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Misfit Manor Diary – a little bit of wonderful

Sometimes a little bit of something wonderful is all we get…and it just has be enough. We said our final goodbye to sweet Holly last Friday. Holly came to Misfit Manor just a few weeks ago. We knew she was a hospice situation but we are wired to assume the best and thought for sure we would have at least a few months with her. She was so incredibly sweet and precious and we enjoyed the time we were able to have with her.

Even though we only knew Holly for a short period of time we are just crushed over losing her. The whole household was off…Solstice stopped eating for a few days…the other Misfits were quiet. You would think that dealing with loss would get easier over time and with so much experience with it. But it definitely does not…it stings every single time. Every time I seem to go through the same cycle of emotions. The stress of having to actually make the decision to say goodbye is always the hardest. I generally have really good intuition (I call it my inner bell). I know when its the right time to say goodbye and I listen and watch the cues from my Misfits carefully….but it is painful nonetheless. This is hands down the hardest part of Manor life. Then there are the days of darkness after they are gone…accepting the reality that I won’t see Holly’s sweet face for a longtime…I have days where I just don’t seem to run out tears. Eventually the dark cloud lifts and my mindset changes to gratitude….I am glad Holly made it here for a least some time and incredibly grateful that I was allowed to care for her and love her. I also know that every minute I have with my Misfits is worth it and I will do it again.

I also feel incredibly grateful for the comfort of the routine and demands the Misfits put on my life. The dogs are fully in the present…they don’t do “later”…they certainly don’t allow me to be a slacker… and I appreciate that. The best medicine, at least for me, when I am feeling down is to be engaged in giving my best effort to them. Every thing is always a group effort here too. I really don’t get any personal time or space…no matter what I am doing…they all have to be involved. Sometimes that can be a little frustrating (I still have to work) but it also is amazing to never be alone. Manor life isn’t easy but it is a wonderful life…I would not trade it for the world.

Whip cream fixes a lot of things…

Because we all felt so droopy over the loss of Holly Bret and I busted out the whip cream can for the rest of the rest of the dogs on Sunday and had a little pawty.

Nothing makes the heart feel lighter than seeing all the Misfits running around playing…and getting whip cream all over their faces! The second they hear the first bit come out of the can…all hell breaks loose.

Dog Party Favors, Pupperccino Cups, Misfit Manor Shop

Living with life coaches…

Living with dogs is like living with a houseful of life coaches…honestly no one stays engaged in the present moment like a dog. Any life coach will tell you that life happens in the present…if you are going to be happy its only going to happen in the present moment.

It’s not lost on me the profound impact the Misfits have on my own ability to stay engaged with the present. Not only are they role models for living in the present but they get over things so quickly (ok..well except Buster…he forgets nothing).

They also teach me so much about trust. They worry about nothing. Now whether they trust me or its just a general trust in the universe…I don’t know…they just assume they will get what they need. Not a moment is spent worrying about tomorrow. I just want to be more like my dogs.

Changing seasons…

Summer is coming to an end soon. We are trying to squeak out every minute of outdoor fun that we can. Rosie’s exercise pool will have to come down this week (always a sad day) but walking at the park will be a lot more pleasant as it starts cooling down and we love seeing the changing colors…I think fall in Kentucky is one of my favorite sights. We enjoy every season here at the Manor…this year each and every moment and memory we make seems more special than usual…the stress of the COVID era makes everything feel more acute or raw. This week the man who originally restored our home and built our vacation rentals passed away from COVID. He and his wife were incredibly kind and generous to Bret and I when we moved. Life feels heavier in the era of coronavirus…like we are all walking around carrying an invisible yoke on our shoulders. Finding and relishing in the good moments has never been more important.

The Misfits and I wish blessings, love and light to everyone. Stay safe and healthy. Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest Page for tons of pet lover content and shop our Misfit Manor store for all of your pawty and gift giving needs!

Nancy & The Misfits

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Welcome to Misfit Manor Miss Holly!

When you are ready…I guess you are ready. Since Petunia passed last February I have not felt ready to bring a new dog to the Manor. Until last week when I was sent a picture of Miss Holly. I could not resist her precious face.

Miss Holly is a 6lb Pomeranian. She is 11 years young. She is a perfect fit at the manor. Holly was put up for “free” on Craig list because her person was put in the hospital and could no longer care for her (family members decided to give her away). A rescue saw the post and went and got her right away. Situations like this are so heart breaking and just too common. Someone elderly becomes ill or incapable of being on their own and to make it all the worse they are separated from their dog. My heart breaks for the dogs who have no idea why they have lost their person of course…but it breaks even harder for the person who is separated from their dog. Our dogs are our most steadfast companions in life…to be separated from them is a tragedy.

Besides having some health issues that make her uncomfortable Holly was very sad and depressed when she arrived. Her person clearly loved her and being separated was hard on Miss Holly.

We had Holly vetted quickly…she is not without issues…the most urgent being her kidney values are dangerously high. Hopefully the high kidney value is due to the infections in her mouth (really rotten teeth) and their removal and antibiotics will restore her kidney function. She goes in for her dental on the 25th and we will recheck her kidney values at that time.

She has a broken rib that is quite painful (she groans if you touch her mid section). Her xrays show very poor bone density so keeping her protected from falls is going to be important. She has some pretty serious joint issues as well. Her little knees shake when she walks. For now she is on a course of predisone and we are lasering her joints 2x/day. Once we are able to get some better xrays on the 25th and some clarity on her kidney’s we will look at more options for giving her comfort in her little joints.

Despite arriving here with so many health issues and some doggy depression Holly has fit in quite well and is taking advantage of all of the perks of Manor living.

She has become a quick fan of wagon rides at the park with her sister Rosie and likes have a big yard to trot around and sniff in…and bark at squirrels.

She has very quickly figured out how to get in the action with the rest of the pack to get her share of the treats too!

Holly’s favorite time of the day seems to be before bed snuggles and laser time. I take Rosie, Lacey and Holly in my bed (with a little bowl of cookies) and take turns snuggling and lasering all of them…its a wonderful wind down for me each night and the girls love it.

Despite everything that is going on with her health and the stress of so much change in her life…she is incredibly sweet and her little tail is starting to wag more each day. She loves to bark at Solstice!

We are thrilled to have her here with us and look forward to showing her what life as a diva at Misfit Manor is all about.

Life on the Manor continues to be full of love and joy despite the craziness going in the world….the Manor is an oasis for the animals and for Bret and I. Bret’s real estate business is keeping him crazy busy these days…he loves coming home to the peace and privacy our life here affords. I continue to run our vacation rentals but in the era of coronavirus we have very few guests.

Solstice and I keep busy in the studio designing new pawty items and making new art work. We are incredibly grateful for the support our shop has received this year. Check out our Misfit Manor Shop for new items for your pawty planning needs. We are working hard to gear up for the holidays as this year’s online holiday season is set to be incredibly busy.

We hope this post find you well and finding new and creative ways to enjoy life despite all the challenges going on in the world.

Pawsitively grateful,

Nancy & The Misfits

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Misfit Manor Diary – Problem Solving

Misfit Manor, Nancy Halverson
Misfit Manor, Nancy Halverson

Sometimes I think the biggest responsibility I have as a dog mom is problem solving. Most of the dogs that land at Misfit Manor are here because they have an issue, health or behavioral. My job is to figure out how to improve their quality of life any way I can.

Our Lacey Mae has been with us for 13 years. We adopted her because her first family surrendered her to a kill shelter for biting…and we all know how that story usually ends.

I don’t sugar coat our life with Lacey…she punched major holes (in our faces) in the first two days we brought her home…and many times since. We aren’t idiots; we saw potential in her regardless of her challenges. When we first met her we brought our other dogs for a greeting with her too; at the time we had a huge Rottweiler and two large labs. She immediately bonded to them and honored the signals they gave her in regards to her bitchy behavior. Based on her interactions with them I knew she had potential…she just needed some boundaries.

We both worked really hard to earn her trust. Eventually we learned her boundaries (she has major personal space issues) and she learned our boundaries too. Bret and I consider her the love of our lives.

As Lacey ages some health challenges have brought back some of her “not so pleasant” behaviors. Honestly, the last year hasn’t been easy.

Misfit Manor, Bret Halverson

Solving health/behavioral issues in dogs isn’t always easy…in fact I don’t think it ever is. Veterinary medicine…like all medicine… is imperfect. Lacey clearly was having a spike in allergies…she looked completely miserable. We tried a several different allergy therapies and finally settled on a non-steroidal shot that has really helped.

I also took her to my homeopathic vet in Louisville, Dr. Boswell. Dr. Boswell took one look at her and immediately saw issues with her back. She worked on her back (acupuncture and some chiropractic adjustments) and it had a significant impact in only a few days. I have been lasering her back ever since. She is a different dog without back pain. Something I didn’t realize was going on until an expert spotted it.

Allergies and back pain had also significantly impacted her appetite. I became that crazy dog mom making multiple different meals trying to entice her to eat. Nothing was working. We were both worried constantly about her. I tried every type of food I could find or make, I used Aloe Vera Juice, nausea meds,…no impact. I finally started giving her probiotics (something that has worked wonders with Rosie’s eating). And sure enough; it worked. Lacey is back to creaming her dinner plate. She is excited for meal time again. We are so relieved.

Figuring out why she had a return of some pretty nasty behaviors was all related to her health and wellness…and it took months to solve. Trial and error…multiple trips to the vet/s. But eventually we found ways to relieve her allergies and pain levels in her back. Subsequently; her behavior has normalized and she is being nice to us and the other dogs again.

I am not the type of woman to give up; on anything really.

So I certainly won’t give up on one of my dogs but I will say this was a really challenging run. When you are juggling a multi-pet household having one of them behaving aggressively is a huge, scary and immediate challenge.

It is not lost on Bret and I that we are blessed to have a house full of pets at Misfit Manor that for the most part really like each other. Actually; its more than that…they support each other. We know this is a delicate balance that we have to guard.

Lacey is back to being our angel. She isn’t the first nor will she be the last dog we have to problem solve with but we are blessed with great vets and resources for making it all work.

Do you know our story? Take a minute to read about Misfit Manor.

Custom Dog Birthday Hat, Dog Party Hat, Personalized Dog Birthday Hat, Dog Party Favors, Paw Print Party Favors, Misfit Manor Shop

We are not a 5013c. We are just two people with a heart for dogs that need a little extra help and we fund their care ourselves. We don’t take donations but I do sell my Pawty Supplies and my art to pay the costs to vet and care for our dogs. We also have an Amazon Wish List.

Thank you for reading a little bit of our life story!

Nancy & The Misfits

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Misfit Manor Diary – getting ready for cyber week!

This is one part of my studio…the aftermath of making almost 2,000 ornaments.

While for most people the build up to the holidays is about decorations, party planning, shopping, baking…and all sorts of other fun things…for me it’s about getting ready for cyber week and the flood of sales that come the weeks leading up to Christmas.

I have four vacation rentals properties that wrap around my house…that business keeps a roof over my head.  But my online shops are how I support all of my Misfits.  Last year my holiday season sales raised enough to cover nearly a years worth of vet bills (which is no small thing when you have senior and/or special needs cases).

I am so blessed to be able to work from home.  It is rare that I ever have to leave my dogs

Buster resting at the foot my easel while I paint.

for more than a few hours.  When I do head in to my home studio…all the babies come with me.   I can take breaks during the day to get all the dog walking/play breaks done. I can always run out for vet appointments if I need to…it is really the best of both worlds.  I couldn’t have scripted a better situation for all of us and I wake up every day excited to do my work and grateful for all the opportunities we have been able to take advantage of.   I work hard; running multiple businesses, managing a very large property and caring for my rescues is like working 3 full-time jobs; I rarely rest.  I also love it and couldn’t imagine my life any other way…

This is one of four stacks of boxes I have ready to go…I still have hundreds to put together.

Learning to sell (well) online has taken years of hard work.  I have had to learn product photography, online marketing, sourcing, branding, trademarking  and more.  I use professional business coaches that coach specifically online sellers; I never could have figured all of this out on my own.   I have a fabulous group of cyber colleagues that I can

this is why I don’t leave the house…the wait at the door for me to come back…

lean on for advice and moral support.  Working alone from home can be…well lonely…(even when you have pets!).

I have two shops; Etsy and Amazon.  The last two years my businesses have really transformed; in part due to starting a shop on Amazon…which has been a game changer for me.  I never dreamed I would do the kind of volume I have done the last two years (especially for art).  It has also connected me with a lot of really cool customers for my art.  My anti-dog fighting art now hangs in several police stations around the country.  I have also had several really neat features of my products done by bloggers and also HGTV (for my Pawty supplies).

My girls napping in the studio with me.

I don’t even mind that my holiday season gets over taken by the busyness of my shops.  There are a lot of fun things that I have to pass on this time of year because my shops often require 12+ hour days.  But I still plan breaks to go see lights and to several of the outdoor holiday festivals in the area.  I also find a lot of joy in wrapping up my holiday sales.  Most of my sales this time of year are personalized pet ornaments or ornaments for dog moms.  I enjoy making and sending little packages of joy to dogs and their moms.

If your looking for a gift ornament for a pet or pet lover in your life; check out my shops!  You can use coupon code “PAWSOME” for 10% off your order.

Here is a gallery of some of my holiday ornaments they are all available for $14.99 (free shipping) at my shops:

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Rescue On!

Nancy

 

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Misfit Manor Diary..and then there was Rosie…

There is no such thing as a dull moment at Misfit Manor.  While so many of my days seem filled with routine…routine is pretty crucial to juggling a large family of dogs…nothing about life here is ever dull. 

Several weeks ago I took in a new Misfit. Her name is Rosie.  She has some issues that are yet medically unidentified.  Perhaps they will never be identified.

She cannot bark.  She struggles with swallowing her food.  When she first arrived she was walking very little.  The vets believe she has some sort of neuro-muscular disorder…but no hard diagnosis as of yet.    We recently had a muscle biopsy done…no results yet.  Initially I had to carry her everywhere in the house…she had no strength to get up and walk (despite being on steroids).

.., if I left the room without her she would pant and whine and I would go running back for her. She was making little to no effort to get and up walk on her own.

Feeding Rosie is a daily battle.  I quickly figured out that she needs to eat sitting up or she gags and chokes on her food.  I feed her in a little doggie booster seat I have…one small bit of food at a time. She also gets bored with eating…or perhaps just tired…and we have have to take a lot of breaks.   She is also incredibly fussy.  There are days where I  have to cook her 3 different breakfasts just to find something she wants to eat.  I will not give up finding the best solutions for her.

But things are also changing a lot in the last few weeks.  She has morphed from rarely getting up and walking on her own at all to walking on her own most of the day.  She still has moments where her legs just give out and she plops on her belly.  But she gets right back up and tries again.  She has gained quite a bit of weight as well.  The last two days I have taken her on very short walks.

She loves wagon riding!  Initially she would just lay down in the wagon the whole time.  Now she is stronger and she sits up or stands while she is in the stroller.  I’m guessing she has covered more ground in the last few weeks than she has in her whole life.

Rosie has blended perfectly in to our broader family of Misfits.  Her initial introductions went very smoothly and she continues to play nicely with her housemates.  I am always grateful (and frankly fairly amazed) at how well all my Misfits do together…there is an energy level in this house that I do not understand…but am eternally grateful for.   All of my Misfits come from difficult backgrounds…yet once they are here they are very gracious about welcoming new family and helping each other grow.

Rosie has been a lovely addition….Betty adores her (and so does Buster).  Betty continues to amaze me…she remains so strong and determined yet she is the gentlest creature I have ever met.   She shadows Rosie…wherever Rosie goes Betty follows.

Betty continues to do fabulously.  We have pulled out all the stops for her…acupuncture, laser treatment, plasma injections…it is working…she loves going to the park…she would wander in a field all day if I let her.  She struggles sometimes with getting up…but that is what mommy is for.   Once I lift her up…she is off!

The Manor is a busy place…I run two businesses to keep my fur family going and thank the gods both of my business are thriving.  We are currently working hard to save money to buy our own laser machine…old dogs with sore joints is the norm here and it would be so much more economical to have our own laser machine…hopefully soon!

While there are days it seems like a live in a very narrow tunnel…I don’t leave the Manor unless I absolutely have too…I’m not oblivious to the world either….I watched the elections…the coverage of the fires in CA…my heart aches for our broken world…there are always rays of hope though…I find solace in doing my part right here…taking care of my band of Misfits that had no where else to go…I wish for everyone that you may find your hearts calling…because when you do…nothing can jar you from your path.

The holiday selling season is a critical time for my online stores.  If you need a gift item for a dog mom/dog dad in your life please browse my Etsy shop.  I have a lot of really cute affordable items for dog lovers.

Rescue on!

Nancy

 

 

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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: Preparing to Nest

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My spirit animal!

There is something about this time of year that fosters an organic ability for me to relax.  Relaxing does not typically come naturally for me.  But the air is cooler in the morning, the spiders are huge, my spice garden is ready to harvest, and the days are getting noticeably shorter…change is in the air.

spider web
This amazing piece of arachnidart hangs above my main gate and below my Hemlock tree…its absolutely stunning.

This year there seems to be an urgency about getting ready for fall and winter.  The squirrels on my property are working at a dervish pace, there are wooly worms everywhere and trees seem to be turning pre-maturely.  There was a time when I dreaded fall for what comes after it.  I hated the shorter days and without a daily energy boost from the sun all winter I would slip in to some pretty deep winter blues. download But I’m in a different season of life and now I look forward to burrowing in for the winter.  My work load on the property slows down considerably and I can allow myself more time for art, play, cooking and spiritual pursuits…perhaps even a vacation this year.  I can’t wait to have this time to slow down and re-charge.  The older I get the more clarity I have into the relevance of the cycles and spirals of all life; the agricultural seasons, the cycle of birth and death and the constant sprials of evolving as an older woman.  I find the this latest cycle to be one of the most empowering times in my life.

Each season inspires a specific basket of dominant feelings/emotions in me…in spring its hope…but in fall its gratitude.  I love the colors, smells, sounds of fall..they make me feel grounded and quiet.  I feel grateful for the income that my businesses have provided all summer.  And I feel grateful knowing that an extended period of rest is near on the horizon.

I had not realized how much I resemble a squirrel until I started writing this post…perhaps they are my spirit animals.  All summer I feel like a squirrel while I’m hard (but joyfully) at work squirreling away my nuts for the winter.  And with the addition of Heloise to my family it seems like I sleep in a literal “nest” every night.  She is terribly shy and still won’t stand for being picked up or carried around.  Since I can’t convince her to go up to my bedroom at night I’ve been sleeping on an air bed in my den for over two months so she can be with the whole family at night.  She, and the other 8 dogs, pile on the airbed with me.

lazy3
My babies piled on the air bed with me….love.

Heloise loves being in the mix; some nights she sleeps right on my belly.

I know she appreciates that we all stay close to her.  She tells me often that she “belongs”…that seems to be her word.  She is a very happy and playful girl despite her strong boundaries with touching…I am patient and I feel incredibly grateful for the trust she has already shown in me.  I posted a video of her playing with Snoopy at the bottom of this post.  She is joy.

Me and my fur family live a life where we try for the most part to keep to

Banishing Spray

ourselves…that is not always possible and there have been some uncomfortable incidents and lingering negative energy on one side of my property at Misfit Manor. I’ve been pulling out my full arsenal of prayers, blessings and tricks to put a stop to it.  Today I harvested a variety of sage, rosemary and lavender from my herb garden.

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Making a banishing spray from herbs from my garden.

I am steeping them in charged rain water to make a protection spray to keep clear that corner of the property of any lingering nefarious energy and also work with in the house when I don’t want to burn my herbs.  The smell of steeping fresh herbs is so earthy and comforting.  I posted a cheat sheet on my banishing spray (though if you are interested I would encourage you to really craft your own with ingredients and intention that flows from your heart and intuition).

 

 

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Snoopy’s 2nd Birthday Pawty!

The Pawty business continues to grow for me.  I appreciate everyone who supports my shop.  Vet bills on 9 dogs and 2 cats are no joke and my shop is a big source of how I fund it.  Petunia continues to get laser therapy several times a week for her back; as well as acupuncture treatments.   Millie and Petunia just had dentals…it adds up fast.

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Millie & Petunia resting after their dentals.

Every time I realize that the “pet account” is running low I take a deep breath and trust that what I need will come….and it always does.  Every time I hear the Etsy “register ring” sound on my phone I feel a profound sense of gratitude.

Blessings to you and yours as we enter the fall season… may you find gratitude, renewal and peace in this beautiful season.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: Broken and unwanted…sticking with what I know.

Every dog that comes to Misfit Manor seems to arrive at just the right time…for them and for me.

About a month ago I was tagged in a post about a very shy Chihuahua with deformed legs.  Her picture haunted me for weeks.   I felt like she has been calling me.  Truth be told,  a lot of things have been haunting me lately.  I stopped ignoring her call and I picked her up last Sunday.

Meet Miss Heloise.  Heloise came from a hell pit here in Kentucky.  She and several other dogs were surrendered to Paws 4 The Cause.  I will spare the sad details of her background.  She is the second dog in a row that has come to my house who has lived her life thus far without a name.    There is a special kind of spiritual coldness to leaving something so precious unnamed.

Heloise is missing half of one back leg and appears to be missing at least part of her foot on the other back leg.   She gets around great on what leg parts she does have.    Her deformed legs are a minor handicap compared to her fear of humans though.

I have taken in fearful (bordering on feral) dogs before…none quite this fearful and shy.  She hardly came out of her crate the first two days.   She is pretty much horrified by humans.  She has been at the manor a week now…she is still quite unsure of me…we are taking small baby steps.   She will walk up to me and sit but if I move she squeaks and runs away.  She will let me pet her a bit but I can tell she hates it…so I don’t.

She has been living in one of my bathrooms… the dogs and I go in and visit her and offer her food… she pokes her head out from behind the bath tub.  She doesn’t want to come out of

Should I come out of the bathroom or not….I’m thinkin’ not!

the bathroom on her own but she also cries if the dogs and I aren’t close to the bathroom.  Today I set up an air mattress outside the bathroom door and we are all going to sleep there so we can be with her all night.

Heloise doesn’t bark much, rather, she makes a shrill call, like an owl or maybe a raccoon sounding noise…its almost like she is singing a little song.

All of my other dogs are treating her well…there are no bullies here.  Buster sits at the bathroom door with his head on his front paws…like he is just trying to show her moral support.  Buster seems to adopt every dog that comes here like he is their big brother.

I’ve accepted that working with Heloise is going to be a long slow process…it will take baby steps for her to learn to trust…but she is supposed to be here…of that I am certain.  She arrived here right when I am going through a major life change…facing life as a single woman again at almost 50 years of age.  I’ve been sitting in the bathroom hanging out with Heloise a lot this weekend…a weekend that has been one of the worst in my life.  I realized that Heloise and I have a lot of in common….we are both broken and unwanted with a lot of healing to do. I am honored that she and I will get to do it together.  I will have uncompromising patience for her and I know that she eventually become a happy and whole member of the pack at Misfit Manor.

I am repeatedly humbled by the creatures who find there way to me.  I will never be foolish enough to believe that I “rescue dogs”…they always rescue me….may I always endeavor to deserve them.

Keepin’ on the journey,
Nancy

 

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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.

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“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…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!

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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

 

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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

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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

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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

 

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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!

 

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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

 

 

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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

 

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Pet Rescue Art: a hero in pictures

Who is your hero?

20140914_154812
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.

 

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Pet Rescue Art: Hippie Kitty is back…

Pawffiti…important messages from the pets we love.

main brighterThis is my latest Pawffiti…it marks the return of Hippie Kitty…I have painted her in the past with a different setting and with a different message.  For reasons yet unknown to me it was time for her to return to canvas.  My art is my way of doing more…it allows me to be present at home for my house full of pets yet still do a little something to help the some of the pets still waiting for a family.  Hippie Kitty is going to be my first painting of which I have prints made.  I have never made prints of my artwork before.  I am not sure if that is because I didn’t have the time and energy to figure out how to do it or because I just wasn’t ready…but I suppose the more paintings and now prints I sell the more I can donate to help more animals.  I found a fabulous photographer in Lexington, Mary Resney, who specializes in photographing artwork…she has been so helpful and patient with an amateur such as myself.  She is making digital files of my artwork so not only can I do prints but at some point perhaps even some T-shirts and other merchandise.  The prints will be available in a few different sizes and will be printed on canvas.  The original is already listed for sale at my ETSY shop.

Like most of the country…Kentucky is having a wicked cold snap this week.  Here that means that too many dogs and cats are scratching out a living outside on their own.  There are a few counties in Kentucky that are really proactive…the animal control teams run non-stop responding to calls from concerned citizens who see dogs and cats left out in the cold.  But in most counties here…these animals get little to no help.  10404860_380184835476840_5050119956143225513_nThe laws protecting animals here are weak (the worst in the country in fact) and the appetite to change these laws even weaker.  The flagrant social acceptance of things like cock fighting and dog fighting are hard to stomach.   While I struggle with knowing what is going on around the state…I know I was meant to be here…time will tell what my own little role will be in the narrative of creating better lives for animals in Kentucky perhaps it will just be more painting.  I will be going to Humane Lobby Day next month in Frankfort and hope to hear some positive news about what can be done to make Kentucky a better place for animals.  It is going to take an army of advocates to change things here.  If you are a Kentuckian…please join me in Frankfort on Feb. 24th…email me if you need details (therescuemama@gmail.com).  If you want to follow more things going in KY to help animals follow my Facebook Page...I post any events, petitions, etc. there.

good coverWith all of our critters running around our house there really is no such thing as quiet time at the Halverson home…but we love our chaos and as the years pass Bret and I learn to appreciate life with animals more and more.   I have come to the conclusion that the animals choose us…each one coming in to our lives when they are suppose to and leaving when they are suppose to.   selfie 2We have three very senior dogs and a senior cat…they began slowing down a lot in the last year or so and each has some sort of chronic health issue now.  All of them manage to maintain their normal patterns albeit at a slower pace and they remain steadfast in their affection for us.  I am always amazed at their graceful acceptance of their aging and limiting bodies…as I get older I hope I age as gracefully as they do.  I consider it an honor to walk through their senior years with them and appreciate this time in their lives when they really do need their mama.

Its hard to believe that we have lived in Kentucky for six months now.  Despite some of the heartbreaking scenes we see for animals here Bret and I really do love it.  Kentucky is a beautiful state, the weather beats the pants off of Minnesota weather and we have made wonderful new friends here.  We have decided we didn’t really buy a house here…we bought a great big project…more work than either of us realized.  But this is our first home that we chose together as a married couple and despite the drafts, creaks in the floors, crooked doorways and questionable plumbing (eeek)…we love this house and for the first time in a long time…we feel like we are home.  We have decided we want to name our home…so far we have a few potential ideas….but want to stew on it a bit longer…if you have any suggestions feel free to offer them up!

Blessings from all of us and Rescue On!

Nancy