This blog will be quiet for a couple of days.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
I have a big agenda:
- Celebrate the KC Pittie Pack’s 1-year anniversary with a yappy hour tonight
- Coddle the elderpin, who was feeling almost normal until he got tangled up in Charlie Machete’s feet last night. (This is a major downside of having a multi-dog house that includes at least one frail old dog and at least one big, exuberant young dog)
- Wrap up an exciting project that will debut here next week. Hint: It has to do with Valentine’s Day!
You can help me with item number 3.
I’m compiling a list of animal welfare organizations that sell merchandise (i.e. t-shirts and hoodies) to support their efforts toward dogs in need. Help me gather a robust list of organizations, including some in your area.
All you need to do is leave a comment with a link to an organization and/or web store that you think I should feature.
As an example, check out the merch shop for Friends of KC Animals, one of my favorite Kansas City animal welfare groups.
So, who’s your favorite local dog rescue or shelter, and what cool stuff do they sell?
A little, lost dog refused my help on Monday night.
For the first time in months, Zach and I happened upon a wayward dog. It was around 10 p.m. We were driving past Loose Park.
On the residential side of the street, our eyes picked up the silhouette of a small dog or puppy. He sniffed, then he’d trot down the sidewalk. He was wearing a collar with about four inches of extra material or the remains of a leash he’d chewed through. I never got close enough to tell for sure.
Zach pulled over. I jumped out and pursued the little black dog for several blocks, but every time I got within 10 feet, he’d look at me and run faster. Eventually, I lost him in the darkness as he ran away from the busy street and into the park.
I don’t know what we would have done if we’d caught the little guy and he didn’t have a microchip or tag.
No doubt we would have called upon our friends in the local animal welfare and rescue network – a community that could always use support.
The last time we captured a wayward black dog, the first person we called was Britton Hunter.
Through her organization Friends of KC Animals, she helped us get Charlie Machete fully vetted, neutered and implanted with the microchip that ultimately saved him from euthanasia last month.
Friends of KC Animals, a liason between local shelters and rescue groups, helps thousands of animals across the Kansas City metro every year and is leading the movement to get a much-needed new shelter for Kansas City, Missouri.
This summer, the leader of another local group stepped up to help us when he heard that Charlie Machete’s adoption fell through.
Mike Kitchens and his new rescue organization Midwest Adopt-a-Bull have added our longtime foster dog to their program and are helping us maintain his good health and networking him with potential adopters.
Through its volunteer network, Midwest Adopt-a-Bull provides a second chance to dogs by getting them out of shelters (or worse) and into foster homes where they receive love and socialization until they are adopted forever.
Both of these organizations are desperate for help right now.
According to Britton, Friends of KC Animals is currently running so low on funds that the group may have to go on temporary hiatus until it can gather more resources.
Midwest Adopt-a-Bull operates on a razor-thin budget, as well. That group’s biggest need right now, though, is for people to open their homes to the dogs in its foster program.
Can you help?
Donating is easy – any amount you can spare can be put to good use.
Fostering is rewarding – for you and for the animal whose life you help save.
I urge you to join me in supporting these two wonderful organizations.
To make a contribution to Friends of KC Animals, just head to the group’s donate page.
To get involved in fostering with Midwest Adopt-a-Bull, head to that group’s website and fill out the application to foster – or adopt. (Monetary donations help, too.)
“Nice dress! Where’d you get it?”
“Hand-me-down from a friend.”
That’s a common exchange I have at the workplace.
Most people who interact with me in person on a regular basis know that I don’t spend a lot of money on new clothes. I get them from my friends. And clothes swapping is a habit about which I prosletyze constantly.
Clothes swapping is something I have been doing for years, originally inspired by an article in Bust magazine about saving money.
The clothing swaps I organize typically involve a bunch of women getting together at someone’s house, each with one or more bags of clothes we are tired of. Everyone can bring as much stuff as they need to get rid of, and at the end of the event, someone usually agrees to donate everything to a local thrift store.
I can’t even begin to guess how much money swapping has saved me over the years on workwear, everyday clothes, special event outfits and even home decor items. Here are a few more examples of me wearing swapped clothes and accessories over the years:
Over the past few years (hello, recession), clothes swapping seems to be gaining in popularity. Even non-profit organizations are getting in on the fun as a way to raise money and awareness for their cause. Charity swaps typically charge a flat fee for participation and limit the number of items you can bring.
Although a friend and I are in the process of planning an informal clothing swap at her house later this month, I registered to attend a swap benefitting Friends of KC Animals on Tuesday, April 10. In addition to raising money for needy animals, this event also includes mini makeovers and adult beverages. Plus, all unclaimed clothes at the end of the night will be donated to the Women’s Unemployment Network.
Click here for more information and registration.
Have you ever participated in a clothing swap?
Credit Will Gladhart Consulting for the 2012 photo.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I frequently use it as a vehicle to market Charlie Machete, the stray dog we took in last July with the intent of finding him a forever home.
That’s not the only method we use to get the word out about our handsome, snuggly and energetic young black lab/pit bull mix foster dog. For the next few weeks, I will highlight one of our foster dog marketing tactics each Friday.
Let’s start with making your foster dog a walking billboard.
Although we are fostering Machete independently, one of my favorite local organizations, Friends of KC Animals, stepped up to help us right after he showed up. In addition to paying for his neuter, microchip and vaccines, the group also provided us with a wonderful marketing tool: the Adopt Me vest.
The lightweight mesh vest is road worker orange and yellow. It really stands out against Machete’s pure black coat and draws smiles and questions from people we encounter almost every time he wears it. (One time, the vest even attracted a woman who said she wanted to adopt Machete. Unfortunately, she later backed out due to having an unfenced yard.)
Truth be told, Machete finds the vest a little itchy, but we make him wear it, anyway, almost every time we go for walks around the neighborhood, when he rides along with us on errands and when rescue groups invite him to participate in adoption events.
If you have a foster dog, I highly recommend outfitting him or her in an eye-catchng Adopt Me vest. Lots of options are available. I really like the posh one sold by Houndgear.
If you would like to see Machete wearing his Adopt Me vest, join us on a weekly outing with KC Pittie Pack and Friends. You can RSVP for this weekend’s walk near Country Club Plaza through Meetup.com.
Due to a technical issue that I still have not figured out, my original “party dogs” post published too soon but would not show up on my homepage. So, this is a re-post with some bonus magnet images in honor of the very first Magnet Monday of 2012.
At the end of the holiday weekend and beginning of a new year, is this how you’re feeling?
Weezer, my cousin’s hard-drinking English Bulldog , appears drunk after playing with her Killer Bite Beer Dog Toy. The toy doesn’t actually contain any liquid. However, I recently heard about Bowser Beer, a non-alcoholic, non-carbonated beverage just for dogs.
Would you let your dog drink it?
Of course, this tribute to Weezer is a creation by Magnet Lady Kathleen Henn.
Kathleen has been very busy customizing magnets for me lately. In fact, our refrigerator is a little gallery of her work, and almost every pet owner on my holiday shopping list received one of her creations. Here are a few examples of magnets Kathleen has made for me recently:
While brushing Minnie on Friday afternoon, I spotted one of our old wayward dog friends sniffing her way down the trail. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to catch fleet-footed Stella, the boxer/pit bull/greyhound mix that we helped home more than once over the summer.
True to form, Stella zagged toward me when I called her name, but zigged in another direction before I could get close enough to grab her collar. Luke and I tailed her for a couple of blocks, and another young couple, dressed in formalwear, pulled over and tried to catch her, too, but Stella wasn’t having it. When we gave up, she appeared to be running toward home.
While I wasn’t able to ensure Stella’s safe return this time, six months into the Wayward Dogs project, and at the beginning of a brand new year, I would like to review the results of my attempt to help lost dogs get home. Since June 11, 2011:
- Zach and I have helped “save” — by returning, rehoming or fostering — a total of six dogs (including Stella).
- We also spotted or unsuccessfully pursued seven wayward dogs (including Stella).
- Nearly half of all loose dogs we encountered appeared to be bully mixes (including Stella).
- The vast majority of the dogs we spotted or caught had collars or were otherwise recognizable to us as neighborhood dogs (including Stella).
The two truly wayward dogs we caught — whose owners, if they existed, we were never able to track down — left special paw prints on our hearts.
One of those dogs is, of course, Charlie Machete, who remains with us as our foster dog.
We knew from the moment Zach slipped a leash on this big, black dog with a pitty head would have little hope at Kansas City’s high-kill shelter. And so, with some initial vet care assistance from Friends of KC Animals, we embarked on a mission to find this dog a home. Fostering him hasn’t been easy or fun all of the time. But this gorgeous, mischievous, whipsmart and cuddly creature has taught us so much and shown us more love than we ever could have expected. We truly hope that early 2012 brings Machete face to face with someone or some people who will appreciate him, farts and all, as much as we do.
Ironically, the other traildog who captured our hearts in 2011 also went on to become a Charlie.
This handsome Boston Terrier started out with us as Meatball. Had we not already been caring for Charlie Machete at the time, we no doubt would have fostered this snuggly and polite hunk. Instead, we passed him to a friend, Luke’s foster mom, who enrolled Meatball with The Animal Rescue Alliance when his owners could not be located. A true charmer, Meatball immediately bewitched a forever family, who changed his name and are, reportedly, massively in love with him to this day.
I honestly don’t know what the past six months of wayward dog experiences mean. Do I just notice more loose dogs because I keep an eye out for them? Do we actually encounter more because we happen to live on the Trolley Trail, a jogging path frequented by dog owners and therefore a mecca of scents that naturally attracts wayward dogs?
Or do I have some kind of pheremone only noticeable to dogs that means “total sucker”?
Regardless, I plan to continue keeping track of the wayward dogs we run into on the Stats page. Maybe over time we will begin to see more patterns.
What are your experiences with wayward dogs? Do you know how many you tend to see in a year?
Have you been wondering how that custom magnet of stinkin’ cute little Simba the poma-poo turned out?
Simba was, too, until Magnet Lady Kathleen Henn sent it to him in the mail:
Here’s a close-up on the art:
I think Kathleen does fabulous work. The colors and detail of her hand-painted magnets are even more impressive in real life, under natural light. They also look awesome on a fridge.
I’m such a big fan of Kathleen that I’m dubbing Mondays from here on out Magnet Mondays. She’s agreed to let me showcase different examples of her work plus the backstory every week.
Because this is the first-ever Magnet Monday, let’s look at one more piece of her awesome art. This one’s a little different from what you’ve seen so far – it’s wildlife art. And this Wednesday between 8 and 10 p.m., someone will win it!
Kathleen donated the otter magnet to be part of the prize packages I’ve been putting together for a charity BINGO event benefitting the Thomas Hart Benton Group of the Sierra Club. Her creation will be featured along with works by other local artists, plus a basket of goodies from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a collection of organic body products by Nutressant, free passes to a theater production by Musical Theater Heritage and much, much more.
If you will be in the Kansas City area this Wednesday night, please join me and the Sierra Club for Ham-BINGO at Hamburger Mary’s in the Crossroads district. You can find complete details at the Facebook event page.
Next week on Magnet Monday, I’ll share one of the custom magnets that Kathleen made for me. If you have ordered a magnet from Kathleen that you’d like to see featured at Wayward Dogs, let me know.
A stray black dog darts into a busy road in midtown Kansas City on a cold, winter day.
Britton Hunter is on her way home from her first day volunteering at Kansas City, Missouri’s animal shelter.
Having long resisted visiting that place, she’d finally gone, only to be met by everything awful she’d expected and then some: putrid air, filthy kennels and hordes of stressed-out animals barking, howling, coughing and cowering.
Britton and her friend Tammy spent about four hours getting as many dogs as possible out of their depressing surroundings for at least a short walk on a snowy day.
Britton left the shelter never wanting to return but determined to do so. She wanted to change things there, to change lives.
Change can take a lot of time.
She pulls over the instant she sees the stray dog. Britton and Tammy try to catch the frightened animal but give up when they realize she’s not tame, and they will likely succeed only in chasing her back into traffic.
Over the next few days, the temperature dips, and Britton cannot stop thinking about the scruffy dog. She vows to look for her again.
And she does.
Britton makes a point to stop in the dog’s territory several times a week. She names her wild friend Star, for the white patch of fur on her chest. She sets food out, tosses treats and spends lunch breaks sitting on the pavement, slowly working to gain the trust of the animal who almost always emerges, staring with curiosity yet remaining just out of Britton’s reach.
In the same period, Britton tirelessly dedicates herself to the homeless dogs at the shelter, spending a big part of every weekend getting animals out of cages for much-needed sunshine and fresh air. She enlists friends and acquaintances to volunteer, as well. She becomes one of the most active members of the non-profit organization that serves the shelter, Friends of Halfway Home.
Britton works to make alliances with animal rescue groups and get the word out about the shelter’s situation to would-be sympathizers who make donations to Friends of Halfway Home. Her marketing efforts no doubt help many animals to be adopted or moved into safe foster homes.
But for six months, that black dog in Midtown refuses to be caught.
The turning point is a tennis ball.
Bounce. Star comes closer than ever before. Bounce. She’s so intrigued. Britton recalls:
“I bounced it several more times and tossed it to her. After playing a bit back and forth, I sat on the ground and she cautiously approached my side to sniff my elbow. She was closer than ever! I stroked her cheek with my elbow and she sat. Then I offered a closed fist. ‘I’m going to pet you now. Have a little faith and let me,’ I said.”
This time, when Britton dares to touch the dog who has only ever growled at her, gentle human touch melts the animal’s resolve. She closes her eyes, raises her chin and then rolls over to solicit more love.
This is how Star was reborn.
Star remains a part of Britton’s family today, living a spoiled life in the home of Britton’s parents in Kansas City.
Britton continues her efforts to improve the lives of homeless animals in Kansas City through Friends of Halfway Home, recently renamed Friends of KC Animals. You can read more about Britton in the profile I wrote of her for the magazine Her Kansas City.
You can help Britton and her organization save more wayward animals by making a donation to Friends of KC Animals.
If you live in Kansas City, please attend the fundraiser happening at Boozefish Wine Bar this Thursday, December 1. There will be a raffle with lots of great prizes and a portion of the bar’s proceeds for the night will go to Friends of KC Animals. Find more information about the event at the organization’s website.
I hope to see you there.
Well, as I predicted, our first-ever Wayward Dogs photo contest was a fierce competition of cuteness! Here’s a review of the pups who received the most votes. In the coming days, I plan to share a little more information about some of the other contestants. So, I hope you’re not tired of these cute pictures yet. (As if.)
Our grand champion, whose adorable face will be incorporated into a custom magnet by Kathleen Henn, is Simba the pomapoo. He racked up some 58 Facebook likes! Part of his popularity no doubt owes to his formal attire. Apparently, his mom and dad are opera singers, so the little guy needs that tux.
The next-highest vote-getter was Charlie (not to be confused with Charlie Machete). More gorgeous photos of this rescue dog can be found at wadehoward.wordpress.com. The photographer had this to say about his subject:
“In September my girlfriend rescued Charlie from an abusive home. He was extremely malnourished and in poor health. He was initially diagnosed with ear infections in both ears and hookworms in his stomach. After several months and many trips to the vet, she has brought back him to great health.”
The third-highest vote-getter was a pretty girl named Boo, another rescue pup.
I can’t wait to see what Simba looks like on his special magnet. When Kathleen sends me a picture of the finished product, I will be sure to share it on the blog. Don’t forget that you can order magnets from Kathleen at anytime just by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put Wayward Dogs in the subject line so that a portion of the price gets donated to Friends of KC Animals.
In the interest of being fair, I did not include the stories of the dogs whose photos were submitted for the Wayward Dogs Photo Contest. Not everyone submitted a story, and that’s OK. The stories that did come in almost universally brought tears to my eyes. Most of them concern formerly wayward dogs.
I reserve the right to bring tears to your eyes with those stories at a later date — after the contest ends. (That’s Friday, by the way — don’t forget to vote.)
Instead, allow me to explain this little spook:
Scruffy and scared, the little long-haired Chihuahua was patrolling a Waldo street on Halloween night, running up to trick-or-treaters and other pedestrians, teeth-bared, just before dusk. From a distance I thought he must be with someone, but as Luke, Machete and I neared, I noticed that everyone who passed the little guy just kept walking. As we neared, he took a few growly steps toward us, and I could see that his fur was patchy and scraggly. He truly resembled a little Halloween demon.
Unable to safely attempt catching him with my big boys in tow, I took them home and returned to the spot with a pair of thick gloves, a leash and a doggy treat, but the Chihuahua was gone. None of the neighbors on nearby porches seemed to have noticed where he’d gone.
I felt bad. The night was chilly, and that little guy reminded me so much of Scooby. I hope he wasn’t really a stray, and that he got home somehow that evening.
Although I haven’t seen that poor devil again, I am glad I was able to help the last wayward dog I ran into get back to him owners. Last Friday night, a medium-sized yellow dog named Carter greeted me in the middle of the street. He was dragging a ten-foot tether behind him, but seemed otherwise healthy and happy. The address on his tag indicated that he’d wandered about 10 blocks. I called the number, and his frantic owners met me in less than five minutes.
Dogs like these are the reason I started this blog:
Loose dogs — be they stray, dumped or neighborhood wanderers — are common in my part of town. Fortunately, we are not to the point of roving packs of feral dogs, but unattended roamers like those above (Spot, Stella and Meatball) aren’t unusual at all. I stumble upon lost dogs often enough to be grateful that organizations like Friends of KC Animals and The Animal Rescue Alliance exist to help deal with them.
It’s not laid out too nicely right now, but I have been keeping track of these incidents on the Stats page. I look forward to presenting a nice round-up of the data for you at the end of the year.
Is this the project of a crazy dog lady? Maybe. Are there bigger problems in the world? Definitely.
But I think I’m in good company. A third of people say their pet dogs started out as strays, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
So, tell me: What’s your wayward dog story?