Helping an Angel Find her Wings

One of our concerns when we made the decision to adopt Georgia, was that we wouldn’t be able to make our mark in the world of animal rescue. However, that couldn’t have been further from the truth! Without all of the time I was devoting to her training and ‘rehabilitation’, as well as marketing her and working to find her perfect adoptive family, I am able to spend that much time volunteering in the rescue in other capacities.

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A few weeks ago, J and I were able to assist this sweet little angel on her path to a forever home!

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And when I say ‘angel,’ I mean spit-shined halo, fluffy wings, and stars in her eyes… this girl was about as close to perfect as I’ve seen! She was totally house-trained, mellow yet affectionate, and incredibly obedient. She was friendly with our cat and gently curious with the dogs (we chose not to allow them to meet face-to-face).

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She came from a shelter in Tennessee, along with the name Darcy, and 8 adorable puppies! They had been in the shelter since May, and the shelter workers and volunteers were desperate to get the little family out.

4Thankfully our rescue, A Positive Promise, stepped up to bring her and the pups to safety. She made sure that we were able to feel the full effects of her gratitude!

1We picked her up on a Saturday in State College (We are!) and brought her home for the evening. She snuggled right in bed with me, slept soundly through the night, and was ready to go only once I’d gotten out of bed the next morning. We loaded her up in the truck and made the trek toward OH, where her foster (to-adopt!) family would be meeting us!

Darcy's puppies, with their fosters!

Darcy’s puppies, with their fosters!

She has been in their home for a few weeks now, and after a little bit of a bumpy start, the future is looking bright for all involved! I have been counseling her foster family on the benefits of the two-week de-stress, as well as positive reinforcement training, slow introductions to their other dog (another APP alum, Ringo, a handsome deaf pittie!), and issues with mild leash-reactivity. They are so dedicated to helping make Darcy (now Ruby!) a happy member of their family. She is truly in ‘heaven’ and definitely seems to be in love with her brother. I call it a match made in heaven!

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6Let’s send lots of positive thoughts and warm-wishes their way!

 

A Very Important Pittie!

Introducing Frannie!!

Christine Ann Photography

Christine Ann Photography

Those gray hairs on her muzzle? I like to call it frosting… it just means her kisses are sweeter!

At approximately 8 years old, Miss Frannie is a bit of an elderbull, which makes her appealing on a number of levels! First, she is a polite and well-trained little lady. You will not need to worry about cleaning up carpets or replacing chewed shoes, as she knows how to be on her best behavior. Not only is she a mature girl, but she has also been with our rescue long enough that we know what her strengths and weaknesses are. You are essentially adopting a dog that comes with a complete owner’s manual, people! One of the things that makes LCPO so special is that they vow to be your partners for the life of your dog, and therefore are readily available for any questions or concerns that you may encounter throughout your time as a dog owner. Not only are they available for contact, but they look forward to hearing from you! Additionally, Frannie does not represent a 10-15 year commitment like a young dog might. Because of her energy level and age, perhaps she would be a good addition to a family that is new to dog ownership, or someone who themselves is not a young pup! At the same time, Frannie enjoys a good romp outdoors and lives to play with her toys. While she enjoys a cozy cuddle on the couch, don’t expect her to be a boring housemate! She is the type of dog whose activity level can easily accommodate most family lifestyles. Frannie comes with a complete health history and screening. You can be confident that this pup is healthy and ready to be your happy companion for the rest of her days.

Frannie loves:

  • Cuddle time and comfy places to snooze frannie95
  • TOYS, and lots of them frannie6
  • A little bit of fetch and play frannie94
  • Children and the young-at-heart frannie5
  • Cross-fit! (Not joking!) frannie7

The type of people Frannie needs:

  • A family: Frannie is an easy girl who really loves respectful children. Her easy-going nature makes her a great fit for a family that is on the go, as she is content to stay cuddled at home, as long as she meets her daily requirement for some play time and snuggles mixed in! Her consistent background in training makes her a polite family member, who will not add much to the workload. frannie3
  • Young Professional or Student: Frannie doesn’t need a ton of time or training like a younger, more active dog might. She is crate-trained, which means that she will be comfortable snoozing away the day while her owner is at work. Perhaps you know that you would be a committed dog owner, and while you are planning to stay where you are for an indefinite amount of time, you can’t make the 10-15 year commitment that a pup would require… if so, then this might be the girl for you! frannie4
  • Senior: If you enjoy lazy mornings spent sipping coffee and reading the paper on your front porch swing, a light walk around the neighborhood, followed by an afternoon nap on the sofa, then Frannie is absolutely on the same wavelength! She is settled, wise, and quiet, and she will make her gratitude known for the rest of her days! Truly, giving Frannie a home to enjoy the rest of her days will be a dream come true for our girl. frannie91
  • Singles who want a companion: You know you want to help out a rescue dog. You know that you want a friend to keep you company so you don’t feel compelled to text your ex. Frannie is the girl for you! Not only is she happy to sit with you while you sip a glass of wine (or beer!), pig out on popcorn, and watch late night movies, but she would also love to accompany you on walks and be your wing-woman. Her goofy smile is sure to attract all kinds of attention, and she isn’t above dressing up in costume to help you find the (second) love of your life! frannie2

Special Needs:

  • All dogs have unique and individual requirements for their happiness… just like all people! Frannie’s quirk is just that she would prefer not to live with other animals. She currently lives in a foster home, where she is separated from two dominant dogs and a few cats by baby gates, and kenneled when her fosters are out of the house. Most importantly? She is happy to simply ignore other dogs when out and about, but would just prefer not to share her space with other pets in the home. And who can blame her?! She has more than enough love to go around!

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Frannie is located in North Eastern Pennsylvania. Visit her Petfinder profile to learn more about her! If you have any questions, please get in touch with me (Stephanie!) at sel1490@gmail.com

Frannie at Cross Fit – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRzucoFjRKs&feature=youtube_gdata_playerHappy

Prancing Frannie video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dDt06Hn8oo&feature=youtube_gdata_player4

Wheeling’ with Frannie video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YE0LGGg8bQM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Now some of you may be wondering why I am sharing Frannie with you. Poor Frannie has been with our rescue, LCPO, for over a year, through no real fault of her own. Yes, she would prefer to be an only pet, but she is wonderful with children. She is completely house and crate-trained, and a dream for even any new dog owner. She enjoys time spent with her ball outdoors, but is low-key enough to relish time spent relaxing on the couch. Frannie is lucky enough to be in a foster home that adores her, but her foster family must crate and rotate her in order to keep her separate from the other animals in their home. This, coupled with their hectic work schedules, means that Miss Frannie spends 21 of 24 hours each day in a kennel.

So while Frannie’s “life” is not on the line, is this really any way for an animal to live? Is she thriving? Sure, she is certainly happier than she would be sitting in a shelter, or worse. She gets lots of love and affection, play time, and proper nutrition. However, isn’t her life just as important, just as “urgent” as the other dogs sitting in shelters?

I, along with the other Team Leaders at LCPO, am working diligently to help find Frannie a forever home, but because of her length of time spent with the rescue, I knew I would need to come up with an approach that was more creative than the typical facebook post – petfinder -blog combo. I set out on google to see what smarter minds than my own might have come up with.

I was astonished to find that Frannie is not alone in her plight. Not even close. In fact, some might say that while her situation is less than ideal, it is better than many. One such post was about a female black lab who had entered a No-Kill shelter as a two-month old puppy, and was celebrating her EIGHTH birthday there. Yes, 8 long years spent in a shelter. Thankfully, through the goodwill of cross-posters and bloggers, she finally found a happy forever home to spend the rest of her years. This home was selected from a list of many, many qualified applicants, all of whom referenced the blog as the source of their referral.

However, it makes me wonder… why does it take celebrity to make some of us apply to adopt a dog? This dog had been posted for years, and it took national headlines and media attention for anyone to apply to give her a chance. Not just that, but once the spotlight was on her beautiful jet-black face, she had a plethora of eager adopters signing up to ‘win’ her lifelong loyalty and affection. Where had these people been for the past 8 years? If they were eager and equipped to take on a dog, what had prevented them from doing it, and why now? Why this dog? The only difference I can see is her new-found celebrity status.

I am begging you to help me make life better for Frannie. She has so much love to give, and I know in my heart that the family who ends up with her will be so thankful to have her in their lives. She is a really, really special one, friends. Please take a few seconds out of your day to share for Frannie. It would mean the world to me.

This makes my heart so happy <3

This makes my heart so happy ❤

Blazing New Trails with Animal Farm Foundation

I first became aware of the Animal Farm Foundation internship program through my blogging idols at Love and a 6-Foot Leash, and Peace, Love, & Fostering. Each of the bloggers participated in one of AFF’s informative and life-changing week-long internships, and I was so moved by the experiences that they graciously shared. Prior to that, I of course had heard about all of the great things AFF is doing to advocate for ‘pit bull-type dogs’. I just knew that if I got involved, it would forever change my perspective on all things dog… from training, to rescue, to adoption, and more.

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Photo from Peace, Love, & Fostering

I don’t want to give too much away up front, but I will say this… I am attending the AFF Language and Advocacy session next week. You can read more about what I can expect, here. I am so excited! I am also nervous. And, I am a little bit bummed that my experience will only be the 3-day version, as opposed to the week-long. However, I anticipate that this will be a great way for me to get my feet wet, and maybe even have the opportunity for a longer experience next year.

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I will be attending as a representative of LCPO, the rescue group where I volunteer. They are also the ones that pulled Georgia and eventually placed her with us as a foster. I hope to soak up as much knowledge as possible, in order to bring everything back to our hard-working team of leaders and volunteers. I am sure that there will be so many others in attendance that possess infinitely more knowledge and experience than I. I can only hope that some of theirs will rub off on me!

Surround yourself with the dreamers the doers the belivers the thinkers

 

Remember that I started this week discussing adventure, and my goal was to put myself in environments and with people that made me reach for more… I would say that this endeavor is going to be just that! I can’t wait to share it with all of you on here.

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Another great photo from Peace, Love, & Fostering’s AFF Internship experience

OH! And Happy 4th 🙂 I hope you all enjoy it (safely!) with your pups!

Photo source: Pinterest.com

Photo source: Pinterest.com

 

Licking Discrimination

We hope everyone is enjoying the weekend! We have had 10 entries to the ‘mean’ pit bull photo contest, and we are so excited to see such adorable photos of our readers’ pups. This means that we are up to 10 lbs of food to be donated to a local shelter… which is not nearly enough! So keep them coming, friends.

We realized that in our attempt to dispel myths about pit bulls, we were doing a huge disservice to all of our other bully and misunderstood breeds. With that being said, we want to open the contest to anyone who has a breed of dog that experiences persecution as a ‘dangerous dog’. This might include dobermans, rottweilers, german shepherds, etc… whatever loveable dog you have that gets uncomfortable stares or rude comments from time to time.

To brighten your weekend, I thought I’d share one of our first reader submissions… this is a fellow celebri-blog-dog, Leroy! His mama is the author of Leroy and Company, and he is a fellow LCPO rescue dog! Let me know what you think, and please, send me those photos. You’re helping homeless dogs, people!

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The Kind of Post I Never Thought I’d Write

My friend Morgan, over at Temporary Home, Permanent Love, wrote a really difficult piece last week (here). While she struggled with sharing the contents with her readers, it gave me the courage to share with all of you something I have definitely been procrastinating. Usually when I begin to write a post, I am anxious to get my thoughts out on paper the screen, because it is clear to me what the ‘mood’ will be… sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes serious, sometimes silly. Rarely, is a post such a mix of emotions. And I don’t really know where to start. So I guess I will just say it, and hope that you, my readers, will be gentle and understanding… at the very least, I hope that you will read through to the end before you judge. Here goes nothing.

Georgia's first night in our home

Giving kisses

We. Are keeping. Georgia (. or ! or ? or ?!)

Where We are Now

We are thrilled! Georgia has become an integral part of our family, and of our pack. She came to us a worried little bundle of rolls and wrinkles, who didn’t know how to play, was scared of raised hands, and would rather be alone than in the company of others. She was so intimidated by other dogs, that she would snarl and snap if they came too close… but we learned pretty quickly that she really was all bark, and no bite. These days, it is rare to find her anywhere but cuddled up on top of you, and when she is not cuddling, she is wrestling and bitey-mouthing and tug-of-waring with our pups over toys. She is truly like an entirely different dog. While I always held out hope for her improvement, Georgia now possesses a confidence that I truly never could have imagined that she would acquire. She wags her tail when passing even strange dogs on walks, is friendly with other pups at obedience school, and is happy to do anything we ask.

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Once upon a time, many people urged me to consider placing Georgia as an ‘only-dog’. While I appreciated their guidance, in my heart, I couldn’t resign her to that fate. I felt strongly that if we took things slowly, she would be able to face her demons and overcome them. Most importantly, in the back of my mind, I even believed that she would one day learn to find solace and comfort in the company of other dogs. Not a day goes by, that I don’t feel pride and satisfaction in the outcome we have all achieved together. Still now, months later, I make Jonathan come running into the room each evening, when I see the dogs curled up in a puppy pile, or sharing their toys. We ooh and ahh, and bask in the glow of our little pack’s happiness and contentment.

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How We Came to this Conclusion

When we had our first meet-and-greet (back in November, I think?!) Jonathan brought up the idea of making Georgia a permanent member of our family. I know I sound like a crazy person, but each time we took her to meet an adoptive family, she was petrified. Although I tried to deny it, for the sake of our sanity, neither of us could ignore the signs. She would cling to us, looking worriedly back and forth between our two sets of eyes, and sometimes even refuse to leave the car… it was like she knew we were considering sending her someplace else. We would try to make it a happy and pleasant experience, and I certainly don’t think we were exhibiting any negative body language that would deter her from feeling comfortable. Finally when we got home, she would velcro herself to our sides, following us even to the bathroom, and keeping her eyes on us at all times… ever our lazy couch potato, her anxiety even prevented her from sleeping soundly. Worse still, her digestive system would take a cruel hit, and it would take a few days for it to recover.

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Nevertheless, I was convinced that once we found a family that was an ideal fit, it would feel right. We had a number of meet-and-greets, and they were all unsuccessful for varying reasons. One did not work out because Georgia was not friendly with their dog. In a few instances, the adopters backed out just before the meet and greets, for personal reasons. One adopter, whom I had my heart set on, felt that it was just not the right time for her to bring home a new dog. Jonathan would always give me a million reasons why each family wouldn’t fit, but I would quiet his fears, and I remained optimistic that we would find a family that could give her everything she deserved.

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Finally, we found a family that was perfect on paper, and ended up being even more ideal in person. Jonathan and I woke up early one sunny, Sunday morning, and drove 4 hours (one way!) to meet them. To say we were invested and hopeful, would be an understatement. We met them, and it was a great match. Georgia was, of course, sweet and gentle with their children. She still clung to us, but the mother had experience with force-free training and the two week de-stress. It was all so perfect, and yet something just did not feel right. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach, and literally experienced a moment of sheer panic. My head started to spin, my vision tunneled… I needed to get out of there. We politely said our goodbyes to the family and the people from the rescue, and got in our car to hurry away. We both sat in momentary silence. It felt like someone was trying to take OUR dog away. It was in this moment, that I knew we just couldn’t let her go. On paper, everything was perfect, and there were no excuses that either Jonathan or I could come up with. But somehow, we were panicked at the thought of saying goodbye.

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Why We Ultimately Made this Decision

Over the next week, the topic of saying goodbye to Georgia was never far from my mind. A Christian at heart, I prayed daily for clarity in this decision. It was almost uncanny (or, as my mother-in-law would kindly remind me, perhaps providencial) but throughout that week, we took Georgia more places than usual; the vet’s office, local parks, the pet store, etc. Each time we went out, more often than ever before, people came up to us and asked to hear her story. By the end of every conversation, each person kindly and gently left us with words that were eerily similar… “But she looks like she’s meant to be with you,” “it seems like she’s already made the decision for you,” and “I think she is right where she belongs“. Before he left for work in the morning, when he called me around lunch time, and when he arrived home at night, Jonathan and I would always discuss her future and our decision. While he was adamant that her place in life was with us, I couldn’t shake the worry of disappointing everyone. A people-pleaser by nature, I didn’t want to think about delivering the news to the prospective family, my friends at the rescue, and of course, to all of you here on the blog. I had made a commitment to fostering, and I was going to stick with it. I was NOT going to be one of those ‘foster-failures’. I am not self-centered enough to believe that you all follow this blog with such loyalty that you would take our decision personally. However, with my dedication to fostering, and my previous “rants” against becoming a foster-failure, my pride had prevented me from considering this option all along.

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I reached out to a few people about my struggle. One of them was my friend Morgan, and the others were friends from the rescue, Alanna and Casey. Everyone reminded me that I needed to put Georgia first. But what does that mean? To me, that was my greatest struggle… It had always been about Georgia for me, and in my mind, it would be incredibly traumatic for her to go to another family. At this point, she was finally integrated with both of our dogs in the house, and I was so proud of the strides she was making. She was completely settled into our family, and the thought of putting her into a whole new environment sounded cruel. When I thought about dogs like Gaige, I thought about dogs that were hardy and resilient. Put Gaige in any situation and environment, and she was likely to come out unscathed and happy. Georgia just isn’t that type of dog. She is sensitive and gentle, and always worried about having approval. You could even go so far as to call her emotionally needy… at least when compared to our little spitfire, Gaige. Maybe I was anthropomorphizing, but I thought that Georgia would be sitting in her new house, missing Jonathan, Tonka, Gaige, and me, and wondering what she did wrong. I couldn’t get her sad little face out of my head.

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Where did we go wrong?

I’ve asked myself this question many times. I know some of you, particularly those hardened foster families, have been reading this post and are rolling your eyes. You think I’m making excuses for keeping our foster, when in reality, I just couldn’t let her go. Guess what? Maybe you’re right. I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that my decision was 100% selfless. What I can tell you is that I did not want a third dog. I especially did not want a third dog that wasn’t always fond of other dogs. But when I thought about Georgia, and Georgia alone, I kept coming back to this decision. It was the only one that felt right.

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After having Georgia as a part of our household since October, perhaps the problem is that we kept her too long. Especially being our first foster, having her with us for 5 months makes her feel like one of the family. At the same time, it only took a few minutes for us to fall head over heels in love with her, so maybe the length of stay had little to do with it.

Georgia says thanks!!

Another possibility is the investment of time and effort we made in overcoming her struggles. I know from my years spent competing with horses, that achieving a lofty goal with an animal is the surest way to form an unbreakable bond. We spent so much time breaking down Georgia’s walls and building up her confidence, that I felt we had become a team.

With his girls

 

Worse still, maybe I am just not cut out for this lifestyle. I hate to admit that to myself, but perhaps I am not capable of loving and letting go. Finally, ome of you may have guessed that Jonathan and I experienced some unsettling loss this year, shortly after Georgia came to our home. I certainly would be naive if I did not believe that this had an effect on our attachment.

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Yes, there are still times I feel immense guilt over our decision. Typically, that is when I am glancing into pleading puppy-dog eyes, staring out from behind bars, on my computer screen. But when Georgia was brought into my care, my commitment was to make decisions that were in HER best interest… not anyone else’s. I will always stand by the fact that I have done just that. This decision was not the ‘easy’ one. I didn’t make this decision because I needed Georgia in my life, or because I didn’t trust anyone to care for her the way we would. I made it because I believed in my heart, that this was meant to be, that she would be happiest with us. When Georgia faces a situation that is new or challenging, she always looks to me for guidance. Each day, she looks at me with grateful eyes, tail wagging gently against her sides, and I could swear she was thanking me from her heart. So while there are days that I wonder where we went ‘wrong,’ I can’t help by think that just maybe, this was part of someone’s plan all along… though whether that someone is Georgia or the Lord, I’m not sure we will ever know. Maybe there is a reason that God is dog spelled backward…

 

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Disclaimer: I wrote this all as it came to me… no editing or deleting or re-reading. I needed to be as honest as possible with all of you, and I felt that was the only way to do so.

It’s a Numbers Game!

It is estimated that only ONE in every SIX-HUNDRED pit bulls finds a home. Animal control facilities in cities all across the US have pit bulls numbering 40 to 60% of the shelter population at any given time. It is estimated that 1 million dogs classified as a pit bull are euthanized each year (yes, this includes puppies!). The best (and sometimes only) chance a pit bull has at survival once admitted to an animal control facility, is by being pulled by a rescue. Rescues only exist with commitment from dedicated foster homes!

Our rescue partner is LCPO, or Luzerne County Pit Bull Owners.

In 2013, LCPO celebrated their SECOND birthday. In that short time, they have helped more than 150 dogs find their forever homes!

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In 2013 alone, SIX of the lucky LCPO dogs have already found their forever homes.

They have also pulled SEVEN precious pups from shelters in the new year. This brings the total current list of adoptable LCPO dogs to EIGHTEEN.

TWO of LCPO’s alumni have gone on to officially achieve their Canine Good Citizen Certification. Many more are in the works!

In 2012, LCPO took on some dogs with medical issues and/or special needs. Puppy Jora (who is still with the rescue!) required extensive mange treatment and other necessities, which totaled approximately $1,855. Next we have Miss Khloe, who is also still with the rescue. Her total is driven up by her high cost of boarding, spay surgery, and a few health issues, and has reached in excess of $1,215. Georgia was another needy lady (mainly due to the fact that her puppies also required care!) at $1,200. LCPO has also taken on SIX pit bulls who happened to hear only with their hearts! TWO of these deaf pitties are still available for adoption.

In 2012, at least 66 of the LCPO adopta-bulls found their forever homes! These are all dogs that would have been put to sleep in shelters without the help of a rescue.

The average cost for each incoming dog in 2012 was $450. The adoption fee remains at a mere $200.

Borrowed from

Borrowed from ARF.org

While they focus first on finding forever homes for their adoptable dogs, LCPO reaches out to help dogs in many ways. LCPO offers the ‘NEPA Pit Fix Program’. This allows owners to have their pit bulls and pit mixes spayed or neutered for just $50. This cost covers the expense of the surgery, pain meds, and a rabies vaccination. There is no limit to the amount of dogs that can be altered under this program!

LCPO currently operates with a dedicated team of 3 Directors, 7 Leadership Members, and many volunteers. Volunteers have logged well over 250 hours of service in the new year.

Last year’s 5k Race to Rescue raised much-needed funds for LCPO. Rachael L. was the top fundraiser, contributing $650 with her individual fundraising efforts. The 2013 5k Race to Rescue will take place on June 8th. My goal is to raise $500, and my total currently stands at $395, with only 17 contributors. With every entry given the opportunity to win one of 11 prizes, those are some pretty good odds!

My favorite number? ONE. Sometimes looking at the millions of dogs that are hurting and homeless, can make our work as animal lovers seem overwhelming. However, if we take it one animal at a time, before you know it, you will have helped so many. Our fundraiser is one way that you can help!

If you are still interested in making a contribution, thereby becoming eligible to win any of the prizes listed below, please head here! You have until Monday, February 25th to make your donations, as we will be selecting the winners on Tuesday and making the announcements later that week!

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#1- Sugar Skulls bow tie from Little Bow Pup
#2- 3 Paintings from Yellow Brick Home
#3- Custom Collar from Sirius Republic
#4- Flirt Pole & Super Tug toy pack from Squishy Face Studio
#5- 3 Custom ID Tags from Sew Olive
#6- Custom Sweater from Tiennot Knits Sweaters
#7- Collar, Leash, & Harness package from 2 Hounds Design
#8- Two Shirts from Pitbull Shirt
#9- Small Smiling Pit Necklace from Lulu Bug Jewelry
#10- 8×10 Prints from DawgArt
#11- Interactive Puzzle Toy from Poochie Heaven

Leave a comment on this post if you have donated, and let us know which product you are most hoping to win! We will be sure to put in a good word for you 😉

*Please note that all of the LCPO financial totals are approximations/estimations.

Fundraiser: Prize #10 – Sunshine & Pitties

When we got married, I was so honored to have Foster Dad’s (FOUR!) sisters standing beside me on our big day. It was really important to me to find unique and distinctive gifts for each of his special ladies, that applied to their respective interests. I didn’t want to go the route of gifts with our wedding date engraved for years to come. For J’s youngest sister, E, it was so simple. We both share a passion for animals, and a lifelong dedication to the world of competitive horse showing. Where I had my once-in-a-lifetime horse named Frosty, hers is also a gorgeous, tall, gray gelding, named Norman. I knew that for her gift to be especially meaningful, I would need to incorporate her first love and best man! After taking a few (amateur!) shots of her gallant steed, I sent them along to an incredibly talented artist who specialized in custom animal portraits. Of course, E opened her gift with an appropriate mix of speechlessness and tears, and I was so proud to be able to provide her with such a treasured keepsake, truly indicative of my appreciation for her role in our lives, and in our special day.

I share this story to illustrate just how sacred such a gift can be. Our animals grace our lives in a pivotal, yet heartbreakingly brief, way. Having their presence preserved in a work of art to display in your home, is a gift that is truly invaluable.

DawgArt –  Unleash Your Pet’s Colorful Personality!

The watermark will not appear on the print, it is just to protect the copyrighted images!

The watermark will not appear on the print, it is just to protect the copyrighted images!

Alicia is an artist that specializes in pet portraiture and animal art in vivid color. She created her company, DawgArt, in 2003. She draws inspiration from a former professor, who would leave his students with the message to “Use your powers for good!” Alicia believes that art has power, and so when she puts her brush to her canvas, she has two goals: 1) to communicate the soul of one creature to another, and 2) to make people smile. All it takes is one look at her work to know that she brilliantly achieves both goals! However, she also absolutely uses her power for good, advocating for no-kill rescue and working with many animal rescues across the country.

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Alicia has worked with almost every breed of dog imaginable.

 

While she works primarily in acrylic on canvas, Alicia also dabbles in photography, dry media, and writing. The inspiration for the color splash in her portraits comes from her youth in the desert Southwest. Alicia was born in Germany and raised in sunny Arizona, but now lives in Utah with her husband Tyler, their rescued cat Kiko, and their shelter dog Toby.

Alicia's work includes, dogs, cats, horses, and even wild animals!

Alicia’s work includes, dogs, cats, horses, and even wild animals!

 Please visit Alicia’s store (here) to purchase any of these prints, but of course, she also embraces and encourages private commissions of custom portrait work. Can you imagine how impressive it would be to have a portrait of your own pet done in her bright and sunny style?! She captures the personality of her subjects so truly and eloquently, that you can’t help but smile.

Alicia has graciously offered a donation of 8×10 fine art prints. Please make a donation to our fundraiser for LCPO’s needy pit bulls, in increments of $10, to earn an entry! The bigger your donation, the more chances you have to win and one of our fabulous prizes!

Fundraiser: Prize #9 – Frost Yourself in Inspiration

Anyone that knows me in ‘real life’ knows that I have a thing for quotes. (I’m talking to you, Ticki Nhoma) I think that finding a few well-chosen words, uttered by a powerful individual from another time, can provide strength and courage when facing a new or challenging situation. It can bring comfort to know that someone else has been where you are, and gotten to the other side, mostly unscathed. I have always loved jewelry that can be symbolic of treasured quotes, because it serves as a physical reminder of the things that inspire us. My favorite quote in the world is “To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” So it’s no surprise that the Best Gift of all Time is the snowflake necklace my husband got me for my birthday last year, in remembrance of my beloved show horse, Frosty.

(Side note, my second favorite quote is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi)

(Side note, my second favorite quote is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi)

Lulu Bug Jewelry – Animal-Inspired Designs

While doing a search for wearable pit bull designs, I came across Lulu Bug Jewelry, where the masterpieces are all entirely hand-made and designed by an artist named Sue. While she says that her career choice was motivated by the fact that she comes from a long line of crafty women, her sweet Shar Pei, Lulu Bug, inspired the name. I knew instantly that I had to feature her work on the blog, as it fits perfectly into the jewelry requirements I listed above. Her work is truly meaningful, capturing memories and serving as a talisman of your inspirations and emotions. In her own words, Sue’s artistic process is defined below:

“I sculpt, inlay with tinted concrete and use my own illustrations to create original, meaningful pieces in .999 fine silver and .925 sterling silver. Fine silver is different than sterling in that it has no copper alloy, it’s pure silver. After the piece is formed, it’s fired in kiln at 1650 degrees for 2 hours. The binder burns off and the particles fuse, forming a pure silver object, also known as .999 fine silver. It’s quite magical! The majority of my pieces are made with fine silver PMC. ”

Sue's work features almost every breed of dog imaginable... you are sure to find a piece that reminds you of your own special pet!

Sue’s work features almost every breed of dog imaginable… you are sure to find a piece that reminds you of your own special pet!

Lulu Bug Jewelry has been in business since 2007, and Sue has been focusing on her personal creations full-time since 2009. All of her designs are eco-friendly, as they are made with reclaimed silver. The illustrations on her pieces are all created by Sue, and so you won’t find them anywhere else! She even makes the tools she uses to create these masterpieces.

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You can purchase any of the pieces above, as well as many more, at Sue’s etsy shop, found here. You will be amazed at the quantity of work she offers, from ancient dinosaurs to whimsical recreations of wild animals, and of course many breeds of dogs, cats, and horses. She has a variety of necklaces made to feature motivational quotes, and other symbols that may be uniquely inspiring to your life story. Sue has graciously granted a discount to And Foster Makes Five, which has enabled us to provide one lucky winner with the Tiny Smiling Pit Necklace, shown below. To be eligible to win, simply head here to make a donation in increments of $10, which will earn you one entry for each $10 you pledge! As always, 100% of the funds will go directly to helping needy pits rescued through Luzerne County Pit Bull Owners in Pennsylvania.

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Fundraiser: Prize #8 – Dressing for the Occasion

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Georgia wants to tell her devoted fan club “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Be still my heart.

It’s no secret. I am over the moon with pit bulls. Head over heels, batting my eyelashes, can’t get enough, wish they would call me more often, think the sun rises and sets by…pit bulls. I’m not sure if it is their soulful eyes, soothing cuddles, variety of coat colors, or their clownish antics, but it has been a love affair of magnificent proportions from the start. So, as you might imagine, my own pit bulls take my love to the tenth power, multiplied by infinity. Alarming levels of love and dependency are reached.

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“It’s got to be that can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of stuff.”

This Valentine’s Day, I am declaring my obsession with the pitties that we all know and love. I feel so thankful to have the opportunity to share my perspective of the breed with people, and hopefully change a few minds, one at a time. It is refreshing and rewarding to introduce people to Georgia and Gaige, and see their perspectives widen and their hearts open. At the same time, it is encouraging when you meet others that already share your passion for the breed. Starting this fundraiser has given me the opportunity to do just that. I have met so many wonderful individuals that have made an effort to run companies and produce products aimed at supporting the breed and refreshing its image.

Pitbullshirt.com – Fashion Tee Shirts

Pitbullshirt.com is just one such vendor. The brains behind this awesome company are husband and wife team Tommy & Sharon Athanasiou. They combine Tommy’s talent in art and design, with Sharon’s passion for pitbulls, which all began as a fundraising effort for an injured pit bull named Smokey. Smokey had been terribly abused and injured, and was being nursed back to health in California. With Sharon’s guidance, Tommy provided a hand-painted, pop-style rendition of Smokey, which ultimately raised $300 for his vet bills. With the success of Smokey’s fundraiser behind them, requests for custom dog portraits began pouring in, and The Tommy Pop Art Studio was born. Graciously, the couple donated 10% of each commissioned painting to the non-profit animal rescue organization of the customer’s choice.

The dynamic duo’s next venture was to enter the world of fashion design, and they now create clothing that brings attention to the pit bull’s plight and following, while providing their wearers with a fashionable alternative to the typical baggy, screen-printed tee shirts. These are not your typical pittie rescue shirts; they highlight the things we all love about bullies (their smiles, their snuggles) while giving their clothing a vintage vibe and funky feel.

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Tommy and Sharon live in Florida, minutes from the beach, with their four furry family members: Peanut, their very girly pittie, a toy poodle named Fluffernutter,  a maltese named Vanillabean, and a Himalayan cat named Junior.

Pitbullshirt.com is their online store, where you can purchase some shirts of your own. If you are feeling lucky, simply enter our giveaway! Tommy & Sharon have graciously offered a discount to And Foster Makes Five, and so we will be providing one lucky winner with their choice of designs in 1 Regular Tee Shirt and 1 Babydoll Slim Fit Tee. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, simply head here to make a donation. Each $10 increment will earn you one entry into our contest, where you will be eligible to win any of 10 prizes! Remember, 100% of the fundraiser benefits our rescue, LCPO.

Fundraiser: Prize #7 – A New Leash on Life

If you read our little blog on even a semi-regular basis, by now you should know that we are offering a super awesome fundraiser that benefits the Luzerne County Pit Bull Owners, our pittie rescue, and also gives you a chance to win really cool prizes.

LCPO is currently (like, as I type!) saving 3 lucky pups from the New York Animal Care & Control. Most of us familiar with pittie rescue know more than we would ever care to learn about what goes on inside those walls, but for those of you that don’t, let’s just say that it is about the worst place any pup could end up. Not only do they produce mass euthanasia lists every night, but rumors of neglect and abuse run rampant, not to mention the noisy chaos and cluttered disorganization that can lead to kennel stress and cage aggression.

Candice, from NYCACC. New name TBD!

Candice, from NYCACC. New name TBD!

NYC's Charlie, new name TBD

NYC’s Charlie, new name TBD

NYC's Charlie II, AKA Zeppelin!

NYC’s Charlie II, AKA Zeppelin!

Walking a dog out of the shelter, through the doors to fresh air and freedom, up into your car to nestle with cozy blankets, and eventually into your house to decompress in comfort and quiet, might just be one of the greatest things you ever do…. Not only for the dog, but also for yourself. LCPO is saving not just one, but THREE lucky dogs. While there are many loving, adoptable dogs behind those doors, the three that are coming to safety are about to have a whole new outlook on life. How cool is that?!

We all sit online each night, seeing the pathetic faces of dogs who face death while living a life behind bars. We wish we could do something about it… LCPO is one of the groups that actually DOES. Every. Single. Day. Let me be their voice, and ask for a little bit of help. Pulling three dogs at once is no easy feat, and they can use every penny we can bring them! Often when you make a donation to a non-profit, you get nothing in return, aside from the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a difference. This time, I’m offering you a way to simultaneously give back, and also take a little. 😉

Each of the incoming LCPO dogs will be promptly outfitted with some brand-spankin’ new duds from…

 2 Hounds Design: Collar & Custom Harness/Leash Combo

The brain, beauty, and brawn behind 2 Hounds Design is Alisha Navarro, a self-proclaimed collar addict artist. 2 Hounds Design began in 2003 as a creative outlet to produce the perfect collar for her two Greyhounds, who are retired racers. She has now developed a team of people who all work long and hard to perfect the art of collar-making, here in the United States. They use only premium hardware and the finest quality fabrics. Alisha employs a hands-on approach, selecting each fabric and ribbon herself; from hand-loomed Laotian and Scalamandre silk, to French Jacquard Ribbon and Asian Silk Brocades, they produce a stunning and extensive selection of dog collars!

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What began as a way to create a special, custom-design for her own two pups hounds, turned into a dog-lover’s true life passion. Alisha considers herself lucky to be living her dream, and doing what she loves, all while providing customers with a great experience and one more way to (stylishly!) spoil their best friends. While this is how she makes her living, Alisha and 2 Hounds Design have helped to raise more than $350,000 for adoption groups all over the world. She does so much for the canine community, and makes an effort to give back in any way she can. One way that they do this is by providing donation matching. If you purchase one collar as a donation to your non-profit dog rescue group, 2 Hounds Design will match your donation for up to 3 collars!

2 Hound Designs are best known for their stunning martingale collars and matching leashes, but did you know that they also produce custom harnesses? Wiggles, Wags, and Whiskers is their sister company, which creates the harnesses you have seen on Georgia and her other LCPO friends. One of the common purchases is the Freedom Training Package, which consists of the harness and double-connection training leash. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the patented Freedom No-Pull Harness does exactly what it is designed to do, by featuring a loop on the back of the harness, which tightens gently around your dog’s chest. This discourages pulling and makes your daily walks a much more enjoyable experience!

Gia models both her 2HD cupcake collar and custom harness!

Gia models both her 2HD cupcake collar and custom harness!

To be eligible to win both a gorgeous collar and custom harness from 2 Hounds Design, you simply must make a contribution toward our fundraising efforts for LCPO, here. Minimum amount for eligibility is $10, though each increment of $10 will earn you an additional entry. Every little bit truly does help!