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How We Helped Dogs in 2012

Way back when my little Wayward Dogs project began, I started this blog to chronicle the lost, stray and abandoned canines I encountered.

Lost dog

I’m quite happy to report that for a second year in a row, those experiences did not occur frequently enough to warrant daily posts. In fact, I hardly ran into any wayward dogs on the streets in the year 2012!

That, of course, meant I had to fill in the days with posts about other things, including other people’s awesome dog projects, including:

Then, there was the KC Pittie Pack…

KC Pittie Pack & Friends at Loose Park. Photo by Fido Fetch Photography.

KC Pittie Pack & Friends at Loose Park. Photo by Fido Fetch Photography.

Emily from Our Waldo Bungie and I came together in 2012 to create a co-project of our own.

We founded KC Pittie Pack & Friends, a walking group designed to help people socialize their pets in a structured environment. In its first year, KC Pittie Pack:


In 2012, I also used this blog as a platform to generate support for local animal welfare organizations.

My awesome blog readers helped me:

And the year was not totally devoid of “wayward dogs.”

Tara the elderbull

Of the handful of lost dogs I encountered, the three I was able to assist appeared when I was en route to work:

  • Malakai – A gorgeous and sweet husky dog who was stopping traffic on a very busy Kansas City street.
  • Tara – I knew my neighbor’s elderbull was never supposed to run around the ‘hood by herself.
  • Cotton – A hunting dog I totally failed to blog about. Rather than taking him with me, I turned back toward home. Cotton’s ID tag had a phone number, so I left a message on his owner’s voicemail that his dog was safe and how to reach me. Then, I went on to work. Within 20 minutes, Cotton’s uber-relieved-sounding dad called him, so I told him where to go pick up his pup.

Foster Dogs

The fact that very few stray doggies followed me home in 2012 was actually a really good thing, considering at the beginning of the year we still had two formerly wayward dogs under our roof – Minnie and Charlie Machete – in addition to our two forever dogs.

Machete loves our husky mix Minnie.

No kidding – four was too much for our little house and the humans inside it.

Fortunately, by May, both fosters were adopted. But the reprieve did not last long.

Less than a year after he originally arrived in our lives, Charlie Machete came back – by way of a shelter in Omaha.

Machete bat ears-crop

We still don’t know exactly why he ended up behind bars, but we are grateful Charlie Machete’s adopters never changed the contact information on his microchip. Because they didn’t, the shelter called me, and Zach was able to make the three-hour drive to bail out our big black foster dog, who was otherwise on the list to be euthanized.

For now, he remains with us – when he’s not playing with his friends at Kennel Creek Pet Resort – and is available for adoption through Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.

Influencing Others

Although I haven’t proven to be a very successful dog foster mom, I’m proud to say that, through networking, I was able to help some other dogs find forever homes in 2012.

Sometimes I feel funny about the fact that I am the girl who almost daily posts sad pictures of dogs desperate to be adopted. I know this habit annoys some of my friends, but I keep doing it for a good reason: Sometimes the sharing pays off.

beagle husky mix

Because I helped my friend and fellow Kansas City pet advocate Nicole get the word out, these two dogs landed in forever homes in 2012:

  • Mia, a beagle/husky mix was adopted by my coworker
  • A black lab puppy was taken into a foster home that adopted him

My constant fretting about wayward dogs also seems to have had an effect on Zach’s and my mothers.

In 2012, both of them made successful efforts to apprehend and return home lost dogs in their own neighborhoods.

I have also noticed that generally in life I am becoming the person others turn to when they have questions about dogs. That sure feels good, and I always try to help if I can.

Here’s hoping for more successful efforts on behalf of dogs in 2013!

What was your biggest accomplishment for dogs last year?

Lessons from running a 5K with a dog

We did it!

Charlie Machete and I completed the Strutt with Your Mutt 5K race to benefit Kansas City animal shelter Wayside Waifs. We even ran the whole gosh darned way!

Here’s our view of the 5K starting line:

Strutt with Your Mutt starting line

1, 2, 3 – Go!

That picture is the only one I got of the race.

It’s taken from so far away because I wasn’t sure how rowdy the other runners’ dogs may be, and I wanted to give Charlie Machete space. I wanted him to feel as comfortable as possible so that I could feel as comfortable as possible.

He gets a little nervous in crowds and when facing any situation for the first time.

Here’s a secret:

So do I.

In fact, on race day, my anxieties were high.

I fretted all morning: What if I get too hot in my running clothes? What if I don’t make it to the starting line on time? (We did cut things pretty close.) What if I’m uncomfortable running with my bag of things that I don’t usually carry on training runs? What if the walk from the house to the starting line wears me out and I can’t run the whole way? What if I trip and fall?

Luckily, everything worked out fine. The raceway (Broadway Boulevard) was wide, and most people were very much in control of their dogs. In spite of walking a couple of miles before starting the run, Charlie Machete and I never even considered walking.

Just like on our practice runs, anytime I started to feel tired, I simply looked down at him and said, “Good job, buddy! We got this!”

And we did. Although, I have no idea what our finishing time was.

What I learned from this event

It’s good that Charlie Machete and I had each other, but next time I participate in a public race, I’m making sure to coerce a friend or family member into running, too, or at least holding my belongings while I run cheering us on from the street.

Honestly, being there alone made crossing the finish line a somewhat anti-climactic experience.

Also, because I was so concerned with keeping the dog comfortable I totally failed to pick up the prizes we earned for our fundraising efforts. Getting them now requires additional logistical efforts on my part. Whoops.

But, the important thing for my foster dog’s development and my health is this: We’re going to keep running!

And I’m hoping to connect with some more local folks (maybe members of the KC Pittie Pack?) who would like to train with us. Let me know in the comments if that sounds like fun to you.

To see more pictures from Strutt with Your Mutt, check out Amy from Fido Fetch Photography‘s Twitter feed. She represented KC Pittie Pack in the 3K walk.

Come back here tomorrow for more on the people and dogs I ran into during the festival portion of the event.

Thanks again to everyone who supported Charlie Machete and me in this endeavor. We hope we made you proud!

black dog on a walk

Best. Running. Partner. Ever.

Want to make Charlie Machete your running partner? He’s available for adoption through Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.

It’s 5K Day

We’re ready! (Even though Charlie Machete didn’t want his picture taken.)

Self portrait in running clothes

Self portrait in running clothes.

In less than an hour, foster dog Charlie Machete and I will begin the 5K Strutt with Your Mutt charity race to benefit Wayside Waifs. Big thanks to everyone who has supported us with encouragement and donations for homeless pets.

We racked up over $250 in sponsorships!

If you’re in the Brookside area of Kansas City this morning and see us run by, give us a holler. It should be hard to miss me in this outfit!

Note: I am wearing my KC Pittie Pack T-shirt instead of the official race shirt.

My first 5K

For 68 years, animal shelter Wayside Waifs has offered sanctuary, medical help and a second chance to homeless pets.

For 22 years, this organization has brought attention to its mission by bringing people and dogs together for a public race on the streets of Kansas City.

Strutt with your Mutt poster

Mutts will be struttin’

Many shelters exist in the Kansas City area. Wayside Waifs is one of the biggest, saving over 6,500 pets each year.

Whenever I meet people, of course, I always ask where their pets came from. I feel like almost 50 percent of the time if I ask that question in Kansas City, the response is “Wayside Waifs.”

Wayside Waifs is where Thunderlutz blogger Angela volunteers with shelter cats (which she once wrote about on this blog). It is also a shelter with which Kennel Creek Pet Resort recently partnered by getting a couple of adoptable Waifs dogs out of the shelter and into playgroups, training and, eventually, forever homes.

Now Wayside Waifs will be the reason I run my first 5K!

Strutt with Your Mutt consists of a 5K that can be run with or without a dog and 3K for people and pets who prefer a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City.

Participants set their own pace – on foot and in fundraising. There are prizes on the line for those who generate the most donations, but the physical race is not competitive.

That makes this event an ideal, no-pressure situation for Charlie Machete and me. As I pointed out yesterday, foster dog Charlie Machete is the most awesome jogging partner ever. But neither one of us in marathon condition.

We are currently jogging between 1.5 and 3 miles per day. We are slow. We are steady. We are committed.

I promised readers a few weeks back that to combat my premature old lady pains, I would make fitness and exercise a bigger priority in my life. Consider this event my way of staying accountable – while also remaining loyal to the cause of helping homeless animals.

Really – could there be a more perfect first 5K for me?

I hope to be running alongside fellow members of the KC Pittie Pack, some of whom have already committed to walking with their dogs in the 3K portion of the event. By the end of the race, I might be wishing I had opted to walk!

If you would like to sponsor Charlie Machete and me in Strutt with Your Mutt, visit our fundraising page and make a tax deductible donation to Wayside Waifs.

Charlie Machete jogging

Have you ever run a 5K? Tell us what we should expect!

From animal lover to animal advocate

Angela with her cat Fifi.

The following post was written by my cat-lovin’ friend Angela. Like me, she is a lifelong animal lover who ony recently decided to become involved in the animal rescue community. Angela recently decided to volunteer with Wayside Waifs, a non-profit shelter in Kansas City.

My mom, my boyfriend, and my best friend all said the same thing when I told them I was going to start volunteering at an animal shelter: “Oh my god, do not get any more cats.”

At first I dismissed their concern. I only have two cats, after all, which means I can reasonably have at least three more (and unreasonably I can have as many as I want, if at some point I’m willing to share my life with Hoarders).

Cuddle ninjas.

But then I considered my reaction to those horrifying ASCPA commercials. I must admit that I mute that Sarah McLachlan song and avert my eyes from the montages of abused and miserable animals, or within moments I’m sobbing, cursing all of humankind, and vowing to make it my life’s mission to save every kitty. If that is any predictor of how I will respond to real, live homeless cats, it is certainly not a stretch to think that my apartment might become an ad-hoc shelter for unwanted pets.

Luckily, though, I chose to volunteer at Wayside Waifs, which has undergone extensive remodeling over the last decade and become a top-notch, no-kill haven for homeless cats and dogs (and a few rabbits and guinea pigs) in the Kansas City area.

A dedicated team of employees and volunteers – including on-site veterinary and behavioral care providers, cat and dog socializers, and adoptions support staff – cares for the rotating cast of cats and dogs, more than 5,000 of which find forever homes each year. After seeing Wayside’s awesome facility, I did not feel compelled to rush home with a single cat secreted away beneath my jacket.

Angela's cat Bubba smiles for the camera.

In order to ensure conditions at the shelter remain awesome and that animals get the care and training they need, Wayside accepts a limited number of cats and dogs, when previously they struggled to make room for every one that arrived at their door. The majority arrive as strays, transfers from other shelters, or owner surrenders, a process that frequently requires an appointment made well in advance. According to Wayside’s volunteer coordinator, establishing a maximum capacity at the shelter has actually allowed the staff to save more animals, as they can get each cat or dog healthy, socialized, and adopted more quickly, thereby making room for another animal in need.

My first volunteer training session also included a tour of the cat and dog kennels, which utilize some natural lighting and are filled with clean and comfy blankets, a variety of toys, and areas for play and socialization. Depending on their health status and personality, many of the cats also live in small colonies, which involve lots of crazy adorable kitty snuggles.

Bubba displays his nice belly.

As our group of volunteers-in-training wandered between the rows of enclosures, a few cats gazed lazily at me as I peered in on them and cooed like a grandmother. One big black kitty stretched out on his back while an on-duty volunteer lavished him with belly scratches.

And I thought – yes. Cat socializer — that is the job I want.

Before I can work with the kitties, first I must attend the Cats 101 class, which will hopefully teach me how to read cats’ minds like My Cat from Hell host Jackson Galaxy, who, along with Bob Harper, happens to be one of only two tattooed men my mom trusts.

Cats 101 should happen in mid-March, and then I will get to take regular shifts at the shelter.

Volunteers are also allowed to drop in any time to snuggle the kitties after a bad day, which will probably help me stave off the desire to rent a huge house and attack life crazy cat lady-style – at least for a few more years.

You can read more of Angela’s wry writing over at her blog Thunderlutz.

To see a cat that looks eerily like Angela’s Bubba, check out this Magnet Monday post about my ex-cat Luxor.

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