Adorable adoptables: Uniting for dog rescue edition

Last week, I told you about a great event happening today – Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue. So, let’s get to uniting, shall we?

I’m always impressed with those who are dedicated to animal rescue. Local dog rescue organizations count on volunteers who help by fostering dogs in their own homes while they search for permanent placement, taking dogs to adoption events, fundraising to cover medical and boarding costs, and so much more

Many rescue groups do not have the resources to promoting their efforts on a large scale. As such, bloggers can make a big difference by spreading the word to give these unsung heroes and homeless dogs a voice.

I’ve been a bit remiss in sharing adorable adoptables lately, so I thought I would remedy that today. I’ve chosen three pups from three local rescue groups that are near and dear to my heart: Homeless Animals Rescue Team (HART), Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA), and City Dogs Rescue (CDR).

Why these three? Well, HART is the rescue group where I found my beloved Bella. FOHA is the group I volunteer with right now (attending adoption events and helping with the Twitter account) and where the boys are from. CDR is a great group I discovered quite recently – I’ve been working with them as a volunteer blogger.

(Want to know how you can participate in this event? Among other things, you can blog for dog rescue, adopt a companion, spread the word about animal rescue, or even donate to or volunteer with a local rescue organization. Head over to Be the Change for Animals to find out more about today’s event and to read more from other bloggers participating today.)

And now, today’s adorable adoptables…

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Let’s unite for dog rescue!

Blog the ChangeWell, another Blog the Change for Animals event is upon us. This time, however, I didn’t have to agonize over choosing a subject. Instead, I’m joining with several other bloggers to promote a great event happening on Monday, July 23.

What event might that be, you wonder? It’s called Bloggers Unite for Dog Rescue has partnered with Blog Catalog and Dog Rescue Success for a special online global blogging event aimed at bringing attention to dog rescues. As you may know, we recently became a three dog household, and all of our pups are rescue dogs. Accordingly, this cause is very close to my heart.

The only missing ingredient for the upcoming event? You! Join us on July 23 to draw attention to the importance of dog rescues and dog adoption. I hope you’ll spread the word about this great event. For more information about this event (including talking points for a blog post and other ways to participate), visit

A lot of great bloggers are participating in today’s Blog the Change event – to see what they’re all barking about, check out the list after the jump…

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Play in the pool, not the drool

Hot. So hot. (As you can see, the heat temporarily rendered me unable to produce normal sentences. I’ll attempt to remedy that.) To the links!

  1. Up first, your punny pet names: Michael Whelps and Catalie Coughlin.
  2. Before we get into the linkage, I just wanted to remind you that you have until July 4th to help pair service dogs with military veterans in need. It just takes one click!
  3. Is it hot where you are too? If so, how do you plan to cool off this weekend? These two dogs have some good ideas.
  4. Or maybe you otter try this method instead. (The face he makes in that video is the same one I make every morning. True story.)
  5. Want to go out? Get cleaned up and make sure to rock some stylish summer threads. Take a walk and then try some of these pickup lines.
  6. You could also take in a baseball game or go to a concert. (I’d probably skip the vet though, if possible.)

It’s always a good idea to hit the pool. No, not that kind of pool. This kindOr, you know, you could just do this…

Whatever you do this weekend, remember that a dog in a hot car is a bad idea. Here’s how you can help fight the stupidity.


Give me your ears, and I’ll lend you a paw…

As usual, it’s time for some Friday linkage. This week, the theme is helping out. Confused? Stick with me…

  1. Your punny pet name: Corg Clooney. (You know, if George Clooney were a Corgi.)
  2. Check out this post from Oh, Corbin announcing Blogville Pitty Post Day on Monday, June 4. We intend to participate – I hope you’ll join in!
  3. Did you know that Be the Change for Animals (one of my personal blogging inspirations) had a birthday earlier this week? Head on over and wish the team a happy birthday! (There’s even a bit of personal news in there – I’ll be helping out as a staff writer. I can’t wait to get started!)
  4. Because I’m addicted to blogging, I’ve also agreed to help out with the blog for City Dogs Rescue in DC. Here’s my first post!
  5. Is it scattered that I’m helping with two different rescues? I think it’s kind of fun. I also help with the Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) Twitter account (which you should totally follow), and participate in FOHA adoption events. Guess I took my own advice!
  6. I’m actually attending a cool FOHA adoption event this weekend. It’s called Sit, Sip & Stay, and it’s at Bluemont Vineyard in Bluemont, VA. Attendees can taste wine while helping FOHA’s medical fund. Pretty neat, huh?
  7. I totally think that all rescues should steal this calling card idea. Thanks to Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes for sharing this one with me. (Warning: ear worm within. No, not that kind of ear worm. I think that link should earn me some geek cred.)
  8. Speaking of helping animals, here are thirty-five that could use your help.
  9. The chance to help name an otter? On a website called You Otter Know? Obviously, I’m in. I’m pulling for Sam Otterston.
  10. I guess we all find our own ways to help. This little girl has taken it upon herself to help her dog learn a very important life skill.

It’s not a one-way street, however. Dogs help us too. Like this dog helping his baby friend learn to crawl.

I kind of want a series featuring the adventures of this dog and baby as they grow up together. Rated TV-CAA (Cute, Awesome & Adorable).


If at first you don’t succeed, volunteer again!

Blog the ChangeLately, it seems that I’m constantly running behind. Today’s post is no exception. Writing a post for Blog the Change for Animals has been on my to do list for over a week, yet I’m still barely getting it up before the day is done. Luckily, a topic has been percolating in my brain for a while now, so here we go…

Have you ever thought about volunteering for a rescue group? I’ll admit – it took me a while to turn my intentions into actions. I would occasionally send an email to a rescue group for information, but somehow it never really clicked.

For today’s Blog the Change event, I decided to share a little bit about my experience and encourage you not to give up if you’re interested in working with a rescue group. I had my own form of Goldilocks syndrome – it took me a while to find a group and volunteer opportunities that were a good fit. With a little persistence and patience, you can find your fit as well.

For me, things finally changed once I read an article about Second Chance Photos. I’d never considered offering my services as a volunteer photographer before, and reading about the organization gave me the push I needed to seriously pursue volunteering with a local rescue group. I emailed several local organizations, and one took me up on my offer. (I later had the opportunity to attend a Second Chance Photos workshop, and it was fantastic.)

My experience taking photos of some of the animals at Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) led to other opportunities. In order to make the logistics of photo shoots easier, one of the other volunteers suggested I sign up for dog walker training. (Before taking the training, I had to have another volunteer get the dogs out of their runs and bring them to me for photos. Now I can get dogs out myself. I’ll be candid – I haven’t done any formal photo shoots since taking the training, but I’m going to revisit this option soon. I wanted to get comfortable with the shelter and its routines before trying again)

After taking the training, I began to receive FOHA’s weekly newsletter, which is full of volunteer opportunities. I started to volunteer for dog adoption events, and I now help out with FOHA’s Twitter account as well. The adoption events are very rewarding – it’s a fun way to spend a day, and it’s nice for the dogs to get out of the shelter for a few hours. Two of the dogs I’ve brought to events (Willis and Janai) have since been adopted – when I read their names in the weekly email of dogs who were going home, my smile couldn’t have been bigger.

My most recent adoptable buddy – the lovely Smilin’ Sally.

So, if you want to volunteer but don’t  know where to start, this post is for you. Your fit is out there. If the first group you try isn’t a great match, try another one.

Try out different opportunities. If you’re a people person, you might enjoy working an adoption event. If you enjoy being outdoors, you might like being a dog walker. If your time is limited or you prefer working from home, you could volunteer to help with the organization’s social media accounts. If you’re a writer, perhaps you can help pen bios of adoptable animals for the website. Do you have experience planning events? Perhaps you can help plan a fundraiser or organize other events for the group. Are you a cat person? Consider becoming a volunteer cat snuggler. (Best job title ever.) Help collect food, blankets or other supplies for the shelter. Every little bit helps, whether you can volunteer once a week or once a month.

Many rescue groups have weekly newsletters – sign up for those and take a a look to see what kinds of help the group needs. There’s an opportunity out there for everyone. Sometimes, you just have to try a few on for size until you find the one that’s just right. If you haven’t found your fit yet, don’t give up. I’m glad I finally took the leap, and I hope you will too.

I also hope you’ll check out all of the great blogs participating in today’s Blog the Change event… there are some truly wonderful posts this round.



Caption this: Easter Bunny training program

I think Bella is getting a little too into this whole Easter thing. Although I must admit, she does have the ears for it.


Also, I said it last year, but it bears repeating… rabbits are not Easter toys. Spread the word and encourage people not to give live bunnies (or chicks, ducklings, etc.) as Easter gifts. Stick with chocolate or a snuggle-worthy stuffed animal. As you can see, Bella has approved the content of this message.



Blog the Change for Animals: Helping pets through photography

Blog the ChangeFor this edition of Blog the Change, I decided to write about a subject that’s near and dear to my heart – shelter pet photography.  I’ve written about this subject often over the past few months, but I feel like it’s a message that just can’t be shared enough. Better photos help shelter pets find homes… period.

Today, I want to tell you about a nonprofit called Second Chance Photos.  This great organization aims to help shelter pets through photography by encouraging people to donate their time to take personalized photos of animals in need of a forever home.  The founder, professional photographer Seth Casteel, does more than just encourage – he even teaches workshops to help aspiring shelter pet photographers get started.  I attended one, and it was great!

Ernie 24
Shameless plug – adopt Ernie!

The right photo really can make a difference – check out some of these before and after photos and see for yourself.

Do you have a camera and love to take photos of your own pet?  Turn that hobby into a volunteer opportunity!  I contacted several local shelters, and ended up going to take photos for one of them in the fall.  (Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little while to get your foot in the door or find a shelter who is interested in your services – I’m heading back to the shelter soon for general volunteer training, and hope to take more photos for them soon.)

I’ve rounded up some info to help you get started.  Check out the links below:

  • The Second Chance Photos website, which includes tips for getting started and a wealth of other information.
  • A list of upcoming Second Chance Photos workshops – maybe there’s one in your area!  (If you’re wondering what it’s like to attend a workshop and interested in some tips, you can read my recap here.)
  • Even if there’s not a workshop near you, don’t worry!  Here’s a PDF full of tips from Second Chance Photos to get you started.  It covers everything from approaching shelters to taking photos and beyond.
  • For more info, you can keep up with Second Chance Photos on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Here are some more inspiring photos – don’t you just want to adopt them all?
  • I recently interviewed Seth Casteel of Second Chance Photos – to learn how he got started and pick up a few tips, click here (Part I) and here (Part II).

Have you ever taken photos for a shelter before?  Are you considering giving it a try?  Go for it – you’ll be glad you did!

I encourage you to visit the other great blogs participating in this event today- so many fantastic causes being highlighted. Check out the list after the jump!


Take the pledge: don’t support puppy mill pet stores

You may recall that for October’s Blog the Change for Animals, I joined several other bloggers to tell Petland USA to stop selling pets in its stores.  (If this issue is new to you, learn more about the pet store/puppy mill connection here.)

Over 45,000 people  have signed the petition, but Petland USA has not changed its ways.  For that reason, I’m sharing a call to action from Mary Haight (of the Dancing Dog Blog), who led the charge on this issue in October.

Want to get involved? Join us in telling Petland USA that until they stop supporting puppy mills, we’re not supporting them.  I’ve reproduced the instructions below.  For more info and background, visit here.


Sometimes pictures can be more effective than words. Since
they have the power to help stop this, remind Petland USA what breeder
puppy mill dogs look like.  Estimates report there are more than a
million of them trapped in hopeless lives.

We need your help THIS WEEKEND with this simple action. It should only take 10 minutes of your time:

1) Download the images in this blog post to your computer (right-click and “save as”).
2) Post these images to your Facebook profile and ask your network to share.
3) If you have a blog, please re-post these instructions and
share widely! If not, please email your networks with a link to the original blog post.

[Editor’s Note: Over on the post there are actually 4 steps – however, upon learning of this weekend’s call to action, Petland blocked postings of these images to its franchise Facebook pages.  Guess they don’t want their customers to see where their pets might have come from….]

Spread the word and take the pledge – don’t support puppy mill pet stores!


Shelter employee fired for taking non-crappy photos of dogs

Ernie 24
Shameless plug – adopt Ernie!

You know I’m all about the notion that better photos can help dogs get adopted.  It’s logical, after all.  I’m always drawn to a photo of a pup with more personality.  (Speaking of personality… at right, you’ll see a photo I took when I volunteered at a local shelter last month.)

Anyway, today I’m here to share a story about something that strikes me as completely illogical.  Let’s say you’re a shelter… you have a crappy camera and have some crappy photos of adoptable dogs up on your website.  An employee decides to use her higher-quality DSLR to snap some photos of dogs scheduled to be euthanized and shares them in hopes of finding a rescue group or potential adopter who could save the dogs.

This woman displayed initiative, saw a problem, and took steps to improve the situation. Sounds like Employee of the Year material to me.  In reality, she joined the ranks of the unemployed.

According to the New York Times, Emily Tanen was fired from Animal Care and Control of New York City for taking photographs of animals scheduled to be euthanized.  Why?  Her photographs apparently violated her employer’s rules regarding photos – specifically, who can take photos, how the animals can be photographed, and how the photos can be used.  (One rule precludes showing humans in photos with the animals – apparently this extends to body parts such as a hand.  Even with my limited experience, I can tell you that it’s not always possible to get a photo of a nervous dog without a human’s arm or elbow somewhere in the frame.)

Emily took some lovely photos of the dogs that put the official shelter photos to shame.  It sounds like those photos helped some animals escape death row. Instead of seeing the potential here, the shelter fired her.  (Another former volunteer has also expressed displeasure with the fact that the shelter wanted to tightly control any of the photographs he took instead of allowing him to post them on his Facebook page.  Since when is wider exposure for an animal in need of a home a bad thing?)

Don’t get me wrong – I realize that not all shelters have the time or resources to devote to getting some truly fantastic photographs of adoptable animals.  They may not have enough volunteers to do so – in fact, the article suggests that there are only a handful of volunteers to take photos for the entire city shelter system involved here.  In addition, I’m sure there are sometimes valid legal reasons that an organization like this one would want to control the use of photos or set forth standards.

However, why not try to find a middle ground?  Perhaps the shelter could have taken this opportunity to revisit its policies and come up with a plan for getting photos of the animals that would both be acceptable to the shelter and would increase the animals’ chances of adoption.  (Similarly, in the case of the other volunteer I mentioned above, perhaps agreeing to a reasonable way that the photos could be circulated while noting that he did not officially represent the shelter would have been an option.)

This story isn’t about a lack of resources – you have an employee who is willing and able to help take better photos of the animals.  Perhaps she violated the policy, but wouldn’t a reprimand would have made more sense than firing her?

You can read the full New York Times article here.

UPDATE 11/15/11: There appears to be an online petition circulating to get Emily her job back.  If you’d like to learn more, click here.



Tell Petland USA to stop selling puppies!

Blog the ChangeAt one point or another, we’ve probably all been drawn to that puppy in the window of a pet store, whether by his sheer cuteness or by that sad look in her eyes.  Maybe you’ve even taken one home.  I did.

However, now that I know more about the connection between pet stores and puppy mills, I will never do so again.  Read on to learn more about this connection and what you can do to help.  Join us in telling Petland USA to stop selling pets in its stores.

When I was ten years old, I wanted a dog of my own for Christmas.  (We had dogs – plenty of them – but this one was to be “mine.”  My parents had agreed, and I was in the process of finding the perfect companion.)  I had my heart set on a Scottish Terrier.  However, while at the mall one day, I saw a Toy Fox Terrier puppy in the window of the pet store and fell in love.  I convinced my mom to let me meet her.  After some calculated begging and whining, I then convinced her to get this puppy for me.  I named her Scotti.  She became my best friend.

While I wouldn’t trade my time with Scotti for anything, it saddens me to think that she was part of the pet store/puppy mill system.  Scotti was our only pet store dog.  Most of our other dogs were rescues,
if in the non-traditional sense of the word.  (My dad would bring a dog
home that someone in town no longer wanted, or we’d take the neighbors’
dog in when they moved.)

When I walk by a pet store now, I no longer view it through the eyes of a child.  Instead, I feel an overwhelming sadness for the animals inside.  That sadness is quickly followed by anger.

It’s that mixture of sadness and anger that fuels today’s post for Blog the Change for Animals.  Although there are many pet stores out there, the most well-known is probably Petland.  According to the Humane Society of the United States, Petland is the largest retail supporter of puppy mills in the U.S.  In 2009, HSUS released more information suggesting that 95 percent of Petland’s stores were buying from puppy mills, either directly or indirectly.

Puppy mills are not idyllic places full of puppies, nor some paradise like that Daisy Hill Puppy Farm in Snoopy’s past.  The conditions are truly horrifying.

Puppy mill dogs may suffer a host of health problems.  (Scotti did have some minor health issues – due to a leaky tear duct, she
wasn’t fit to be a show dog and had ended up in the pet store instead. 
Honestly, we were very lucky that her issues were minimal.)  In addition to the impact these terrible physical conditions can have on a dog’s health, a recent study also details the severe psychological harm that being in a puppy mill can inflict. 

Petland Canada saw the light and stopped selling pets.  (Update 10/16:  perhaps in theory, but not always in practice.)  When will Petland USA follow?  Perhaps we can help spur them to action…

Mary Haight from the Dancing Dog Blog created a petition on for just that purpose.  Today, as part of Blog the Change for Animals, several bloggers (including me) are standing with her and promoting this cause.

Want to know how you can help? Take two minutes to sign and share the petition.  Take a few more minutes to write a
short post on your blog or on Facebook.  Share this post and the link to the petition on Twitter.

I know it can be hard to resist those furry faces when you walk by a pet store – and, if my own experience is any guide, resisting a child who desperately wants that puppy in the window is no easy task.  You may think that by “rescuing” the dog in the pet store, you’re doing a good deed.  However, I recommend you check out this excellent piece at Dogster and think long and hard before you unintentionally perpetuate the puppy mill-pet store cycle.   

Be strong.  Look into rescue, and adopt a dog.  Don’t patronize stores that sell pets.  It’s not the only business model that works – both PetSmart and Petco encourage adoption.  I’d rather support a business like that, wouldn’t you?

Let’s raise awareness of this issue and take a stand against puppy mills!