Barry White, My New Love

I took my new enrichment dog, Barry White, on the Stray Rescue group walk


We stopped at a place called Paradise Cove

The white dog in front is my former enrichment dog, Boogie Pilgrim


Barry and I then headed to Forest Park.

Where he relaxed










and smiled


I love this dog!IMG_5898

He needs a home!


Making a Difference…A Day to Remember

I have to write about yesterday. Not because I’ll forget – I’ll never forget – but so I’ll remember the details.  
Stray Rescue, through a grant from Humane Society of the United States and PetsMart Charities, held a free vaccinations and spay/neuter event at a park in North St. Louis City.  This is the neighborhood where Randy and his team find most of the 500+ stray dogs (and cats) currently available for adoption, some of whom live at the shelter and some in foster homes.
Many people in this neighborhood do NOT spay and neuter their pets, nor do they take great care of them. But they cared enough that 650 dogs and cats got vaccinated, and for that I must celebrate.
I was one of five or six data collectors who went through the line and helped people fill out the forms necessary for their pets’ to get distemper and rabies vaccinations.  We also were told to encourage those whose pets weren’t already spayed and neutered to accept the offer to sign up for these free services to be done at a later date. 
Hundreds of people were in line.  One form had to be filled out for each dog. Most people had more than one dog, many had four and five dogs.  One lady had six small dogs, including a tiny Yorkie and a one-eyed dachshund in a stroller. 
Forty or fifty volunteers participated in the event. I’m sure everyone has stories to tell of what they saw and experienced. These are mine:
A man and his wife had three or four dogs, including an 8- or 9-week old puppy that squirmed in his arms and fell to the concrete while I filled out their form.  The puppy seemed okay, but I heard his head hit the concrete!  With so many people still to collect info from, I had to move on. That was the beginning of the day. My friend Sandy and I huddled together at one point and said we didn’t think we could do this again. 
One old man had four big dogs. I filled out his forms for him, since I could tell he was illiterate (we were told to watch for this). Someone was with him to help handle the dogs, but the old man held the leash of one big dog that tried to lunge at someone walking by and the dog pulled him to the ground. He held on to the dog, and he wasn’t hurt, but he obviously has his hands full with four big dogs. 
I saw a pit bull puppy with bright blood-red eyes, with the bottom lids bulging out. He had something called cherry eye.
One couple had two male pit bulls with them. The woman was holding a two-week-old pit bull puppy whose eyes were barely open. She said that Animal Control had taken away the mom (I didn’t ask why), the rest of the puppies were at home and this was the runt. She didn’t want to leave him at home. She said she had to bottle feed the puppies every few hours.
I only saw one or two really skinny dogs with their ribs showing.
My friend Nancy told me this story:  One man said his dog had had diarrhea and vomiting and hadn’t eaten in a while. She was completely lethargic and could barely lift her head. Randy Grim was at the event, and when Nancy brought this dog to his attention, he had someone drive back to the shelter for a parvo test. The dog tested positive, and Randy told the guy that without emergency treatment the dog would die. Randy offered to treat her for free, and she was whisked off by one of the Stray Rescue staff to the specialty hospital they use. Randy even gave the guy his personal cell phone number. (I LOVE RANDY!)
Many people had huge, heavy chains on their dogs instead of leashes. One boy had a chain and padlock on his two- or three-month-old pit bull puppy.  Another young guy’s dog’s collar was so tight that he could barely breathe. We told him it was a “little” too tight. He said, “Oh, sorry.” He didn’t know any better.  It’s so sad 😦  One of our volunteers cut the collar off with a pocket knife and we replaced it with a new one.  Some people used belts as a collar- and leash-in-one.  Some used electrical cords.  Some had no collars or leashes and carried their dogs through the line. A few dogs escaped their owners and were corralled by volunteers. One man’s two pit bulls fought each other as he tried to hold them apart.  I saw lots of people carrying sticks to hit their dogs with if they misbehaved in line.  And they used them. And we weren’t allowed to say anything except maybe suggest a different way of getting the dog to behave.  It felt kind of hopeless. Like they’re just going to go home and treat the dog any way they want regardless of what we say, so what’s the point? I know that’s not the right way to think, but it really was overwhelming. After the fourth of fifth hour you kind of just want to give up.
One young girl I saw was higher than a kite, probably on heroin. She was definitely in another world. She moaned and groaned and her eyes were not focused. She picked her small dog up off the ground by the leash when he didn’t listen to her.  I saw this out of the corner of my eye down the line, but I had to keep going.
We were told to be understanding and nonjudgmental. It hurts to see dogs treated like that for seven hours.  It’s shocking. I was in disbelief. My heart hurt. It was traumatizing, really. I needed to go home and recover. Another day or two of that and I think I could be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I couldn’t get the sad state of the dogs out of my head.  I know the people love their dogs, but they show it in the only ways they’ve been taught, which in itself is sad to think about. 
Okay, for all the bad (I feel better getting that all out), let me tell you about the good.
Thankfully the weather was beautiful…sunny but not too hot. 
A lot of people had little foo foo dogs – shitzus, yorkies, cockapoos, pomeranians – that were perfectly and recently groomed, with little hair bows and outfits.  The volunteers laughed about the extremes  – there were either little foo foo dogs…or pit bulls. Nothing in between.
One well dressed man told me his dog, a beautiful, healthy, happy, 8-year-old black and white pit bull, was his “son.” We talked for 10 minutes about how he hates the bad rap that pit bulls get and that he likes to use his dog as an example of how friendly and well behaved they can be.  As they walked to their car after going through the line, I ran up and said goodbye.  I met several people I chatted with in line that I said goodbye to as they left, and I thanked them for coming. 
A young man with a pit bull puppy wouldn’t let him drink out of the water bowls we provided along the line. He asked if he could have a bottled water for himself. We had water for volunteers, but I told him I would get him one if he gave his puppy some of it. After I got it, I said, “You don’t want your puppy to drink out of the bowl?” He said, “No, it’s dirty.” I thought it was cute that he was so concerned, and probably rightly so, about his puppy drinking out of the same bowl so many dogs had used. He asked if he could throw the water in the bowl out. I said yes, and he rinsed it out with the clean water from the bottle a couple of times before finally filling it for his dog. Very sweet.
Good and bad:  Some people (mostly men but a few women) who did not want their dogs spayed or neutered were adamant about it.  They wouldn’t look at me and just said “NOPE,” or “I want her to have puppies,” or “I breed them.” I wanted to drive them to the shelter 10 minutes away to see the hundreds of little, pleading pit bull faces staring up through the cages and ask them why. But I didn’t spend a lot of time on those people. I gave my little spiel, but I could tell the ones who weren’t going to be swayed and I don’t have the persistent personality it takes to continue with them any further. There were volunteers specifically assigned this task, so I left it to them. BUT… I had quite a few I DID talk into spay and neuter! It felt so good. Some were on the fence about it, but with a free offer worth $100 to “fix” their pet, which included a free microchip and nail trim, how could they pass it up! I got one guy to get all four of his dogs spayed and neutered. 
Although it was tough to see how some of the pets were treated, all of the people were polite, friendly, grateful, and patient, despite the long lines and hundreds of restless, barking dogs. Which is probably the only reason I would consider volunteering for this event, held every six months, again. Well, that and the chance to pet dogs all day. 
And feeling like I made a little difference in a little corner of the world. 

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday – Farewell to Funnybone / Romeo Turns 2

My friend Donna’s dog Funnybone passed away last week. Funnybone had knee surgery not too long ago but was doing great and running around like a crazy woman.  After her morning potty break, she got back in bed and at some point passed away cuddled right up to her momma.

Blue and Donna comforting each other…

Scout misses her sidekick sister desperately, and finds comfort in sleeping in Funnybone’s bed

 Funnybone was rescued from the streets by Stray Rescue. After some time she was able to be paired with another dog. It’s exciting when dogs are paired because it means they can get along with other dogs.
Here is Funnybone just after meeting her new Stray Rescue roommate…
Donna started taking Funnybone on hikes with Four Directions Hiking, and she may have taken her home a time or two…more than likely for a bath. 
But that’s it. Donna had too many dogs already, and she certainly didn’t want a dog as bad as Funnybone.
In this picture on her Facebook page, Donna’s comment says “I ordered her not to get into my heart!”
Funnybone’s typical rebellious reaction was to do just that.
And Donna brought her home. 
For good.
And that’s when she became kind of famous. 
Donna posted pictures of her on Facebook.
She was a riot.  
 Because of People Donna’s postings, people who had never met Funnybone felt they knew 
her and were saddened by her death.
She was an absolute character. And it wouldn’t surprise me if her mom wrote a book making Funnybone the star. 
She would love that. 
Being the center of attention was her mission in life.
That and taking a piece of our hearts.
She always did get what she wanted.
I love you, sweet Bone.

  A 6-year-old boy said this:  “People are born so they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice.  Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

The very next day after Funnybone passed away, Donna wanted to proceed with plans she’d had to host a birthday party for Romeo, the dog she rescued that lived outside his entire life. Donna decided Romeo’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day, so she wanted to celebrate his turning 2.  It’s not easy to muster up a smile when you’ve just lost your best friend, but I suspect seeing this cute face made it a little easier.
Is this not the face of a dog happy to finally live inside? We all cringe to think he would be in his wooden doghouse in these snowy, below zero conditions we’ve had.
He has got to be one of the happiest, friendliest dogs I know.
Emilee and Sandy

Nancy, Romeo’s grandma, and Kelly

Donna and her baby Scout

Romeo did great with our friend Kathleen’s baby Emily

Kelly and Romeo

Romeo opened a few birthday presents

Yep, crazy dog people and proud of it

Donna, Romeo, and Kathleen’s little boy Max

Alyson, Emily, Romeo’s grandma, and Kelly. I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of Romeo’s mom, Becca!

Max fell asleep sitting up

Bittersweet week, to say the least. 
Life is that way.
Love while you can.

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday – Where Are They Now?

Pretend it says “Raise the Woof Thursday
A while back I posted on Stray Rescue’s Facebook page this collage I made of my friend Sandy’s dog, Normm.  It got over 1,000 “likes.” It may just be coincidence, but  recently Stray Rescue began a feature called Where are They Now?, before and after stories of severely injured dogs at the time of rescue and today in their new homes. I think it’s wonderful!

And guess what? The most recent Where are They Now?  featured Normm!

Look how happy he is with Sandy and her husband Steve:   Normm today

Read this!! The original Stray Rescue story of Normm’s rescue still makes his mom cry.

He celebrated his 3rd birthday at doggie daycare a few days ago. Love you, Normm!

The Watering Bowl does pictures like this for birthdays 🙂

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday

How do animals in cities with temps below zero survive without someone like Randy Grim and Stray Rescue?
On Saturday night and into Sunday, St. Louis got 10+ inches of snow.  Teaming up with the Mayor, Randy made a plea on the news to bring pets inside.  Any pets found outside, even in backyards, would be confiscated and the owners fined. I think only a few people were given citations, but Randy and his staff were busier than ever rescuing stray dogs. On Monday morning the temperature was -8 with a windchill of -20.

(You know you’re an animal person when in extreme weather all you can think about are stray and missing dogs and cats. It breaks my heart.)
Thank you, Randy, for what you do.
Here are pictures from some of his rescues:
Larry can’t believe that entire packs of stray dogs are running around and living in abandoned houses, but in some areas (especially East St. Louis), believe me, they are.
This poor guy, Francis, was not rescued in time; he passed away soon after.

One grateful pup
This poor guy had to be sedated and muzzled. He got into the car easily when rescued, but at the shelter he refused to get out, growling and baring his teeth. Apparently he liked the warmth of the car and thought he was being forced back out into the cold.  No worries, little dude, you’re safe! 
This boy, named Zero, was picked up off the streets by a police officer, who has since decided to adopt him for his little boy.
These babies, and their momma who was tied up, were all rescued.
And then there’s this….





I wish all dogs had such a choice.

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday

The Stray Rescue staff started a wonderful system to track enrichment time spent with the shelter dogs to ensure each gets equal time. It’s not a perfect system, since some dogs are more popular with volunteers and hence they have more “fans,” but this way the love is spread more evenly as the staff fills in the gaps where needed.
There’s a key for us to follow. W = extra walk / E = enrichment outside of the shelter (park, home, etc.) / CR = car ride / A = time in apartment / Y = play time in yard / R = run
The red colored marker is for volunteers and the black marker is for staff, but the red pen got lost and the volunteers started writing “vol” next to the letter.
Some dogs are not allowed extra enrichment for various temporary reasons.

I love that Paul, an enrichment staff member, encourages staff to spend time with red collar (staff only) dogs by offering lottery tickets. These dogs don’t get a lot of enrichment time because volunteers aren’t allowed to take them out. The goal is for the dogs to become purple collar so anyone can enrich them.

My own dogs fight over enrichment time with me. Here’s how it goes:  Stella comes and sits on my lap first. KC immediately comes over, plops herself right on Stella and squeezes her out as if she’s not even there. “What? Stella? Where? I don’t see a dog.”
Poor Stella. And she’s so submissive. She quietly backs out and walks to the other end of the couch. 
And waits for her daddy to get home.

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday

This is Stassi. I picked her up from a lady who saved her from Animal Control in Perryville, a rural Missouri town about an hour and a half away. Apparently the shelter only feeds the dogs every few

days because 1) They can’t afford to feed them more often, and 2) The dogs will be gassed anyway, so the shelter doesn’t want to waste food.  This baby looked only a few months old, but the vet said she

was somewhere between 6 and 9 months.  She is an absolute doll and wants nothing more than to be held.

When I picked her up from the lady transporting her from Perryville, I tried to set her in the passenger seat, but she crawled right back into my lap.

I took her to Kelly’s, who is fostering her, and when I gave her some food she ate it so fast I thought she would choke. Poor thing. She was STARVING.  Kelly, by the way, named her Stassi after a girl in the reality show Vanderpump Rules.

Kelly has already taught her to “wait” before she eats!! Not an easy task for a starving dog!
Good girl, Stassi.
I’ve taken quite a few fosters to the vet for Kelly, since she works full time, and they’ve all been very cute, but I’ve never wanted to keep one as much as I did this one. She is the biggest love bug.  And look at those ears!! 
As mentioned in my previous post about our annual Santa Paws Fundraiser party,
Stassi has been adopted by our friend Sandy.
I’m jealous, but so happy because now I’ll get to see her.
Sandy and Stassi


 On Sunday, we (Four Directions Hiking) took the shelter dogs for a hike.  My hiking partner, Heparin, was the most affectionate dog I’ve ever met. She wouldn’t stop kissing me.
On the hike…

And in the car…

We looked pretty cute in our matching pink jackets 🙂

“Enough with the selfies…all I want to do is KISS you!!”

“Okay, one more.”

We hiked four miles. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, and the dogs loved getting out for a few hours.

Somebody was sleepy on the way home…