Monday, October 31, 2011

What About BOB? - Part 2

It didn't take too long for Bob to find a foster home. One of amazing dog volunteers stepped up saying she would give him a try. She picked him up after he got neutered and he settled right in with just a few little bumps in the road. He really enjoyed her two dogs and started to really relax away from the shelter. 

In fact, he was doing so well, his Foster Mom brought him to the shelter one Saturday morning to talk him up and try to find him a new home. As if by magic, a boy and his dad fell in love with him on the spot! They wanted to adopt him right away! Of course, we took pictures!

To ease the transition for Bob, his Foster Mom Margot met them at a local Petco. Here is the report of how things went: 

I really liked how confident Bob walked around in the store with his new dad and I felt good about the adoption, it even made me stop crying. Bob did not even pull the leash to go with me when I left. About an hour or two later, I received the horrible call that Bob had jumped off the 2nd story balcony and ran into the woods next to his complex. I drove over there and we started walking in the woods, calling Bob's name constantly. The dad's son needed to get out of the heat after an hour but I stayed and walked around all afternoon and tried to go in all kinds of directions, until it got dark.

It was at that point that the incredible team of dog volunteers went into ACTION. Using Yahoo groups and Google docs to stay in touch with each other, posters were hung all over the area, a craigslist ad was posted, the local home owners group was contacted and at least 4 times a day a volunteer would track around where he had been seen last. It seemed he was traveling far distances across the green belt, he was spotted all over the place. The volunteers even checked the homeless camps in the greenbelt, begging anyone to keep an eye out for Bob. 

Over a week went by and the sightings continued. Volunteers were leaving food and water out where they thought he would be. After all this time, drastic measures had to be taken. They decided they would set a humane trap for Bob. He was getting hungry - someone had seen him eating birdseed! So they felt sure with a stinky enough morsel of food, they could lure him into the trap. 

Again, four times a day, volunteers were checking the trap. In the hot Texas heat, if he DID get trapped, he could overheat very easily, even though the trap was covered and in the shade and had water waiting for him, it could still be very dangerous. Volunteers were still fielding calls and e-mails about "Bob sightings" - what an amazing group of folks!

And all their work paid off - exactly TWO weeks after he escaped - Bob was trapped!

He was transported back to the shelter - hungry, filthy and exhausted, Bob had been found and was safe at the shelter.

But of course, that was not the end of the story . . .  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What about BOB? - Part 1

When Bob entered the shelter in July it was immediately obvious that he would not do well in the shelter. He was not eating, he huddled at the back of his kennel shaking and giving a big scared "whale eye" to anyone who looked at him.

While the shelter has nothing against scared dogs, we know that often they are SO scared they are forced to snap and even bite if pressured so many of us just left him alone, gave him some time to "decompress" after having gone through what - we would never know.

But after several days, he remained not eating, shaking and scared. It was torture to see a dog in such a level of stress. That was when a handful of brave volunteers started to gain his trust. First, they would just sit in his kennel with him, throwing tasty treats his way, singing softly to him and one volunteer simply brought a book and would sit in her kennel and read softly to him, not pushing him, not asking him to do anything he didn't want to do, just being with him and showing him he had nothing to fear from us humans. Slowly but surely he started coming around and one day, a volunteer got brave enough to carefully slip a leash over his head and coax him out of his kennel. It became painfully obvious he had not been eating as his ribs and back bone were sticking out. Once out of the kennel, he was actually very good on the leash but when assaulted with the barking of the dogs in the kennels around him would pancake flat on the ground and refuse to move.

Clearly this was a dog who was about as under socialized as the come. Undoubtedly, he lived the majority of his life in a backyard with not a whole lot of human interaction and what he did have did not seem to have been very enriching or positive. Had he ever lived indoors? Had he been taken on walks? Did he have any dog friends? Had he ever been around children? Cats? These are questions we would never know the answer to but still had to solve the main and most serious question of "What about Bob"?

Several different dog volunteers approached the Foster Coordinator to see if a suitable placement could be found for him and she went out to meet him for the first time. As she entered the inside of his kennel, his shaking became more noticeable and the look he gave her was not very friendly - not out of aggression, just out of pure unadulterated fear. She went around to the outside of his kennel, treats in hand. She tossed a few in his direction. While he sniffed them , he still wasn't comfortable eating them. Taking cues from other volunteers she began singing, just a few lullaby's, a few love songs she could remember or fake the words to. We'll never know if he liked it or thought it was horrible - Sarah is not known for her singing voice . . . . but he approached her and she slowly slipped the leash over his head and took him out to an exercise pen. This time he did well, didn't pancake onto the ground even once and made it all the way to a small exercise pen successfully. He quickly did his business and began eagerly sniffing around the pen. I few times coming close enough for her to pet him and cuddle the tiniest bit. A volunteer was walking through the courtyard and saw us together. "Hey, this is Bob!" she exclaimed and entered the pen with us. He immediately went to her and seemed to really enjoy the attention and petting he got from the volunteer. The Foster Coordinator, never without her Flip Camera, managed to get some good footage:

The journey - and we had no idea how far this journey would take Bob - was about to begin. Step one, find him a foster home . . . . *to be continued*

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Adventures of Mazzy and Ernie

I have spent the better part of the past ten years traveling all over the world, and when I came back to Austin last summer, I was determined to settle down a little bit,make a home, and get a dog. After a few months back in Austin I started my search for a medium, low shedding older dog. I searched for a couple of months, and finally one spring day in March I found a Wheaten Terrier mix named Chiquita that been dumped by her owners. She was about three years old , super mellow, and low shedding (everything I was looking for). I filled out the paperwork and was told to come pick her up the next day after she had been evaluated by a vet. The next day came and when I showed up at the shelter I was told the devastating news that she had advanced heart worms. Living in a busy active household, I just couldn't take on the financial hardship, or the ability to keep her kenneled and calm after heart worm treatment.

Heart broken I walked around the shelter one more time, and that's when I met my future dog Mazzy. She was a German Shepherd /Schnauzer mix about 8 months old, shed liked crazy, and hyper. She was nothing like the dog I was looking for, but somehow she wormed her way into my heart and came home with me. She has chewed up a number of things , has given everyone in my household Poison Ivy, and has a penchant for rolling in cat poop, but otherwise is one of the smartest easily trained dogs I have ever owned, and gives me lots of entertaining things to tweet about.

Mazzy at the Shelter
At this point I thought I was done in the dog department, then I made the mistake of surfing on the internet this July and came across a plea to adopt dogs at Town Lake during the 100+ degree weather. Someone had dropped off 15 Miniature Schnauzers, and they were over crowded. I went to go check it out, and managed to come home with one of them named Ernie. A three year old, super mellow little guy that we had to teach how to eat of a dog bowl.

Ernie at the Shelter

Mazzy and Ernie in their FURRever home!

Recently my boyfriend proposed and I have settled down even more. My crazy single life has blossomed into long walk's at night and trips to the dog park. I can't convey how rich and rewarding rescuing two dogs from TLAC has been, they filled a void I didn't even know I had. And on top of that both my dogs were practically free and came to me already neutered/spayed and most importantly both were housebroken! I don't know why anyone would look anywhere else for a pet.

We are also moving to Denver soon, so they will have lots of new trails to explore, and I look forward to watching them experience snow for the first time!

Friday, October 28, 2011

It was meant to be!

I just wanted to share a quick story of the awesome pup my husband and I were able to adopt from TLAC. Her name was 'this dog'. She was black, a pitbull and they thought around 8 months old. We came to the shelter to look at a different dog but my husband fell in love!

A shelter volunteer talked to us about her chances of being adopted because pits were not in high demand, nor black dogs. We came back for 3 days and decided that if on the 4th day no one came for her she would be coming home with us.

Day 4 came and we went with the anticipation of wether she would be there or not. Thankfully she was and my husband was so happy. She came home with us that day.

We named her Daisy despite her all black coat.
She now calls 10 acres of farm and a large house to roam her home sweet home.
She has a nice fluffy bed and a cat named Riley to play with.
Our 9th month old son loves her and even though my husband and I always said we would never adopt a pitbull, we are so happy we found this little girl to lighten our heart on this breed.
What a sweetheart!!

Thank you TLAC for giving her a chance and giving us a chance to find a perfect fit for our family!!
The Meyer's

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Diamond Dachshund to the RESCUE

Diamond Dachshund Rescue of Texas  has taken in around 50 dachshunds and a few dachshund mixes since we started pulling from Town Lake Animal Center in 2010. While each one has a story to share there are a few that touched our hearts a little more than the others.
First is little Black and Tan boy Crash. He was taken by a Good Samaritan to an Austin Emergency Vet after being found apparently having been hit by a car. Stabilized, he was moved to TLAC and was placed under the care of their vet staff. Poor little Crash was unable to stand, weak, and it seemed like humane euthanasia may be the kindest option for him. DDRTX initially declined because of his initial outlook, but Crash and the TLAC veterinary staff refused to give up. He rallied and a couple of days later Dr Ciszny emailed DDRTX with his updated, much more positive outlook. Knowing in her heart that Crash was special, our Austin Area Volunteer Coordinator Debbie made room in her home for him. X-rays and tests at the DDRTX vet showed that Crash had escaped broken bones and was suffering from severe bruising and a broken tooth. Unfortunately tests also showed that he was suffering from heartworms; so Debbie and Crash set about getting him better so he could go through heartworm treatment.

A couple of weeks later an Austin couple was looking on the DDRTX website for a new companion for themselves and their black and tan doxie boy after losing their beloved other doxie companion, and they spied Crash and fell in love. Debbie took him along to the home visit and Crash instantly bonded not only with the couple but with their doxie! After they were approved as adopters they begged to be allowed to foster Crash until his heartworm treatment… of course DDRTX said yes! But this story does not end there… When they brought Crash down to San Antonio to an adoption event so that he could start his heartworm treatment they met Rex, another dashingly handsome black and tan DDRTX dachshund and offered to foster him while Crash went through treatment. A month later Crash was finished with his treatment and came home to Austin. Rex however did not come back to DDRTX and now there are three handsome black and tan doxie boys happily sharing their lives.

Clockwise from bottom: Crash, Rex, and Tracker!
9 yr old Rusty came to TLAC in a very sad situation. He and his 15 yr old female companion were surrendered after their owner passed away. Rusty was overweight, with terrible dental issues (the only thing holding his teeth in his mouth was the inches thick tartar) and his companion was blind and in pain from arthritis. In talking with TLAC staff we agreed that the kindest thing was for her to be allowed to pass over the rainbow bridge and be free from her pain, and that we would take Rusty and get his teeth treated.  Unfortunately, just days after being pulled from the shelter Rusty came down with a serious case of kennel cough. After an initial round of antibiotics, he continued to go downhill and was diagnosed with pneumonia; X-rays revealed a large amount of fluid on his lungs and an enlarged heart, and the vet also diagnosed a heart murmur. But his fighting spirit never died and with a combination of nebulizer breathing treatments 5 times a day, diuretics, and more antibiotics Rusty rallied and was deemed healthy enough to go to the DDRTX kennels at the home of our Executive Director to get a dental. But just one day after arriving at the kennels the difficulty in breathing returned and he was rushed to the vet. This time we feared congestive heart failure which, combined with an infection in his mouth from his rotting teeth, may be too much for him to fight. But again Rusty rallied and got better enough to have his teeth cleaned, some removed, and the infection cleared!

Feeling much better Rusty decided that he would much prefer a couch to a kennel and made his feelings clear! However, luckily for Rusty a spot had just opened up with the DDRTX coordinator in San Angelo whose home we lovingly call the West Texas Dachshund Retirement Home. Rusty settled right in rearranging the blinds, killing stuffed toys, and sunbathing on the deck. But this was not the end of the drama in Rusty’s life… this summer he was evacuated with several other Diamond Dachshunds when his home was threatened by wildfire! But Rusty took it all in his stride with the fighting, loving attitude that won us over when we first met him and TLAC.

Dachshunds are awesome little dogs with the spirit to make it through ANYTHING as these two stories prove!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zoe's Story!

In March of 2004 this girl was called "Camilla" and we adopted her at six weeks after she'd been spayed.  We named her Zoe, Greek for "life" because she was the happiest animal I'd ever seen after working with thousands of dogs, cats and feral cats as a volunteer.

A few months later her motor capabilities diminished and she was diagnosed with the worst hip dysplasia her surgeon had ever seen.  I did a lot of research and we had her hips excised at 6 and 9 months of age so there would be a maximum of recovery.  Since she's a smaller dog (32-38 lbs) there were no hip replacements so she grew her own from cartilage.  We walked her and my husband had her swim daily.  She looks a little funny, cow-hocked, but can run like the wind and corner to beat any Lab to a ball.

It's seven years after the surgeries and this photo is important, because it's taken the day after we moved into a strange home with other peoples' furniture even comforter cover after driving halfway across the country.  Does she look stressed?  I think not.  I've had one dog and two cats of my own, they're gone now.  We've had Zoe going on eight years and while she's a herder and doesn't do anything fun once ("it's routine!") she still is the happiest dog I've ever known and it's been a joy to be with her all these years.

When we arrived at the shelter we saw her litter.  I'd always adopted older rescues but wanted to try to train a pup once.  There was a hold on her so we also looked at a Bernese mix, a male pup.  The next morning we got a call that the hold was off and we could have her.  We were so excited!  To this day when she is too smart for her britches or drives us nuts squeaking a ball, my husband says "We should have got the dumb one."  Not that Bernese are dumb, only more docile.

We love our Zoe and thank you for being there when it was the right time to adopt a dog.  Best of luck in your new home.  You've provided homes for so many, now you'll have a better facility to serve the needs of the community.

Cheers!  Dee Carpenter

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Volunteering - What it's all about!

I have been volunteering at Town Lake Animal Center for about two years now.  When I moved to Austin, not knowing anybody and with no job lined up, I thought volunteering would be an ideal way to fill my time, because I love animals, but can't have any at home.  I also thought I might make some friends with other volunteers.

 I loved taking the dogs out, but more than that I loved hanging around chatting to customers and helping them find the animal that was just right for them.  I hadn't really appreciated that one of the things I missed about working was this interaction with the public.  For me there was rarely a better feeling at the end of a shift than walking to the parking lot and seeing a family I had talked with taking a dog to it's forever home.

I have met lots of amazing volunteers and staff that I am delighted to now call friends, and I am looking forward to continuing to volunteer at the new shelter.  It feels so good to let a dog out of it's pen and give it some playtime and one-to-one interaction  But the most important thing for me has turned out to be getting involved in customer service and meeting the Austin residents who come in, sometimes just to look, and end up going home with a smile on their face and a new family member in their hearts.

Top 10 Reasons to Volunteer:
10. Something to do with that tired pair of sneakers and those old jeans (because you won't be wearing your Sunday best for this job!).
9. Puppy kisses :-b
8. A family of dedicated animal lovers volunteering and working alongside you to help save, shelter, and rehome animals in need.
7. Awesome stylish day-glow yellow t-shirts!!
6. The dogs and cats really need you & will benefit enormously from the time and attention you have to offer. You are their world.
5. Helping a customer find just the right new family member will make your whole week & fill your heart with love.
4. All the hand sanitizer you could ever want.
3. The moment a new dog looks at you with trust and confidence never gets old.
2. Gorgeous pitbull smiles :-) 
1. Most Importantly, because no-kill takes a lot of work and it'll only stay a reality in Austin if everyone does their share to help!
Become a Town Lake Animal Center volunteer today!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Happy Ending for Rafael

Rafael, a gorgeous young Rottweiler, came into the shelter one very, very scared dog.  He would sit at the back of his kennel when a person approached and he didn't want to interact with anyone. He would retreat to the very back of his kennel and stay there all day long. No one was able to touch him; he flinched and ran away from attempts to pet him. Some of the regular volunteers noticed how scared he was. But they also noticed that he would make good eye contact with people and that when you looked into his eyes, you could see the glimmer in his eye of him wanting to interact but just being too frightened. Every day volunteers would go into his kennel and just sit with him, sometimes singing, sprinkling treats around the floor & offering them to Rafael to let him know that it was okay; that people were there to help & befriend him. He began to relax a little and was becoming more comfortable with us spending time with him in his kennel.

Just as Rafael was getting used to having a person in his kennel, he got an upper respiratory infection and had to spend more than a week in isolation. Volunteers were unable to interact with him. Everyone was worried about how this setback would effect the progress we'd been making.  Once Rafael was healthy and back into the general population, the volunteers started working with him again.  It was slow progress but there was always progress.  He still didn't want to be touched, but finally someone got him leashed up and out of his kennel.  Next thing you know he wouldn't let a person touch him but if he touched the person it was okay.  He started giving kisses. After weeks at the shelter, a customer became interested in Rafael.  The pink Interest Pending tag was there on Rafael's kennel gate for a long time as the customer contemplated what it would take to give Rafael the home he really needed. The customer ended up adopting a young female Rottweiler so this opened up Rafael to other potential adopters. But no other adopters emerged for Rafael; despite his great strides he was still timid about interacting with people and this meant most customers didn't notice him. More time went by.

When one of our wonderful staff members noticed that Rafael was "at risk" and brought it to the attention of another staff member, they contacted the customer who had previously shown interest to let him know about Rafael's status.  In the meantime the customer had adopted a young female Rottweiler but he didn't want to see Rafael be in harm's way.  He came down to the shelter and spent two and a half hours with Rafael.  He made Rafael feel confident--sometimes laying next to him in his kennel.  They scheduled a meet and greet with Darlene, the new rottie girl that the customer had adopted from the shelter.  The meet and greet went okay but not great.  Both dogs had to let the other know where their limits were.  Another meet and greet was scheduled for the next day.  This time Rafael was in excellent form - walking with a prance in his step.  People were petting on him and he and the female rottie were getting along!  Rafael was a new dog.  The frightened dog who had come in weeks ago had disappeared and left a confident boy in it's place.  That customer adopted Rafael after the second meet and greet.  Rafael's new owner knows that he had issues and was patient, thoughtful and loving; and he's prepared to provide Rafael with the special attention he needs to continue working through any timidity or fears that he may have. Thankfully, now that Rafael is a long way from the shelter, those fears are now more a matter of who gets the best seat on the couch!

Without our wonderful staff and volunteers, and without this customer willing to step up and save a dog that needed saving, this couldn't have happened.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kitty Underground Railroad

Politics and policies made the early years for the now-famous TLAC volunteer cat team very grim.  The renovated cat building with its multi-cat group rooms was put into service in early 2004.  A volunteer "cat behavior" team was founded, and this small group has blossomed into a team of workers and advocates so dedicated and powerful it has city- and nationwide acclaim and recognition.

The early days were grim because so many animals were euthanized every single day.  Volunteers were told they had to accept this necessary killing and live with it.  A few volunteers with giant rescue hearts didn't listen. 

You might call it an underground railroad of sorts -- cat team volunteers would find a wonderful cat who was on the daily euthanasia list and then scramble to secure an approved rescue partner to put a hold on the cat and then find a "safe house" for this cat to stay until a forever home could be found. They put up posters around town, used craigslist, and begged friends and family to be saviors.
The kitty underground railroad saved dozens of lives … nothing compared to the thousands that have been saved by Austin Pets Alive and other rescue groups and the now burgeoning foster program … but it was a small, unstoppable effort and these volunteers are still at TLAC or elsewhere in Austin making a difference every day working with ringworm cats, unsocial cats, and very ill cats who need special feeding and encouragement.

Here's to the cats who made it out via the kitty underground railroad, and to all the ones who didn't make it -- the shelter is now a place where lives are saved, not sacrificed, and it is a very, very good time for the cats and dogs of Austin and TLAC.


All Thriving thanks to The Underground Kitty Railroad!

Friday, October 21, 2011

There are Volunteers and then there are VOLUNTEERS!

I first met Maggie when I started fostering.  I took home a cat with an Upper Respiratory Infection so he could get better, but instead of getting better, he got worse, and stopped eating.  In a panic, I got in touch with the staff at TLAC, and they introduced me to Maggie, who taught me how to force feed the cat so that he wouldn’t get even sicker.  She was kind, friendly and capable and got me through the first crisis of my volunteering with TLAC.
Since then, I’ve learned that Maggie is pretty amazing, although I doubt she’d tell you that herself. It’s not just that she’s been a volunteer for 9 years.  It’s also that she’s a super foster parent.  Most of the time, she has at least half a dozen foster cats at home, and they’re not easy fosters.  They’re sick cats, or cats that have stopped eating, or need extra-special care for one reason or another.  I’ve never heard of her turning down a needy foster, and she often asks to take home cats with a very dim prognosis.  Usually she and her husband Mike manage to pull them through, but she’s lost several and keeps taking more cats, even though she cries over each cat that doesn’t make it. Her husband even maintains a blog about the trials and tribulations at Mike and Maggie's B&B "Tangent Oaks"

Just her fostering would make her special enough, but Maggie is also very actively involved with two other programs.  She helped create and co-manages the Nebulization and Special Feeding teams that care for the cats with URIs and cats that have stopped eating in the shelter environment.  She also created and co-manages the Desperate Housecats adoption event which showcases cats that need extra help getting adopted because of age, medical condition or lengthy stays at the shelter.  Maggie attends the events, helps photograph the cats, and writes a marketing flyer for every cat in the program.  In the year that it has been in operation, Desperate Housecats has placed about 120 cats at events alone, and countless others have been adopted from foster or the shelter due to Desperate Housecats marketing.

I’m so glad that I get to work with Maggie.  She’s an inspiration, and the very definition of what makes the volunteers at TLAC so special.

Fellow Volunteer and Foster Mom, 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adventures in Fostering

Around the time I turned 30 I started fostering kitties as I felt the need to give back in some way plus I love animals.  At first I usually fostered just one or 2 cats/kittens at a time and eventually it turned into litters of kittens.  Over ten years later there have been many many kittens come through my door and I have loved every second of it.  I adopted my own 2 cats, Tigger and Tabitha, from Town Lake 4 years ago and 3 years ago respectively and they are great "foster parents".  I can only imagine what they are thinking when a new litter comes home-"oh no not again!"

I've had all kinds of kittens-terrified kitties, sickly kitties, crazy kitties and just plain love bugs and through it all I've managed to not adopt anymore but I have been tempted many times. I've even lost a few along the way and it's always heartbreaking but I keep on fostering.  I've mastered the neb box, administered all kinds of meds and eyedrops and just recently I had to force feed one of my kittens.

My one hope for each one of my "kids" is that they have as good or better home than I've given them and that they live long, happy lives like my own cat Magic who lived to be 22 years old. She's still the apple of my eye-RIP sweet girl.

I can't imagine fostering not being a part of my life and when someone asks me about it I'm always hoping to recruit another foster parent.  It's so rewarding to watch scared kittens come out of their shell and really blossom into great kitties.  Helping the sick ones overcome their illness and turn into wonderful kittens is also very gratifying.

I even created a Facebook Page to keep up with my little charges - Heathers Fabulous Foster Kittens

I still shed many tears each time my kitties are adopted or when I return them to the shelter to get adopted. I have been asked many times how do I give them up and  it's very hard every time.  A few tears is a small price to pay for saving the life of those that have no voice.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happens to the Best of Us . . .

I've been volunteering with my kids for five years, and my husband joined us
four years ago. We started volunteering because the kids loved the animals
but we had too many already in our house. Over the years we fell in love
with many dogs at TLAC.

The first dog who touched my heart was Misty, a five-month-old spaniel mix
puppy who looked at us with big pleading brown eyes and melted when we
gently scratched behind her ears. But when my son drew back his hand to
throw a ball for her to fetch, she cowered in a corner of the pen in
anticipation of a blow. That was the first time I realized that, austere and
noisy and crowded as it was, the shelter could be the best home some of the
dogs had ever known. Over the weeks we watched Misty blossom into a
confident and happy pup, hopping up into our laps and chasing balls with a
carefree heart. By the end of the month, she had been adopted and we knew
the volunteer's curious combination of happiness and heartbreak when we
learn that an animal we had looked forward to seeing has finally found a
forever home.

Over the years we¹ve had a series of favorites, including Jack, Jellybean,
Princess, Roxy, Sam, and many more. Some of them have been at the shelter
for a week or two, many for much longer. But one thing I've learned there is
that I can always find a special connection with some dog, even when I¹m not
looking for one.

That was the case three springs ago when we were grieving at the sudden loss
of our dog, Shadow. She had "trained" me to go for long walks every morning,
no matter the weather. And as regular dog-walkers know, once you're used to
walking with a leash, trying to walk without one feels wrong. There's
nothing to do with your hands, not to mention no one to talk to along the

Fortunately, I was a Trail Dog volunteer. I replaced my regular strolls
through the neighborhood with walks along the hike and bike trail with
friends from TLAC. One particular dog‹a German shepherd mix with a light
step and a permanently cocked right ear‹became my favorite companion. Each
time I left her, I prepared myself for never seeing her again. And every
time I came back, I was surprised to see her there waiting for me to take
her for a walk.

You know what happened next. After a month of long walks, romping with the
family in Pen 3, and friendly flirting, Scamp came home with us. Her bright
eyes and joyful heart have brought us great happiness.  Just like so many
TLAC dogs have brought love to families all over town.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is it weird to have TWO 3 legged kittens? Heck NO!

So to begin this blog one must rewind the clock back the morning of September 3rd.  I was up early and just happened to be having coffee with my landlady Aundrea, when pet of the week came on KVUE.  

That morning Sarah had brought this cute black and white three legged kitten named Angus, and as soon as she mentioned that he liked other cats and dogs I said to Aundrea I want that kitten. That day was also the first time that they were doing Critter Café down at Whole Foods on 6th street. Aundrea says you better get yourself down there so you can get him before he’s gone, I said I can’t go right this minute. So I waited until I was taking Aundrea who is blind out to run errands. We were getting ready to leave and says want to stop by and see if he's there, I was like sure we can and by now I'm thinking this little cute kitten is long gone.  Once we arrived at Whole Foods we parked and went over to where the kittens were, and at first I didn't  see little man so we started looking at the kittens that were right where we were standing and than this nice volunteer who was sitting down says hello to us and just than I saw him and said to the nice lady is that the kitten who was on tv this morning and she says yes.  I said i really want to adopt him and she says really and I say yes.  She goes over to ask Sarah to come over so she can take him out of his crate to see if he would even like us.  Aundrea held him first and he seemed to take to her and than I just had this feeling that he would like me and I was right as soon as I held him he started purring.  I said that's it we will take him.  What happened next will make you smile and laugh just a little see Sarah had been fostering him she says oh this will be the last time I will hold him and see him, we have to get a picture, one was taken of Aundrea, Sarah and myself. Sarah mentioned that she was going to post it on the TLAC Facebook page  later today, Aundrea says make sure you tell them that “the blind lady” adopted the three legged cat.

Little man comes home at first he was a little shy for about 5 seconds than he starts running around and talking and playing with his toys and is just as happy as can be.  Aundrea my landlady has an older cat named Honey who just doesn't really play much.  

Now one must fast forward to about the 6th of September I was sitting talking with Aundrea after work and said I think Angus needs a playmate as he's so active and Honey just doesn't want to play with him.  I was going to contact Sarah to see if she might know of a kitten that might get along with Angus. Aundrea gets in contact with Sarah and she let’s us know that there’s this cute little girl kitten about the same age, thing is  she too has lost one of her legs. Sarah says would it be too weird to have two three legged kittens.  I was like let’s go see her and see if she even likes us. As soon as we meet her I was like she has to come home to meet Angus, I  was almost certain they will get along and she was just so dang cute. Little miss comes home with us as a foster kitten to make sure that little man Angus even likes her of she likes him. As the days go by little miss kitten is named Gracie and she starts coming out of her shell. She needed to return to TLAC about ten days after we brought her home to have her staples removed, that same day I let them know that I wanted to adopt her.

It’s a match made in heaven Angus and Gracie have become best friends they run around like little wild kittens, playing on there condo’s and with all there toys. Odin my dog who was adopted from TLAC in 2004  tolerates the kittens as they lick on him or play with his tail. Aundrea’s cat Honey was adopted from TLAC in 2003 seems to enjoy watching the kittens just so they don’t try to jump on her and they  keep there distance from her.

Even though Aundrea did go with me to Critter Café she’ll tell you Angus and Gracie are Diana’s kittens and I just visit them. I’m so blessed to have found them both and to have meet some really awesome people one who has become a new friend. Thank You for all that you do down at TLAC.  I'm happy that i was watching the news that day and saw pet of the week!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Misty Meets Her Match

Texas Hearing and Service Dogs trains dogs to assist Texans living with hearing or mobility challenges. They provide the dogs and training free of charge.
THSD is dedicated to educating the public about Hearing and Service Dogs.
Texas Hearing and Service Dogs uses positive training methods. They use fun, rewards and lots of surprises to keep their  dogs motivated and eager to please
More about what they do and how they can do it visit:

They do an intensive "Matching Process" when they introduce possible "partners" or teams of dog and person in need of a service dog. They practice a few simple behaviors, and try to determine whether they are a compatible team.  Once matched, they begin intensive training with the dog for the specific services their new partners need.  Here is a truly touching story of one of their fabulous "Matches" written by Janet Duke of THSD.

Intrepid was a beautiful black lab we pulled from TLAC and Misty had been waiting for the right service dog  match for a while. Touchingly, I learned that Misty had been watching Intrepid on our site for some time and always hoped he might be assigned to her.  She saw he was brought to matching with two prior recipients and thought he had been teamed.  When we called and invited her to matching, she asked who the dog was.  When we told her Intrepid, she burst into tears.  She even brought him a greeting present, as you'll see.

This video shows Intrepid, who we got from TLAC, meeting his new partner Misty at matching.

Intrepid, abandoned at the city shelter turned into an excellent assistance dog and throughout training we have used him at public events as he is so steady and well-behaved.
We love ALL our Rescue Partners and sometimes, the magic that happens after our animals leave the shelter is truly amazing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sadie's Story

I'm Jane A. I've been volunteering at TLAC since July 2011. 
My TLAC dog is Sadie. 

I have another dog, Nigel, from another rescue. 

I'd like to tell the story of bringing Sadie home four years ago. I looked all over TLAC for a small dog. They all had wait lists. So I looked at the red stop sign dogs and there she was on the front side, between buildings A and B. Her name was Winnie, and she was sooo skinny. I got permission and opened the kennel.

She was timid and didn't walk up to the gate, but when I went into the kennel she was happy to have company and happy to walk out with me. She was very attentive, looking at me, wagging her tail and body, waiting to see where we would go. I took her to one of the front pens (#8 I think). She raced up and down the little pen. When I crouched down, she came up to me for pets and calmed down and rolled over. I stood up to through a ball she whipped herself up and ran after it. 

Love at first leash walk. 

She hadn't been spayed so I had to wait a couple days to pick her up. I couldn't get back to TLAC on the days in between. I wonder if she remembered me when I returned. I went to her kennel and she was happy to see me again, happy to walk on the leash. I walked through the breezeway out to the parking lot, Sadie by my side. We reached the opening and the leash was suddenly seemed attached to a rock. She had put on the breaks and could not be lured from the spot. I don't really know what was going through her head, and at the time I didn't have any idea! I cajoled for a moment and then picked her up.  She was shaking like a leaf. She was even more worried about the car. I put her in the front seat where she made herself as small as possible and drooled profusely. Poor thing. I talked to her in a sweet voice all the way home. 

At my home she was afraid. She glued herself to me. I went about my work. We went for a walk that night. After a couple days she was very comfortable. 

Today she is overjoyed to get into the car, but still drools sometimes and doesn't like rides over two hours. She knows sit, down, stay, come, leave it, get it. She'll jump through my arms walk around and jump through my arms on the other side. She can leap a four foot chain link fence in a single bound. And she pops herself three feet in the air at the back door when guests arrive and she is not inside to greet them. When she's inside, she's all wiggles, but doesn't jump on guests - mostly. Amazingly she will not jump the baby gate, but I don't know why not. 

She's a Jack Russell Terrier mix so she sheds something fierce. We call the dog hair tumble weeds our other dogs. She loves to snuggle in a pile of blankets and has been found in half-full laundry hampers. I'm so happy I found her. She ties Nigel for best dog ever. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Honey for Thanksgiving!

Honey at the Shelter
We adopted "Honey" 7 years ago from TLAC on Thanksgiving day.  She's a pitbull/lab mix and has been the light of our lives ever since! She was in need of socializing and is still sometimes shy around men (who knows what happened to her before we got to her) but she has been the best dog we've ever owned.  She is sweet, affectionate, loves her daily walks and rawhide chews.  She's gentle around children and lets our kids climb all over her.  We moved up north to snow country for a few years and she even let them hook her to their sled to pull them! 
Honey in the SNOW!

She has shown us that pitbulls are such an awesome and misunderstood breed and that shelter animals really are the best.  We're so grateful she came into our lives and we can't imagine being without her!

Beautiful Honey!

Aaron & Kelly

Friday, October 14, 2011

Confessions of a "Foster-holic"

Hi. My name is Erin - and I am a "foster-aholic."
Yes, it's true. I'm addicted to saving animals. It's been a life-long addiction, really. But I've only just begun to realize how important fostering really is.
My love for animals started at a very young age - we often rescued animals that wandered up to our house, and my mom even saved smaller creatures like rabbits and birds- she even helped save a trapped owl once. I am thankful that she instilled in me a love and respect for animals. My early experiences of "saving" animals has impacted my life in a huge way, and I hope to impart the same love for animals to my children!


I got started with fostering after my Boxer, Sissy, passed away on October 1st, 2009. Sissy was a special girl - my first Boxer - and she left quite a legacy in our home! Sissy came to live with us back in 2002. She was found by a coworker of mine as a stray. When I met her, she was all bones, had obviously had many litters and was so sad and desperate for love. I think it was love at first sight for both of us! Sissy came home with me and, from the very first day, acted like she had always been with us. 

A couple of weeks after Sissy died, a friend of mine mentioned  Austin Boxer Rescue to me as a way to work through my grief. I had never even heard of ABR at the time, but I went ahead and filled out the foster application. We actually got our first foster dog within the same week, who we almost adopted! I wasn't ready for another dog though, so we kept fostering, and have had close to 100 different dogs in our home over the past two years! Some of them stayed a few days, some of them stayed for a few months, but ALL of them were amazing!
The thing about fostering is that it opens up a place in your heart that you might not have known was there. Once that "spot" is open, it never really closes. It took me awhile to realize WHY fostering was so important to me, but about six months into it, I figured it out: it was a way to for me to make a difference in this world, every day. A tangible difference. Not like donating cloths, or recycling (which I also think is important), but something I could really take ownership of. For me, it's a way to step in for these animals (who depended on their human to take care of them, forever) when they need us the most. They've been hurt, let down, sometimes abused, and we're able to help them heal and be loved again, forever. It's an amazing thing.
Just recently, we decided to check out other rescue organizations in the area, and brought home our very first foster kittens from Town Lake Animal Center: the Spice Boys (Sage and Basil). We had never fostered kittens before, but when the call came out for help, I thought, 'Hey, WHY NOT?' And how could I resist?

Lol, thankfully my husband has a sense of adventure and agreed to let me bring them home. Both of my children have always LOVED cats, and they have been so happy to have baby kitties to play with! My youngest is almost three, and he is learning to be "gentle" with the baby kittens. They are much more delicate than the puppies we have fostered in the past. He is so excited to see them everyday, and lovingly calls Sage (who is very tolerant!) his "Coco." It has been the coolest experience to see these little kittens blossom into "pets" - they both purr and call out for attention every time we come into the room. They are so fun to watch; it seems like they put on the antics just for our entertainment!
My background is in nursing - I worked with cardiology and ER patients for almost 15 years, and "retired" when my youngest was born. However, I feel like I have found my true calling in life by working with animals. There are so many that need our help, it's hard to look the other way. Plus, getting them back on their feet, and helping them find their forever home gives me a great feeling of accomplishment and happiness - one that I never had in all my years of working as a nurse. Animals never ask you for anything but love and kindness, and they give you back so much more in return. I look forward to many more years of working with area rescue groups, and I hope to spread the word about the importance of our cause to as many people as possible.

*mama to skin-kids Kiahna (12 yrs) and Phoenix (2.5 yrs)
*mama to fur-babies Sissy (RIP 10/1/09), Jake (10 yrs), Finn (1 yr), Noble (6 months), and "step-sister" to fur brother Pete (7 yrs)
*foster mama to Sage and Basil