Bonding with a "Fail" | Ron

"She's a fail."

The words came matter-of-factly from the mouth of one of the rescue volunteers.

I was confused for a moment.  I'd been walking dogs for months as a volunteer and the expression hadn't been uttered once.

The volunteer pointed to a sheet of paper where notes had been scribbled about a beautiful white dog named Abigail.

She had failed her temperament evaluation due to some fear and body language issues. She was not available for adoption. Nor did anyone know when - or if - she ever would be.

"How long?" I asked, wondering if "failed" dogs were living on borrowed time.

I was told there was no specific deadline and that they were working with the dog on her issues. I quickly agreed to take Abigail out for the morning, blindly confident that I could reach her in some way.

In truth, I rarely seem to make a true connection with the dogs I walk on Sunday mornings.  Sure, they're usually happy to be out and about, but I don't always feel like I'm making much of an impact in their lives beyond getting them out of confinement for a few hours.

I didn't expect it would be any different with Abigail.  I assumed she would be reticent of me and perhaps leery of other dogs.

But after only a few minutes on the leash, she seemed to settle in very nicely. I kept stopping to lean down and caress her coat, giving her reassurance. She looked back at me with doleful eyes. So far, so good.

Abigail is a gorgeous dog - part lab, part pit bull, a silky white coat, her ears as pink as a bunny's on the inside. There's no doubt in my mind she would be adopted in a day if finally made available to the public.

We paused to sit in the shade on a grassy knoll. She was anxious for a moment, but then stepped into my lap and enjoyed some treats from my hand. She looked back at me again, this time more confidently.

When I traded off dogs with my wife for a few minutes, it was clear that Abigail wanted me back. So I took her again.

We found another place to sit and snuggle in the shade. This time she stretched out and laid on her back, begging me for a belly rub. I happily obliged. There was something happening between me and Abigail.

I'm not sure if you can bond with a dog in 90 minutes. I'm not sure how much of it is my feelings projected on her or whether a true connection was made.

When I returned Abigail to her assigned kennel, I felt a twinge of sadness leaving her.  However, when I looked at back at her, she almost seemed to smile at me.

When I left the shelter that day, I felt like I might have made a small difference in Abigail's life. Maybe I gave her a hint of normalcy. She is far from a "failed" dog in my mind.

Now she just has to convince the others.

(If you cannot see the video below, please view HERE.)

Update 3.31.15: Abigail is safely in rescue where she'll have time to get ready for a family of her own.


The One You Want to Keep | Chloe (Update: Adopted)

There's always that dog. The dog that you instantly connect with. The dog that walks great on the leash. The dog that sits on your lap and cuddles. The dog that has a gentle mouth. The dog that gives the best kisses. The dog that you so badly want to take home. The dog you can't have.

This is Sydney, and she is that dog.

This big goof loves walking and exploring, and most definitely is vocal about how she wants to play with the other dogs. Except, she can't...at least until her kennel cough is all gone. For now anyway, humans will have to do.

She is a cuddler, this one. She climbs and rolls around on you, and gives you lots of kisses.

I wish I could keep this girl. But I can't.

So what can I do? 

Help her find her forever family. 

Anyone would be beyond lucky to adopt Sydney. Enjoy the video of her I put together, and see all the cuteness in motion.

And please share!


If you can't view the video below, click HERE.

Update: Sydney has been adopted! 4.6.15 So happy for this sweet girl.


Lila & Buster's Doggie Glamour Shoot | Chandra (Update: Adopted)

Sunday morning is dog time for us. We grab our leashes and bags of chicken, put on our dog walking clothes and head over to the shelter. This week Ron walked Babette and I got to hang out with PBSoc volunteers Gwen and Emily while they walked two newcomers...Lila & Buster.

At first glance, Lila & Buster look a little, well, odd. They are the thick, short legged low-riders of the dog world. Lila has front feet that splay out like a seal, and is missing most of the hair on her back, except where a few little tufts are hanging on. (Her coat should grow back with some TLC.) Buster has the blockiest of heads and the squishiest of faces on top of a short, stout compact body. He is kind of scabby and endured a very bad toe nail clipping before he landed at the shelter that left two of his toes still bleeding yesterday. We also pulled a tick off of him.

We don't know what Lila & Buster's background is, but clearly they were neglected.

But here's the thing about dogs that always knocks me flat...they are the world's most forgiving creatures. Lila & Buster are two of the most loving, sweet dogs I've ever met. When I plopped down next to Lila, she promptly climbed into my lap and curled up for a cuddle. Buster was fully stretched out on his back getting a fabulous scratching from Emily. They were both worn out from their walk and just wanted to chill and be doted upon.

Everyone who met these two on Sunday fell head over heels in love with them. Volunteers were crossing the street to come pet Buster, drawn by that big blocky head and huge smile, and then they'd turn to Lila and love her up too.

Every Sunday, photographer Shannon Skalisky spends her day at the shelter taking glamour shots of the adoptable dogs and Lila & Buster had their turn after their walk. Often dogs are scared of the photo set up...the white backdrop, the unfamiliar props, the camera. Not Lila & Buster. They just took it all in stride, tails wagging. With their amazing tolerance level, these two would be perfect for a family with little kids. I can just see them dressed up as a princess and a pirate, being pulled around in a wagon, stoically handling the exuberant hugs.

I truly hope these two can be adopted together as they clearly love each other. All they need is the right family...and a little time to grow hair and toenails.

Enjoy a little peek behind the scenes at Lila & Buster's photo shoot and then please do share these two and help the perfect family find them!

For more info on adopting Lila and Buster, please visit SacCountyDogs.com.

And a great big shout out to Shannon for giving her heart, time and talent to the dogs each week. She does it all with such grace and love.

(If you cannot see the video below, please view it HERE.)



Update 4.1.15: Buster and Lila have been adopted. They went to separate homes and hopefully will be just fine with their new families. I have to admit I'm a little sad though that they didn't go home together.


The Wonderful Mystery Behind Shelter Dogs | Ron

(Update 3.23.15: Dolly has been adopted!)

Dolly exploded from her kennel. I barely caught her collar as she darted past me. She wriggled and leaped and twirled as I finally managed to clasp her to my leash.

And then we were off. In a furious charge to the exit.

Dolly jumped. She grabbed my leg. Then my other leg. And then as we hit daylight, she decided to go into a touchdown celebration dance. 

Oh no, I thought to myself, this is not going to be a pleasant walk.

I was wrong.

In a matter of minutes, Dolly was walking peacefully at my side like she had been my dog for years. I admired her snow-white face and brindle body as she strode through the sunshine. But I soon began to notice something. She had no interest in sniffing anything. Not a plant. Or a tree. Or the grass.

Kinda odd. Dogs love to sniff. Especially dogs that have been cooped up in a concrete kennel for most of the day. But Dolly was different. She wanted to do two things: Chomp on chicken and stroll lazily. That was fine by me, but it made me want to know her backstory. Was Dolly a city dwelling dog who never really got a chance to romp in the grass? Was she simply kept on the side of house in one of those long, paved dog runs? 

That's the thing with shelter dogs. They're kind of a mystery. You only get hints of their past by their behavior in the present.

For Dolly, I suppose it doesn't much matter. She's a good dog. A very good dog.


Enjoy Dolly's photos from her glamour shoot with Shannon Skalinsky today and the video that Chloe made of her. Dolly got lucky and found her forever home quickly, but many more dogs need home. For more information, visit PBSOC.

(If you cannot view the video below, please visit HERE.)