Rescue Organizations

It’s Hogan’s Fourth, Fifth, or Maybe Sixth Birthday–Kind Of!

Today, we celebrate Hogan’s second birthday with us. Since he’s a rescue, we don’t know his real birthday or his real age, but he was guessed to be two or three when we adopted him (although, judging by his energy level, he’s always seemed much older), and we decided, in honour of his Mexican homeland, his birthday would be Cinco de Mayo. (See last year’s celebration here.)

So to celebrate our littlest one’s special day, we went for a very long walk by the beautiful Pickering waterfront, where Hogan encountered many other dogs and yet was on his best behaviour ever. Normally reactive on-leash, Hogan did almost no growling, instead looking up to his dad for treats, the behaviour we’ve been encouraging since we first adopted him and hired an animal behaviourist to help us deal with his reactivity. It’s taken some time, but he’s finally mastered this behaviour!

Hogan thought that since it's his birthday, he should be allowed to drive today.

Hogan thought that since it’s his birthday, he should be allowed to drive today.



We stopped for pictures in a field of dandelions


Of course, the doggies got lots of treats.

And we had to have water breaks, too.

And we had to have water breaks, too.

One last picture of the birthday boy before leaving the lake

One last picture of the birthday boy before leaving the lake

Tired doggies ready to go home for the birthday treat.

Tired doggies ready to go home for the birthday treat.
































Back at home for their afternoon snack, I treated the dogs to tacos (unseasoned beef, cheese, lettuce, and a dab of sour cream inside tiny flour tortilla shells) in exchange for pictures in sombreros. They all really enjoyed this treat (the sombreros, less so)!


Cora was having a particularly tough time waiting to enjoy the birthday treat.

Cora was having a particularly tough time waiting to enjoy the birthday treat.

Whereas curious Dusty opened his taco, sniffed and then ate the bits separately, Hogan opted to put the entire thing in his mouth. Our little Mexican boy knows how it's done!

Whereas curious Dusty opened his taco, sniffed and then ate the bits separately, Hogan opted to put the entire thing in his mouth. Our little Mexican boy knows how it’s done!









And to top off Hogan’s birthday, we will end the day with a family agility lesson this evening! In the meantime, Hogan’s engaging in his favourite afternoon activity—napping.

All in all, I think Hogan is finding today to be the best birthday ever!

Christmas 2012

We had a fantastic Christmas this year with not just three dogs but four since my mom adopted her little Mexi-mutt Misha from Loyal Rescue in August. None of the dogs have learned to open their Christmas presents yet (our Roxie was a pro at it!), but Dusty and Hogan gave it a pretty good shot, as you’ll see in the video at the end. Here are some pictures of our Christmas highlights.

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Misha, my mom, and Dusty

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Hogan, Dusty, and Misha chewing their new elk antlers (that’s not really Misha’s, but she had to have something to chew, too, so we pulled an extra one from the cupboard). The dogs’ new cheap agility equipment is in the background, too.

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Dusty and Hogan’s new elf toy looking on while Dusty has a chew.

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Misha likes her new bed!

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Cora’s come a long way! Despite the commotion, she spent some time with us in the living room!

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Turns out Hogan likes Misha’s new bed, too.

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Looking for one last cookie before Misha goes home. Who could resist those faces?

At Last, I’m a Volunteer

Dixie is very nervous, much like my Cora. She came to TAGS as a puppy and is now only a year old and hoping for a forever home.

When we first looked at adopting Cora and Dusty in April 2011, I learned a lot about rescue. I knew then that I wanted to help out in some way. But when we first brought two dogs into our home, especially super-timid, scaredy-dog Cora, I had enough on my plate (their training classes, cooking for them, walking them three times a day, trying to convince Cora we weren’t going to beat her, plus, of course, editing full time and teaching part time). And then, we decided to adopt a third dog—in part, to give another rescue a home—and free time was even more at a premium.

Four-year-old Biscotti is up for adoption through TAGS. I know I shouldn’t have favourites, but I can’t help it where she’s concerned!

It took about a year for us to really get a good groove going with the three dogs. We have a fantastic routine that includes two daily walks, scheduled meal and snack times, regular dog park visits for socialization, and occasional training courses. The dogs know what’s expected of them, and for the most part, they cooperate quite well. We often talk about how lucky we are to have three such well-behaved, well-adjusted (relatively speaking in Cora’s case) dogs, but, in reality, there has been a lot of work in getting to where we are.

Josie is a very timid girl rescued from a Missouri puppy mill, where she was used as a breeding dog.

Once we adopted Cora and Dusty, I stayed connected with the rescue, offering editing and writing help on occasion. But it wasn’t until July of this year that I decided I had time to start giving back more fully to the rescue that had saved Cora and Dusty. The Animal Guardian Society (TAGS) is, from what I’ve seen, unique among rescues. Its screening process—like the one we went through to adopt Hogan from Rat Terrier Rescue Canada—is quite involved, and then once a dog is adopted, the owner must attend training classes with the dog (included in the adoption fee, which is actually cheaper than many rescues’ adoption fees). While some people may balk at having to do training courses, it makes perfect sense to make them mandatory—dogs who are trained are much less likely to be surrendered at a later date. A prospective dog parent’s willingness to do the course also assures TAGS volunteers that the adopter is dedicated to spending time with and energy on his or her new family member.

Raggs was part of a family for ten years but was given up because he “got too old.” Now he’s looking for a good home to spend his remaining years in. Sad.

Anyway, in July, in my role as a volunteer, I started showing TAGS dogs at Petsmart. Since then, I’ve spent one Saturday each month with a variety of wonderful adoptable dogs. Some have been surrendered by their owners; some were strays; some came from high-kill shelters in the U.S.; some from overfull Canadian shelters. All are really sweet dogs deserving of a good home, and I feel so privileged to spend time getting to know them and sharing their stories with prospective adopters. Volunteering for TAGS has proven to be a really rewarding experience, and I strongly encourage you dog lovers out there to consider lending a hand at a local shelter or rescue. Even a few hours a month can really make a difference for homeless animals wanting nothing more than to be loved.

In one week, all of these dogs were adopted from TAGS. It was a very happy week! So many dogs still need homes, though.

Our First Play Date with Misha

All the dogs welcoming Wes back into the house

Last week we took Cora, Dusty, and Hogan over to visit my mom and Misha. Misha seemed to love having other dogs over but wasn’t really sure what to do with them. When we took all four dogs for a walk, Misha kept nipping Cora’s and Hogan’s back legs. It was cute at first, but they got pretty annoyed!

Back in the house, Dusty and Hogan did their usual tug-of-war play thing after finding one of Misha’s toys. Misha kept trying to get in on the fun, but she wasn’t quite sure how. Dusty tried to include her, but Hogan wasn’t much liking that idea. (See video below.)

One of my goals for the evening was to get a good picture of Misha and Hogan, the two Mexican mutts. It was tough to do because Hogan didn’t really want anything to do with her (not unusual for Hogan, who is particular about the dogs he will get along with). But I did get a few shots. Here’s one:

The Mexi-mutts

All in all, our visit was fun. Hectic, but fun. I think they’ll all get along just fine.

Welcoming Misha to the Pack

After much coaxing from me—and some surprising advice from her doctor—my mom decided in June that, yes, she would seriously look at adopting a dog to keep her company. She decided then that she would adopt from The Animal Guardian Society (TAGS) because of its process, rather than from any other rescue. When adopting from TAGS, the prospective adopter gets to meet the dog, have the dog over for a home visit, and then “try the dog out” for a week before paying the adoption fee and signing the paperwork. That appealed to Mom since it has been so long since she’s had a dog and she wanted to be sure she was ready to do this again.

Princess is still hoping for a forever home after a hard, unhappy life in a puppy mill.

She met a couple of TAGS dogs, and one in particular appealed to her—Princess. Princess is a real sweetheart, and when meeting her, Mom thought she could be the one. She began the process with TAGS. At the home visit, Mom had second thoughts and ultimately decided to turn down Princess. Getting a dog was a big step for Mom, and a permanent one (as it should be for everyone!), so she had to be certain.

Her search for the perfect TAGS dog continued. And then one day, I saw a Facebook posting of an adorable five-year-old dog up for adoption through Loyal Rescue. Better yet, this Loyal dog had come to Canada via the Humane Society of Cozumel Island, just as Hogan had, plus she even looked somewhat like Hogan, curly tail, crazy hair, and all! I fell in love.

Misha’s adoption picture

Since I can’t have a fourth (according to our town’s bylaw) and since my mom was still looking, I pointed out Meche (pronounced “Mesh,” we learned) to my mom. She felt the same pull toward her as I had, and despite her adamant stance that she wouldn’t go through the lengthy adoption process without first meeting the dog, she filled out the Loyal application, went through a phone interview (while we were away on our vacation) and a home visit, and then waited to hear the news. (Like Rat Terrier Rescue Canada, through which we adopted Hogan, Loyal has a policy against the potential adopter meeting the dog until approved to adopt.)

She looks like a little lamb!

The day she got the email telling her that she had been approved to adopt Meche was like Christmas to Mom! (And to me!) However, she still had to wait nearly a week to meet Meche because her foster mom, Sharon, was away on vacation. That week felt terribly long, but Mom and I got together for a shopping trip at Petsmart halfway through the week to purchase all the necessities and then some—adorable little dog bowls; a leash, harness, collar, and seatbelt; a brush for that unruly hair; a bed; plenty of treats; toys; and so on—and to help make the week’s wait seem shorter.

Finally, on Monday, August 20, Mom and I drove to Stoney Creek to pick up Meche. A little voice in Mom’s head was trying to tell her she was first meeting Meche and then deciding whether or not to adopt her, while I well knew she wouldn’t be able to walk away—and if she could, I certainly wouldn’t, bylaw be damned!

As expected, it was love at first sight! Meche (now Misha) was just as adorable as her picture promised! She’s an excitable, bouncy, smart, happy eleven-pounder who has already won over the hearts of Mom, me, Wes, and all of Mom’s friends and neighbours.

So although we are still “Three-Dog Nights and Days,” there’s a special fourth in the mix that you can expect to hear plenty more about. Welcome to the pack, Misha! And congratulations on the new addition, Mom!