Happy Tails: Meet Chance


How old is Chance?

 He’s between 2-3 years old. However, he has physical characteristics of an older dog. He favors one hip some times and has a few gray hairs on his back from the hard stressful life he’s had to endure. Scars and broken teeth are other factors that age him older than he really is.

I read he was rescued by the Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward, was he a puppy when he was rescued?

No. He was 1 1/2-2 years old then. He was found at a busy gas station trying to drink some water from an old rusted oil laced bowl that was in the parking lot.

Do they have any idea how long he had be used as a bait dog?

No, but is pretty safe to assume it was his entire life. He is not a fighter and appears he was shot in the face, probably due to poor performance by the animals that did this to him.

What was he shy/timid when you adopted him?

Yes. But he would open up when he was outside. He felt more comfortable outside and would wag his tail on walks or just being with him in the yard. Inside, he would pace non stop until I introduced him to the bed.

Did he understand love, kindness and how to play when he first came to you?

Not really. He would chew on a toy but playing with someone and his toy at the same time had to be taught. I believe his first interaction of love and kindness was given to him from FGO5W.

Does he have any fursibilings he lives with?

He has a stray cat that made our farm her home last month. They have worked on their relationship since the day she got here. Kitty tries harder at being friends than Chance does. She wants to take a nap with him and he’s not sure if she’s going to “get him.” They do touch in passing and have laid on the couch and in the bed together. I’m sure after the long winters we have, they’ll be cuddle buddies.

How has behavior changed since he came to you?

He’s not even the same dog. He has his quirks, likes to go outside, lay in the pasture, play with toys, and he’s comfortable with me holding him or placing him in a certain position when it’s time for bed. He no longer ducks and runs in to the house when I throw a toy (ball, etc..). He knows I’m playing with him now so he gets excited at times and like to run. He always brings the toy back, even if it’s just to lay and chew on it.

What would you like to tell people who are afraid of adopting a bait dog?

The first thing I would let them know is the pay off is beyond any monetary value they will ever receive. I remember the first time I saw Chance smile. It’s something I will never forget. Saving Chance and watching him grow in to the dog he is has been tremendous for me and my soul beams with pride and happiness. You may have an older dog but they have to remember the dog was never even allowed to be a puppy and play. You’ll know your dog is doing better when their nightmares start to be less and less. Some of Chance’s dreams were horrific for me to hear. To hear him scream for his life while in a dead sleep just broke my heart. There is no getting used to it, just let them become less and less until they’re a faded memory. Chance hasn’t had a bad dream in over a month.As your bait dog gets used to their new home life, they become happier at an accelerated pace once they know you’re not going to hurt them. They just want to be loved. Chance is the most non-confrontational dog I have ever seen. We’ve had friends visit with their little yapper Chihuahua types and when they go to Chance’s bowl to eat, Chance lets them. He doesn’t want any issue. He’s a tenderhearted little guy.

Has he had any training (Canine Good Citizen, etc)?

No. I’m not even at the point of teaching him to sit or shake. However, he comes when he’s called (unless he’s in the bed and then I physically have to tell him to come down stairs). He likes his area to roam and doesn’t leave his yard. He did do a DARE project with Knox County Humane Society in Galesberg IL where he met some 5th graders at their school along with another pitbull that only has 3 legs. Her name is Diva and Chance really likes her! In fact, I discovered KCHS from Diva. She was already adopted but they showed me a picture of Chance and I was going to do whatever I could to get him even though he was out of state.Chance will sometimes get in to things he doesn’t need to be in. For example, he loves to play in the fire pit the next day after we’ve burned trash and wood. He’ll try to drag something out and I’ll tell him to “NO!” He always wags his tail and comes to me to be petted after I tell him “no.” Knowing he’s not afraid and comes to me for reassurance is just the best possible reaction one could hope for. He knows there’s no reason to be afraid. “No” simply means don’t do that. It doesn’t mean “you’re in trouble.” I guess that’s why he smiles every time he comes towards me.

What can people do to help other dogs that are in Chance’s position?

1. Get involved! Find a local rescue in your area and help them. It could be something as little as donate food. You can ease in to help rescuing dogs and please, open your home to foster. Foster homes are desperately needed.
2. If you see animal cruelty, report it to the authorities AND a rescue organization. State authorities many times won’t respond due to lack of funding or over crowding of facilities. Houston police will drive right by an injured animal and rescuers will be approached by local residence asking if they want to buy a puppy — while they’re trying to trap a stray dog. They are the problem. 3. Never buy a pet from a store, Craigslist, newspaper add or flyer hanging on a corner.
4. If you’ve ever said “someone should do something about that,” be that someone! Do something. Help those that can’t help themselves. You’d be amazed how your soul is cleansed. Somehow, you’re life has more purpose than it did the day before. You’re making a difference, saving a life, and even saving the life of the dog that takes the place of the one you took in.
5. Email or call your state legislator. Those folks only want votes. If they know puppy mills and animal abuse matters to their voters, it will matter to them and you can get things rolling for tougher legislation. If you’ve ever seen a puppy mill and how the animals are treated, you would do these 5 things I’ve listed and you’d get every one you knew involved.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

The only people who talk bad about Pit Bulls and Bully breeds are those who haven’t owned one. These dogs are extremely loyal to their family. It’s how they’re raised, just like children, that produce the end results. The media regurgitates information that’s completely inaccurate. If the producer of the show owned a Bully breed, they wouldn’t even let the story air.

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Chance’s family for letting me ask about him and sharing his story. The photos were used with permission and belong to Chance’s parents. You can follow Chance’s progress on his Facebook page Meet Chance.
I am a huge advocate to end dog fighting and BSL, so please if you see animal abuse report it. If you want to get involved please contact your local shelter to help socialize some of the dogs there, they need love, playtime, pets and assurance that they will one day get the chance to be with a furever family who loves them, like Chance has now.
For more pet happy endings, please go to Happy Tales. Or you can visit Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward’s Website or Facebook page.

Pets that Blog: Meet Wiley of Wiley’s Wisdom


How old are you?

I am five doggie years old, which I believe translates to something like 35 people years old. But I prefer to say I’m five doggie years young because that’s how I feel.

Where did you name come from?

My name was given to me by an angel named Katie at the Oshkosh Humane Society. When she saw me, she said I looked like a coyote, “like Wiley Coyote” I remember her saying. The first family that adopted me tried calling me Zorro, but that never stuck. I’m a coyote at heart.
Thinking of You

How did you get to be with your furever family?

That’s a great story actually! I thought I’d found my forever family (or that they had found me) when a family took me home from the shelter. You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered I was wrong. The family had two other dogs and three cats and there wasn’t enough love (or food) to go around. I jumped their four-foot backyard fence thinking I’d set out for a better life, but they found me and took me back to the humane society where my real forever family found me a couple months later. The folks at the shelter were very protective of me because I had been returned, and apparently mom had to put up quite a fight to prove she was buying ME, not just buying a cute face. She had to agree to take me to a behaviorist, who signed off on that silliness herself. I’ll never forget when she told my mom “he’s so smart – I don’t know why they would have made you bring him to me.” I was so happy in that moment, not only to be called smart, but to be called smart by an expert in front of my new family.

Where did the idea to start blogging come from?

It’s something I always wanted to do – share my joy with the world. I didn’t know how to do it until that special day with my mom in the snow (December 20, 2012). She was so happy and I was so happy and I couldn’t tell whose joy started first. As I watched the snow fall down from the sky that day, it was like little notes from heaven inspiring me to send the notes right back up. That’s where joy: from the ground up came from. That’s where it all began.
Singing in the Rainbows

What is your favorite post?

It’s hard to pick just one. So I am going to cheat and pick two. One of my favorites is called “Let Me Be A Lantern of Love,” which was among my first posts. It is dedicated to my best friend and forever mom. (Need I say more?) Another favorite is “Mirror, Mirror,” which features a photo of my drawn by a family friend as well as one heck of a message. I hate how women look at themselves in the mirror and just wish they could all see themselves like I do.

What has been your least favorite post?

Any writer has good days and bad days. Sometimes I struggle to come up with something to say and these are the days I am least happy with the product. But I’d have to say my least favorite post is the one I did on the Lance Armstrong debacle called “My Favorite Kind of Chance.” The post itself wasn’t too bad, but the picture with me on the bicycle? I was terribly uncomfortable with that one.

I saw you’re a Packers fan, who is your favorite player & why?

Sports stars get a lot of attention, so it’s important to me that they use their stardom to do positive things in the world. Being a good leader expands far beyond the locker room and the field. While I have a soft spot in my heart for Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver is my favorite player of all-time. Not only was he a team leader, but he has been a leader in Wisconsin in so many ways for so many charities. He is a role model to many, and for good reason.
When Dogs Blog

Do you like the snow or do you prefer the warm summer days?

My feelings on the weather change as frequently as the seasons do in my neck of the woods. I love each and every day and nature never ceases to amaze me with its beauty. I do place a higher value on these days when I’m enjoying them with my people, however. Summer days have walks and times at the dog park, but winter days with the snow brings out something childlike in my people that doesn’t happen on walks. Because of this I would have to say I favor the snow that brings joy with it as it falls from heaven.

Is Wisconsin cheese really better than other cheese?

Of course it is! I’m not supposed to know this (of course) since cheese is one of those things mom always says are “not for doggies,” but let’s face it – I’ve had my fair share of cheese. It’s Wisconsin, after all.
Figuring it all out

What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing?

Spending any time with my people is my most favorite thing in the whole world. It doesn’t matter if we are on an adventure or sleeping.

Do you have any fursiblings?

I don’t have any fursiblings, and while I do greatly enjoy the friends I have at the dog park, I’d prefer it to stay that way. I’m not afraid to admit I am a one-dog-household kind of dog who loves every waking second of attention and love. I don’t think I’m very good at sharing. Maybe I should work on that.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?

The only thing I’d like to share is the biggest thing I can share – joy. Please come and check out my blog on joy from the ground up.
I love you world!

Author’s Note: Many thanks to Sir Wiley for answering my questions and letting me borrow some pictures for his article. The pictures were used with permission, you can visit his blog here or facebook here.

Photos were used with permission.

This article is a part of the Pets that Blog theme, for more interviews on blogging pets, click the image below. Many thanks to Miss Ann from Pawsitively Pets for the image. 

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Pets that Blog: Cult of Otis


Author’s Note: Cult of Otis is a blog I’ve been following for a little while, check out the webpage for a bit of background. The Cult is made up of Leader Otis, Brother Oliver, Brother Henry and Sir Thomas. Mama Cat is a new addition at the moment as she was taken in by the Guardians for medical care. The blog promotes keeping cats safe indoors and shares the experiences of the cats as they remain vigilant and watchful for the long feared Dog Uprising.

Cult of Otis Banner

First of all, Leader Otis, can you share how you became leader of the cult?

Leader Week 6

I did not become a spiritual leader overnight. It was a long journey that began with My being born the son of two feral cats. I spent My early life wandering the wilderness. I was hungry and frightened all the time. Just as it seemed I would slip away into The Shadows like My parents, I encountered two humans who reached out to Me. These two humans, now known as the Guardians of Otis, coaxed forth a loving, True Spirit that I didn’t even know I had! Brothers Henry and Oliver helped them with the process, and they also taught Me the ways of life in The Promised Land after I was swept up in The Capture. There were many more steps to My eventual ordination as The Leader, but basically, I was chosen because I had walked the path of the cats we most wished to help. My sister Marvie, now Saint Marvie, was the real catalyst that led to the creation of The Cult though.

When did your problems with your legs start and what can the followers of the cult do to help you?

My health problems have been a real challenge. When the Guardians first swept Me up in The Capture, they took Me to The Bad Place to be neutered. When I returned, I had a terrible limp in My right leg. They took Me back to The Bad Place but the people there said they couldn’t find anything wrong. The limp lessened, and then disappeared after about two weeks. Fast forward to last year and the limp returned with a vengeance. The Guardians took Me to our new Bad Place and X-rays showed that I had an old hip fracture and bad “Art Thritis”. The old fracture explained the limp from after My first Bad Place Visit. My “Art Thritis” required surgery, which I underwent last December.

My recovery was going well for a few months but then I seemed to plateau. Then I started having weakness in all four legs. For the past two months I have been visiting both My regular Bad Place and a Bad Place that specializes in nerve problems. I’ve undergone more tests than I care to think about, and I don’t think the Guardians have received any concrete answers from them yet. There are still some test results pending, so hopefully those will bear some answers.

We have appreciated all of the supportive words and purrs that have been sent our way by The Disciples of Otis, and we have been very thankful for the contributions many have made to help pay for My and, recently, Mama Cat’s care.

Brother Oliver, how did you become inspired to take photos of Sir Thomas?

Oliver looking flattered

Ahhh yes. You are referring to My latest photographic endeavor, the “Whiskered Gallantry” series. Well, I’ve always been fascinated by Thomas, even though I hissed at him quite a bit after he was swept up in The Capture and entered The Promised Land. I mean, you’ve seen those whiskers right? They are a kitty photographer’s dream! Unfortunately, Thomas has been traditionally shy of the camera, but his recent knighthood seemed to boost his confidence. I was thrilled when he agreed to collaborate with me, and I assure you there are many more photos in the series yet to come!

What advise do you have for helping other cats trying to discover their talent?

Well, we cats are curious by nature. As long as our human Guardians provide us with safe boundaries and plenty of enrichment, we will discover our talents. It is really up to our Guardians to provide the conditions in which our talents can blossom.

Brother Henry, as a follower of the cult of Otis I am concerned about the impending invasion of the dreaded wiener dogs, what can we do to help prepare?

Henry Watching Oliver

Oh boy. Wiener dogs. Has Thomas been talking to you? I feel like I need to make it clear that we don’t currently have any field intelligence that leads me to believe that the wiener dog threat is great than any other dog-related threat. That being said, the threat of The Long-feared Dog Uprising is definitely real. You can prepare by keeping your eyes open for any suspicious canine activity, and reporting anything out of the ordinary to Me, Thomas, Brother Oliver or Leader Otis immediately.

Do you think you will model for one of Brother Oliver’s photography projects?

I actually have modeled for him a few times in the past. I guess I would do it again if the project felt right.

Sir Thomas, congratulations on becoming a knight. It is truly a wonder that you came from being in Limbo to being a trusted member of the Cult of Otis.

Thank you very much, M’Lady! I really thought these cats were weird when I first got here, but I have always liked them. I was very honored to be the first kitty ever knighted by Leader Otis!

Can you share your story of how you came to be swept up in the Capture and taken to the Promised Land?

I… I have a little trouble telling my story because I still do not fully understand it. I had a guardian before the Guardians of Otis, but she treated me differently than they do. She left me outside all the time and rarely interacted with me. I had two brothers that were left outside with me, but our guardian rarely had much to do with them either. The Guardians of Otis always showed an interest in us. They talked to us, played with us and fed us when our own guardian was not around. One of my brothers disappeared, but I learned later that the Guardians of Otis had swept him up in The Capture and sent him to a forever home in The Promised Land. I was terrified by the idea of being swept up, but I was also terrified living outside.

One night, my guardian left and never came back. I was left sitting on a cat tree surrounded by a garbage pile in the backyard of my house. Soon after that, the Guardians of Otis caught me in a wire cage and took me inside their house. I had been swept up! I was terrified at first, but I got over that once I realized that I would never again be cold, hungry, in danger or all alone. Recently, I have even started letting one of the Guardians pick me up for very brief periods, and I hardly lose my stuff at all when he does it!

Have you ever modeled before? Your photos are stunning,I am still in awe of the Battle Cry of the Knight photo.

Nightwatcher 2

Ummmm… Gosh, no. I have never modeled. Brother Oliver is really good at explaining what he wants me to do though, so I just try to follow his lead. I am just so glad he no longer hisses at me.

Mama Cat, congratulations on your recovery. It must have been so scary to be swept up and taken to the Bad Place and then come into the shelter of the Guardians and the Cult of Otis.

Wait, what? The Leader has a blog? And I’ve been featured in that blog? Whoa. I’m sorry but I’ve kind of been out of the loop on this one. So that’s why they keep taking all those photos…

Anyway, thanks for the congratulations. Yes, it was kind of scary to be swept up and taken to The Bad Place, but I gotta say, I handled it better than Brother Oliver who rode along with me. That mancat really has a set of lungs on him!

As the first female to reside in the domain, what has been your experience so far and do you have some advise to share with other female cats scared of living with such important male cats?

Well… The thing is, I’m not sure what I think of the situation so far. The Guardians are letting me mingle with the boys some, but I tend to get a bit annoyed with these youngsters and I can’t help but hiss at them. The Guardians don’t seem to like it when I do this, but I’m not sure whether or not I’ll be able to turn it off. I got kind of used to fighting for what few comforts I could find outside. It’s hard to remember that I no longer need to do that.

What words of inspiration does the Cult of Otis have for those who are trying to convince Limbo cats that the Capture will lead to the Promised Land which is much better than being outside?

Leader Otis here. The first thing I would say to anyone that is working to bring kitties in from the wilderness is “Thank you!” Too often people turn away, or simply convince themselves that cats are just fine living in Limbo or in The Shadows. They don’t truly see them. They don’t acknowledge the scabs and scars. They don’t recognize the pain and fear in their eyes. They don’t grasp the full weight of it. They are not just fine out there.

The second thing I would say to those that are reaching out to these cats is, “Never give up.” The Guardians worked to earn My trust for more than 5 months before I even let them touch Me. They worked with Thomas for nearly a year while he was in Limbo and for another year and counting since he was brought into The Promised Land. If you have followed his story you have seen how far he has come. Among the Patron Saints of The Cult of Otis are many more examples of cats that have successfully made this journey. There are also some, including my sister, that were lost along the way. But the stories of those that were lost are even more motivation to keep trying.

I know there are millions of them out there. I know it is overwhelming. I know you feel like you can’t save them all. But if you at least try to save the ones in your own backyard, you will be making a difference. You will also be setting an inspirational example for those around you to follow. Who knows? Maybe someday the whole thing will get so big it will become like a new religious movement. Stranger things have happened.

Thank you so very much.

Again, our pleasure. Thanks so much for the interest.

Blessings of The Leader Be Upon You,

The Guardians, The Brothers, Sir Thomas, Mama Cat, and Leader Otis

Author’s Note: Many thanks to the Guardians, Leader Otis, The Brothers, Sir Thomas & Mama Cat for letting me interview them. You can follow the cult of Otis on the blog, check out the website to learn more about the Good Word or purchase some merchandise or like them on facebook . Photos were used with permission.

This article is a part of the Pets that Blog theme, for more interviews on blogging pets, click the image below. Many thanks to Miss Ann from Pawsitively Pets for the image. 

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Happy Tails: Balton


Meet Balton

How old is Balton?


He was estimated to be 1-2 years in 2012, when he was found as a stray and taken to the Florence Area Humane Society (a partner shelter of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue). We tend to think he was on the younger end of that spectrum, and guess he’s probably about 2 years old now.

Where did his name come from?

 It’s the Lucky Dog name he came with, given to him at the shelter. We had called him by his foster name for so long before adopting him that we couldn’t begin to think what else we would call him.

How did you find out about him?

 Balton arrived on a transport in mid-July 2012, and I met him there when I was picking up a different dog to foster. I remember him well because he was this goofy, bouncy, nice dog, lacking manners but very friendly. As I was getting my foster into the car he came rushing up to say hi (they were both Shepherd mixes and looked a lot like each other) and for whatever reason it left an impression. It wasn’t until 6 weeks later that he would come into my home and make an even bigger impression.

Is he a foster failure?

Balton the foster failure

Balton the foster failure, he’s happy at his forever home

 He is our very first foster failure. We had remained strong for about 2 full years of fostering before Balton came along, and for some time I was very proud not to have adopted any of the temporary houseguests I had fallen in love with to date.
We began fostering Balton in September 2012, after he was adopted to a family and, unfortunately, subsequently returned within days for reported aggression to everyone outside the family. We had never seen or heard of any signs of aggression with previous fosters or at adoption events, and will probably never really know how they manifested. Either way, the reports back were very (and surprisingly) different from the dog we had come to know. His first adoption event back after his return he was lunging and snapping at anyone who came too close. Since I had fostered a good number of some of our shy dogs in the past and helped them along with their fears (and my foster at the time had since been adopted), I was asked to foster Balton.
My husband and I went to pick him up with our resident dog from Wagtime, a doggy daycare and boarding facility that helps to foster Lucky Dogs. We all agreed if he showed aggression to us we would not be able to foster, but we also made a point to pick him up as a family unit so he had the opportunity to spend time with us in a neutral space and in the car on the way home. He has been great with us since day one, and settled easily into our home. He loves us is goofy, sweet, and affectionate with the people he trusts. I’ve been his cheerleader since day one, and never stopped believing there was a right home out there for him. I was also steadfast in my belief that we were an appropriate foster home, but not the right forever home for him.
As months went on, it became apparent that Balton’s fear of strangers wasn’t something that time would heal or someone could “fix.” He would require a lifetime of training, management, and confidence building. A trainer assessment in May of this year confirmed this, and indicated he would need to find a family as committed to carrying that out as we had been. From an adoptability standpoint, his window was incredibly small and presented risks should he end up with a family who didn’t provide him what he would need during his lifetime. So, my husband and I talked it over and decided that we would adopt him.

How did you discover his fear of strangers?

 We knew going into fostering Balton that he had some issues to reckon with. Putting those issues into context, identifying what triggered his fear responses, and knowing how to help him with them, was what we needed to learn. What we’ve found is that Balton is reactive when he feels cornered by unfamiliar people, and that he can’t get away. Given the choice, his first instinct is to remove himself from that which makes him uncomfortable. He can go to dog parks and does well in doggy daycare environments. We suspect this is because he is off leash and can create his own space. When he feels he doesn’t have that option, he barks, lunges, snaps at the “scary monsters” of his world. So, he is leash reactive and also reactive to unknown human guests coming over. If we don’t create space for him or show him that we can handle keeping strangers at bay, he will become reactive to them. Unfortunately, we most effectively learned this through some mistakes along the way in our early months together, like trying to introduce him to strangers before he was ready or not creating enough space on walks to keep him from practicing reactive behavior.
Balton and his flying squirrel toy

What have you been doing to gain his trust and ease his fears?

 We are currently enrolled in a behavior modification class called “Relaxing Rowdy Rovers” at All About Dogs in Woodbridge, VA and practice a good deal of in home training activities and management. He is very food motivated, and we always have a clicker and treats on hand to reward the practice of calm behavior on walks. When he sees a stranger, and doesn’t bark or lunge, he gets a treat. Creating distance is a functional reward for him, so I make a point to offer him that along with bonus treat rewards at any opportunity I can. He’s learning to offer different behaviors that what he had previously seen as effective, and trusting that we won’t push him farther than he can go. I’ve learned a lot about dog body language in our time together, and Balton is very good about telling me “this makes me uncomfortable” in a non-confrontational way. I make a point to recognize what he is telling me, and more importantly, to listen to him when he tells me that he doesn’t want to go any further in that moment.
We also implement a good deal of management at home to maintain low stress levels and teach impulse control. We have frosted our front windows to keep him from seeing people pass by our home, which had historically set him off. It’s been a huge help. We exercise impulse control by having him “say please” for his favorite things. He politely sits and waits for his dinner, and we practice “sit” and “focus” exercises playing soccer at the dog park, quite possibly his most favorite activity in the world. Positive reinforcement training has been a huge motivator and confidence builder for him.

How’s he progressing? 

We have good days and bad days, but I continue to see more good days on a more consistent basis. When we first started Rowdy Rovers class, he had a very tough time integrating into the classroom setting and offering behaviors because he was constantly worried. Today, he still worries, but far less than he did before. He has made great strides and seems more confident each week. Translating our lessons to daily life has been a challenge, but walks are gradually becoming easier and less stressful (for both of us!). This weekend, we also had visitors over for a few days and carefully managed his time out and about with them, but mostly offered him space and distance. It was definitely hard work for him to keep it together for 3 days, but he did it, and did it well! He had this big happy face after they left, like he knew it was a big deal what he’d accomplished, and like he was grateful to us for keeping him safe.

What are some of his favorite things to do?

 As I mentioned, he LOVES the soccer ball and is like my little Pele. He fetches it and delights in when we kick the ball across a wide open space for him to chase after. The dog park is one of his favorite places to be. He also enjoys tug and playing with squeaky toys, and chasing (or being chased by) his doggie brother around the living room. At home he is a giant couch potato and snuggle buddy. He loves to sit beside us on the couch and put his head in my lap while I read, or while we watch TV together.
Balton the Brave

Does he share the house with other pets?

 He does – a 16 lb Jack Russell Terrier who he looks up to as his “big brother” and two cats. He doesn’t entirely get that they are not also small dogs, and seems puzzled as to why they are unresponsive to his excited barks and play bows when he tries to initiate play. We continue to treat him for calm behavior around them, and also make sure the cats always have an oasis area from the big annoying dog.
He also graciously shares with an occasional overnight/weekend foster dog. For as wary as he is about human visitors, he loves having live in doggy playmates and acclimates incredibly well to their arrival!

What advice do you have for those who have dogs that are fearful of people?

 Learn to listen to what your dog is telling you, and work with a reward-based professional trainer who has experience in working with reactive dogs. Early on in our time together, I received some training advice that recommended the use of a choke chain and some traditional punishment based methods. We followed that guidance against my gut, because I felt desperate to help him and low on options. I also tried to force interactions in an effort to socialize him, rather than giving him the space he was so desperately asking for. I had all the best of intentions, but my efforts clearly broke down some of the trust Balton had already built in me. He became confused and hesitant to offer me basic behaviors he had learned, because he was afraid of if I might hurt him. I ultimately had to recover some ground to move forward.
I share this because it’s important for people to know that training is an unregulated field, and there are a number of people desperate to help their dogs who may be put in a place where inhumane methods are used to address a reactive behavior based in fear. I learned the hard way that these methods can truly devastate a fearful dog, and I’m grateful I shifted gears before I went too far.
Having said that, there are many trainers who have a working knowledge of positive reinforcement and dog-reactive dogs, but struggle in working with dogs who are reactive to humans, so it’s important not to just go with any positive trainer. You really have to feel like they will understand and help your dog as an individual. It was a blessing to find All About Dogs, because there are so many trainers who won’t give dogs like him a chance, or whose Reactive Dog classes simply state they aren’t for human-reactive dogs. All About Dogs answered a million questions and allowed me to observe a class before we went to train with them, and I knew we had found the right professional help to take us where we needed to go.
Do as much research as you need to to find the right learning environment for your dog, and recognize their fears are very real. It is our job as their caretakers to protect them, look out for them, and make sure they know we are keeping them safe. Suzanne Clothier’s two-hour seminar about Arousal, Anxiety, and Fear helped me to understand that and start asking my dog the ever important question, “How is this for you?” What I learned in those two hours served as a turning point for me in understanding and empathizing with Balton, and I recommend it to anyone who is facing similar issues. It can be downloaded at http://suzanneclothier.com/catalog/downloads
Balton and the soccer ball

Anything else you would like to share about yourself, Balton or Lucky Dog? 

I feel like perhaps I’ve overshared already! But I am chronicling our continued journey together at my blog, Faith Trust, and Foster Pups (faithtrustfosterpups.wordpress.com), and its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FaithTrustFosterPups).
Balton playing nurse

Many thanks to Balton and his mom for sharing his story. If you would like to follow his progress you can visit him on Facebook or on the Blog.  Photos were used with permission and belong solely to Balton and Miss Lynn.,

This article is a part of the Happy Tails theme.

Pet Product Reviews: Memories of Pets


     Memories of Pets

 One of the most unpleasant thoughts in our lives is often put off until we can ignore the subject no longer. I am referring to the memory of our beloved 4 legged family members—our pets—after they depart Earth. I know because I am guilty of this same affliction, and I lost my feline furriend earlier this week.

 There are a few things you can do before your pet reports to eternal life.

 Call your local photographer and ask if they photograph pets. Most photographers will charge an extra sitting fee, but this is a minimal fee, and most worth it, considering you are preserving the memory of a loved pet. Photo studios accustomed to shooting pets have accessories, like boxes, crates, suitcases, tables, chairs, a bale of hay, etc, as well as clothing such as shawls, ties, glasses, or tennis shoes. I have seen many amazing portraits of animals in such garb. If your pet has its own special toy or items, ask if you may bring them. If you can’t afford a professional studio, you can tackle this yourself, or ask a friend or a friend of a friend if they will take pictures. If someone else is shooting, you can jump in some photos too. Shutterbugs seem to abound everywhere these days. A decent digital SLR (DSLR) is all that is required. You will thank yourself, or me, for doing this. The more creative you can think the better these portraits turn out.

 You can take this theory a step further, and take your pet to a scenic place such as a lake, forest or beach or even your backyard garden, and take photos there.

 These photos should reflect how happy and healthy your pet was, as well as showing his or her personality

 If you are a crafty person, you can take a small patch of fur from underneath where it wont be noticed, and tie it nicely with a ribbon in a bow. Then somehow add your pets name with sequins, paint, paper and glue, or whatever you have in your craft bins or can think of.

 We captured my Neptunes’ paw print in plaster of paris. We found this kit online. It was designed for use as a Christmas ornament. So we made one for an ornament, and since the mold is reusable, we made another as a keepsake. The instructions are on the kit, or if you have talent, you can buy craft plaster (not hardware plaster) at a craft retailer, find your own bendable plastic mold, and create your own custom paw print impression. Let the plaster harden or set up about 2-5 minutes, then add your pets’ paw. Don’t smash or smoosh it in, because it will look like it was smashed or smooshed. Gently apply pressure, then remove paw. Check the print. If it looks smashed or your not happy, smooth it out and try again. You can do this over and over until you’re happy or the plaster completely hardens. The instructions say to keep it safely aside for 24 hrs.  Our kit online cost $14.95. Needless to say, I’m not crafty.

 As far as final resting places, basic options include burial in your backyard, or at a pet cemetery, cremation or taxidermy.

 My city frowned on me burying Tiger in my backyard, and the gas company suggested I get a copy of schematics showing gas pipe layouts for my yard. I didn’t want to blow up while creating a resting spot for my cat. In my book, I explain that in the country, at our ranch, I had a designated pet cemetery. I could go out and visit with my whole crew any time I wanted to.  But that was in the country. If you live outside city limits, this may be a preferred option for you. Custom head stones and grave markers are available online


 Here, in the city, I didn’t want to drive anywhere to visit her and I didn’t like the feeling that I’d be abandoning her by choosing burial in a pet cemetery, even though one is within a two miles of my home. If you choose burial at a pet cemetery, inquire about custom head stones.


 So I opted for cremation. Not only did we get a cedar box, they added a metal nameplate, with Tiger etched on it in black. We also got a very nice paw print in plaster with her name stamped on it in blocks, with 2 colored fish on it. There is also a hole at the top like on Christmas ornaments, with a nice ribbon bow tied to it. We also got a lock of her hair also wrapped in a ribbon bow. Lastly, we received a small plaque, proclaiming “A pet’s love is forever in your heart.”


 My white cat Neptune, who is deaf, and the subject of my book, “Neptune the Special Cat”, is indeed sooooo special, that he will be taken to a taxidermist. Call me a crazy cat lady, but I want to SEE Neptune everyday.  This is the only way to preserve him in such a manner as to fulfill my wishes. He hangs out in my office, so this will be his final resting place.

 After your beloved pet enters perpetual life, your opportunity to create keepsakes, is limited.

 There are a few clever people on facebook or online websites who create different items to remember your pet. Memorybeads.swr happened to be a follower of ours on Neptune’s facebook wall, and followed Tiger’s odyssey. She offered to create something for me, free, since we work tirelessly in the name of animal rights. Stephannie creates all kinds of jewelry—earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, as well as belt buckles, keyfobs, out of about 1 tsp. of your pets’ ashes. We chose a keyfob. She also works with clay and resin. This was the most creative site working with pet ashes I’ve seen. We have ordered a key ring with a photo of Tiger on one side and her ashes on the other side, all melded together with resin and metal. If you go to Memorybeads.swr you can see what all she is currently working on.

dogbone memory beads key ringmemory beads items

 Shutterfly.com will create a set of 4 refrigerator magnets featuring photos of your pet, while other companies can manufacture drink coasters, coffee mugs, and a variety of other items with happy faces of our dearly departed furriends on them.

Petmarkers.us makes custom headstones in a variety of stone materials for $158.

 Memorials.com offer a wide and interesting variety of items, some of which are made from your pets ashes. Click on their pet section, you’ll be amazed. Etchedinmyheart.com offers a wide array of keepsakes, and they accommodate horses, rabbits, and any other kind of pet you can think of. I found wind chimes, a garden bench, candles, garden stakes, a photo vase, and a few other nifty products at personalcreations.com.

beaux's memory beads

Google Pet Keepsakes, or get specific with pet headstones, pet memorials, pet urns, pet gravemarkers, or pet gravemarker pictures, pet memorial jewelry, pet keepsake pendants,  pet cremation jewelry, etc..

 Frankly, I was surprised by the quantity of companies and the wide variety of pet keepsake items they create. Many of these items are actually affordable. I also discovered since they didn’t have many of these offerings when my previous pets passed away, I can back up and order these things with past pets’ names, dates and photos!!!!

 As long as I am writing about parting ways, there is one last thing left. As responsible pet owners, we should think about our pets care, in case we enter perpetual life before them.

 Many people include their pets in their wills, and or create trust accounts, to guarantee they will be taken care of, in the event their human caretaker dies before them. Other people designate friends or relatives as caretakers, especially in cases which involve special needs pets. I agreed to be the designated caretaker for a friend with a deaf and blind ginger cat, because I know how to care for a deaf cat.

 There are many sites online and some catalogs which offer a will kit. We got ours for $9.95, from a catalog, and they are legal documents. These methods and prices are much cheaper than a lawyer or even legalzoom.com .

Additionally, Staples office supply carries living will kits, online and in the store, for $18.

 Yes, the topic of losing a beloved pet is one that we don’t enjoy thinking about, but eventually, we all must visit. Hopefully, I’ve made this reality a little easier to endure or cope with.  Remember, it is far better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.

Author’s Note: This pet product review is the sole work of Miss Sharon Mohr-Mcdermott, she was not compensated in anyway for her review.  You can read more of her reviews here, also her cat Neptune is the subject of a book that was just written, you can purchase the book here or you can follow Neptune & Mr. Moo & the rest of the furry family on facebook here.

Happy Tails: Meet Tater


How old are you?

9 months young!

Where did your name come from?

The fosters husband and youngest daughter called him Tate/ Tater so my family decided to call me Tater Tot!

I see you were adopted from MARS what is that?

It is a rescue in Minnesota, Mars stands for Midwest Animal Rescue and Services

What do you think of your new family?

I love them very much! I love getting treats and new toys!!

Were your parents looking for a pittie?

My littlest human,who’s 14 years old was set on having Pit. She has been wanting one since October, when she first learned about the breed.

What advice would they first time pittie owners?

Always us positive training methods, never physical. My humans hired what they thought was a really good trainer, they had read a lot about him and the reviews all said he was the best of the best. After 3 weeks we decided to fire him because he was too physical with me. Every time someone tried to pet me I would duck my head. After about a week of not having him I then learned no one is going to hurt me when they would go pet me. It wasn’t my humans fault, trainers should never be as rough and as physical as him. They didn’t know it was going to be like that until after they hired him.

Do you have any fur siblings?

Yes! I have 2 cat siblings that I love and would never hurt!

Have you learned any tricks so far?

I have, I know sit, down, shake, switch, high five, roll over, over (for agility), jump, wait (working on it), come, rest, leave it (still working on it), bang (play dead) still working on it)

What are your thoughts on BSL?

I don’t agree with it, nor do my humans. Taking the dog away itself is not the solution to what they think is a problem. If they are so untrusting of the breed they should require all owners, even responsible ones to go to workshops, training classes the city would pay for, ect. Also what I think every shelter should should do before they adopt out and vets should do at every check up is a temperament test, with all breeds! That would keep every community safer, because sadly people either train their pets to be aggressive or love them too much to give them to a place that is experienced with his or her needs and train the owners how to handle the dogs issues.

How are you working to fight it?

My human just went to her first Anti BSL peaceful protest this past weekend to learn how we can help. Also we are educating people about “Pit Bulls”.

What plans to you have for the future?

I am in an obedience class right now and train with my little human during the day. We have hurdles that we do if its not to hot out and I will be starting an agility class soon. I will be a service dog for my little human in the future

What would you like to say to people who are scared of pitties?

If you are scared of them because something happened to personally with a pit, try not to have anger, fear or blame to every pit you see, being afraid won’t get you anywhere in life. If you are scared of them because of things you have heard , don’t be. I bet you have met dogs that are one of the “Pit Bull” breeds and you haven’t realized it. Just give them a chance!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just always remember to ask the handler if you can pet their dog before you do! 🙂
Many thanks to Tater for the interview, photos were used with permission. Please visit Tater on his facebook page here

To skip to other “Opt to Adopt” Articles link the below link.  The image was made by the wonderfully talented Miss Ann of Pawsitively Pets.


Happy Tails: Sassy & Manny


How old are you?

Sassy 1.5 years
Manny 2 years
Josie between 7 -12 years, vet is unsure

Where did your names come from?

Sassy came about because I was a lil spitfire and mom was going to call me Amelia after Amelia Bedelia books but Sassy just stuck. And yup, I live up to my name! Manny came to us as Little Man and mom started calling him Manny or Manny Bananas. Josie was a little bit harder to name, she was just a number at the puppy mill so we had to make sure she had a beautiful and proper name. Josie certainly is a good name for her and her boyfriends on FB call her Sweet Josie.

Manny, I read you came from a puppy mill, do you remember any of that?

I was only 8 months old when I was mauled and attacked by other dogs at the mill. We lived in very cramped quarters. I remember being scared and hoping I wouldn’t die. I knew in my heart I had a purpose in life so I hung tough, even though my whole side was chewed on and most of the skin gone. My wound was approx. 6 inches in diameter and by the time I got to the vet the skin around the wound was turning black and infected.

How did you get rescued from that horrible situation?

I was in a small crate with 4 other dogs. They attacked me and wouldn’t leave me alone. They mauled my whole side of my body. The breeder left me with my open wounds for 2.5 days. I think she was hoping I would die, but I knew someone wonderful would come for me , so I fought to stay alive. The breeder must have felt somewhat guilty after those 2.5 days and called a rescue liason to come get me. The breeder wouldn’t take me to her own vet cuz she knew she would be in trouble for leaving me that way. The rescue liason was horrified at my condition and got me to her vet right away, she was my angel (click here to see the pictures, warning they are very graphic) . I stayed with her for about a month so she could help my healing process. Then mommy caught word of me through her rescue. The mommy and Grammy drove 2 hours one way to pick me up! I was Mommies first foster ever and it was to be temporarily. B UT I snuck into her heart and now I am a furver foster! Sadly the breeder also had a yorkie who died the same way in her care that week and was only given a $650 fine for failure to get vet care for us . Just a slap on the wrist for her especially since I almost died! Our long haired Chihuahua, Josie , is also from a puppy mill . She has a tattoo on her ear of 36, which was her number. She was to be killed that weekend by her breeder. The rescue liaison contacted mom and they went on a mission to save Josie and another lil dog named Bella. Josie’s jaw had broke throughout her life because it literally disintegrated. She had never had dental work done. She is 4.5 pounds and had 4-5 old placentas left in her body from having so many puppies. The vet said she would have died if she had been bred one more time. Her teeth were rotten and Dr didn’t want to do further damage to her tiny jaw. The vet determined her age to be between 7-12 years old. She is also going blind but we have a blind dog, so we will make it work.

What advice would you have for those thinking about buying a puppy from a breeder?

This is a tough question. There are responsible breeders who do the right thing. But sadly, there are backyard, quick buck breeders . Stories like Manny & Josie’s are far to common. We feel it is important to share our stories . PUPPIES from the breeders are for the most part healthy . Since they are for sale, they are often socialized, vaccinated, etc to SELL. BUT when the puppy won’t make them any money any longer, they become disposable to the breeders. After Manny was mauled, he was no good to the breeder and certainly wouldn’t make her any money. It is the the mom and dad doggies at the mills that are forgotten. They are used for the sole purpose of breeding. They rarely have dental checkups or are vetted, poorly socialized and rarely know what love is when they are in the mills. Please don’t support the puppy mill breeders! ADOPT DON’T SHOP! For those puppy mill dogs that do make it out after years of breeding, please give them a chance! Consider adopting a rescue dog! They make life so rewarding and should be given a chance to be loved! We make the best companions and need angels! So many dogs never make it out of the mill . Once the puppy mill breeder is done with them, the animals are usually killed and it is not humanely done. Remember they are trying to make money and keep costs low. It is sad but true.

Sassy, I read you came from a hoarder, do you remember how many other animals you were living with?

I was just about 7-9 weeks old. I remember there was alot of other dogs and we lived on a very busy street in downtown Green Bay. That is all I remember. Luckily though, I was healthy and well socialized. Thank goodness for that!

How did you get to be rescued from that situation?

Mommy has lived in our area for about 13 years and has driven past the house where I was at a million times. My brother Oliver was dying of cancer and mom wasn’t expecting to get a dog. She was on her way to grammy so they could check out the rescue my mom now volunteers for. Mommy SHOULD have driven the other way, but for some reason mommy turned left and came towards the house that I was in. It was 7:30 in the morning in Feb 2012 in frigid Green Bay. Mommy saw a lady outside going for a walk with about 7 adult chihuahua’s and a few puppies. Mom stopped and asked her if she had puppies for sale…(mom to this day does not what compelled her to stop, but she is glad she did)…the lady didn’t speak english so her granddaughter came out to translate. Mom asked if she could buy one of us and chose me. The granddaughter then asked mom to come back later in the afternoon to pick me up. Mom figured she would get to find out all my details at that time. But when the mommy got back to pick me up the lady wasn’t home. A young man appeared in the window and said “what do you want???” Mom told him she was there to pick me up. He then came outside and exchanged the $50 cash for me. Mom said she felt like she was doing a “dog” deal. The young man didn’t know anything about me. Mom left with me and when we pulled into our driveway, I gave mommy a big ole wet puppy kiss. I liked to lay by my brother Ollie and mom thought we looked an awful lot a like. Oliver was a rat terrier and he passed away a week later. On Ollie’s birthday mom found out I was Chihuahua & Rat terrier mix. Ollie was a rat terrier so it made the story that much sweeter!

Manny, what is your favorite trick to perform?

I love giving my mom high five! I also give her all my money when we play “stick up ” and if mom asks me for money to go shopping I slap my paw on her hand as if I am giving her money!

What was the hardest one to learn?

Probably the stick up one. Mommy makes a gun with her finger s and says “give me all your money” . Sometimes I look at her like she is nuts…bol.

Do you want to share any tricks you are working on?

Mom is trying to get me used to our new makeshift dog pool, so that will be a trick in itself if I go in it!

Sassy, how did your mom find out you liked to dress up?

Mom bought me a few dog sweaters and then my wardrobe started to grow. She got me a zebra print dress when I was a puppers and it was too big. Now I fit in it! We also have Josie girl in our life and she likes to be dressed up . Sometimes we do a doggy fashion show. When we go to events for the rescue mom volunteers for, we get lot s of attention. Who doesn’t like being told they are cute…bo0l

What has been your favorite outfit so far?

I love my red dress, it has ruffles. I also love my Liz Claiborne sweater with the snowman on it and I just got a Green Bay Packers Jersey! One of my besties online is sending me a swimsuit so I can’t wait for that. Josie girl loves her mermaid outfit and loves being in any kind of dress. We swear she poses for the camera!

Do you two live with any other pets? Are they also survivors?

There is Josie Girl and Brat the Cat . She came to mom from the vet we go to. She was from upper Michigan and w as a kitten who was set to be euthanized . A rescue group in Michigan brought the kittens to our area and had them for adoption at our vet. We also live with Bug, our blind Chihuahua who mom adopted from the Fox Valley Humane Association about 13 years ago and Tori, our grumpy 14 year old yorkie. He was from Michigan and mom got him as a puppy.

This question is for your mom – how did you get involved with rescuing animals?

It was something I always wanted to do. Growing up I would try to help save stray kitties etc. About a month before I started volunteering for Green Bay Animal Rescue a coworker found a stray cat and asked me to take her. After several days of looking for the cats owners, it paid off. The cat was micro chipped but the chip info was not up to date. A friend of the cat’s owner had called the local humane society who then contacted me. That was the best feeling being able to reunite the cat with her owner! After my rat terrier died, I decided to start fostering and volunteering. It is so good for the soul! The special bond between Manny and I is amazing and having to change his wounds twice a day for several months made me realize how precious life is! I never questioned taking him in and fostering him. I didn’t know I had the strength to do the wound changes but when it came to it, I just did it. People often say to me that I am an Angel or bless me for having such a good heart. I don’t think of myself as a hero, just someone who loves pets and tries to help those in need.
What would you say to those who are concerned about adopting dogs from hoarder/puppy mills situations? DO IT! These animals want to be loved. It will take patience and kindness . Pllease understand many of these dogs have never been exposed to things we see in our daily lives. Things like grass, leaves or snow are new to them . A TV playing or vacuum is new. Often having fresh food/water and a warm place to sleep is new. Usually they have been so beaten down mentally that they have no aggression issues and most do not have teeth or the ones they do have are pulled when they are vetted. These animals didn’t ask for this and just need good homes. It is r ewarding to see an animal come out of their shell and know you played a special yet meaningful role in giving them a taste of a good , loving life.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for having your site as a platform to give those animals a voice and share our stories. If we can make a difference in one person’s life it is it worth it. Though we have horrible stories to tell, we feel it is something we need to do. We enjoy meeting new people and sharing our stories! We want people to realize what happens in puppy mills and to understand how loving and forgiving these animals can be.

May I use pictures of Manny & Sassy for the article? I will state the pictures were used with permission. Absolutely, I give you my permission. Sassy is the black one, Manny is black and white and Josie is the golden longhaired chi.

Many many thanks to Manny & Sassy’s mom for answering the questions. It is such an privilege to get stories of not one but two dogs from a  puppy mill & hoarder. Pictures were used with permission and belong solely to Sassy & Manny 

To skip to other “Opt to Adopt” Articles link the below link.  The image was made by the wonderfully talented Miss Ann of Pawsitively Pets.


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