Thursday, March 7, 2013

A trip to the shelter.

A post by the momma:
I have a confession to make.
A big confession.
Up until January of this year, I had never stepped foot in an animal shelter. Never, ever. I've been in rescue for 3 years, but I had never been the one to physically go to the shelter.
You sit on a throne of lies, foster momma lady.
Sounds crazy, huh? Well, my rescue typically works with a shelter in Kentucky and we receive our dogs on a transport every other week, sometimes every week depending on adoptions. We also work with a volunteer who started our rescue that moved to Tennessee. She takes dogs in, sometimes pregnant or new mommas and their puppies, fosters them until they're healthy and happy and ready for their trip North.
Carmel and her puppies currently hanging out in TN.
While we mostly help the south, we do help locally. But, here's why the majority of our dogs are not local dogs. We live in an area very heavy into adoption and rescue. There are so many rescues in our area, I can't even count them. Countless rescues, low kill shelters and many, many, many helpful organizations to promote adoption. Our shelters have high adoption rates and therefor, high turnover rates... meaning less dogs needing rescue or foster homes and very few dogs euthanized. My Corbee came from a local shelter. With some health issues, the shelter reached out to some rescues for help. Homeward Bound and my friends Heather and Jen stepped in and took him in December of 2009. 10 days later, I joined the rescue and took him in as our foster, and soon to be forever, dog. When I took over the intake for the rescue two years ago, I had wanted to do more locally. We helped out dogs we were asked to help out, either from the shelter or local emergency vet, but it wasn't satisfying my need to help out the local pit bulls.
An old photo of Corbin when he lived at the shelter.
In December, there was a raid on a farm only an hour from our area. 50 pit bulls were taken from the property. The news said our local shelter was taking in most of the dogs, so I emailed our contact there and asked if I could help. She informed me that they were only getting 2 of the dogs, so didn't need help there, but was interested in taking our help for some other pitties. So, one Monday night after work, I grabbed two rescue friends, Heather and Alida, and went to meet 3 dogs to consider for our rescue. I had planned on taking the dog into our home as a foster, but Corbin's back issues flared up right before our visit to the shelter, so Heather stepped in and offered to foster.
Corbin's twinner and fellow foster brother extraordinaire, Emmett.
We met 3 adorable, happy, wiggly female pit bulls. All of which had hung around the shelter for various reasons: mouthing, fear, and waiting for her milk to dry up from her last, and final, litter of puppies. We decided on one that would fit best with Heather and Emmett and went to leave the shelter. As we left, we walked through the kennels... Heather pointed out which kennel Corbin called home and my heart broke for each and every dog jumping and barking for their chance. Then my eyes landed on one handsome fella... he was sitting quietly at the gate of his kennel, starring up at me with these big, brown, loving eyes. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I looked at his name and laughed. "Diggy Wiggles."
Are you talkin' about ME?
I thought about Diggy all night. How his eyes pierced my heart. A classic "I walked into the shelter and there he was" story. So, the next morning I emailed our shelter contact and let her know we decided NuNu would be the best fit out of the 3 we met the night before. She responded a short while later and let me know that NuNu was a great choice and she'd be glad to see her leave the shelter, however, there was one more dog she'd like us to meet before we made a final decision. He had recently become very jumpy and nervous at the shelter and she didn't want to see a good dog develop issues because he was stuck in a kennel. His name was Diggy Wiggles.
Just going to close my eyes and pretend I'm smooching my forever family.
-Diggy Wiggles
Heather, Alida and I brought Emmett with us that Wednesday to see how he and Diggy got along. Diggy was perfect and I couldn't figure out why the shelter was going to let us have him. I was in love. This goofy, wiggly, bundle of goodness was just fantastic. So, home he came with Heather. I was so jealous, but glad we were able to save him. I saw so much of Corbin in Diggy... the sadness in his eyes sitting in that kennel, longing for human affection. 
Diggy Wiggles and Sophie Sofa Snuggles are best of friends!
What a feeling it was to walk out of the shelter with Diggy on the other end of the leash. To directly answer his plea for help, for a home, a bed, a hug, freedom.  I am also happy to report that 2 out of the 3 other dogs we met have been adopted and are happily with their forever families!  Diggy and Sophie are still waiting to find their perfect place.


  1. I can understand how you haven't been to a shelter. They are HARD. In Anchorage we are almost no kill. In fact our shelter has a whole two dogs, up from the one we had yesterday.

    Stop on by for a visit

  2. This is the reason I never go to them - I know I would end up being one of those people who try to rescue every doggie and as much as we want to - we just can't. Instead I make 'pet related things' that I sell and donate the money to shelters - although lately I have gone to just buying food for the shelters as I found some of them don't use the money for what it is intended for.

  3. That final picture...melt. Looks like Sophie found another super snuggler.

  4. Over the years, I've adopted three dogs (including Wrigs) and a cat from our local shelter, and I volunteered there for a while. Each time I've adopted, the hardest part has been trying to decide which one to take home. It's so hard on animals to be in that atmosphere, and most of them aren't able to truly shine because they are so stressed out. I love how things worked out for Diggy Wiggles and hope he and Sophie find their forever homes soon!

    Susan and Wrigs

  5. I still think of dogs that we saw when we adopted Mom's dog last year. I would have taken them all if I could have.


  6. Awwww. I'm so happy for Diggy and those other pups too! Don't worry about not having actually gone to a shelter -- you've been helping pups in all sorts of ways. There's more than one way to be a rescuer. You have a nice shiny halo -- with lots of pawprints and nose smudges on it!

  7. I did volunteer work in a shelter many years ago. It was heartbreaking. Dogs would really change in the kennels, some afraid, some angry. It was difficult to gauge what their real personalities were like.

    I have mixed feelings about long term care in a shelter environment. I did see dogs who suffered from "kennel madness" and got progressively more unadoptable as months (and in more than one case) years went by.

    Of course I brought home two totally unsuitable dogs just because I felt so sorry for them in the kennel. Then, even worse for me emotionally, I had to return them when their aggression towards my resident dogs was too much.

    There are no good solutions.

    Mango Momma

  8. What a touching story and how awesome that you have so many rescues up there that are so great to work with. Most of my volunteer activity is in one of our local shelters and it can really be hard to see the phases some of the dogs go through as their stay lengthens.
    Today I wrote my goodbye letter to one who really captured my heart and nearly came home with me.

  9. Your post made me tear up a little. I have volunteered at a shelter many times, but since I got Nola, the idea of dogs being in a shelter has broken my heart and I haven't been able to return. I cry every time I even think about it. So, since I can't volunteer in the shelter, I decided that I wanted to help by fostering, which I have done. But, the longer I work in rescue, the more I want to help a dog experience walking out of a shelter, and as you put it, "To directly answer his plea for help, for a home, a bed, a hug, freedom." It is my goal, and hope to someday soon achieve it. Thanks for sharing.

  10. We just WISH that there was NEVER again a dog without a home of its own!!!

  11. You don't have to visit a shelter to help dogs - you've certainly proved that! How great to live in an area that is so focused on no-kill and has so many rescues! Most of us would LOVE to be in that situation!

    I love his name and am praying that he and Sophie find their forever homes soon. Thanks for helping those in need!

    Btw - Corbin looks so much happier in his "now" pictures you post than he looked in that shelter photo!

  12. What a fantastic tail, I mean tale, of hope and love. Thanks for sharing it. My Mommy has been to the shelter a number of times. It is always a little sad there and she always wants to take all of the dogs home.
    Love Noodles

  13. You have our mom in tears. The picture of Diggy Wiggles and Sophie is just adorable! We sure do love your name Diggy Wiggles!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  14. You guys do excellant work. We are very proud to say all our pets are from local shelters. They are the best animals in the world. Keep up the good work.

  15. You know my hubby has the biggest heart but can't step foot in a shelter, it gets him all worked up. The entire time I worked in our local shelter he only came in there once or twice and refused to look at the animals because he would get upset about it.

    I think you've proved though that you can help dogs without going to the shelter though, you're doing amazing work. Keep it up!

  16. Looks like Diggy and Sophie may think they've found the perfect family...bwahaahaa!

    You do such wonderful work. How great that your area has a low kill rate. Wish we could say the same for sad.

    XXXOOO Daisy, bella & Roxy

  17. Corbin my handsome buddy, give your mom a hug...going in a shelter is a life changing experience...
    you just never know NOR will you ever understand what goes on in the minds of some people...who should be required to go through extensive background checks before they walk in to adopt a 'trophy' pet...that they tire of quickly.
    Hugs madi...

  18. What a wonderful story! It was a lot of your volunteering post that helped me decide on volunteering at a dog rescue. It has been one of the best things I've done. Good luck to them both on finding their forever homes.

    The silvers and more

  19. What a good post. Doggy is a beAuty. It very very hard for mom to go to a shelter too cause she wants to take every buddy home.
    Benny & Lily

  20. What a great story about Mr. Diggy Wiggles. I'm glad he was able to find his way into foster and hopefully a forever home soon.


  21. What a beautiful story! And I'm sure Diggy Wiggles and Sophie will find a home in no time.

    My first time to an animal shelter was awful. Concrete floors and walls, chilly, damp, and just very very sad. :(

  22. Go Corbin's Momma!!!

    My mom understands the 'migration' route and the reasons -

    Please give her some big H&K from me!


  23. As you know, all seven of my pack are rescues and only one time did I go to a shelter and that was to meet and then adopt Callie. I think that those who can go into a kill shelter and choose which ones to save are amazing. I could never do that unless I had an enormous box of tissues and even then....

    When I saved Breeze and Chance (who was adopted by a great family) they were at a kill shelter on their PTS date and I was dreading going there but they were transferred to a vet clinic.