A Lid For Teddy   12 comments

When Clementine came to our home, we were told that she might very well be unadoptable, that she would most-likely be our permanent foster. When you rescue and you foster, this is sometimes a possibility. If a dog is sick or old or “a biter” they just may not be going anywhere.

We were unsure of Clemmie’s medical issues and the information that came with her was unclear. But after thorough exams and tests at the world renowned Animal Medical Center, it was determined that she had a very slight neurological condition that didn’t seem to bother her and she was unhousebroken.  She was also as sweet as can be and incredibly photogenic! As the saying goes, there is a lid for every pot, and Clementine found her’s with the loveliest family I could’ve wished for.

Now I want nothing more than to find a home for  Teddy.   Teddy is one of those amazing dogs we all know, who despite enormous challenges is able to thrive. He was dumped in the pound because his owner said “he was getting too old,”  and frankly, it was lucky for Teddy.

When he came into foster care, he had untreated glaucoma with total vision loss in one eye and the second eye in such bad shape that the vision couldn’t be saved.  Had it been treated earlier, he would be able to see.

Teddy is somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. He has Cushing’s Disease, he isn’t great with other pets and would do best in a home without kids and he takes medication.

Now the good news.

He is fantastic one-on-one, he manages brilliantly without his sight and despite the abuse and neglect, has an incredibly loving, animated and adorable personality.  He is also housebroken (unlike any dogs I know).  He is currently in a foster home with a wonderful NEBTR foster mother, but he deserves his own home and his own people.  I wish I could take Teddy.  Just look how cute he is!!  I love that that nice pudgy dumpling physique. And correct me if I’m wrong but I think with “doggles” on, he looks like a potential super hero.

And his wonderful foster mother, Molly, has not only taken in Teddy but this pregnant girl and her kids!


And here’s Teddy with the little ones.

Do you know someone with a heart that’s big enough for this sweet little challenged senior?

There is no adoption fee.

Posted February 28, 2011 by julieklam in Adoptable

Cats are people, too.   4 comments

I have said before that YOU HAD ME AT WOOF has cross-over appeal (to cat people) and in that vein, I am reaching across the aisle and posting this cat rescue story from Tess Rafferty. (clap, clap, clap, clap)

When we moved into our house, the old woman who we bought it from clasped my hand and said, “You will find that animals just find their way here.” It was like a gypsy curse. My boyfriend and I quickly noticed that we had a cat living in our backyard – a big Siamese with grey points. My boyfriend had had cats as a child but I had never had a pet; my parents always told us that we couldn’t have one because we wouldn’t take care of it. I’m convinced this deliberate sabotage of my self-esteem is why I don’t have kids now, which is really the best revenge. Plus, now at least I won’t continue the cycle of setting my children up to fail. But when we moved into the house I had been considering a pet but I had zero interest in a cat. In fact, for years we had wanted a dog and now that we had the house, we thought we could actually get one.

A few months later we tore down some old sheds out back and the workers found 3 newborn kittens underneath – luckily still alive. They fit in the palm of our hand and while adorable and tempting, there was no way we could keep 3 newborn kittens. We didn’t even know how to feed them. We spent a frantic day calling around to different no kill shelters, trying to find a home for them. This was our first lesson in how over-crowded and stretched thin these places are. We were frequently told it was “kitten season,” a term we had never heard before but now are all too familiar with.

The cat went on to have more kittens that we didn’t find in construction projects, so they lived and grew up in our backyard. Someone said we should trap them and get them spayed and neutered and we went to a place to look into renting traps, but the whole process was overwhelming. It’s often a wait to get an appointment at the low cost or no cost spay and neutering clinics and then once you get one, you have to hope that you can catch a cat the night before. At this point we had several living in our backyard and the idea of trying to do this while juggling our jobs seemed completely overwhelming. It was too much for us to try and contemplate, so instead we did nothing.

A year goes by and there is a steady stream of cats in and out of our backyard. New adult ones show up: this is clearly a problem that has been developing in our neighborhood for some time. We think because we’re the only yard without dogs that they gravitate towards us. That, or the old lady was a gypsy. One spring two new Siamese kittens are born and one really likes me.

Frank was always different from the other cats. He was always very interested in people. While the other cats kept their distance and ran away the minute you stepped into the yard, Frank was curious. He stayed close. One night when he was about 6-8 weeks, I was out back having drinks with friends and he was about 10 feet away, looking at us, wondering what we were doing. We threw him pieces of the shrimp we were eating and he would chase it, eat it up. Later the same week I was in the house and he came right up to the sliding glass door, staring at me. I called my boyfriend.

“Tell me not to feed this cat.”

“Do not feed the cat.” He was adamant that we not start, knowing what would happen if we did. But my mind was already made up and I took Frank a plate of smoked salmon. When he ate that immediately, I took him some more. This continued throughout the summer. One day we were grilling with friends and I took him a few scallops. I’ll never forget my friend looking at him, saying, “That cat is feral. You are never going to get him in the house.”

But Frank did come in the house. I like to think he just saw us and knew he wanted to live with us. But maybe it had something to do with the jumbo scallops from Whole Foods we were feeding him. We lived in our backyard all summer and – having no cats at the time – often left the sliding glass door wide open. One night we were in the back room, watching TV and in Frank just walked through the door. He looked up at us as if to say, “Hey, how ya’ doin’?” and just kept on walking through the rest of the house. We were lucky; he never once peed in it and always seemed to know when it was time for us to go to bed and him to leave.

In the midst of all of this, Frank’s sibling got hit by a car outside my house. The sad image of the cat who looked so much like the one I was starting to consider my own was the wake up call I needed. I realized how crucial it was to do what I could to stop these cats from breeding and find them homes if I could.

Some afternoons, I would bring a blanket outside to lay on while I read. Frank would sit on the far edge of the blanket. We still couldn’t pet him, but slowly I was getting him used to our presence. One night as we were getting ready for bed, Frank was still sitting inside the house, not taking the social cue to leave. The Boyfriend and I just shrugged; we figured once we shut the door, he would get scared and want to go out. But he didn’t. Hoping he wouldn’t poop anywhere, we went to bed. Frank came and got us up when he wanted to go out, as would become his ritual. He would tap me on the shoulder. If that didn’t work, the “taps” became more aggressive. But that rarely happened because I was all too ready to oblige an un-housebroken, feral cat who is telling me he wants to leave. Frank learned that to let him out the back door, I had to first walk to the front and dismantle the alarm, and he would walk me to the front door, wait for the alarm, and then herd me towards the back door, blocking the hallway so I wouldn’t instead go back to bed.

By now it was fall and Frank spent every night in the house and parts of some days, too. We knew Frank was nearing 6 months of age and would need to be fixed. So one morning we don’t let Frank leave. He knows something is up and jumps high onto a windowsill, runs around. Somehow we get him in the carrier and to the vet, where everyone fawns over how beautiful he is. He is a very handsome cat. He’s a Siamese with sable points, and blue, sometimes crossed eyes. One of the techs asked if he’s a Tonkinese. “What part of feral yard cat don’t you understand?” I say in more polite words

“Does he act like a dog, fetch and heard?”

“Um, yeah?”  I said, surprised. Frank, you have a pedigree.

We leave him there overnight, and when the doctor calls to say that he’s made it through surgery and he has a big bowl of food in front of him and everyone is loving up on him, I actually burst into tears.

We pick him up the next day, but now we have bigger problems. When we brought him in to get neutered, the doctor said we had to keep in the house for 7 days.

What part of feral yard cat are you people not getting here?

We explain that he’s never used a little box before and she says, “Well, how about for 4 days?”

Again, we try to explain our situation and she says, “Well, do you have a laundry room? Some place you could shut him up with the litter box until he learns to use it?”

No, we don’t have a laundry room. We have a 60 year old, 2 bedroom house that we bought at the height of the market!

The first thing Frank does when we let him out of the carrier is run to the back door and look out of it longingly. When he realizes that I am not going to open the door, he starts meowing, louder and louder until it is eventually a whimper. When he realizes that isn’t going to work either, he runs into our “guest room” and takes an angry, deliberate dump in the middle of the bed, looking right at me the whole time. Determined to remain calm, I clean it off and throw it immediately into the wash. When I come back, he has peed on the sheets. That was my fault. I should have assumed that was next. At least now I know he won’t have to go for awhile.

I pick Frank up and try to comfort him, holding him on my lap while I sit at the desk and try to type around him as he whimpers. The Boyfriend comes back with supplies from Petco: litter, a box, a scooper, and a cat leash. We have somehow gotten the idea that if all else fails, we can walk him around the yard while if he has to go to the bathroom.

We try to get him interested in the box. We do all the things people tell us to do. Put his paws in it and make them dig around. We try throwing some dirt in the box and putting it near the back door. Frank has no interest. Finally we have to go to bed so we shut him up in the bathroom over night and he proceeds to raise Holy Hell. He meows, he whimpers, he scratches the door, rips the stripping off the bottom of the door frame. At five am we can’t take it anymore and we let him out. We’re sitting on the sofa, exhausted and at our wits end. “If having a baby is worse than this, I don’t want one,” I remember thinking. Finally we decide to try the leash. I walk him about two feet outside before he breaks free of the harness and runs across the yard. I manage to pick him up just in time for him to pee all over me. This is like having a baby.

We have to go out that night so we shut Frank up in the bathroom with the box and cross our fingers. It’s only 3 hours. We come back to a bathroom that has been torn up, but a box that has been used. We’re so relieved we can’t stop hugging Frank and congratulating him. It’s not long before he’s outside again and he sometimes comes in the house to just use the box and then leave again. He likes having an indoor toilet.

We still have the problem of the other ferals, two of whom are now pregnant. I call up a couple of free clinics and throw myself on their mercy. I can’t do this alone, I tell them. I will pay someone, make a donation, whatever it takes. A place called Fix Nation takes pity on me and hooks me up with a volunteer who is phenomenal. She works with us and we are able to trap 4 adult cats and have them fixed and released. Only the two females have already dropped their kittens and we’ve had no sight of them. They’re out there and now they have to be taken care of.

A few weeks later it is an unseasonably hot day in mid-May. It’s expected to reach about 110 degrees so we’re fixing up the pool area for friends to swim. I’m cleaning the outdoor bar of last summer’s debris when I pick up an empty box. At least it feels empty. But out of the corner of my eye I see a small, fuzzy ball. “Please don’t let that be a dead kitten,” I tell myself, “Please, don’t let that be a dead kitten.” I look inside and a tiny little Tabby with ears bigger than her head hisses back at me. Meet Knoxie.

We didn’t mean to keep Knoxie. As the day got hotter we felt bad for the kitten and we brought her inside. But we knew which feral her mom was, so the plan was to re-release her at night when her mom came back around. Around ten o’clock that night we saw the cat, so we went inside; me to do dishes, my boyfriend to re-release the kitten. Only after about 20 minutes, he called to me:

“Go get my camera and take a picture of me with this kitten!”

Knoxie had crawled up his arm and was sitting on his shoulder. She’s never been back outside since.

Over the next couple of weeks, we trapped the four remaining kittens from the spring litters, had them fixed and then tried to place them. It was a rough couple of weeks. They had fleas. They needed to be held in order to get them used to human contact. We had to keep them segregated from Frank and Knoxie, who were already having a hard enough time trying to adjust to each other. Frank was trying to groom Knoxie with an aggressiveness that scared us and she wanted none of it. We called around trying to find places to take them, but shelters were already full. We could have re-released them to the yard, but we felt that they were small and could have a chance at a better home. We had finally managed to place all but one, a solid grey with a face pointed like a Siamese. She was beautiful and while she would hiss at us during the day, she would cry from her crate in the spare room at night and wouldn’t stop until one of us went in there to sleep, resting one hand on the cage. When the last prospective adoptive family came over to look at her and a debate ensued between the husband and wife on my doorstep, I had had enough.  I got on my belly on the floor so I could look at her underneath the cabinet where she had gone to hide.

“You’re a very beautiful cat. And I don’t know why no one wants to take you. But this is your house now. So enjoy.”

I called my boyfriend and told him that it was far less stressful for me to think I had 3 cats than it was to think I had 2 cats and 1 that needed to be placed. I then took a glass of wine out to backyard, leaving her and Knoxie to fight it out all night if they chose.

This entire experience has opened my eyes to so much… The need to rescue pets from shelters. ..The importance of educating communities about spaying and neutering…The dwindling resources available to shelters and low cost clinics. It’s absolutely overwhelming and completely heartbreaking. But with all of the sad and frustrating realizations comes the uplifting ones, too, like the laughter and happiness my cats bring me every day. Knowing that I’ve found homes for 6 cats and fixed another 6. And the knowledge that yes, I will take care of a pet.

Tess Rafferty is a writer and Supervising Producer on The Soup and a stand up comic living in Los Angeles.

Posted February 8, 2011 by julieklam in Rescue Stories

Rescue Story #11 – Johnnie   2 comments

Love this story (and the picture) from Janine Smith.

Heeere’s Johnnie!

It was August 25, 2001. I was hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains with my Basset, Hennessy, and my Golden, Bailey. At the top of the hill, at Inspiration Point, a huge Chow mix without a collar approached me. I was a little nervous, but he politely accepted some water and let me put a leash on him. Back at the ranger station was a note that some hikers had seen the dog put out of a car in the parking lot the night before. The rangers were busy, so I volunteered to take him down to the shelter. Halfway down the hill, he put his elbow on my shoulder, and I headed to the pet store to buy him a collar. Surely one of my friends would take him. He’s a redhead and I met him hiking, so I called him Johnnie Walker Red (yes, there’s a theme to my dogs’ names. The first two were Moet and Chandon).

A few days later my neighbor came over to meet Johnnie. He couldn’t take him, but did tell me where I could find the new convertible I was looking for. As he left, he said, “You know, you’re going to keep this dog.”

Oh no.

I didn’t want a third dog.

I didn’t want a big dog.

I didn’t want a long-haired dog.

I didn’t want a boy dog.

I didn’t want a Chow dog.

I was going out of town for Labor Day, and the kennel was fully booked. My Golden was elderly and not interested in the rambunctious newcomer. I couldn’t leave them all together at the kennel, so I asked a friend to take Bailey for the weekend. (Hennessy and Johnnie were instant friends. She lost 5 pounds the first week, keeping up with the younger man.) Turned out they’d been wanting a Golden, and Bailey got to go live with them and have her very own house for the rest of her life. Everyone was happy.

Including me. Johnnie was totally untrained and full of energy, but he learned quickly. Hennessy was glad to have someone to play with. I took Johnnie to see Cesar Millan and he calmed down considerably. In fact, he’s on season 2 of The Dog Whisperer as one of the good role models (he’s also in a lot of Cesar’s advertising. Look for that big bushy tail).

On September 12, I got two phone calls. One told me that my friend Ann Judge was on the plane that went into the Pentagon. The other told me my new convertible was ready. I just couldn’t watch the news anymore, so I went to pick up the car. I drove home on Olympic Boulevard into a brilliant sunset, in my new convertible, with tears pouring down my face. Then I went home and buried my face in my new dog’s neck.

Johnnie’s my hiking partner, traveling companion, and photographer’s assistant. Nobody will mess with me when he’s around, but he’s also a great way to meet people. Even little kids love him because he looks like a big teddy bear. Every day I get asked what breed he is, and I just don’t know. Chow/Great Pyrenees would be my best guess. My vet says he’s a cross between a bear and a lion.

It’s been 9 ½ years since I met Johnnie. Hennessy and Bailey are gone, I have a new Basset, Stella (that is too a liquor name, it’s for the beer Stella Artois). She’s had a tough life, but when she gets timid, she just gets behind Johnnie, because he’ll protect us all.

He’s a gentle giant, good with other dogs and kids, and an ambassador for rescue groups. We do fundraising for my friend Dawn’s Basset ranch (where I got Stella), Daphneyland. He’s glad to pose for photos, especially if there’s a cookie involved. Or a cake.

He’s a serious goofball, one of the greatest dogs of all time. I’m very lucky he found me on a mountaintop called Inspiration Point.

Posted January 22, 2011 by julieklam in Rescue Stories

Happy Holidays!!   11 comments

This is the story of two of Belle and Boston from Joan Stark, long time NEBTR volunteer.

(In the photo, left to right: Belle, Missy (Mast cell tumor survivor, so far) Duke, Gidget (retired therapy dog) , and Boston.

We were looking for another dog and we had heard about rescues and decided that would be the way to go.  While we were researching them, I got word from my breeder that she had taken in a couple of Bostons and was looking for home for them.  We went to see her (and them) She had a little girl and I was looking for a female.  I fell in love with her and while we were doing the paperwork, my husband was sitting in a chair.  This skinny brindle boy hopped up in his lap and sat there the whole time.  When I finished paperwork for the little girl and said we could leave, my hubby looked at me and said “What about him?  We can’t leave him here.”  So we came home with two dogs. He was a brindle and a male – neither my favorite.  His story was that he was found in an abandoned house.  It was a known “crack” house and the theory is that the owners were in jail.  It is estimated that he was there alone for at least six months. He was going in and out the doggy door, feeding himself from garbage cans and whatever the neighbors would give him, drinking out of the toilet in the house and sleeping in his crate.  When found, on top of his crate was his rabies tag and all his paperwork to register him – his name was Boston (known as Mr. B in our house) and he is a purebreed.  He was about 10 pounds, all skin and bones, full of parasites, filthy and had really bad teeth. He was two years old.  We took him home, cleaned him up, fed him and loved him.  He is no a whopping 23 pounds, and “my” dog–doesn’t leave my side when I am home, follows me even into the bathroom, has to be in the chair with me and sleeps on the bed with us.  He is the first of our Bostons to be allowed to do this.  Needless to say, the dog my husband wanted six years ago and I was not so sure about is now my faithful protector and MY own sweet boy.

The other rescue is a NEBTR and actually is a permanent foster with us.  Her name is Belle.  She is a tiny little thing.  I saw the emails about this little old lady who had been abandoned in an apartment in PA.  The owner left town and left a note on the neighbor’s door stating she would not be back and to “feed the animals”.  Belle was there with a six month old kitten. The neighbor was a college girl who did the best she could but did not have the time or resources to do this permanently.  NEBTR was working to find her a place but everyone was full.  I could not stand the thought of her going to a shelter and even though I had not planned to foster until I retired and was home more, I decided that I needed to help the approximately fourteen year old girl. So I drove three hours to PA and met another volunteer, Kym, who had driven down to pick her up and then drove up to meet me.  It was January and it was snowing.  Lovely.  When Belle came to us she weighed just 12 pounds. She has a cataract on one eye that requires drops every day.  The vision in her other eye is limited as it is blue.  She has a grade II to IV heart murmur, about six teeth left, and was bald from her shoulders back and looked as if she was having a rectal prolapse.  It was understood that she would be a permanent foster with me as due to her age and health issues. She just would not be a good candidate for adoption.  In the first two or three months we had her, she did nothing but eat, go out to do her business, and lay in her little bed.  I changed her diet and found that she is allergic to chicken.  We have fattened her up to 14 1/2 pounds, her hair has grown back.  Due to a better diet with more fiber, etc. the rectal prolapse is not an issue.  We still put drops in her eyes.  She has no trouble eating.  She has come out of her shell and shown us that she is a funny feisty little old lady.  She jumps up to sit with my husband, loves to have her back scratched.  Wants to play with my younger dogs and she quickly learned to be first in line for treats.

I love all my pups dearly.  We have three more at home besides Belle, and Mr. B.  These two have a special history, though and have earned a special place in my heart.

Posted December 25, 2010 by julieklam in Rescue Stories

Rescue Story #10 – Addie   4 comments

The amazing story of the rescue of a puppy mill girl  from NEBTR’s Placement Coordinator and all around wonder, Jodi Groff.

Every foster I take teaches me a new lesson but it is my first foster that opened my eyes to a world I knew existed but never understood. I anxiously awaited my first assignment. I had agreed to foster one of five dogs being tossed aside by a puppy miller. I was asked by several people in the group if I thought I was ready for such a big assignment and I kept thinking what could be so bad? Well, my no name foster came and any denial that I had about how awful dogs are treated in a mill went out the door- the terrible pictures you see are sadly accurate. When this little 14 pound peanut was put on solid ground she froze, unable to move for what seemed like half an hour because she was never on grass, outside a cage or handled gently by a people…essentially she never felt an ounce of kindness or love. She was five years old and I wondered on a daily basis if she would be able to overcome her demons from years of severe abuse and neglect. (She apparently had a litter only a few days before. Our thought was that she had a litter of still born pups because of a uterine infection which is why she was given up by the miller…only in that world is having a litter of still borns be a ticket to freedom.)

She needed a name and we decided on Addie. It took months of slow interaction and lots of patience but Addie gradually began to show small signs of improvement. Even the smallest gesture like eating her food with a person in the same room was reason to celebrate…calmly of course because you didn’t want to scare her with sudden movements). Right before Christmas an application was submitted and something was telling me that it was Addie’s new family. I cried at my computer reading it because I couldn’t believe I was going to agree to give her up but I also cried because I was happy that she was finally getting the life she deserved. The family was perfect and up for the challenge to continue what was started. On a cold December morning three days after Christmas they officially adopted Addie. Rescuing these dogs is a team effort but it is the families who are willing to open their hearts and homes to the imperfect and difficult dogs that are truly the backbone of what we do. These families have the strength to love the dogs that others will not consider and they take on the challenge with a joyful heart. They practice the true definition of rescue.

Now, just close your eyes and imagine a filthy, flea infested, frightened, continuously abused, feral dog that spent her entire five years locked in a cage breeding with no human interaction. Then see the magic of patience and love by watching Addie on the video her family sent me to celebrate her one year adoption anniversary. (She is actually coming up on her SECOND anniversary December 28th!!)  I have to give all the credit to her family because this amazing transition was the result of LOTS AND LOTS OF HARD WORK.

Posted December 18, 2010 by julieklam in Rescue Stories

Rescue Story #9 – Popeye   5 comments

This uplifting story comes from Carolyn, another terrific Northeast Boston Terrier Rescue volunteer!
Last January I joined NEBTR and started fostering almost immediately.  I have had 13 fosters this year and placed 10 precious souls!
I also own a kennel, training and doggie daycare facility -so it makes it easier for me as all my fosters come to work with me etc.
In early February of 2010, I get a call from Sheryl who said “there is a woman on a farm in West Chester that wants to surrender a blind 9 year old BT named Popeye.”  She also goes on to say he is not social or housebroken, etc. Never mentions how she got him, but I don’t care just get him to me.
As the owner of a kennel I can’t leave too often, so I rely on transport. Time was of the essence as a snow storm was approaching.  One of the other volunteers calls me and says you should talk to her –get the info and see if you can get her to move at all with the dog meet us half way. I am a type A New Yorker or lets just say pushy.  I was warned the woman goes by Princess Claire.
So dial away, the woman that answers has an English accent (guessing)and indeed she introduces herself as Princess Claire. Now remember if you want to get the dog you have to play the game or she won’t surrender.  “So Princess Claire,” I ask, “do you have time to meet someone half way or get out on the highway somewhere? Most of our volunteers work and can’t travel during the week.”  This was a Monday. No absolutely not, she say, she manages a horse farm and can’t leave. She got stuck with this “little bugger” and now he needs to go! He bumps into everything in her apartment and has a “wizz” everywhere. God help me I wanted to drive up there and kick some Princess Ass. However, every volunteer knows to get the dog to safety you gotta kiss some ass or they will just hang up and game over.
With the storm coming we decide, getting transport to her Tuesday would be best so we can get this poor old man away from her. Tuesday I get a message on my voice mail from the princess herself nevermind on the surrender, Popeye has gone missing! It’s been 12 hours and she does not think he will surface.  Now if you have ever been on the NEBTR Yahoo page, everyone goes ballistic. We have people willing to drive up in the beginnings of a snow storm to search for this boy. How far can a blind 9 year old go? Volunteers do go in the dark in the snow to search with no luck.  One of the members of the rescue says he has a friend in a local police department and will ask him to call Princess Claire as a favor to him. Low and behold Thursday Popeye showed up at my Kennel.  Princess said he escaped and someone got him to the West Chester ASPCA. We will never know.
The good news is Pops was not blind, had chronic dry eye, 2 drops a day and he can see no problems. He was also housebroken, you would just need to let him outside!  During his stay with me he was wonderful laying on dogs beds, people beds and just relaxing, greeting all the customers at the kennel.  Popeye also became somewhat of a celebrity, so he got many visitors!
Popeye was adopted by a wonderful woman who is a teacher and Pops is her only child. As you can see from the before and after pics he is doing super and is so happy. It never ceases to amaze me how forgiving these creatures are, all the abuse and neglect and yet ready to love over and over. We miss him every day smellin’ like corn-chips and his little piggy grunts. But his Mom gives him more love than I ever could.
Carolyn McCarthy
Kamp Kanine
Little Falls, NJ

Posted December 11, 2010 by julieklam in Rescue Stories

Rescue Story #8 – Manley   2 comments

For the month of December I’m featuring rescue stories from my rescue groupNortheast Boston Terrier Rescue.

This is the story of Manley, it comes from Jane Tirc, intake coordinator and saint.

Manley was found wandering the street on Long Island on a rainy night in October 2009. A young couple stopped and picked him up, later bringing him to a kennel where they worked. The owner of the kennel was associated with another breed rescue and knew to contact Boston Terrier rescue when no owner could be found.

Manley was suffering from severe glaucoma and was blind. His right eye was very swollen and most likely very painful so needed to be removed.  He has long since recovered and despite his blindness is a very happy and much loved little man who will never again have to worry about being alone.

Posted December 4, 2010 by julieklam in Rescue Stories

Rescue Story #7 – Zoe   3 comments

Read the story and look into the eyes of the sweet Zoe.

Andrea was listed as the “pet of the week” at the shelter.  When I was perusing the paper and saw her picture, I knew immediately she was no “Andria” she looked more like a “Zoe”.  She looked like a boxer, with that really cute crinkle between her brows…and as the day went on, the pet of the week was already wrapping strings around my heart. By the end of the day…she was mine.

She was in pitiful shape; underweight for her age, infested with parasites, and according to the staff of the shelter, someone had cut her tail off with scissors, and it was infected; but with patients, love and affection she healed.

I thought I was rescuing a dog in need, little did I know she was rescuing me.  I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Bipolar Disorder and my marriage was in the “We are trying to force our wills upon each other.” stage.  Zoe came in and taught us unrequited love.  We learned to talk in a softer voice, because yelling upset her, and because neither of us was willing to live without her…she taught us to live together as a family.  When I was feeling sick or my medications weren’t working well, she was/is always there beside me.

Zoe is 9 years old now, she’s as true and faithful as anyone could ask.  She doesn’t so much look like a boxer anymore more like a Staffordshire terrier/boxer mix.  She’s opened a whole new world for me.  She has been a marriage counselor, nurse, companion, and so much more.  And, as in her names, she’s gone from A to Z and taken me on the most cherished journey of my life.  I hope that she feels every day the love I have for her, it is unyielding.

Kimberly L. LeBeau

Posted November 27, 2010 by julieklam in Rescue Stories

Rescue Story #6 – Baron   12 comments

The lovely story of Baron, a Weimaraner, from Maggie Miller.


You should know: I didn’t rescue Baron so much as he rescued me.

I’d wanted a Weimaraner for years. Initially taken with their eerie beauty, my attraction developed into full-blown obsession. I read about the breed, talked with breeders, and consulted the national Weimaraner rescue organization. Over and over, I read and was told the same thing: the breed wasn’t a good match for me, a twenty-something apartment-dwelling corporate PR flack. They need lots of training, attention, exercise and space, I was told. They’re beautiful, but they’re not for you.

While I accepted that acquiring a puppy from a breeder and trying to raise it on nights and weekends wasn’t any good for anyone – and that no responsible breeder would place a puppy with me – I was resolved to have a Weimaraner in my life somehow, some way.

Enter Friends For Pets, the local Weimaraner rescue. They needed volunteers to handle dogs at weekend adoption showcases, and Big Sisters and Brothers to take dogs for occasional outings and weekends. Sold!

When I began handling dogs at the adoption showcases, I didn’t know how to hold a leash properly, let alone manage big dogs that were bewildered and wounded by the circumstances that brought them to the rescue, and rowdy from being cooped up in kennels all week. But I quickly found my footing, and as my relationship with the dogs and the rescue grew, I was approved to be a Big Sister and take dogs home on weekends.

Diane, Friends For Pets’ compassionate founder and director, has an innate skill for matching the dogs she rescues with volunteers, foster families and forever homes. She knew I was licking wounds of my own – the recent death of my father and the slow, creaking end to a five-year relationship with my then boyfriend – and that the right dog could heal me as much as I could heal it.

I was lonely and isolated. I’d moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco mostly for a job and partly to be with the one person I knew in all of Southern California: my soon to be ex-boyfriend. I lived in a tiny but cute apartment where my neighbors rarely made eye contact, let alone said hello. I drove an hour each way to and from a stressful corporate job where I was 15 to 20 years younger than my colleagues.

Baron, an adult male Weimaraner of unknown age and little-known origin, was so depressed when he came to Friends For Pets, he was at risk of starving to death. He’d come to the rescue via a Riverside County animal shelter, where he’d been left in the middle of the night. At 90 pounds, Baron was passed over by families looking for younger, smaller dogs. On the day he was to be euthanized, a shelter worker alerted Diane, who drove out to Riverside and bought him out of the shelter. Back at Friends For Pets, bereft at the sudden and inexplicable loss of everything he had ever known, Baron curled up in the corner of his crate, cried incessantly, and refused to eat.

A phone call from Diane changed both of our lives for the better. “Maggie, I have a very sad male Weim who needs you. He’s beautiful and heartbroken and has obviously been a house dog. Can you take him this weekend?”

I began picking up Baron from the Friends For Pets kennels after work on Fridays and returning him on Sunday evenings. In our 48 hours together, we’d lie on the floor and watch movies, snuggle in my bed, and walk around my neighborhood. He was terrified by the sounds of traffic, cars backfiring and the people coming and going in my apartment building. His paws, unaccustomed to walking on concrete sidewalks, would blister and bleed if we walked more than a few blocks.

Weekend by weekend, Baron’s paws developed calluses, he regained a healthy appetite, and he became confident and interested in the world around him. And as he took up residence in my heart, Baron formed a supple callus where it had been broken. I became his person, and knew he couldn’t ever go back to the kennels. So he didn’t. It took six months, but I moved us to a little house with a fenced yard in a beach community where I made friends and talked to my neighbors and ran races. I got a job with less stress and more flexibility. And I let go of my dying relationship with the boyfriend.

By then Baron had ceased to be afraid of most things, but he was still spooked by the sound of waves crashing at the beach. Determined that Baron should know the joy of running on sand and feeling the foam wash up between his paws, I took him to a cove in Malibu where dogs were allowed off leash. A long path led down to the beach, and I spent two days getting him down it, tugging at his collar, cooing reassurances, and coaxing him with treats when he cowered at a crashing wave. Finally, just before sunset on the second day, I got him onto the sand. I removed his leash and let go of his collar. He took off across the beach, bucking and kicking his back legs like a horse and running a series of goofy figure eights before flinging himself into the frothy water. I was awestruck at the sight of such pure and utter joy in an animal in which so much pain and fear had once lived. Baron and I played together well past dark, and I thought, this is what people mean when they talk about being made whole again. This is what it feels like to let go and just…be.

Three and a half years later, I had to let go of Baron forever.

Unbeknownst to anyone, he’d had a brain stem tumor. Extremely slow growing, the tumors are silent until they reach the size at which they press on the spinal cord and interrupt the flow of fluid. One morning Baron became disoriented and stumbled, and by the end of the day he was unable to eat, drink or walk. The next few days were a blur of hospital stays, neurological consults, an MRI and a spinal tap. The conclusion: the tumor was inoperable, and Baron had no chance of making a meaningful recovery. Moreover, he was in agony — hungry, scared, immobile.

Hefty doses of steroids and painkillers bought us another 24 hours together, enough time to say goodbye and arrange for his usual vet, Dr. L, to come in on her day off to euthanize him. I brought him home from the hospital for one last night, where he slept with me in bed under the covers. On the way to the vet the next day we stopped at our favorite walking trail, where I helped Baron onto a sun speckled patch of flowers. We lay there for a good hour, him smiling ear to ear and me memorizing the image in my mind and the feeling in my heart.

And then we went to see Dr. L, and I held Baron in my arms and buried my tear-streaked face in his soft fur and thanked him for rescuing me while Dr. L administered the drugs that allowed him to peacefully slip away.

In the years since Baron’s passing, I’ve continued to foster and adopt Weimaraners, mostly the “senior” dogs who get left behind. Every time I walk them past the spot on the trail where I took Baron that last day, I call up the memory of him lying in the flowers with that goofy smile on his face, and I silently thank him for giving me this new life of mine.

People often ask me how I can bear to foster and adopt older dogs, knowing I’ll have to say goodbye. My answer is always the same: what they add to my heart is far greater than what I leave with them when they go.
-Maggie Miller

Posted November 20, 2010 by julieklam in Rescue Stories

Rescue Story #5 – Decibel   7 comments

I feel very lucky that Michelle shared this story with me.

The Little Puppy That Could

You probably have to be a dog person to understand how this could happen. One minute my husband and I were talking about getting a companion for Piglet, our five-year-old Golden Retriever, and the next we were in a shelter staring at the saddest little ball of pathos a cage has ever held. Her nose was running, her coat was filthy, and her eyes were wet, desperate and pleading. At the same time, her tail was thumping like a jackhammer. She was one sick puppy, but there was something indomitable about her. At times like this, rational people leave. We, however, formed an instant rescue committee. We paid our “donation” and took the little mess straight to Dr. K, the veterinarian who’d looked after my dogs since I was in high school.

Dr. K listened to the puppy’s lungs for a moment, removed his stethoscope and said she had one of the worst cases of distemper he’d ever seen. He didn’t know if he could save her, but he could try. It was up to us. But the decision had already been made. That panicked look on her face, that thumping tail. The puppy had picked us. We were her Obi-Wan Kenobi, her only hope. We had to try.

After almost a week with Dr. K she came home with piles of antibiotics. Several times a day we had to run the shower until the bathroom filled with steam and sit with her for ten or fifteen minutes while she wheezed. She was too sick to be vaccinated, so she had to stay indoors. The unintended consequence was, whenever we took Piglet for a walk, the puppy went into a frenzy. After a few days she started to whine and howl every time we left the house, with or without Piglet. She was so loud, the new neighbor across the hall reported us to the ASPCA for animal abuse. That’s when we figured out her name: Decibel, dB for short.

As Decibel’s health improved, boredom turned her into a one-dog wrecking crew. In a single day she chewed almost completely through the legs of a table that had belonged to my grandmother. We bought a puppy gate, but she climbed over it. We bought a second gate and stacked them. Did I mention we have high ceilings? The next day I came home to find she had scaled the two gates and eaten the couch. It was an 82-inch, Tuxedo-style sofa with lots of pillows and cushions, and she had chewed through all of them. The living room was knee-deep in mounds of white pillow stuffing. It was a little like that Rolling Stones video for “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” where the boys are in sailor suits and at the end they’re nearly swallowed up by bubbles. Except it wasn’t bubbles, it was my couch. I bought a third gate. She climbed that, too, but she couldn’t get over it. It was too close to the top of the doorframe.

When Decibel finally was healthy enough to go outside, no one would ever have guessed she’d been sick. She ran and jumped and caught balls in the air like an all-star outfielder. She was also my little early warning system. Every once in a while the hair on her neck and shoulders would stand straight up and she’d start to bark. Sure enough, I’d see some dodgy character. Unfortunately, Decibel was a disaster in the dog run. Her muttly mix was full of Border Collie and the herding force was strong. She chased the other dogs around in circles, barking and nipping at their heels until they cowered together in a corner.

Gradually she grew up, calmed down, and became the dog that sits on your feet because sitting near your feet wouldn’t be close enough. The dog that looks guilty whether or not she did it. The dog that sidles up with a toy in her mouth and a look in her eyes that says “playtime” at 5 o’clock in the morning. The dog that makes you laugh really hard. Decibel was a great, crazy dog.

And then she was nine. Piglet, now 14, was developing the kidney problems that tell you an old dog’s time is getting short. It was winter when we took her to Dr. K and finally let her go. When spring came and the ground thawed and filled the air with aromas that make a dog’s heart sing, Decibel seemed to smell Piglet everywhere. She ran through the park wagging her tail, sniffing the ground and searching expectantly for her lost friend.

That summer, for the first time in her life, Decibel wasn’t interested in running. Her feet seemed a little swollen — not all the time, but sometimes. Her appetite wasn’t great either. Then, out of nowhere, she collapsed. We rushed her to the nearest emergency hospital, the Animal Medical Center. She spent two days there hooked to an IV while they tested her for everything from Lyme disease to exotic parasites. Every test was negative. Probably a virus, they thought. When she collapsed a few weeks later, we raced back. Another day on an IV, more tests, and still no diagnosis.

In September she started to go downhill again, and I took her to Dr. K. By the time we got to his clinic on Long Island, he had already reviewed her test records and figured out what was wrong: Decibel had Lupus. Lupus? He said there was reason to be hopeful. Canine Lupus can often be managed with steroids. It would all depend on how far the disease had progressed.

If this were a fairy tale we would all have lived happily ever after. But that’s not what happened. With daily doses of steroid pills, Decibel ran, jumped and bounced around like a puppy for 14 days. And then, on our morning walk, she collapsed. I carried her home and sat down on the floor. She lay across my lap struggling to breathe. I hugged her and told her it was okay to let go. The little puppy that could simply couldn’t anymore. Just like that, she died in my arms.

Reading this, you might wonder if it was worth it. If all the worry and ruined furniture and veterinary bills were worth the nine short years we had with Decibel. The answer is yes. It was a bargain.

— Michele Hush

Posted November 14, 2010 by julieklam in Rescue Stories