Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When is it Okay to Give Up Your Pet?

You hear a lot of things when you work in rescue.  Some of those things warm your heart, make you believe in people again.  Most of those things, though, frustrate the hell out you.  Make you want to tear your heart out by the roots and scream, "What is wrong with you?!?!" at the unsuspecting person across the counter.  (I just had a flashback of working in retail.  That's a special kind of frustration all its own!)

You hear things like, "I adopted this dog from you last year, but I need to bring her back.  We're expecting a baby."  And, "My cat keeps peeing outside of her litter box, so I want to surrender her to the shelter."  Or what about, "We're moving to a place that doesn't allow pets"?  Or, my personal favorite, "We just don't have time for him anymore."


Now.  Guys.  I understand that sometimes it's unavoidable.  Sometimes your (my) husband is allergic and asthmatic, and you (I) have to choose between keeping your (my) cat/dog or keeping your (my) husband alive.  (Hardest choice I ever made!)  And sometimes your pet bites your child.  And, yes, sometimes it is the right decision for your pet to have another home.

But many times there is a solution.  If you must move, only look at places that will allow your beloved pet!  If you are expecting a child, do your research - your dog will probably adjust to the new addition just fine.  There are places that will help you with low-cost veterinary care and free pet food if you are short on money.  There are also sitters who will care for and play with your pet while you are at work if you're short on time.

Giving your pet up to a shelter should be the last resort.  (It also needs to be said that you should never, ever post your pet on Craigslist.  Or, honestly, those Facebook "giveaway" pages.  Just don't do it.)

(Also, at least act sad or regretful when you're surrendering what is basically your family member to a shelter.  Just a little bit.  Please?  It's one thing to give up your cat if you tell it goodbye with tears in your eyes.  It's completely another if you surrender your Border Collie puppy for chewing things in your house, and then you walk out the door with a smile and arms up, touchdown-style, saying "Free at last!")  (Did that sound like an oddly specific example?  That's because it is an actual thing that I experienced.  UGH.)

When it comes right down to it, when is it okay to give up your pet?  Well...when you feel you have no other choice.  When it breaks your heart to do it.  I guess it all depends on personal circumstance.

But I want to hear what you think?  When do you think it is okay to give up your pet?  I would love some discussion in the comments!  I would also love to know the "excuse" that most frustrates you?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Promise 4 Paws Senior Dog Sanctuary

By now, you've all seen the viral video about the retirement home for dogs located in Maryland.  (And I'm sure you, like me, reached for the tissues when they talked about the "Stairway to Heaven"...)  Shortly after I watched this video for the first time, my husband and I took a day trip to Omaha to celebrate my birthday.  And we stumbled upon a place very similar to the video...and basically, guys, it's where I would like to live for the rest of my life.

Whenever I go on trips, I do a lot of Googling in the weeks prior.  Usually, I search for bookstores and animal shelters, and on the Omaha trip, I struck gold!  I found an organization called "Promise 4 Paws Senior Dog Sanctuary" located near Council Bluffs, Iowa.  There wasn't much information about it online, but we hoped for the best and headed there anyway.  I'm so glad we did!

3 of the 4 dogs on this couch are blind...and all so very sweet!

This place was my version of heaven.  25 dogs, all between ages 8 and 18, with a house all to themselves.  Most of the dogs had a few health issues (many were blind, incontinent, missing teeth, etc.), but man, were those dogs happy.  You could really tell that they felt safe and comfortable in this environment.

Promise 4 Paws just opened its doors in April, and it's all because of 3 AMAZING women who had a great love for dogs and a dream.  They visited the retirement home in Maryland (of viral video fame), and it inspired them to make their own sanctuary for old dogs.  They managed to raise enough money to purchase a little house for the dogs to live in.  Now, someone is there 24/7, though each of the women have full-time jobs.  They do not get paid, and there are (usually) no adoption fees being brought in, since most of these dogs are not adoptable.  Their money comes solely from donations and fundraisers.

This sweet girl has congestive heart failure and wasn't feeling so well that day :(

I mean...if only all of us could be so selfless, right?

This guy looked just like a black bear...he was my husband's favorite!

Promise 4 Paws only takes in senior dogs that get along well with other dogs, since they are around one another all the time.  There was a bit of growling amongst the Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, but with 25 dogs, that's to be expected.  The house, a cute cottage-like home, was full of oversized couches, chairs, and dog beds, many specially fitted with ramps.  There is always daytime access to a large, fenced-in yard, and at least half of the dogs were sunbathing on a big porch when we arrived.  A long countertop was custom-built to have multiple cubbies along the bottom with dog beds in each - the Chihuahuas love to snuggle inside the cubbies when they want some alone time.  They also, using the wonderful idea from the Maryland retirement home, have a "Stairway to Heaven", putting up photos of the beloved dogs that have already crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

The Pom in the doorway was the resident greeter :)

I have never seen an organization like this before - I wish there were more around!  Visiting Promise 4 Paws was an experience I will never forget, and I hope to go back again and again.  In fact, I wanted to somehow collaborate with a professional photographer and get a piece together about the place, so if you know any photographers in the area, let me know! :)  These photos do NOT do this place justice, and I am positive some amazing moments could be captured :)

One of the residents, probably thinking, "This is the life."  (Photo from Promise 4 Paws Facebook page)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Chuck the Former Congressman

I have been keeping up with the blog Dooce since 2007; I was still in high school and absolutely adored Heather, her kids, and of course, her dog Chuck.  I would spend hours on my computer going through her archives and laughing out loud at the things she balanced on Chuck's head - hairpieces, clothing items, and allll kinds of treats.  (All photos from Dooce)

Quite the talent, no?

I read about Heather's daughter's birth (Leta is now 11, I think), and how Chuck reacted to the new arrival.  

And I read about Chuck getting older, then older still.  

And this week I read about Chuck passing away.  I sobbed like it was a member of my own family.  I woke my husband up with my cries.  And even though you will need a package and a half of Kleenex, I beg of and read that link.  What a devastating, heartwrenching, beautiful piece of writing.  

The entire Internet misses you, Chuck.  Rest easy, sweet boy.

PS:  Thank you all for your incredibly thoughtful comments on Monday's post.  Your words help more than you know.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


July has been good to me - my job is amazing (and, for once in my life, feels right), I turned 25 and went on a lovely road trip with my husband, and we purchased our first home.  I have never had more reasons to be happy.

And yet I haven't blogged all month.  I have barely volunteered.  I've even struggled to pick up a book and read.  I'm sorry.

I haven't kept my depression a secret on this blog.  I've even written about it (using some NSFW language - you've been warned!) multiple times on my other blog.  If you've experienced a depressive episode, you know how the past few weeks have been for me.  You're probably familiar with what I think of as "The Fog" - that feeling where you're walking through life like a zombie and everything is covered with that blurry film like in those allergy commercials.  It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it.  

It sucks.

"Why are you crying?!" my husband asks.

"I don't know," I sob ridiculously.  And the funny thing is, I really don't know!  I don't know why it's so hard to get out of bed or get into the shower.  I don't know why I forgot how to have fun, and I don't know how to snap out of this funk.

It's getting better, though, so don't worry - I promise there are upbeat posts in my future :)  The Fog is beginning to lift, and, hey, I am writing this post fully dressed, showered, and with makeup on, steps!

Thank you for being here <3