border Collie puppies Jim and Tim were found burned alive and abandoned in a ditch in Valdosta, Georgia. The pups were taken to Lowndes County Humane Society for treatment, during which one of the puppies' ears and part of a tail fell off. Jim and Tim were placed in a foster home with Nikki Nelson to continue healing. Their story made headlines across the nation, outraging dog lovers and spurring a flood of adoption offers and donations.

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Border Collie puppies Jim and Tim recovering from their injuries. (Photos courtesy of Lowndes County Humane Society)

Nelson and her family have a long history of fostering and placing dogs, and it was to a family member that one of the puppies went. Nelson's aunt, Lara Seaton, had been following Jim and Tim's journey via her niece's Facebook page. Seaton and her partner decided to adopt one of the dogs, and, as Tim was already spoken for, they asked to take Jim. There was just one minor issue: Seaton lived in Austin, Texas, and Jim was still in south Georgia. Where there's a will, there's a way, though, so Nelson and Seaton met at the halfway point in Louisiana. 

Back home in Texas, Jim, now known as Cooper, joined his new family of three other dogs, several cats, chickens, and two goats, which he enjoys "herding." Cooper has been back to the vet for a checkup, as well as to get his second round of puppy vaccines. The vet gave him a clean bill of health and said he's a "healthy, happy puppy."

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Cooper with his new sister, Ella. (Photo courtesy of Lara Seaton)

Cooper now has three acres of land to play on, as well as a warm house to sleep in and all the toys a puppy could want. He even gets to go on wagon rides around the yard! Seaton and her family are very happy to have him. "We feel very fortunate to have had Cooper come into our lives, and are grateful for the work the Nelsons and the Valdosta/Lowndes County Humane Society are doing to help the many animals in need of safe and loving homes," Seaton said.

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Cooper with the goats. (Photo courtesy of Lara Seaton)

When Zane Sirmans heard about Jim and Tim via Facebook, he immediately reached out to a friend at the humane society. He wanted to help any way he could, and he decided the best thing he could do was to give one of them a home. He originally intended to adopt Jim, but Tim would "sit between my feet and lay his head down on my shoes and just look at me, so at that moment I knew I was supposed to adopt Tim," Sirmans said. It was definitely a case of a dog choosing the owner! He renamed him Bear, because he "looked like a bear cub."

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Bear taking a ride. (Photo courtesy of Zane Sirmans)

Bear is Sirmans' first dog to raise on his own. He grew up with cats and dogs, so it's always been a part of his life to have a pet. When he first brought Bear home, the pup was a bit woozy from the anesthesia he had been under while being neutered. Once the medicine wore off, however, it was easy to see that he was a playful, happy little puppy and grateful for a new home. He enjoys playing with Sirmans' roommate's German Shepherd, which helps Sirmans feel better about having to leave Bear alone while he works during the day. He also has family members who walk Bear before Sirmans takes him out at lunchtime.

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Bear playing with one of his canine pals. (Photo courtesy of Zane Sirmans)

Having met both Jim and Tim in person and being a dog lover himself, Sirmans has "no idea why someone would want to hurt one of them. They are both sweet dogs." Even though they have been through a lot in their very young lives, it doesn't seem to have affected the way they interact with people. Bear "is so excited when I come home or if someone comes over," Sirmans said. "He is just a happy dog!"

Authorities are still investigating the case, although they do not currently have any leads. In the meantime, Jim (Cooper) and Tim (Bear) have certainly come a long way from their horrific start in life, finding themselves spoiled and loved with new families, human and canine. Thanks to the team effort from rescuers, the humane society, and a dedicated foster family, Jim and Tim were given a second chance to at the life they deserve.

Read more dog news on Dogster: 

About Meghan Lodge Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it's in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I'm a former quiet nerd who's turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:00:00 -0800 /the-scoop/burned-puppies-georgia-tim-jim-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Pit Bull-Dachshund Mix Becomes Shelter "Ambassador"]]> You remember Rami, the amazing shelter dog with the Dachshund body and the full-on Pit Bull head.

"It is a true Pit Bull head on a Dachshund body," Dawn Blanton of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society told CNN

She's right. The head is thick, with hard angles; the body is long, wiggly. Together they make up Rami, the MCCHS' most famous dog, who rocketed to fame after turning up there last month. 

More pictures, please: 

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Faced with the sudden, worldwide interest in its adoptable dog, the humane society gave him a Facebook page and started collection applications for his adoptions -- thousands of them. Ramy was a hot propterty, so hot it was a bit concerned that some potential adopters perhaps intended to engage in activities that may not have been in the best interest of the dog, such as squeezing a book out of him and lugging him to talk shows. 

So, with just days to go before it announced the winner, the MCCHS pulled the plug on the whole adoption thing. It would be keeping the dog. The plan is to train him to become a therapy dog and make him the shelter's "ambassador," with a mission to "bring awareness about unique pets in shelters everywhere," according to CNN. 

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Rami left a message on his Facebook page last week about the new job:

For all of you that are concerned for my well being, please be assured that I am being well taken care of and loved. I love having the opportunity to meet and greet everyone during the day. At night I go to my other home where I can play and sleep with my fosters! No more worries as a dog on the street, now I have food in my tummy, a warm cozy bed, and lots of friends and most important ... LOVE!! 

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Rami has also already started his therapy training: 

I'm so excited to begin my training with Leigh Ann Falconer with Bark Busters! I love meeting new people and I really love kids! Now I'm going to get the training I need to be a certified therapy dog so I can visit more kids in schools and hospitals and even the elderly in the nursing homes. 

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Rami with Leigh Ann Falconer.

As ambassador, Rami will also be helping to get more dogs adopted. Since Rami hit the big time, adoptions have increased at the MCCHS, and Rami plays a key role in sending dogs to their new homes. Here he is saying goodbye to Bella: 

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"I have a great life and I'm so excited for my future!" says Rami on Facebook. "Not only do I get the opportunity to carry on my mission to rescue shelter pets, but I get the training I need to work with humans as well! I couldn't have a better life!"

Via CNN; photos via Rami's Facebook page

Read more dog news on Dogster:

Mon, 23 Feb 2015 10:10:00 -0800 /the-scoop/rami-pit-bull-dachshund-mix-moultrie-colquitt-county-humane-society-ambassador
<![CDATA[A Pastry Chef Gives Back by Baking Cookies for Shelter Dogs]]> When we think of people who use their professional skills to help animals, our minds conjure up images of veterinarians in white coats and dog trainers leading large packs, but the truth is, you don't have to be in the animal industry to use your professional chops to help pets.
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Greg Connally, a baker and pastry chef from Kansas City, Missouri, is proving that professionals in all industries can figure out a way to lend a hand to dogs in need.

A passionate pastry chef, he is used to serving up exquisite baked goods to human patrons at the Ameristar Casino and Hotel in Kansas City. Recently, after being inspired by his rescue dog Oliver, Connally has also been whipping up cookies that can be consumed by the dogs at Wayside Waifs, the animal rescue organization that brought Oliver into his life.

"It's a way to show appreciation," says Connally. "I really appreciate what they did with Oliver."

Connally credits Wayside Waifs with not only saving four-year-old Oliver from a high-kill shelter, but also with rehabilitating the resource-guarding Basset Hound-Lab, and making him adoptable. "He was homeless and, they think, probably abused when he came to them," explains Connally.

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Wayside Waifs gave adorable Oliver a second chance.

"They really took faith in Oliver and saw potential in him," says the pastry chef, who was particularly impressed with the work of a trainer who spent several days inside a kennel with the then-adolescent dog, teaching him to trust humans. "They worked with him to make him more social. I think he was there at Wayside Waifs for about six months."

After substantial rehabilitation, Oliver was able to move to a foster home, where he he lived with two women who continued to work to improve his behavior. As Oliver was improving in foster care, Connally, his partner Steve, and their Dachshund, Chloe, were mourning a death in their family.

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These days, Oliver is taking on all kinds of challenges with his family.

"We lost one of our dogs, an older dog," says Connally. They eventually began looking at adoptable pets on the Wayside Waifs website. When he saw a video of Oliver playing with a ball, he wanted to meet the adorable dog. "He pretty much stole my heart as soon as I saw the video."

Soon after seeing the video, Connally and his partner set up a meet-and-greet with Oliver, who they had been warned favored women over men. "Right away, I called him and he came right up to me," says Connally. "We introduced him and Chloe, and they got along great."

Oliver seemed to be the perfect fit for their family, but Connally knew the adorable dog had special challenges. "He definitely had some resource guarding tendencies, so we read up about it."

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A happy family: Greg and Steve with Oliver and little Chloe.

Confident they could help Oliver with his resource guarding, Connally and his partner completed Oliver's adoption and brought the formerly homeless dog into his forever home. Wayside Waif wayside recommended a dog behaviorist, who made a visit and recommended a few tips for getting Oliver socialized with other dogs.

Although Connally and his partner had both studied resource guarding, some of Oliver's behaviors were especially hard to deal with.

"It was a challenge at first," explains Connally. "He wanted to resource guard the couch. He didn't want anyone else on the couch, and of course that wasn't going to work for us."

Recognizing that Oliver is a rescue dog with difficult past helped Connally to understand why the dog's urge to guard resources was so strong.

"I think when he was homeless and on the street, he really had to protect whatever food he had or whatever shelter he had." The couple worked patiently to help Oliver learn to trust and to share the couch with the rest of his family. "He's a special guy, and we're glad we got him."

Near the end of 2014, Connally realized that his skills as a baker were one way he could give back to the organization that gave Oliver not only a second chance, but also the rehabilitation he needed to be able to live with a family. Connally tested a recipe for cookies that can be eaten by humans and dogs, and then he got busy.

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Greg shares a treat with one of the puppies at Wayside Waifs.

Using the commercial kitchen at work, Connally whipped up dozens and dozens of the paw-shaped treats, along with a gingerbread house for the holiday season. Connally made so many cookies, his coworkers had to help him bring the treats to Wayside Waifs.

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Greg's team delivered dozens of these dog cookies to Wayside Waifs.

The cookies are made with dog-safe ingredients such as peanut butter and banana, and they were a big hit with both the staff and the shelter residents. Connally says the eggs in the cookies are good for dog's coats, while the oats can be good for their skin. Oliver, who has now been with his forever family for more than a year, is a big fan of the cookies.

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Connally's cookies are a hit with dogs and dog lovers.

This special treat made in the honor of a very special dog proves that we all have talents to tap if we wish to give back to shelter animals -- and to the humans who care for them in their time of need.

Read about more Dogster Heroes on Dogster:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 23 Feb 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/greg-connally-cookies-shelter-dogs-wayside-waifs
<![CDATA[Bulletproof Oakley, Shot as a Puppy, Helps Stop Animal Abuse ]]> Kristie Karcanes doesn't know much about what happened to her rescue dog, Oakley, in the first couple months of his life, but she can be certain he was the victim of a very violent act.
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"I just know he came into the shelter with a bullet in his spine before he was nine weeks old," she explains.

According to Karcanes, little Oakley the Pit Bull arrived at the Montgomery County shelter in North Carolina as an owner surrender, but the person who brought him in didn’t mention the bullet. They told shelter workers that Oakley had been born without the use of his hind legs. Karcanes says the fact that Oakley's paralysis was caused by people wasn't discovered until rescuers pulled him from the shelter.

"They took him to the vet immediately, and they did an X-ray on him because they wanted to see what was causing his paralysis. That's when they found a bullet near his spine."

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The bullet is clearly visible in this early X-ray of Oakley. His doctors decided to leave it there because the damage was permanent and its removal could cause other problems. (All photos courtesy of Bulletproof Oakley's Facebook page)

It's a story Karcanes is getting used to telling -- and one that is attracting plenty of attention online. After adopting the pup in 2014, Karcanes started a Facebook page for Bulletproof Oakley with the hope of spreading the word about the consequences of animal abuse. Her platform for advocacy is fitting, considering it was social media that brought Karcanes and Oakley together in the first place.

Active in North Carolina's rescue community, Karcanes first noticed Oakley on her Facebook feed in 2014 and watched as a group she hadn't before worked with, Friends FUR Life K9 Rescue, started Oakley on the road to recovery by ridding him of worms and urine burns.

"I liked their page and started following his story because I just wanted to make sure he was OK," Karcanes remembers.

After a few days of keeping up with Oakley on Facebook, Karcanes couldn't stop thinking about him, so she reached out to the director of Friends FUR Life K9 Rescue to ask if she could meet the endearing little pup.

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Oakley will never have use of all four legs, but he gets around quickly in his wheels.

"I just wanted to meet him, with maybe a possibility of wanting to foster him," explains Karcanes, who ended up bringing Oakley home as a foster just one day after meeting the paralyzed Pit Bull puppy, who impressed her by bouncing around on his bottom.

Although Karcanes knew she was drawn to Oakley, she didn't even consider adoption at first as she wasn't sure if she could commit to a dog with complex medical needs and life-long incontinence. She also didn't know if her other three dogs -- Jasper, Ollie, and Kya -- would accept Oakley.

"That was my biggest worry. I wondered if they were going to take him in," explains Karcanes, adding that two of her dogs were indeed weirded out by Oakley at first.

"But Ollie took him right in. Ollie didn't care that he was different. He got down to his size and just played with him. I think that made it easier for the other two to warm up."

Within two weeks, Jasper and Kya also had accepted Oakley into their pack and Karcanes had accepted him into her heart. Oakley became a foster failure and a permanent member of the household. These days, the furry foursome loves to run together in the backyard -- with Oakley keeping up in his wheelchair.

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Oakley and his fur siblings. From left to right: Jasper, Kya, Oakley, and Ollie.

"I totally fell in love with him," says Karcanes, who adds that caring for Oakley has included some unexpected challenges. Recently, the pup had to have a paw amputated.

"It didn't even cross my mind that something like this was going to occur -- that he would actually chew at his own feet. I had no idea."

Unable to feel his back paws, young Oakley took to chewing on one of them. Karcanes tried bandages, the cone of shame, and a muzzle, all to no avail.

"We went in and actually amputated a toe and a half first, trying to save the paw."

Then one night when Karcanes was sleeping, Oakley injured himself so badly that the whole his paw had to be removed.

"He hasn't tried to go for it since, and he's not trying to go for the other foot," says Karcanes, adding that Oakley's vet has also tried medications for nerve pain as well as antidepressants to keep Oakley from chewing himself.  

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Poor Oakley chewed his paw beyond repair.

After what she's experienced with Oakley, Karcanes says she encourages other potential pet owners to consider getting a special-needs pet, but wants people to recognize that it is a very big responsibility -- one that often includes unexpected outcomes.

While Oakley continues to recover from his amputation, Karcanes continues to devote herself to advocating for greater awareness of animal abuse.

"Before Oakley came into my life, I knew of animal abuse, but I didn’t know how bad it was until I started his Facebook page and started seeing all these other animals and the things that they have been through, the things that they’ve survived."

"If I don't know that -- and I actually work in rescue -- there must be so many other people out there who don't know at all," she says.

That’s why Karcanes is making Oakley into the poster boy in a campaign to stop animal abuse.

"We've made shirts. We've made hoodies. I'm actually making a website now,” she says. “People need to know that if you see it, it needs to be reported, because so many people see it and don't do anything about it."

Bulletproof Oakley will never walk or regain feeling in his back end because of the bullet that pierced his flesh as a puppy, but Karcanes hopes his influence may save other animals from a similar fate.

Read more Monday Miracles on Dogster:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 23 Feb 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/bulletproof-oakley-animal-abuse-pit-bulls-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Seattle Animal Shelter Houses Pets of Domestic Violence Survivors]]>
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Nationally, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, so it should come as no surprise that numerous companion animals are affected by domestic violence as well. 

Here are a few facts from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.
  • 71 percent of owners entering domestic violence shelters report that their batterers had threatened, injured, or killed family pets.
  • An estimated 13 percent of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.

One of the most important things we can do to combat domestic violence is to talk about it and give others the space to do so. I grew up in a family profoundly affected by domestic violence, and one of the worst aspects was the shame involved in having to keep secrets and hide reality -- even years afterward.

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Christy Mack and one of her pitties, Pitrick Swayzee. (Photo courtesy of Christy Mack's Instagram)

Late last summer, model and actress Christy Mack, who also is a Pit Bull advocate, was brutally beaten by her ex boyfriend, War Machine, a pro MMA fighter. This attack shocked me, both for the sheer violence involved and also for the intense victim blaming that happened immediately afterward. Because Mack works in the adult film industry, some people thought she deserved it due to her profession. Not only did she suffer physically but emotionally as she was dragged through the gutter. I couldn’t get over the fact that people blamed her for the beating. It was her fault he almost murdered her? 

I've followed Mack on Twitter and Instagram for a while and have always appreciated her affinity for companion animals. (Her pages often feature her Pit Bulls, snakes, and ferrets. She is clearly an animal lover, and fortunately none of her animals were hurt in the attack.)

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Christy Mack's dogs, Pitrick Swayzee and Cleopitra. (Photo courtesy of Christy Mack's Instagram)

But most of all I've been impressed with her honesty and willingness to speak out against the violence that she survived. She's become a heroine to many. Her strength inspires those who value truth, justice, and faith in doing the right thing, even when people question your integrity. 

Mack's profession and income were entirely dependent upon her physical beauty. After her beating, she had to have major reconstructive surgery. She wasn't able to breathe out of her nose, she had teeth knocked out, and she lost vision in one eye. While her injuries have healed, I can’t imagine the experience of looking into the mirror and having my face look totally different due to a vicious attack by someone who claims to love me. This is not what love is supposed to feel like.

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Mack on the road to recovery after her beating. (Photo courtesy of Christy Mack's Instagram)

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Mack has shown tremendous strength in her recovery. (Photo courtesy of Christy Mack's Twitter account)

Fortunately, she has money, fame, and a support network. But think about abuse survivors who have none of these things. What do they do? The Animal Welfare Institute has a national resource directory for abuse survivors who are needing to find safety for their pets as well as themselves.  

Around the time of Mack’s assault, I was planning to become a volunteer at Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS). During the training, I learned that it has a program that will temporarily house pets of domestic violence survivors. I was ultimately unable to volunteer due to scheduling constraints, but I did use the experience to interview Donald Baxter, manager of Animal Care and Volunteers, to learn more about how one shelter is working to help the pets and people affected by violence. 

I asked him how the domestic violence program got started at the shelter.

"This was a joint effort during interdepartmental meetings between Seattle Police Department (SPD) victim support team and SAS, after recognizing a need," Baxter told me in an email interview. Families have to be referred by a support agency or by a police victim support team. The shelter will hold family pets -- not just dogs and cats, but any critters that are legal to have as pets in the city -- for 14 days, so people can find appropriate temporary boarding. And of course you can visit your beloved pets, too. 

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An adoptable dog (not a pet of a domestic violence survivor) at the Seattle shelter. (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

"We ask that a pet owner is able to cover the boarding costs, but that is not a requirement for the program," Baxter says. The only requirement is that the owner will need to purchase a Seattle pet license when picking up the pets if they live in Seattle.

As noted above, Mack's pets weren't harmed in the attack, but I was concerned about how the shelter could keep people's pets safe. Baxter says there have been no issues so far: "We keep domestic violence safekeeping pets out of public view just for that reason. It is a great program that helps individuals who are dealing with stressful situations in their personal lives by hopefully removing a little of the stress of having to worry about their pets."

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S.A.S. volunteer Caetlin with adoptable dog Tyrion (not a pet of a domestic violence survivor). (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

I'm glad to see that programs like this one may play a crucial role in helping domestic violence survivors make the transition to independence from their abusers by providing a safe place for their animals to be boarded in the interim. I believe every community should have a program of this nature. 

In observance of the survivors of domestic violence who have had the courage and ability to leave their abusers, I think we should all take some time to reflect upon those who may be less fortunate than ourselves and advocate for programs that assist these people in their path to a healthy, stable life. And that includes resources for their companion animals -- and the willingness to listen when someone shares their story.

For more information about safe havens for pets and victims of domestic violence, visit the Safe Havens Mapping Project and visit the Animal Welfare Institute on Facebook.

Read related stories on Dogster:

Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at

About Kezia Willingham: Kezia was raised by a strong single mother who had the courage to leave her abusive marriage to a police officer during the 1970s, before domestic violence was a household term. Kezia credits the experience of not being able to talk about the violence as part of the reason she is a tell-all writer today. A former high school dropout and single mother on welfare, Kezia has bachelor's and master's degrees today and works as a Health Coordinator for Head Start. You can find her on Twitter.

Fri, 20 Feb 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/christy-mack-domestic-violence-survivors-seattle-animal-shelter
<![CDATA[A One-Eyed Cocker Spaniel Travels From Mexico to Montreal]]> She shares her name with the Australian rapper, and Iggy the one-eyed Cocker Spaniel has certainly had her own international hustle and struggle, going from the streets of Tijuana to her forever home in Montreal.

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Now at home in snowy Quebec, this beautiful dog once spent her lonely days as a parasite-infested and feral stray in Mexico, her right eye hanging out of her head. The eye was infected, likely the result of a traumatic injury, and it was causing poor Iggy untold amounts of pain. Thankfully, a Good Samaritan snapped a photo of the sick dog and shared it on Facebook. When the photo reached Eldad Hagar's Hope for Paws rescue, her international journey to a better life began.

Hagar and the Hope for Paws supporters mobilized to get her medical treatment and across the border to Los Angeles. Soon afterward, a Canadian woman -- Agi Szabo -- saw Iggy’s story online and couldn’t stop thinking about the poor pup.

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This photo was taken after Iggy's rescue. (All photos courtesy of Iggy's Facebook page)

"You see the videos, and you shed a tear, you make a donation, you write a post, and you carry on, but for some reason I got stuck on Iggy’s story," Szabo says.

An experienced Cocker Spaniel guardian and mother to one human daughter, Szabo had been looking to adopt a senior Cocker since the death of her 16-year-old dog, Buddy, but her daughter wanted a puppy instead. The family ended up bringing home a young male pup named Lolo, and Szabo continued to seek out an adoptable senior.

"Then I saw Iggy, and all of a sudden I thought, maybe it doesn't have to be a senior dog."

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Iggy's infected eye had to be removed before she could find her forever home.

Knowing that an international adoption would be challenging, and even unlikely, Szabo wrote a heartfelt letter to Hope for Paws, which agreed to consider her application. She began gathering letters of reference, videos, pictures, and other items required. In the meantime, Iggy remained in California, recovering from the surgery that removed her infected eye. She healed well and enjoyed the pack life in her foster home at Road Dogs & Rescue until it was time for her to come north.

"Iggy flew to Canada on August 6," Szabo recalls. "She was happy, she was very friendly, she was licking and kissing everybody at the airport, but you could tell she was a little dazed."

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Adorable Iggy met Szabo and her daughter, Hailie, (left and center) when she landed in Montreal.

The warm welcome Iggy got at the airport was not repeated when she arrived at Szabo's home to meet Lolo. Although the two Cockers are best friends now, Lolo's aggressive introduction was so concerning that Szabo sought advice from dog trainers right away -- a decision that was obviously the right one, as their relationship quickly improved. 

"By day three, I wouldn’t say it was perfect, but definitely fine," she says. "Within a couple of weeks, it was like she'd been here forever."

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Iggy and Lolo are now BFFs -- they even celebrated Lolo's birthday together.

Because Szabo works as a school teacher, Iggy was able to enjoy the rest of August with her new people by her side full-time, becoming best pals with young Lolo. It seemed Iggy was adjusting well, but when school started in September the little dog who’d come so far suffered a major setback.

"When I went back to work, Iggy began suffering severe separation anxiety," Szabo explains. "She started peeing and pooping in the house -- she was laying in it, sitting in it, walking in it. I was freaking out."

Szabo was bathing Iggy up to four times a day when she again sought the help of dog professionals; she decided to crate Iggy during the day.

"That was not the life I had envisioned for her," she says. Eventually, Szabo contacted Hope For Paws, explaining that she wasn't giving up on Iggy, but was concerned about the dog's quality of life in her home. The organization made plans to come to Montreal and retrieve Iggy at the end of December.

The family was heartbroken, but didn't stop trying to help Iggy. In the weeks leading up to the dog's intended departure date, Szabo continued to work with behaviorists, including one who suggested that what the formerly feral Iggy really needed was outdoor space -- something their half-duplex didn't have.

"So I made a deal with my landlord, and I now have access to the backyard," says Szabo, who adds the change she witnessed in Iggy was almost miraculous.

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Iggy needs frequent outdoor time to help her feel her best.

"It's only been a month, and she's perfect. There are no accidents, no separation anxiety. I look at her sometimes, and I'm like, 'What was that three months that we went through?'"

Szabo no longer doubts that Iggy has found her forever home at last and can't imagine life without her one-eyed pup. Although she considers herself well-educated when it comes to dogs, she admits to being caught off guard by Iggy's anxiety issues and suggests that anyone adopting a rescue dog needs to be prepared to work through unexpected behaviors.

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Now Iggy and her buddy Lolo have a backyard to play in. Iggy is even starting to love snow.

"I'm so happy that we invested the time, and in the end it paid off," she says, adding that Iggy's ability to overcome adversity and anxiety is inspiring.

"She had been through so much already, that poor little dog," says Szabo. "I as a person definitely have grown with Iggy in my life."

Read about more Monday Miracles:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 16 Feb 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/cocker-spaniel-hope-for-paws-eldad-hagar
<![CDATA[Kiss the Rescue Boxer Shows the World Some Love]]> He's only four years old, but Kiss the Boxer has already made a big impact on the world thanks to his determined human and his adorable lolling tongue.
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"I literally can't go anywhere with this dog without people stopping and laughing," says Dawn Korres of Boulder, Colorado, who adopted Kiss in the summer of 2014.

"People say that he's made their day and that they're so glad I rescued him," explains Korres, who frequently has strangers ask to take pictures of her rescue pooch. Not much of a social media user herself, she was surprised to find many people were asking if they could post the pictures of Kiss to their Facebook profiles, a trend that launched the Boxer into social media stardom.

But long before he took Facebook by storm, Kiss had to get adopted -- and Korres had to find him.

The two discovered each other last year when she took a trip to Los Angeles. At the time, Korres was still reeling from a series of losses in her family.

"In 2014, I had four dogs, and out of the four, three had died. They were 12 and 13; they were older."

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Kiss makes everyone fall in love with him -- even teddy bears. (All photos courtesy Kiss the Boxer unless noted)

Korres and her family missed their departed senior dogs, but she wasn't sure she was ready to bring another rescue home -- until accidentally clicking on an ad for PetFinder and finding herself staring at a photo of Kiss. He was then known as Rocky, and according to his online profile, the young Boxer was a resident at a high-kill L.A. animal shelter.

"I saw this picture, and I knew right then, if this dog hasn't been rescued, then I am going to be the owner of that dog. Like I knew it for sure it was going to happen. It was fate," Korres says.

At the time, she wasn't aware that there was anything different about his appearance.

"I didn't know there was an issue with Kiss' tongue, because in the picture his tongue wasn't hanging out."

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Kiss' trademark tongue wasn't out on his PetFinder photo. (Photo courtesy of Atomic Pet Portraits)

Right away, Korres began making calls, trying to find out if Kiss had been euthanized or if he was still available for adoption. After a few frustrating dead-ends, she learned that an animal rescue had pulled the dog and had potentially found him a family.

"I was content," says Korres, who was pleased to know he would soon be beginning a better life, but she offered her contact information in case the adoption fell through.

"I said, 'If they don't adopt him please give me a call.'"

Not only did this family not adopt Kiss, but a second intended family also decided not to take the dog, and that's when Korres got the call that would change her life.

"Before I met him I asked, 'Is there anything that I need to know about the dog?'" she recalls, adding that the rescuer coordinating the adoption never mentioned the tongue. 

"So when I saw him, I was really surprised to see his tongue hanging halfway out of his mouth."

Korres isn't sure if that's why the first two potential homes backed out, but to her, Kiss' long, lolling tongue was just another reason to love him. She officially adopted him, and a trip to the vet revealed the issue behind the tongue troubles.

"It is a neurological problem. He also has a tick in his face -- his eyes and nose."

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Kiss' wayward tongue can make mealtime messy.

Having his tongue hanging out doesn't bother Kiss, it just makes him an extra messy drinker and eater.

"When he drinks water, stand back -- because you will get splashed," says Korres, adding that even Kiss himself tries to back up to keep his paws dry while drinking.

He may be a bit messy, but once he was in his forever home, he made friends quickly.

"Kiss gets along with our two cats. He gets along with the dog. He gets along with the kids."

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Kiss likes to nap with his kitty sister, Siamber.

Cronus, an eight-year-old Newfoundland, is Kiss' best furry friend and big playmate.

"They love each other," says Korres, who was glad Cronus got a new dog friend and happy to see Kiss was so easy to get along with.

"There's nobody I've ever seen him not like -- man, woman, child, or animal."

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Cronus the Newfie makes Kiss look little, but they love each other.

Kiss' lovable personality is why so many passersby snap pictures of the rescue dog to post online. Korres (who describes herself as not being very computer savvy) found herself in unfamiliar territory as his image made its way all over the Internet.

Unable to keep up with her dog's growing social media popularity, Korres turned to Craigslist to find help managing the Boxer's online presence, which is now run by Michayla Lupien. As Kiss' social media coordinator, Lupien posts pictures on the dog's many social media accounts.

The online activity is allowing Korres to put Kiss' fame to good use. She recently sponsored the "Kiss Cares" contest, in which Facebook and Instagram users posted their own rescue pet stories using the hashtag #kisscares.

"I wrote a check for a hundred dollars and gave a donation to the animal charity of the contest winner's choice," she explains.

Kiss' good deeds won't stop there. Korres is committed to helping Kiss help other rescue pets find homes, and she hopes he can be an ambassador for pets who come in unexpected packages.

"They're just so appreciative of having a loving home. They're even more appreciative than a dog with all the perfect parts."

To see more adorable photos of Kiss, follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Read more Monday Miracles on Dogster:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 09 Feb 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/kiss-the-boxer-facebook-twitter-instagram
<![CDATA[Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's Talks About Her Rescue Dogs ]]>
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The Go-Go's practically lived on my turntable in the '80s. Well, their poppy, new wave records did -- however, my 14-year-old self would have flipped to share a room with the real fab five.

The Go-Go's made history as the first (and to date, only) all-female band who wrote their own songs, played their own instruments, and topped the Billboard album charts. I remember writing a paper for school about my favorite song at the time, which was "Our Lips are Sealed," written by Jane Wiedlin, the band's guitarist. As my mom proofread the paper, she stopped and asked, "What's Our 'Lips are Salad?'" My sloppy penmanship created a silly memory that still makes me laugh. I don't think I can ever see the title of that song without thinking about lettuce and croutons. It's still one of my favorites.

After the Go-Go's disbanded, Jane kept rockin' with solo music projects, acting gigs, directing, and screenwriting, presiding over weddings and commitment ceremonies as an ordained minister, and contributing her time and passion to help rescue dogs. In fact, on February 6, she'll be a part of the Haute Dog | SF4 Doggy Runway Fashion Show to benefit Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, which finds happy homes for senior dogs. Jane and Gina Schock (the Go-Go's drummer) will walk the runway with Flora, a senior Muttville dog, who will be dressed by designer Shiree Hanson Segerstrom. KGO-AM810 radio host Ronn Owens, among many others, will also be walking the runway with a fashionable doggy diva from the rescue organization.

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I was thrilled when given the opportunity to ask Jane a few questions about her own dogs, her devotion to animal rescue, and Friday's event at the San Francisco Design Center.

Jane says she's been an animal rescuer her entire adult life and has a special fondness for dogs. She says of her three senior dogs, "My current family consists of:

Peanut, a 12-year-old Italian Greyhound. I rescued Peanut in Costa Rica, where she was living in truly dire circumstances. Peanut is now blind and toothless, but still rules the roost like the queen she is!

Geordie is an 11-year-old Greyhound I adopted from the Greyhound Adoption Center in San Diego. He was just two years old when his sad life as a racing dog in Arizona was about to end in his death. Another dog had attacked and left him badly wounded. Race track people don't help injured or sick Greyhounds -- they kill them. Luckily the G.A.C. people were there that day taking a load of dogs to find homes, and they got my Geordie. He was stitched up brilliantly, and I met him a few weeks later. Geordie is the sweetest, kindest dog I've ever been owned by, and it's funny to watch him (at 80 pounds) get bossed around by Peanut (8 pounds)."

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Jane with two of her babies, Malcolm and Peanut. (Photo by Jane Goldman)

She goes on to talk about her third dog, Malcolm, the Chinese Crested she adopted in Detroit: "He had severe behavioral problems and was having a terrible time finding a home because he kept attacking his would-be-adopters! Luckily, I had a plan involving the floor, a fluffy blanket, and a pound of freshly roasted turkey! Malcolm has come a long way and is a total lovebug with anyone he likes!"

Something I've always loved about Jane is her giant smile and fun vibe. She's someone I would absolutely enjoy spending an afternoon with, giggling about ridiculous things and making up silly songs. Yes, that would pretty much be a perfect afternoon! I'm sure Jane would agree, but we're talking about her dogs here, so we'll have to save that conversation for another day. 

She says her dogs are hilarious and constantly keep her entertained. "My dogs love to sing, and sometimes I will get them going all at once. It slays me! Malcolm is very demanding of attention. If you dare stop petting him, he will take his paw and drag your hand back towards him for more. Peanut is a burrower, and is insistent on getting under the covers in bed and squishing up against me. Geordie loves to go to the beach and does mad dashes through the water in huge laps. It's awesome because he is so fast."

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Gina Schock, Go-Go's drummer, smooches a cutie. (Photo by Jane Goldman)

I'm not the only one who sings to their animal family, it seems. Jane says she does it all the time. My guess is her voice sounds about a kajillion times better than mine does, though. She has a special song for each of her dogs, and she says they're extremely attuned to her actions and words, especially Geordie, who understands much of what she has to say to him. Plus he has an uncanny sense of time -- like down to the minute when it comes to meals, walks, and bedtime. She says, "Sometimes I think Geordie must have swallowed a watch somewhere along the way."

As you can tell, Jane has a soft spot for senior dogs, so it was an easy choice for her to support the Haute Dog event. Jane says, "Muttville is run by some seriously organized and devoted people. They have a single-minded mission that has made their rescue group extremely successful. Rescue can be hard and depressing work, but Muttville never wavers in their commitment to save lives. The most important aspect of their group is to save older dogs, who normally are the poor dears who never get adopted from shelters. Most people are so focused on youth that these senior treasures get passed up. Senior dogs have so much to offer us."

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The 2014 Haute Dog Best in Show winner, Coco. (Photo by Nuena Photography)

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Last year's runway: Sherri Franklin with Niner of Muttville! (Photo by Nuena Photography)

Tickets to the Muttville benefit are still available! Hosted by San Francisco fashion icon Mr. Wilkes Bashford, Haute Dog will offer wine, bites, and a raffle, as well as Posh Pup Lane, a shopping emporium of doggie delights. Then, of course, there's the fashion show that features San Francisco's chicest pooches strutting their stuff on the runway wearing couture outfits designed specifically for them by some of the Bay Area's most prominent interior designers. If you live in the Bay Area and would like to attend, tickets are available through Eventbrite. The run starts at 4:30 p.m. with a reception, and the fashion show happens from 5:30 to 8:30.

What's up next for Jane? The Go-Go's are taking 2015 off (they've regrouped and toured regularly since 1999), and she's started looking for a venue to feature "Lady Robotika: The Space Opera," based on a comic book superhero she created with Bill Morrison. She says it may run in San Francisco or New York -- she's not sure. And, of course, she'll be hanging out and singing to Peanut, Geordie, and Malcolm, and being an everyday superhero for animal rescue. You can follow Jane on Facebook and Twitter -- and tell her Dogster sent you! 

Read more celebrity interviews on Dogster:

About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things, and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, and Texts from Mittens (birthed on Catster), and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food. 

Tue, 03 Feb 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/jane-wiedlin-go-gos-muttville-senior-dog-rescue-san-francisco
<![CDATA[A Hoarding and Puppy Mill Survivor Gets a Second Chance and a Best Friend ]]> Lots of dog lovers fall hard for a particular breed, and for Melanie Chard of Newfoundland, Canada, Morkies (an adorable combination of Yorkshire Terrier and Maltese dog breeds) are the ones who have her heart. Her two Morkies, Princess Emmie and Precious Lanie, are inseparable, but their lives started out very differently. One was adored, while the other was abused and neglected.
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Chard's first Morkie, four-year-old Emmie, was purchased from a breeder and has enjoyed the pampered life since puppyhood. Her early days were filled with snuggles and pastel sweaters -- a stark contrast to how Chard's second dog, Lanie, experienced the world before she was rescued in Ohio.

Although much of Lanie's past is unknown, Chard does know a few of the details about what happened to the Morkie in the first two years of her life.

"She spent time in a puppy mill -- but she was never bred," explains Chard, who adopted Lanie through Loyal Rescue, a foster-based organization with homes throughout Ontario, Canada.

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Chard with Emmie and Lanie. (All photos courtesy Princess Emmie and Precious Lanie's Facebook page).

Chard believes Lainey (who weighed just 1.8 pounds when she was rescued at two years old) was likely unable to get pregnant, a probable factor in the puppy mill's decision to get rid of the dog. Unfortunately for Lanie, leaving the puppy mill was no guarantee of a better life.

"They auctioned her off, and a hoarder bought her," Chard explains. "There were like 36 dogs in this one house when she was rescued."

According to Chard, Laine was emaciated, suffering from worms and fleas, as well as eye and ear infections when Loyal Rescue got involved. "She also had an injury in her tail. I don’t know if it happened in the puppy mill or in the hoarder's house."

Fortunately for Lanie, shortly she was rescued, Chard was thinking that she and Emmie had room in their home for another Morkie. "I'd always thought of getting a second dog as a buddy for her, and I was just kind of waiting for the same breed," Chard explains.

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Lanie (on top) fell in love with Emmie as soon as they met.

Initially, she didn't think she could find the kind of dog she was looking for through a rescue, but Chard began searching online and discovered a diverse population of rescue dogs -- including some little Yorkie mixes. "When I saw all these puppy mill dogs online who needed homes, I thought, well, if there are little dogs who need homes, I can do this."

After first coming across a Loyal Rescue profile for a Yorkie who unfortunately didn't like other dogs, Chard found out about the little survivor who would soon steal her heart (and Emmie's). "There was this other little one, Lanie, at the time, who hadn't finished her five-week period with her foster home," Chard recalls. "She was super, super terrified of humans -- but she loved other dogs."

Lanie's foster family had five other dogs -- including other Yorkies -- and when Chard watched videos of Lanie enthusiastically playing with her foster pack, she knew Lanie would be a good fit for her and Emmie. She applied to adopt the tiny dog, who at that point still weighed less than two pounds.

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After tiny Lanie was adopted, Emmie was kind enough to lend her sleepy new pal a sweater.

After submitting her references and taking part in a home interview, Chard's application for adoption was approved, and soon she was booking a flight to Ottawa, where Lanie was living with her foster family.

Despite the $500 she spent on airfare, Chard says adopting a small breed through a rescue makes as much sense economically as it does ethically. "She had a $500 adoption fee, but you're not going to buy a toy dog for less than a thousand dollars here," she explains, adding that she would recommend anyone considering purchasing a small-breed dog check out rescue possibilities first. 

"People just don't realize that there are so many little dogs who need homes," she says.

After picking Lanie up from her foster home and flying back to Newfoundland, Chard realized how truly traumatized little Lanie really was. "She was very docile, very well mannered -- she was just terrified," she says. "It was difficult because I wanted her to love me immediately, but she was just terrified. I could not even acknowledge her in the room. Even tearing paper towel off a roll would send her into a panic."

After years spent in puppy mill cages and then a hoarded home, Lanie was not only fearful, but also used to living in her own filth. "She had no concept of being clean or dirty -- she would just do it in her kennel."

With patience and persistence, Chard has succeeded in helping Lanie learn where to eliminate. "I've only only had her 10 months, and she's completely opposite. She never messes in the bed anymore."

Chard credits much of Lanie's quick turnaround to the excellent influence of her first dog, Emmie. "Emmie was awesome. I think that I made so much progress with Lanie because of Emmie. It was like 'monkey see, monkey do.'"

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Lanie follows Emmie everywhere -- even onto grass, which is new to her.

Chard says Lanie's confidence improved each time Lanie was treated well at the hands of humans. After watching Lanie take food from humans, Emmie decided to give it a try, too, and has gained weight as a result. She's also become accustomed to receiving affection and begs to be picked up. Chard is sure the rescue dog's transformation would not have happened without Emmie.

"Lanie loves Emmie more than she loves me, I'm sure."

The two Morkies sleep in separate kennels at night, and Lanie is thrilled to reunite with her best friend every morning. "She reacts to Emmie as if she hasn't seen her in a year," says Chard. "Every single morning."

Lanie's love for Emmie reinforces for Chard that adopting a second dog, instead of purchasing a puppy, was the right thing to do. "It has been the most rewarding thing to watch her become a real dog."

To see more of these special friends, follow Princess Emmie and Precious Lanie on Facebook.

Read more Monday Miracles on Dogster:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 02 Feb 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/puppy-mill-dog-hoarding-survivor-morkie
<![CDATA[Bubbles the Dachshund Loves Her 3D Printed Wheelchair]]> We've seen a lot of dogs in wheelchairs -- a lot, really, just so many, even one called Anderson Pooper --  but never before have we seen a dog in a wheelchair made with a 3D printer

Presenting Bubbles:

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Handsome gal, isn't she? She was born without her legs, and fortunately her parents Trevor Byers and Elissa Smoak did a little web-searching and figured, hey, we got this. They bottle-fed Bubbles and committed to getting her a wheelchair once she was old enough. 

And then, being the tinkering sort, they decided to make their own, using a combination of, and we quote, "carbon fiber, model airplane, and 3D-printed parts."

This is what those parts look like:

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And because they made those things, they're able to add a little flair as they tinker with the design:

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According to, the couple wanted to encourage others to use their design, so they uploaded the wheelchair design to MakerBot Thingiverse, where you can download the files. They think they have a winning product, saying it's cheaper and more immediately accessible than other dog wheelchairs out there.

"She is the reason I bought my printer in the first place, and she loves the freedom it has given her," Byers says on the site. 

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Here's Bubbles racing around in her newest cart:

Via CNET and

Read more dog news on Dogster:

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:40:00 -0800 /the-scoop/dog-adoption-rescue-bubbles-dachshund-3d-printer-wheelchair-pictures-photos
<![CDATA["Rusty the Rescue" Teaches Kids Compassion for Shelter Dogs]]> Many children have, at one time or another, begged their parents to let them go into a pet store to look at the puppies.
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 The little pups kept behind the glass are what attract children to these profitable retail stores, but children's author Christina Capatides is hoping her new book, Rusty the Rescue,  can help kids learn to adopt instead of shop.

"It's a first introduction to the concept of a shelter dog. It tells you where they are, that they've gone through some tough things, but that they are just as good as the dog in your mind -- that perfect dog you imagine."

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Capitides hopes her first children's book will eventually spawn a series.

Passionate about helping shelter dogs and the no-kill movement, Capatides -- a playwright and lyricist who has written three full-length musicals -- has previously tackled the topic of shelter dogs in song form, but Rusty the Rescue is her debut effort as a children's author. She was inspired by her own dog, Mooch, who had severe elbow dysplasia when she adopted him.

"His two front arms were lame; he walked around like a person," she says, noting that while the details about Mooch's early life aren't clear, it is likely that the dog is a puppy mill survivor.

"I think he was in such a cramped area, that his legs sort of grew malformed."

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Capatides and her adopted rescue dog, Mooch.

Mooch is doing great these days, having received the love and medical care he needed to make use of his front legs and thrive. Capatides hopes her book can teach young animal lovers about the reality of what rescue dogs like Mooch go through.

"It does so in a subtle way, without the gruesome aspect," she says. "It also introduces kids to the concept of a mixed breed."

In addition to teaching kids about shelter life and dog diversity, Rusty also helps kids understand resiliency and how to move forward from setbacks in life.

"Shelter dogs are one of the most important examples of resiliency they can get," explains Capatides.

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Like these dogs, Rusty is a resilient pup with a second chance.

Teaching kids about shelter dogs is not new territory for Capatides, though. When she's not writing about Rusty, she serves as the content and editorial creator for the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, a program used in classrooms from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 throughout the United States and Canada to teach kids about empathy for animals in need, which we previously wrote about. The program uses stories about shelter dogs, activities, and animal interactions to teach children about compassion, empathy, and ethical decision-making.

Mutt-i-grees was created in partnership with North Shore Animal League, and Capatides knows just how important the work North Shore does is -- not just in advocacy and education, but also in directly saving the lives of shelter pets. North Shore is a leader in the no-kill movement and has found homes for more than a million pets.

"We're going to donate 10 percent of the proceeds to North Shore Animal League America," says Capatides, who partnered with illustrator Ryan Bauer-Walsh to create Rusty.

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Ryan Bauer-Walsh illustrated Rusty to The Rescue.

Rusty the Rescue is Bauer-Walsh's first fully illustrated children's book. The title character is based on a stuffed toy he had as a kid.

"My parents never let me have a dog, so it's kind of a way to live vicariously," says Bauer-Walsh.

Now that Rusty the Rescue is complete, Bauer-Walsh and Capatides are already working on follow-up titles. The pair plans to continue the series and have Rusty develop into a superhero of a dog who can rescue others. 

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Rusty has a bright future ahead of him.

Bauer-Walsh say he hopes kids -- and their families -- can also become superheroes for dogs and take the message behind the book to heart. "Owning a dog is bringing on a new family member," he explains, adding that pets should never be viewed as just another accessory to bring home.

Capatides hopes Rusty's story resonates with children and teaches them lessons that last a lifetime. The children reading about Rusty now will one day be adults, making important choices that affect the lives of the animals around them. 

"We wanted to write a book that could educate the earliest readers and give them empathy about what shelter dogs go through, so they can the make responsible decisions," says Capatides.

Both the author and the illustrator hope their book teaches kids that dogs don't have to come from stores -- and that those dogs who don't are just as lovable as the puppies in the pet shop window. They've created a fictional dog hero, but Capatides and Bauer-Walsh are real-life heroes to the next generation of dog lovers.  

Read about more Dogster Heroes:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/rusty-to-the-rescue-childrens-book-shelter-dogs
<![CDATA[Cat the Senior Pug Alerts Her Human to Visitors -- and Seizures]]> Her name is misleading, but Cat the Pug is definitely all dog.
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"She's not vicious at all, but she barks like she is," says Cat's human, Heidi Klahre.

This little Pug with the runaway tongue takes her watchdog duties very seriously, peering out Klahre's picture window and raising the alarm if someone gets too close to her home. While Cat makes sure to let her human know about any approaching visitors, she's also alerted Klahre to something much more serious.

"I had a seizure episode a few years ago, and Cat sensed it before I even knew what was going on," Klahre explains.

Klahre says the Pug -- who usually sleeps soundly at the foot of the bed -- was acting extremely odd in the hours leading up to the seizure.

"She spent the entire night before right up at my head, watching me," she recalls.

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Cat on guard at the window. (All photos courtesy of the Cat the Pug Facebook page)

The next day, when Klahre got up to go to work, Cat was still acting strange. The adorable dog followed Klahre around the house all morning, crying and trying to get her attention. Klahre did not know what to make of her odd behavior and had to go to work. About a half an hour after leaving the house, she experienced a seizure for the first time. During her commute, she recognized something bad was happening and was able to call for help while she still had the ability.

"When I got home from the hospital, I discovered Cat had actually clawed the floor," says Klahre, who realized her Pug had been trying desperately to keep her safe. Trained seizure-alert dogs will behave strangely when anticipating a seizure -- having noticed changes in their human's behavior, body language, or even odor, some scientists theorize -- in an effort to warn the person of what's to come. Cat has not been trained, but was certainly acting out of the ordinary on that day, and it's possible that she is among the small percentage of dogs who are naturally inclined to alert. 

Klahre has never had another seizure, and she's also never seen Cat repeat the odd behavior she exhibited that day.

"Believe me, now I would be looking for it," says Klahre, who will be quick to seek help if the Pug ever raises the alarm again. "We have just meshed so tightly that she knew something was wrong and was trying to warn me."

Cat and Klahre are inseparable now, but the two weren't always so close. When Klahre adopted Cat in 2010, the then four-year-old Pug didn't know what to make of her new human. Before being rehomed to Klahre's place, Cat had always lived with multiple pets, and didn't know what to expect as the only animal in her new home.

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The only other animals in Cat's house are the stuffed kind.

"She hated me. She sat in the corner for three days straight, facing the wall," Klahre remembers. "I cried nonstop. I actually thought I was going to have to give her to someone else."

Klahre, a first-time dog owner, went so far as to attempt to rehome the unhappy Pug, but to her surprise Cat clung to her when it was time to say goodbye -- the pup made it clear that she wanted to stay with Klahre. The two returned home, and the tiny dog embraced life as an only pet, eventually coming to enthusiastically enjoy life as a pampered Pug princess.

"I don't think she would like it if I got another pet now," says Klahre, who adds that adorable Cat tends to attract a lot of attention from the humans around her. "She's turned my life upside down, but in a good way."

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Cat enjoys her new life and new home.

Before adopting Cat, Klahre had spent much of her life afraid of dogs. She'd never had a pet, but when she came face to face with a Pug for the first time she knew she wanted one. Instead of buying a puppy, Klahre brought home four-year-old Cat, who came already dubbed with the moniker that causes confusion and double takes.

"They look at me funny whenever they call for Cat at the vet and I bring her up," Klahre says.

Now that the protective Pug is entering her senior years, the vet's office is used to the interspecies name, and her social media followers can't get enough of the dog named Cat. Her Instagram and Facebook followers have noticed Cat's tongue lolls out of her mouth in most pictures. The unravelled tongue is the result of a couple of medical issues.

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Cat's tongue is rarely in her mouth.

"I've been told that she might have a slight neurological issue that is causing the tongue," explains Klahre. Tooth decay could also be a factor. "She's had to have a lot of teeth removed; they were pretty bad."

She adds that Cat's overall health and quality of life aren't impacted by her relaxed tongue, although the petite fawn Pug does have a few other health issues, including arthritis. 

Klahre has learned that Pugs are a lot of work and can have expensive vet bills. Still, she would never discourage anyone from adopting one -- especially an older Pug. She says she even considered training Cat as a therapy dog after witnessing the Pug's sweet and empathic nature.

"After my grandma passed away, she crawled up on my grandfather's lap -- and he doesn't even like dogs. Cat would just put her little paw on him, like she was trying to comfort him."

Once afraid of dogs, Klahre's life now revolves around one. At the start of every school year, the elementary school librarian proudly tells her kindergarten students that she's got the only Cat that barks. The Pug that wouldn't even look at her four years ago has become the queen of Klahre's household and heart.

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Cat is a princess, but she can be outdoorsy when she needs to be.

"I actually bought my house on Cat's birthday," says Klahre, who adds she insisted on closing on that date. "My house was a birthday present for Cat."

Cat the dog has everything a Pug could want, and she proves that while older dogs may need some time to adjust, they can be just as loving as young pups.

Read more Monday Miracles on Dogster:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/cat-pug-seizure-senior-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Would You Do a Trial Adoption With an "Imperfect" Dog?]]> Some rescue dogs are great at selling themselves to potential adopters. My Lab mix, GhostBuster, looked up at my husband and I with those big brown eyes as he sat quietly in his kennel, and was giving me paws and kisses within minutes. We knew pretty quickly that he was the dog for us.

But what about dogs who don't show so well? The ones who cower in the corner and need time to develop trust?

Many rescues have found that short-term trial adoptions are the solution for these animals. The concept doesn't work for all organizations, but it is helping some "imperfect" dogs find their perfect home -- and my little Marshmallow is living proof that it works.

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GhostBuster was final sale. Marshmallow came with a return policy. I will love them both forever.

"I think that if we didn't offer trial adoptions, some of the dogs with behavioral concerns wouldn't have as good of a chance," explains Jennie Devereaux, adoption coordinator for Forever and a Day Small Dog Rescue Society (FAAD) in Alberta, Canada.

Devereaux was with me the day I met my second dog, Marshmallow (known then as Mindy), at her foster home. I'd been searching local shelters and rescues for weeks before I learned about this adorable (but very shy) dog. Marshmallow had traveled more than a thousand miles to find a family, having come to the rescue from the Northwest Territories SPCA in Yellowknife. I really hoped that my household would be the right fit for her.

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Marshy at the NWTSPCA. (Courtesy of the NWTSPCA Facebook page)

When we walked into the foster home, you could tell Marshmallow was a timid little thing. A petite half Jack Russell Terrier, half who-knows-what, her body language betrayed the fact that she didn't trust easily, men in particular we would soon learn.

During that first meeting with me, Marshmallow was definitely not comfortable. She had to be picked up and brought over -- she wasn't about to come over to me on her own. Once she was on the couch with me, Marshy froze like a statue, obviously afraid of the new people around her. She looked at the foster family's cat instead of looking at me.

As I chatted with the foster family and Devereaux, the three-year-old dog eventually lightened up, and I spent some time petting her. The dog was being fostered by two women, and was obviously bonded to one of them. I was told she picked up house manners quickly, especially for a dog who hadn't had much exposure to human lifestyles before coming into care.

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Marshy's first night at home. She still didn't really trust me (and Ghost Cat wasn't sure about her yet).

After the shy little dog had a successful meet-and-greet with GhostBuster, Devereaux paid my husband and I a visit at home. We passed the home inspection, and after another visit with Devereaux and the foster family, we decided to move forward with a trial adoption. We would care for Marshmallow in our home for two weeks before signing the adoption papers.

"I offer them to people that I would adopt to," explains Devereaux. "Some people just know right off the bat that it's not necessary, but in cases like Marshmallow, when the dog is a little bit more finicky or has a behavioral issue, it's a good opportunity to see if they jibe."

Before meeting Marshmallow, the biggest concern my husband and I had about adopting a second dog was how she would fit into our existing pet dynamic. GhostBuster gets along great with our two kitties, Ghost Cat and Specter, and we knew any potential adoptable dog would have to love cats. After meeting Marshmallow, we were confident that she would like GhostBuster and the kitties -- we just didn't know if she would like us, especially my husband.

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Marshmallow quickly became cuddle buddies with all our pets.

The first few days with Marshmallow were interesting. She loved our pets but did not trust us. At first she didn't eat much, so I tempted her with delicious microwaved wet food. Within two days, it became obvious that I was becoming her preferred person, and we made the decision that my husband would be the only one to feed Marshmallow.

At the end of the first week, Marshmallow will still so nervous around my husband that we discussed the heartbreaking possibility that maybe our home wasn't the right place for her. She wouldn't pee or poop for my husband if I wasn't home, and even tried to run away from him once.

Despite her man-fear, Marshmallow had made so much progress in other areas. She was sitting on command and had stopped having accidents in the house. We decided to see how she would do in the second week.

Slowly, Marshmallow warmed up to my guy. At first, she would only sit on the couch with me if she was not between me and my husband, but by the end of the second week she would sit beside him. She would even sleep between us in our bed at night. As she continued to make slow progress, we made our trial adoption permanent.

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She's always the last one to get out of bed in the morning.

Marshmallow never would have warmed up to us during a visit or an adoption event, but the trial adoption allowed her to reveal herself and develop trust at her own pace.

"It's just such a good way of getting to know the dog," says Devereaux. "It sets people up for success."

While some rescue organizations, like FAAD, find that trial adoptions work well for them, some rescues and shelters do have policies against them. The Saskatoon SPCA, for example, points out on its website that animals can be stressed by moving to and from homes, and that trial adoptions mean the dogs aren't available for viewing and therefore may be missed by a potentially perfect family.

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Marshmallow now goes to my husband for affection.

In our case, a trial adoption was the perfect fit, and although my little Marshy is still a nervous dog, she continues to build confidence every day. She still won't play fetch with me when my husband is home, but she wags her tail when he walks her, and will now poop even if I'm not there. These days she cuddles up to my guy, and pushes her nose into his hand for affection. She'll never be as outgoing as GhostBuster, but we're making progress.

Read more about life with Marshy and Ghostbuster by Heather Marcoux:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/trial-adoption-dog-rescue
<![CDATA[On Change a Pet's Life Day, We Remember Maggie the Puppy Mill Dachshund ]]> Saturday, Jan. 24, marks Change a Pet's Life Day, an annual celebration of animal adoption. It's also a day when Jennifer Devereaux will celebrate the life of a dog who changed hers.

Devereaux wasn't looking to get another dog when Maggie, a nine-year-old Dachshund, stole her heart and became her very first rescue pup.

"It was only short-lived, but Maggie changed my life," explains Devereaux, who now serves as a board member and adoption coordinator for Forever and a Day Small Dog Rescue Society in Alberta, Canada.

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Deveraux and Maggie the rescue Dachshund.

"She was a puppy mill breeder, she was food aggressive, and she didn't play," she remembers. "The only reason we ended up with Maggie was because she was another wiener dog, and someone knew I already had two wiener dogs."

That someone was a Facebook friend who was trying to find a home for an aging puppy mill dog with a heart condition and a mouthful of rotting teeth. Despite being busy with her own dogs, Daisy and Noodle, Devereaux took Maggie into her home as a foster dog for Forever and a Day.

Right away, it became apparent that Maggie's life had been a tough one. When Devereaux petted the senior dog, she could feel the Dachshund's ribs jutting out in a strange way.

"It was one of my concerns when I took her to get vetted for the first time. I thought she had a broken rib," she recalls. The veterinarian explained that while Maggie's ribs were not broken, they had been disfigured by years and years of breeding.

"It happened because she'd just had so many litters of puppies," she says.

The problems with Maggie's ribs may have been obvious, but her future was not. A heart condition prompted one veterinarian to recommend euthanasia, while another thought she could possibly have another five years left in her. Still, Maggie's health problems made her an unsuitable candidate for adoption, which was just fine with Devereaux. She found herself growing attached to the senior wiener dog.

"I figured, okay -- I have a permanent foster."

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Maggie was a big fan of food.

Because of Maggie's food aggression and behavior issues, Deveraux didn't feel comfortable leaving her at home with the two playful, younger dogs during the work day. Instead, she brought Maggie to work with her.

"She was so grateful to be with me," says Devereaux.

After several weeks of nearly constant companionship, little Maggie began to change. At first, the changes in her behavior were small, but one day, Devereaux looked into her car's rearview mirror and was shocked to see old Maggie playing with an ugly toy ball, which had been discarded by other dogs.

"When we got Maggie we were told no, she doesn't play. She likes bones and being under blankets and that’s about it," explains Devereaux. "But I looked back in my car, and there she was with this ball."

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Maggie with her ugly ball and her beautiful Dachshund siblings, Noodle and Daisy.

Maggie's newfound playful side coincided with another change in behavior that made feeding time a lot less stressful for Devereaux, her boyfriend, and the other two dogs. The food-aggressive dog, who had been known to scarf down all three food bowls if given the chance, was suddenly sharing.

"Within a couple months of her being here, she and Daisy were starting to eat out of the same dish," says Devereaux.

After nine happy months of improvements, Maggie's health finally started to decline. She fell down the stairs -- an accident that would prove to be too much for her frail body to handle after a lifetime of producing puppies.

"I had to give her hourly [pain] injections in her neck through the night, and it seemed like she was bouncing back," Devereaux remembers. "The day before she passed away, we even took her to get her nails clipped."

Unfortunately, the rebound was short-lived, and soon Deveraux was counting as Maggie took 82 breaths per minute. As Devereaux approached Maggie to give her an injection, the now 10-year-old Dachshund panicked. "It just wasn't fair to her to be doing hourly injections," she says.

At that point, Devereaux made the incredibly difficult decision to call the vet and have Maggie put to sleep. "She passed away peacefully, in my arms."

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Wrapped in loving arms.

Maggie left this world just before Christmas 2014, but her legacy lives on in Devereaux, who is dedicated to helping more people change the lives of rescue dogs.

"She has an awesome last few months of her life, and I am a different person because of her," she says.

You can change a dog's life, too, by getting involved with animal rescue organizations in your area, and Change a Pet's Life Day is the perfect time to start. Here are a few ways you can make a difference:


Shelters and rescue organizations are always looking for extra pairs of hands to help out, whether it be with walking dogs, cleaning kennels, or participating in fundraising events. Without volunteers, many shelters and rescue groups wouldn't be able to operate. By donating your time, you're not just changing the life of one dog -- you're helping to change the lives of all the animals who find a home through that organization.


Rescue groups can only help as many animals as they have space for, so many organizations are happy to add additional foster homes to their existing roster. By fostering a dog, you're not only providing a roof over her head, you're also rehabilitating, training, and teaching the dog what it's like to be a pet. Foster homes change the lives of both the dogs and their future forever families.


With millions of dogs ending up in shelters every year, it's easy to see that dog overpopulation is a problem in our society, and yet puppy mills continue to use dogs like Maggie to breed puppies for profit. When you choose to adopt instead of shop, you're not only saving the life of the dog you take home, but also the life of the next dog who can fill the vacant space at the rescue or shelter.

Read more Monday Miracles:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/dachshund-national-change-a-pets-life-day
<![CDATA[Angels Among Us Rescues 40 Dogs From an Overburdened Shelter]]> Emptying an overburdened municipal shelter -- like the one in the rural community of Fitzgerald, Georgia -- would take a miracle, but last week a group of rescue angels made the impossible happen.

On January 16, more than a dozen volunteers from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue descended upon the shelter, quickly clearing the kennels of 40 dogs and six cats.

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"When I emailed, I was asking them to take one dog," says shelter volunteer Valerie Veal. "We never even dreamed they would come and clear us out!"

Veal moved to Fitzgerald from Atlanta one year ago and began volunteering at the Fitzgerald Ben Hill County Humane Society. The shelter takes in more than 2,000 animals a year, and local ordinances require that it hold all animals brought in by the animal control department for at least 72 hours before a pet can be placed for adoption or euthanized. When Veal began volunteering there, she was impressed by the efforts staff make to adopt out the animals brought in by animal control, and she says the shelter rarely has to euthanize animals for space.

"This is a place where we want to make sure each and every dog and cat makes it out," says Veal.

That's why she was surprised -- and concerned -- to see the shelter at maximum capacity when she arrived to check on a stray dog she'd first spotted in a church parking lot.

"I knew cold weather was coming later that week, so I spent three days myself feeding that dog and trying to get her to let me put her in my car -- and she never did."

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Valerie Veal with her two dogs, Alf and Cabella. (Photo courtesy of Valerie Veal)

Despite Veal's efforts to coax the brindle Plott Hound mix into her vehicle, in the end, animal control had to set traps so the dog could be brought to the humane society. Inside the shelter, she would be protected from the elements as the temperatures dipped below freezing.

"Mostly when I was trying to catch her, I was telling her that if she would just trust me I would keep her safe."

An animal lover with two dogs of her own, Veal couldn't get the stray out of her mind and went down to the shelter on January 13 to check on the brindle beauty she'd been feeding. It was during that visit that Veal realized just how full the shelter had become. Afraid of what the future held for the dog she'd promised to keep safe, Veal asked staff to call her if euthanasia became a possibility for the pretty Plott Hound.

"I realized, we're about to start killing these adoptable animals, and that's when I called Angels," says Veal.

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The Plott Hound, now known as Aileen, Valerie was desperate to save. (Photo courtesy of Angels Among Us/Becky Henson)

One of more than 500,000 people who follow Angels Among Us on Facebook, Veal was familiar with the rescue's many success stories. On the other end of her call for help, the folks at Angels were familiar with the challenges municipal shelters face in small towns.

"We know how often these rural shelters just do not get the kind of exposure or press that they need," says Elizabeth Hale, manager of publications and media promotions for Angels Among Us.

"We knew what this little shelter down in Fitzgerald was facing, we knew what Valerie was facing -- how could we turn away?"

With so many animal lives in jeopardy, the network of volunteers at Angels Among Us began making plans to move the Fitzgerald pets out of the shelter and into foster homes in the Greater Atlanta area. The foster-based rescue has no brick-and-mortar facility -- just a lot of volunteers with room in their homes and hearts.

Three days after receiving Veal's call for help, 13 Angels volunteers arrived in nine vehicles at the humane society. Animal control officers and the mayor of the community of 9,000 were waiting to thank the group.

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Called #OperationInvisiblePaws, the effort moved 46 pets out of the overwhelmed Fitzgerald shelter. (Photo courtesy of Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Humane Society via Facebook)

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A total of 40 dogs and 6 cats were driven to the Greater Atlanta area during #OperationInvisiblePaws. (Photo courtesy of Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Humane Society via Facebook)

They called it Operation Invisible Paws, and two hours after the Angels arrived, 46 animals in the Fitzgerald shelter had made the nearly four-hour journey to Atlanta, where six veterinary offices were waiting to assist.

Of the 40 dogs, two young puppies were suffering from parvo virus and were taken to an emergency veterinary hospital. One died, but the other is now responding well to treatment.

Medical treatment for the parvo puppies, as well as the other 44 pets, resulted in thousands of dollars in vetting expenses for Angels Among Us. Spaying and neutering surgeries, as well as heartworm treatments and extractions for dental disease, created the rescue's largest ever need for funding.

According to Hale, Angels spends an average of $700 on each pet it rescues, and the current situation has the nonprofit renewing calls for donations. Hale suggests those who want to help can make a donation specifically for the Operation Invisible Paws pets or even for a specific animal.

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Little Keefe is among the dozens of Fitzgerald pets that are now safe and sound in foster care. (Photo by Lori Chapman)

"We have a very low overhead," says Hale. "Ninety-four percent of all our donations goes directly to our animals."

While the rescue is hoping for financial gifts to help cover the costs of the 45 Fitzgerald fosters, the animals have already been given the gift of life, and the Fitzgerald Ben Hill County Humane Society has been given the priceless gift of social media savvy.

"They gave us a lot of tips," says Veal, referencing the vast social media reach of Angels Among Us. "In fact, our shelter -- as of now -- has a Facebook page."

Thanks to Veal and Angels Among Us, Operation Invisible Paws spawned its own hashtag and a social media legacy that means the next generation of adoptable animals in Fitzgerald will be online -- and no longer invisible.

Read about more Dogster Heroes:

Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/angels-among-us-pet-rescue-foster-adoption
<![CDATA[Wheeler Gets Cruising After Escaping Euthanasia]]> With his back end in a doggy wheelchair, Wheeler the Shih Tzu-Poodle doesn't sit still for long, but before he got his wheels, this dog didn't get around much, despite having such a determined personality.
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"Wheeler's incredible," says Melyssah DeVrye, who brought the special-needs dog into her home in early 2014, just days before he was scheduled to be euthanized.

An experienced animal rescuer, she heard about Wheeler after his first owner found herself unable to keep the four-year-old dog, who had been losing control of his back legs for years.

"The lady who originally had him, had him since he was a puppy," explains DeVrye, who was told that Wheeler started losing mobility in his hind quarters when he was five or six months old.

According to DeVrye, Wheeler's former owner needed to move to a larger apartment after having a child, but was unable to find a dog-friendly rental. The woman then tried to rehome Wheeler (then known as Wheezy), but couldn't find anyone willing to adopt a dog who couldn’t use his back legs.

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Wheeler was a happy boy even when he first arrived at DeVrye's. (All photos courtesy of

"When I heard about him, I reached out to a couple of rescues, but no one was able to take him," says DeVrye. "After months of trying to rehome him, it was going to come down to euthanasia."

DeVrye knew she could not let that happen, but wasn't ready to take on Wheeler herself. At the same time as she was trying to help Wheeler's owner rehome him, DeVrye was also in the process of moving. She was moving from a house to a sixth-floor apartment, while caring for three rescue dogs and a couple of cats. It soon became obvious to her that apartment living was not a good fit for one of the dogs -- a shepherd named Dallas, who DeVrye had been hoping to make a permanent member of her pack.

She worried Dallas' hips would not be able to withstand the constant stair climbing and began interviewing potential adopters. Although she was heartbroken, DeVrye also knew that finding a more appropriate home for Dallas meant Wheeler could come live in her apartment.

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Happy on his new wheels.

"I sacrificed rehoming probably the best dog ever to be able to care for Wheeler," she says.

When DeVrye was confident she would have the space to accommodate Wheeler, just a week before his scheduled euthanasia date, she called the woman seeking to rehome him.

"I told her, 'Use me as your last resort, not euthanasia,'" DeVrye recalls.

Soon Wheeler was in her care, and DeVrye began pouring over his old vet records, looking for some clue as to why his back legs stopped working. She says the vet records show that while Wheeler's first owner took him in for his shots, she declined the vet's suggestions of neurological consults and X-rays.

DeVrye believes Wheeler's first owner declined the vet's suggestions due to financial concerns, and adds that while her own financial situation is not vastly different, she's been able to provide for Wheeler's medical needs through self-sacrifice and outside support. Some of Wheeler's medical bills have been paid through a sponsorship by Bialy's Wellness Foundation, an organization that helps special-needs animals.

"He's had X-rays done now, he's been neutered, he's going to have a neurological consult this month," she says.

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Wheeler is now getting the medical care he needs.

While Wheeler got a chance to catch up on his vet visits when he came to live with DeVrye, he also got to use a wheelchair for the first time.

"I don't think he was so used to being able to move about the apartment freely," says DeVrye, who carries Wheeler up and down half a dozen flights of stairs to take him out for walks. While he gets assistance on the staircase, once outside it's all up to Wheeler.

"I don't baby him -- if he wants to go over a curb, he'll go over a curb," says DeVrye, who is aiming to help Wheeler develop confidence and independence.

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Wheeler is taking on the world (even in the winter).

While Wheeler is getting used to using his wheels, he's also getting used to living with other animals. "He had to adapt to cats and dogs," says DeVrye. "He's never alone anymore. I think that helps with his anxiety."

According to DeVrye, Wheeler's former human used to keep him in the bathroom at night and whenever she was out of the apartment, in an attempt to calm his separation anxiety. "He understood right away that things are different here. If I'm home, he can go anywhere he wants," says DeVrye, who keeps Wheeler safe behind a baby gate when she's away from home.

All the exploring Wheeler has been doing at home and outdoors has helped him get stronger -- he's so strong his back end is now lifting up out of his wheelchair. "He's gained a lot of mobility in his back end and built strength in his core muscles."

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Wheeler loves the outdoors.

While Wheeler keeps getting stronger, DeVrye and Wheeler's vet worry about a two-pound weight loss. Further testing is required to determine if Wheeler's weight loss is due to a GI tract disorder, which could be preventing him from properly absorbing proteins.

Despite his ongoing health issues, Wheeler maintains a sunny disposition. "He's the happiest dog you would ever meet, and he doesn't think he's any different than a dog who can walk on all fours," says DeVrye. "Honestly, Wheeler has changed my life."

DeVrye says she isn't the only human this determined dog is having an impact on. "Wheeler's helped a lot of kids -- they look up to him. There’s a child in my town who is also in a wheelchair, and Wheeler is his hero."

DeVrye hopes Wheeler continues to inspire people, particularly people who are considering adopting a pet. 

"A lot of people have more cons than pros about adopting a disabled dog," DeVrye explains. She says that life with Wheeler isn't about what he can't do -- but what he can.

Read more Monday Miracles:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

Mon, 19 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/wheeler-shih-tzu-poodle-dog-wheelchair-wheels