Confessions of an imperfect dog mom, Hope after loss, Pet Parent Resources, Pet Rescue

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…”In the shadow of the tripod there is no empty space”.

Every pet in our home has a background story…none of them are pleasant…some are much worse than others.    But, for the most part, our pets are “over it” in regards to things that happened to them in the past.  They live happy and carefree lives.  Even Turnip, who has deep emotional scars, has come so far and embraced joy.  Mom though, being the flawed human that I am, doesn’t always “get over it” as quickly as they do.  I have moments, when I am reminded of their painful stories and I quickly retreat to feelings of anger and heart break.

Snoopy came here with a badly broken leg…we were told he was kicked down a flight of stairs…he was just 3 months old.  His leg was broken so badly there was no choice but to amputate it.  Unfortunately, he died under anesthesia when the vet attempted his amputation.  The vet resuscitated him but he woke up blind and of course still having a badly broken leg.  This is when Bret and I started fostering him.  He stayed with us in an understandably hastily applied splint that caused him a lot of discomfort for weeks.  We waited for a strengthening of his health to undergo a second attempt at amputation.  With his vision restored and health stabilized Snoopy made it through a second attempt to amputate his leg.  Bret and I officially adopted Snoopy the day before his amputation.  We wanted him going in to his surgery knowing he had a huge family pulling for him.  Waiting for his surgery to end was agony and we learned a new level of compassion for our veterinary team.

Buster stayed at Snoopy’s side while he recovered.

Make no bones about it…a puppy suffers CRUELLY after an amputation.   Snoopy screamed…and I mean SCREAMED with pain for weeks.  He was confused and he was frustrated.  He would wake up from a dead sleep and start screaming…sometimes 10+ times in a night…nothing we did comforted him.  Only Buster could bring him any level of comfort.  Buster would run to him and lick his head when he cried.  The entire scenario was horrible.  But slowly…Snoopy regained his strength and his courage and definitely his joy.

Today…Snoopy (now 8 months old) is SO OVER IT..he is UNSTOPPABLE on three legs.  He is the happiest and most playful puppy I have ever met…and frankly…he can be pretty naughty.  Remarkably…he just loves people….all of them. Humanity does not deserve him.  He is pure joy.

Unlike Snoopy, Bret and I will never forget his suffering.  We didn’t leave his side after his amputation…we learned a lot about what it means to be both heart broken and madly angry at the same time.

When I had that moment the other day when I saw his “tripod shadow”…a poignant reminder of the cruelty he suffered…I became angry all over again…”he shouldn’t have to live as a tripod”…”he shouldn’t’ have had to suffer through an amputation”…I was wishing again I could get my hands on the S.O.B. who did this to him.

But while I am thinking all these toxic thoughts…Snoopy just turned, looked at back at me and shamed me with this smile.  He’s over it and I need to get over it too.

Snoopy is fine…he can run fast, he can wrestle with his siblings, he can dig…he can snuggle fabulously…he certainly eats like a little piggy…he is a perfectly happy dog.  I need to just get busy loving him and let go of his past.


The moral of the story is this…which again…I didn’t realize it until I finished this post…there is no “empty space” in life.    When I was in seminary…one of the most powerful lessons I learned was from my favorite Old Testatment professor, Dr. Howard.  I worked for him as his TA my last year…it was the year Bret and I lost our baby boy…I was completely crushed…probably the lowest I have ever felt in my life.  He told me this very important truth when I expressed my despair to him…he said “just like it is in the physical world…so is it in the spiritual world…there is no “empty space”…you can fill your life with joy and gratitude and love or you can fill it with sadness, resentment and pain…there is no room for both…regardless of the difficulty of your circumstances …you must choose what you will fill your life with.”    Not only will I remember Dr. Howard’s insightful words always…but I will forever remember Snoopy’s smile as a reminder of this wisdom…I will remember how easy it is for Snoopy to live this truth…Snoopy will remind me always that we must choose what we fill our lives with…no matter the circumstances.

I’m with Snoopy…I choose joy and gratitude and love.  Snoopy and I wish that for everyone else too.

Rescue On!

Nancy

If you would like to follow my crazy life with pets more closely…friend me on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest..  I also sell my art and cards at my ETSY shop.

The Rescue Mama, Nancy Halverson, dog rescue art, pet rescue art, political art
Snoopy’s first Pawffiti… it was auctioned for $375.00 for the animals of Scott County, KY.

This is Snoopy’s first Pawffiti.  It was auctioned in February for $375.00 to raise money for animals in Scott County (Snoopy’s home town).  Prints are available at my ETSY shop.

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom, Family Posts, Pet Rescue

“The Rescuer”

“The Rescuer” wrote an article about my husband and me.  Its written by a rescue here in Central Kentucky called Paws 4 the Cause.  They are a humble group who fights really hard on the front lines of Kentucky’s rural communities that are very poor and have little to no resources for helping animals.  I am very flattered to have been highlighted by them.

I pasted the article below.  You can sign up for the “The Rescuer” at their Paws 4 the Cause website.

A Lifetime of Love

Nancy Halverson and her husband, Bret have a household filled with love. In 2000 they adopted their very first rescue, a lab mix named Sparky. The Halversons wanted a companion for the dog they had already purchased and made the life-changing decision to adopt.

Before finding his furever home, Sparky had been adopted out numerous times and brought back to the shelter for his unruly behavior. Deemed unadoptable, he was scheduled to be euthanized. Lucky for him, in came Nancy. Through love and patience Sparky went from an uncountable, destructive animal to a loyal loving companion to Nancy for 15 years.

Since adopting Sparky, the Halversons have continued to provide a loving home for animals deemed undesirable. Whether from a physical disability, or behavioral problems, the Halversons have found a place in their heart and their home—which they call “Misfit Manor”–for many animals.

Over the years they have fostered 9 dogs and cats, and adopted many more. Currently 8 dogs reside at Misfit Manor permanently. Snoopy, the newest resident recently had one of his legs amputated due to abuse he suffered before being rescued by the Halversons. He has been doing quite well in his recovery, and is sure to lead a full and happy life on three legs. Nancy says, “We tend to gravitate towards dogs that will have a harder time getting adopted. We don’t see age or handicap as a barrier to a full life. We don’t feel sorry for them. Rather, we fall in love with them (usually instantly). It’s just who we are.”

Behavioral problems are a big reason many pets get deemed unadoptable. Many people do not want to dedicate the work and time that goes in to rehabilitating these animals. The Halversons don’t shy away from such challenges. Lacey was a small dog with a big attitude. “We have three dogs currently in our home that came here with significant behavior issues; one was surrendered for chronically biting her people. The day I met her (she’s a little thing) she did a 3 foot vertical leap and bit my nose (hard). I seriously lost count of how many times she bit me the first few months she lived with us. But she was out of options so we adopted her.
Besides the work that goes into owning a special needs pet, there is another reason people tend to avoid them. Loss. When you first get a puppy, loosing them someday is usually the furthest thing from your mind. However, dealing with loss is often a consideration when adopting a senior pet. Most of us can be a little selfish, thinking of the heartache we will have to face and will avoid it. Not the Halversons. For them, it’s all about the dogs. They make sure all of their animals have a full and happy life—for however long that may be. By taking it day by day, they don’t take one minute for granted. Even still, it is never easy to loose a pet.
“Our goal as pet parents is to give each one of them the fullest life possible and that may not be traditional with their health challenges, but we make it work.
I’m that “crazy lady” that shows up at the park with a stroller full of senior/handicap dogs.”

-Nancy Halverson

Recently Nancy lost her beloved Luna, a chihuahua mix she carried everywhere with her. Luna had a very hard life before finding her way to Nancy for her final eighteen months. Not only had her age caught up with her, but her little body was broken from years of abuse. Despite all of the set-backs, Nancy gave Luna the best months of her life. For those of us that had the pleasure of meeting Luna, she no doubt made a lasting impression on your heart—and especially Nancy’s.
“But to be honest….physical difficulties in dogs are really not an issue for us or for the dogs.  Dogs cope with aging and disability quite gracefully.  People may perceive them as having challenges but these dogs make fabulous pets.  I wish more people could see this.”
-Nancy Halverson
The eventual loss of a pet is unfortunately something that all pet owners will have to face someday. Everyone deals with grief in their own way. For Nancy, she takes refuge in art. She creates hand-made pet condolence cards, and other pet-themed cards encouraging adoption. I think we can all learn a lot from the Halversons. They do not let heartache stop them. In fact, in only seems to make their hearts even bigger. Rescuing and rehabilitating dogs with a death-sentence is extremely rewarding for people like the Halversons. They get the satisfaction of saving lives and these lucky animals get a lifetime of love.
Click on  the above photos to see Nancy’s Etsy page.
Click the link below to go to Nancy’s website.
The Rescue Mama
O.F.C. Raffle
In case you haven’t heard, we are having a raffle for an ultra-rare bottle of bourbon–one of only 100 ever made. This bottle of 1980 O.F.C. donated by Buffalo Trace is estimated to be valued at $10,000!
We still have a few raffle tickets available for this ultra-rare bottle of bourbon. Don’t miss out!

We will be co-hosting an event with Willie’s Locally Known on February 22nd. This will be your last chance to buy a ticket before we announce the lucky winner that night!

Winner will be announced March 1st, 2017.
Buy Your Raffle Tickets Here
Canines of the Month
These two were captured living on their own out in the wilderness right
before Winter set in. Butch (the big one) is the younger protector and
Sundance (the little one) is a natural cuddle bug. They have looked out
for each other for a long time, and suspect they are related somehow.
Butch is larger and playful, the easier of the two and a typical Jack
Russell in many ways, without all the yappiness. Sundance will require
time, but with a little nurturing will become a forever bed bug. Once he
bonds, it’s forever. He just needs to feel safe first.
Dog Adoption Form
Willie’s Locally Known to Host O.F.C. Event

If you haven’t had the chance to check out Lexington’s newest hot spot for food, drinks, and live music, here’s your chance! Willie’s Locally Known has partnered with P4tC to host a special event–and the only event where you’ll be able to buy your O.F.C. raffle tickets. Wednesday, February 22nd from 5-9pm Willie’s will be offering a special course-menu deal and bourbon-based mixed drink created by their expert staff especially for P4tC! A portion of these specials will be directly donated to our organization. The Cerny Brothers will be playing great tunes too! Come enjoy incredible food, drinks, and live music. We’ll also be set up with our P4tC merchandise, and of course be selling O.F.C. raffle tickets and announcing the big winner that night!

Interested in volunteering at this event? Contact us!

Felines of the Month
This is a brother and sister team that need a home–together. They are in foster care right now.
The foster says they love each other so much that she can’t bear the idea of them going to separate homes. Both are litter trained and very well-behaved, despite being rambunctious 5-month-olds.
They have been fully vetted and spayed/neutered.

These two need to go to home together, as they are sure to be playmates for life!

Cat Adoption Form
Fight the Winter Blues & Help Save Lives!
Schedule a Pet-A-Pet Fundraiser
Sign up for our Volunteer Contact List
Foster
Donate
Supplies Needed Click Links Below:

Paper Towels (Bounty, Select-a-size)

Towels

Dog Food Bowls (Stainless Steel)

Steel Water Pails

Cat Food (Corn Free)

Dog Food (Corn Free)

Leashes

Collars

Crates

“Adopt Me” Collars

“Adopt Me” Vest

Have your group or business sponsor a kennel!
These types of kennels are essential to running our rescue, but the price tag is a little hefty for an individual to bear. Group fundraisers can be great team-builders, and the results benefit a great cause! Organize your group or business to do a fundraiser of your design. Be creative and have fun! For every $600 your group donates, we will purchase one of these heavy-duty kennels and name it after your business or group.
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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom, Dog Training, Family Posts, Pet Rescue

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…Snoopy’s big day!

sweetboyThe first day I picked up Snoopy from our local Humane Society, despite his broken leg, he seemed a typical rambunctious and happy puppy….until I loaded him in my car.  He began to howl (like really loud), squirm and was clearly very agitated.  If he wasn’t harnessed in a car seat it would have been chaos.  He calmed back down when we got out of the car.  I ended up taking him to the vet within a few hours as it was pretty clear he was having pain issues.   When we got back in the car…it was the same howling and anxiety all over again…which then recurred every time we got in the car throughout his several week ordeal (broken leg that was eventually amputated).  It was clear that he was associating riding in the car with bad things…who could blame him with all he has been through in his short little life.   Years ago I adopted a two year lab (Sparky) who had extreme anxiety in the car…it made life a lot more complicated and it took years to work him through the anxiety.  No chance I was going to let this happen with Snoopy.20170127_112701

So this week we started working on changing his car ride association…I wanted to make a  car ride mean something good for him.   We spent a few days just walking out to the car a few times per day and I gave him bits of ham treats when we got to the car and said “car ride” (we never got in the car).    Then we graduated to actually getting in the car, with ham treats and “car ride” but getting out immediately.   Then we graduated to taking really short car rides, with ham treats and “car ride” being repeated the whole time.

Sitting politely at Lowe's waiting to greet ladies!
Sitting politely at Lowe’s waiting to greet ladies!

Today…I took Snoopy out on his first big errand run…we left the ham behind.   He was a different dog in the car.  He sat quietly in his car seat…no howling…no squirming.  He did great sitting politely and greeting new people at Lowe’s…he went to the skin clinic and charmed pretty ladies and he went out for his first puppuccino.   I couldn’t be more proud of him.

No such thing as too much cream!
No such thing as too much cream!

It has been a really long time since I have had a puppy in the house.  I know how crucial their first few months are in terms of proper socialization and Snoopy’s most impressionable months were spent getting his leg horribly broken, dying under anesthesia once (waking up blind for awhile) and finally having to heal from a successful amputation of the leg.  He has some social “catch up” to do but he is doing great.

I am always amazed at how trusting dogs who have been through hell are.   Snoopy has every reason to be cautious of people but Snoopy gives everyone the benefit of the doubt (unless they are pushing a shopping cart…need to work on that).   His wagging tail and charming personality are like a balm in a harsh world.  The world needs more Snoopy.

Rescue On!

Nancy

If you are looking for pet rescue themed artwork or handmade pet sympathy cards please check out my ETSY shop!

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom, Pet Rescue

The truth about Marge…the “paradox of rescue”.

leftbehindFacebook, every once in awhile, pops up “memory pictures and posts”.  I have mixed emotions about this feature because sometimes it brings back a memory I don’t want to revisit.  Recently, Facebook delivered pictures of a fox hound we fostered last year, named Marge.

Marge followed me home last December when I was walking Buster.  She was young, very skinny, flea bitten and had a few puncture wounds in her back end…but was otherwise healthy and an absolutely delightful creature.  She was absurdly obedient and enthusiastic to please her humans.  She played beautifully with other dogs.  My husband and I thought for sure that Marge must just be “lost” from her family.  Someone had to be missing her because she was such a wonderful dog.  We tried everything we could think of to find her family.  Our local Humane Society took her on TV to make an appeal to find her family.  I did Internet searches on her microchip data and literally called every possible person listed in the entire country with that name. marge-poster  I posted her on every possible rescue and shelter site within a several hundred miles.  I paid for a pet “amber alert”. maddiemarge We held out for quite a while.  But it was crickets.  No one was looking for sweet Marge.  We loved having her with us for Christmas.  Eventually, after zero contact from her family, our local Humane Society put her up for adoption.  She was adopted quickly by a lovely couple.  We said that terribly sad “foster dog goodbye” but knew Marge was headed for a great life.  Both Bret and I moped around the house for days after she left.  Maddie and Buster missed her a lot.  Her new dad called us daily for a while with reports on how Marge was adjusting.  They clearly loved her and had compassion for how hard it is to say goodbye to a foster.  Good people.

Fast forward 6 months.  I was out walking my dogs and a neighbor approached me.  He told me how happy he was to see that I had taken in that “poor fox hound” last winter.  I exclaimed…”you knew that dog…where did she come from?”.  Well, as it turns out Marge had only lived a few blocks from me, with a family.  Her family moved away and left Marge behind in the yard.  The neighbor said she hung around the house for a long time…waiting for them to come home.  They never came home.  Eventually she started running the hood looking for food.  Thank God she found us.  I was flooded with anger and sadness at this news.  How could anyone abandon this sweet dog? Who would leave her to fend on her own?  I hate people!feeling-safe

20140918_190455And thus, the “paradox of rescue”.  I exist on the periphery of rescue.  I adopt only rescues, foster and volunteer where I can.  I use my art to raise money.  But I do not work deep in the trenches of rescue like many of my friends do.  But I see more than enough to make me angry…a lot…it is steadily costing me my faith in humanity.   Neglect and cruelty are rampant where I live…I realize these problems are  every where…but here in Kentucky there are no laws to protect animals…no deterrents…and there is certainly no justice for animals.

Yet, there is no “rescue” at all if you don’t put faith in humanity to re-home the very same dogs who have been neglected, abandoned and abused by humanity.  It really is a horrible paradox.  I have met people who initially appeared to be kind and just…good potential pet parents…who later turned and dumped their adopted dog in a kill shelter.  I have met many others who are wonderful pet parents. It is an odd paradox to be engulfed in an economy where the work makes you hateful and suspicious of most people but also requires that you trust some of them.

I have no answers…no wisdom other than this;  rescue doesn’t work without people.  No matter how hard you try to vet potential adopters there will always be lemons/scumbags and there will never be enough good adopters.   The scumbag puppy millers and backyard breeders will keep making money off the genitals of the innocent and perpetuate the flood of homeless animals. The reality is five innocent animals die per minute in our shelters…every stinking day.  But without people we will never make things better.   The animals are 100% at our mercy.mommarge

Of one thing I am certain…kindness to animals should be easy…but I have to wonder…why is it so elusive?  Animals are without guile, greed  or malice.  It is frightening that we are incapable of doing right by them.  The mass killing that goes on in our shelters is a human created problem.  We could fix it.  But we don’t.  It is such a small percentage of the population that works tirelessly to make a difference for animals.   Laws that protect the innocent and punish the evil doers should be easy…but they are insufficient…where I live….the laws just don’t exist.  What does this say about our society…a society who claims it is just and evolved?   Justice, fairness, compassion…kindness…these are not abstracts…they are intuitively obvious and clear…but yet elusive when it comes to animal care.

Most people in rescue are over-worked and usually emotionally exhausted….it is grueling and heart breaking work.   Becoming suspicious of people is an inevitable symptom.  Most have developed an edge; I sure have.   I don’t keep my mouth shut when someone tells me about their “accidental litter”…or about the “designer dog” (expensive mutt) they plan to pay a fortune for.  I tell them the truth.  Five innocent animals die per minute in our shelters every stinking day and these type of actions are the reasons why.  You are either part of the solution or part of the problem…we all bear responsibility to make a difference.   Maybe with some people it will at least make them think about better options…most probably just think I’m a crazy fanatic.  I can live with the label of fanatic…I don’t do anything with half of my heart, have long passed the age where I care what others think of me…and answer only to my conscience.

bretmargeThere is no grey area…too many animals suffer in this country at the hands of humans.  Only humans can fix it.  The moral of the Marge story is this, and it didn’t hit me until I finished this post, Marge completely understood the “paradox of rescue”…in fact…most animals do.   She had every reason to hate people…to resent the creepy bastards who left her behind in a yard to starve…yet she chose (or you could argue she was created) to put her faith in people.   Maybe the only solution to the “paradox of rescue” is to think more like the dogs.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom, Pet Rescue

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…

Living in the land of dichotomies…my weapons of war…

lucy quoteI think I need to make an early new years resolution…to blog more regularly.  I blog for two reasons…I want to share my passion for animals and my own need to clear my head…they are intimately connected I think.

Technology is a funny thing.  There is a fine line, I believe, between staying “connected enough” with the world to be useful to the world and becoming “compassion fatigued” as a result of being “too connected”.  I have had several days…a week really…where I have had to “unplug”.  The steady barrage of horror stories, the unceasing amount of animals surrendered to kill shelters in Kentucky…the complete lack of will by the “elected class” to protect animals…it never stops.  It is easy to fall prey to the lie that it is hopeless and just shut down emotionally.

Kentucky is a strange place…it is a place of dichotomies.  A place where on the one hand…their is tremendous passion for animals…the celebration of the horse in Kentucky borders on a form of worship.  But on the other hand neglect, abuse and flat out ignorance brings on the suffering of a truly staggering number of animals.   On the one hand the rescue groups here are all overwhelmed and running on shoe string budgets…competing with each other for the small amount of donations available from a populace with one of the lowest wage rates in the country.  But on the other hand the horse auctions just took place in Lexington where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent by a handful of people hoping to buy that next superstar race horse.   The inequity of it all is quite mind numbing.   But it has been this way forever…indeed a strange place and the dichotomies don’t just apply to the way animals are treated.

On so many very serious levels Kentucky is so terribly behind the rest of the country; health, education and wages are ranked at the bottom in the country.   Maybe it takes an outsider to see how grossly some of these things stand out…at least to see how Kentucky fares relative to other parts of the country.   Perhaps this is the closest I have ever lived to some of these issues and the contrast bothers me.  The contrast of extreme wealth (horse barns nicer than most homes) juxtaposed with extreme poverty (others live in campers…not trailers…but campers).

downloadI walk all over this town with my dogs everyday…I see beauty and pride in the community all over the place…there is also a lot of poverty, blight and hopelessness.  The signs of how so many lives are being short changed by a poor education system and the impact of addiction are everywhere.  So often, I miss Apple Valley…my whistle clean, prosperous and homogenous home town.  But now it almost feels that it wasn’t real…reality is here…and I am meant to see it, live it…be it.   I can’t say we fully understand why yet but Bret and I both know that we were right where we are supposed to be.  This town, this house and at this time…is where we are meant to be.

So much contrast…gross dichotomy all around me…and it bothers me…so much it makes my bones feel cold.   There is darkness and hopelessness like I have never seen before…sometimes its downright scary…a form of spiritual poverty I have never felt before.

At the same time…there is a spirit force in some of the local Kentuckians that is remarkable.  It’s a fighting spirit…its a never give up spirit.   I didn’t know until I toured the Kentucky armory recently that Kentucky has sent more men to fight in every single war (relative to its population) than every other state in our country…every single one.   Many people have a  fierce self-understanding of who they are as Kentuckians.  Whether you agree with them or not they know what they stand for and I respect that.  There is also an earthiness about the people here…something I have really come to love and hope to write more about some time.

veteran+funeralThere is an unsung compassion here too.  Not too long ago there was a funeral director who went public with a body he had been given custody of.  A man, a vet…who had no family, no friends…not a single contact…died in a nursing home, alone, with never a visitor.  The funeral director asked for people who might consider coming to his funeral…hundreds..seriously hundred of people… showed up for his funeral.  Despite the warts…there is something powerfully good here too…often it feels like I have a naked view of spiritual warfare…something that was more deeply shadowed in Minnesota.

These days; I am a “girly, girl” as my husband says…I cry a lot these days…I cry when I see something sad, something happy, something compassionate…I just cry a lot…my husband thinks its cute…but I know its how I fully experience what is going on around me…really feel things deep down in my bones…the way we were made to feel things…if that makes sense.  For most of my life…I did not cry…I had a very narrow range of emotions…I did not feel.

A few weeks ago…I had a conversation with a local friend who works in throes of pet rescue…he was at a point of disgust…that giving up point where anger and frustration can over take the desire to keep trying…at least for a while.  I told him…”I know that spot…I know it well.  But I also know that the only way out of that hole is to fight…and for me that means fighting with the only weapons God gave me…forgiveness, compassion and the will to do good.”   I subsequently spent a week re-trenching from the same feelings of despair.

nickelThen I got a call about a dog named Nickel.  He needed a ride out of a kill shelter to safe place.  Off I went…Nickel paid his fare in kisses and snuggles.  My soul was fed for a week.  I needed Nickel to remind me of my own words.

When all else fails…and darkness seems brighter than the light…grab your weapons and look for your Nickel.

If you are a lover of all things pet and pet rescue consider following my blog or my Facebook Page.  I also have a Pinterest Page full of resources for pet parents.  And of course if you are in need of any pet sympathy cards or pet rescue art check out my Rescue Mama Shop.

Rescue on!

Nancy

Family Posts, Pet Rescue

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: Luna

For the love of Luna!

adopted lunaSeveral weeks ago I got a call from the local humane society that there were two female Chihuahuas at the shelter that needed a foster home.  Bret and I had recently fostered two other Chihuahuas and had a great time with both of them (both found new homes quite quickly).  When I arrived at the shelter to get them…the shelter was full…loud and chaotic…stressed out dogs barking.  The shelter staff took me to a kennel at the very end…it looked empty.  She lifted the large dog bed up and there I saw the two little girls huddled together; shaking and hiding under the bed.  She moved fast and put them in a carrier.  I left fast. I hate being in the shelter.  I had barely gotten a look at either dog.

When I arrived at home with the dogs Bret met me in the yard and we opened the carrier and let them out.  The younger dog came out first; timid but she looked like a young and healthy dog.  Then Luna came out.  She had a really bad limp, a permanently crumpled up ear, a hunched back, a few really rotten and smelly teeth and a clearly broken tail.  We were INSTANTLY in love with her.

We kept the normal routine of fostering for a few weeks…figuring we had to at least give a fair shake to her chance at adoption.  But we quickly failed miserably…we made Luna ours forever.luna pjs

Pet Rescue Photo Art

We know nothing of Luna’s history nor why she ended up at the shelter.  She has an agreeable personality as long as there is not a lot of commotion around her and she is perfectly potty trained.  I suspect someone loved her a lot and somewhere along the way something tragic happened to cause her injuries…but who knows.

Luna
Luna

We took her for a wellness check right after we adopted her. The vet believes she is around 12 years old…he confirmed all the old injuries we suspected and pulled out her last little snaggle tooth. (She is totally toothless now).   Luna is deaf and has cataracts dimming her vision.  She has an amazing attitude.

I am of the belief that each dog has come in to our lives exactly when they are supposed to.  I don’t pretend to know why some steal our hearts and others don’t…but Luna was love at first sight.  Despite her obvious physical issues…Luna has great enthusiasm.  She is curious, adventurous (to a fault), always up for a car ride…and wants to hang out with me wherever I am.  She is also accepting…of the other animals, of bed time in her crate and of living with joy despite her obvious challenges.  We love her spirit…her excitement.  When we arrive home after being gone for even a short while Luna comes to life…jumping up and down, squealing and rolling on her back with her legs in the air.  All dogs get excited…but when they show joy in the face of the physical challenges that Luna has…with such enthusiasm…it melts our hearts.luna shuffle

partycar1Luna can walk around fine on her own but she has a pretty bad limp and clearly has pain in her right leg (a broken leg that did not heal properly).  I added her to my routine of wagon riding with Kringles at the park.  The two are great wagon mates…they truly seem to enjoy each other’s mellow company.  Luna barks at all the big dogs walking by…so funny.  Luna stands in the front of the wagon the whole walk….wind blowing in her hair…the chance for her to cruise around and sight see without having to use her own broken body to get around…it is really something to see.  The daily wagon rides with her and Kringles are always the highlight of my day.wagon riding

I no longer feel the need to justify why I feel the way I do about certain things…I used to…but maybe I am finally old enough to trust my instincts.  For some odd reason…when I met Luna I was able to feel Sparky again.  I love all my dogs…but caring for Sparky as he aged was such an honor…I loved every minute of it…it was the only time that I felt I was giving back anywhere near the love he had given me.   Luna brings back that sense of satisfaction and purpose…and I love it.  I hope we have Luna with us for many years…but I am also realistic about how long her life with us will be.  For now…what a joy to have the honor of being part of her life.

together foreverWe also adopted her shelter mate…Lucy…while they weren’t bonded to a point that they couldn’t be adopted separately…as you can see in this picture…we did not want to break them apart.  I don’t know if they are related…perhaps Luna is Lucy’s mother.  Lucy is less than 2 years old.   I will write about Lucy soon…she is wild and a complete delight!  She is Bret’s dog…through and through.

Life at Misfit Manor has been busy…our first vacation rental property is doing well…Bret can work from home now and on Friday we are closing on three more rental units….very exciting (and scarey).  In the meantime…we continue our daily routine in our little slice of heaven that we call Misfit Manor…just a bunch of connected souls on the great and messy journey we call life.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

Family Posts, Pet Rescue

Father’s Day: reflection on marriage and our “fur family”

Our life as a fur family:

doo rags and leashes 010Every Father’s Day I write a blog post about my husband.  He’s the Daddy in our household…and we love celebrating him.  Bret and I are not an ordinary family.  We wanted to be one of those ordinary families but life just didn’t turn out that way for us.  What did “turn out” for us was a steady stream of homeless animals showing up at our door.  Our life with animals works for us and we wouldn’t trade it for anything. I believe it takes time for each of us to realize and come to terms with what we were made for…and I believe we were all made for something special….some special journey.  Bret and I were made for our life with animals.  We are not fully ourselves without them.

Whenever I go to pick out a Father’s Day card for my husband…I get a little emotional.  I am no dummy. I am perfectly aware that most men would never tolerate 20140918_184244neither the volume of animals I have brought home…nor the degree of the challenges I have brought home.  I am very well aware of how extraordinarily patient and compassionate my husband is.

When Bret and I first got married I brought home a feral cat..today we call him Catzilla.  When this cat first moved in to our home none of us could get anywhere near Zilla…we had to drug this cat to get him to our vet.  To keep our other animals safe we kept Catzilla in a separate room in our house…but not just any room…a bedroom that we made in to an “extreme cattery” for Zilla…it was so darn cool.  Not only did Bret not scoff at the money we spent to build Zilla a cattery but he doubled down by making time to work with Zilla and win his trust (which anyone with feral cats knows this is a long-term commitment).  Today Zilla lives in the house roaming happily with all of us.

Shortly after Zilla moved in I brought home our Lhasa..Lacey Mae.  A few days after she moved in with us she tore up the side of Bret’s face…badly…not just bite wounds but enough damage to give him a black eye.  He forgave her instantly, dug his heels in and remained committed to her.  He saw her potential and today she is the love of our lives…and she is definitely daddy’s girl.

Some time after Lacey moved in with us my Rottweiler, Hercules, was diagnosed with cancer…it was a long and difficult ordeal which included a leg amputation.  Since Hercules could no longer go on walks with the rest of the pack and I was not strong enough to carry Hercules, Bret took over giving him some special time each day.  Bret would carry him to the car…drive him to the park…carry him to a grassy area and they would hang out and wrestle around…they would people watch…then the pair would go to Dairy Queen and split a cheeseburger.  Every single day they did this…until Hercules died.  Hercules wasn’t even Bret’s dog…he was mine before we married.  In fact, Bret had to work very hard to get Hercules to like him.  When we were first married Hercules wouldn’t even let Bret get in bed at night.  Hercules would give in eventually, of course, but Bret got very little space in the bed.  Bret loved him in a way no other person could.10888801_10153955031657588_2874979303585295362_n

20141225_140832It goes on…Kringles came when we already had four dogs…Kringles had no where to go and was in very poor health.  Bret was happy to have him and Kringles took to him right away.  Turnip…wanted nothing to do bret and busterwith Bret for so long when he first moved in…Bret won him over anyway.  Buster…was like having a freight train move in the house…Bret loved Buster instantly.

I am no fool.  I know what I have in Bret and I am grateful for him everyday.  When Bret and I first met…I was finishing up a master’s degree at a Baptist seminary and Bret was an enthusiastic seeker at an Evangelical church.  Two years after we were married…we were confirmed into and remarried in the Catholic church…an odd journey, I know, but a well thought out one.  One of the many things that called us to the Catholic church was the Catholic understanding of the sacraments….the concept of marriage as a sacrament was very meaningful to us.  Today we understand marriage as a sacrament more fully than ever…marriage has rubbed the “spiritual” edges off of both of us.  Our life together has changed us and our time together is by far the most “grace-filled” time of our life.  I believe that together we see more clearly…if that makes sense.  And together we walk a path…albeit a non-traditional one…towards our Maker.  We are blessed and grateful for each day with each other and our pets.

While my Bret isn’t the traditional version of a dad…in this household he means the world to a whole pack of very special creatures.  Happy Father’s Day Bret!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dog dads and Rescue On!

Nancy

 

Family Posts, Pet Rescue

Pet Rescue: The power of one…the impact of our choices…

The power of our choices and the lives of animals…

choicesI start out each morning with a cup of coffee and the Wall Street Journal…no wait…back up…after I have pottied, fed and hugged each of my pets…I start my day with coffee and the Wall Street Journal.  One particular article in this week’s journal made my jaw drop… Walmart is beginning to pressure its meat and egg suppliers to reduce their use of anti-biotics and offer more humane conditions for livestock.  All I could think of was…”holy shit…our choices really can matter”.  Let’s be brutally honest…what moves a corporate behemoth like Walmart to make a change like this is consumer demand…demand for humane and healthy products.  Our choices as individuals drive important change.  I am not naive…change takes time… and Walmart’s new guidelines aren’t mandatory…but it sure will make cruelty free suppliers more competitively advantaged and sets a much better trajectory for animals than we were on.  Sometimes…a new law or regulation won’t cut it…people living lives of compassion in this case made a change…our choices are so much more powerful than any law.  Kindness to animals brings out the best in all of us!

This is nothing to scoff at.  Walmart is the largest retailer….at $288 Billion in sales last year…they call the shots for meat and egg suppliers.  Nearly 50% of Walmart sales are savegroceries…like Walmart or not…we need them to move the needle towards humane treatment of our food supply.  Case in point…the article cited that “overall egg sales are flat, but sales of more expensive eggs that tout “cage free” or similar attributes are booming.”  How awesome is that? Bret and I won’t buy anything but cage free eggs…I thought this was a small and insignificant choice (well not so insignificant to the grocery bill).  But clearly the collective choices of consumers to purchase a humane product does matter.

When we lived in Minnesota we would take a lot of motorcycle rides in the country…passing many chicken, turkey and pork farms…the sight of some of these farms made us sick…especially the turkey farms…animals packed in so tight they couldn’t move…and the noise they made…it was like cries of terror.  We vowed to start buying free range and grass fed or just go without.   I am pleasantly surprised to see meaningful choices really can make such a difference…If you are one of the folks who made the cruelty free choice…God Bless You…it made a difference…if you aren’t there yet…won’t you think about it?
wtfSo this brings me the fate of companion animals…why can’t our choices make it better for them?  We are an abundant nation who loves animals…caring for and spoiling our animals has become a $60 Billion dollar industry.  Yet millions of homeless animals die in shelters each year…5 per minute!  What does it take for our choices to increase the demand for rescue animals so high that it pushes the shelters nearly out of business?  It shouldn’t be complicated…almost 3 million cats and dogs die in shelters every year…yet 17 million families get a new pet each year…this should be an easy problem to solve…but it lingers…and each year more suffer and die.

What do we have to do to make clearing out the shelter the fashionable thing to do?  How do we create a “Rescue-ista culture?”  Why do we have a hush, hush culture about how many animals die in the shelter…why is their so much resistance to change…to asking the community to be involved in solving the problem.  In most cases…I don’t believe people know that shelters, on average, are killing 50% of the animals…in some areas of the county…that number is significantly worse.  I don’t have the answers…its a heartfelt question.

Do you talk to everyone you can about rescue?  I do…especially anyone considering adding a pet.  I am not a self-righteous rag about it…I just make a heartfelt plea to encourage people to choose rescue…I give the staggering facts…how many die each minute…shelters are full of pure bred dogs…they are full of puppies…you can find any type of dog you want through rescue and no…a shelter pet is not damaged goods!

I don’t know what the specific magic beans are to save more lives…but I know what the over-arching theme is…a community that cares…that cares how the animals are treated.  How the animals fare in our communities is one (of many) benchmarks by which we can measure the spiritual health of our communities.  I wonder how we make rescue fashionable?  If things as ridiculous as mullets and bell bottoms can be fashionable than why isn’t pet rescue?  I wonder how we make pet rescue part of our spiritual journey?  I don’t have the answers…but I am sure looking for them.

If you are in to all things pet rescue…like pet art…like to spoil your pets…well by all means…follow our blog (we post 1-2 X’s per week) or our Facebook Page!

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

 

Dog Training, Family Posts, Pet Parent Resources, Pet Rescue

Pet Rescue: Warning…Dogs can die in hot cars!

Warning:  Dogs can die in hot cars!  There is something we can do about it.

dogsincarsGiven I have five dogs…I do a lot of walking.  My dogs and I walk through our adorable little town (Georgetown, KY) every day…sometimes twice a day.  Summer has barely had its start here and already we are seeing dogs left in hot cars…NOT OK.  In fact it really pisses me off!  I can’t walk by a dog in a hot car.  While I am not the type to go directly to smashing out a car window…I would if I had to.  I am the one though who doesn’t hesitate to call the the police…and no cracking the window an inch is not good enough…I will still call the police and let them smash the window!

Two weeks ago we (well me…my dogs just witnessed) had a verbal altercation with an older couple who stopped me to ask what the parking time limit was in our town…because they were going to go have lunch and leave their dog in the car.  I couldn’t believe they were looking me straight in the face with that idiotic statement.  I suggested to them the names of several ALDF-dogs-in-hot-cars-flyerrestaurants in town that had patio seating that welcomed dogs.  They weren’t interested.  I dug in my heels and told them if they leave the dog in the car I am calling the police.  (It was an 80 degree day).  They called me a dirty name and told me to mind my own business…I didn’t mind my own business and stood my ground until they drove away.  It blew me away that an elderly couple could be so boorish and irresponsible.

That same day I was browsing my Facebook feed and saw this poster from the Animal Legal Defense Fund…with a statement encouraging people to download the sign and hang it. I thought…we need these signs in downtown Georgetown…then I thought…well…perhaps I am supposed to be the one to go hang them.  So I did.use this one

I downloaded their art file…sent it to the local print shop for printing…and Lacey Mae and I hit the road.  We started going door to door to the business of Georgetown asking them to hang this sign in their shop window.  We have gone to over 20 business so far…all but one was more than happy to hang the sign.  When we ran out of our first 20 signs the local print shop made a whole bag of them for us for free!  We will be back out next week and will keep going until we get as many businesses as we can to hang our sign.  It is already abundantly clear on our Main Street (given all the obvious signs in business windows) that we are a town that is not ok with knuckleheads leaving a dog in a hot car.  Hopefully it will both make careless people think twice before trapping their dog in a car oven and also encourage citizens to speak out and call the police if necessary for a trapped dog.

There is a saying that goes something like this…whenever we say “someone should do something about that”…that someone might be ourselves.   Lacey and I had a lot of fun going door to door in town…she behaved like an angel in every business we went to (she didn’t pee on a single carpet!!!!).  We met a lot of great folks…and found out that they all want to see dogs safe…and when asked…they are willing to help out.

I have been taking pictures of every shop that hangs our sign and posting them on our Facebook Page.  If you want to do something like this in your town the copy for this poster is available for download at this link on the Animal Legal Defense Fund website.  It was a lot easier than I thought to approach business owners with my sign…in fact the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: Rescuing and breathing…

Pet Rescue Art:  If I am breathing I will be rescuing.

close upI just recently finished this little diddy…I decided a long time ago that since we all exit this life the same way eventually (empty handed and six feet under) that rather than accumulate “things or experiences” that I wanted to be completely used up when I die…I choose to use up whatever energy and resources I have being involved with pet rescue…whether its using my art, caring for my own house full of rescues, training rescue dogs or fostering homeless dogs…it is truly the highest privilege in life to find the vocation God destined me for…I live a blessed life.

This painting is an acrylic on canvas…11×14…glossy archival finish.  This and many other of my paintings are available at my ETSY shop.  I donate a portion of all of my sales to pet rescue groups.

If you are in to all things pet and pet rescue don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest!

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art…we all leave a trace in this world…

Pet Rescue Art…a trace left behind

use this oneI firmly believe that what we do in this life will follow us in to the next life.  We all leave a trace while we are here…some call it a legacy…be it small or grand though it will follow us.  My trace, like most people’s I suppose, is a mix of good and bad.  I had my wild years…the years where what I left behind was more like a stain than a trace.  But my animals continue to rub my rough edges off.   I will leave no grand legacy…just a trace of life with animals.  I hope that trace is learning to work with difficult dogs (who for some reason are the one’s that steal my heart) and sharing the realities of how poorly animals still fare in our increasingly complex and unfeeling world through my art.

Pet Rescue Art, Graffiti Art, Dog Painting, Dog Mom Gift
Pawffiti…a reflection of our lifestyle.
Likeness of Hercules
Likeness of Hercules

I started painting just a few years ago.   My muse was my Rottie Hercules.  He was also the reason I had to learn to train dogs.  Like his human mama…he was head strong, difficult, didn’t always play well with others and enthusiastic about everything he did (good and bad).   After he died I had a broken heart for a long time.  It seemed like no time had passed at all before I was losing my clear mental picture of him…I felt like I was losing his face.  So I started doodling/drawing him and then one day picked up some cheap pastel paints and painted him.  On the left really big frontis this very first painting.

I was hooked after this..painting became my outlet.  Every time I felt moved in regards to my own animals or the fate of other animals…I turned to painting to work it out.  I am what they call in the art world an “outsider”.  I have no formal training…actually I do not even have any informal training.  All I have is a desire and passion to speak for animals through art.  It was therapeutic for me…I never thought that what I was doing would resonate with others.

Pet Rescue Art, Cat Rescue Art, Cat painting, Cat art, cat mom gift.
Choose Life…This painting is sold.
Rescue mom's should
Rescue mom’s should

Two year ago I finally had enough paintings finished to open an ETSY shop.  I started my little art shop with the hope that it would be a way for me to give voice to homeless animals and raise money for homeless animals while still being able to be present at home for my own house full of rescued pets (I have eight of them).

In the last two years I have shipped art to 29 states (CRAZY) and the momentum continues to build. The first three months of this year allowed us to raise our largest amount of funds so far …just over $1,200.00…I hope this momentum continues and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate everyone who frequents my shop, sends me referrals and connects me with rescue groups running large auctions.

Pet Rescue Art, Dog Fighting Sucks Art, Graffiti Art, Dog Painting, Dog Mom Gift
Pawffiti: Dog Fighting Sucks
Cat rescue art, Pawffiti, cat painting, cat art, cat mom gift
This painting is sold.

I raise money in two ways…the largest portion is from my original paintings that go straight to charity auctions to raise money.  My highest single auction sale to date has been $700.00 for one painting.  If anyone had told me that I would make a painting that fetched that kind of money I would have laughed at them.   I also donate a percentage of any sales of my art and handmade leashes from my ETSY shop to rescue charities.

Pet Rescue Art, Graffiti Art, Dog Painting, Dog Mom Gift
Pawffiti…Real Men Don’t Chain Dogs

Parting with my art is an odd thing.  I am of course happy when I sell a piece or ship one off to auction.  But there is also a strange remorse.  I am parting with a piece of myself that I will never see again.  It really is quite strange.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a house full of rescued cats and dogs that are my constant muse for my art.   They give me so many ideas for more paintings that it feels like I have ping pong balls bouncing around in my head…I have to write them down or I will clutter them out.   My website has been a great place to share my ideas and I appreciate everyone who reads and comments here.

Every life is precious…and that means the sweet animals too! God Bless and thanks for your support over the last two years!

Rescue On!
Nancy

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: Beware of the Dog’s Mama

Pet Rescue Art:  Beware of Mama

I live in a state where the news flow is littered with stories of animal neglect and abuse…you really can’t avoid seeing it unless you choose to shut the world out completely.  Every time I see a new story I look at my own dogs and wonder how could it happen so often.  The reality is that I know how it happens…people who abuse the innocent…whether its a child, an elderly person, a

pet rescue art, dog art, the rescue mama, pet rescue, dog rescue
The Rescue Mama

handicapped person or an animal are spiritually sick.   The rest of society has to take the responsibility to do their best to protect the innocent and vulnerable from the spiritually sick.  I painted this little diddy after I read about a particularly disturbing animal abuse case right here in Scott County…I won’t retell it…but it was horrible.  This painting went viral pretty quick on Pinterest….guess I am not the only one who feels protective of my dogs!

My dog’s are all sweeties…but all shall pity the fool who messes with mama’s dogs!

Rescue On!

Nancy

Do you love all things pet and pet rescue?  Follow me on Facebook or Pinterest…check out my ETSY shop for this other and other paintings!

 

Hope after loss, Pet Rescue, Pet Sympathy, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: Some Angels Have Fur

Pet Rescue Art:  Do we see our pets again after death?

cat painting, cat wall art, cat memorial, loss of cat, gift for loss of cat, cat art
Some Angels Have Fur

What I am working on in my studio usually speaks to what is going on in my head and heart…lately is it grief and sadness.  Grief is such a strange journey…its unique…no two losses are the same but no single experience of the loss of a loved one is about the loss of just that one loved one.  When we open up for grieving it usually re-opens many old wounds that never completely healed.  I find that my sensitivity to everything around me is heightened when I am experiencing grief.  My ability to truly feel the experiences of another person or animal is so acute that it is physical.  It is both an awful and awesome place to be emotionally and spiritually.

I am of the opinion that we never “get over” the loss of someone we care about.  Rather, we just learn to live with the pain.  The piece of our heart that breaks when they are gone remains broken and becomes part of who we are forever.  It is part of becoming truly human.

I also believe we see our pets on the other side of life.  Not because I “need” to believe that nor believe it is something polite and appropriate to say when anyone is in pain over the loss of a beloved pet.  I believe it because it is logical to believe it.  It is congruent with a Christian world view to believe it.  And there is tangible evidence that we see our pets again.  To say that a living creature is lost forever when it dies would constitute a belief in a world view called ” annhilationism”.  Annihilationists believe that anything that is alive is gone forever once physically dead.  The problem with that belief is that collective human intelligence (and by that I mean almost every  single society that has ever walked this planet) has rejected annihilationism. Almost every society has believed in the spiritual birth of something new after death.  While those belief systems vary, of course, what they hold in common is that there is something beyond life in the flesh for creatures.  To hold the view that any creature, human or animal, is annihilated after death would put you in conflict with most of humanity…so which view does it make logical sense to hold?   A Christian world view holds that all of creation is redeemworld's greatest doged and part of God’s plan…while I will write more on this at another time…to exclude our beloved pets from God’s redeemed creation would be in direct conflict with a Christian world view.  While it’s not as common to talk about it in a contemporary culture that does not want to deal hands on with death and dying…stories of what happens during the dying process and accounts of Near Death Experiences tell us a lot about what awaits us on the other side.  And these experiences include interactions with animals; particularly pets already gone.

cat memorial art, the rescue mama, cat art
All Life is Precious

I like to think of the pets gone before me as waiting for me…which is selfish…really I hope they are running and playing with others and doing what they were meant to do naturally.  But I know I will see them again.  I hold this belief so strongly that while I love life on this side…I look forward to it on the other side just as much.

I have been painting Sparky, my beloved black lab who recently died.  The painting is taking awhile because sometimes I am too emotional to work on it.  It is a painting of how I picture him looking down on me now.  (ok…tearing up as I write this…).  I will share it when its done.  I believe its completion will bring me as close to closure as one can get when a loved one dies.

Thanks for reading my posts and viewing my art.  Much of my art is for sale at my ETSY shop.  Sparky’s passing has opened a new chapter in my pet journey…one that is very focused on a new member of our family, Buster.  Buster is a reactive dog that came here in a pretty wild state…I have decided to start chronicling the ways I have worked with Buster’s reactivity in hopes it can help other dog parents dealing with reactive dogs.

If you are in to all things pet and pet rescue check us out on Facebook or Pinterest!

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: A New Pawffiti Artist is born…

Pet Rescue Art…important messages from the pets we love…

Halacey finalnds down… the sassiest dog I have ever met is our Lhasa mix; Lacey Mae.  They say that the dogs that challenge us the most are the dogs we love the most…I can say from experience that this is true.  Lacey was a challenge literally from the moment I met her…and we love every bit of her.  Now that my shop is up and running steady I (in theory) have time to expand this year and Lacey Mae is going to step up to the plate and become my newest Pawffiti Artist.  Through her I 232323232-fp6326;-nu=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=34-488828832;nu0mrjplan to do some Pawffiti Art that is considerably more snarky than I have done in the past.

Lacey’s persona evolved over a series sketches that occurred on Saturday nights. My husband’s favorite thing to do on Saturday nights is watch UFC matches.  He likes me to watch with him. So just like he does, when I drag him to the opera, I sit and enjoy UFC with him.  I usually bring either a sketch pad or some yarn and a crochet hook.  It was on a few of these Saturday fight nights that Lacey’s character evolved.232323232-fp633;3-nu=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=3477-864-732;nu0mrjsketch 1

Lacey came to live with us shortly after Bret and I got married in 2008.  For some odd reason…we decided we wanted to open our home to a small breed dog…because two labs and rottweiler weren’t enough for us I guess.  We met Lacey through a friend who thought that perhaps we could give this “troubled little dog” a chance.232323232-fp63254-nu=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=33427-5;-632;nu0mrj

We drove about an hour to meet her. We loaded up our three big dogs to do a meet and greet with Lacey.  She did great with our dogs…particularly since she is just a fraction of their size.  However, she pretty much just ran in circles around my husband and I and growled at us.  When I tried to greet her…at what I thought was a safe distance…she charged, jumped up and bit my nose….HARD.  Oddly enough…we took her home anyway.  Not because we bonded with her, obviously, but sketch 2because she clicked so well with our big dogs and frankly…she was out of options.

Lacey had been surrendered by her owners for “chronic biting”.  She seemed to have no use for humans other than to charge, growl and chomp on them.

When we first brought her home…she spent a good portion of the day following me around the house charging me, growling and biting and my legs and hands.  If the door was open…she was gone…it was like Chariots of Fire running down the street to get away.  My poor husband chased her one morning in nothing but his PJ bottoms (no shoes)…into the woods…over fences..through our neighbors backyards…he caught her eventually…he wasn’t very happy with her that day.doo rags and leashes 035

Lacey is smart…and despite her growly ways…all she wanted was some attention.  She very quickly figured out that she would get plenty of attention when she was calm and gentle…when she wasn’t calm and gentle…she was ignored.  It didn’t take her long at all to win us over and show us her charming and affectionate side.lacey shops

Lacey will always be a sassy dog with boundaries that need to be respected.  She has personal space issues (so does mommy)…and she will snap at someone if they push her too far.  But we know her limits and she knows our rules…she has become an irreplaceable member of our family.232323232-fp539;--nu=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=36633886-932;nu0mrj

I am not a dog trainer that believes that every dog with problematic behavior can (or should) be saved.  There are unfortunately some dogs who are just simply a danger to humans and other dogs anfinal sketchd it is in everyone’s best interest for them to either live life out in a sanctuary (there are very few that can do this) or be humanely euthanized…it sucks (believe me it sucks) but it is sometimes the most humane outcome.  Lacey however, despite being labeled a “chronic biter”, was not one of those dogs.

She has become the princess of the household…sleeping in the middle each night…riding the Harley with mom and dad…and she has become the dog we take everywhere.  She runs errands with mom…she goes on vacation with both of us.  She doesn’t mind dressing up (really…she doesn’t) and has a large wardrobe so she can gussy up for every occasion.  She also doesn’t take any crap and has a growly opinion about just about everything…hence she is going to be my newest artist.  She has always had a lot to say.  I am so excited to see what happens as Lacey unfolds on canvas…I hope you will follow her progress!232323232-fp63238-vq=328;-446-279-WSNRCG=33427;923932;vq0mrj

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: Dog Fighting Sucks…time for Kentucky to move out of the dark ages!

Pet Rescue Art:  Dog Fighting Sucks…what is wrong with Kentucky?

main 2I live just 20 minutes north of Lexington, KY.  Lexington is the horse capital of the world.  In my county and several of the counties surrounding us…horses are a focal point of community life.  The barns built for horses here are nicer than most folks houses.  There is a retirement home for race horses a few minutes from my house…some of these horses have earned upwards of $90 million dollars in their life time.  The horse is sacred here.

For the most part everyone I meet here is also a dog lover.  Just about everyone has a dog or two.  Hunting dogs are everywhere here…for the most part the hunting dogs live productive lives as working dogs here…the bond between the hunter and his dog something to respect.  The local humane societies are well supported…and there are numerous smaller fringe rescue groups as well.  But there is also a dark underworld for animals here that few folks want to talk about.

10404860_380184835476840_5050119956143225513_nKentucky has the worst laws in the nation for protecting animals…dead last…they are in fact a disgrace.  Because of the pathetic laws the abuse and neglect of animals (especially dogs) goes on publicly and is never punished.  Sure, folks can (and will) call and report the abuse they see…but there is often little the authorities can do…dogs are left to suffer out in the open for everyone to see.  There are no laws here to fit the crimes of cruelty to animals here…it is a sad, sad state of affairs.

Kentucky is also the ONLY state in the nation that does not consider raising dogs for the purpose of fighting a felony…literally the only state in the nation!  Why is it so important to classify raising dogs for fighting as a felony you might ask?  Because this is the only way to stop dog fighting.  It is very rare that the authorities will catch dog fights “in theater”…their world is too secretive.  The only way to stop dog fighting, that every other state in the union has already figured out, is to bust the creeps for raising fighting dogs in the first place.  In Kentucky…raising fighting dogs goes on right out in the open.  Kentucky is in fact a safe haven for dog fighting.

We also must not be naive about the world of dog fighting…its not just about cruelty to animals…its about drugs and violence against humans too.  These are dark hearted people with no regard for life…not a dog’s life…not my life…not your your life.

The Louisville Humane Society recently stated that 80% of the dogs they in take are pit bulls or pit mixes…80%….and most of them come in with wounds and scars reminiscent of dog fighting.  We also have another problem here in Kentucky…dog fighters need bait…animals that they can use to teach their fighting dogs to kill…we therefore have an epidemic of stolen family dogs.  It’s sickening…but if your dog goes missing here…we want to hope for the best but we are in fact forced to at least entertain the idea that the very worst of fates has befallen our dogs.

There is a group here; Kentucky Coalition to End Dog Fighting, that has been tirelessly working to get laws passed to make raising fighting dogs a felony.  But alas…there are legislators standing in the way…many of them.  They “kill the bills” to protect the dogs by adding abortion amendments, ag gag amendments and other amendments that have nothing to do with dog fighting.  Its disgusting but these politicians are elected (over and over) and have been getting away with this for years.  There is still a chance that a bill will pass this month where anti-dog fighting language will itself be an amendment…we can hope and pray that it passes.  If it doesn’t I hope for public outrage against these legislators standing in the way…but I doubt it.

I have no desire to opine about corrupt politicians and their role in the suffering of animals here in Kentucky..most thinking people know that the role of “career politician” has simply become a euphemism for corruption…removing all “career politicians” with term limits is the only answer to cleansing our corrupt government.

I do think it is worth reflecting on the state of a society that passively stands by in the face of cruelty.  Basic kindness to animals should be easy…and it should be a key measure by which we judge our communities.  Abominations such as dog fighting (any kind of animal fighting) are a blight…a dark spiritual sickness that every single civilized person should be unwilling to tolerate in any form.  Here though…there is an entire segment of society accepts things like dog fighting and cock fighting as part of their “culture”.  Whenever there is actually a raid of a dog fighting ring or cock fighting ring here there is a hardcore group of people that are outraged by the intrusion of government on this pillar of their history and culture…literally they identify things like cock fighting as “part of their culture and heritage”.

This is a picture my husband took in eastern, Kentucky (click on it and enlarge it). roosters If you don’t know what you are looking it…the barrels are for fighting roosters.  Roosters are tied to these barrels (which are their homes) until they are taken to the ring to fight.  This picture was taken “in town”…it wasn’t hidden from civil society…these fighting roosters were being raised right out in the open for all to see…everyone driving by knows what the fate of these roosters will be…and nothing can be done for them.

Where I personally struggle the most with issues like cruelty to animals is NOT in pondering “how could they?”…”how could anyone be so cruel?”…I don’t wonder that at all…I know exactly how individual people can be so cruel…they are spiritually sick…in many cases spiritually bankrupt.

What I do struggle with is how can everyone else stand by and do nothing…how can we have a such a high level of “dis-interest” in ending cruel practices going on in our own communities…Most of us would never consider engaging in the world of dog fighting or cock fighting ..but at least in Kentucky…the voting population repeated elects legislators who refuse to put a legal end to it.  This is a dark blemish on our society…we (Kentuckians) must end it…we (Kentuckians) cannot stand by in disgust and judgment rather we must be the voices for these animals.  We have to do something about it…the animals can not put an end to dog fighting…but we can.

It appears there is one last chance for Kentuckians to speak up and encourage our legislators to finally do the right thing and stop dog fighting.  There is a bill that has passed the Senate…was amended in the house and now must pass the Senate with the amendments again.  It is SB143 and it has the anti-dog fighting provision as an amendment.  Will you make the phone call?  Call your state senator (800-372-7181)…call the Senate leadership…ask them to support SB143 and to take a stand against dog fighting.  If you don’t know who your Senator is…click on the link here Kentucky Coalition to End Dog Fighting…and they have details and links to find your Senators and details about the bill.   Like their page on Facebook if you want to follow this more closely…the phone calls matter THIS WEEK!!!!!  I will be making the phone calls this week…will you?

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: “Live to Rescue” Pawffiti

Pet Rescue Art:  “Live to Rescue” Pawffiti

Pawffiti...a reflection of our lifestyle.
Pawffiti…a reflection of our lifestyle.

I have spent the last few months learning the process of getting giclee prints made of some of my paintings…maybe I am just getting older…but navigating new things (especially technology) gets ever more complicated and frustrating.  One of things I have learned the hard way with my budding art store is that it is a constant time battle to try to manage on an online store and have enough time to create.  Running an online shop has required me to learn Search Engine Optimization, advertising and networking on social media and photography (which I still really stink at still).  I have learned online payment systems…photo editing…the list goes on.  My little art store has now shipped products to 29 different states in the U.S.!   I am hoping to hit all 50 in the next year or so and at some point I would like to ship internationally.

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Image of the first print run!

I believe I have finally put together a cost effective yet very high quality team to get my art prints made.  I am really excited that I can use my prints to generate even more funds for rescuing animals.  So far in just the first quarter of 2015 The Rescue Mama Shop has generated $820 in donations of cash and merchandise to rescue groups.  I am hoping to grow this number significantly throughout the year.  I am hoping that my “Live to Rescue” Pawffiti will be a big part of that.  When I first posted the original painting on Facebook last month it was well received and I had a lot of requests for prints (and tshirts and bumper stickers, etc).

Getting prints made requires professional photographs of the originals…I have found a wonderful photographer in Lexington (Mary Rezny) who does an amazing job creating my electronic art files for me and has been generous with her time answering my endless questions about the process.  It also required finding a high quality printer that can provide archival quality prints that don’t break the bank…after test running a few shops I have been thrilled with the product I am getting from http://www.iprintfromhome.com.

I sell all of my originals and prints at my ETSY shop.  25% of the sales price of my originals go to rescue donations (the buyer can choose which rescue group gets the donation if the desire).  For all of my print sales I donate 10% of the sale.  I accumulate the total all quarter for my print sales and then write one check at the end of each quarter to a rescue group that I choose (which is usually a group in Kentucky as the needs for animals is so great here but there are other groups that I send to as well).

20150311_194843I have also been making cards with each of my new prints.  They make great cards for new pet adoptions or simply as “thinking of you” cards for pet rescue friends, dog walkers, veterinarians.   I am selling them for $3.99 at my shop.

Likeness of Hercules
Likeness of Hercules

This “Live to Rescue” painting was inspired by my Sparky…who as you know passed away last week.  I can’t put in to words how deeply I miss him.  Sparky spent his days either laying next to my easel or laying next to my desk…the house seems decidedly empty without him.  I am so grateful that I have painted so many pictures of him…I bet he gets a kick out of knowing that his sweet face is hanging in so many homes around the country.

Years ago…the reason I started painting in the first place was the loss of my Rottie, Hercules.  It was only a few months after he had passed that I realized I was losing my mental image of him…so I started doodling pictures of him and eventually I painted him…it was then that I realized…hey maybe I can do something productive with my painting.  Here I am several years later with my own little shop.  I am having fun…keeping the spirit of my dogs alive, giving voice to homeless and abused animals and raising some extra money for other dogs.

If you are interested in following my work more closely please follow my blog where I post weekly about my art, crafts and life with a house full of rescued pets and like my Facebook Page where I post daily.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

 

Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art…for the love of Vera

Pet Rescue Art…the stories that steal our hearts…

cover 4Allow me to introduce you to Vera.  Vera is a pittie girl who was rescued by a group called Muttley Crue Rescue in Ohio.  A few weeks ago I was contacted by Muttley Cure looking for a painting for their Mardi Paws event in Cleveland, OH next month.  I found Vera’s story on their website and fell in love with her…I just had to paint her.  Prior to her rescue by Muttley Crue some horrid person poured hot oil on her body and left her to die.    But look at her now…isn’t she lovely! 9173974   I think everything about her just says “joy”.  I am always amazed at how fast dogs and cats can recover both physically and emotionally after they have suffered at the hands of creepy humans.

The statement on Vera’s painting was a theme that Muttley Cure used on their website.  I will be shipping off Vera’s painting for auction as soon as I have it photographed.  I hope the painting raises a bunch of dough as Vera also has a heart condition and will need an expensive surgery. 368787_orig I will be making prints of Vera’s painting which I will put up for sale at my ETSY shop.  I will donate a portion of the sale of each print to Muttley Crue.  It will be a few weeks before the prints are available.

My paintings are my way of doing a little something more for dogs and cats who are still waiting for their forever home while still allowing me to be present at home for my house full of rescued pets…each painting I do is completed in a studio full of cats and dogs.  Check out my Art Gallery to see more Pet Rescue paintings I have done.

Odds are I will never meet Vera but it was an honor to paint her!

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

Family Posts, Pet Rescue, Rescue Mama Art

Pet Rescue Art: a hero in pictures

Who is your hero?

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Handsome Sparky

mainDo you know a lot of heroic people?  I believe I know a lot of them…I think they are all around us.  Everyone has their struggles…some people wear them on their sleeve…some people bury them deep inside….but we all fight battles and those battles makes living life on life’s terms heroic in its own right.  Still, we have the more obvious heroes…like our soldiers.  A hero comes in many forms…and sometimes its the sweet soul who wanders to the shelter and rescues a dog…and sometimes it’s the dog.

Sparky, my black lab, has been creeping in to my art more and more…he creeps in to my dreams more too.  He is very old now and sometimes I think his presence in my dreams is his way of beginning to say good-bye to me.  I love to draw and paint him.  He is a fascinating dog.  When I first adopted him he was near a feral dog.  I could not touch him or even get very close to him…he was never aggressive but he had no use for me…would not even take food from my hand.  He had no concept of how to live in a home with humans and destroyed miraculous amounts of things in my home and would jump up and down (several feet up) when I put a leash on him.  What kind of crazy woman adopts a dog like that might be a fair question…honestly…one that didn’t know any better.

This painting is sold.
This painting is sold.

While I was clueless then I know now that dogs come in to our lives when they are suppose to.  hot pink imprintSparky, who for years wanted nothing to do with me…turned in to a loyal companion.  He never leaves my side and has become a hero to other dogs.  Whenever I hear someone say a dog is not adoptable…I cringe.  Sparky was in that category.  The weekend I adopted him (he had been adopted out several times and returned to the Humane Society) was his last chance…he was on doggy death row for the following week.  Don’t get me wrong…the early years with Sparky were not easy….sometimes I could do nothing but cry at the things he destroyed …at the frustration of trying to manage little things like getting him in to the car.  But oddly enough…in the midst of a very dark time in my life he started to change and calm down…he became the dog I needed at that time.  Eventually, Sparky was the dog that went through dog training school with me…all of which were efforts to help my other dog (Hercules) who was terribly reactive.  Sparky rocked dog training school…my mentor couldn’t believe his ability to focus on me (neither could I really…I think now of all the years I was underestimating what he could do).   Now Sparky is the dog that I use to work with other dogs…those that are fearful and those that are reactive in the presence of other dogs. (Reactive is the politically correct way to say dog aggressive).  There is something about Sparky’s presence that calms and guides other dogs to better behavior.  I won’t pretend for one moment that I understand it nor do I feel the need to.bigbe the change imprint

Sparky has a way of communicating with other dogs…his body language, his eyes..in ways that say all sorts of things I suppose…its so hard not to anthropomorphize our dogs…I would imagine he says things like…”knock it off you obnoxious idiot” to dogs like Buster and “follow my lead I’ve got your back” to dogs like Turnip.

Pawffiti...important message from the pets we love.  This painting is sold.
Pawffiti…important message from the pets we love. This painting is sold.

But make no mistake…he is a near 100 pounds of a take no prisoners bad ass if he needs to defend his family.  Very few times in all the years that Sparky has lived with me have I seen him go in to a guard dog state…but each time it has happened I have been both startled by and also proud of his fierceness…I believe he would die defending our pack.  The first time my husband saw Sparky defend the pack he was shocked.

Pawffiti...inspired by Turnip
Pawffiti…inspired by Turnip

WTF imprint

Sparky and Buster
Sparky and Buster

Since we moved to Kentucky Sparky has worked his magic with our two foster dogs; Turnip and Buster.  Turnip is a fearful dog and Buster is a reactive dog.  Sparky is a dog that gives other dogs a second chance…it is really a magical thing.  Turnip was afraid of his own shadow…taking him for a walk in the neighborhood was nearly impossible…a blowing leaf, a passing car, a garbage can…all were potential threats in Turnip’s eyes.  We started walking him with Sparky and it changed Turnip’s world.  After his Sparky therapy…Turnip walks the hood like he owns it!  Buster was an obnoxious idiot that wanted to hump and bully every dog he encountered.  Sparky very quickly taught him some manners.  Turnip and Buster will be Sparky’s last miracles…we declare him officially retired and will focus on caring for him in his old age.peace imprint

We all owe Sparky a lot….the dogs and certainly Bret and I.  We enjoy every day we have with him…and relish in the grace with which he is dealing with his old age. He is totally deaf now, his kidneys don’t function well, his hips are weak and he farts all the time…still he hangs with pack, goes on his daily walk (slooooowly) and rarely leaves my side. While he isn’t going to live here on earth with us forever…he will be in my dreams and in my art until we reunite on the other side…and I find great comfort in that.  He is like magic to me…or maybe a better word is grace.  Sometimes I think that in certain moments with our dogs we get rare but clear glimpses in to the mystery of grace…the only other place I have felt it is in my marriage…dogs and husband…what more could a girl want.

I leave you with all these thoughts and images of my Sparky…my sweety, my magic and when he needs to be … a badass!

Rescue On!

Nancy

To follow my art and work subscribe to my blog by email sign up (I typically post weekly) and/or follow my Facebook Page where I post daily.  Many of my paintings and cards are available at my ETSY shop.

 

Dog Training, Family Posts, Pet Rescue

Introducing Turnip Halverson!

Bret and I have never been so proud to fail at something!

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We had a pawty for Turnip’s adoption…hats, cake and bubbly…it was a lovely evening!

howlOn January 3, 2015 Bret and I became official “foster failures”.  We are so proud to introduce Turnip Halverson…he is now part of his forever family.  Turnip has been a joy and also a challenge for our home.  Anyone who knows me… knows I love a challenge… also that I have a knack for falling in love with dogs who need a little extra help figuring life out.

Turnip was so painfully shy when he came here.  It took quite a bit of time and patience to win his trust but eventually we did.   He came here as a foster because he was struggling to make connections with humans at his first foster home.  The day I met him all he did was pace…. back and forth…over and over…the pacing continued here for several days. Even corralling him in and out of the house to potty was a bit of a challenge as he was terrified to walk through door ways with a human present and he didn’t want us to touch him.

Every time I meet a dog I believe I can help in some way I am repeatedly thwarted by the magic influence dogs can have on each other.  After a week or two Turnip adjusted to the most basic elements of life with our pack.  He followed the lead of our dogs (my labs especially) and figured out meal routines, potty routines, sleeping routines and finally that it was safe to approach us.

Anytime Turnip made a new leap …like walking up the stairs for the first time (he was terrified of the stairs) or getting in and out of the car without me having to carry him (he was terrified of the car)…Bret and I would brim with excitement and pride.  Our most recent big excitement has been Turnip’s walks.  Turnip is afraid of everything…a blowing leaf, a passing car, a garbage can. Raising his comfort level to walk in the neighborhood has been no small accomplishment.  I attribute most of his success to my labs…who walked flanking Turnip for weeks…up and down the same streets…now a clicker and a few pieces of meat are all that is necessary for Turnip to venture out without the labs and stay relaxed.

Turnip was not neutered when he moved in…he had been too sick to undergo the surgery.  For me, having an intact male in the house was something new…I have always had rescues that came neutered or spayed.  This raised the challenge a bit as Turnip wanted to mark EVERYTHING and he was having trouble (at times) getting a long with our other dogs.  (He was the instigator of several squabbles that ended with me getting bitten.)  I used Simple Solution belly bands for the marking situation…I tried a few brands and this seemed the most comfortable for him and by far the most absorbent.  They are easy enough to wash (though I wouldn’t recommend putting them in the dryer).  After he was neutered I used the umbilical cord technique to potty train him…which only took a few days…we have not had any problems since.  His play style with the other dogs improved significantly after his neuter as well and mom no longer gets bitten!

Sam and Turnip taking a nap.
Sam and Turnip taking a nap.

I used several proven techniques for working with shy dogs to train with Turnip.  I am not a novel dog trainer…I rely on the wisdom of those who have many years of successful experience working with dogs with behavior challenges….Jen Severud (who was my mentor), Emma Parsons, Debbie Jacobs and Patricia McConnell.   I use a clicker for just about everything I work on with Turnip.   One thing that is particularly challenging with fearful dogs is getting them to generalize behavior (perform the same behavior in different settings).  Using a clicker makes the process of generalization go much faster which significantly reduces the dogs stress in new settings.  There are two things you will pretty much always find on me when I am out and about…dog hair all over my clothes (ish) and a clicker hanging from wrist!

I made a meat cake with potato frosting for Turnip's party!
I made a meat cake with potato frosting for Turnip’s party!
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I made some invitations to Turnip’s Pawty!

I played a game called “touch” with Turnip…we play it still.  It makes approaching new things a fun game for Turnip instead of a scary experience.  Since Turnip is a very playful dog this has worked wonders.   Another thing I made sure I worked hard at when training with Turnip is always making sure I am setting him up to succeed in his training.  If I am asking my dog to perform a behavior and the dogs is failing…ITS NOT THE DOG!  It is my role as his trainer (and well now his mama) to make sure that he is successful…if he is struggling with his training …I back up and revamp the situation to a scenario in which he can succeed…then work back up the difficulty more slowly.

The night before Turnip’s official adoption Bret and I became resolved to no longer speak of Turnip’s past in our home…this is the last time I will write about it too.  Turnip led a hellish life for years…but that is not what makes him special…what makes him special is his fight…he is a tough dog who first survived neglect and abuse, then a horrible illness and then began fighting his way to learn to lead a normal life with a family.  We won’t be looking at the old pictures…we won’t be recalling how badly he was treated…because it is all upside from here for him.  Turnip’s identity now is one of a playful, energetic and affectionate (and even sometimes naughty) member of our permanent family.

I can’t end this post without calling out my husband.  Turnip is terrified of men…it has been no small exercise in patience for Bret and Turnip to adjust to each other.  It gets better all the time…due entirely to my husband’s huge heart and persistence.  Turnip still won’t go in or out the door for potty if my husband is close by but he does hang out on the couch with him and eats out of Bret’s hands. The fact that my husband fell in love with a dog who still fears him is a testament to his heart.  I don’t have the kind of husband who buys me jewels…but rather one that loves broken creatures and believes in second chances…I am so lucky!

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This is a picture of me and Turnip at my desk.  Whenever I sit down to write at my computer Turnip climbs on my lap and falls asleep…sitting up like this…it is so darn cute.  I have figured out how to type with him on my lap…he has become my muse.

The last thing I will say about Turnip…he barks…Turnip was in the rescue process (fostered, hostipalized, etc) for about one year….that whole time no one heard him bark.  Turnip has found his bark…he barks all the time now…I love the sound of him barking…he also howls now…every time the sirens pass our house…it is so cute.

I love the sound of dogs, the smell of dogs  and the chaos that comes with of a house full of dogs…and I love Turnip.

I leave you with this picture of Buster…our other foster dog.  He is also here because he has some behavior challenges…but he is making great progress too. 20150103_203614 The night of the party, with a few exceptions (like leaping on to the table of food) he behaved wonderfully and had a great time…so much so that he was caught dozing off with his party hat on.

Many blessings to you and yours and Rescue On!

Nancy