Only You Can Save Your Pet


Tonight (Feb 4) when I checked for updates on my Facebook page, Lost & Found Ohio Pets, this was one of the most recent posts:

Kane

The most recent update on the post was at the bottom. Kane had been put to sleep at the Lucas County Dog Pound. You’ll note that this notice was shared to my page by the dog’s owner on Feb 2., and that the update was today, on the 4th.

The reason why I am calling your attention to this, is because from the time Kane went missing on the 31st, to the time he was put down at the pound, was 4 days. You’ll also note by the photo, that Kane was a pit bull or pit bull mix, which did not work in his favor. Additionally, you will note that the lost notice says he was wearing a red collar.

Now, I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be that in that short of a time, he arrived at the pound with his collar on. Even if there were no tags attached, it would indicate that he belonged to somebody.

That didn’t save him.

I don’t know how crowded the Lucas County Pound was that day. But even if it wasn’t full, they have to plan for the next day…so the stray, unidentified pets that have been held for three days are on the kill list. If they had to choose…they’d keep the ones that they felt were the “most adoptable”.  Since 75% of the pit bulls who enter shelters are killed…my guess is that ‘pit bull’ is not on their most adoptable list. And how Kane responded in that strange, scary, noisy place would have been another factor in deciding his fate. If he acted afraid, or withdrawn, or agitated, or if he were injured, he was a goner for sure. (Do you know how your pet would act at the dog pound?)

This listing and the outcome breaks my heart.

There are 4 things that might have saved Kane’s life, and that is why I am blogging this. To LET YOU KNOW that ONLY YOU CAN SAVE YOUR PET.

Don’t fool yourself by thinking that your pet will never go missing. Let’s face it: accidents happen. No matter how safe we try to keep our pets, they get out. They run. They explore. If they are fortunate enough to be picked up by animal control, their time is limited. And nothing stands between them and death, except YOU. Give yourself, and them, the best chance of being reunited.

1. License your pet. Today. A license is their ticket home if they end up in Animal Control, and it’s Ohio law.

2. Keep an updated I.D. on your pet at all times (if possible)

3. Microchip your pet – AND DON’T FORGET TO REGISTER THE CHIP with your information. AND DON’T FORGET TO UPDATE your info if you move, or if your phone number changes.

4. If your pet goes missing, there are lots of groups like Lost & Found Ohio Pets that will help you get the word out…but nothing can take the place of your presence. Check your city pound, and your county pound DAILY. You must go there IN PERSON…because the way you describe your pet over the phone may not be the way the person fidofrontcover_thumbwho answered would describe your pet. Take a photo with you. Give them multiple ways to contact you.

These four things can mean the difference between life and death for your pet.

For more tips on what to do when your pet is missing, or how to prepare yourself for the possibility, pick up a copy of Finding Fido. [also available on kindle] Every pet owner should have one. 100% of the proceeds from sales benefit the Beagle Freedom Project.

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Why There’s no Place for Ego in Rescue


NEWSFLASH: Animal rescue in all its incarnations is about the animals, not YOU.

Yeah, that seems like a no-brainer, but I am astounded by the number of people I come across in rescue who are all about being congratulated or about winning some kind of imaginary competition in their own addled brains. It happened again yesterday, and this time it really set my hair on fire.peter head on fire jared hindman

Some of you  may know (and if you don’t, you should), that I am the founder of the Community page, Lost & Found Ohio Pets on Facebook. I’ve written about my community page here before, and about why I started it.

I have met some wonderful people since then, some whom have volunteered to help me admin the page. My co-founder is Annie, who helps me create procedures and educate the public. Rox puts in hours each day reviewing the posts people make, making sure she has complete information and then sharing the posts to our timeline. Karen and Amanda crosspost the listings. Denise scans the page for comments indicating that a pet has made it home, and moves those pets into our ‘Home Safe’ albums. Brianna texts people who have listed their pets and follows up with them to see if the animal (or pet’s family) has been found. (People are not so great about posting when their pet’s case is resolved.) I do some of all these things, plus keep a database of the animals and file every animal’s  photo and info in monthly albums for easy viewing and updating. We all devote many hours to the page.

Since the page began in lostFebruary of 2013, more than 4,000 animals have been posted and shared on our page. How does sharing work? Well, if you click ‘share’ on a Facebook post it puts that post on your own timeline, where your friends can see it. Unfortunately, Facebook will s how the post to only about 12% of your Facebook friends, but hopefully, some of them will share the post from your page, and 12% of their friends will see it. As you can imagine, it’s kind of a snowball effect, allowing a single post to be seen by thousands of people…making that animal more visible, and therefore, more likely that someone, somewhere, will have some information about the missing pet.

Facebook might just as well have been created for the purpose of rescue. Rescue groups were quick to discover the possibilities, and have used the service to help millions of animals worldwide.

Lost & Found Ohio Pets is not the only such service on Facebook. There are hundreds. There are at least a dozen pages just for Ohio pets. Each page has their own followers,  – admittedly, there is some overlap – but it ends up being a very large network. From the beginning, we have done whatever we can to work with those other groups to give our pets and theirs more visibility. This effort has not always been reciprocated.

Yesterday, a popular and successful page had a run-in with one of my admins. Our admin posted in the comments under one of their listings that the pet’s family should also post their information to Lost & Found Ohio Pets. This prompted the following response from the admin of that page. I’m posting it word for word:  “Why in the world would you encourage someone to utilize your page that has no history of reunions?!

First of all, the statement is blatantly false. We’ve been instrumental in plenty of reunions, and have received hundreds of messages from families thanking us for our service. Secondly, it is unkind.  Don’t want to work together? Say so. Don’t make false statements about us. When the admin told me about this, I messaged the admin of that page to ask why they would malign Lost & Found Ohio Pets when we should be working together.

foundThe conversation that ensued is what set my  hair on fire. I’m not one to malign other groups, and usually when I have something critical to say about a person or group, I don’t name them…but this was so over the top, that I am not going to pull any punches. The group is Pet FBI (formerly Pet FBI Ohio).

Pet FBI is a good group. They have had a lot of success. They are a group that has a website with an online database where you can post a lost or found pet, which they also share on their Facebook page. They are not the only such group that operates that way. They are also for pets nationwide, not just Ohio. They work just as hard as we do to get lost animals home, but they use a method that we do not.  There’s no rule that says everybody in rescue has to do things the same way! We list Pet FBI in the notes on our page, as another place people should go to post their missing pet…because we are all about networking, and want people to use every avenue available to them BECAUSE GETTING THE LOST PET SEEN AND HOME IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT.

I was very discouraged to learn during my conversation with their admin that there is some mighty ego at work, and I’m sorry, but there is JUST NO PLACE IN RESCUE FOR EGO. Ego hinders the mission.

When I asked why that admin maligned our page, she wrote Don’t comment on our page suggesting people utilize your page. Simple as that.

At face value, I can understand that. When you have a web page you don’t want to direct people away from it, you want to keep them engaged. But we’re not talking about business, we’re talking about rescue. And getting pets home requires getting the word out to as many people as possible.

When I said that to Pet FBI Ohio’s admin, she disagreed. Apparently, they don’t want to work with other groups. The admin said Pet FBI has been around since 1998 as a CENTRAL location to facilitate reunions of lost and found pets. Way before Facebook and before you created your FB page. You are doing a disservice to lost and found pets in Ohio. If you truly cared about lost and found pets in Ohio you would suggest pet owners and finders that post on your page utilize our free lost and found pet database.

Wait. Don’t we already do that? And let me get this straight…didn’t this admin just tell me out admins should not suggest on their page that people also utilize our page…but she wants us to tell people on our page to utilize their page? What is wrong with this picture? She thinks I don’t truly care about lost and found pets? I hate it when people tell me what I do and do not care about….especially people who do not know me.

And, most aggravating,  to say that we are doing a disservice to lost and found pets in Ohio? Maybe she should say that to the families of these pets: posted and shared on the Lost & Found Ohio Pets page who made it home safely just in the past 6 weeks.
home

I’m not saying we are 100% responsible for these happy endings, but I am saying that our page was instrumental.

When I discussed this conversation with my co-founder, Annie, it set her hair on fire too. She said How dare anyone take anything away from a missing pet or their owner. I would have said as much. There is no such thing as a success rate, this isn’t a game. This is pets and people suffering with lost pets, and time is never on your side when your pet goes missing. Making friends in the cross posting and networking community is imperative to a safe return. Many of the dogs can be euthed in a pound as a stray the day they enter. What disservice is being done here? Not to mention in 3 days someone else can adopt your dog. That would mean we post everywhere, in every way as fast as possible. Not all pages can keep up, so having many avenues is necessary. I would not have been able to stop that conversation with as strongly as I feel about limiting dogs in pounds. When there isn’t a success story what the fuck does she think happened? Time, views, networking, was not on the side of the owner and pet and I guarantee many went to pounds and what happens next no one knows!”

That’s my philosophy, and I’m sticking to it. Network, network, network. Don’t think you can do it yourself, because going it alone actually limits the chances for the lost animals.  Work together.

If you stayed with me for this whole post, thank you. Honestly, I had trouble with this post tonight. I asked myself ‘Is airing this disagreement ego-driven?’ I’m not really sure. I just know that networking is what gets lost pets home and saves pets’ lives, and that’s what matters.

Please network. Please use every avenue available to you when you lose a pet. And quit keeping score. It’s not a competition, it’s a mission.

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Your One-Stop Update on 2015’s Posts


Thank you all for following me during 2015, and sharing Up on the Woof with your friends and family. Every year the blog gains more readers, and I appreciate everyone’s stick-to-it-iveness.

I was looking over the year’s posts and saw that I could provide updates on many of them, so here you go…a follow up to much of what was written about this year, working backwards.

IN OCTOBER, I wrote about the botched store set-up at our local Walgreens, and asked my readers if I was crazy, or not so much. The results of the poll were:

70% said  not crazy
20% said other (but only one person commented)
10% said  definitely crazy
0%   said  maybe a little crazy

dog on bikeAlthough the store manager promised me that they would reset the pet food aisle after Christmas due to my concerns, when I checked the aisle at the beginning of November, it was already reset. So apparently, the squeaky wheel does get the grease. Advocacy – 1 , Stupidity – 0.
pawprints
EARLIER IN OCTOBER, I wrote about a dog that I had intended on liberating (ok, stealing) from her current home, but the night before I planned on putting events in motion, the family surrendered her to me.

Zoey is a 9-year-old rat terrier. She is doing great. She had a number of medical issues: she was urinating uncontrollably, and drinking gallons of water. We had the vet run a series of tests to diagnose what wasZoey and me wrong, and it turned out that she had a raging infection from a mouthful of rotten teeth. Valley Save-a-Pet helped us take care of her medical expenses. We scheduled her for a dental, and when everything was said and done, they had to pull every one of her teeth!  

She is a velcro dog…she sticks close by my side  24/7, sleeps in my arms and crams into my chair with me. It didn’t take her long to figure out that I am the Dog Ma. She is deliriously happy here.

pawprints
IN SEPTEMBER, I wrote about dog rescuers, and what drives them. I told the erniebertfureverstory of Bert and Ernie, two terriers who had been abandoned in the woods, duct taped inside of a crate. JJ’s Ruff Roads took the boys in, and  I hooked rescuer, Ramona, up with Valley Save-a-Pet, to help with the cost of their medical. By November, the little guys were adopted together! They are happy in their furever home where they have (I think) 3 canine siblings.

 

pawprints

IN AUGUST, I wrote about my Jack Russell Terrier, Lammy Lamb, and about her end-of-life care. We helped her get to the bridge on August 10. I thought my heart couldn’t hurt more than it did when I lost Dillon in 2007, but I was wrong. I miss her very, very much.

She is the only one of our dogs who was not cremated. We couldn’t afford it at the time (her end of life care was pretty expensive), so we decided to bury her in the yard. We have never done that in the past because we never knew if any given yard would still be ours in the future. This yard is not likely to ever be disturbed, though, whether we are here or not, so we gathered up all the cremains of the pets that had gone before her…cats and dogs. We’d been carrying those cremains around for more than 20 years. We dug a nice grave, and D. lined it with soft branches full of leaves, and we wrapped her in a blanket and laid her on the natural bed. We surrounded her with the cremains of 15 other pets, and laid them all to rest.

lamb shoes

It was a weird feeling to me, to know that she was lying out there in the yard, in the dark. I talked to my friend, Bob Tarte, about it, and he said he always felt that way, too when he buried a pet…like his love was buried out in the yard.

Christmas was hard without her, but we hung her Lamb ornament on the tree like always.  My heart still aches for her.

pawprints
snoopy thanksIN APRIL, I wrote about who deserves to have a pet, and it dovetailed into an accounting of the woes of pet maintenance expenses. A number of readers made donations to help us care for Lammy Lamb, and for two months there were cases of the expensive food we were feeding her shipped directly to our door. I can’t adequately express how grateful I am for your (collective) help.

pawprints
IN  MARCH, I wrote about dogs that are left outside in the winter,  and about how I was willing to give up a relationship with another human if that’s what it took to save a dog. Well, that appears to be exactly what happened. Although the dog was surrendered to me, the former owner (a family member) has seemingly cut off all ties with us. He won’t take our calls or our texts.  C’est la vie.

That post also discussed the group Dogs Deserve Better, and the good work they’d been doing to help chained and penned dogs.

In the past, I have asked you for your support of DDB…now I am asking you to change your focus slightly.

DDBMODDB’s CEO and Founder, Tamira Ci Thayne left the organization, and what has happened since then under new management has been baffling.   Tami has written about some of organization’s bewildering decisions during the past couple of months, the latest of which, dumbfounded me. The HQ has cut loose one of their best reps, Melody Whitworth, who has spearheaded  DDB Missouri for the past 8 years. This was, among other things, a breach of contract. With DDB funding pulled from Melody’s 27 current rescue dogs, she is in need of donations. Every donation helps, no matter what the amount.

I am looking forward to see what 2016 brings Up on the Woof. I hope you’ll stay with me.

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How Dogs Saved Christmas, by guest blogger, Robert McCarty


Welcome readers! Today’s post is by guest blogger Robert McCarty, whom I met through the dog-eared book club on Dogster.com about 8 years ago. Who would have thought that discussing dog books would begin such a long and cooperative friendship? Bob and I come from different backgrounds, but it is our love of good books and our love of dogs that sealed our friendship. I’ve been delighted to publish my books under Bob’s Barking Planet Productions imprint. Bob has authored a trilogy of children’s books about how dogs from the Planet of the Dogs have helped humans overcome war and strife. They are chapter books with beautifully haunting illustrations by his talented wife, Stella Mustanoja McCarty and they have an excellent message for children of all ages; even we ‘older’ children.

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Daisy and Nor

Daisy and Nor

How Dogs Saved Christmas

Why can’t people be more like dogs? I think most visitors to this site have had that thought and discussed it with a friend or family member. Life on this planet would be very different.

I had a conversation about this very subject with a friend several years ago. The conversation was prompted by our rescued dog, Miss Merrie, a toy poodle, who had emerged from a difficult life with courage, loyalty, love, and forgiveness all intact.

Miss Merrie motivated me to write books for children wherein dogs come down from their own planet – where they lived in peace and happiness — to help and teach people on earth. At that time, long, long ago, there were no dogs on planet earth.

Many people are unaware that there was a time when Santa had to cancel Christmas because Dasher and Dancer were missing. No one knew that they had been kidnapped by the King of the North.

Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, tells the story of how the dogs came from the Planet of the Dogs, and found the missing reindeer in the Ice Castle. With the help of two kids, Daisy and Bean, they not only freed the reindeer, they also – ultimately — converted the King of the North into a decent human being. All this was done by their being dogs.

And that’s how the dogs saved Christmas.

Robert McCarty
………………

If you want to know more, please visit Planet Of The Dogs for sample chapters; or, if you are a teacher, librarian, or therapy dog owner, and want to read the book now, just write for your complimentary copy to planetofthedogs@gmail.com

Planet of the Dogs seriesThe Planet of the Dogs books are available in print and ebook from Amazon and other online retailers.

Robert McCarty is a producer/writer/director of films and videos on subjects ranging from teenage lifestyles to race relations. His short film, Rooftops Of New York, was nominated for an Academy Award.

Stella and Bob

Stella and Bob

He is a former adjunct instructor at Teacher’s College, Columbia University and at the School Of Visual Arts, New York City. Planet Of The Dogs was inspired by the many stories made up for his four children and seven grandchildren.

Stella Mustanoja McCarty, who illustrated the books, taught painting and drawing for over 30 years at the Vantaa, Finland, Art School. She graduated as a painting major from the Art Academy of Finland and also holds degrees from the University of Helsinki in Education and Sociology and Social Policy.

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When Advocacy Spills into my Day. Crazy or Not Crazy? That is the Question.


I am a dog advocate.

This is a truth so deeply ingrained in who I am, that I sometimes see things a little differently than most people.  You might say I view the world through dog-colored glasses.

I had an experience this past week that perfectly illustrates what I mean. When I related it to my partner, she said that I have become a Crazy Lady.

I was shopping in Walgreens and walked down the pet aisle on my way to the register. But what I saw there made me stop in my tracks and boggle. Right there, next to the bags of dog and cat food, was a 4 foot display of glade candles and odor eliminators.  They were butted up against each other.walgreens dog foodNow, I don’t know about you, but those glade candles smell pretty strong to me. And I immediately thought of how when you buy that kind of stuff in the grocery store, the baggers never put that kind of thing into a bag with food…not even boxed items. I’ve always thought that was because the scent of the perfume of the soap or candle or cleaning fluid might permeate the food package.

As we all know, dogs have a sense of smell thousands of times greater than ours. So, this store set-up seemed wrong.  I asked to speak to the manager, and I took him over to the aisle and told him what I was thinking. He is a young man, very nice, and always eager to please. His response, however, was that he was “sure that the dog food bags were thick enough that nothing could penetrate them.”  Well, I know that water penetrates them, and I know that my dogs can smell the food inside even when they are sealed. Still, I didn’t argue with him. He said the store set-ups were decided “by corporate”, but that he would mention it to his district manager. We left it at that.

Yesterday, I was in this Walgreens again, and I noticed a man in a suit talking with one of the store employees. He reeked of corporate. I approached the young man I had spoken to last week and asked him who the guy in the suit was. He told me that he was the district manager. I asked if he had spoken to him yet about the pet aisle, and he hadn’t. So I approached the man in the suit, who greeted me in a friendly, professional manner, and asked him if I could talk to him about my concern. When I showed him, he understood exactly what I meant. He looked at the aisle and said they could flop the display so the items like mops and dusters were butted up against the canned pet food…putting the glade at the far left of the aisle and the bagged dog food at the far right. He said they would make the change right after Christmas.

Will he remember? I don’t know.

Did he make a note of it? I don’t know.

Will I be checking after Christmas to see if it’s changed? You can bet your damn boots I will!

This, incidentally,  is the second time I have talked to a drug store about their pet food set up. The last time they had the pet food butted up against the rat poison!

So now I put the question to you   – crazy, or not crazy?

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From Under the Porch to Up on the Bed


rotting_and_unsafe_deck_in_overgrown_backyardBack in July, you may remember that I blogged about a dog who had been banished to a life of solitude. A lot of people thought it was a poem, but it was really a statement of intention and my thought process underlying my resolve to steal the dog.

The dog wasn’t the one in that post’s photo. That photo represented my perspective of that dog’s lonely life. I have a history with the actual dog I was writing about. She belonged to somebody whom I’d known for many years, and she had been dearly loved at one time. Before her “mom” died of metastasized breast cancer, she told me and D that she wanted us to have her dog when she died. At one point, she told us that “it was time”, to take her dog home with us…but we didn’t that day because it was like admitting that her death was imminent. This refusal would haunt us for four years; because after the woman’s death, her husband didn’t want to give the dog up. I suspect he didn’t want to give her up because she represented a connection to his deceased wife.

The man had never been a dog person. He’d put up with this dog, and others before her, because it was what his wife wanted. He never had the rewarding experience of sharing a bond with a dog,  and he had a “dogs are just animals”  attitude that someone who has never loved a dog sometimes has. He had watched Cesar Milan on APL (please, do not get me started), and after his wife died he set out to turn her dog into what he thought a dog should be.

Holding Milan in high regard (I told you not to get me started!) turning the dog into what he thought a dog should be was all about exerting his dominance over the dog. The man began by limiting the dog’s freedom; no getting on the furniture. No entering the living room. No petting or affection. Eventually, long lonely days outside. He is not a bad person, he just has a neanderthal view of what a dog should be — and underneath it all,  he didn’t really want to be bothered with a dog. zoeyfence

When his wife had been sick, I had taken the dog to get her shots, and because I expected that the dog would one day be living with us, I’d made a note that day so I’d know when she was due again. When that date rolled around, I told him. Although he could afford it, he said he would not take her for shots. And although I could not afford it, I told him that I would.

A few days before her appointment, I called his house and asked his son to bathe the dog in preparation. I knew she’d been in the yard day in and day out, and we were in the height of flea season.

The day before the appointment, I called to let the man know what time I’d be picking the dog up, and I asked if his son had bathed her. He told me that she didn’t need a bath because she had been out in the rain the whole day before. His offhand and callous remark cut right to my heart. I picked the dog up at the arranged time (thankfully, the son had bathed her) and took her to be vetted.  When I took her back to the man, I asked him if he was ready to give her up. He wasn’t.

I asked him several more times over the following years, but she was “his dog now”. I worried about her whenever the weather was too hot or too cold, whenever it stormed or snowed, and whenever I knew he’d been drinking. One day D and I stopped for a visit and asked that he allow the dog to sit with us on the front porch –something she had loved to do with his wife. He brought her out and D and I loved on her while we visited. When we were ready to leave, the man put the dog back into the yard. When she heard our engine kick over she let out a heart piercing sound of anguish. She knew her “mom” had wanted her to be with us.

D and I drove away in tears, and heard that sound over and over in our memories for months to come. Again and again we asked for her, and he refused.

Fast forward to July.

It was time for the dog to get shots again, so I made the necessary arrangements. Only this time, I had no intention of returning the dog to him. I had resolved to steal her. I did not clue D in. My plan was to take the dog for her shots and then take her to our house for some fun time. When it was time to take her home, I’d make some excuse to the man. “We got tied up and can’t bring her back tonight…we’ll bring her tomorrow”. I knew he wouldn’t come to get her, because he didn’t want the dog in his car. I blogged about it to strengthen my resolve. But then an amazing thing happened. The man’s son called me the night before the appointment and said “Dad said if you want to keep her, you can.”

Freedom ride.

Freedom ride.

Apparently, the dog was now urinating whenever she was in the house, and he had now limited her to a tiny room at the rear of the house when she came in at night. When we picked her up that day, he said she’d have a better life with us…so our persistence had paid off. What we thought had been falling on deaf ears, eventually got through.

She lives with us now. Her name is Zoey. She was urinating in the house because she was drinking loads of water, and she was doing that because she had a terrible infection in her mouth. It took a number of visits to the vet, and a pile of money to work out and fix what was wrong, but thankfully, Valley Save-a-Pet helped us pay for that.

at the gate

At the gate with the pack.

Zoey and our pack of dogs didn’t have an adjustment period. She just walked in our house, everyone said “hi” and that was that. Everyone, including her, knew she was supposed to be here.

Zoey spent the first three days at our house playing. She climbed into the toy box and tried out each toy. She squeaked toys to her heart’s content. She never stopped wagging her tail. She sleeps with me in my bed,  she sits beside D or me in our chair when we watch TV. She takes walks with Waldo and me. She plays and plays and plays. She gifts me with kisses.

Still, those years of solitude in the yard took their toll. She has terrible arthritis, and hurts whenever the weather is cold and damp. She cannot bear to be in the dog pen with the other dogs unless I am in the pen too. I think she is afraid she will be left out again. She is afraid of the dark. She has moments of hysteria if she becomes tangled in her leash on walks, or sometimes when she is picked up, or if her foot gets wedged beside the chair cushion. It’s a panic induced hysteria.

Playing with her squeaky duck. She has toys now.

squeaking.

Sometimes she goes far far away…lost in thought like she is in a trance. Maybe she is thinking about her “mom”, maybe she is remembering long lonely days under the porch, maybe she is just ‘checked out’ into a safe place. We continue to love on her and work with her. She’s going to be okay, and we are resolved to see to that. She is a good little dog,  full of love and joy.

Dogs have a beautiful, resilient spirit.

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The Heart of a Rescuer


I’ve read heroes described as people who run toward danger instead of away from it. They are the firemen who run into burning buildings. They are the people who snatch children out of the path of speeding cars. You get the idea.

I thought about this today after an experience I had on Facebook. I was tagged into a rescue conversation early this morning about a pair of dogs who had been found in Portage County. Meet Bert and Ernie.

ernie_bertThese two little guys were found in the woods near a cage from which they had escaped. Somebody had abandoned them there, inside of a cage that had been duct taped closed. The people who found them rounded them up and took them home, then contacted a friend of theirs who is a rescuer. That person started a conversation on Facebook and tagged a bunch of other rescue people, including me. The conversation was meant to mobilize our community to get these boys to safety. By day’s end, they were safe with JJRuff Roads rescue in Stark County.

cageTwo little dogs abandoned inside of a duct taped cage in the woods. I wish I could say that this was a highly unusual case — that people are not usually this cruel — but I can’t. It’s just another case in a never-ending stream of cruel things people do to pets. Many times far more cruel than this.

Sometimes the circumstances really bother me. Sometimes I dwell on the stories for days, unable to get them out of my head. But more often than not the story behind the circumstance is the last thing I am interested in. Once these guys were safe, I posted them on my Facebook page explaining the circumstances and with a shout out to everyone who worked on getting them safe. Then, some of my friends began posting comments of outrage that someone could do such a thing to these two precious dogs. I’m glad to know I have empathetic friends.

That’s when I started to think about the difference between action and reaction; what makes people heroes, and what makes people rescuers. The comments on my post were reactions. The people commenting weren’t rescuers, they were just people disgusted by the story of abandonment. That they reacted is not unusual – most people react.

But rescuers are different. Rescuers act. Part of acting means that you have to let go of how the situation makes you feel, suspend your anger, figure out what needs to happen, and then work to make it happen. This is what rescuers do on a daily basis – shove the horror and disgust way down deep and focus on the task. There’s time for screaming into the void later.

I realized today that not everyone is capable of that. The heart of a rescuer is strong and fearless.

I wonder what we are running toward.

 

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