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10 Inspiring Faces of 2012

I blog because I’m a compulsive writer.

But I don’t put those words on the screen just so I can sit and stare at them.

Like anyone else, I put sentences together and send them out into cyberspace in the hopes that they’ll resonate with somebody else.

I write to express a point of view. I write to tell a story or share facts. I write to learn. I write to connect.

In 2012, writing on this blog, mostly about dogs, allowed me to connect with more awesome people than I can count. Here’s a look at a few of them:

New Friends

1. Katty De Lux, Pin Up from the Paris of the Plains

Pin Up from the Paris of the Plains Katty De Lux

Katty De Lux and Winston, her West Highland White Terrier.

Interacting offline with Kansas City’s blogging community introduced me to many amazing people, including Katty De Lux, a model, blogger and animal lover who adds smile, style and sass to every situation. She wowed me with her mad networking skills when we co-hosted a fundraiser for Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.

2. Chris Sailors, Owner, Kennel Creek Pet Resort

Chris Sailors

Chris Sailors with Reilly, Abby, Chalmers and Willow.

The guy with the best-behaved dogs at the Great KC Pet Expo also runs the nicest pet resort in Kansas City. In 2012, Kennel Creek Pet Resort changed my opinion about what to expect from dog daycare and boarding. I’m proud to call owner Chris Sailors a professional collaborator and friend.

3. Amy Oleson, Owner, Fido Fetch Photography

Amy Oleson

Amy Oleson

Amy Oleson was one of the first people to join KC Pittie Pack. Her beautiful pictures helped generate attention for our dog walking group. Less than a year later, she’s now pursuing her dog-umentary photography dream full-time and expecting her first baby.

4. Mike Kitchens, Founder, Midwest Adopt-a-Bull

Midwest Adopt-a-Bull Founder Mike Kitchens

Mike Kitchens and his son Deegan

The story of how pit bull dogs stole Mike Kitchens’ heart generated massive views for this blog in February. Four months later, when his brand new rescue group was just getting started, my big, black foster dog returned from a second failed adoption. Mike could see that we needed support and made space for Charlie Machete.

5. George Lombardi, Director, Missouri Department of Corrections

George Lombardi, Director of Missouri Department of Corrections

George Lombardi

The man who oversees Missouri’s prison system cares about rehabilitation – of people and animals. Under George Lombardi’s leadership, Missouri correctional facilities have implemented Missouri Puppies for Parole, the nation’s most extensive prison-based dog training and adoption program.

Renewed Connections

6. Stacy Ideus, Owner, Stacy Ideus Photography

Stacy Ideus: photographer, blogger, hottie.

Photographer Stacy Ideus

I’m certain Stacy Ideus and I first communicated through the walls of our mothers’ abdomens. Our lives have moved in very different directions since we were born a few days apart in Beatrice, Nebraska. But family, dogs, photography and blogs are bringing my oldest friend and me close again in our third decade.

7. Shawn

Shawn Timm and her dog Dulcie.

Shawn Timm and her dog Dulcie.

When we were kids, Shawn Timm and I were the little girls in our 4-H club who each had very obedient but very big and scary-looking dogs. She still has a mastiff (and a therapy-certified springer spaniel), but my black-and-tan went from a Rottweiler to a miniature pinscher. But we are both still crazy about dogs. And our dogs send Trader Joe’s treats to each other.

8. Miranda

Miranda Loehle

Miranda Loehle

 In 2011, my long lost high school friend Miranda Loehle found me and my blog and – from halfway across the country – introduced me to a fellow dog blogger in my neighborhood. In 2012, Miranda continued supporting this blog, Our Waldo Bungie and countless others. Sadly, it was also the year her beloved dog Brutus crossed the rainbow bridge. He was lucky to be loved by her.

9. Megan

Megan Jackson

My cousin Megan Jackson and me.

My cousin Megan and I didn’t play together as kids. But if we lived in the same city, we would definitely “play” together as adults. In 2012, we realized we have a lot more than family in common. She’s a marketing manager for a farmers’ market in Lincoln, Nebraska, and she can make things like yogurt, kim chi and lard from scratch. She’s kinda my hero.

10. Holly

husky mix

Unlike the other people in this category, my friend Holly and I haven’t been acquainted for lots of years. We’ve known each other for a few, but in 2012, our casual friendship was cemented when she adopted my much-loved foster dog Minnie.

Who has blogging brought closer to you?

Fuzzy Faces of Midwest Adopt-a-Bull

All week, I’ve been begging people to make a donation to Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.

Starbuck is a handsome guy.

I thought you might want to see some of the dogs your hard-earned money will help.

In its first few months of existence, Midwest Adopt-a-Bull, a tiny bully breed rescue group in Kansas City, has helped save over 17 animals from shelters, the streets and neglectful home situations.

Although the organization, founded earlier this year by pit bull lover Mike Kitchens, is dedicated to bully breeds, the group loves dogs, period. Two Chihuahuas, my own mystery foster mutt Charlie Machete and little hound dog Tobias have all been rolled into Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.

hound dog mix

Baby Tobias is available for adoption.

And then there’s Buster, the cat who got his foot caught in an illegal steel trap. He required an amputation and is now being fostered by a Midwest Adopt-a-Bull volunteer. He’s our “honorary bully.” Any donations made specifically for him will be used to help with his care.

Mr. Buster is a sweet kitty who is FIV positive.

Midwest Adopt-a-Bull does not have a shelter. Every animal lives in a foster home. In a way, this helps keeps some costs down while at the same time providing more socialization for the dogs.

However, as anyone with a pet knows, vet costs can add up quickly, especially when you are rescuing animals. And then there’s all that food to buy.

Mugsy’s owner passed away, and now she needs a new one.

To learn more about Midwest Adopt-a-Bull, check out the website. You can make a donation directly via PayPal.

If you’re in the Kansas City area, you can also help this great group by attending Fashion-a-Bull Fall at Madewell this Sunday, Oct. 28. Just make sure you buy a raffle ticket (or 10) from me! So far, I have $125 toward my $500 goal!

Wherever you are, don’t forget to celebrate Pit Bull Awareness Day tomorrow! I’ll be doing the Coast to Coast Bully Walk with KC Pittie Pack!

Another way to support Midwest Adopt-a-Bull is by entering the Retro Vixen giveaway. To enter, all you have to do is Like Midwest Adopt-a-Bull and a couple other pages on Facebook.

Making choices toward a happier and less hectic existence

Sometimes the rhythm of life gets a little out of whack.

Small dog at 5 a.m.

Why aren’t we in bed at 5 a.m.?

That happened to me over the past few days, and it’s why I had to take a three-day break from blogging. Although I’ve never come right out and said so, my goal for Wayward Dogs is to post new content a minimum of five days a week. Seven would be fantastic. (Some weeks that actually happens.)

Unfortunately, such bold ambition kind of goes against my other current goal of streamlining my life and dropping any responsibilities that I just don’t have time for – with the ultimate hope of gaining more time to spend relaxing with Zach and the dogs, exercising or hanging out with friends.

This is a topic I expect to be thinking about quite a bit more in the next few days, while I’m reading Happier at Home, author and blogger Gretchen Rubin‘s follow-up to her inspirational bestseller The Happiness Project.

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

We could all be a little happier, couldn’t we?

Although she lives in New York City, Gretchen is from Kansas City and will be back in a town for a reading later this month.

Interviewing her by phone was one of the tasks I accomplished over the weekend. Gretchen is the subject of a freelance article I’m writing for a local publication.

In addition to blogging for myself and for my employers, I write stories on a variety of topics for magazines, newspapers and other websites pretty often. Because I like writing so much, this is fun for me – and it helps me put a little extra money in the bank.

But freelance writing is time-consuming and effectively means that I spend extra hours each week “working.” Although I don’t see myself ever giving up freelance writing, it’s a point I have to remember whenever I review my life and consider which commitments I can step away from.

As a chronic overcommitter, it’s difficult for me to say no or disengage from any cause or activity I believe in or enjoy.

But one of the life truths I’m getting familiar with in my 30th year is that when you stretch yourself too thin you can’t cover any of your bases very well. (Case in point: my neglected garden.)

It will take a while for me to figure out all of the ways I can lessen my load, but a couple things will be toned down soon.

December marks the end of my two-year term as an executive board member for the Thomas Hart Benton Group of the Sierra Club.

I intend to still participate in Sierra Club activities, such as serving lemonade at the annual Santa Caligon Days festival in Independence, Missouri (which I did over Labor Day weekend).

Thomas Hart Benton Group of the Sierra Club at Santa Caligon Days

Want some fresh squeezed lemonade?

But I have to be honest about the fact that I don’t have time to be a great leader for the organization right now.

Other areas where I’ll be backing off: gardening and dog fostering.

It’s safe to say that Wayward House will always be growing fun things in pots and in the ground. But next year’s garden will certainly be smaller in scope and, ideally, easier to maintain.

We also intend to be a two-dog household, at least for a while, after Charlie Machete finds his real forever home.

To that end, he attended another Midwest Adopt-a-Bull adoption event over the weekend. No one showed much interest in him, but he did get to meet the man who loves pit bulls for the first time in real life.

Charlie Machete in a cage.

Adopt me?

Midwest Adopt-a-Bull’s founder Mike Kitchens agreed that Charlie Machete is a very handsome boy who just needs to work on feeling comfortable in a crate. By the end of the event, my foster dog was as big of a fan of Mike as I am, and he showed it by covering the man in friendly pit bull/lab/chow kisses.

Even though Charlie Machete is likely to be our last foster project for a while, I do plan to always contribute to the animal rescue movement in other ways – by promoting adoptable animals and worthy organizations on this blog and by stepping up in the many small ways that can make a huge difference (walking shelter dogs, assisting with transports and fundraising).

I know there are other things I can do to streamline my life to ensure I’m giving my best to every project and relationship in which I’m involved. I’ll be sure to share as this endeavor unfolds.

Have you ever made a point to simplify your life? What did you cut out? What other advice do you have for me?

Want to adopt Charlie Machete? Apply to make him yours through Midwest Adopt-a-Bull

black dog on a walk

Best. Running. Partner. Ever.

Your help is needed

image

Wayward no more.

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.

Britton and Star Hunter. Photo courtesy Her Kansas City.

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.

Here’s a man who loves pit bulls.

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.)

Getting a little help from our friends

Wednesday may have been Independence Day, but as of this week, there is one thing Wayward House is no longer doing independently:

Dog fostering.

image

I am thrilled to announce that Charlie Machete has officially been accepted into the Midwest Adopt-a-Bull rescue organization. You can peep his pretty shovelhead on the Adoptable Dogs page of the group’s website.

How does this change things?

Not a lot, actually. Charlie Machete will continue to exist under our care at Wayward House until he is adopted by his forever family. However, now we will get some help from the rescue group with such matters as routine veterinary costs and food.

Most importantly, we now have a larger network of experienced animal rescuers to help us ensure that whoever steps up to adopt this beautiful black dog is the right fit.

image

I can’t explain for sure why we didn’t enroll Charlie Machete into an official rescue organization sooner. Part of my reluctance stemmed from my knowledge that many rescue groups are overwhelmed and underfunded. In a way, I thought we were helping by not making a rescue group add one more dog to its already overflowing roster.

But sometimes you just need a little help from your animal loving friends in order to get the foster job done.

Midwest Adopt-a-Bull was founded by the dedicated and knowledgeable Mike Kitchens (a.k.a. the man who loves pit bulls), who has advised and inspired me many times over the past months.

Like us, Mike believes that Charlie Machete and so many animals like him deserve the chance to live up to their whole potential in a loving home for all of their days.

Check out Charlie Machete and all of the dogs available through Midwest Adopt-a-Bull at http://www.midwestadoptabull.com/adoptable-dogs.html.

A man who loves pit bulls

Mike Kitchens is a passionate member of the pit bull rescue community in Kansas City. Over the past four years, he has helped save the lives of more than 100 dogs. He recently founded a brand new pit bull rescue group serving the Kansas City area. Read on to learn what led him to animal rescue and how helping dogs changed his life.

CW: How did you get involved in the pit bull rescue community? How long have you been involved and how many dogs have you helped save over the years?

MK: Actually, it’s a funny story. I was driving up 435 pacing beside a car with a Missouri Pit Bull Rescue sticker on it. We both wound up going to the same neighborhood. I put an ad on craigslist the next day just seeing if by chance the person would see it. I wanted to meet some fellow pit bull lovers in my area. To my surprise the person’s friend contacted me who was a volunteer for the rescue. So began my life in rescue. I have been involved with pit bull rescue now for going on 4 years. I don’t know how many dogs I have helped to be honest. I have fostered about 20 dogs and probably helped over 100. And that number is still growing. I am now the president of an up and coming bully breed rescue in Kansas City called Midwest Adopt-A-Bull.

CW: Do you know a lot of other men involved in the rescue community? What would you say to anyone considering getting involved?

MK: I do not know of very many men involved in rescue. But the ones I do know are very involved and are great people who love the dogs very much. Rescue is very hard for anyone. It takes a special person to be able to handle it. Not that most men couldn’t handle it, but most men don’t want to show their soft side that we all have. And being able to show your compassion and let your heart take its course when it comes to these dogs is key to being in rescue. I urge anyone that has even considered doing rescue to take the plunge and give it a try. There are so many rescues out there that need help. You don’t lose anything by giving it a try. Only the animals win.

CW: How has being involved in animal rescue changed your life?

MK: Rescue has changed my life in many ways. Not only has it made me open up my heart more and expose the person I knew I was inside, but I also have met the love of my life doing rescue. Our love for pitbulls brought us together and we just welcomed our first child into the world in October. I have grown up so much in my time doing rescue. I really feel like I have a purpose in life now. Like this was always my calling: To be a voice for the ones without voices.

CW: Who are a few of the most unforgettable dogs of your life?

MK: I have had a few unforgettable dogs. When I first started in rescue there was a small female pit bull found wandering the streets.Her ears had been completely cut off her head with scissors or something similar, the wounds so fresh they were still bleeding. She was emaciated and scared. She recovered well and was adopted by her foster home. They loved her so much they couldn’t let her go. Her name was Victory, and she was a news sensation in Kansas City. Miss Universe was the first dog I fell in love with in rescue. She was a very tiny pit bull rescued from a dog fighting ring in Oklahoma with a litter of puppies. All the puppies were adopted out and Miss Universe was left waiting and waiting for a home for over a year. She was the sweetest thing and always made me smile. She is now adopted and in a loving home.

CW: What do you think will solve the pit bull problem?

MK: Wow, that is a very hard question. Mandatory spay and neuter in all cities is the most important. Shelters are overrun with pit bulls and mixes. With all the backyard breeding and accidental litters there is just not enough homes. Most shelters are made up of about 75% pitbulls and pitbull mixes. The other would be to have more strict punishments for dogfighting and the mistreatment of these dogs. Pit bulls are on the top of the list as far as being mistreated, starved, chained, kept outdoors and many, many other things. My last thing would be for further education. Many people are just uneducated about pit bulls and think they are just ferocious killing machines when that couldnt be further from the truth. More education to the public about this breed could really help save them.

CW: Do you have any recommended links?

MK: For more info and education about pit bulls, please visit: www.pbrc.net and www.gamedoggaurdian.com.

For information on spay/neueter (in Kansas City) and its importance please visit www.snkc.net

Please follow Midwest Adopt-A-Bull rescue and “Like” us on Facebook. We are a rescue dedicated to all of the “bully breeds.” Website and more to come.

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