A Forever Friend

“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves — a special kind of double.” ~ Toni Morrison


Our recently adopted Yogi and his sister Lotta (formerly Lottie who I wrote about here) were reunited last week for a play date. They had not seen each other since September. If there was any doubt that they would remember each other, it was quashed in an instant. As soon as they saw each other from beyond the fence, the happy crying began.


Let off leash in the yard – fast hello’s gave way to chase.


Yogi’s new brother, Jackson, was along for the ride and fit right in.


Doesn’t this look like the dog version of Twister?


Born of the same litter and raised separately, they were returned to the breeder within a few months of each other. Neither had received any real training. At about 15 months and 80 lbs. wild, they were much more together than the woman could handle. And we instantly saw why!


“Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring — quite often the hard way.” ~ Pamela Dugdale


We wondered about the scratches and scabs on Yogi when he first came to us. Let me tell you – Lotta can give as good as she gets!


But it is all in good fun.


Lotta lives in Tahoe now with new siblings Beau and Milo. Her new mom takes Lotta for frequent hikes and swims at the lake to wear her energy down – if that is possible!


They send each other pictures via email – and we hope to visit Lotta in the not too distant future when the snow falls. Imagine the fun they will have!


Sibling love. From snarls and tackles –


to kisses and hugs.


A sister is a forever friend. ~ Author Unknown


See you soon, Lotta! XXOO, Yogi.

Giving Thanks for You

For each new morning with its light,


For rest and shelter of the night,


For health and food, for love and friends,


For everything Thy goodness sends.


For flowers that bloom about our feet;


For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;


For song of bird,


and hum of bee;


For all things fair we hear or see,


Father in heaven, we thank Thee! ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I share this poem each Thanksgiving, as a reminder of all that we have to be grateful for. This year, in particular, it feels important to put beauty and hope and kindness among all that we hold dear. I include each of you in my gratitude list, for traveling with me on this journey – and for the friendships I have made along the way. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Foxy’s New Reality


“How do we know that the sky is not green and we are all colour-blind?” ~ Author Unknown

Reality can be deceiving – and when it comes to dogs – changing, especially in response to the environment they are in. When she arrived last February, Foxy’s reality was that of a talker. A persistent, incessant, completely annoying and very loud talker. Correction. Barker. TALK. TALK. TALK. BARK. BARK. BARK!


Foxy had things to say and she was going to make darn sure that you heard them. Between her terrible leash skills and her rattling on, she turned away potential adopters faster than you can yell “quiet!”

Time went on. We worked with her on leash skills. She got better.


We wanted her to relate better to people. Not a problem.


But when it came to matchmaking, our perception of her barking reality probably led us to put others before her. Everyone except Lisa.


As is so often the case, the people who are both feeders and walkers notice things that other do not. They spend the most time with the dogs, and see their reactions in different settings and situations. Lisa noticed the change in Foxy. While other dogs came and went, Foxy had turned into a well-behaved, proper-walking pooch with a much more controlled mouth.

The challenge was to prove it to others. With a house already overflowing with dogs, foster was out of the question. The plan: field trips.


Lisa sprang Foxy for trips to the lake, play dates with other dogs, and even the drive-through where Foxy dined on In-And-Out burgers (extra cheese please!). Lisa shared all of Foxy’s adventures until people started to see a new reality that we had been blind to.


A new story was written; a video produced; social media was launched.


Her post was shared widely and her YouTube video was viewed nearly 1,000 times. But most importantly, our perception of Foxy changed. Getting her home became everyone’s mission. Thus, when one of our placement team members was interviewing a prospective adopter, our transformed Foxy was top of mind. She shared the video and an immediate and heartfelt connection was made.

Lisa arranged to meet the woman and her two eight-year-old Labs at the lake. They hit it off. Foxy started playing with a toy, chewing on a stick, and mimicking the Labs. “I was amazed. It was like she was remembering how to be a carefree dog again,” Lisa told us.


Last weekend, Foxy’s long wait came to a storybook end.


Her new mom takes the dogs to the lake weekly. In the summer, they travel with her to Tahoe for long hikes and swims in cooler waters. And best of all, Foxy’s new home is just a stone’s throw from Lisa’s.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein

Welcome to your new reality, Foxy. Happy life, sweet girl.


Here Comes Santa Claus


Santa paid his annual visit to the rescue this weekend to hear the wishes of our waiting pups, and to celebrate those who have gone home. It always leads to happy reunions.


Some have grown (other have shrunk!) – but the thing that is most noticeable is the change in their faces. You can see the contentment.

Faith and Sophie (formerly Hope) – our Megaesophagus/CNM pups were there. Look how they have grown!


Max and Felix: orphaned brothers now together forever. Their people could not love them more.


Annie – who was Billie – one of this summer’s twelve Giants litter puppies getting all grown up.


Roger – now Buddy – one of dogs rescued from the Korean meat market now living a charmed life.


and Bilos: blind, beloved, and so full of confidence now. His mom has done an amazing job with him.


Most are easily recognizable, but not this one.


When Mary arrived in July of 2015, she was so obese that she could not walk more than a short distance before stopping.


Those little legs just could not support her giant body.


Lucky for Mary, she was spotted by our gardener, Peggy. I wrote about it here. Peggy had a well-earned reputation for turning butterballs into lean machines.


And she has worked her magic again on Mary who – through a combination of diet and exercise – has dropped more pounds than Santa drops presents!


Maintaining a proper weight can be life-extending for any dog. Just look at her canine sibling Ginger – at an unbelievable 14!


I don’t know what they put in the water in Peggy’s house – but pass the pitcher, please!

Thanks to Santa, our photographer Eric Schuman, and all of the happy elves for squeezing our waiting and adopted furry friends in a busy holiday schedule!


Della is Home

I hinted at a special story buried in my long list of adoption photos last week. We’re feeling optimistic that our very special “going home” girl will stay home – so I will tell you her story if you promise to say a little prayer that our Della has truly found her forever people.


Della came to us two years ago. She must have belonged to someone, as she was previously spayed. But she was found stray, and no one claimed her from a Valley shelter. Fearful of humans, her chances were not good. Our team pulled her and she was transported to our care.

From the start, Della was distrustful, standoffish, and skittish when approached. We’ll never know if she became fearful as a stray – or became a stray because she had something to fear.


With tail tucked and head bowed, she was submissive but stubborn.


Still, she never struck out. She would just pull away, or lock up her legs and refuse to move until a treat was produced. That girl is no dummy.

She reigned over her coveted Yard 3 which she decided was her safe place. On warm days, her preference was to be there – alone – for as many hours as we would allow. When she thought no one was looking, you could catch glimpses of a different dog in there.


More typically, though, sadness was written all over her face. More than one volunteer made her their special project – including Rob of Rob & Dog, whose pictures are shared here.


She was even adopted. But she was soon returned because she just would not connect.


We don’t give up easily, but we were all becoming resigned to the thought that Della would be with us forever. Until last week.

A couple had come to meet another of our long term residents, wanting to help a dog that was truly in need. That pup turned out to be not a good match. As they waited in the yard for another candidate, Della – returning from her walk, pressed her nose against the fence, and sought their petting. What?! Joining them in the yard, she went to them. Della?? Who was this girl?

In her “going home” photo she did something we very rarely saw: she smiled.


For all of our time, patience, and efforts, it appears that Della was just waiting for her right people. She picked them out herself, and that won their hearts.


Tonight, Della is home. She has a safe corner and crate to seek safety when she wants it,


and the report is that she is adapting – if slowly. So say a little prayer that she continues to keep opening up her heart to the people who opened theirs to her. Because “Della is home” just makes our hearts happy.


Sepcial thanks to Rob Kessel for sharing his photos of Della.