It’s always exciting to see the reaction each foster dog has to the beach. Most have loved it, others not so much. To show them something they may have never seen before is such a sweet moment.
There is no denying that summer is by far my favorite season. I wait for it all year. The days are long and evening thunderstorms are abundant. Our beaches here in Virginia Beach are relatively dog friendly, and I take full advantage. Until Memorial Day and after Labor Day, dogs are allowed on the beach any time. During those summer months in between, they are allowed after 6pm, which is where you can find us at least once a week from May-October. Our two permanent fur children know the drill: when the leashes come out, we’re either going for a walk or going to the beach. They run to the car and wait by the door until we load everything up. They know when we get close to “our spot” and start to get antsy in the back seat.
It’s always exciting to see the reaction each foster dog has to the beach. Most have loved it, others not so much. To show them something they may have never seen before is such a sweet moment.
There are usually very few people where we go so we almost always let them run free but keep the foster dog leashed (just in case). Bentley is fine strolling slowly near the dunes and lying in the sand. Bella takes off at full steam into the water and waits for passing birds to chase. The foster dog is usually unsure at first but will follow Bella to the water to check it out. We stay about an hour, just strolling the shore. Stopping to check out a crab or two and trying to convince Bentley that the ocean is not the enemy. It’s our little piece of heaven, where the calm washes over us and everything is right in the world.
A friend recently asked me where all the dogs in shelters come from? This simple question was a big wake up call for me. Do every day people not know why the shelters are so full? While the reasons for overcrowded shelters are blatantly obvious to those of us in animal rescue, not everyone knows the truth. The reality is this: the vast majority of the dogs in shelters across America are owner surrenders. What’s owner surrender you ask? When a person willingly turns over their pet to an animal shelter or rescue, that’s considered an owner surrender. When someone surrenders their the dog, most shelters will ask for a reason that the animal is being relinquished. The excuses are as numerous as they are ridiculous:
-I’m moving and I can’t take them with me
Really? You have prepared your entire household for a move and you can’t find the decency to bring your dog along? This is one that I just cannot understand. If I were to move, one of the first things I would ensure is that I was going to a place that was dog friendly. I feel like moving with a toddler would be more stressful than moving with a dog, but you don’t see people lining up to give away their babies.
-We’re expecting a baby and don’t have time
Look, I understand that it is going to be a huge change when the new baby arrives, but your dog is not the one who made the decision. Yes, it will be a change and I’m sure it will be stressful, but how do you not make time for the dog that was once a loved member of the household? What about when you have a second baby? Are you going to give the first one away because you won’t have as much time to spend with them? Of course not, so why are family dogs subject to this excuse?
-They are too rambunctious
One word: TRAINING! Enroll your hyper puppy in some obedience classes to curb the bad behavior. Take them on a walk or to the dog park to get their energy out. This excuse basically equates to ‘I’m lazy and it’s too much work to train this dog.’ Pathetic.
-My landlord said I can’t have it
This is one of the most common reasons that dogs such as pitbulls are given up. While it may be true that the lease agreement prohibits a certain type of dog (more on the absurdity of this later), did you not think to check the rental policy before getting this dog? It’s common sense people!
-I’m getting a divorce
I am utterly confused by this one. A couple fosters ago we took in a dog that was given up to rescue because his owners were getting a divorce. I honestly don’t even know why divorce from another person would be any reason to give up your dog. If I were ever to separate from my husband, he would have to fight me for my fur kids.
And on and on and on. Just when you feel like you have heard them all, there’s a new one. 9 out of 10 times, the issue could be solved with a simple solution that just takes a little bit of time and effort.
So what happens to your dog once you surrender it to a shelter? At no kill shelters and rescues, the animals wait patiently for a new home for weeks (sometimes months and years), trying to adapt to their new existence without you. However, the story is much more desperate at a kill shelter (aka the pound/animal control). Here, the animal may be given a few weeks or a few days to find a home, depending on how much space the facility has and the condition of the animal. And the shocking reality is that a great deal of completely healthy, previously loved, owner surrendered pets are euthanized each day through no fault of their own. Sure, you can blame the shelter but they did not put your dog there, you did. You consciously handed your dog over and told someone else to deal with it. Did you make yourself feel better by saying ‘I’m sorry’ to your dog? Did you give him a hug and a final pat on the head? Did you turn a blind eye to the truth and think that they would find a new home? Well, I refuse to let you ignore their grim reality.
Along with being confused about why you are leaving without them, the dog usually becomes very stressed in the shelter environment. They are taken to a cage and left to wonder what happened. What they did to deserve this. The abandonment and betrayal they must feel is almost too much to bear. They do not understand, and so they pace their enclosure waiting for you to come back for them. With every footstep that passes their cell, they hope that it’s you. The definition of loyalty, they wait for you. Day after heartbreaking day they wait to go home. For some, a new family comes along and saves them from their nightmare. But for so many others, they take their last breath still wondering why you left.
Open your eyes people! This happens every single day to innocent animals who are at the mercy of their owners' decisions. Please, if you make a commitment to a pet, make it for life!
Well the Lombardo household has expanded (temporarily) once again. A week after Max was adopted I received an email asking if I could take in a young boy named Levi. Of course I said yes! After you’ve lived with 3 dogs it becomes rather boring with just 2, so I was excited for a full house again.
As you can tell from his photos Levi is strikingly handsome, in fact I think he might be the most dapper foster we’ve had to date (shh…don’t tell the others). He came all the way from Memphis, TN where he was in the local dog pound running out of time. Thankfully, he was saved by a fellow rescuer and taken into foster care. He made the long journey (over 900 miles!) from Memphis to Virginia Beach this past weekend thanks to a generous group of transporters.
Never heard of rescue transporting? It’s really quite amazing. Kind of like giving a hitchhiker a ride for a while :) There are a number of “legs” on each route, which are filled by compassionate people who just happen to be headed that way. Just everyday folks, working together to save an animal in need…Amazing!
Levi’s future is extremely promising. While he does have heartworms, he is receiving daily treatment and will soon be as good as new. He already knows how to sit and is very food motivated. He loves a good game of tug-o-war. If you scratch him in just the right spot under his chin, his back leg shakes in enjoyment. His quirks: he drinks out of the toilet, hates to have his feet wiped, and surfs the counters. All in all, he is a complete joy.
Levi’s lesson to us is simple: no matter what life hands you, you have to keep going positively onward. He hasn’t had the most idyllic past but has that put a damper on sweet Levi’s spirits? No way! He loves every person he encounters and is quite the happy gentleman (bonus: he’s a smiler!). He merges into each new situation unaffected and unafraid. This handsome fella is teaching us to live with a light heart and an open mind.
Levi will be staying with us until he is adopted by his forever family, and we plan to smother him with love until then.
Interested in adopting Levi? Head on over to Adopt A Spot Dalmatian Rescue's website (http://adoptaspotdalrescue.com/) to fill out an application. Levi's ideal family would be a fairly active one with another dog(s) for playmates. He is good with kids but no experience with cats.
I will be the first to admit, I have a love hate relationship with Craigslist. You can score some really neat furniture or find sold out concert tickets for great prices. But there is a dark and dangerous side of this free site. Simply click on the 'Pets' section and prepare to be astonished. Here are a few posts from the past couple of days in the Hampton Roads Pet section of Craigslist:
"1 year old blue pitt for sale. Im selling my handsome blue. He is house broken. Im looking to get some of what i spent on him and also some of what it costed to get him. Please no low ballers he is worth every penny im asking for him. Again only serious buyers.”
Overlooking the terrible grammar, one thing is apparent. This dog is nothing more to this person than a way to make money. Seriously??! It sounds like an ad for a car. ‘I put a lot of money into the motor so I’m trying to recoup some of the cost.’ Sold to the highest bidder with no thoughts of the dog’s well being. It’s disgusting. How do these people sleep at night? Every ounce of my being aches for these poor souls who are at the mercy of their despicable owners.
How about this one:
“Wonderful and loving black lab. Can be a family house pet or hunted. She is house broken and crate trained. Female just turned a year old. Don't have the time to mess with her can send pics of her and her papers. $300.”
Don’t have time to mess with her. Really??! So you put an ad up the same way you would for an old lawnmower. I cannot fathom the thought.
Or on the buyer side,
“ISO (means In Search Of) female Mastiff. Must have papers and not be spayed. 6 months or older.”
This person might as well have said, ‘Hey I’m looking for a female dog so that I can breed her countless times to make money off of the puppies.’
And this type of ad is all too common:
“Litter of lab puppies. 7 weeks old, dewormed and first shots. $250.”
My blood boils when I see these ads. First, these puppies should not be taken from their mother until at least 8 weeks, but the owner obviously has no interest in their well being or they wouldn’t have them on Craigslist in the first place. Secondly, you’d better hope this person (whom you’ve never met) isn’t lying about the deworming and shots and has some type of vet records as proof; otherwise you will unknowingly be getting a very unhealthy puppy. Again, a blatant disregard for the well being of these babies with only dollar signs attached to their necks.
I could go on for days and show you hundreds of ads that sound the same, with the same ignorance. It begs the question, why do some people think of animals as mere property? Why is their value determined by their AKC papers and how much money they can be sold for? To some, a dog is an object to be bought and sold without even considering what the animal wants or needs. It leads me to question how these people were raised and overall what kind of person they are?
Regardless of what you believe in or don’t believe in, the fact is this: Animals are living, breathing beings. They exhibit different personalities, experience emotion and are capable of understanding more than we know. Look into the eyes of a dog cowering in a shelter, and you will know with absolute certainty that they are able to experience fear. Watch the excitement of a dog when its owner comes home and tell me that they cannot feel joy. Just because we cannot speak their language, does not make us superior to them.
I think a piece of the issue begins with one’s upbringing. Many of us were taught to be kind to animals while also respecting them. I think of my 10 month old niece and how I show her to “pet Bella nicely.” I hope to show her, and all the small eyes that may be watching me, through my actions that pets are to be treated with kindness for as long as they live, not just while they’re convenient. Do some children not experience this? Are they shown that a dog is simply an object that can be disposed of when they become too much of a burden?
We have to end the cycle of thinking of animals as simply property. There are so many factors that come into play, but I think in general as a society, we need to do a better job of educating our young people about empathy and compassion toward animals and setting a positive example to be followed.
And while we’re on the topic of Craigslist, let me just warn you all of the dangers of posting free animals on the site. I tend to live in a sheltered bubble where I block out the cruelty of this harsh world, but there is no denying these facts. When people put their animals on Craigslist for free, they are putting them in great danger. Recently in the news a man was found guilty of torturing and killing over 20 cats that he got for free on craigslist. There have also been numerous reports that free Craigslist dogs are being used for animal testing or dog fighting. It’s heartbreaking, I know. But part of the solution is not shutting our eyes to these truths just because they are unpleasant. We must educate anyone who will listen in the hopes of saving just one precious life from a dreadful existence.
Currently there are no laws in place to regulate the sale of pets on Craigslist, so please think twice before getting a pet from this or any other website.
Hi, my name is Abbey and I have a dog collar obsession. It started out innocently enough, one collar for each season. Then of course every holiday needed a new one. My philosophy is that they don't wear clothes so their collars are how they express themselves. I know, I am ridiculous. My favorite spots for collars are Etsy, ebay, Old Navy, Ross, TJ Maxx, and Petsmart. And if they're on sale, its on!
Preppy phase? Check.
Military phase? Check.
Christmas? Of course.
The husband says its embarrassing. That I am one step shy of being that crazy dog lady. That's probably an accurate description. But the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
This is such a touchy topic with some people, so my intention is not to offend, but simply to educate. When I was younger and a bit reckless, I decided to purchase my second dog, Bella. It was as easy as buying new shoes. I googled dalmatian puppies, searched a few breeders, and paid with paypal. Click, click, done. The breeder did no reference check on me, no home visit, nothing. Do these people even care where their puppies end up? The insanity of it makes me realize that for a long time I had my head in the sand.
Trust me, I understand the desire to want a particular breed of dog. There are some that are just so cute! However, I also understand something far more important, something that some people choose to ignore. When someone decides to “buy” a purebred dog, they are essentially killing a dog in a shelter. Sorry, but there is no sugar coating it. It’s a harsh reality. When a person/family goes to the pet store, or newspaper ad, or online, they are not only encouraging the seller to keep doing what they’re doing (breeding dogs), but they are also filling a spot in their home that could have been used to save a shelter dog.
Let me break it down for you. According to the Humane Society of the United States, only about 30% of pets currently in homes are from shelters or rescues. (http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html).
30 percent!!!? Come on people! This results in MILLIONS of healthy, innocent pets being euthanized each year because there are simply not enough homes for them. Can you imagine the difference that the other 70% of people could make if they chose to adopt instead of buy? The thought that 4 years ago, I contributed to the problem is something I often struggle with. What was I thinking? Is it really about how a dog looks? I take full responsibility for my uneducated decision, but never again will I EVER even consider buying a dog, until every single shelter dog has a home. This, if nothing else, is what I hope people will come to understand. These animals are not subpar because they are shelter dogs. In fact, many purebred dogs are surrendered to the SPCA and other shelters every day. There are also rescues for almost every breed out there.
Adopting from a shelter is not only the right thing to do but it’s also the most economical. Think about it: your adopted dog comes spayed/neutered, and fully vetted for the low price of approximately $100-$200 (in my area). Not to mention how grateful the homeless dog will be when you save him from that noisy, stressful shelter. Conversely, a local breeder in the newspaper is charging $400 for a chihuahua puppy, who is not spayed/neutered and who has only had its first set of puppy shots. That means that the next 2 rounds of puppy shots and wormings are your responsibility. You could easily spend close to $1,000 by the time it’s all said and done. Kinda crazy huh?
Places to avoid when looking for a new furry friend:
-Backyard Breeders (ads in the newspaper or alongside the road)- most of these people are in it for the money and have no concern who they sell their pups to.
-Pet stores- First off, the prices that these stores charge are astronomical and most of the puppies in them come from puppy mill situations.
-Craigslist- Don’t even get me started.
So please, please, I’m begging you. The millions of shelter dogs in the world are begging you. DO NOT SHOP, ADOPT!!
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me this. The simple answer is yes and no. Each foster dog has their own personality and quirks that make it hard not to fall in love with them. They each come from a different background and require different things such as socialization, recovery time, training, etc. Some stay for a few weeks and others stay for many months. But no matter how long their stay, they are loved for every single second.
The laws of the Lombardo household, as dictated by the husband, state that at any one time there may only be 3 canine residents that live with us. I am actively trying to change this law, as I feel that our max out # should be more like 5, but I digress. With 2 permanent fur kids, that means there is only one open spot. So if I were to adopt a foster dog, that would mean I couldn't save any other dogs for some time. It’s simple math really: I can keep this one particular foster or I can save countless more. It also helps knowing that each dog is going to a great home that will fit its personality and be loved forever. Let me tell you, the most satisfying moment in the entire process is when the new family of your foster dog sends you an update about how much they love their newly adopted family member. It’s an indescribable feeling that enlivens my entire being. Simply put, fostering is the most rewarding thing I've ever done.
Fostering can also be stressful. It requires commitment, patience, understanding, and a lot of carpet cleaner. Both my car and my couch are usually covered in dog hair and my hardwood floors are scratched in places. And I’ll be honest, when you come home and find a shoe has been chewed or there is pee on your new curtains (Frankie), you may be frustrated. That’s okay, no one said it would be easy. Saving a life is hard work. But consider this: when you look back on your life in 40 years, will you remember how clean your car was? Nope, but what you will know with absolute certainty is that you helped an abandoned, voiceless creature that desperately needed you. One of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded." I couldn't agree more.
So give it a try! Fostering is a way to help an animal that so badly wants to be saved. And if you do happen to fall in love and want to adopt your foster, well what’s the harm in that? You rescued a beating heart that will be eternally thankful for you. And there is no failure in that.
Check out a few of dogs that have crashed at our pad in the past few years...
Back in May 2007, when my husband was just my boyfriend and we were just a couple of lazy college kids, we decided to adopt a dog. OK, I decided, and he went along with my idea as he usually does. Originally I wanted a small fluffy thing and he wanted a huge Doberman. We entered the Norfolk SPCA puppy room and that’s where we met our first baby, Bentley. A quiet, skinny, and oh so lovable 5 month old Doberman / hound mix that the shelter had named Doogie. We immediately filled out the paper work and the next day brought him home, kennel cough and all. He grew up with us in college, in our tiny 600 square foot apartment, meeting new friends (more on his best friend Kikko, later) and enjoying the life of a spoiled only dog.
Bentley is an exceptional boy. He enjoys nothing more than a good nap and is not the least bit interested in water, physical activity, or games. The most laid back soul I have ever encountered.
Cut to the summer of 2009. My rationale was that Bentley needed a playmate and I had always wanted a Dalmatian. Now, getting a dog (or second dog) is not a decision that should be made in haste, this I know now. Enter Bella, my daily reminder not to make rash decisions. I was young and stupid and “bought” Bella online one night from a breeder (don’t worry I intend to write a full post on why I do not agree with breeding and how I still feel bad about this decision). The laws of karma decided to pay it forward for that I suppose. My sweet little puppy was, and still is, the most stubborn, insane, particular dog I have ever known. But I love her and her devilish ways, and in her own way she has taught me a great deal about acceptance and loyalty.
Bella enjoys the beach, eating everything including dirt, and chasing birds, squirrels, dogs, anything that moves really. She is picky with her friends, doesn’t like strangers, begs constantly for food, and will whine to go outside relentlessly. But she’s a great snuggler, gentle kisser, and has one of the most intense happy tail wags I’ve ever seen (it’s more like her entire body wiggles).
They have stolen my heart, my life lessons bottled up inside two furry bodies. My daily dose of unconditional love and my reminder of what life is all about. Teach on, you sweet souls.
Hey y'all! My name is Abbey and saving animals is what I was born to do. I live in Virginia with my husband and 2 dogs. We almost always have a 3rd dog, as new fosters come and go. My hope is that someone will read this blog and want to make a difference for the millions of shelter dogs in the world.