Today’s adoption spotlight story takes us back to April of last year. We see many strange things in the shelter world, and many times our hearts are broken by awful stories of neglect, abuse, or cruelty in the lives of the pets that come to us. But while Thistle and her siblings have a happy ending, their introduction to us ranks as one of the most bizarre stories we have come across.
We first met these big-eared, speckled cuties when a kind gentleman stopped by the shelter with a very strange tale to tell. He owns property way out in the country, and a few miles from his home he has cattle pastures. On the way to feed the cows early one morning, something out of place caught his eye. “There’s an old house beside that dirt road that’s been abandoned for at least ten years,” he told us, “It’s empty and falling down, you’d never see anyone there. But on my way by this morning I saw a plastic bucket setting in the yard, and thought I’d pick it up and use it to carry feed.”
When he made his way over to pick up the bucket, however, he was utterly stunned. Playing around it were three little speckled puppies with big, pointy ears and even bigger, scared eyes! Taped to the side of the bucket was a cryptic note scribbled on an old brown envelope:
Here are those pups. I hope you keep one of them, because you know how the Asians like to fatten them and eat them. These pups were born on January 27, 2018. I wish I could keep the small mail that has spots and some white on him, he is so smart!
I will see you at work Tuesday!”
We were utterly baffled. What possible meaning could we attach to this note that made any sense whatsoever? If the pups were meant to be found, why were they left in such an abandoned location? If someone wanted to dump puppies in secret, why did they leave their name?
It’s likely we will never know the truth behind the appearance of these three sweet puppies at that abandoned house way out in the country, but we will forever be grateful that they were found by a kind person who, rather than just passing on by as many would do, took the time to stop and pick up these helpless little ones. He took them back to his home and fed them, and boy were they hungry! And then, because he wasn’t in a position to keep three hungry little pups, he brought them to us. Our Facebook followers were riveted by the story of the strange note (which really seemed like something out of a mystery novel!), and it wasn’t long before the trio of sisters - now named Tandy, Thistle, and Tawny - each found a wonderful forever home!
Thistle, our star for this week, got really lucky - she has a home way out in the beautiful countryside of Madison County, where wildflowers grow and a bubbling stream flows by the old cabin. She gets to run and play in the grass with her buddies - Delilah the grumpy grandma dog (who was quick to teach Thistle the rules but secretly seems to enjoy her little shadow!), Willie the fat old Basset hound, and clan of adventurous cats, but best of all, her spunky little doggy friend Butterbean - also a Paws and Claws Adoptee!
Thistle has grown up into such a beautiful girl, speckled and spotted like a Catahoula, but with the foxy face and pointy ears of a heeler or Shepherd. She’s unbelievably smart and learned so many tricks just in her first few weeks home. Her human is always ready to tell stories of just how smart and spunky little Thistle is as she blazes trails and chases butterflies with her crew of friends!
Happy Friday! Weekend, here we come! Let's celebrate with an adoption spotlight.
In March of last year, a big, fluffy bear of a dog arrived at the shelter, and we promptly christened him 'Goliath'. He was the essential gentle giant of a dog - we all fell in love with him!
We don't know anything about Goliath's history, and we wish we could hear his background story. How did this sweetheart come to be wandering around the county, lost and alone? It just doesn’t make sense - he’s such a wonderful dog! Sadly, he wasn’t microchipped, and we may never know his background story.
We knew he might be a tougher dog to place, as not nearly as many folks have room for a fluffball this big. Goliath was with us for almost a month, and he was starting to feel very blue.
And then his lucky day arrived! A wonderful family came to visit Goliath, but they wanted to be sure he'd fit in perfectly, so they took the time to make a second visit with their dog Skuder for a meet-and-greet, and it went fantastic! We were so excited when Goliath went to his new home!
Our big boy is now named Fenway - a distinguished name for a very handsome doggo! His new brother Skuder is his best friend, and those are two SPOILED boys! A BIG thank you to Amber and Jackie for seeing the heart of gold under the shaggy coat.
But Goliath’s happy ending might not have happened. Amber and Jackie didn’t know for sure whether their dog Skuder would take well to a new arrival, and although Goliath liked most dogs he met it’s always nerve-wracking to introduce a new dog to your home, especially a big one. Amber and Jackie are very responsible, careful owners, and they took great care to do proper introductions.
On the first visit, they came alone and spent lots of time with the dogs, making sure Fenway was the perfect match they thought he would be. Then they made a second appointment to come back with Skuder. We loaded up Fenway and met at the local park for the two dogs to meet and enjoy a good walk together. They even got to play just a little! After this, they were able to take Fenway home and continue slowly and carefully introducing the two dogs, who today are the very best of friends.
If you aren’t sure how your dog would get along with a buddy, always feel free to take things slowly with an adoption. We are happy to do meet-and-greets, multiple times if needed. Slow, careful introductions in a neutral setting can make all the difference to starting a new friendship off on the right paw! We are so glad that Fenway's family took the time to bring Skuder over and arrange a meet-up between the two dogs. They weren't sure if it would work out, but they took the opportunity to give a very deserving dog a chance...and they couldn't imagine life without him now!
Happy Tails, Fenway! We are very proud of you!
Happy Friday dear friends! It’s time for an Adoption Spotlight!
So, who remembers Cricket?! This adorable little fluffball came into our shelter as a county stray. We don’t know her history, but she broke all of our hearts when she arrived one cold November day. Cricket had severe mange and was missing more than half of her thick black fur. She was covered in sores from scratching her itchy skin incessantly, and she was freezing! Despite already having a full shelter, this little one had nowhere to go and we couldn’t turn her away. She was brought in before open hours whilst we were still cleaning the shelter and we scooped her up in a towel and settled in a kitty kennel whilst we finished feeding and caring for the shelter pets, then it was straight into a medicated bath for our newest little girl! She was so pitiful but loved to be held. Before we were able to get a skin test to be sure whether or not her mange was contagious we would suit up in gloves, an overshirt, and an apron to snuggle her and put soothing ointment on her skin.
Over her first week at the shelter Cricket was of course on special medications from the vet for her skin but she also got lots of soothing baths and ointment applied several times a day. She was missing so much fur that she wore a little sweater 24/7 to keep her warm!
Cricket was only in the shelter for ten days...some of our wonderful supporters came in and simply fell in love! They couldn’t resist the sweet little pup who followed everyone around and sat on your feet the moment you stood still, who loved to be held and would go limp in your arms like a contented baby.
Cricket (now Maxi!) went home with Josh and Brianne in her little plaid coat, and she’s been spoiled rotten ever since! She has the sweetest doggie sister who she adores and gets to go on lots of adventures with her family. This is how they describe her - “She is the sweetest, funniest girl you’ll ever meet. She loves to nap and give you the best hugs! She still thinks she’s the size of a puppy, even though she’s 77 pounds. Her and her sister Bella love to play, especially in the mud. She also LOVES car rides and running with me! We couldn’t imagine our life without our baby girl and we are so thankful for you guys and all that you do for the animals in Madison County!”
However, it wasn’t just her name and her home that changed for this sweet girl. After a few weeks at home she started to grow her lovely thick black fur in and stopped itching altogether, and was so much happier. But the first time she came back for a visit, none of the staff recognized her. She had grown, yes, but it wasn’t just the 5 ½ months of growth that confused us. It wasn’t even her healthy, soft fur, so different from when she arrived at the shelter. You see, when Cricket came to us, we were SURE she was a little Newfoundland mix puppy. Positive. She had the great big paws, the droopy face, the teddy bear coat, and it sure looked like she would grow to be the enormous size of a Newfie!
But the ‘teenaged’ dog that visited our shelter fundraiser looked nothing like a Newfoundland! Maxi was tall, sleek, long-legged, with a short coat and lab ears. We were baffled! Now, Maxi’s family adore her just how she is, and they wouldn’t love her any less whatever her breed mix may be, but each time we meet we all laugh over how much a puppy can change on the journey to adulthood, and we share her story with many prospective adopters.
You see, often times adopters want to know the exact breed of a puppy they are interested in, and that’s ok. But whilst we understand their curiosity, the struggle for shelters and rescuers is that we often receive dogs and pups with no information as to their backgrounds, and in the case of puppies we don’t always get to meet mama, and seldom dad. We do our best to guess breed mixes based on size, behavioural traits, and physical clues such as coat, ears, and the general shape of the dog, but oftentimes our shelter dogs are mixed from so many sources that we can’t really tell what went into them! We can give a rough estimate as to how big we think they will get, but even that’s not certain.
So whenever you adopt, we will be honest and upfront. We will let you know what breeds we THINK you new dog has in their DNA, but we won’t make promises. We will encourage adopters to be open-minded, and to consider carefully the choice of puppy. If you need to know for sure that a dog won’t get over a certain size, we often encourage the choice of a full-grown, adult dog rather than a pup. And we will often tell you the story of the ‘Newfoundland mix’ pup who was nothing but!
We were right about one thing, though. That dog’s heart is 100% gold. And that’s what really matters.
Today’s Adoption Spotlight focuses on a very special girl who many of you will recognize - Sweetie! We know many of our supporters followed her story with sympathy and interest, and we are thrilled and proud to share her happy ending with you all!
Sweetie arrived at our shelter via City Animal Control, after being picked up running in the city. We don’t know how she got there, but we were horrified to see the shape she was in. Sweetie was utterly filthy, covered in ticks, exhausted, miserable, painfully thin...and worst of all, she was full of milk and evidently had puppies needing her. We put an appeal out on Facebook, and thanks to someone who has spotted her previously we were able to go on a rescue mission - several staff members came into the shelter on a Sunday night to team up and find those babies!
We took Sweetie (who by now was clean, de-ticked, and had a full belly and a chance to rest) along with us, with baskets and kennels to carry the puppies, blankets, and other supplies. We didn’t know for sure what we would find - how old would the pups be? How many were there? How long had they been alone (from mama, we guessed a day at the most) and would they still be safe - or alive?
We had hoped Sweetie might be able to guide us to her pups once we were in the general location, but once we arrived the poor girl withdrew into herself. She was terrified and did not want to be there, and simply lay down in the grass and refused to move. One person stayed with her while the rest of us searched possible hiding places by flashlight. Mosquitoes buzzed, odd cars sped by on the highway, and the coyotes howled in the surrounding woodland. An old vehicle stood in the grass, covered by a tarp...and a glance at the right moment showed a little flash of white fur! Scrambling over, we found a pile of squirmy, hungry pups, who quickly started to squeal when moved! Pulling them out and counting, we found nine babies, about ten days old, alive, and safe! Everyone was quickly loaded into the safety of the car, and we headed back to the shelter.
There, in a warm, safe place, we slowly reintroduced Sweetie to her pups. She was incredibly stressed and unsure, but gradually settled down and was able to finally feed her babies. Our staff spent several hours gently cleaning the babies, who were filthy and covered in fleas, but by the end of the night we had three exhausted but very happy staff members (and one super volunteer who was a STAR all evening!) and a comfortable, contented mama dog nestled in warm, soft blankets, with food and water to hand, curled around nine little fat-bellied and sleeping pups.
Over the following weeks and days, we relieved an overworked Sweetie whenever we could - being sure she had plenty of high-quality, nutrient rich food as she gradually gained weight, giving her time to rest and relax away from the pups, and getting to know her. The pups doubled in weight with amazing rapidity - they were growing like weeds! Sweetie was very stressed at first, and it wasn’t until the pups got a little older and began the gradual weaning process that we got to see more of her personality emerge. She was a careful and protective mama bear who watched over her babies with an eagle eye, but we could see her profound relief when finally the babies were fully weaned and ready to go!
The babies (cute little heeler mixes), were named after vehicles in honor of their first ‘home’ under the old truck - Mazda, Mercedes, Honda, Bentley, BroncoBear, Ferrari, Ford, Lexus, and Nissan. Nissan, however, was given the honorary nickname of ‘Beacon’ - as it was his white coat (with just one black spot on his side) that shone in the flashlight’s beam and helped us to find them!
One of our amazing partner rescues took in the nine puppies and they quickly found amazing forever homes. Sweetie was enjoying some well-earned rest, and loving every minute of it! She finally relaxed completely, job done, and got to be the goofy, happy girl that had been waiting to shine all along. Sweetie loved treats (peanut butter was a huge hit!) playtime, and belly rubs, and received her spay surgery to be sure she wouldn’t have to ever be a mama again! After recovery, microchipping, and finishing up all her vaccines, miss Sweetie was ready to find her very own forever home.
Lots of people were passing by the unassuming little dog with the big, goofy ears, but when Santana saw our video of Sweetie daintily licking peanut butter from a spoon, she HAD to meet her! It was love at first sight - on both sides! We couldn’t be more thrilled - Sweetie got to go to a home with previous heeler experience (they are a VERY special breed and super smart!), lots of land to run and play on, and plenty of adventure! She loves to go for rides with her new mom and enjoys her life as a spoiled princess! She hasn’t lost her love of food and is perhaps a little chunky, but we say she’s earned it! Way to go, Sweetie! We are so proud of you!
Though unsigned, this blog reflects the beliefs and stories of everyone associated with the Shelter, and may be written at various times by staff, volunteers or board members.
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2075 Madison 6555
PO Box 364
Huntsville AR 72740