Sunday, November 13, 2011

5 Rescue Rules for Bringing Home a New Dog

There has been an epidemic of dogs coming back to rescues only days, sometimes HOURS after being adopted. This is obviously a failure on the part of the RESCUE to explain how to properly introduce dogs to a new environment. Here are some ideas on the most common hurdles that a new dog must clear. Please set your foster dog up to WIN, not fail, by communicating the following ideas.

  1. Do not bring the dog inside a new house for a half-hour to an hour after arrival. Ideally, you would tire the dog out with hours of play before bringing it inside. You MUST spend time in the yard, that is the dog’s new bathroom, and the bathroom is most important place for the dog to know, before it knows where it will eat, sleep, etc. Give the dog plenty of water and plenty of time to eliminate that same water. Dogs who are nervous get diarrhea and ruined carpet has gotten more than one dog returned in less than an hour.
  2. In this same line of thinking, do not give the dog free reign to run the house immediately. Close off all rooms, introduce one room at a time. Over a course of several hours. Let the dog discover everything it is going to try to destroy, and get it up and out of the way. Ideally you would do this before the dog comes home, but it is always the items you least expect: just-removed shoes, chair legs, cords, throw pillows. Vigilance is key, a dog will go after tantalizing things when it gets comfortable and the honeymoon period is over. Don’t think that just because a dog leaves shoes alone the first week, that they won’t destroy one on day 8.
  3. Explain the importance of food consistency, and insist on it. Give a food sample to the adopter. Enough to tide the dog over for 3 days. Explain the importance of maintaining the same food for awhile after adoption. Even switching to a “better” food will upset a dog’s stomach. Giving samples of the dog's favorite way to "work its jaws" is a good thing, too, to prevent that chewing.
  4. Barking. A new dog is going to want to let everyone know that s/he is there and a force to be reckoned. Have your new dog meet all of your neighbors. Be super friendly. Take cookies. Explain that your dog is new and may bark because dogs bark at unfamiliar surroundings. Assure your neighbors that you will do your best to not let the dog bark. This small step could make the difference in a neighbor becoming your trusty back-up to let your dog out when you have car trouble, or that same person being the frustrated neighbor from hell who throws rat poison over your fence.
  5. Introduce all family members ahead of time. On neutral territory. And be vigilant about it being a calm, organized affair. A calm dog needs to have met each and every calm family member, including college-age kids who might come home to do laundry on the weekend, down to pet guinea pigs. If everyone in the family can depend on the dog not biting them, everyone is going to be happy with the newest addition. Dogs have predatory senses, and sometimes it can be to a new adopter’s advantage, as seen here:|main5|dl8|sec3_lnk2|112259

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hurt Puppy Millers and Breeders where it counts—THE WALLET!

It is already Christmas season early in November, and many breeders are technologically savvy—they have a web page and they know that people who want to buy a dog for Christmas are going to check online to see what dogs are available and where to locate them. We can make their lives miserable by clicking on their online ads.

Say what?
Google Adwords, Facebook ads, Yellowbook and other online search engines and websites are run on algorithms that feed you news and topics that they think you will like. Type in search terms that will get you to the breeders. For example, type in:
Buy Iowa Toy Dog
Iowa Dog Breeder Info
Buy Iowa Puppy
Buy Yorkie Dog
Buy Poodle Iowa
Iowa Pet Store
Get creative, you can think of LOTS more! Type these things into your search engine and see what ads show up at the top and sidebar of your search engine. I’m sure you can think of lots of combinations. When you see an ad for a business that is obviously a breeder (not a shelter or a rescue!!!)_CLICK IT! They will be charged a sum for each click that takes the searcher through to their website. It doesn’t matter how long you stay or if you buy anything from the site (don’t!!!)
I don’t get it, how does this hurt them?
Google Adwords and Facebook ads work two ways: 1, a breeder buys up a certain number of clicks and once those clicks are gone, their ad no longer shows up. And 2, less savvy breeders will give a credit card number and allow themselves to be charged every single time that their ad is clicked—this can result in THOUSANDS of dollars in charges. If they don’t check their credit card and stop the flow of money, they could EASILY spend 10,000 in adword clicks per month. My legitimate company spends a capped $5,000 on Adwords EACH AND EVERY MONTH. If we didn’t have a cap, we could spend 30,000 PER MONTH. That is how Google, Facebook, etc can be “free” --they make money off online ads.

Won’t breeders just do this back to rescues?
Yes, they probably already do! So, let’s fight them, cost them some money and drive down their web traffic! It is an accumulative effect, we need LOTS of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses working on this effort. If breeders can no longer afford to advertise, that will drive down the number of buyers of dogs, they will quit having litters of puppies and we will have less work to do in the long run!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm having a BAD day...

Today I am having a bad day. Woke up to a dog puking, headache, almost fell backwards into the bathtub, dog peed about a gallon on the floor, terrible traffic.

But THEN I remember that The Barkley Foundation is having a WORSE day. They are a good group that has the best of intentions.

Yes, I know all of the facts, and I know all of the arguments and I know all of the details. I can't get into them here, there's just too many. The bottom line is: they owe $22,000 to their vet. And they have dogs that still aren’t quite out of the woods, health-wise. And they have people behaving badly to them on Facebook, bullying them and smearing their names and talking behind their backs like fifth graders. This, on top of everything else going on in their private lives, which aren’t exactly cake, either.

My life is easy by comparison. My problems can be solved with Advil, Planet Urine, with slowing down, and telling people to back off. Right now, I’m telling everyone to back off TBF. They are a good group that has the best of intentions. They are innocent of wrong-doing, the only thing they are guilty of is biting off more than they can chew. And anyone who has ever bitten off more than they can chew knows that eventually, you’ll get it all straightened out, if you are contrite and you ask for help, EARLY.

It’s impossible to predict what will happen from day to day in animal rescue. It is impossible to know what dogs have been exposed to, because DOGS CAN’T TALK. It is impossible to trust everyone when we’re stressed, over-worked and fighting a constant stream of millers, abusers and idiots who “just want to have one litter”. And you are under tight deadlines, budgetary restrictions, and so are the people you are working with. Everyone is broke and full, everywhere, and with all of these natural disasters and the economy still in the toilet, it’s JUST GETTING WORSE.

Harder and even less predictable: you have to answer to public opinion. And to “lawmakers” who have never saved a life. You have to set people straight about LIES. You have to deal with media scrutiny. These are all distractions, from something MUCH more important--you are staring into the eyes filled with pain in a little furry face.

It’s so easy to attack, it’s easier than jumping in and doing WORK. It’s easier to say “no, I won’t help you” and judge. American Idol gave us Simon Cowell. Some people are trying to be the Simon Cowell of the rescue world. Cowell is an exaggeration, not someone to model your comments on when you are discussing REAL people doing REAL WORK.

Yeah, TBF got in over their head. There was a break down in communication. But at the end of the day they can hold their heads high and say “We did right by each individual animal” and at the end of the day, at the end of this life, that is HONORABLE.

This is my opinion. If you don’t like my little essay, you have two choices. You can un-friend me or, you can ignore me. Either way, if you've EVER had a bad day, why don't you go give a dollar to The Barkley Foundation?

Who am I? I’m ONE person walking the rescue walk at my own pace. I transport a LOT, and I do mid-week transports and long hauls to Minnesota. I network dogs to rescues and find fosters. I post dogs on Facebook and Twitter. I look for ways to HELP, I get a crew together, and I GO DO IT. This week I had four dogs released from a puppy mill to find homes for, and they stayed at my house. They have all been placed now and my vet bill will only be $200 for the neuters. I got LUCKY.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Failure

Today, a total bitch challenged me on how I personally help animals.

Now, she doesn't know me. She is an ugly, washed-up, talking-head hag who is protecting her shitty company and their shitty policies. She doesn't know that I helped to start The Pet Project Midwest (sorry for swearing in a post about you, I know you won't like it) and I left to do the magazine, which is 100% adoption focused, and to work on direct care. In monetary terms, I donated a ton of kitty litter and dog food to TPPM, I bought a $400 dog house from Pet Project Midwest as a fundraiser. I also helped to build a wall at Heinz 57's Pit Stop, and am planning to help them build another wall really soon. I went to two Petland protests. I wrote at least 8 letters to elected officials on the Iowa Puppy Mill Bill that passed in March. I wrote and designed and sold ad space for the magazine and I personally recruited at least 15 non-profit rescues to be part of a fundraiser through the magazine. I really hope it comes back strong in 2011. I went to a court hearing of a puppy miller, to support the rescues that took his abused and neglected dogs. I also did some other things that I can't talk about. But if you read this, and you were a part of it-- you'll know.

But she struck a nerve. She hurt my feelings. She pushed me over the edge, because I am sitting here on the last day of 2010 feeling like a FAILURE. Because I had a goal at the beginning of 2010, and I didn't make it. My goal was to directly help 100 dogs in 2010.

Direct Help, to me, includes:

1. Directly transporting in my car.
2. Directly fostering in my home.
3. Finding a foster home for a dog.
4. Cross-posting in a way that leads to an adoption or a foster home
AND MAYBE: 5. Giving money to help an individual dog's situation--health bills come to mind. I did this 6 times, in increments from $5-$20. So, 6 dogs, if we count this.

So, how many others did I help?

5 Bassets over Christmas 2009 had to be re-transported in early 2010
2 mill poodles to Columbus, OH, on my way to BlogPaws 2010
1 Pregnant Pyr
1 Foster, transport, foster home for Stewie Basset was also in-home for a total of three nights
1 Foster--Solomon
1 Foster--Jimmy (adopted by Tim and Vicky)
1 Charlie (originally Bailey) (adopted by Tim and Vicky)
2 Yorkies--found foster home with Kelly and Andy
4 Recruited Molly Nagel to take Scooter, who needed surgery. Scootie was adopted, he was going to be put down because he growled when he played. Molly fostered Bailey and Nina from Joplin, Missouri, and foster-failed Bailey. (YAAY!) Molly began her own efforts, and I believe helped over 50 animals this year?? I also helped her by going to Red-something Iowa to retrieve Dallas, a dog that had gone astray. I'm counting that!
1 Puppy Mill Survivor "Little Red"
1 The Weeg, the Basset the Fernandez family adopted.
19 dogs total

Transports --according to my mileage log for taxes, I helped with a few transports this year.
20 dog transport--helped to load/unload, overnight, walk and tag. Does this count? I think it does, because I spent over 4 hours doing it.
12 dog transport
6 dog transport
5 dog transport
5 dog transport
7 dog transport
4 dog transport
4 dog transport
8 dog transport
2 mill dogs to Williamsburg
4 dogs needed rides to Pella, Iowa

77 dogs transported
( I was asked to do 14 weekend transports, and I did 9 of them, the others were special trips)

SUBTOTAL: 97 dogs. Does money toward vet bills count? Because then it is TOTAL 103 dogs helped.

SO, technically, I barely made my goal of helping 100 dogs. So, looking at my failure, how am I going to change in the New Year? First of all, on January 1, I am transporting. I am taking two dogs between Des Moines and Williamsburg, IA. I am going to keep transporting, as much as I can, every weekend I can. Because I personally could have done more.

Recruiting. I am going to recruit and train fosters and drivers. I think I only recruited about 6 people to help

Posting. I am going to post more on Facebook and Twitter about dogs that need help.

Engaging other communities. Earlier this year, I had a thought about helping get dogs adopted in Northern Minnesota. I think I want to pursue that...

What are you going to do?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Thanks to I discovered the wonderful tastiness that is this recipe last night

½ cup (2 ounces) powdered sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups (6¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

Cream the sugar, butter and vanilla. Add flour. Mix and roll til it's dough, then press into forms or cookie pan. Bake on 350

It makes the most lovely short-bready-flaky cookie bordering on biscuit. I highly recommend, and I'll be making these for my neighborhood cookie exchange next week!

The recipe yields about 20 cookies in the shaped cookie pan I was using.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Little Red

Last week, a puppy mill in Eastern Iowa begrudgingly gave up all of their breeding stock, because they lost their USDA license. They were encouraged by the USDA to euthanize the "stock", rather than giving them up to rescues. Luckily, they wanted to give their stock up to other breeders, and somehow A Heinz 57 Rescue got into the loop, and prevented this from happening. See, millers HATE rescue. We give dogs away for free, compared to them (Usually $75-175, depending on vetting compared to $400-1,400 for a purebred puppy) and we drive down the cost and the demand for breeds.

The mill consisted of mostly mutts--"designer" dogs-- malti-poos, yorkie-poos, shih-tsu-poos (shit-poo?) and beautiful, friendly, social Golden Retrievers. It was obvious that the millers were only really interested in Goldens, the other dogs were an afterthought--a way to make fast money.

When the transport arrived, it was late at night, freezing cold, and the Heinz 57 staff weren't even sure what all they HAD in the van, they simply accepted absolutely everyone that the breeder was giving away. No health records, no names, no breeds were explained. They were simply man-handled over to the rescue, who had been called only the day before. They were originally to hand over 20-ish, dogs, they turned over 42. Because of the larger number than originally planned, not all of the dogs had a place to go for the evening...when the staff pulled out a red and white Cocker Spaniel, and lamented that she had no place to go, I knew I couldn't say no.

So, P and I are working to rehabilitate a puppy mill dog. And I am incredibly proud of the progress she's making. In a week's time:

She does not run away from us when we walk around the house. At first, she would run laps, run away from where we were, constantly check the perimeter of the first floor. She was always panting. You would, too, if you were always running. Now, she follows us from room to room, she is curious about what we are doing, and wants to be near us.

Stairs. She can now go up and down, she was terrified of them when she arrived. Most mill dogs don't have a clue how to do stairs, they never have occasion.

Recognizing her name. We named her Prudie, as a joke, because she kept presenting herself to Copper, our dominant male. The name didn't stick, she comes to "Little Red" when called. She will come up and allow you to stroke her head and ears. She will also take food from your hand, as well.

Housetraining. She understands we wish for her to do her business outside. Her lack of training has not been a problem, because we are crate training, we are always supervising her food and water, and we let her and the other dogs out to do their business on a consistent basis.

Walking on a leash. She has been for a few walks, and is beginning to make progress being on a leash. Things we take for granted, scare her. Like mailboxes. And shadows.

I attribute all of this progress to a few factors. First, dogs. We have her in a house with 3 other dogs. She has someone to show her the ropes, to model how to act--to take her to the yard, the food, the water and most importantly, show her how to RELAX.

Second, Noise. There is a LOT of noise and activity at our house. I clean almost every day, we watch tv, the dogs bark, the phone and doorbell ring, we entertain friends. There are a lot of noises and a dog gets used to a home with commotion quickly. We go for car rides, and we meet strangers. This is all part of socializing a dog, and giving them confidence that strangeness will not hurt them.

Third, No expectations. We don't take it personally that she wanted nothing to do with us at first. That she has yet to consistently wag her tail. That she may not be potty trained. That she has to learn things we take for granted in our hounds and Sophie.

Eventually, we will be looking for the right home for Little Red. We love her, but we are well-equipped to help other dogs, and we want to have room in our home for more dogs to be helped. Little Red will need a home with other dogs to show her the ropes. She will need a fenced backyard, and an owner who will recognize that she can easily revert to mill ways--being frightened, being skittish, trying to bolt when she sees a chance to escape. With the progress she is making right now, she might be ready to go to a new home as soon as January!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Great Iowa Pet Expo -- Volunteers Needed!

Seems like I never use this blog anymore, but there's a really good reason, and I need more than 140 characters to get the instructions across!

The Great Iowa Pet Expo will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. I need a few volunteers to help introduce some dogs to potential adopters. We have a few coming to Des Moines ESPECIALLY to be shown off at the Expo, and what they need most is a friendly, understanding, leash-holding marketer!

The volunteers will get to enjoy the show for a few hours, take in the sights, listen to the speakers and will walk one of three adoptable dogs around, to meet and greet potential adopters or fosters. The dogs will wear "Adopt Me" bandannas and you will have fliers or business cards to give to genuinely interested parties. You'll tell people the dog's story, make sure they have water and bathroom breaks and generally care for them for a few hours. The dogs are a male baby Beagle, a young female Beagle and a young female terrier mix, no one is over 30 lbs and they are all dog and children-friendly, as well as up-to-date on shots.

We'll collect interested names and phone numbers, too, and follow up with a formal application to adopt/foster and a home visit!

In exchange, you will get free admission to the Expo and I will buy you lunch or a snack for your time. You can also feel good that you helped out a homeless dog! Please contact me ASAP!