Politicians and local city governments often have two things in common – an inability to live in truth and a thin skin.
Okay, maybe I’m making a sweeping generalization by saying that but sometimes I have to wonder. Who are they protecting? And, who do they think they are fooling?
For over a year, I have watched as dogs in the care of Minneapolis Care and Control (MACC) were posted on the Friends of Minneapolis Care and Control (Friends of MACC)page. These dogs, many on death row because they were labeled a pit bull or bully breed of some sort, were shared in attempt to find them a home or so a rescue could take them in until they could be adopted. Many dogs were saved because of this page especially the pit bulls and bully breeds (since MACC doesn’t allow them to be adopted out directly from their facility). I watched as people networked to save animals on this page. I cheered when a rescue stepped up to save one of the death row dogs, who was not facing death for behavioral issues, but simply because it “looked” like a pit bull.
But now it seems that MACC has decided that the Friends of Minneapolis Care and Control Facebook page just wasn’t cutting it. They needed a better avenue to showcase their dogs – their very own website.
Hmmm.. let’s take a look at their website, shall we?
The website pictures are of a wonderful quality aren’t they? The information so helpful. It’s amazing that the Facebook page succeeded when a such a wonderful website could do so much more.
Yes. I can SEE how much better the website is when compared with the Friends of MACC Facebook page.
MACC also has a much better option for social media sharing (rather than the one created by Friends of MACC). Oh yes, it’s the city’s own general Facebook page.
They aren’t likely to get lost in all the other city business being posted on that page are they? So much better than the Friends of MACC page. Don’t you think?
C’mon. Who do they think they are fooling?
Let’s be honest, neither the website nor using the city’s Facebook page are great options for the dogs and cats at MACC. Neither does a great job at promoting the animals in their care or in making their animals look more appealing to a potential adopter.
Most shelters and rescues know that it’s how a pet is promoted and featured that helps them get adopted. Good pictures and a little history on the dog or cat can make a huge difference in finding them a new home.
“Each year, millions of pets die for the simple reason that they do not have a home,” says Jennifer Whaley of Fetch Portraits. “Good pictures go a long way to help save the lives of these pets and move them out of high kill shelters or out of no kill shelters, which opens up space for more pets. Good technology, photos and networking will go a long way to change the statistics.”
MACC’s new policy doesn’t do any of these things.
The Friends of MACC Facebook page not only promoted the animals that needed saving in a way that made people want to help and take action, but they also acknowledged the passing of those who didn’t make it. And, they did so honorably.
MACC’s decision to stop the postings on the Friends of MACC Facebook page is really more about saving face, protecting their image, and hiding the fact that yes, they do in fact kill animals. Period. It’s not about the animals, it’s about them. It’s not about saving lives, it’s about saving their image.
I’m just not sure that’s even possible now.
There are two sayings that I love because I think they pack a powerful message. The first comes from radio host, Ian Punett:
“Hypocrisy waits silently for us all.”
The second is one I have heard said in a variety of ways, but essentially it boils down to this:
Live in your truth, whatever that may be.
Here is my message to MACC:
If you are killing dogs and don’t like that people are upset, then stop doing it. If your policy is to kill dogs and you don’t plan to stop or change that policy, then own it. It is your truth, whether you like it or not.
If you REALLY cared for the dogs and cats you take in, you would allow them to be shared on the Friends of MACC Facebook page because (as anyone in rescue can tell you) it works. Their pictures and more detailed information gets dogs into foster homes and eventually, into their forever homes.
To claim that your website can do a better job or that posting them on the city’s main Facebook page will be a better option for these pets is a lie. Don’t punish the dogs by removing them from Facebook and…
Live in your truth or change it.
When Cupcake (known as Lady back then) went missing in late 2011, I was lucky. No. Not lucky because she disappeared. Lucky because I had a an experienced rescue behind me, supporting me, all along the way.
Minnesota Sheltie Rescue knew just what to do to help bring Cupcake back. They knew that flyers were the most successful way to get the word out. They knew that signs and using a call service like Find Toto were also successful in getting more eyes looking for her. They knew how to mobilize a whole group of people to help spread the word. And, they made to tell me to get some rest so I would be there when Cupcake needed me most. To say they are an awesome rescue would be an understatement.
I wish every rescue offered their new adopters and foster parents the kind of support Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) offered to Cupcake and I. Unfortunately, I think MNSR is the exception and not the norm.
I get it. Rescues are busy. They’re saving lives. They are short-staffed and often run on a shoestring budget. They don’t have the time or the money or the staff to plan for the eventual loss of a dog within their care. But, they should.
If I had my wish, I would ensure that every rescue had a clear plan for:
How a dog or cat will be transported to its new home or foster home (grabbing them off the back of a transport truck is not a plan).
Lost Dogs of MN has a great list of tips on how to avoid losing a dog during transport. Every rescue should consider implementing them immediately. They should also consider making it the standard policy for how dogs are transported to and from their foster and adoptive homes.
What a potential adopter or foster parent needs to know to keep their new pet safe in the first few days after they bring them home.
- New adopters and foster parents should avoid taking their new dog anywhere besides their home. They should be told to avoid the overwhelming desire to stop off at the pet store for supplies or a dog park, where they are likely to get into trouble or get lost.
- They should let the dog get used to its new environment and hold off on taking walks through the neighborhood that first week.
- Entrances and exits should be protected to ensure a dog cannot bolt out the door unexpectedly.
- Double-leashing a dog or buying a harness for their new dog should be recommended so if the dog becomes frightened unexpectedly, they are not able to run away.
- Encourage new owners and fosters to take lots of pictures of their new dog (or cat). They should have a frontal view and one with them standing.
What to do when a dog goes missing.
- Flyers, flyers, flyers. Do I need to say it again? Flyers. Rescues need to have a template ready and waiting to go so when a dog does go missing they are not scrambling to put one together or leaving it up to the adopter or foster to do it. The number one thing that should be on that flyer is a place to put the dog’s picture and contact information, followed by the words “Do Not Chase.”
- Contact all the veterinarians and shelters within the immediate area. Let them know about the missing dog, provide them with a description and contact information. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
- Create a calling tree within the rescue. Identify where all of your volunteers are located and let them know they may be alerted if a dog in their area goes missing. Make sure they know what to do next. (Did I mention flyers?)
- Post the missing dog on their Facebook page using the lost dog flyer. Ask people to help. Ask them to print out copies and pass them out in the area the dog was lost. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
- Post the missing dog on Craigslist. This should be done within the first few hours after a dog goes missing.
- Make sure all your volunteers, and anyone helping to find the dog, knows what to do when they see the dog. Not sure what to do? I shared a great video two weeks ago week (The best advice for capturing a lost dog) that I think every rescue should watch.
- Document each sighting on a Google Map. Learn how to use one. They can be your best opportunity to tracking the dog and understanding its pattern of movement. Lost dogs often retrace their route, so understanding a dog’s movements is key.
- Set up feeding stations to keep the dog in that area. This will make it much easier to capture the dog if or when you decide to place a trap.
- Have a live trap in your custody and ready to go. Don’t have one? Find out who rents them out. Sometimes police departments or rental companies will have one you can borrow or rent. Other rescues are a great resource as well.
- When a dog is trapped. Avoid the temptation to let them out and leash them while you are at the location. Carry the trap to a safe and enclosed area before letting the dog out. Trust me. You don’t want to lose the dog before you can get them to a safe place.
I know having a plan is not an easy thing for rescues to do, but what benefit is there in saving a dog from death row if they get lost after being rescued? Please. Keep them safe. And, when the inevitable happens and a dog is lost, have a plan for how you will find them again.
Cupcake and I thank you.
Today, I am joining a blog hop to promote pet adoption. I know most people are focusing on shelter pets, but since I am with Minnesota Sheltie Rescue, I thought I would promote one of our adorable adoptables instead. My thanks to our host, Lisa, over at Dogs N Pawz for putting this together. i love it when we can help to promote a pet up for adoption.
Meet the adorable, smart and funny Mr. Romeo. Is he not handsome?
Romeo is a friendly guy who loves playing in the snow and with other dogs and people. His new favorite thing to do is play doggie games with his foster mom. In fact, Romeo has learned lots of new games and tricks since being in his foster home! I’ve included a video of Romeo below so you can see him in action. Trust me when I say, he puts my dogs to shame.
When Romeo isn’t playing with his new toys or outside with his foster siblings, he’s cuddled up next to you on the couch. He prefers to be close to his human when the day winds down.
If you are interested in a dog that will make life fun, interesting and sweet, contact Minnesota Sheltie Rescue.
Now about that video…
Today I am going to do something a little different and share an old blog post from Daisy’s blog, “Daisy the Wonder Dog (and how she found her inner Lab)“.
I don’t write on her blog much anymore, two blogs just became too much to manage, but I still treasure the words I wrote then because they remind me of how far Daisy has come since she first came to live with me as a foster dog in November 2007. I hope you don’t mind me sharing.
I first wrote this back on October 14, 2008, almost one year after I first adopted Daisy.
I always like to share the story of how my dog Daisy came to live with me.
When I first met Daisy, she was swollen with milk, having just weaned her puppies, and very, very scared. This would be her last litter (one of the many she’s had over the past 4 years).
Daisy, a yellow Labrador Retriever, had been brought to our shelter (the one I volunteer at) by a service organization. They had gotten her from a puppy mill – pregnant and scared. They cared for her during her pregnancy and after the birth of her puppies. Luckily for the puppies, the group had decided to keep them to be trained as service dogs, but for Daisy this was not even a possibility. She was too terrified, and often just curled up into a ball waiting for something awful to happen to her. You see, Daisy was puppy mill breeding dog, everything bad had happened to her up until this point.
When I first met her on that day at the shelter, she was sitting at the back of her kennel – terrified and alone. She cowered in my presence and refused to make eye contact. When I raised my hand to unlock the kennel door, she went straight to the ground, crouching in fear, and froze. It was easy to get the leash on her, but getting her to walk to the door to go outside was a slow process and required slow movements.
I walked her, with much difficulty, around the shelter property. She was so scared that she mostly walked low, slunk to the ground, and would freeze at any sound – or if I made any sudden movements. I avoided talking to her; hoping it would calm her. It didn’t. After a short walk, I sat down on the parking lot curb outside and waited to see what she would do. Her whole body language conveyed fear and distrust – averted eyes, lowered head and body, frozen body posture, and her back kept towards me at all times. She was telling me she did not trust me, and I didn’t blame her at all given her history.
I let her be for a moment as I remained seated and gave her some time to adjust to my presence. She never did. She allowed me to pet her, but I think that was only because she was too scared to move. My heart broke for her. I think I knew then that somehow this dog and I were going to be connected.
I already had a wonderful older dog (Aspen) at home whom I adopted about 7 months previously. Aspen had several health issues and took a lot of time and care, but I knew that I couldn’t leave this dog behind. I was afraid that she would never make it to the adoption floor given her extreme fear and lack of socialization. I also knew that I couldn’t really adopt her. But I knew one thing, somehow I was going to make sure this dog had a fighting chance. “Perhaps I could become her foster mom” I thought, “Maybe I could help her to become an adoptable dog.” It would mean taking on even more responsibility (adding another dog to my life), but I think in that moment I had already decided to give it a try. If ever there was ever a dog that needed a chance it was this extremely fearful Lab. Maybe with a little time and patience, she could be adoptable I thought.
And so, Daisy came to live (as a foster dog) with Aspen and I in November 2007, only a few days before Thanksgiving.
Little did I know how much work, time and patience it would take to make her an adoptable dog. In the end, it didn’t matter because she was my dog. My best friend. Little did I know how much she would come to change me and my life.
What has become one of my favorite events of the year was held this past weekend – the annual Minnesota Sheltie Rescue Reunion. What a day!
Adopted Shelties came from far and wide to spend their Saturday afternoon with us (one group even came down from Fargo, ND!). It was so wonderful to see so many of the Shelties that have been adopted this past year, and in years past. I loved seeing some of the same people I had first met in the adoption process now with their new dogs and looking so happy.
The attendance was amazing this year. Probably one of the largest attendance crowds ever!
The day was chock full of things to do, including Sheltie games where dogs and owners could compete for prizes in the shell game, peanut butter lick off contest, pooch a smooth, egg walk and agility activities. Attendees could also get their professional pictures done, Ask the Trainer a training question, get a massage for their doggie and Speak with an Animal Communicator. There was an auction with some pretty awesome items up for bidding (I nabbed the cutest Sheltie flag on a pole that can be stuck in my garden.) and people could purchase fun games for their pups from Dog Prodigy and homemade jerky treats from Four Paws Gourmet or find out more about Top Dog Country Club, our sponsor for the event.
But the highlight of the day was the Sheltie Parade. So many Shelties took the walk with their new families. It was great to see them so happy. I saw a lot of pride and joy on Saturday as Shelties pranced alongside their owners.
I thought I would share just a few highlights of the day with you. I have to give full credit to my friend Cindy Dahl Smith for the majority of these pictures. I forgot my camera and all I had was my iPhone (all the fuzzy pictures are mine). Thanks Cindy!
A couple of weeks ago a friend posted on her Facebook page that her brain was hurting after attending a Suzanne Clothier seminar. I had to laugh. I could SO relate to what she was feeling. Back in November, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend two of the three sessions held by Suzanne here in Minnesota.
To say the sessions were mind-blowing would be an understatement. I can still remember driving home after that first session and feeling like the synapses in my brain were going off all at once. I learned more about dogs in those first three hours than I had ever learned before. I’m pretty sure I said “Wow.” at least twenty times during that first night’s drive home.
The second session was just as mind-blowing as the first and included a lot of real life demonstrations using dogs with real issues. It was exciting to be able to pick out some of the behavioral cues being given by the dogs as Suzanne worked with them.
But the highlight of the session (for me) was a video Suzanne showed during her last session. When I say it was a highlight I mean that it gave me that “A-ha” moment, a moment of insight into myself and into dogs.
Suzanne introduced the video by saying that what we were about to see was an initial meeting between a potential adopter ( a man) and a Shepherd/Husky/Lab mix. The man had come in to meet the dog after seeing his picture on the internet. He was certain that this was the dog for him.
We watched the video in silence as the man met the dog outside. Right away, it was evident that the dog had no interest in the man. As they stood on the gravel driveway, the dog made it clear that he wanted distance. He stood at the very end of the leash and put his back to the man (facing out and away from him). When the man tried to pull the dog in closer to him, he resisted and tried to maintain some distance from him.
When the man sat down on the ground, he pulled the dog in towards him and tried to hug him. The dog tolerated it way more than most people would have, but it was clear from his body language that he wanted no part of it. He pulled away, and even when pulled in close, looked uncomfortable and stiff and always faced away from the man. There were also a lot of yawns and lip-licking (signs of stress in a dog).
As I watched the video, I remember being irritated with the man for not recognizing the dog wanted nothing to do with him. Couldn’t he see the dog was resistant to his attention? Couldn’t he see the dog did not want a hug?
I was so caught up in the dog’s behavioral signals that I had failed to notice something else, something that Suzanne later pointed out – the man’s behavior. In every move and action, he was telling us what kind of dog he wanted,. He wanted a dog who was affectionate and wanted to be close to him. Throughout the video, he made every attempt to create this closeness – pulling the dog towards him,, hugging him, holding him, etc.. The only problem was that he was trying to create that closeness with a dog who clearly preferred distance. This was a dog who probably preferred to sleep on the floor across the room from you or maybe at you feet, not a dog who wanted to be hugged.
What I had completely missed throughout the video was the dynamic between the man and the dog. Suzanne called it a mismatch, and she was completely right. It was a mismatch. The guy was a perfectly nice gentleman, and the dog was a perfectly wonderful dog – they just wanted very different things from one another.
As I thought about it even more, I started to realize how similarly matched me and my dogs are to one another. I am not someone who wants constant affection and attention from my dogs, and funny enough, my dogs are not interested in giving it back to me on a constant basis either. That’s not to say that I don’t like to cuddle with my dogs from time to time. I do. It’s just I prefer not to have a dog glued to my side and needing to touch me at every moment of the day. I like that my dogs prefer to sleep on the floor at night. I love that they have some sense of independence from me.
And yet I know, for other dog owners, this would be the exact opposite of what they want. They want that closeness. They want the little dog in their lap at night… and you know what? That’s totally okay. In the end, it’s making sure that the dog you have matches what you want and that what you both have a need for the same things.
So it made me curious… Do you consider yourself someone who wants that closeness with a dog? Or someone who prefers a little independence and distance? Do you consider you and your dog well-matched? If so, why do you think so?
And, have you ever had a dog that was a mismatch for you and how did you know?
The first time I saw Jasper, it was here…
He was in impound with his sister, waiting to be examined by one of our vet techs before being fostered or put up for adoption. I fell in love with his handsome little face right then (I also fell in love with his sister). I practically begged to foster them…just for a little while. But I should have known then, he wouldn’t be leaving. He was home the moment he walked through my door.
The first time I saw Daisy, she was cowering in a kennel much like the one Jasper was in. She was terrified as hell and my heart broke when I saw how she cowered and flinched when people came near her. I knew then that I would foster her. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I worried someone inexperienced would adopt her and place her in a situation where she could be further damaged.
But it wasn’t until two weeks later, when I picked her up after being spayed, that I knew that she was mine. Her vulnerability drew me in and captured my heart. She needed me. She needed someone who understood her. There was no way I would give her up to someone who didn’t understand her needs for space, time and patience. She was home.
Cupcake was different. She had already been living in a foster home and was more than likely going to be adopted soon. Besides, I had already had a talk with myself about how I would not be falling in love with her. Two dogs was more than enough thank you. I couldn’t possibly take on another. I was sure she would be moving on to her forever home soon and then I would foster yet another dog in need of help.
But then, one fateful night, she went missing, and I was distraught. I was a complete wreck. I imagined all sorts of awful things happening to her. I worried she would be killed by a coyote or would starve to death or be hit by a car. It wasn’t until she was found and finally started to recognize me again that I started to have an inkling that she would be staying. At that very moment when she recognized me and sighed and leaned into me, I knew. There was no way Cupcake would be leaving my home to go to another. She already was home. She had been all along. I think she knew before I did.
I suspect that most everyone has had that moment, the one where you just KNOW that this dog is “the one.” With each of my dogs it was different. Jasper was love at first sight (he had me at “Hello”). With Daisy it was much more gradual. It started as a strong sense of responsibility towards a dog in need and slowly grew into something much, much more. With Cupcake, it took a traumatic event to make me realize how much I loved her. Like I said, I think she knew she was home before I did.
So what was your moment? When did you KNOW that your dog was “the one?” Was it love at first sight? Or, did it take time to bond? I would love to hear your story.
Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow Java script so I can’t provide a direct link to the linky, but you can join here.
The other day I heard one of the radio DJs refer to this week, the week between Christmas and New Years, as the “lost week.” I suppose in some cases this is true. So many people take this week off from work that not much really gets done in terms of “real” work.
But for me, this week is a time to reflect. A time to look back on the year that has passed and to think about what is to come in the year ahead. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I have been doing a lot of reflecting on one particular dog this year – Cupcake, my sweet little Sheltie girl.
My how far she has come in this past year.
Last year, she had just returned home after being lost for 12 days. I was just happy to have her back home again. It was such a relief to know she was safe and not lost in Eagan or someplace beyond.
But this year, I find myself reflecting on her amazing progress.
I can still remember the very first day she came to stay with me (as a foster dog). She was so scared and uncertain, both of me and her new home. I remember her standing at the gate watching her former foster mom get into her car to leave and how she ran along the length of the fence, trying to find a way out, to follow her. Dawn had been such a rock in her life up until then. How sad and scared she must have been as she watched her leave.
But that Cupcake is long gone now. The one that has replaced her is so much more confident, happy and secure, not only in herself, but also in others.
The old Cupcake was afraid of all strangers and never would have even considered approaching someone other than me. Over this past year, I have watched her approach people she has come to know as friends (or those she deems as “safe”) as well as strangers. It seems she has learned that some of our dog park friends carry treats, and because she is treat-motivated, she will approach them to get one. At first it was only come close enough to have tit tossed to her, but now she will take them right from the person’s hands. She even approaches people she doesn’t know, if she suspects they have treats.
The new Cupcake also loves to play, and will tear around the house with her brother, Jasper, as they wrestle and growl and act like silly pups. (She has even been known to play a game of tug with her sister, Daisy!)
She also plays with some of the dogs at our dog park, especially Duncan, another young Sheltie, who seems to have caught her eye. She will twirl and jump and dance just to get his attention.
Watching her playful side come out has been such a joy.
The new Cupcake also knows the commands “sit”, “down”, “come”, “drop it” and “watch me”, and is quite good at solving some of the most difficult doggie puzzles. (She also is quite good at stealing the cat’s food, but we won’t mention that one will we?)
In the past year, she has also had the chance to experience new things, like a hike in the woods, putting her toes in a lake, walking along a beach and chasing more squirrels and rabbits than one can count.
She has also learned to share my attention, doggie bones and her toys with her siblings. She is still the first to corner me in the bathroom, but she doesn’t mind sharing the space with Jasper if he wants to join her.
I love that she will now put her paws up on the edge of the couch and paw at me to let me know she wants some attention. I love that her preferred sleeping space is right next to my bed (or on my bed) and that she wants to be where I am because that is where she feels safe.
I love that she feels safe and happy and curious and confident in her new home. I love that she knows this is her home. (I think she knew it before I did.)
The dog I adopted a year ago has turned into quite an amazing little dog. I never could have guessed she would have come this far in just a year. It makes me wonder… what will she do in the next year?
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year. It’s a time to pause and reflect. A time to feel gratitude for all that we have in our lives. For some, it might not be much, but for all of us there is at least one thing we can all be grateful for in our lives, whether it be a our children, our pets, our friends and family.
I am thankful for quite a lot this year. I have a job, a house, three lovely dogs (safely at home and not wandering throughout Eagan), a wonderful family and some really awesome friends.
I am also feeling grateful for all of you, my new friends, who have added so much to my life. You laugh with me, cry with me, question me, challenge me and support me. You also share your very own personal stories – many of which have moved me to tears. When I started this blog it was to share information with my pet sitting and dog walking clients. I never expected it to become a place to make friends. To have such wonderful people like you reading my words (as good or bad as they may be some days) is something I never expected. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, but above all for sharing your very own stories. I love reading them.
As I was thinking about what I wanted to say this Thanksgiving Day, I realized that there were two groups of people I wanted to say THANKS to this year.
To the volunteers and staff with Minnesota Sheltie Rescue I say thank you for all you do. Thank you Karen, Estelle, Susan, Mary, Heather, Cindy, Francine, Pat, Kathy, Judy, all the foster parents and volunteers I may have missed. Most people don’t realize all that is involved in saving dog’s lives, but I do – transporting, vetting, fostering, conducting home visits, calling potential adopters, answering inquiries from people wanting to surrender their dogs, helping people with lost Shelties, – you do all of this and more. Thank you! (A special thank you to Estelle and Susan who spent their Thanksgiving last year helping me find Cupcake. I hope you actually get to enjoy your holiday this year!)
To the volunteers and staff at Animal Folks MN,thank you for your continued work and dedication to bringing attention to the puppy mill situation in our state. Nancy and Ann – you have worked tirelessly to bring about change in Minnesota. We may not have the most puppy mills in this state, but we do have some of the largest facilities in the country. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your hard work and dedication in leading the charge to change how breeding dogs and cats are treated in this state. Daisy thanks you too!
May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. May the blessings be great and the connections deep.