Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why is harder to rescue a dog?


Why does it seem harder to get a dog from a shelter or rescue group than from a breeder?

answered by Jamie Wolf

It's true, adopting from a shelter or rescue group can seem more rigorous than filling out a college application. Breeders are less picky--they generally look for the basics when evaluating a potential dog guardian: Are you able to pay for the dog and any future medical care? Do you have a roof over your head? Usually, that's where the breeder's involvement ends.

But rescue groups and shelters are all too familiar with stories of dogs who have been abandoned or surrendered. Many of the dogs that end up in their care were once purchased from a breeder or pet store. In fact, some experts say there are more bred and pet-store dogs left at shelters each year than stray mutts.

So, foster parents and rescue groups are careful to go that extra step (or two or three) to ensure a safe and permanent family for the dogs in their care. Many spend great amounts of time and money on their dogs, working to train and rehabilitate them. Some even take care of costly medical issues. For those reasons, it's much more common for shelters and rescue groups to carry out comprehensive assessments of potential adopters; they simply want to increase the number of dogs who wind up happy and healthy in "forever" homes.

Jamie Wolf, a lifelong animal advocate, is the founder of PetLover Central, a high-end, dog day care center in Boca Raton, Florida.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunshine dogs

As a general rule, dogs over 5 years old are considered 'too old' to be adopted by the general public and are usually passed over for adoption.  At TLC, we've saved enough dogs to know just how wrong this notion is.  Generally these small dog breeds between 5 and 10 years old are the best dogs to adopt because they are past the chewing puppy stage, the potty training issues and have blown out all of that high energy that drives most of us crazy!  They are settled into good canine manners and seek out human companionship... and make great dogs to adopt.  We call them our 'sunshine dogs' because of the warmth and sunshine they bring into your life without the stress of puppyhood, training, potty training, barking issues, etc.

Small dog breeds over 10 years are settled into being more of a couch potato than a "high energy, gotta go, let's stay busy" kind of dog who gets bored easily and becomes destructive more rapidly.  These seniors make better adoptable dogs for folks that work during the day and will tend to hang around on a couch and sleep while they wait for their human BFFs to come and love up on them.

However, because you are older and/or retired, that is no reason to die.  Older dogs do not necessarily have higher vet bills - in fact, the most expensive years in any dog's life is the first two.  If you are interested in adopting an older or more mellower dog because of your lifestyle, you will find we 'discount' sunshine dogs at 10 years and older to a $200 tax deductible adoption donation.  Your new BFF will still be up to date on their shots (including rabies), spayed or neutered, microchipped and licensed for the County of Ventura.

BTW, 'dog years' are a representation of of how old a dog would be if he lived as long as a human.  On average, dogs age seven times as quickly as humans. Because of this factor, it is inaccurately assumed that 1 equals 7 human years and therefore a 10-year old dog is really 70 years old. This is probably the most popular technique for estimating a dog's physical age compared to his actual age, but probably the most inaccurate.

Dogs mature much more quickly than humans do. Dogs have shorter childhoods and much longer adulthood periods than humans do. Dogs start walking at three weeks and small dog breeds reach sexual maturity at 6 months. If we use the seven-for-one rule, that would be the same as a human toddler walking at two months or a human child having babies at 4 years old!!

Also, while a 15-year-old dog would be considered the equivalent of a 105-year-old person, many more dogs live to be 15 than humans live to be 105.

A more accurate formula would be: 10 and 1/2 dog years for the first two years, then four dog years per year thereafter. However, this formula does not take the dog's size into consideration. We know that most small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs - in fact, twice as long on the average.  It is almost impossible to find a Great Dane 15 years old, but most Chihuahuas live 15-20 years.

One way to handle the influence of size on a dog's aging is to change the multiplication factor used once a dog is past two years old.  Other factors that come into play as to how long your rescue dog will live cannot be accurately calculated on any chart: how overweight they are and if they have had decent dental care (poor dental care affects the heart and blood stream).

There are numerous calculators on the Internet that take into account weight.  Add that age to the one above and divide in half - you'll come up with a close enough guess.

"Black Dog Fridays"

Statistically, black dogs are the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized at shelters.  There are three reasons for this:
  1. At about age 12-14, we as humans form the subconscious opinion that good is white and bad is black.  As youngsters, we look at dogs without really seeing color but as we become pre-teens, we start forming judgments on what a dog may be like in personality based upon his coloring.  Movies don't help this conception either as the 'devil dog coming out of the dark mists' is usually a big, black, evil looking dog.
  2. Many of the powerful, 'bully' dogs are black in color naturally - Rotties, Dobies, German Shepherds, etc.
  3. People square off their shoulders and look directly at dog - in dog language this is a challenge and/or potential dominance.  Watch two dogs approach each other - chests out, ears up, shoulders flexed.  To add to this, because we humans are visual creatures, we tend to stare into anything we are trying to bring into greater focus.  And a black dog with black eyes is hard to make visual contact with... with all of this going on, the black dog with black eyes is going to either accept the challenge of the human stranger or retreat back, making them appear less adoptable in a kennel or shelter situation.
To make it easier for black dogs to be adopted more readily, TLC runs a program called "Black Dog Fridays" where any black dog is discounted 20% off of the adoption donation (adults or puppies alike).  We started it on "Black Friday" after Thanksgiving in 2012 and it has proven to be effective in finding black dogs furever homes.

For more on this, simply Google "Black Dog Syndrome" or read Wikipedia's page.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Recycle 4 Rescue

Update:  Just turned in the recycling we have collected recently and it was $78.28.  That's enough to do one dog's spay/neuter and get a microchip!  WTG, TLC supporters and volunteers!


Update - "Name Your Adoption Donation" program

The "Name Your Adoption Donation" (NYAD) club has three new members now.  It is our goal to save dogs from kill lists, get them vetted and adoptable and then find them furever homes as soon as possible.  Some dogs just get overlooked for whatever reason - hence the NYAD program.

Mr. Fox
Mr. Fox is a sweet little guy with a fluffy coat (hence the name).  He just doesn't stick out when folks come into the rescue shop to adopt.  Nice little dog and would work well in just about any situation.

Tail-less Joe

Tail-less Joe is another nice little guy that doesn't get looked at.  He has a nub tail (genetic) which makes him somewhat uncommon... Chihuahuas don't normally have snub tails.  And he's a nice little dog that again would adopt well in just about any situation.


Finally, there is Whistler.  What a cutie pa-tootie he is!  Scroll down for his recent video playing with me!

How does the NYAD program work?  Obviously we hope you don't offer a dollar for one of these club members... or else we could not continue to rescue other dogs on tomorrow's kill lists.  Each TLC dog will be spayed/neutered prior to adoption, be up to date on their vaccines including rabies, microchipped and licensed for the County of Ventura -- whether or not they are in the NYAD program -- that is standard for us as a rescue and is expensive to do.  Come in and meet the dogs, fall in love and fill out an adoption application.  Once approved, let our volunteer know you want to use the NYAD program and what you would like to donate to adopt the dog.  It is still tax deductible regardless of the amount.  But rather than have a saved dog sit with us for more than six months, TLC would prefer to find him a great furever home even if we take a loss on the cost to save them.

Other NYAD dogs still waiting for their furever homes:
  • JackJack - JackJack rides the 'short bus' and probably has since birth according to our vet.  His head and jawline is a bit misshaped and he has only three teeth after his dental.
  • BabyJane - Last of another rescue's life's work before she succumbed to cancer, BabyJane does not like ALL older, portly men for some reason.  Gets along fine with young men and all women - has to be hurt by this human type in her past somewhere.
  • Sissy - Came to us with severe separation anxiety after going through the shelter system twice.  It is MUCH better now but she does need extra cuddles to stay well balanced on a daily basis.
  • Ophelia - Black Dog Syndrome?  We can't explain why she's not been adopted yet... nice dog.
  • Tito - Tricolor blue - not common for a Chihuahua and yet again, we can't explain why he doesn't get picked for adoption.
  • Snyder - No idea why this guy hasn't been adopted yet - really nice, well mannered dog.-
  • Shania - Doesn't care for children and favors men over women if given a choice, Shania is a dominant female and would do best as an only dog. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


For those folks that know me personally, this is probably one of the hardest things I have to do - talk about myself or what I have done in rescue almost 32 years now.  I REALLY prefer to just stay in the background, going about my business and doing what I do best.  The spotlight is not my 'cup of tea' at all.  I seldom take photos for that reason and seldom do interviews or public speaking events.

Ask me about TLC or the volunteers I am priviledged to work aside of 6 days a week... and I am off to the races!  Ask me about the fight against puppymills or the work we do towards No-Kill, and I can write a rescue "War and Peace".   I am known for 'saying what I mean and meaning what I say' (which translates to the fact I failed 'Diplomacy 101' long ago), but I am as committed to saving small dogs' lives as I am breathing.  

I always tell my volunteers that unless it is illegal or immoral, we will do just about anything to save a dog's life.  So, here I am folks - asking that you nominate me so that we can win this year's Pettie's Award.  And if we do?  That is a donation to TLC of $10,000 ---- it is as simple as that!

Nominate Linda Nelson to help TLC win $10,000

I KNOW the rescue shop is critical and crucial to our county going No-Kill.  I also know that I am teaching the next generation of dog rescuers the ropes of how to do what I have done, and do it even better.  Most of our TLC volunteers are under the age of 30, and if this generation does not pick up the banner and carry it on, all the progress my generation has done in No-Kill will be all for naught.

When we took over the rescue shop and went from a mobile adoptions rescue to a fixed location, we wrote the book on doing this.  There is no other full-time, 7 days a week, store-front rescue doing what we do.  It takes 300 volunteer hours per week to keep the rescue shop open 56 hours.   And along the way, we educated folks who strolled into the rescue shop, expecting another pet shop selling puppy mill puppies.

TLC has stepped forward numerous times to help out in a big way --- from taking on 34 of the Yucca Valley hoarding dogs to launching not one, but numerous transports to Canada and the East Coast.  In four years times, we have saved over 1,350 small dog lives - and 12 'Pitty' types as well.  We've also taken in a few Parakeets, but that's besides the point!

TLC has raised the bar in rescue and not all rescues are alike.  But when you adopt from TLC, your new dog will be spayed or neutered, brought up to date on their vaccines, have their rabies shot, be microchipped and licensed for the County of Ventura if over 4 months.  We partner with PETCO and Unleashed, so every adoption packet includes a coupon booklet with tons of savings.  And finally, there is a complimentary well-puppy, healthy-dog examination provided by one of the local vets.  All is included for the tax deductible adoption donation.

We do this at great cost to the rescue.  We want our saved dogs and puppies to be found if lost, healthy and well socialized - and because we are No-Kill, we will keep any dog we take into our program until they find their furever home (the records is 2 years, 3 months, BTW).

So again, PLEASE help TLC win this $10,000... MANY small dogs and puppies are counting on you to help us do what we do best!

Nominate Linda Nelson to help TLC win $10,000


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kisses... R.I.P.

There are many times I and the TLC volunteers get tired of rescue - the rude people who come into the shop, the struggle to save just one dog, the huge burden of trying to keep the rescue solvent... and the list goes on.

Just when you think it would be better to just throw up your hands and give up, walk away and retire from rescue, God always manages to throw me a 'reality check' about what we do and why we do what we do in TLC. 

Yesterday I received this email from someone who adopted a 'water baby' that was on a kill list about a year ago... And I wanted to share the story of Kisses to one and all so that what we do and the passion we do it with can be better understood by the general public.

Hi Linda,

My name is Jennifer, and I am not sure if you remember me because I know I lot of dogs come and go from your rescue.  I transferred a little Chihuahua named Kisses with water on the brain to your shop back in September.  She stayed with you for a few weeks until she was spayed and got her vaccinations, and then I ended up adopting her from you because my boyfriend and I totally fell in love with her during the 2 days that we had her before bringing her to you.  We ended up naming her Darla Jean, with the nickname Binky.  Last weekend, the most unfortunate thing happened, and we lost our little girl.  We are still totally devastated because it all happened so fast.  She got really sick on the 4th of July and was having a really hard time breathing.  We took her to the ER and they kept her there overnight on oxygen.  Her heartbeat was also beating quite rapidly.  The first thing the next morning, I took her to our regular vet and found out that she had pneumonia and really high blood pressure.  They kept her all day and gave her an IV of fluids and antibiotics and kept her under a heat lamp.  By the end of the day, she still had labored breathing, but her body temperature got back to normal. We took her home, and by Saturday morning, it seemed like her breathing was improving.  But, on Saturday afternoon, her fragile little body gave out on her and she passed away at home in my arms.  I still can't believe that this happened.  I keep hoping that this is all just a really bad nightmare that I am going to wake up from at any moment.  Just a week ago she was running around like a regular puppy, tugging at my pant legs with her teeth, demanding to get fed.  She seemed totally healthy.  But, I guess it was her time and she was just meant to be a little angel quickly passing through.  I can't believe we only had her 9 months and she was only 1 yr and 4 months old.  BUT, we packed in so much life in such a short time, and I would love to share it with you.

Remember this picture?  This was the picture that Chela sent out of Darla when she was at the shelter needing to get out:

This is who she became:

We absolutely adored her from the minute we got her and wanted to give her the best life possible. We only got to have this little blessing for 9 months, but in those 9 months, we made sure she lived life to the fullest. 

She got to go on 3 vacations with us, got to go up north to San Jose to meet my family and she also got to go to the Hearst Castle.

We got one of every major holiday with her - like Halloween,

And Christmas, 

She got to go to the beach and see the ocean and run in the sand.

She got to go to work every morning with her dad and see all of her friends everyday and then get picked up in the middle of the day and finish the day at work with mom.

She got to sleep in between us every night snuggled up next to us under the covers.  She even had a choice of 4 dog beds throughout the house to lie in when she wasn't in one of our laps. 

She had lots of nice things and pretty dresses to wear in the spring and warm sweaters for the winter.

She got to have her 1st birthday party and had lots of people over who loved her and wanted to help her celebrate.

She had a big brother named Jonathan who took care of her and she absolutely adored him.

She and Jonathan went everywhere together.

She was ever so special and unique, and I know I will never come across another dog quite like her.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and let me share what became of her short life. You have no idea how healing this is for me. Thank you so much for helping us out to adopt her.  Our time with her meant the world to us.

Take care,


Sunday, July 7, 2013

The view from up high...

We have a little Brussels Griffon/Terrier mix named "Waffles"... He's been through heck and back in his short life... Talk about being homeless through no fault of his own... Anyway, we have a kid's play set in the middle of our center courtyard - the dogs play on it, run up and down the slide, etc. - during their exercise periods....

We couldn't resist snapping this photo of Waffles - almost like he was up on top of the highest point, looking for his furever home!  So we had to share!

Monday, July 1, 2013

What the heck?

Next month in August I will have been involved in dog rescue for 32 years.  I began at the age of 23 and now I am older than dirt at 55.  And still, after all these years, just when you think you have 'seen everything', something else will come along to let you know most people are not much sharper than a marble when it comes to taking good care of their pets.

Rumor: "All dogs can swim"... My husband retired from the LAPD and he has always said he has pulled far too many dead dogs out of swimming pools each year while on the job.  Usually in the spring, he makes me get into the pool with each dog and we water test them for the year.  The point of this exercise is not to really see if they can swim, but if they know where the steps are to climb out.

Yesterday was Momma's test... and no --- not all dogs can swim.  While Momma can do a lot of things, and some extraordinarily well, swimming is not on her asset list.  I can absolutely command her to do some things and I would bet the mortgage payment she will respond and immediately without hesitation or question.  But swimming?  While I was thinking she'd do OK with this new experience, not only did I have to carry her into the pool, I had to sit with her on the first step and 'quiet coo' into her ear to calm her down enough to sit with me in the water.

Once I got her back into a quiet state and tried to explore going further, Momma was having nothing of this at all.  I released her and she immediately got out of the pool and stayed out!  Then barked at ME pretty heavily because I was still in the pool.  Throwing her toss toy (her FAVORITE thing to do) into the pool made no difference.  Well, at least we know she won't accidentally drown, 'cause that pool and she will never meet again no matter what!

Rumor:  "Oh, it's not really that hot"... At least once a week, someone comes into our rescue shop and tells us about a dog sitting in a car in the mall's parking lot with the windows cracked. 

By California law, your car window can be broken to get a dog out of a hot car, but there will still be folks that are 'going to run into the store for just a second' and leave their pooches in the car to cook.  We see it happen all the time and it makes the news as well... But will any of these incidents teach people to stop doing this practice?  Nope, sorry...

When it reaches 70 degrees (and some reports say 60 degrees), it is too hot to leave your dog in a car, cracked windows or not.

Heartbreak of a dog turned into a shelter recently
Rumor: "I can't keep my dog because...."  This is one thing we hear all the time and as rescuers, we become quite jaded because of the huge amount of dogs being given up by people. 

I have had an adopter return a dog to me because it no longer matched the new carpeting she put in her home. 

Now, you would have thought if matching the carpet was that important, and she truly loved the little dog she had adopted from me, she would have thought this all out before she had new carpet installed, right?

And yes, I thought it was unique to me, but on the list of the most ridiculous reasons people give up pets, this mindset showed up (along with someone who gave up their dog because they thought the dog was gay - OMG!)

Companion Animal Psychology did a research project on this rumor and what I found interesting to read was an underlying cause of 'dis-connect' that was going on... And you can't really say that isolationists who usually dis-connect fall into the same category - they tend to dis-connect from humans and yet?  Some groups (i.e. the homeless society) tend to be much more connected to their pets than the average pet owner --- so much so, they will give up an opportunity for a bath or even a home so they are allowed to keep their pet!!

Now, I don't have the answer for why so many people give up their pets and flood our shelters... Even in almost 32 years, I don't have any real answers that I can say were valid for giving up a pet you have loved, fed and probably even slept with for years...

What I have done is to give time and energy towards someone keeping their pet if I sense they truly don't want to give up their furry BFF... And the majority of these folks have ended up keeping their pets simply because they now found a solution to the problem that was forcing the surrender.  There are MANY rental properties that will allow folks to keep their pets, and most behavior problems can be trained out and corrected.  But if someone is not 'connected' and suffers from a form of 'dis-connect', that is not something any of us in the humane community can fix.

A puppy might be cute and tug at your heart strings, but if you take your time, go ahead and sleep on it, BUT set your alarm for 3AM ('cause if you going to adopt a puppy, they are going to wake you up at this time to go potty), you will usually have a change of heart.  I would say just about everyone I have given this piece of advice to has called me back the next day to say they have reconsidered the idea of adopting a puppy, and the majority of them have instead adopted an older dog that is past that stage.

Bottom line is that you have to care - plan and simple.  And if you don't have compassion for young children, the sick or the elderly, you really aren't cut out for owning a pet.