How Can You Not Take Them All Home? | Chandra

Whenever I tell people that I volunteer at the shelter, the first thing they say is "How can you not take all the dogs home?" That's an easy answer for me because we have our hands full with our decidedly one-dog-only handsome hunk Teddy, but I have to admit that I fall a little bit in love with each of the dogs I meet.

If I had a different situation, I'd definitely want to foster. I picture our house filled with a rotating line of wonderful dogs, and maybe even a batch of puppies or two, a whole bunch of love to share and pass along. It's a little fantasy I have.

Tracey Schall and her family of five are living out my fantasy. They have opened their home to seven dogs over just the last year, six of whom have gone to their forever homes. They currently have sweet Hailey living with them and are diligently searching for her perfect adopters while teaching this lovely dog what it means to have a real family of her own.

Tracey, who also works as the Executive Director for the March of Dimes, started fostering over a 4th of July holiday...the busiest day of the year for shelters, when dogs panic at the fireworks and escape their yards. The shelter had a glut of little brown chihuahuas. Tracey took one in.

That was it; she fell in love with fostering. Since then, there has been a succession of lucky foster dogs and each and every time one is adopted, it takes a couple of weeks for Tracey to stop crying.

Seven dogs in one year is such an amazing accomplishment. Seven dogs who now are living happy, healthy, well-loved lives because of this family who opens their hearts again and again.

For anyone who is considering fostering, here's a little taste of the difference you can make with a quick look at Tracey's six fosters...

Kind eyed, grateful Bubba now lives in the country with a mama who works from home and spends plenty of time with him.

As Tracey was crying both happy and sad tears about Bubba's adoption, Petunia went home with her. Overweight and desperately needing socialization and love, this poor girl was very confused and showing signs of shelter stress. After time to heal in loving foster care, Petunia was adopted by a wonderful family who sends regular updates on her happy life.

Gracie and Buster, a brother and sister pair, came to Tracey and her family through NorCal Bully Breed Rescue. Buster was adopted by a dear family friend and Gracie went to a Bay Area family. Buster still visits most weekends and helps teach the new foster dogs how to play.

Henry was a 10-week old puppy going downhill quickly at the Rocklin Shelter. He was quite the handful and was adopted by an energetic couple and their dog Bosley. Henry's now a "60 pound hell-on-wheels" big baby and he and Bosley play non-stop. An adoption match made in heaven.

Logan (now Harley) had been at Bradshaw for several months and was too soft for shelter life. He was on the "list" when Delyse asked if Tracey's family would help save him. Brad and Crystle adopted Harley, love him dearly, and still thank Tracey's family for saving their "baby".

While she's fostering, Tracey dreams of opening a dog sanctuary on their El Dorado Hills property, where she can take in dogs who otherwise wouldn't have a chance. While I dream of fostering sometime in the future, we're walking dogs, writing blog posts and making videos. And every single day, so many wonderful people are working so hard to help these dogs.

Dreams keep us all going, but doing what you can, right now, is crucial. If adopting isn't possible for you, think about fostering. If fostering isn't a fit, we'd love to have your help as a volunteer. If that's too much for you right now, please donate and share posts to help us find the perfect families for these dogs.

Whatever you can do, please join us. As much as you'll do for the dogs, they'll give so much more back to you, paid in love.

And slobbery kisses.



Update: Hailey has been adopted by the family who also adopted Tracey's last foster dog, Harley. It's a very special Happily Every After!


Meet the BBW of the Dog Crowd | Ron (Update: Adopted)

Okay, I know what you're thinking.

I want a pet, but I'm just not sure what to get. I love those Potbellied Pigs, but are they really right for me? Can you take them on a walk? Will they fetch? Will they want me to take them to Calistoga for the occasional mud bath?

Pigs might make you feel cool and suave. How do we know this? George Clooney proudly owned a pig.

On the other hand, you'd really like a loyal, loving dog. You know, with those big tongues and furry coats.

Dogs are cool. So are pigs. Which to get? This is the age-old dilemma faced by all of us.

Well, I say, why not both?

In one very interesting looking animal.

Say, hello, ladies and gentlemen, to Miss Piggy, a delightfully large dog currently available at the Sacramento Animal Shelter on Bradshaw.

Strolling with Miss Piggy Sunday morning, I soon discovered that the only thing bigger than her belly was her tongue, which nearly scraped the ground as she ambled along on her short legs.

Let's face it. Miss Piggy is, shall we say, zoftig. She's the BBW of the dog world. She's got a ton of junk in the trunk. But, c'mon, everyone likes big butts...

Okay, okay, so maybe Miss Piggy can stand to lose a few.  She's okay with that, though. She gamely went along with me as we did a few sprints. And she didn't seem especially ravenous. A nice weight loss program and a visit from Richard Simmons and this dog will be primed for bikini season (I'd personally like to see her in a fetching one-piece).

There, I've made it easy for you. Pig or dog? Get both in one animal. And have a ton of fun.


Update 4.1.15: Miss Piggy has been adopted!


On Loss and Love | Chandra

This week PB Soc lost a dog, Emma, and there's been an outpouring of love for her on Facebook. Delyse wrote a wonderful post about the big hearted volunteers who walked her and loved her and fed her peanut butter and who finally held her while she was euthanized. Tony, a volunteer who trained with us just last month, posted thirty photos of Emma from their walks together...photos filled with pitty smiles and snuggles and love. Lysa posted about how the losses are difficult but that they are getting fewer and fewer as time goes by.

I didn't get the chance to meet Emma, but her death has touched me deeply. I'm not sure what Emma's background was, but I do know that it involved humans that treated her horribly and that she consequently had trust issues. I also know that not every dog can be brought back from abuse and that the people who made the decision to let her go agonized over it.

What touches me the most is how different this death is from ones I witnessed when I volunteered at the same shelter thirteen years ago. Each week I'd go in to help with adoptions and ask after certain dogs and far too often I'd be told something like, "Oh, she got aggressive with the other dogs." Which, of course meant that she was gone. The dogs were eight to ten to a loud, crowded kennel, and they were bound to get snippy with each other, but there just wasn't any alternative. The dogs kept coming in, every day more and more and more of them, and the space had to be utilized for the ones who had the best chance of being adopted. None of them lasted very long.

The people working at the shelter are such good people. They have to deal with the worst part of humanity day after day, with cruelty, with animals being surrendered by irresponsible owners, and with heartbreaking cases where people cannot keep their beloved pets because of outside forces. They have to clean up the tragedies that others create and they often are vilified for it. I still can hear the strong words from one of the shelter officers all those years ago when I tried to help someone with an adoption that he had started. He said "Don't take my adoptions away from me." Adoptions must have been the one bright spot in his very difficult job, and here was this clueless volunteer stealing that light. I didn't make that mistake again.

Much of that time is burned into my memory but one particular girl, Maxine, a red foxy looking dog who loved to chase tennis balls, stands out. I took her out one day to the big fenced in grassy area and we hung out. She wasn't a particularly affectionate dog, but she let me pet her and chased lots of balls and stretched out on the grass in the sun when she was tired. As we sat there together, I looked up and saw a shelter worker wheeling an industrial sized metal garbage pail on a hand truck toward the back of the property. It took me a second to realize that the pail was filled with dead animals. I could see some of the fur sticking up over the top of the container.

I knew that dogs were euthanized regularly. I saw the door with the sign on it where it took place. I read about the arguments over how it was done...at that time the animals were put in cages in a room and then gassed. But until I saw that garbage can, it hadn't really registered.

Eyes brimming, I hugged Maxine and promised her that I wouldn't let it happen to her. I made a note on her card to call me if she was up for euthanasia and put her back in the kennel.

You can probably see where this story is going. The next week I came back and Maxine was gone. She had gotten "mouthy" with another dog. That foxy red face still haunts me thirteen years later. Not because she was special somehow, because all the dogs are special, but because she crawled into my heart and I left her there anyway.

This week it was Emma.

With Emma though, it was different. There were people who cared. There were walks and scratches and Kongs and a brand new collar. There was peanut butter. There were gentle hands to hold her on her way out.

There were facebook posts and photographs and prayers for her spirit to fly free. There was love.

There is a whole community of people working to make sure that these dogs go home. To make sure that dogs are spayed and neutered and who work with families to help them keep their animals when times get difficult. There are social media posts looking for pit bull friendly housing and ones calling for donations for difficult medical cases. There are legions of fosters opening their homes to dogs who need a temporary place to rest or time to learn how to live with a family after never having the opportunity before. There are volunteers running playgroups and walking dogs every day so that when potential adopters come the dogs are calm and happy and show better. There is Shannon taking stunning photos and Chloe making videos and Jamie & Laura writing terrific descriptions and making beautiful webpages. There is Lysa training new volunteers with her sunny smile and big heart. There is Carolyn keeping track of which dogs are in which kennel and who needs walked each day. There is Delyse running the whole show.

And everywhere there are so many people just like them. Times are changing. My heart is warmed by Emma's story because of how incredibly different it is.

Godspeed Emma. Godspeed Maxine.

You both mattered.

Tony's memory of Emma. Soft paws, open mouth smile, gorgeous eyes.
If you'd like to join the team of volunteers at PB Soc, we'd love to have you!

Info HERE.



Moxy...One Happy Girl! | Chandra

Today, we met Moxy. Except that when we met her, Moxy had another name: Creeper. I cannot even imagine who would name this happy, smiley, tail wagging girl Creeper but I'm thinking it was a serious case of projection. Luckily Delyse stepped in and gave this lovely girl a name she can be proud of.

Moxy seems to love everyone. She greeted me with a big smile and a fiercely wagging tail which is incredible given that she was just off her seven day hold and hadn't been out of her kennel that whole time. I slipped a harness on, gave her a bite of chicken and took her out the door. Well, tried to take her out the door. First I had to find my way out of the building, again.

This is my biggest challenge so far at the shelter. The dogs are great, the people are great. Everything is great. Except finding my way around.

The Bradshaw shelter is set up with two sides that mirror each other, and in spite of my ferocious attempts to concentrate and figure out how it all fits together, I just can't seem to do it. I end up wandering around desperately reading the little signs on the wall looking for delivery from my misery. Sometimes I feel tears welling up with the frustration of it. And then I just berate myself for being so silly as to let it get to me.

Next time I'm going to take a photo of the evacuation drawing and print it out at home, bring it with me the shelter and make myself a cheat sheet. It's just awful to have a dog on a leash and not know where to go. Especially since we have to be careful not to let the dogs get close to each other and I'm never sure who is coming around a corner.

Small thing, but I need to figure it out so I can be more effective. Using up precious dog walking time wandering around lost is not the best plan.

Anyway, back to sweet Moxy.

Moxy - SacCountyDogs.com

Moxy is not the most gorgeous girl at first glance, but she definitely grows on you, quickly. Her demeanor is wonderful, she has a soft mouth for taking treats, she walks nicely on a leash, and she loves to sit snuggled beside you for some serious petting. She also is awfully cute when she hits the grass and immediately flops down and rolls around on her back. Major tummy rubbing is called for.

Shannon did a wonderful job, as always, capturing Moxy in the few minutes she had her in front of the camera. Chicken helped.

Moxy - SacCountyDogs.com

This girl is going to make someone very happy. Please do share her and help her forever family find her!

(Chloe made an adorable video from our time today...if you cannot see it below, please click HERE to view on YouTube.)


For more info on adoptable dogs, please visit SacCountyDogs.com or visit the Sacramento County Animal Shelter. You can also share this page with your friends.

And if you have any suggestions for my directionally challenged ways, please let me know.

Thanks for reading:)


Update 4.1.15: Unfortunately, Moxy turned out to have a medical problem that kept her from being adoptable. I'm glad she had lots of the love from all the volunteers at the shelter, but she didn't make it out. This is the tough part of volunteering...falling in love with each and every dog. They don't all have happy endings. 

The Dignified Life of a Former Fighting Pit Bull | Ron

You would think by looking at the large black scars, the deep divot in his shoulder and the bulging calcified joints, that the eight-year-old dog standing in front of me had been through a lot.

You would be right. And after hearing that this animal was the survivor of a dog-fighting ring, you might even describe his experience as inhumane.

But when I spent a short time with Willard, a calm brown pit bull, on a sunny Sunday morning, I could only come up with one description:

Resilient. Noble. And a testament to the inherent good nature of dogs.

Two months ago, if you had asked me whether I would have put my face two inches in front of the jaws of a former fighting pit bull, I would have said you were absolutely nuts.

But that's exactly what I was doing on a little knoll outside the Sacramento Animal Shelter today. Willard, his prematurely white muzzle gleaming in the sun, barely moved as I came close to him. He took a piece of chicken gently from my hand. He sniffed. And then he layed down, his war-torn body resting against the cool grass.

There was not a hint of aggression in this dog. I mean, not even a smidgeon. This dog was calm. Relaxed. You wouldn't have been able to tell that Willard had an awful abusive history, if not for the history written on his body.

I couldn't take my eyes off the huge knobs on each joint of his two front legs. I later found out the reason for the injuries: His legs had been broken. Not by other dogs, but by humans. On purpose.

This kind of cruelty is hard to fathom for most people, but in an age when we are constantly bombarded by news of heinous acts around the world, it's not that difficult to imagine, I suppose.

I found out that most former fighting dogs are actually quite social when they're rescued. It surprised me. I always figured they would be highly aggressive and almost impossible to domesticate. Not so. These dogs only fought because they had no other option. Many of them were injected with steroids, fed methamphetamines and pushed into cages with other amped-up animals where they had no choice but to fight.

Willard walked and sniffed and walked some more. He enjoyed a little chicken and then strolled again, glad to be outside, if only for a few minutes. He's been at the shelter for two long years, waiting for the adjudication of his owner's case. Thanks to the PB Soc volunteers who regularly walk and socialize this guy, he's managed to stay sane.

When his case is over, perhaps Willard will be adopted to a home that appreciates a mellow, dignified dog who just wants to enjoy the golden years of his life.

A home where his new family sees beyond the scarred exterior to the gentle soul inside.


Update 4.11.15: Willard is now available for adoption! His abuser was convicted and he is now ready to go home. For more on Willard please visit his webpage.


Denali & Trixie | Chandra (Update: Adopted)

When we started volunteering at the shelter, we all thought that Chloe would be making videos of the dogs. Well, it's turned out that she absolutely loves assisting Shannon Skalisky with taking photos instead. She gets to hang out inside (our girl is not outdoorsy to put it kindly) and most importantly, gets to meet and hug all the dogs. I think the picture part of it is the bonus.

I strongly believe that videos can help get these dogs adopted...there is something about seeing them move that lets them into your heart. Ron and I are trading off taking video of the dogs we walk, which means that he and I are going to be in the videos most of the time unless we can figure out an alternative. So please excuse our walking dog clothes and lack of variety! I do love editing the footage and getting to piece in Shannon's beautiful pictures. Then there is that moment at the end when I drop the song over the whole thing and it just comes to life. I love that moment.

I hope you do too.

Today, we met Denali and Trixie. Now it's your turn.

(If you cannot see the videos below, please click these links to view on YouTube: Trixie •  Denali)

If you are interested in adding Trixie or Denali to your family, please visit SacCountyDogs.com or visit them at the Sacramento County Animal Shelter on Bradshaw Road. You can also share this post with your friends.

 The dogs say thank you and so do I.


Update 3.25.15: Denali has been adopted! One of the shelter's longest term guests, Denali deserves a wonderful life. Congratulations to him and to his new family. Happy trails Denali!

Denali and his new family! Happy Adoption Day sweet boy.
Update 4.1.15: Trixie has been adopted too. It took FOUR months, but she made it home today!!