The lovable Teddy | Chloe

This is Teddy. No, not my Teddy. Another Teddy, who is currently at the Sac County Shelter.

I didn't get much time with this sweet boy, just enough for a photo session. But, if I could fall in love with this boy in 15 minutes, imagine how much someone would fall in love with him in an hour!

He was pretty scared about getting onto the backdrop. It's a new environment, and the material makes a few dogs hesitant.

Teddy was one of those dogs. Even with some dragging, and Whole Foods bacon and sausage,  he still would just lay there shyly or crawl off. After some shots of him alone, I stepped in, and he snuggled his head on my lap. We ended up getting cute pictures of him with me (and alone..Shannon works magic!) that showcase how truly sweet he is. He has a gentle mouth, a soft coat, and is a snuggle bug. What more could you want???

Teddy has been adopted, but if you are interested in finding your own glorious dog, visit SacCountyDogs.com!

Much, much, love for this boy. ♥ ♥ ♥


Two Dogs and a Shocking Text-messaging Conversation | Ron (Update: Adopted)

Okay, so this happened.

You can choose to believe or not. But it's true. Every word of it.

Seems that Chandra and I were given the delightful duty of walking a couple of inseparable dogs who were housed in the same kennel.

Their names: Hans and Leia. You, know, like in Star Wars. They were cute Labs-mixed-with-happy-dogs. And they had a bond. In fact, Hans was a little extra bonded to his girlfriend.

He never let Leia out of sight. He followed her everywhere, sometimes bumping into her, seemingly asking for a little extra attention.

Only hours later, after we left the shelter, did we realize that the dogs had quietly removed our cell phones from our pockets and had been texting during a break in one of the outdoor play areas.

The following is the exact transcript from the text-messaging conversation between the two dogs:

     Hans: You were a little standoffish on the walk today.

     Leia: LOL.

     Hans: I wasn't trying to be funny. You barely sniffed me.

     Leia: I was sniffing turkey. Did you see that bag of meat those two humans had?

     Hans: Of course, but still. I was expecting a little paw. Something.

     Leia: We spend 24 hours a day in the kennel. I like a little alone time once in awhile.

     Hans: We were walking together. It was a beautiful day.

     Leia: I saw your tail wagging. You seemed happy.

     Hans: I am happy.

     Leia: So am I. Did you see how well behaved I acted for the humans? I think I impressed them.

     Hans: I wish you'd try to impress me sometimes.

     Leia: You know I love you. You've got swagger.

     Hans: And I'm damn cute.

     Leia: Gotta go. The humans are coming. I think the tall guy has more turkey.

(If you are not seeing the video of Leia & Hans below, please view it HERE.)

Hans & Leia have been adopted. For more information on other amazing dogs still searching for their forever homes, go to SacCountyDogs.com.


Jensen & Chloe: A Love Story | Chandra (Update: Adopted)

Today was our third and final training with PB Soc; we are now super certified, all in, card carrying dog-walkers.

We've had our tour of the shelter, met lots of other volunteers, seen the Kong-filling station, had instructions on socializing and training dogs, and given out handfuls of chicken in return for sits. We know how to take a dog out of it's kennel (enter carefully, close the outside doors, greet the dog sideways and be sure to dole out that very important chicken), where to walk, where the play yards are, and to yell "Dog Coming" before we turn a blind corner. We know to write notes on kennel cards after walks so potential adopters can learn more about the dogs and so the other volunteers know who's been out and when. We know to be sure that the dogs have peanut butter filled Kongs when they go back into their kennels to make the transition a little easier. We've pretty much got the logistics down.

What I don't know, though, could knock me out cold. I don't know how all of these beautiful dogs ended up at the shelter. I don't know how someone could abandon a malnourished, nursing mama and her eyes still closed puppies at a dumpster. I don't know what happened to the little terrier mix in the isolation area who doesn't even seem to be able to stand up. I don't know why Teddy is curled up in front of the fireplace and Jensen is in a kennel at the shelter. I don't know who is going to be there next week when we go back and who will have been lucky enough to go home. I confess that I don't know much.

What I do know, though, is that the shelter is full to the brim with love. I've never seen such hard working, large hearted people. I've never had so many smelly, slimy kisses or had the pleasure of seeing Chloe fall in love over and over again with one blocky headed dog after another. And that's all I need to know for now.

This time, it's Jensen who has stolen her heart. Chloe isn't alone in her passion because everyone who meets Jensen loves him. He is a people loving, kiss giving, nice leash walking, dog friendly, smart and handsome hunk of block head love. And now, he's also a movie star.

(If you are not seeing the video below of Jensen, please view it HERE.)

Lysa, the volunteer coordinator at PB Soc, kindly told Chloe to make the kind of videos that make her happy.

She's happy, Jensen's happy, and hopefully her videos will help spread the word about just how terrific these dogs are. There's something about seeing them move that grabs your heart.

And kisses are pretty fantastic too.

Jensen - SacCountyDogs.com

Let's get this boy his own family and his own fireplace to nap in front of. If you'd like to help, please share this post and get the word out.

Jensen says Thank You!!

(Update: Jensen has been adopted!! 3.1.15)



A Little Respite for Odin | Ron

Odin is a 35-pound pit bull mix who thinks he's a sled dog.  He likes to pull. A lot. He walks like he's on a mission. I'm not exactly sure where he's heading, but on Sunday, he merrily yanked me along on an hour-long excursion.

We paused for the occasional chicken snack and he was more than content to nest in my lap at walk's end, but this boy needs a happy ending. And soon.

You can't really blame little Odin for wanting to take you for a ride. He doesn't get out much.  He's been sitting in the Sacramento County Shelter for almost two years.

And he's not going anywhere, anytime soon.

Oh, and did I mention that Odin takes Prozac?

You see, Odin was taken into shelter custody, along with his litter of four other sibling puppies, when his owner was arrested for allegedly running a dog fighting ring.

A confiscated dog can't be adopted out until their owner's case is adjudicated. They also can't be spayed or neutered. It makes for some very overwrought animals.

PB Soc provides one of the few sources of companionship for these dogs. The volunteers work tirelessly to keep them sane, exercised and socialized.

There are many animals in just such a situation at the shelter. A lucky few get fostered out to await the outcome of their owner's case in a nice home. But most must sit and wait.

When Odin finally settled in my lap, I could feel the tension start to seep from his body. I scratched his chin and stroked his head. He could almost relax.

We sat there another few minutes.  He quietly watched the world go by, sitting motionless, feeling secure for the briefest of time.

And then it was time to take him back to his kennel.

To wait.


Run, Sniff, Friends...Play Groups | Chloe

Today I got to hang out with and take pictures of the dogs in the play groups. As PB SOC says, "Play groups are are critical to maintaining the dogs’ mental and physical well being while waiting for their forever family in a stressful environment. They're also fun! For humans and dogs alike:)"

I totally agree with this. The dogs have a great time, and it is super fun to photograph them being their true selves. Here is a slideshow (along with a few snippets of video) of some dogs enjoying play groups. BTW, all of them are the sweetest things, especially Jensen. He was so gentle & calm, and not to mention adorable.


(If you are not seeing the Play Group video below, please view it HERE.)

For more information on dogs available for adoption, please visit SacCountyDogs.com. (All the dogs in this video have been adopted but lots of other wonderful dogs are still waiting!)

See you soon,



12 Years Later | Chandra

Sunday we had our first volunteer training with PB Soc...a group dedicated to bettering the lives of pit bull type dogs during their stay at the Sacramento County Animal Shelter. The dogs get exercise, obedience training, confidence building, treats and love. We get to do something together as a family that we all enjoy, and given how much all three of us love dogs, it's a great match.

Back before I had my daughter, I used to volunteer at the old County Shelter, helping with adoptions and placing ads in the PennySaver about adoptable dogs. Yes, the PennySaver. Given that Chloe is now twelve, the newspaper was the only way we had of getting the word out. No Facebook, no YouTube, no Instagram.

Social Media isn't the only thing that has changed in twelve years.

Back then, the County Shelter was a very depressing place. They hadn't yet built the beautiful new facility and the old building felt like a prison. Dogs were crowded together, often six or seven to a kennel. The smell, the noise and the sheer numbers of homeless animals were overwhelming. Even though it was wonderful to see animals get adopted, I left each week completely emotionally drained and exhausted. Once Chloe was born, I just couldn't do it any more.

I'm happy to say that things are very different now. The new shelter is beautiful, clean and filled with volunteers in cheerful red aprons or PB Soc sweatshirts walking dogs, working on training, delivering Kongs stuffed with peanut butter and kibble. Each dog has a raised bed and a warm blanket and it's own kennel. Everyone works hard to keep the dogs as happy and healthy as they can be while they wait for their new forever families to come find them.

On our first day, we got to dive right in. Our group of six new volunteers got a tour of the shelter, learned some basic rules, and then Lysa took us to find a dog so we could practice our walking and basic obedience skills.

Meet Birdy. She is the most muscular dog we'd ever seen...the Arnold Schwarzenegger of dogs. But don't let the muscles fool you, she's a sweetie. Despite our tentative-new-volunteer sits and watch mes, Birdy was a rockstar. Loved getting her back scratched, loved the chicken she got as training treats, and loved being outside taking a nice long walk. Ron and I kept marveling at how good she was, and talking about what an unmanageable beast our Teddy would be if he were in the same situation. I hope she finds a family soon; she's a treasure.

The PB Soc volunteers try to spend a minimum of forty minutes each time they take a dog out for a walk. Often it's the only time the dogs get out of the kennels, and it takes some time for them to settle down and be able to learn anything. We saw quite a few different dogs out walking at the same time we were, and all of them were focused on their handlers, doing great sits and focus work and getting plenty of affection.

Meanwhile, Chloe was whisked away to assist Shannon Skalisky with taking photos of the shelter dogs.  Our girl was in heaven, especially when this little guy came along...meet Linus..(adopted!)

Shannon does amazing work capturing these beautiful animals. Birdy (adopted!) was lucky enough to have her portrait taken right after our walk...isn't she a beauty?

From my work at Cast Images, I know how important marketing materials can be and Shannon's photos really prove the point. They show the dogs at their best, polished and posed, well lit and happy. They show that these dogs are cared for and valuable. The sad myth is that something is wrong with the dogs that come to be at the shelter; that they somehow deserve their fate. Even good hearted, animal loving people sometimes have this misunderstanding.

In reality, if you haven't yet had the privilege of adopting a shelter or rescue dog and don't know this already from your own experience, these dogs are just down on their luck. Many are family pets who have been surrendered because of financial or housing difficulties, or because of divorce. Some have just gotten lost. And some do come from less than stellar backgrounds. All of them are evaluated carefully by the shelter staff, and then worked with tirelessly by the volunteers to help them reach their true potential. If a dog isn't quite ready for adoption, they are put on rehab status and everyone works with them so that they can be placed in a good home. Some animals are fortunate enough to go to foster homes and learn there how to fit in with a family.

These dogs just want what we all want. A safe, warm home. A family to call their own. Love.

I'm so happy to be back at the shelter and look forward to playing a small part in helping these wonderful dogs go home. I know from my time volunteering all those years ago that there will be so many good stories to share. After taking a year long break from blogging, it also feels good to be back to writing. I hope you'll come along with Ron, Chloe and me as we jump into this new adventure.

Each of us is going to write posts and I promise we'll make it fun. If any of you know my husband's sense of humor, you know you are in for a treat.

See you soon!