This blog will be quiet for a couple of days.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
I have a big agenda:
- Celebrate the KC Pittie Pack’s 1-year anniversary with a yappy hour tonight
- Coddle the elderpin, who was feeling almost normal until he got tangled up in Charlie Machete’s feet last night. (This is a major downside of having a multi-dog house that includes at least one frail old dog and at least one big, exuberant young dog)
- Wrap up an exciting project that will debut here next week. Hint: It has to do with Valentine’s Day!
You can help me with item number 3.
I’m compiling a list of animal welfare organizations that sell merchandise (i.e. t-shirts and hoodies) to support their efforts toward dogs in need. Help me gather a robust list of organizations, including some in your area.
All you need to do is leave a comment with a link to an organization and/or web store that you think I should feature.
As an example, check out the merch shop for Friends of KC Animals, one of my favorite Kansas City animal welfare groups.
So, who’s your favorite local dog rescue or shelter, and what cool stuff do they sell?
This is what Faith looks like.
Faith is a 7-month-old, female, black and white border collie. The Puppies for Parole (P4P) program at Western Missouri Correctional Center (WMCC) called “Western Waifs” welcomed this sweet girl on Dec. 26.
She came to WMCC through the prison’s partnering shelter, Cameron Animal Shelter.
She was left at a veterinarian’s office by her owner. The owner gave the veterinarian money and told the vet it was money to have Faith fixed if someone wanted her. If not, the money was to put her down. The Cameron Animal Shelter took Faith in, so she wouldn’t be put down.
When Faith came into the P4P program, she was very scared and unsure of what was going to happen to her.
Faith is still very shy but has come a long way in just a few weeks. She will now play with the other dogs, and she loves the attention of people once she gets to know them and feels like she can trust them.
Faith is going to make someone a great dog when she finds her forever home.
Anyone interested in adopting this loving dog can contact Cameron Animal Shelter at (816) 271-4877.
So, do you know someone who could benefit from having Faith in their life?
Please share her story, and check out all of the currently adoptable P4P dogs!
This post is part of a new monthly series presented in partnership with Missouri Puppies for Parole, one of the nation’s leading prison-based dog training programs.
On the 10th day of each month, I’ll share a new story about a dog who is currently available through or a graduate of the P4P program.
Way back when my little Wayward Dogs project began, I started this blog to chronicle the lost, stray and abandoned canines I encountered.
I’m quite happy to report that for a second year in a row, those experiences did not occur frequently enough to warrant daily posts. In fact, I hardly ran into any wayward dogs on the streets in the year 2012!
That, of course, meant I had to fill in the days with posts about other things, including other people’s awesome dog projects, including:
- Missouri’s Puppies for Parole program
- How Rose Brooks Center helps battered women, children and their pets
- How Conservation Canines are helping to save the whales (my other favorite animal)
- The Yellow Dog Project
Then, there was the KC Pittie Pack…
Emily from Our Waldo Bungie and I came together in 2012 to create a co-project of our own.
We founded KC Pittie Pack & Friends, a walking group designed to help people socialize their pets in a structured environment. In its first year, KC Pittie Pack:
- Gained almost 100 members through our Meetup group
- Held 27 Meetups around Kansas City
- Was recognized by local newspaper The Pitch as Kansas City’s “Best Way to Tame Your Wild-ass Dog”
- Brought out a whole bunch of bully breed dogs for National Pit Bull Awareness Day
- Outfitted our supporters in awesome hoodies and T-shirts
In 2012, I also used this blog as a platform to generate support for local animal welfare organizations.
My awesome blog readers helped me:
- Run my first 5K and raise $250 for Wayside Waifs
- Raise over $300 through a raffle and shopping event benefiting Midwest Adopt-a-Bull
And the year was not totally devoid of “wayward dogs.”
Of the handful of lost dogs I encountered, the three I was able to assist appeared when I was en route to work:
- Malakai - A gorgeous and sweet husky dog who was stopping traffic on a very busy Kansas City street.
- Tara – I knew my neighbor’s elderbull was never supposed to run around the ‘hood by herself.
- Cotton – A hunting dog I totally failed to blog about. Rather than taking him with me, I turned back toward home. Cotton’s ID tag had a phone number, so I left a message on his owner’s voicemail that his dog was safe and how to reach me. Then, I went on to work. Within 20 minutes, Cotton’s uber-relieved-sounding dad called him, so I told him where to go pick up his pup.
The fact that very few stray doggies followed me home in 2012 was actually a really good thing, considering at the beginning of the year we still had two formerly wayward dogs under our roof – Minnie and Charlie Machete - in addition to our two forever dogs.
No kidding – four was too much for our little house and the humans inside it.
Fortunately, by May, both fosters were adopted. But the reprieve did not last long.
Less than a year after he originally arrived in our lives, Charlie Machete came back – by way of a shelter in Omaha.
We still don’t know exactly why he ended up behind bars, but we are grateful Charlie Machete’s adopters never changed the contact information on his microchip. Because they didn’t, the shelter called me, and Zach was able to make the three-hour drive to bail out our big black foster dog, who was otherwise on the list to be euthanized.
Although I haven’t proven to be a very successful dog foster mom, I’m proud to say that, through networking, I was able to help some other dogs find forever homes in 2012.
Sometimes I feel funny about the fact that I am the girl who almost daily posts sad pictures of dogs desperate to be adopted. I know this habit annoys some of my friends, but I keep doing it for a good reason: Sometimes the sharing pays off.
Because I helped my friend and fellow Kansas City pet advocate Nicole get the word out, these two dogs landed in forever homes in 2012:
- Mia, a beagle/husky mix was adopted by my coworker
- A black lab puppy was taken into a foster home that adopted him
My constant fretting about wayward dogs also seems to have had an effect on Zach’s and my mothers.
In 2012, both of them made successful efforts to apprehend and return home lost dogs in their own neighborhoods.
I have also noticed that generally in life I am becoming the person others turn to when they have questions about dogs. That sure feels good, and I always try to help if I can.
Here’s hoping for more successful efforts on behalf of dogs in 2013!
What was your biggest accomplishment for dogs last year?
This post is the continuation of yesterday’s Q&A with Nicole, an animal advocate in Kansas City.
How many pets total do you have of your own?
We currently have four cats and two dogs. Two of the cats, Dirk and Frankie, we’ve had since they were kittens, and really were the first and only pets we ever ‘sought’ out. One of the cats, Lucy, was a foster that we were only supposed to be responsible for for a short time, but her owner never reclaimed her. Kingsley we found on Cliff Drive, and never even tried to find a home for.
As for the dogs, Butters and Max Powers, I’ve told you how Butters came into our lives. Max Power is really the luckiest of all of our rescues. I found him in a tennis court in Valentine Park. I was walking Chester Sauce and we came across these two dogs. I stopped to see if they had tags. One of them did. The other, Max Power, bit me when I stretched my hand out for him to sniff. After that, I began to walk away, and he snapped at me again. Even though he didn’t want me to touch him, they both followed Chester and I. He’s been by my side since then. He has also stopped biting people, but remains suspicious of most new comers. He’s completely food and disc golf driven.
Tell me about Butters.
Oh, Butters. Butters was a dog that showed up one day roaming our block. I had seen him following a younger couple, and they kept throwing sticks at him saying, “Get away” He just followed along with his tail wagging desperate for some love. One day I was sitting on the front porch when he passed, and I hollered out to him. He came immediately over and melted my heart. His tail and back hips wiggle with such an intense rhythm, that made him impossible to turn away. He is a big dog, and the husband and I were really trying not to take in any more animals, so we advertised the shit out of him. We asked everyone we knew, we made him his own Facebook page, and would post cute pictures of him and describe the things he likes to do…and still couldn’t find him a willing companion. Then, eventually we stopped trying. I couldn’t imagine him living anywhere else now. He’s so incredibly in love with my husband.
Butters did have to spend some time at a training camp though. He was horrible on a leash, and loved to jump up on everyone. He’s better at both, but will never be trusted to hang out off of his leash. He’s also so protective of us, that when we come across other dogs on a walk, he freaks out. He’ll lunge and bark and, act a fool, embarrassing us. We hope this will continue to get better with age, but it seems unlikely. He loves to play with other dogs, and is very social, but once you leash him, he thinks it’s his job to make sure no one gets near.
Do you think your pets are ready for the baby?
It’s hard to say. They seem to be more glued to me than ever. Here at 40 weeks pregnant, I never have any personal space, there is always at least one animal guarding me. Often times my husband will come home from work and find all six animals on the couch with me. The dogs I don’t really worry about at all. Only the juggling act that walking them and the baby will create. However, there are two of the cats that are a little less friendly. And one cat who no matter what we rig up, is capable of climbing over the baby gate and getting into the baby’s crib. This is a pattern we are trying hard to break. I think everyone will be fine once the initial dust settles. After all, with all the different animals that have come and gone through our pack, and all the times we’ve moved, our animals are actually quite flexible and willing to give strangers a chance.
What is the most important thing about animals you want your child to know?
For me, it’s to respect them and to have empathy. I don’t think of any of the animals that live with us to be our ‘pets’. They’re our companions and they are here because of a mutual respect and trust. We don’t own them. I think he’ll pick this up just from what he sees around our house, and those of our friends and families.
However, I know it’ll be hard to explain why the five cats that live on or under the porch live outside, while the inside cats live inside. One day, I know we’ll have our hands full when he starts bringing home animals too.
Readers: What do you want children – yours or anyone else’s – about animals?
I’ve been told that if you have a heart for animals, they know it, and they will find you. This has certainly been true in my own life. It has been even more true in the life of my friend Nicole.
In looking out for neighborhood animals in need, she and her husband have helped keep bellies full, bodies warm and provided new starts on life.
What follows is Part 1 of my Q&A with Nicole.
What is your neighborhood like?
We currently live in the Scarritt Renaissance neighborhood, which is just east of the river market. Some days, it’s diversity is uplifting and makes you feel great. Other days, you are confronted with some of the uglier aspects of any city; crime, abandonment, lack of funds or interest, etc.
There seem to be a lot of stray/feral cats in this neighborhood. My husband and I feed the cats in the winter, and do our best to befriend them enough to be able to put them in a carrier and take them to Great Plains SPCA to be spayed or neutered. Also, I’ll see quite a few roaming dogs, sometimes in small awkwardly matched packs,(I’ve seen a Chihuahua, pomeranian, and a German shepherd mix all cruising together) and others just out on their own. This sometimes makes for a scary situation when walking our two dogs.
How many animals have you helped rehome?
We’ve helped a total of twenty animals, 9 dogs and 11 cats find new homes. For the most part, we just happen upon an animal that is friendly, and it’s too hard to say no. They seem to know that we the type of people who can’t argue with a cold wet nose, or a tail wrapped around one’s leg.
It usually goes like this: I find a dog or cat somewhere, I sell its sad story to my husband who will agree to keeping it until we can place it. Then, I call, text, e-mail, and Facebook all my friends and family trying to find a match. We get our house back to a reasonable pack, then another sweet four-legger shows up and the cycle starts again.
Who are the most memorable dogs?
The dogs, we tend to keep ourselves. Chester Sauce is a pit/black lab mix that used to live out his sad life tied to a tree in a neighbor’s yard. These people were some of the most negligent dog owners we’ve ever had the displeasure of living near. We lived next to Chester for a summer that was really hot. Every day before work I would fill his bowl with food, and bring him a solid chunk of ice to have for the day. He spent every moment of his life tied to a tree by a six foot rope. His head was scarred and scabby from the flies that would bother him all day. And while we found his coat to be a brilliant shiny black, the whole time he lived at that house, he was a stinky brown.
We eventually moved from that apartment, and into a house with a large backyard in south Kansas City. After a few weeks, we decided to go and liberate Chester. We drove back to his house, and after a brief conversation with his owners, I was told, “Sure. You can take him for a walk.”
I walked him up the street, put him in the car, and drove him to his new home, ours. Chester became the best dog ever. He was very eager to learn, and was always very gentle with people and other animals. We came home once to find him sitting under a tree crying. When we got close we found he was sitting next to a baby bird that had fallen from it’s nest. He wouldn’t leave that bird’s side.
When we moved to midtown I could walk him up to Mr. Z’s or Chipotle on 39th street and leave him outside of the store without having to worry about him wondering off. He would sit, untethered, waiting for me to return. No dog or curious person would be able to make him leave his post. He’s now retired and living a softer life in Lee’s Summit with my husband’s grandma.
Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of the interview!
In the middle of a triple-digit Sunday, Zach and I decided to take a long bike ride.
The breeze-like sensation of your body slicing through the air at bike speed does make the experience somewhat preferable to walking or standing still on a hot day. But a 15-mile bike ride over hills in the punishing Missouri heat is always going to be a sweaty, exhausting experience. (That’s what people like about exercise, right?)
Our route took us on less-traveled roads bordered by thick woods on either side. We took the long way to Swope Park, a huge swath of wilderness in the heart of Kansas City. There’s a mountain biking trail within, but by the time we arrived we could see why most people who brave that trail don’t ride there – they park their cars at the trailhead and hop on their bikes all fresh and ready.
We followed a steep, paved main road I had once walked with the KC Pittie Pack and then turned toward home.
Somewhere between the park grounds and the interstate we crossed, I heard a rustle in the brush, followed by a menacing bark. I turned my head in time to see a big, black lab-like dog rushing toward me.
I pedaled harder, and he did not give more than a few steps’ chase.
When I turned back to look at him from a safe distance, he was nosing some refuse in the road. The area we were in is polluted. Broken computers, fast food bags, bottle shards and a lot of lonely shoes littered the shoulder.
I don’t know if that dog lives off the garbage or is just a neighborhood visitor. He was wearing some kind of chain collar, which suggests he has a home somewhere.
In that moment - six miles from home, sans leash and on a bike – I wasn’t equipped to help him get back to it.
And if I couldn’t find his owner? Well, anyone who reads this blog or knows me personally understands how great I am at rehoming black dogs that can at first come off a bit scary… (Sorry, Charlie Machete, 12 months later, we’re still shopping you around.)
I get the same sinking feeling every time a photo of an adoptable dog speaks to me. By this I mean that I see a lot of pictures of shelter dogs, foster dogs and dogs generally at risk of being euthanized.
I have a perpetually bleeding heart and so I want to save them all, but the images of certain animals seem to resonate with me a little more.
Most of the time, sharing their plight is the best I can offer them. With that in mind, here are a few images of adoptable animals whose faces have appeared in my inbox lately.
Maybe you, dear readers, will be struck by their faces, too, and can offer them hope.
Until recently, Doug (or as I like to call him – Luke Jr.) was stuck at the animal shelter in Moberly, Missouri. He’s a corgi/golden retriever mix available through Second Chance Rescue. (Link forthcoming.)
Starbuck is a Midwest Adopt-a-Bull dog who cannot stay in his current foster home. He is in desperate need of a new foster or forever home as soon as possible.
This black kitten was one of two rescued by a coworker of mine, who also managed to catch his wild mother and get her spayed. His calico sister was adopted, but he’s still on the hunt for a patient home. Contact me for details on making him yours.
To see more adoptable dogs now available in the Kansas City area, check out the Adoptable page.
My foster dog Charlie Machete and many others are available for adoption through Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.
Don’t live in Kansas City? Check out the adoptable pets available at your local animal shelter and rescue organizations. You can save a life by fostering or adopting.
“Behave or you are going to the dog pound!”
As it turns out, when the “dog pound” in question is the Saunders County Lost Pets shelter, threatening your dog with an admission there isn’t so scary.
In fact, SCLP looks like a pretty wonderful place — for dogs, cats and kids — to spend time.
SCLP is an animal rescue organization in Wahoo, Nebraska, that gives loving care to strays and otherwise homeless dogs and cats from the region. My oldest friend Stacy Ideus, who volunteers at SCLP, described the no-kill shelter on her blog as “more like a group home for dogs and cats.”
As a means of generating funds for the cause, the shelter also reserves a few of its kennels for boarding. Although I can’t speak personally about the level of care offered, I think SCLP sounds like a great option for traveling pet parents in the Saunders County area who want to support animal rescue and send their fur babies somewhere safe.
To learn more about SCLP, check out the video, photos and the accompanying post Stacy wrote about the organization over at her blog.
After watching the video, what do you think? Would you send your pets to SCLP?
All photos in this post used with permission from Stacy Ideus Photography.
Those who are in the Kansas City area have an opportunity to be photographed by Stacy next weekend. For more information about scheduling, pricing and her photographic style, check out her KC Urban Shoots guide.
This week’s series on traveling without your pets is being interrupted.
While traveling without our pets last weekend our peace of mind was interrupted by a phone call. It had nothing to do with Scooby and Luke, who were enjoying posh accomodations you’ll hear more about in a few days.
The phone call was about this guy:
Consider it his one phone call from the doggy slammer, ’cause that’s where he was.
Specifically, Charlie Machete was doing the jailhouse rock in Omaha, Nebraska, where he had been surrendered by an unknown party. That is, not the people to whom we adopted him.
Thank goodness Charlie Machete’s microchip history revealed Zach’s and my contact information, for he was put on the euthanasia list. (As we always expected, he did not exhibit his best qualities in a shelter environment.)
With help from several women of the wonderful animal rescue network, we were able to get his euthanasia order stopped. So yesterday, Zach traveled to Omaha and sprung our sad, black foster dog from death row.
Four months after being adopted he’s now back at the Wayward House.
Are we eating humble pie? A little bit.
Although I still believe Craigslist can be a legit way to find a worthwhile adopter (it’s how Luxor the cat came to me, after all), no matter where new prospects come from we’re going to increase the stringency with which we screen them and harass adopters who don’t keep in touch with us.
Our most recent interaction with the people who adopted Charlie Machete in March occured about a month and a half ago and included no troubling updates. Knowing not all dog parents feel the need to compulsively post pictures of and stories about their pet, we trusted that things must be OK.
Also, we had an agreement that should these people be unable to keep Charlie Machete he should be returned to us.
We may never know what really happened. “Landlord issues” were cited on Charlie Machete’s intake records at the shelter.
The important thing is, although he came quite close, Charlie Machete didn’t die. I can’t even fathom the guilt I would have experienced if he had.
Thank goodness for the microchip provided by Friends of KC Animals and the support we received from the rest of the midwest animal rescue community.
Now, it’s up to us to keep searching for his perfect forever family.
If you or someone you know is interested in meeting or sponsoring Charlie Machete, please contact me at email@example.com.