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 ❤

CharlieDog & Friends: L.O.V.E.

“I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!”

-Buddy the Elf (…and Stephanie the Blogger)

Love #1? All of you. Can I just say how awesome our readers are?? You never fail to inspire me with your comments and support and even constructive criticism. This blogging community has become such a treasured and vital part of my life, and I don’t know what I would do without all of you! It is so special to be able to share my passions and find others who can relate.

Love #2: CharlieDog and Friends

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Charliedog and friends is a company that is doing amazing things for the plight of unloved and unwanted animals. Their approach? Start small… as in, with the smallest of animal lovers.

Almost every family experiences the begging and pleading from their children for a new four-legged family member. But what if those children were not pestering for just any pup, but for a shelter dog? I can’t say it any better than they have eloquently described it themselves, so I will be pulling much from their Mission Statement page:

”  Our mission is to help rescue organizations change the way people think about, and go about, getting their family pet.  It’s to make sure the animal shelter is the first (and, hopefully, only) stop on that exciting Saturday afternoon, when children and adults get in the car and set out to find their new best friend, brand-new leash in hand.

We hope every child that loves a CharlieDog toy loves the spirit of that toy, the spirit and the story of the once-homeless pet that inspired it.  And when the day comes — and it will! — to start pestering the parents for a dog or cat, we hope that child will say, “I want a homeless pet.”

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The unique, hand-crafted toys themselves are made in America, and based on real-life shelter and rescued pets, and now they help homeless pets get to their forever homes. In addition to their toys, they make colorful, playful, patterned bracelets that mimic pet collars, simply embroidered with the word ‘Adopt’. Talk about a conversation starter!

67485_474802525912793_176412963_n 549843_466402763419436_1926436812_nThe above pups are real-life rescue dogs Ruko and Adolla, pulled from New York City kill shelters just before their time was up. They continue to do good by touching the lives of children as treasured stuffed animals.
 
Their website calls this pup a little red-nose pit bull from PA... it MUST be Gia, right?!

Their website calls this pup a little red-nose pit bull from PA… it MUST be Gia, right?!

We can’t wait to make a little red pocket pittie addition to our family! (Remind you of anyone?!) As if all of that isn’t enough to send you running to their website to share and make purchases, CD&F isn’t just talking the talk barking the bark… they are also walking (no-pull leashes & harnesses in hand!) the walk in their every-day lives. $5 from each and every purchase goes directly to rescue shelters across the country.

”  We promise never to waste your money.  We’ll pledge to spend it thoughtfully and directly on on-the-ground rescue needs — exactly how we would spend our own money.  Vet care for sick or injured animals.  Transport costs (gas and tolls) for pets who have been rehomed, but have no way there.  Direct sponsorship of individual dogs or cats in shelters.  The people behind CharlieDog and Friends have seen local rescue in action (we volunteer ourselves) and we can tell you: it’s awe-inspiring, and because it’s a job that tears at the heart, it needs constant funding. We’ll never donate to large, bloated animal welfare organizations, that — despite their size, and without a doubt — do good.  Rescues need more help. 

My friend Suzy Allman is the brains, brawn, and (especially inner) beauty behind this amazing group. If you’ve fallen in love as quickly as I did with her heart, which she so openly shares through her words, then show her some love by following her blog and liking their facebook page. She is essentially an angel for animals… not only is she running this amazing yet fledgling company, she is a blogger, writer, NY Times sports photographer, and shelter volunteer, but she also provides free transportation for ‘super urgent’ rescue dogs out of New York shelters in her spare time. Wow.

Perhaps my favorite kernel of light from the CharlieDog website is as follows, because it so closely resembles my own mission when it comes to unwanted animals (here):

”  It’s hard for us to see a homeless animal without thinking of our own pets — safe, warm, loved, living a life that we know they need, and deserve.  It kills us, and we’re not alone.  We’re in the company of millions. CharlieDog and Friends believes we all want the same thing for our animals: a soft place, a loving place, a place where scraps sometimes land on the floor and it’s okay to pick them up with your tongue.  A special spot in the heart of a family.  ”

The dogs in shelters are no different than the dog resting at your feet, guarding your front door, or curled up beside you on the couch. (Cats too!) They deserve the chance to prove that. By supporting CharlieDog and Friends, you are giving those deserving animals the opportunity to find their forever families.

While CharlieDog and Friends is entirely deserving of a post all their own, I will be back tomorrow to talk about how their toys just might pertain to some of you! Stay tuned…

Your Dog

I wait behind these cold, dark walls. Staring eagerly through the bars.

Wondering what I have to do… How to align the stars?

Thurston waits patiently for his forever home at the Staten Island center of NYACC

Thurston waits patiently for his forever home at the Staten Island center of NYACC

You have your faithful dog at home: Obedient, loyal, and true.

He is your partner, defender, and friend. He is so special to you.

What makes him different? What sets him apart? Do I not deserve the same?

I could be adventurous, devoted, and smart. I could be deserving of the same name.

Moxie is a frightened lady that wants to love volunteers at the Stark County shelter in Canton OH, but doesn't know how to trust. She needs a friend.

Moxie is a frightened lady that wants to love volunteers at the Stark County shelter in Canton OH, but doesn’t know how to trust. She needs a friend.

You grant him a spot at the end of your bed, a collar with jingling tags.

He gets a good dinner, fresh water, & treats; with thanks, his happy tail wags.

You see my photo and read what I’m about, but you don’t know who I want to be.

Take a chance on my life, on my paws, on my heart. Please, take a chance on me.

Jeffey has earned himself amazing evaluations from the staff at the Brooklyn ACC in NY, proving how much he deserves a loving family.

Jeffey has earned himself amazing evaluations from the staff at the Brooklyn ACC in NY, proving how much he deserves a loving family.

I could learn to be quiet, cuddly, and calm, or brave and defensive of you.

I could be athletic and strong and compete, I’m ready to begin anew.

Nookie was displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and has spent the past 6 months living in a cage in a NY vet's office. He needs someone to show him what living is really about!

Nookie was displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and has spent the past 6 months living in a cage in a NY vet’s office. He needs someone to show him what living is really about!

Some look at me and imagine the worst: assume I’m discarded for reasons severe.

But all that I want you to understand, is that your dog could have ended up here.

Your dog that you know inside & out, could have wound up stolen or lost.

He’d find his way to a place like this. In the kennel, without thought, he’d be tossed.

This boy has displayed excellent manners during his time at the Manhattan ACC. Though he came in as a stray, he is made for life as a part of a family.

This boy has displayed excellent manners during his time at the Manhattan ACC. Though he came in as a stray, he is made for life as a part of a family.

In the chaos of the shelter, would his voice be understood?

Amid his confusion and his fear, would anyone see the good?

Without a thing that is familiar, would he still remain the same?

Would he get a fair chance, or would your dog they blame?

Naji's good looks are only the cover of an amazing book... this girl earned a wonderful rating at the Manhattan shelter in NYC.

Naji’s good looks are only the cover of an amazing book… this girl earned a wonderful rating at the Manhattan shelter in NYC.

I know that you’d do whatever it takes, to bring your pup home, safe & sound.

So why do I wait forever it seems, my fate resting on the clock in the pound?

All I am trying to convey to you is that I’m no different than the pup in your bed.

The one that runs, guards, and plays fetch… The one who gets to live instead.

This is Howard. Despite glowing volunteer recommendations, and a winning personality, as well as stellar interactions with children, cats, and dogs alike, he was put to sleep due to a lack of interested adopters.

This is Howard. Despite glowing volunteer recommendations, and a winning personality, as well as stellar interactions with children, cats, and dogs alike, he was put to sleep due to a lack of interested adopters.

Though my stay is up, my life not worth your time,

Please help the others who wait, for they have committed no crimes.

They could be brave, quick-witted, & sweet.

Play with your children & sleep at your feet.

They are just like the dog that you call your best friend.

Their lives lie in your hands, for you to defend.

Our Georgia girl. Once a shelter dog, slated for euthanasia, she has proven to be a wonderful companion and part of our family.

Our Georgia girl. Once a shelter dog, slated for euthanasia, she has proven to be a wonderful companion and part of our family.

I’ve always felt that a part of the shelter problem lies in people placing their own dogs up on pedestals. We adore our pets, and so therefore we believe that they are above all others. However, the bottom line is that so many of our dogs would not show well in shelters, and so many shelter dogs have the capacity to make amazing family pets. We need to start imagining the dogs we see in shelters as our own dogs, so that there is a higher value placed on their lives.

If any of these dogs have captured your heart, please contact me for more information about fostering or adopting: sel1490@gmail.com

(Never really) Wordless Wednesday: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Why do all of our photos feature sleeping pups? Is it because they are that lazy, or just extra-adorable when silent still snoozing? Either way, I love them all to pieces! Now, what do you think they are dreaming about?

Look at that little paw... Gaige and her daddy

Look at that little paw… Gaige and her daddy

I can't get enough of those ears!

I can’t get enough of those ears!

She buried her head under the covers... not ready to wake up!

She buried her head under the covers… not ready to wake up!

Even the kitty cat Bella gets in on the snuggle-bug action

Even the kitty cat Bella gets in on the snuggle-bug action

Big dog in a little chair...

Big dog in a little chair…

Makes my heart melt... even if their large and in charge presence did kick me to the couch!

Makes my heart melt… even if their large and in charge presence did kick me to the couch!

Comfy, G?

Comfy, G?

Look at those lips!

Look at those lips!

My own real-life teddy bear!

My own real-life teddy bear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enriching our Animals!

The new hot-button word in the world of dog rescue and training is ‘enrichment’. It is a tool that has so many applications and approaches, but is endlessly beneficial in the world of animal behavior.

Animal enrichment first originated in the world of laboratory animals, particularly of the primate variety. It was soon apparent that the primates housed in the laboratories needed more than just the typical food, water, and shelter to contribute to their well-being. Not only did a lack of socialization and stimulation obviously contribute to their mental and emotional decline, but these issues also appeared dramatically in their physical health. It soon became common practice to provide mental stimulation to many animals housed in laboratory settings, and researchers now even go so far as to house most primates with other animals. This realization has spread to zoos and most recently, animal shelters.

The blogger that I consider to be the ‘queen’ of doggie enrichment is essentially a hero to shelter dogs, and pit bulls to be precise. Not only is she a blogger, photographer, and foster, but she herself works in a shelter! You can learn more about Juliana and her enrichment pointers here. It is certainly worth the read, and is where I’ve learned some of the information I will share with you!

Why is enrichment so important to a dog’s well-being? A dog, or wolf, in the wild is constantly searching for food, water, and shelter. They are probably interacting with their pack. Their senses are on overload. Compare that to a dog in a small, bland ‘jail cell’ for 23.5 hours a day, in many shelters across the US, and it is easy to see why behavior issues may quickly develop. Oftentimes, these negative behaviors, such as jumping or barking, are not indicative of the dog’s true personality, but simply a product of boredom, stress, and monotony. Enrichment activities are essential to a dog’s happiness and physical health, because they allow the dog to exercise their minds and their senses, and provide an outlet for excess energy. Not only does it make the dog happy, and keep their mind healthy, but it also improves the behaviors that they display to potential adopters. Win-win-win!

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How does this apply to those of us that don’t work in shelters? Very well, in fact! Enrichment can be great for puppies, or any dogs with higher activity levels, as well as foster or adopted dogs that may be learning to adapt to a new environment.

First of all, giving a pup toys or puzzles to chew on means that what they are NOT chewing on are your shoes, couches, walls, etc. You may have heard the training tip, that if you find your pup chewing something that they should not have in their mouths, you take that object away, and replace it with something more appropriate. While that is great advice, and a good example of positive reinforcement, what would be even better is to prevent that behavior before it starts! One way I approach training with my dogs is by not giving them an opportunity to make bad decisions. If, for example, your rescue puppy is working on a toy or puzzle, they are not going to be interested in going for Dad’s brand new, $400, insulated, steel-toe work boots. 😉 Not that we speak from experience, or anything.

Georgia already has a bone to pick...

Georgia already has a bone to pick…

Another great benefit to enrichment, is that it actually serves to tucker out your dog! Believe it or not, a great session with a puzzle oftentimes serves to make our pups just as tired as a long hike on the farm! Their brains are so busy concentrating on just how to destroy or discover or dismantle their toys. One of Juliana’s foster dogs stated it perfectly when he explained that he will, “lie there for hours, meticulously ripping and pulling at my toys, planning exactly which piece of string to pick apart next. I work really hard to be the best Captain Destructo I can be.” In most cases, once the puzzle is complete, your pup will pass out on the spot from the shear mental exhaustion!

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Now that we know about some of the applications of enrichment, what are some ways we can provide it to our dogs? Well, from the most basic of standpoints, a simple toy that your dog wants to chew on can be enrichment. The way they tear at it provides an outlet for their energy. But for dogs that have not been exposed to toys very much, or for dogs in a more stressful environment such as a shelter, we need to find more high-value benefits. In addition, heading to your local pet store and buying toys that you know your dog is just going to destroy, can really add up! Especially on the budget of a shelter or rescue. Therefore, we get creative.

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One common form of enrichment is frozen kongs. Kongs can be stuffed with anything; vegetables, fruits, peanut butter, meat, dog food (wet or dry!), cheese, or just about anything else! What is most important is that it is stuffed in tightly, and that there is a good ratio of liquid to solid, so that the contents will freeze inside. It helps to place a little bit of peanut butter around the openings, to lead the dog into the interior contents, and then place in the freezer for at least a few hours. Some shelters will use pvc pipes with various sized holes, in place of the kongs. Just a cheaper option! A simple google search for kong ‘recipes’ can give you some creative stuffing suggestions.

"Ok now Foster Dad, heavy on the cheese, light on those crunchy orange carrot thingies."

“Ok now Foster Dad, heavy on the cheese, light on those crunchy orange carrot thingies.”

A fun summer-time enrichment for dogs is to fill a bucket with hard toys, like nylabones, treats, etc. This bucket can then be filled with water, and frozen. Talk about a puppy popsicle!! A cold weather version of this game can be to stuff a bucket VERY tightly with various toys, ranging in size, shape, and texture. It can be a fun game for your dogs to work on pulling the toys from the bucket. This game can occupy hours of your dog’s time and energy, because each toy they pull from the bucket will require a good chew or sniff!

Some pet stores are getting on board with enrichment activities, and providing puzzles for your dog. You may remember that I told you yesterday about a fun outdoor toy that our dogs ADORE. It is the only toy that hasn’t resulted in boredom or complete destruction! It is a large plastic ball, with holes, and a smaller plastic ball inside. It is just the right size for two dogs to play tug-of-war, but also allows the dogs to spend hours trying to free the inside ball from the trap! You can find it here.

Gaige playing with their Paw-zzle ball.

Gaige playing with their Paw-zzle ball.

Another great pet store find was actually a gift to the pups from my own mom! It is a three-tiered star, with pockets for treats or dog food. A dog has to figure out how to move the star around with their paws or nose, in order to gobble up the treats! Not only is it an enrichment activity, but it also helps with a dog who eats their food too quickly. To learn more, it is sold here, but there are many variations in most pet stores.

Georgia working hard for her dinner!

Georgia working hard for her dinner!

(It is important to remember that when it comes to food-based enrichment, we don’t want to be adding unnecessary calories to our dog’s diet! Unless your dog is underweight, be sure to decrease the size of their meals, in relation to the amount of food they’ve received from their kongs or other food-related puzzles.)

Enrichment is one of the greatest ways to stimulate our dogs, and exercise their minds. Not only that, but it can be a wonderful way for our dogs to bond with us, and feel more comfortable in their environment. What enrichment activities have you tried with your pets? Which ones have worked for you, and which haven’t? We’d love to hear your ideas!