Finn's Firsts

Today is Finn's 1-month ADOPTaversary! To celebrate, I thought I would share with you some of his memorable moments from the past 31 days.

Finn flies on a plane! He made the trip from National Mill Dog Rescue in Colorado back home to Massachusetts with me. He was such a good traveler that the flight attendant didn't even realize there was a dog under my seat until we landed and I smothered him with kisses.

Finn walks on a leash! Since the first day home, Finn has been a very cooperative walking buddy with his snazzy yellow harness and leash. I think having Cooper with us helps since he knows our neighborhood like the back of his paw. A little tangle here and there does release a little spastic reaction so we try our best to keep a steady pace.

Finn knows his name! Many times, families will change the name of their newly adopted dog because they either had another name in mind all along or they just don't think the current name fits with the dog's personality or appearance. Because shelter and rescue dogs typically only have their name for a short while, changing the name right away isn't too confusing. I decided to keep Finn's name because I thought it was just perfect but the truth is, I don't think he knew his name until a good 10 days and when he first responded, my heart swelled :) For the story about the origin of his name, click here.

Finn sleeps on my bed! After 2 nights of Finn whining and me feeling guilty that Cooper was free to roam while Finn was confined to his crate at night, I decided I would rather have Finn sleep on the bed. Instead of transitioning to the big bed right away, I borrowed a newborn co-sleeper from my sister. It allowed me to have Finn at eye-level but also kept him safe since the bed is too high for him to jump off of. Now that I can trust that he won't attempt to leap off the bed, he's cuddling right up with Cooper and me, zzzzz...

Finn learns the "look" command! Because Finn is still very shy around people, he tends to keep his head low. I taught him the "look" command so that he would look up at me and get a treat every time he complied. He is very trusting of me and I'm hoping this will translate with friends and family soon, too. Then onto [kind] strangers.

Finn plays with Cooper! My Cooper is very much a people-loving dog while Finn loves canines companionship so I stopped everything to watch their first wrestling match a few weeks ago. This might actually be more of a milestone for Cooper, but it also speaks to how important it is to know your dog when considering adding another to the crew. I'm one proud momma!

Finn pooped on the mulch and grass! This one might sound strange because, for your normal family dog, this is just par for the course. Puppy mill dogs, however, have a rough start in life and are typically restricted to small cages either suspended above the ground or attached to a small slab of concrete. As you can imagine, Finn became accustomed to "going" on hard/flat surfaces so 9 times out of 10 he goes on the sidewalk. The first time he went in the mulch, I was ecstatic!

Finn plays with toys! So many people have helped me welcome Finn to freedom so naturally he received lots of new toys! I'm guessing that because they didn't have Cooper's scent on them or because he knew they were bought especially for him, he played with a little stuffed Lamb Chop(TM) and a fleece rope just like a real puppy! Cooper has since engaged him in a few tug-of-war battles with some of his favorite stuffies :)

Finn enjoys a bully stick! Initially, Finn did not show interest in treats or snacks, like the homemade frozen yogurt I make for Coop so you can imagine my surprise when he started chomping a bully stick (with his teeny tiny mouth). He will now take a treat from my hand, as long as I offer it to him by pinching it between my fingers (as opposed to an open palm), but he is still unsure of the "healthy" stuff like carrots, apples, blueberries, etc.

Finn goes up stairs! With a lot of encouragement, Finn finally conquered the stairs! On occasion, he will hesitate to start the climb; once his little legs get going, he hops right on up. This is helpful since I'm on the second floor of a 2-family.

Finn goes down a few stairs at a time! The descent, on the other hand, is still a bit of a challenge for Finn. So it is with my assistance that Finn tackles 2-4 stairs every time we head out. I have no doubt that this will be his next major feat!

Finn swims! Okay, it wasn't intentional, but Finn swam in Nana & Pepere's pool! He was chasing Cooper and zigged when he should have zagged and... SPLASH! I went in after him but only because he swam away from the stairs. Go little Finn Finn, go!

Finn sits! No, it's not on command (yet) and it is very rare and for a very short period of time BUT he CAN sit! Finn has luxating patellas, commonly known as "floating kneecaps" where his rear knees sort of become disjointed from time to time. This condition can cause discomfort in some dogs but the vet says that it's relatively common and Finn's getting along just fine.

Finn licked my hand! Finn has been very loving and cuddly with me since day 1, so I was surprised that he hadn't tried to "kiss me". The other morning he did lick my hand, repeatedly, and it seemed to be out of love and excitement. What a doll <3

Every day, Finn represents puppy mill dogs and helps me advocate and spread awareness. He joins Cooper and me on our adventures - from Poop Patrol to Yappy Hour to your family-friendly parade - Finn has been taking it all in and he just brings so much laughter and love to our family!

2nd Annual Animal WelFair at EMC a HUGE Success!

This year’s Animal WelFair event was held on June 20th in the courtyard of EMC’s Corporate Headquarters in Hopkinton, and we couldn't have asked for a better day! Once again, we welcomed organizations representing all aspects of animal welfare - from rescues, humane societies, doggie daycare and training to disaster recovery, veterinarians and pet insurance. Each group gave employees a chance to learn more about their mission, their fundraising needs and their opportunities for volunteering. Many were also giving away FREE STUFF! Dog treats, “doody” bags and collar tags were among the SWAG offerings. Pawfect Life Rescue also held a raffle where the randomly chosen winner received a gift bag full of great dog toys and goodies!

With representation from over 20 groups plus 3 of EMC’s own Employee Circles (DERG, VeTS and C.A.R.E.), we met our goal of growing this year’s event from our inaugural “Pet Fair” last June. Employees were even kind enough to donate goods to select organizations, filling nearly all 4 gigantic boxes we set up in the building for a few weeks leading up to the event! Until next year… THANK YOU! And remember: ADOPT, Don’t Shop!

Volunteer Spotlight: National Mill Dog Rescue in Colorado

From April 27 - April 30 of this year, I was lucky enough to travel the 2,000+ miles to Colorado Springs to embark on my very first - and far from last - volunteer experience at National Mill Dog Rescue.

Preparing for the trip was 90% mental…

I followed the steps to become a volunteer and signed up on VolunteerMatters/NMDR.com. I reviewed the Volunteer Handbook, signed the waiver, and watched “I Breathe” featured at the bottom of this blog.

I initially worried that it would be too difficult for me to be surrounded by so many homeless dogs, especially knowing what their pitiful lives were like prior to rescue. They were either purchased at auction or born in the puppy mills (aka commercial breeders, some of which are USDA “approved”) where they were subjected to neglect and forced to spend every minute of every day in small wire cages in their own filth all while being bred on-demand for years. Their health was of no concern to the breeders since they were merely puppy-makers for profit. What most people still don’t understand is that they could be supporting this disgraceful practice by buying pets online or from pet stores which is why we preach ADOPT, don’t shop!

After I packed my suitcase with tissues and an uplifting book, I pushed my selfish fears aside and focused on what NMDR does on a daily basis to provide these dogs with the best chance of a new, happy life. I had to remember what this trip was all about – showing the dogs love and compassion in the safe and well-maintained environment that is NMDR’s Lilly’s Haven.

Once I landed in Colorado…

I met up with Laurie, the remarkable woman who inspired me to become part of this organization and join her on this, her third journey. Laurie is a long-time friend of my dad’s and she too lives in MA. She is also a great advocate for the pit bull breed and supports the organization born out of Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring, Handsome Dan’s Rescue based in Rhode Island. THANK YOU, Laurie!

 

Day 1: Pet Expo

We were fortunate to experience a bit of Colorado on our drive from Denver to Colorado Springs but truthfully we just couldn’t wait to see the pups. Sunday at the kennel was going to be quiet since several volunteers were busy representing NMDR at a local Pet Expo so we were urged to check that out instead. There were tons of people and their dogs amidst countless rescue organizations, humane societies, and pet specialty stores and vendors. NMDR had adoptable dogs on-hand for meet & greets, branded clothing for sale, and a slew of literature further explaining their mission; it was great to experience it all in a cheerful and rather busy setting.

 

Day 2: Offload, Clean, Feed & Socialize

In advance of the trip, we got wind of the impending rescue mission in the Midwest which was set to bring nearly 60 dogs to the NMDR facility to begin their rehabilitation and road to be re-homed. It was with great anticipation that we cleaned, fed, laundered, and socialized the pups until mid-afternoon when the rescue vehicles arrived. I was living in the moment, surrounded by the energized crowd of volunteers and coordinators, when I realized that all of their suffering had truly ended. These dogs were going to feel love – and the ground! – for the first time in their lives. One by one the volunteers filtered up to the van to be given a crate with one or more matted, scared, smelly dogs. Regardless of their former circumstances, not a single dog displayed aggression. It was simply miraculous.

Read the full press release about “Harley to the Rescue”.

 

Day 3: Clean, Feed, Intake & Socialize

By Tuesday morning I already felt so connected to my new fur-friends… all 80+ of them :)! We joined the early morning cleaning crew; mopped all the overnight accidents, scooped the poop, wiped down the Kuranda bed, switched out the blankets and folded laundry. Next came time to refresh the water and fill the food bowls. Some pups need canned food while others have special diets like grain-free and, of course, the young ones eat puppy food. Full tummies = minimal barking + another round of cleanup.

The newbies from Monday’s rescue were starting to get settled in their new temporary homes, but how would they ever find their forever families? What we did next is what NMDR refers to as “intake”. Prior to transport, each pup was named, weighed, microchipped and evaluated for major health concerns. This made the intake coordinator’s job much easier and smoother. As volunteers, it was our job to take each dog one-by-one through the intake process: verify the name on their collar matched the paperwork, provide any personality traits observed during the time spent in their kennel (shy, friendly, cuddly, scared, outgoing, anxious), and have their pictures taken for the adoption page and as the starting point for their before and after transformations.

Read more about my 5 intake dogs on their adoption profiles:

Chloe – Maltese   Festus – Yorkiepoo   Cassidy – Standard Schnauzer

Rory – Havanese - ADOPTED!   Lucy – Toy Poodle - ADOPTED!

 

Day 4: Clean, Feed, Socialize & Goodbyes

Wednesday was not going to be another 9-hour day for us since the car rental return and my flight back East were dictating our schedules. Laurie and sped through cleaning and feeding so we could spend the last few hours cuddling and loving on our buddies. I thoroughly debated cradling a few of the little ones in my brand new National Mill Dog Rescue zip up hoodie for the plane ride! I thought, “how would anyone know?” I loved them so much already. This was by far the most difficult day. A few of my toughest goodbyes were to: Joey, Balto, Ojoe & Lucy, Nino, Glory, Soda, Poppi, Betsy, Walter, Killian, Rooster & Ellie, Brutus, Festus, Cashel, Powder, Dixie, Kiwi, Lulu, Cinnamon & Eggnog, Ferrari, Snickers, Clarence, Happy, George & Ringo, Elmo, Indiana Jones, Rocky, Ruby, Cher and Shelly. Okay, maybe it was more than a few but that wasn’t all of them. So many deserving dogs need homes and I really hope this journal of sorts inspires you all to ADOPT, VOLUNTEER, ADVOCATE, and DONATE!

 

To learn more about National Mill Dog Rescue and the dogs they save,

>Review NMDR’s Mission Statement:

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Peyton, CO, NMDR’s mission is “to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home discarded breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry.

 

>Watch "I Breathe: Lily's Legacy"

 

>And continue on to the NMDR website for even more valuable information.

 

Together we WILL make a difference!

Take Your Dog To Work Day

Friday, June 21st, 2013 is Take Your Dog To Work Day®! If you're a true dog lover like I am, this concept is wonderful in every way. Pet Sitters International (PSI) thought so, too, so they created a whole day honoring canine companionship and pet adoption.

Take Your Dog To Work Day was first recognized in 1999 and has since become an annual celebration of our 4-legged friends. Companies– big and small – across the country enjoy the benefits of pets in the workplace year-round while some juts choose to celebrate once a year. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) found in 2006 that nearly 1-in-5 U.S. companies allow pets in the workplace and further the survey revealed that: 

 

55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment;

50 million believe having pets in the workplace helps co-workers get along better; 

38 million believe having pets in the workplace creates a more productive work environment; and 

37 million believe having pets in the workplace helps improve the relationship between managers and their employees. 

With many employers concerned with fears, allergies, and the potential liability of allowing dogs on the premises, there are many other ways to help raise awareness about pet adoption in your local community. In fact, on Thursday, June 20th, I am organizing a Pet Fair to be held at my workplace. The overall theme of this educational and promotional event is pet adoption and animal welfare. We are welcoming local shelters, humane societies, rescues, trainers, veterinarians, pet boutiques & bakeries, daycare & boarding providers, and photographers among other non-profit groups in the pet care industry to help highlight the services and products available in our own community.

Although we are not permitting monetary fundraising on-site, we are encouraging each organization to share their mission including current donation requirements, volunteer opportunities, and upcoming events. We will the collection of goods (dog/cat food and treats, litter, toys, blankets, cleaning supplies, etc.) and are exploring the possibility of inviting adoptable dogs and cats for an outdoor meet & greet, weather permitting.

So, what are you waiting for? Get planning and share your story with us!

Breed Spotlight: Australian Shepherd

Using Animal Planet's Dog Breed Selector and Guide and videos from Animal Planet's Dogs 101, we are going to provide some high-level breed information to help hopeful adopters find their perfect match! Please remember that not all dogs follow breed standards but we do recommend thoroughly researching breeds to better understand your canine companion. If you think this breed or a mix with this breed is right for you, begin your search with the Daily Dog Blog's local Shelter Directory and Petfinder.com on the right-hand toolbar and ADOPT...Don't Shop!

We'll start with the Australian Shepherd

"The Australian Shepherd has a great deal of stamina and is loving, bold, alert, confident, independent, smart and responsive. If it doesn't get a chance to exercise and challenge its strongly developed mental and physical activities, it is apt to become frustrated and difficult to live with. With proper exercise and training, it is a loyal, utterly devoted and obedient companion. It is reserved with strangers and has a protective nature. It may try to herd children and small animals by nipping.

 

ORIGINAL Function: sheep herding

TODAY's Function: sheep herding, herding trials

Average Size of MALE: Height: 20-23 Weight: 50-65

Average Size of FEMALE: Height: 18-21 Weight: 40-55

Energy level: High energy

Exercise needs: High

Playfullness: Very playful

Affection level: Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs: Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets: Friendly

Friendliness toward strangers: Shy

Ease of training: Hard to train (commenters say it just takes an experienced handler)

Watchdog ability: High

Protection ability: Very protective

Grooming needs: Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance: Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance: Medium tolerance"

Visit the Animal Planet website for the complete Australian Shepherd Guide and more photos and videos!

Volunteer & Rescue Spotlight: Woof Rescue

This is our first installment in a new series of Volunteer & Rescue Spotlights! I had the pleasure of meeting Abbe earlier this year while she consulted for my employer. Now, here's what Abbe has to say:

My name is Abbe Diana. I live in New York City and work as a consultant for Ernst & Young. Outside of my busy career, I run Woof Dog Rescue with my rescue partner, Barbara Fox. We’re a small group of friends and volunteers who love animals and can’t stand by on the sidelines while wonderful dogs and cats are put to sleep in our city shelters for the sole reason that there is no place for them to go…

I got involved in rescue by volunteering for the ASPCA walking shelter dogs many years ago. I later volunteered at a smaller rescue organization where I met Barbara. We realized that we had similar goals and shared the same philosophy. I’m a Finance person by trade, and Barbara is a very successful real estate entrepreneur. We wanted to bring business-minded decision making to the emotional process of pet rescue. At Woof we pull the cats and dogs we believe will be the easiest to adopt out. While we applaud those people and groups who take on the tough cases, since we believe every animal deserves a chance, we can’t justify taking on the difficult cases when so many highly adoptable pets aren’t making it out of the shelter.  While one tough case (i.e., a pet with a health or behavior issue) could take months or years to rehabilitate and place, we can rehome multiple healthy, sociable dogs and cats in that same time frame. This philosophy allows us to steadily churn out more rescues through our little network of friends and volunteers. We also believe we provide a service to our adopters. We are experienced at selecting shelter pets – we hand pick the “top dogs” (and cats!) from the awesome choices available at the shelter at any time. This is something most people don’t want to do and probably wouldn’t be very good at. In addition, our adopters meet our rescues in the low stress environment of a private foster home.   

We’re slow but steady. We only place a few animals a month.  We provide tons of support to adopters to help make each adoption a success. Training tips, moral support, etc. We never take on more pets than we can handle, which allows us to really focus on finding the best families for our rescues.

I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished with Woof Rescue. We recently reviewed our stats and realized we’ve placed close to 200 dogs and cats over the last few years. Woof Rescue proves that you can lead a busy life and still find the time to help animals. We don’t have a building or any paid staff. All I really do is orchestrate a lot of activities by email and phone that I’m frequently not even physically present for. All it takes is an internet connection and some motivation!

It makes me CRAZY to know that there are so many animal lovers living in New York City yet so few help out with shelter pets. I honestly think most people don’t really know how many great pets are being euthanized in our shelters. NYC rescue pets desperately need some good old fashioned PR (know anyone in PR?!)

Rescue pet misconceptions that I LOVE talking about:

  •  The only dogs and cats who are put to sleep are the sad, sick, (mess)ed up ones. 
    • WRONG!!! Most shelter animals are highly adoptable.  The tough cases are actually the exception, not the rule. The only thing “wrong” with most shelter pets is that there is literally no place for them to go. Highly social, healthy pets are put down every day in shelters across the country. That means puppies and kittens too!!
  •  Don’t donate, adopt from, or support “kill” shelters.
    • OMG SO WRONG!! Every municipality has one organization which is charged with animal control for that community. In NYC the organization is Animal Care & Control (AC&C).  AC&C is the only shelter in the city with an open door policy – in accordance with their contract with the city they must accept every pet that comes through their doors. This means that only one organization in NYC is forced to make the difficult choice to euthanize pets. All the other shelters and rescue groups in NYC only take in as many pets as they have room for. In fact, these organizations pull most of their rescues from AC&C. The city shelters are typically woefully underfunded and most in need of support from their communities! Don’t forget about your city shelter!
  • Pitbulls are dangerous. 
    • Where do I start…PEOPLE create dangerous dogs. If you neglect or abuse any dog you can create an aggressive animal. Granted, pitbulls were bred for a long time to be aggressive to other dogs for the evil purpose of creating a dog fighting champion. This is an unfortunate truth that advocates for the breed must acknowledge. I focus on placing dog-friendly pitbulls (and there are plenty!) because those are the types of pitties I’d most like to put back into the community. But the sordid dog-fighting history actually has a little known side effect. Fighting dogs were bred to be EXTRA friendly and non-aggressive to humans so that a human could step into the fighting ring and pull a highly agitated dog out of a frenzied fight and the dog would not turn their aggression onto the human. Fighting breeders created dogs with an exceptional lack of aggression towards humans. Interesting, right?
    • Pitbulls are actually fantastic with children. Incredibly fantastic.


  • Rescue work is so sad…I just couldn’t do it! Cindy, a 2 year old petite cat for adoption with an INCREDIBLY cuddly and friendly puppy-like personality!
    • My rescue work is SO fun! I do all the happy stuff!! Imagine how it feels to march out of the shelter with an “at risk” dog at the end of the leash…its exhilarating!!! You’re free my friend, you made it!!! I meet so many wonderful people who foster and adopt.  And who doesn’t love a good rags-to-riches story: neglected cat left behind in an apartment when his owners moved out now lives in a penthouse apartment in Manhattan sleeping on a satin pillow beside floor to ceiling windows…throwaway Momma dog brought into the shelter by police shaking like a leaf now spends weekends traveling in an RV with her new Dad…
  • Cats don’t adapt well to change
    • I find that adult cats adapt better to foster homes than dogs. Dogs usually take at least a couple of days to unwind from the shelter experience and start acting normal in a foster home. A well adjusted cat often makes him or herself at home in about 2 minutes!!!


If you’d like to chat about getting involved with rescue or if you’re interested in adopting a pet please contact me at aschant@yahoo.com.

This is Why We Do What We Do

Watching this video literally brought tears to my eyes. It's heart-wrenching, but it's also a strong testament to what the love and kindness of the caring people in this world can do.

Humans domesticated dogs thousands of years ago. Today's domesticated dogs did not choose to be at the mercy of human beings, but yet they are so often discarded, hurt and betrayed by the very people they depend on.

It sickens me to think that there are animals out there suffering like the little one in this video, but all we can do is work to rescue every single one and help find them the loving homes they deserve.

Give Shelter Dogs a Chance

There's no denying the incredible appreciation and love that shelter dogs show their adopters. It's like they know they've been saved and they want to show you how thankful they are.

Take a look at this video of a stray dog that was brought to a shelter and scheduled to be put to sleep. The poor dog was so petrified of her surroundings that the shelter staff decided to call in a specialist to work with her and calm her down.

Take a look at what happens and remember to not be too quick to judge shelter dogs. You have no idea what they've been through. But they could end up being your very best friend.


Shelter Dog Finds His Calling Helping Sick Boy

Lucas Hembree kisses his dog JunoFour-year-old Lucas Hembree suffers from Sanfilippo syndrome, an inherited, metabolic disease caused by the absence or malfunctioning of an enzyme needed to break down long sugar molecules.

The Hembree family was devastated to learn that their little boy would lose the ability to speak, walk and eat. The disease also causes severe neurological damage that leads to aggressive behavior, hyperactivity and seizures.

Worst of all, there is currently no cure of even treatment for the disease.

This poor little boy isn't expected to live past the age of 15, and doctors expect he will be in a vegetative state by the time he is just 8 years old.

Realizing that every single second is important and is a cherished moment with their son, Chester and Jennifer Hembree decided to look into getting a service dog for their son. Chester was optimistic that a service dog could help keep Lucas steady as he walked and would help keep him calm when he became agitated.

The father was told that it would cost at least $15,000 to get a service dog for his son and that Lucas was not "a good candidate" for a service dog because of his deteriorating health.

Feeling defeated, Chester made one last effort to get a dog for Lucas and began looking into shelter dogs he thought he might be able to train. That is when he found Juno.

Juno was a Belgian Malinois who was surrendered to a high-kill shelter in Tennessee because her former owner did not understand her breed and did not want the responsiblity of owning her anymore.

Chester Hembree told reporters, “I came across a posting about her on a rescue group’s website. I had the feeling in my gut that I had to go see this dog.”

The whole family made the 2-hour trip to meet Juno, and it was a good thing they did because Juno was just days away from being euthanized.

Chester was confident that Juno would make the perfect companion for his son - especially since he had experience training the breed. Chester had trained Belgian Malinois during his work in law enforcement years earlier.

Fortunately for Juno and Lucas, Juno passed all of Chester's tests with flying colors. The father needed to make sure the dog would be a suitable pet for his ailing son, so he put her on a leash to see if she pulled and she did not. Next came the Lucas test, and the pair took to each other immediately.

The Hembrees brought Juno home and she took to her role as Lucas' guardian immediately.

One day, Chester noticed Juno circling Lucas while he was in his wheelchair. “She was whining and nudging him with her nose,” Chester says. “I checked his oxygen levels and they were very low.” After giving him oxygen, Lucas returned to normal and Juno greeted him with licks and affection.

Juno can know sense when Lucas is in trouble, saving his life on several occasions. She can sense when the child is about to have a seizure or when his oxygen levels are dangerously low.Juno sitting on Lucas Hembree's bed

Chester Hembree set up a Facebook page in honor of Lucas and his dog Juno. Just before Christmas in 2011, there was an outpouring of support for Lucas and his amazing dog, and people all over the world were sharing their story and mailing them Christmas cards filled with words of support and kindness. The pair received more than 6,000 cards.

There is something about shelter animals that make them extra special. Perhaps it's that they know they have been given a second chance at life. But whatever it is, there is no denying the benefits of adopting a shelter animal and the joy one can bring to your life. Lucas and Juno are an extraordinary example of this.

Adopt. Don't shop.

Touching Rescue of Pit Bull Living in a Ditch

This video shows that there are still good people in this world. But the mission doesn't end there. Innocent dogs like Nala are rescued by caring people every day, but they need forever homes too. So the next time you or someone you know is considering adding a dog to their family, please consider adopting from your local animal shelter or rescue group.

After what some of these animals have been through, they deserve warm, loving homes.

(Nala did find her forever home after her kind rescuers posted this video. Yay!)