Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mr. Minchy Spampobello and Frances Serena's Stories: Part 2

Pets' names: Mr. Minchy Spampobello and Frances Serena
Adopted by: Kerry A. Barnes
From: Frances came from the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, N.Y.; Minchy, bred by a "backyard breeder," came from a family who wasn't able to care for him.

Kerry (who blogs at Hamchuckles) sent the stories of her two dogsMinchy's was posted on Sunday, and below is Part 2, Frances' tale.

Frances' story is a sad one, indeed. We believe she was a breeder at a puppy mill for her early years, then the mill sold her to the research lab at a local university. There, she was bred again and her embryos used for genetic testing. We don't believe she was harmed in any way or overtly mistreated at the lab; the biggest issue was that for the first three years of her life, this beautiful beagle was treated like an object, not a pet. Kept in a cage, never taught to play, known only by the serial number tattooed on the inside of her ear.

When her time was up in the lab, she was adopted out to a student. This young man (who named her Snoop) had her for exactly one month before he surrendered her to the SPCA. I happened to be in the intake shelter when he brought her in. His reason for giving her up? The little dog wasn't housetrained very well, scared of loud noises, and worst of all, wanted to be with him all the time.

I saw her as he brought her in, so confused that this boy she'd already learned to love was discarding her. I knew from the moment I saw her that she was meant to be mine. She spent five days in the intake shelter before I was able to have her meet Minchy to make sure they got along and then finally bring her to our house.

She also suffered from severe separation anxiety and howled so horribly that the woman who ran the intake shelter desk had a hard time hearing the phone. When Serena heard I was taking the loud little beagle home, she rolled her eyes and said, "Good luck! You won't have one minute of quiet with that dog." I wasn't worried, because I'd been taking the dog I'd named Frances out of her run in the intake shelter and up to my office with me for the past couple days. Once out of the actual shelter environment, she was quiet as a little mouse, content to just be near you. When I came into work on Monday after having taken Frances home over the weekend, I happily told Serena how good the little dog had been, and that we were naming her Frances Serena in her honor.

The day Frances came home

Frances had some issues beyond her separation anxiety. Her pelvic floor was weakened from all the litters she'd been forced to carry, and she also needed some reinforcement with her housetraining. She'd spent her entire life in a cage; she'd used the shredded newspaper in her cage as her bathroom. We'd heard that lab rescue dogs are easily overwhelmed by being outside. Having spent their lives in the confines of a space just a few feet square, suddenly being out in the wide open is frightening to them.

Again, my dog behaviorist friend helped us out. She told us to reward her with unusually wonderful treats when she "did her business" outside. She suggested bits of liver, stinky cheeses, premium treats. Nothing worked. My friend said it was time to bring out the big guns—baby food. She said baby food (the pureed meat kind) was the end-all, be-all of dog treats, the ultimate. This was proven to us when we offered both dogs a smear of pureed lamb on our finger and Minchy positively quaked in anticipation. Frances? Nothing.

We finally discovered that the ultimate motivator for her, the one thing that truly rang her bell was … dry kibble. Yep. The regular old dry dog food she ate every day. We had thought it was cute that she got so excited when we were filling her bowl and bringing her her meals. It made us kind of sad, however, to realize what that dry food meant to her. It was the only good thing she'd ever known in her life in the puppy mill and in the lab. She wasn't given treats or even scraps of people food. The only reward she ever got was a regular meal. To this day, six years after we adopted her, she still goes crazy over her dry food. She actually gets up on her back legs and does this sort of hop in front of you on your way to bringing the food to her, like a dolphin finning its way upright through the water.

Minchy and Frances

When we first brought her home, Frances was expressionless. She had shark eyes—doll eyes with no emotion behind them, the result of her going away inside herself so often in her previous life. One of the most rewarding things I've ever experienced in my life was watching those eyes slowly come to life. Watching her learn to trust, learn to play, to begin to find her personality and express it has been the most fulfilling thing I've ever seen.

It's also been wonderful to see how our dogs comfort each other. I remember reading a study that found that the presence of another animal was more soothing to a pet than even their human. Our two little separation anxiety survivors rely on each other and are comforted by each other's presence. They're fond of each other (even though Minchy would rather we didn't know that—he prefers to take a sort of exasperated big-brother attitude to Frances when we're around). Frances gives Minchy something else to focus on; he provides her with consistency. They're starting to play together—just a few minutes at a time—but sometimes, when they don't think I'm looking, they chase each other round and round in the backyard.

While personally I think all dogs are wonderful, there's just something so special about adopting one from your local shelter or rescue group. The satisfaction of knowing you not only saved their lives, but gave them a second (and often better) chance at happiness is enormous. At the shelter, we were convinced that adopted dogs were well aware of the second chance (and third, and fourth, and …) they'd been given and were truly appreciative.  The best way to test out this theory? Adopt a shelter pet yourself!

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mr. Minchy Spampobello and Frances Serena's Stories: Part 1

Pets' names: Mr. Minchy Spampobello and Frances Serena
Adopted by: Kerry A. Barnes
From: Minchy, bred by a "backyard breeder," came from a family who wasn't able to care for him; Frances came from the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, N.Y.

Kerry (who blogs at Hamchuckles) sent the stories of her two dogsbelow is Minchy's, and tomorrow's post will feature Frances' tale.

I have two adopted dogs who are the absolute light of my life—Mr. Minchy Spampobello and Frances Serena. Both came from unhappy situations and came to us with issues and emotional baggage. It's so enormously rewarding to see how they've grown and overcome their rough beginnings. They mean so much more to me because they needed me so. I worked for several years as fundraising director for our local shelter, the Tompkins County SPCA, a no-kill shelter since 2001, and I saw firsthand the joy and fulfillment that adopting a rescued pet brings to our lives, as well as theirs.

My husband and I moved to the Ithaca area in spring of 2003. We chose where we would live based primarily on the fact that we wanted—needed—a dog. After taking a couple months to settle in, we decided on Labor Day weekend to begin our search. Our SPCA was closed for the Labor Day holiday, but we could view dogs ready for adoption on their website. None of available pets really spoke to us. On a whim, we checked the "free to a good home" ads in the newspaper. There was an ad for a young beagle/Jack Russell pup, a combination we both liked. My husband called; we were one of many interested in this dog. We were persistent, however, and by the end of that day, we had a call back saying that no one else who showed interest was able to take the dog immediately. If we could, he was ours.

We jumped in the car and drove through a pounding rainstorm. Minchy was one of a litter of two. A college student in the area thought it would be "fun" to breed hunting dogs, then realized what he had wrought. When we went into the basement to see our potential pet and his brother, it was like watching two Tasmanian Devils on a rampage. I never even got a really good look at him until we had him in the car 20 minutes later. The family who was giving him up was friends with the student who'd bred the dogs. They agreed to keep one, but couldn't handle both of them.

Minchy was passed around to several homes before he got to us, including a nearly blind elderly woman in a high-rise apartment who thought this very obviously unneutered boy was a little girl. By the time he came to live with us, he had a severe case of separation anxiety, in addition to his intense energy, beagle stubbornness, and Jack Russell intelligence. He was a handful, to say the least.

The minute we left for work (and leaving the house was a major production, involving Minchy hiding and avoiding capture) he would destroy. He chewed CDs that were on shelves in our bedroom, chewed the shelves, tore apart a handful of beaded bracelets, turned his little bed inside out and shredded the foam to bits, and frequently peed on our bed. In spite of all this, we never once thought of giving him up. He was ours, part of our family, and if he was having troubles, we'd do what we could to help him through them.

I started working as fundraising director at our SPCA about eight months after we adopted Minchy, and it was a lifesaver. I got advice nearly every day from the shelter dog behaviorist, who was the one who diagnosed Minchy's separation anxiety. She gave us many techniques for working to quell his panic when we left the house. Having him neutered, as well as learning to use treat-filled Kongs as distractions, helped to calm our boy down and become less destructive. 

Even at his worst, he was the most loveable of dogs, snuggly in a way my childhood dog never was. The first night we brought him home, we'd made a little bed out of blankets for him at the foot of our bed. He took one look at it and jumped up on our bed, burrowing down under the covers between us. I remember he looked at both of us like, "Hey, guys! Nice to meet you! Good night!"

Part 2 will feature Frances' story. 

Frances (L) and Minchy (R)

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Molly Grace's Story

Pet's name: Molly Grace
Adopted by: Andrea Moore
From: In Harmony with Nature Animal Haven, Orlando, Fla.

Molly Grace's story originally appeared on Andrea's blog, Run, Eat, Date, Sleep. You can see even more photos in her post!

It's been a dream of mine for quite some time to adopt a beagle. I've just been waiting on a landlord nice enough to allow pets and some financial stability. Everything recently fell into place, and I caught myself browsing Petfinder. I usually search for the following: beagle, female, young, and adult. But this time, I didn't eliminate seniors from my search. Grace's picture stole my heart, and my heart broke as I read her bio.

She was a 9-year-old beagle just looking for a lap to lay her head for the remainder of her life.

It only took me a few minutes to decide to email the animal haven where she was living, and I heard from them the next day. I quickly filled out the application and heard back from them the very next day. Karen, the owner of the animal haven, called to tell me I had been approved and gave me Grace's history. She was presumably used for hunting, and the animal haven had rescued her just a month earlier from a kill shelter in Georgia. She was scheduled to be euthanized at the kill shelter, but they rescued her beforehand.

On Tuesday, I was scheduled for a meet-and-greet to see if we got along. From the moment I saw her, my heart melted. I knew she was my dog. The trainer at the animal haven filled me in with more information as well. She was most likely an outdoor dog all her life, so she probably wasn’t potty trained. They probably fed her at the same time with a bunch of other dogs by throwing the food on the floor, so she probably had to fight for her fair share. She also clarified that the vet thinks she's between 6-8, not 9 like we originally thought. Her ear canals are pretty tight, and she’ll need surgery so that an infection doesn’t grow in there. Thankfully, the animal haven will be picking up the tab for her surgery. They also told me I could change her name since she was only named Grace a month ago. So, Grace became Molly Grace.

My mind was already made up before I even met her, but visiting her just made me want to take her home even more. We agreed that I'd be back on Wednesday (the next day) to pick her up, and then I left to make a trip to Petco where I purchased her food and water bowls, food, treats, a bed, and some toys.

When I came to pick her up on Wednesday, she was inside getting all gussied up for her new home. When Karen brought her out in a towel, my heart absolutely melted. This was my little girl! She was shivering from just being bathed, and she was probably really nervous. They gave me her medicines and her medical history, and we were on our way!

It didn't take her long to get settled in the passenger seat. She got a little anxious when we were halfway home, but all she needed was a little petting.

As soon as we got home, I took her on a long walk and then introduced her to her new home. She sniffed every square inch and then quickly found her cozy bed.

We took walk breaks every two hours and food breaks every four hours. When I was at my computer working, she laid right behind me.

When it came time for dinner, I made sure to feed her right before I sat down to eat so we would eat as a "pack" like she was used to. But she eats so much quicker than me, so she spent the next 10 minutes staring at me while I ate. No barking or whining while I ate. Just staring.

We went to bed a little early. I brought her bed in next to mine, but she found a pillow in my closet she liked better. I didn't sleep too well that night. I kept waking up to make sure she was breathing. Kind of like the first time I babysat my nephew when he was an infant.

The morning brought a really early inventory shift at lululemon, so I had to leave her in a confined area for seven hours. She still hadn't pooped since I brought her home, so I was worried throughout my whole shift that I would come home to a really messy bathroom. I left her in there with her pillow, her bed, her toys (which she still doesn't play with), and her food and water. When I came home, she didn't even hear me come in the door. She was fast asleep and snoring with her little head on her pillow, and no messes were on the floor. Yay! She did her business outside when I got home, and she got an extra big treat for being such a good girl!

Today has been a good behavior day as well! She's been enjoying long naps and long walks. She met a few furry friends on her walks today, and she just stared at them and didn't bark. And she got a few compliments from our neighbors about how cute she is!

She's been a fantastic addition to my home. She gives (and receives) so much love! I love that she follows me everywhere and needs to be in the same room as me. My life has definitely changed since adopting her. My life is not entirely my own anymore. Her needs come before mine, and I'm completely okay with that! I'm so glad she's my little girl, and I'm especially happy I decided to adopt a senior dog who only needed a loving home.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sadie's Story

Pet's name: Sadie
Adopted by: Mike and Marisa Brantley
From: San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter, San Clemente, Calif.

Sadie's story was originally posted on Marisa's blog at SadieBloomDesigns.com. She wrote about her in one of a series of posts about the things she's thankful for this Thanksgiving.

My husband and I adopted Sadie from the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter in 2003. She was found with her siblings (all with black fur!) dumped down a touristy street in San Clemente, Calif. When we first met her, she was very shy, skinny, and had a bad case of ear mites (ew!).

With time, she developed into the sweetest, most loving, most obedient kitty cat (our "furbaby"). She comes whenever she's called, and understands the word, "No." She has some funny peculiarities, too. She'll drown her toy mice in the water bowl. She also loves feather teasers, which she'll track down, drag and drop to our feet, then let out monstrous meows for attention. She also makes sure to bring one of her feather teasers with her to bed, no fail!

This past year has been a challenging one for Sadie. She's been dealing with Irritable Bowel Disease. We didn't know what the problem was until she got officially diagnosed with it just last month, after a terrible flare up. She spent three days at the pet hospital, after her regular vet sent her there for intense treatment. I was a complete wreck. Sadie was seen by the best animal medicine specialists in Orange County! (You should've seen the other pet parents—Bentleys, dripping in diamonds, you name it!) She's now on a hypoallergenic diet and takes daily meds. The important thing is that she's back to her sweet self!

Sadie's been a true blessing to my and my husband's lives, and we are eternally thankful.

Glamorous kitty

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Willow's Story

Pet's name: Willow
Adopted by: Ruth and Chris
From: Noah's Ark Animal Welfare Association, Ledgewood, N.J.

Ruth (who blogs at Artful Creations by Ruth Welter) wrote the story of her dog, Willow. Ruth hopes that Willow's story will encourage others to adopt, and she is happy to answer any questions about her adoption experience by email.

My husband Chris and I adopted Willow in April of 2000 from Noah's Ark Animal Welfare Association in Ledgewood, N.J. We had just lost one of our Shih Tzus two weeks before, and while I wasn't in a rush to find another dog as a companion for my remaining Shih Tzu, Dudley, when it is right, you just know it. I found Willow on Petfinder, a wonderful site that lists dogs and cats available through different animal shelters and rescue groups. Even when I don't have a vacancy sign out by my house, I always find myself looking at the little souls listed on the Petfinder site. When I saw Willow's little face on that site, I knew we had to make the journey down to New Jersey to meet him.

The shelter asked that we bring our Shih Tzu (Dudley) so they could see our little guy and we could introduce him to Willow. Out from the back room comes Willow, the sweetest and friendliest little Tzu you would ever want to meet. He was found wondering the streets of NYC and ended up in a high-kill shelter there. Noah's Ark took him out to the country and gave him a better chance at finding a new home. The minute we saw him, we thought he would be the right addition to our family.

Since he was found wandering the streets, nothing was really known about Willow. He was thought at the time to be about five years old, blind in his left eye due to some sort of blunt trauma, and was not house-trained in the slightest in all his five years on the planet. He did however have the prettiest, sweetest face and the best personality we could have asked for. Someone at the shelter named him Willow and I loved that name, but most importantly, I thought it fit him perfectly, so "Willow" it was. In another week, when Willow was cleared to leave after his neuter surgery, we went back to pick him up and bring him back to live in New York.

 Amazingly, even though he had never received any house-training, he learned beautifully. We started by taking him outside, and when he did his potty in the yard, he received a cookie. I have to say that the lure of food made him catch on like a light. Before we knew it, he was perfectly potty-trained and has rarely ever had accidents in the house. I think he was definitely more attached to my husband Chris at first then he was to me, but we all bonded in no time flat, and that was the beginning of a long and happy life with all of us together.

Front to back: Orchid, Willow, and Dudley

In the fall of 2000 we added Orchid to our family and she became attached very quickly to Willow. I have to say, he wasn't too happy to meet her at first; she was a full-of-pep puppy that singled him out to be her future play companion. He decided he would be a little grumpy about the whole thing and just go in his crate and hope for the best, that she would just disappear. Not too far down the road from that first shaky meeting, Willow and Orchid became fast friends and play buddies.

Since the spring of 2000, Willow has lived happily with us and our two other dogs. I think by adopting him, we gave him a chance at happiness and he in turn has brought joy and happiness into our lives, just by being with us each day.

I would really encourage others to adopt through shelters and rescue groups; there are so many animals out there that need homes and you really can make a difference for a little life by adopting from one of these organizations.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Scout's Story

Scout as a puppy

Pet's name: Scout
Adopted by: Trina and Adam
From: Champaign County Humane Society, Urbana, Ill.

Trina, who sent Scout's story, blogs at Let's Just Build a House, where you can find more Scout photos and updates.

Our dog was first introduced to me by my now husband Adam at the local humane society. I had been basically begging for us to adopt a pet, and when Adam accepted a new job that would require him to be away from home 75 percent of the time, he took me to the local shelter. When the staff first brought the sweet little puppy to the meeting room, he clumsily walked right up to me and plopped down in my lap.

The first night we brought him home, he cried and cried until I of course gave in—I slept on the couch and he slept on the ottoman next to me. I woke up in the morning with him snuggled up under my blanket. He still loves to sneak under the blankets and cuddle.

The only problem was that the shelter had named him "Butch." Not my first choice. His name had to be changed. We decided on Scout. Although, we do call him Butch from time to time when he is being a stinker. We like to say that it was his evil alter ego Butch, not Scout, who chewed on my brand new leather boots. It was Butch, not Scout, who knocked the Christmas tree over when we were at work. Oh no, there goes Butch with the fresh loaf of banana bread in his mouth, stolen off the counter!

Scout is a super happy, playful, snuggly pet. He's a prissy house dog but has a blast every weekend when he visits the farm or the ground where we are currently building our new home. He isn't afraid to jump in the creek, or roll around in the mud. But at the end of the day, is always happy after a bath and snuggling on the couch with us. He really cannot wait to be a country dog next year when the house is finished.

Scout is now three years old and hasn't knocked down holiday decor, or stolen any baked goods lately. He is still playful and full of energy. We love him, and he gives us so much love back every day. We look forward to many more snuggles with him.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grady's Story

Pet's name: Grady
Adopted by: Trisha
From: A home where he wasn't properly cared for

From Alone to Home typically only posts stories of pets from shelters or rescue groups, but Trisha (who blogs at Glass Slippers and all sorts of stuff...) sent a wonderful story and photos of her dog Grady, who came into her life after he was mistreated. His story is a reminder that pets in need aren't only found in shelters and foster homes.

When I was growing up, we only had one dog and a couple cats, but never for very long. Needless to say, I have never been a big animal person. My parents got a dog when I was in college, and that dog is way more spoiled than us kids ever were. I never had my own dog until just over two years ago. My sister-in-law had a neighbor whose dog ran away to their house. They kept him for a week, and then the neighbor took him back. A month later, the poor dog came back to their house. He was so skinny his ribs were sticking out, he was petrified of people, he'd been left out on a two-foot chain in the middle of winter, and the little boy told my niece that they got a new dog so they didn't want him anymore.

By that time, my sister-in-law had already found a new dog. So they asked us if we would take this dog. I hesitated to take a dog; we have a small house and I think you have to be a good housekeeper to have a dog, which I don't think I am! But I couldn't let this poor dog go back to what he had come from. So I agreed, and we got a dog. I think his name was Mickey and my sister-in-law called him Sam. My husband wanted to call him Chevy but it just didn't fit. I wanted a cute boy name for him. While looking through a Sports Illustrated, my husband saw it—Grady, the name of a baseball player on his favorite team, the Cleveland Indians. It fit perfect! His official name is Grady Al-O-Wish-Us or Grady Slim Shady, though we call him all sorts of funny names!

Grady is the sweetest black Lab you will ever meet. You never hear a sound come out of him unless he is feeling protective. He loves water and tries to "eat" it when it comes out of the hose. He loves to play catch, get belly rubs, and lick feet! He's a crazy guy! We don't know how old Grady is; we guess about four to five years old, since he is starting to get gray under his chin. He acts like a puppy because he has endless energy when it comes to swimming and playing! If I get my shoes on, grab my purse, or jingle my keys, he goes crazy because he loves going for rides. He sticks his head out the window and you can tell he is in heaven!

He loves hanging out with his dad, working in the garage or fishing. And he loves hanging out with me when I am in the kitchen cooking. He really is man and woman's best friend. Everyone that meets Grady instantly falls in love with him. I have never met a more well behaved dog in my life—I just hate to think how he got that way. Grady loves it when you pet him and he is always coming up to us and using his nose to lift our arm to pet him. He is so thankful for the attention and love that he just can't stop licking you!

Grady suffers from epilepsy, which we discovered just over a year ago. He is on medication for it and will be for the rest of his life. He loves taking his medicine and if you forget what time it is, he will remind you! He is my baby boy and I love him like a child.

There are days when I want to shave off all of his hair because my house looks like I never sweep. And after a swim in the canal he smells really bad. But I am so thankful that Grady is in our life. I can't imagine not having this faithful companion by our side. He has an amazing personality and so much love to give. I hope he's forgotten about the rough life he had before he was ours. I promise he will never have to live through that again. He has changed our lives in so many ways and I am so grateful that he found his way to us. Thank you Grady for giving us the opportunity to love you!

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Olive and Nori's Stories

Pets' names: Olive and Nori
Adopted by: Jennifer and Evan
From: Pennsylvania SPCA and Morris Animal Refuge, Philadelphia, Pa.

Jennifer (who blogs at Grey Garden and others) sent the stories of her two cats, who were adopted separately but are now friends.

After my first cat, Frances, died unexpectedly, my fiancé and I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to adopt another cat. Losing Frances was really difficult; for a long time after I was convinced that the joys of pet ownership were not worth the heartbreak of eventually losing your pet.

When we were finally ready, we started visiting local animal shelters. We found Olive at the Philadelphia SPCA when she was only two months old. The shelter employees had separated her, her brother (a tuxedo), and sister (a tortoiseshell) from their mother only moments before and had placed each in adjacent cages. Both the mother and kittens were in an obvious state of distress. Olive caught my eye because she was climbing the metal wire door of her cage; I appreciated her feistiness. A shelter employee told us that because of her calico coloring, she would likely behave crazily. They weren't too far off.

To be honest, the first few months of Olive's life were rough. Due to an infected spay wound (and continued botched attempts by the shelter to fix the wound), she spent the first two or three months with us in an opaque Elizabeth collar which inhibited her peripheral vision and scooped litter and food everywhere. Her unfortunate condition did not dampen her spirits though; she continued to play as hard as any healthy little kitten would. And, I'm not gonna lie, the lampshade look was pretty adorable.

Olive and the cone of shame

We entertained the notion of adopting a second cat, but we never seriously considered it until we saw Nori's sweet and confused-looking face on Petfinder. The shelter listed her age as one year old—roughly the same age as Olive at the time. When we visited Nori (then named Kiwi), the shelter employees had placed a big "adoption pending" sign on her cage. Although we were discouraged, the shelter encouraged us to submit an adoption request form anyway because "maybe the pending adoption would fall through." We were pretty surprised when we got a call a few days later from the shelter asking if we were still interested in adopting. We later learned that there had never been a pending adoption; the shelter has placed the sign on Nori's cage because there had been too many questionable people interested in adopting her.

We’ll never know Olive or Nori's history and how they ended up at animal shelters, so we like to make up stories for them. Since Olive was adopted at such a young age and was fairly healthy when we got her, we assume that she likely did not spend very much time on the streets (or in a foster home). Nori, on the other hand, is likely a Persian or Himalayan mix of some sort, and was already one year old when we adopted her, so we joke that she ran away from the cat show circuit that her previous owners had unwillingly forced upon her.


If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sassy's Story

Pet's name: Sassy
Adopted by: Albia, Tiffany, and Logan Steers
From: Sylacauga Animal Rescue Foundation, Sylacauga, Ala.

Tiffany sent the adoption story of Sassy, who often appears in her blog, The Cranky Queen

On December 18, 2007, I was approached at a local salon by one of the volunteers from the local animal shelter, Sylacauga Animal Rescue Foundation. She knew that we had two Chihuahuas and loved little dogs. She told me there was a black-and-white Chi and an eight-year-old white poodle mix that needed to be adopted or taken in as a foster dog.

I knew my parents were travelling from Louisiana for the Christmas holidays and asked if I could come see the dogs after Christmas. She indicated that the poodle had not eaten in over two weeks (since she was dropped off at the facility) and felt this was an emergency situation. My son, then 13 years old, begged for us to at least go take a look at the dogs.

The following morning (December 19, 2007), prior to may parents' arrival, we visited the animal shelter. Hovering in the corner of the stall was a pitiful-looking white dog shaking and trembling. However, the black-and-white Chihuahua was bouncing up and down like, "take me, take me!"

The volunteer opened the gate to the little fenced kennel and the Chi immediately ran out with my son chasing after him. I walked over to the corner of the kennel, crouched down beside this little white dog, and gently petted her. After I realized that she was not going to bite me, I picked her up. She was uncomfortable in the way I was holding her and immediately straddled my waist like a small baby would do, then briefly licked my cheek! That was it; I knew that this little dog needed to come home with us that day.

The information that was given to me at the shelter included that this poodle mix was brought to the shelter by its male owner. He stated that she was a family pet and was eight years old. His wife had recently had a baby and was experiencing some "post-baby blues." The dog also did not like his owners holding the infant and would jump up in their laps. They were afraid that the dog may hurt the baby. The dog's given name was Sassy.

We introduced Sassy to our two Chihuahuas, Dixie Belle and Ruby Fawn (then one and three years old). They sniffed her and went on their merry way. No growling, no fighting, no barking. Sassy made her "home" under the coffee table. She was dirty and matted, so I did bathe her. My parents arrived and I found she was comfortable with them. She still remained subdued and preferred lying under the table. She did sleep with us (along with the other two dogs.)

After Christmas, a trip to the vet revealed that she was actually about eight years old. The vet said that she had been spayed and her teeth were in good shape. She had one developing cataract in one eye. The vet did find that at one time, she had a dislocated hip that may pop out of place on occasion. We felt that she may have been caught up in a slamming door, because she always hesitated before entering or exiting through a doorway. The vet felt that she was a poodle-bichon mix.

I took her to the local groomer, where they told me that she behaved very well during grooming, and obviously had probably experienced routine grooming in the past due to her good behavior.

The animal shelter did list her on their website for adoption and posted her picture on the bulletin board at the shelter. Six months later, we adopted Sassy, with her official name as Sassafrass Steers!

To make a long story short, our smallest Chihuahua, Ruby, had been diagnosed with Cushing's Disease at eight months of age and was predicted not to live past two years old. After Sassy came, Ruby had a playmate. Ruby is now over five years old. The vet thinks that Sassy was Ruby's guardian angel. She played with her when our other, much fatter Chi did not!

Sassy with Dixie Belle and Ruby Fawn

Since Sassy has come to live with us, she has learned to walk on a leash. She loves to ride in the car. She has learned to play with stuffed toys like our Chihuahuas do. (At first she was not sure about tug-of-war with toys.) She often mimics what the Chis do. She still does not like small children.

She will be 12 years old in December 2011. She has become much more lethargic in the past months. The vet feels that dementia or depression has set in. She no longer sleeps with us, but prefers to sleep in her own little bed. Her cataracts have worsened. Warts are appearing under her fur. We continue to give her the love that we always have, knowing that at her age, each day is precious.

If you adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue group and you'd like to share his or her story, please email me. I'd love to hear from you!