Soooo, This Happened

So, this happened.

Many moons ago, when I first started doing rescue, somehow various groups in the south got my contact info.  I still have no idea how, but I often tell people it must have come from the sheer will of the rescuers down south, those in the trenches.  I only can imagine how hard I would work, how I would follow every lead, grab any e-mail I came across, if I worked at a shelter or animal control facility where I knew the dogs I was caring for today, loving today, getting kisses from today … would be gone tomorrow.  All those amazing, amazing dogs.  Not aggressive, not unhealthy, not mangey, but lovely, lovely dogs with a date hanging on their kennel card, simply because someone tired of having them in their yard or decided they were too much trouble.


In any event, I suddenly had been added to group e-mails from various shelters or organizations down south.  It was heartwrenching seeing all those faces, with the accompanying stories about where the dog had come from, why they had been dumped, and that date.  That awful, awful date that meant that happy pup would be killed.  I come from a marketing background.  I get it.  Some of the group lists were from groups that had a lot of resources and were definitely working their hardest to pull heartstrings, but at the end of the day who can blame them for using any and all ploys at their disposal if it meant saving just one more?

Back then, I was just fostering, hadn’t gotten licensed by the state, and hadn’t moved my family to a new property in a new town with the ability to do things on a larger scale.  So, scrolling through those photos was just an exercise in self-torture. I couldn’t help any of the dogs on those lists — I only got dogs as a foster through another rescue, so all decisions were made by them.  Eventually, I said yes to taking on some dogs on my own, but it was still just me, in a small house.  I couldn’t really do much on my own.

Over time, I removed myself from the various group e-mails, weekly newsletters, and daily euthanasia lists.  Now, today, I am contacted by rescues and groups down south regularly, but mostly just with requests for a partnership.  Groups just looking for a rescue with whom they can work in the great northeast, where the shelters aren’t overflowing with unwanted dogs and puppies and people actually line up at the transport truck, waiting for their new family member to arrive.  I have had good relationships with some rescues, some relationships served their purpose in a certain way before dissipating, some taught me valuable lessons the hard way, but through it all I learned that the trust and relationship with the sending rescue is the most important thing.  I am cautious about working with a new group, but have found over the past year and a half a few wonderful relationships with folks I trust very much.  This is all to say that I don’t have any need to go out looking at various shelters’ euthanasia lists.  The groups with whom I work send me photos of dogs and puppies they think might work in our rescue, and I figure out timing, and space, and whatnot.

Melissa and Jennifer work a bit differently than I (Ross) do; not all the time, but occasionally.  They work with larger shelters in Mississippi and South Carolina along with a few smaller, rural shelters with abysmal visibility and networking that equates to abysmal adoption rates.  They often look through these shelters’ “Urgent Lists” to see who might be a great fit for our rescue and adopters here in our neck of the woods.  Well, I’m out of practice at looking at all those lists, with their accompanying stories and “time’s up” dates.  Those damn dates.  So a couple of weeks ago, Melissa sent me an e-mail that had a shelter’s urgent dogs and puppies listed.  “Would you take the three puppies?  I got suckered in because I asked about the scruffy.”  (We all know Melissa is operating a subsidiary of CCNE called “Scruffy Dog Rescue,” right? LOL) So I scrolled through a list in a way that I haven’t in a long time.  So, so hard.  I was laying in bed, waiting for my kids to get ready for bed, and I just scrolled and read.  And then I texted Melissa:  “Heartworm test all of them.  I’ll take everyone who is heartworm negative.”

So yeah.  It was a much shorter list of pups who were heartworm negative.  But those eight we saved.  We had to pay to board them at a boarding facility because this shelter has very little foster support, and we paid outright for all their vetting prior to transport.  They arrived on Saturday and I’m getting to know them.  It’s powerful to look at half of our kennel and know that all eight of those dogs would now be in a dumpster somewhere, but now they are here.  Playing and joyful and happy, with tails wagging and doggy voices raised in the pure gloriousness of romping outside with some friends on a stunning fall day in New Hampshire.

IMG_3656Coco is our shy girl, the only one who seems traumatized by the changes wrought in her life over the past few weeks.  Well, looking back at the original list, she came in with a buddy who didn’t make the trip with her.  She did come in with Shirley, though.  Shirley wandered up to the home where Coco and her other buddy lived; when the Animal Control Officer came to pick up Shirley the stray, the homeowner said “you might as well take my two dogs too.”  So Coco has lost her home, her friend, and suddenly has to find her way somewhere new, on her own.  She will take some time, but each day she is a bit less shy with us.  Shirley is in the roughest shape physically, with healing cuts and wounds all over her body from who knows what of who knows how long of running stray.  She is gleeful and fun-loving and puts a smile on our faces with her enthusiasm for life, though!  She doesn’t know she makes us grimace at her sorry condition.  Give us — me and all the wonderful, wonderful volunteers here at CCNE in New Boston — a little time. Shirley is going to SHINE!

IMG_3600We also have George, a sweet one year old Treeing Walker Coonhound mix.  The comment on his photos said “we rarely get them this young and unscarred.”  I’m not sure what they are talking about, but I know a lot of hunters mark their dogs for hunting.  Maybe that?  I really don’t want to ask, as I’m afraid the answer will be branded into my brain and I won’t be able to get the image out of my head of whatever it is that scars hound dogs before they come to them. (And please nobody volunteer the info in the comments!)  Gentleman George is an absolute LOVE.  He has the most soulful eyes, and just seems to be asking someone to look at him, to see him, to notice HIM.  You know, so he can shower some love on you. He reminds a lot of us around here of our Mama Genevieve.  He grabs your arms in the same way, imploring you to pet him.


Andy is our oldest pup from the list, at a whopping two years old.  He is a lovely … hmmm … maybe shepherd mix?  When his heartworm test came back negative, the shelter worker with whom we work said she was beyond thrilled, because he is such a great dog.  When he came off the transport truck, the woman handling him introduced him to me as “The Fantastic Mr. Andy.”  I looked at her quizzically, not knowing if she was being sarcastic and was about to launch into a story of en-route shenanigans on Andy’s part.  But no, as I’ve gotten to know Andy I’ve realized she meant exactly what she said.  He IS fantastic.

IMG_3639We also have sweet Betsy, who is trying to find her way in the world for the first time without her mama.  Mama didn’t make the trip.  I promise you, mama, your baby girl is going to live an amazing life here in New England.  I’ll find her a home that showers her with cooshy dog beds, more toys than she can chew in a lifetime, and snuggles all the time.  And most importantly, a home that knows that for just a little bit of money each month, they can ensure that Betsy never has giant worms growing in her heart.  They will keep her safe.  And they will give her the life that mama should have been able to have too.  Betsy is a cattle dog cross maybe?  Some rottie in there?  She has a little underbite, so maybe a little Boxer?  She is a sweet, sweet girl hoping that a family of her own will fill the void of losing her mama and polish her up to be the very best dog she can be.

IMG_3635IMG_3631IMG_3634Last but not least, we have the three goofy pups that started it all, the ones Melissa asked me to take, without ever expecting I wouldn’t be able to say no to any of the pups on the list.  And yes, these pups were also scheduled to be euthanized. It happens each and every day across our country.  Sweet, adorable puppies — no chance to be labelled aggressive, or a bite risk, or contract heartworms — being gassed to death because there are JUST. TOO. MANY.  These sweet M pups, Michael, Mary, and Marissa are just … pups.  They are happy and playful and nippy and barky and snuggly.  They deserve their chance at a life, too.

So we are a little extra busy around here, but it’s worth it.  I’m glad this happened.

(E-mail for information about adopting any of these pups!)


Where to Start? (Or, “NEH,” This One’s For You)

About a week or so ago, the local news station here in NH ran a story about rescues from the south.  I was told that it was coming on, but of course I forgot all about it.  I eventually read the transcript of the story and saw some posts here and there about it on Facebook.  I heard that there were some interesting comments on the post on WMUR’s site, but when are there not interesting comments on anything these days?!?  In any event, I finally made it over to the site to read the comments yesterday morning.  And.  Yeah.  I have some thoughts.

ImageBefore I start, since I clearly found a place to start — blog title notwithstanding, I have to say that I don’t pretend to know everything about rescue. Far from it. With my measly 5.5 years in rescue, I’m a newborn in this world. I learn everyday, though it’s a hard-scrabble, hard-fought learning.  There is no boss telling me I’m being sent to take a week long class on this or that topic; no weekly staff meetings with other employees where we discuss our projects, thoughts, and issues.  No mentors in the office down the hall to whom I can run with questions.  NO TIME to spend hours a day researching and reading.  I do read and I do research, but it’s here and there.  I even went to a big conference. Once.  A lot, if not all, of what I have to say is through the blinders of my own experience in rescue with a little sprinkling of knowledge from actually being from the south.  (JANEY, DID YOU KNOW I WAS FROM TEXAS?!?!)

There were some great comments. A lot of folks felt the reporting was rather one-sided and nothing was really said about the thousands of happy adopters out there. One vet got on and talked about how dogs coming up from the south is not the big picture solution, which is something I say just about every day.  Of course it’s not.  Until everyone in our country spays and neuters at the rate we do in NH, and we ALL achieve a no-kill status, then transporting overpopulation from one part of the country to another is only putting a band-aid on the overriding issue.  It’s the solution for those dogs, the ones that were sitting on death row without a chance of getting adopted locally, absolutely.  But it’s not addressing the issue of overpopulation, lack of spaying/neutering in the south, nor the overriding attitude towards animals in some parts of our country.  I guess I look at it this way, and this is how I have explained it to many, many people over the past six years:  saving these dogs, the ones that I bring up, is what I can do right now, today.  Someday, when my kids are older, I want to be a part of addressing the larger issue.  Advocacy.  Education. Legislation.  All of it.  But to be a person who is passionate about dogs, lives in NH, has small children that require routine care (;-)), and is willing to do SOMETHING (and not need to be paid for it), well, this is what I can do right now, today.  For now, I have to leave the other parts of the puzzle to those with a passion for it, who live in areas where that particular message needs to be heard (preaching to the choir here in NH would be a waste of energy for sure!), and have their own time and inclination to do it.  If we all put some effort into our passions, wouldn’t the world be a better place?  My mom was always passionate about children’s issues and that’s where her volunteering efforts and time went.  I don’t expect everyone to have the same passion as I do, but simply respect the hell out of anyone who works towards their passion in some way, shape, or form.

The first time the state inspector met with me at our new place in New Boston, I chatted with her about this.  I told her flat out that my goal is to work myself out of a job.  Isn’t that a lovely thought?  A day where there is no need for us to help other parts of our own country with their overpopulation?  She told me she had never heard anyone say that, and she loved that I saw this importing of southern pups as a non-permanent solution.  (And I wouldn’t say ‘solution’ is the correct term, since we are still killing millions of animals each year.  But, as I have said, it’s certainly a solution for that dog that’s being saved.)

ImageOther comments were less constructive, certainly less informed, and sometimes downright nasty or mean-spirited. No shock there. (Have you read comments sections anywhere?!? It’s fascinating.) And then there was this post that, at first, made me laugh out loud.  And then it just made me sad.  “NEH” posted “Yeah the rescue in my town ‘specializes’ in pregnant dogs and sells the pups they can produce at a nice profit.”  I don’t think it’s conceited to think this is about Canine Commitment.  I’m the only rescue up here that I have ever seen say we “specialize in pregnant mamas and puppies.”  I don’t use that term so much anymore as we have grown tremendously and really do all ages and sizes now, but I certainly haven’t seen anyone else say they specialize in it.  When I started saying that a few years ago, I didn’t know anyone else who was even doing mama dogs.  Now, I know of at least three other rescues who routinely rescue pregnant dogs as part of their rescue.  Still, I’m guessing this is about Canine Commitment. About me.

Other comments, of course, also swirled around all the profit to be made and how rescues are pulling dogs from shelters in the south where there is no fee (“go ahead — look it up!”) and then “selling” them for ridiculous mark-ups and making money.  One poster (I think it was NEH as well), encouraged everyone to look up a rescue’s 990 form on-line and just see how much profit is made and see how much staff is paid.

Well, look, there was a whole load of comments.  If you are interested in seeing them, here is a link:

Where to start?

1. Profits Being Made, Part A:  I guess I feel like this topic is beaten to death, but given the number of people in these comments who talked about how much money rescues make perhaps not.  I’ll be the first to say I haven’t spent any time perusing other rescue’s 990 forms on-line (um, too busy caring for dogs and trying to keep my head above water — but perhaps if you have that much time on your hands NEH, I might suggest you have time to do something constructive to help the rescue effort, AHEM), so I don’t know what others are doing.  I know the oft-relayed schedule of costs rescues face, as I’m sure many of you do. I won’t list out the transport fees, the vetting fees, etc, here.  The fact of the matter is that sometimes we have a little margin on a dog, sometimes a bit more, and sometimes very little or none.  Whatever is “extra,” after you take in factors like overhead that we can’t get around (insurance for the rescue, heat for the facility, licensing fees), goes into the account, not into anyone’s pockets.

We routinely have enough in our bank account to know that we can prepay all the expenses on the next group of dogs coming up without worrying about adopting out all of the last group and depositing those fees.  To know that if there is an emergency and a dog needs to spend a night or two in the hospital, we will be able to cover it without begging for donations.  To know that we can buy some items to sell at the next fundraiser without worrying about every item selling or how we’ll pay for a big order.  I spent my first 2-2.5 years in rescue without that comfort, knowing that anything “extra” would be coming out of my personal checking account.  And it did.  Too many times for me to count.  I’m damn grateful to know that we’d be able to cover an emergency or two without putting ourselves in financial risk, and without me needing to write a personal check on an account to which I don’t deposit a paycheck myself!

And, as NEH pointed out, our tax returns are available to one and all. My books are open to one and all.  There is not enough to be “made” or profited, at least not in our rescue, to hire staff or to pay the three main folks running this place.  I don’t know how many hours we put in, but I know it’s routinely in the 40+ range for the two of us who have full-time jobs outside of rescue.  I kept track for myself one week and it was so mind-boggling to think how many hours I have poured into this rescue that I never kept track again.  Best just to keep working and be filled with gratitude that I get to live my passion. And that I don’t have to wear high heels and business clothes everyday.  I’ve got a lot of gratitude for that!

2.  Profits Being Made, Part B.  I get that there are good rescues and bad rescues out there. I’ve heard the stories, I know.  Hell, I’ve made my own mistakes on this heart-wrenchingly steep learning curve.  I’ve tried to learn and be better.  Always be better.  But there are the groups out there.  The ones that drive down to a shelter offering $5 out-of-state adoptions, get the most adoptable dogs, drive them up themselves, meet folks in an empty parking lot in NH or MA (where it is illegal), and charge hundreds of dollars, and then disappear. One of my volunteers has a good friend who did just that.  They met someone in an abandoned grocery store parking lot last year (long after it was illegal for adopters to meet transport trucks in the state of NH), paid over $700 for the pup they wanted, and went happily on their way.  They were lucky — their pup was healthy and fine.  So fine, that they thought they would update the rescue about their happy pup.  They e-mailed their contact, and the e-mail bounced.  They tried to find their Facebook page.  Poof, gone.  And — you see where this is going, right? — they had disappeared off of Petfinder.  Absolutely it happens.  Anytime someone sees dollar signs next to something, there is someone that figures out a way to cut corners, do it more cheaply, ignore the laws, whatever, and make money … and there are some truly awful people that even do it when animals’ lives are at stake, or the ability of legitimate rescues to continue rescuing and importing dogs is at stake.  I have my own suspicions about a couple of groups and how they handle things.  I know it happens.  But I know what my books look like and I know that I would gladly show them to anyone showing interest.  (Thank you to KK who keeps the books in ship-shape order!)

3.  Mama Dogs for Profit, Part A.  This one is for you NEH, and for your comment regarding bringing up pregnant mamas, selling all the babies they can produce, and making a profit on them.  Well.  Let’s see.  When I started in rescue and somehow, magically, seemed to get added overnight to various mailing lists of desperate shelters in the south, trying to network and save lives and not have to watch one more gorgeous, lovely, adoptable dog get shoved in a metal box where they would be gassed to death with 25 others, I started to see a lot of desperate pleas for pregnant dogs.  You see, I didn’t know then what I know now.  I didn’t know that a lot of shelters are mandated to kill pregnant dogs first, because that way they wouldn’t have to kill mama AND her puppies in a few weeks. Stop and imagine that for one minute, if you can — mama and babies being shoved in that metal box together. It kinda makes you want to DO SOMETHING, doesn’t it? It made me want to do something, that’s for sure.  And when I started out in rescue, one of the main things I knew was that NH didn’t have lots of puppies (if any!) in our shelters. And very quickly in rescue, I learned about the dangers of any pups that had spent so much as a millisecond in a large shelter — parvo, distemper, ringworm, and more.  So, I thought, this is win-win, isn’t it?  I can save the mama dog, the babies can be born here safe and sound and healthy, and I won’t be displacing a ton of puppies waiting for homes in our local shelter.  Yes, adopting mama to a family that might otherwise have gone to the local shelter and adopted an adult dog was a dubious part of the equation, but my heart broke for these young, female dogs that were uprooted and dumped simply because their owners didn’t spay them and then didn’t want the hassle of the consequences.  To this day, it is the mama dogs who crawl into my heart and stay there, long after they have gone on to their own families. I certainly didn’t choose to rescue pregnant dogs because I saw dollar signs. And if I had seen half of the baggage that comes with rescuing these poor mamas and their babies, I daresay I would have done more than thought twice — I would have given my husband leave to seriously question my sanity!

Mama dogs are in the roughest shape of any of the dogs I ever receive by nature of the urgency to get them here.  They can’t be left in a crate overnight, certainly not when birthing seems imminent. They have to be checked on.  They rarely give birth at convenient times. Their puppies die sometimes.  Sometimes the whole litter dies.  Newborn puppies are tricky and make you worry, constantly, for the first two weeks at least.  Then you worry 23 out of 24 hours for the next four weeks or so.  Then you worry after you give them their first vaccines.  Then they get kennel cough, somehow, from the pups downstairs who just came in but aren’t coughing at all themselves.  And then your heart breaks a little when it’s time to say goodbye to these babies, as you hope you have done everything you can to make sure that the adopters are who they seem to be and that they will love them and care for them the way they deserve. And then you will worry that you won’t be able to say goodbye to Mama.  That you’ll never find a home that will take her on with all her quirks and all her “perfect imperfections.”  But you know, you know, that next Saturday another scared, undernourished, perplexed mama dog will arrive and everything will start all over with the same morning walks played out with new doggy nicknames and new goofy hops and skips; the dance of the rescued  mama in the pink morning sky of NH, where she knows she is safe and her babies will be born into safety and love.

No, I didn’t start “specializing” in pregnant mama dogs for the money.

4.  Mama Dogs for Profit, Part B:  Where, oh where, is there a huge profit in the mama dogs, selling “all the puppies they can produce?!?”  I just don’t get it.  The mamas are here often for three to four months.  Fed, housed, vetted.  Puppies need multiple rounds of dewormer and vaccines, and that’s when ALL GOES WELL and nobody is ill or has any issues.  Mama has to be spayed when all is done. All the puppies require health certificates before leaving, at $65-$80 per puppy.  The mom and pups require a lot of space to roam and grow, and other dogs shouldn’t be anywhere near them — it’s a huge resource commitment for 2.5-3.5 months!  And the hours, oh the hours.  Do you really begrudge a rescue if they have ANY “extra” on a litter of pups, that extra that might help us rescue a senior, or a three legged, or a chihuahua (second most euthanized dog in our shelters, or they may have surpassed pit bulls now to be number one) that will take five times as long to adopt as those cute puppies and we will lose money on. (But geez, how I hate even saying “lose money” on a living being!  We commit to them, we are able to do what we do because some pups cost less than others, and we are left with enough operating money to not have to talk about the P&L numbers of every dog!)

And I DON’T know where to start on the “all the puppies they produce” portion of the comment.  Did NEH intend to make me sound like a puppy mill? For the love of pete, these mamas are often pulled out at the 11th hour, underfed, scared, hugely pregnant — and those are the lucky ones that are heartworm negative and are actually able to be transported to NH.  The hours I have spent curled up next to a new mama dog, in her fresh, clean, warm enclosure, somehow trying to cross the human-animal communication bridge and will her, WILL HER to understand that she is safe now, and cared for, and loved.  That her babies will be safe.  That she will never have to have another litter again, and that once she is done with the mouthy, teethy little monsters in eight weeks, that she will find a family of her own, one that wants her, and loves her, and will never, ever let her go.  Well, that’s how I got to the feeling sad part when I read NEH’s comments.  To belittle what we do, to collapse it down into self-serving little soundbites, wrapped in platitudes of his/her concern for what is happening in rescue (something NEH expressed a couple of times — that they have been involved in rescue and they are just concerned about what is happening nowadays), to denigrate that little rescue in your town that happens to be trying, trying to make a small difference in this crazy world of ours … well, NEH, it makes me feel sad for you.

I could go on and on about the other comments, but I don’t have time.  Those puppies are going to be waiting for me at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning.  Those puppies … and those mamas.  So I’ll just count the piles of money around here for awhile, then head off to bed.  Goodnight Maisy.  Goodnight Ginny and Mystic. Goodnight Lori and Stella and Chloe.  Goodnight Pansy.  Goodnight Genevieve and Ellie Mae and Teal.  Goodnight Lady  and Luna and Willow.  Goodnight Taylor Louise.  Goodnight Rosie.  Goodnight Nora and Maeve.


To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question

DSC_2184A little persistent birdie has been ever-so-kindly nudging me to blog.  I dunno.  Is the blog thing done?  Do I have anything to say that is of any value, really? Will the stress of keeping up with a blog, and keeping people engaged and wanting to come back for post after post, push me over the proverbial edge?  On the other hand, random thoughts tend to coalesce in my brain under one general heading: that would make a good blog entry!  Much like I started mentally framing every aspect of my day into Facebook status updates (only after first joining Facebook several years ago; it has mostly gone away now thankfully), I tend to think in terms of blog topics.  They aren’t all dog-related — just any topic.  If I start thinking about anything for very long, it starts to form into a blog topic.  But there ARE a lot of dog-related thoughts … and possible blog topics … that derive naturally from the percentage of my daily life that is wrapped up in all things canine.

Several years ago, I kept a blog to document some things that were going on with my little girl.  A friend had done something similar with her own child who had medical issues, and less than a year after she started blogging, there I was setting up my own blog to update friends and family on Annie’s condition.  (You can check out the blog and learn about dilated cardiomyopathy, the number one cause for heart transplants in children, at The blog was personal, of course, by its nature. It was cathartic.  It helped me sort through tumbling, emotion-filled thoughts and information as we lived one day at a time with a baby who had been given a horrible, horrible diagnosis.  But time went on, Annie did remarkably well, and when things calmed down dramatically, the need I had to blog seemed to go away and I gradually stopped updating it altogether.    DSC_1522

Here I am, several years later, and with a completely different life.  Asked one time by a reporter (that sounds WAY more huge than it actually was — it was for our little hometown newspaper) how I got into rescue, I had to pause and think about it.  I suppose there are plenty of people that set out to get involved in dog rescue purposefully, and I was one of them — to a certain extent.  However, I did not set out to get THIS involved in rescue. It all stumbled, whirled, swirled, pushed, shoved, and snuck around me until I had my own non-profit, had moved my family for the rescue, and was spending huge portions of each and every day tending to some aspect of the rescue.  Looking back when the reporter asked, though, I suddenly saw so clearly that I got involved in rescue when Annie’s health crisis had calmed down to a dull roar and the demands of caring for her on a daily basis were not as huge as they once had been.  Still, there     were (and are) so many unknowns with her condition, and I could have driven myself crazy with the constant worry and fear.  I NEEDED something outside of myself and my own head, something that would keep my brain busy.  It gave me something that spoke to my soul, something that meant something to me (and, I think, the greater good), and something that pulled me out of what so easily could have become a mind-numbing vortex of constant worry and fear.DSC_2929

When Annie was a few months shy of her second birthday, I thought it was time to adopt a new pup.  We had lost our middle dog unexpectedly at the age of seven, while I was pregnant with Annie.  (Holy hormone roller coaster! No pregnant woman should ever lose a pup.)  Our older dog, my Tasse, was 14 and had slowed way, way down to the point that she looked up when Scott showed her a tennis ball and didn’t jump down off the bed right away.  😦 Britain, our other dog, was 9, and starting to act as old as Tasse.  He also happened to be the worst running partner dog I had ever had the displeasure of trying to hurdle over for an exhausting few miles of stop-sniff-cross-in-front-of-Mom-and-see-if-I-can-make-her-bite-it-in-this-busy-intersection.  I was looking to put a new spring in Britain’s step and find a new running buddy for myself.

I contacted Canine Commitment of Maine and made arrangements to “just go and meet” a litter at the transport truck.  Corazon (Spanish for heart, putting a positive spin on our obsession with all things heart-related since Annie’s diagnosis; “Cora”) came home with us that day.  Victoria, the amazing woman who ran Canine Commitment in Maine, was there and we got to talking.  She was my age, her kids were the same ages as mine, and I have to admit I thought: “Wow, I really want to do something with rescue again, something to help.”  Victoria was driving down from her home in Maine to meet the transport truck in NH at least a couple times each month. I innocently (BA HA HA HA HA!) said to her:  “You know, if you ever need help meeting the transport or having a dog picked up, you should call me.”  Yep, pretty sure Victoria recognized a fellow crazy person.  Two weeks later I picked up my first pup for her.  Two months later I had 18 dogs at my house for two nights.  That was hilarious, until it became more hilarious that at one time 18 dogs actually had sounded ludicrous. You see, by the time four months had passed, I routinely had 15-20 dogs in my house.  In my tiny, tiny house.  My one-level house that didn’t even have a basement.  (Oh, my poor husband.)DSC_2891

The rest, as they say, is history.  I’m pretty sure people in the rescue world say that phrase laughingly when related to getting into rescue, though.  It is often compared to the mafia, you see. Once you’re in, you’re in.  It’s addicting. It’s oh-so-hard to get out.  I know people look at some of the craziness I deal with and wonder why the heck anyone would continue to do it.  Continue to do this grueling, unpaid, all-hours-all-holidays gig.  I look at my kids sometimes and think how quickly they are growing up, and how often I’m in the kennel or sitting at my laptop instead of playing Monopoly or hunting down a fun park or museum.  I grimly open the weekly Travel Zoo e-mail in a bout of self-flagellation, knowing vacations are few and far between.  And yet, I’m not quitting.  I’m trying to figure out how to do more.  How to expand the shelter building and DO MORE.  Why?  Because now that I have done this, now that I have taken a step towards being actively in the “solution” column in my own tiny, tiny way … I can’t not do it.  I can’t look at the hundreds of faces in the e-mails and posts I get and not know that I am doing what I can.  Because I am.  Every day.  Trying to do what I can.DSC_3916

It has felt a bit like “Field of Dreams.”  That quote goes through my mind a lot … “Build it and they will come.”  Well, I got the ball rolling.  And they have come.  Amazing, selfless people have come to help.  To be a part of the solution.  Volunteers, rescue partners, friends, donors, adopters.  It takes all of us.  That is what Canine Commitment is about . It is about all of us, coming together, working together, to save one more, five more, twenty more.  And then getting up tomorrow to do it all over again.

So blogging.  Yes.  I have some thoughts.  🙂  Now if I can keep that birdie egging me on and reminding me to write … yeah, maybe, I can get into this again.  I do love to write.  And I love rescue and dogs.  Kinda sounds like a match made in heaven for me, huh?


(Photos: Top, Cora at the beach.  Annie and Cora, Annie and Cora sleeping, two photos of some early guests at my home in Bedford.)

THANK YOU to Blue Seal Foods!

Blue Seal Foods is being generous, generous, generous to Canine Commitment.  They have committed to providing puppy food for our rescues.  And not just any puppy food, but their wonderful organic puppy food/line — By Nature.  This is a great food for your pup (or cat, as the case may be) and their full line will help keep your pets happy and healthy.  Check them out on-line at  You can find a list of retailers there if you are not sure where to buy it.  Go forth and buy a great, organic food for your pups — and help support a company that is supporting our rescue efforts.

Thank you, Jason and Tedd for your commitment to rescue animals.  We are happy to tell everyone about By Nature’s great product.  My dogs are gobbling up the adult food now quite happily, as are several foster pups in my care.

Video of a Rescue in Mississippi

Check out the Good Friday rescue video.  This litter is in the photo from the May 23 pickups (below)!  They are all in loving homes now.

May 23, 2009 Pickups