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Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, DC

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Photo: Reed Sandridge

According to the American Humane Society’s webpage, 56% of dogs that enter into shelters are killed.  This fact disturbs me so much that I almost didn’t put it in the blog, but I think it’s important that we know the truth.  Fortunately there are organizations out there trying to make sure these dogs get adopted and do not end up like the more than 2 million dogs that are euthanized every year.  One such organization is Lucky Dog Animal Rescue here in Washington, DC.

I pulled together a small team of Year of Giving volunteers and headed over to the PetSmart on Route 50 near Seven Corners on a blistering hot Sunday morning.  Each volunteer was assigned a dog for the afternoon.  “We need somebody strong for the next dog,” the volunteer coordinator yelled out to the small army of volunteers who had assembled under the glaring sun.  Given that most of the volunteers were women, eyes seemed to focus on me and I stepped up to the challenge.

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Photo: Reed Sandridge

They gave me two leashes (“You’re going to need them both,” they assured me) and a two-page bio about my dog.  “What kind of dog are they giving me,” I thought as they showed me how to wrap the leashes securely around my hands.  Out comes one of the cutest hounds I’ve ever seen.  Black with white and chestnut spots, Christine is a happy and energetic four-year-old.

Don’t let the big floppy ears fool you though!  She’s strong (hence the double leash!)  She immediately starts pulling me over to a tent where the other dogs are resting out of the sun.  Did I mention it was hot?  Christine and I had to take a couple of laps inside the PetSmart to cool off in the air-conditioning from time to time.

A big-hearted, fun-loving dog, Christine gets lots of attention.  She’s great with kids too.  My friend Jessica stopped by with her three young boys and Christine soaked up the attention.

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Photo: Reed Sandridge

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue is an all-volunteer, non-profit animal rescue organization dedicated to saving the lives of homeless animals and educating the community on responsible pet ownership. They do not have their own facility, instead dogs stay with temporary fosters (and occasionally boarding partners) while they wait to be adopted.

Lucky Dog holds weekly adoption events and is always looking for volunteers.  Visit their website to find out more information.

“What amazes me is their resilience,” Executive Director Mirah Horowitz said in a recent interview.  Many of these dogs have been abandoned and neglected, yet Horowitz says that they regain their ability to trust and love again.

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Photo: Reed Sandridge

On the Sunday I volunteered about a dozen dogs were adopted.  Since their inception in May of 2009, Horowitz says they have rescued about 2,900 dogs and have found permanent families for about 2,800 of them.  You do the math, that leaves about 100 dogs which is what she says are currently waiting for adoption.  “We’ve got a 100% adoption rate,” she proudly shares.  That’s impressive!

Unfortunately Christine didn’t get adopted.  I checked the website today and she is still waiting for either a foster family or a permanent family.  If you or anyone you know is considering getting a dog, I encourage you to check with local organizations like Lucky Dog.

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Photo: Reed Sandridge

By the way, if you would like to see additional photographs of Christine and many of the other dogs that were at the adoption event, check out my Flickr page.

Catch my weekly blog post on AARP’s blog every Wednesday.  Last week I wrote about giving during desperate times of need.

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Day 17 – Kristin

Who can resist a sale? Especially when it’s just days after Christmas? And on this particular day, it was the last day of 2010.  So, I rushed to the nearest PetCo in hopes of finding the (promised) toys for my critters, having explained for nearly a week that Santa was lost in the East Coast blizzard. It was time to make good on my promise.

As I perused the store, a woman pushing a toddler – and a lot of dog and cat food – kept catching my eye.  After finishing my own thoroughly vetted purchase, I boldly approached this young mother and asked her if she would help me with a project. We shifted the cart, child, and critter food out of the line so others could move forward.

“Sure, I guess,” she said hesitantly as I handed the $10 to her. What I remember most of all about Kristin was that she was either quite shy or a bit confused about the entire situation.  Perhaps it was a bit of both.

I asked her what she did for a living, besides raising a cute toddler. “I’m a Vet.”  Well, “dah,” I thought. What a great place to find a veterinarian, besides an actual animal clinic.

photo courtesy of http://www.lienanimal.com

“It’s over in West Seattle. The Lien Animal Clinic.  But I’m on maternity leave.  I have a new-born at home,” she explained.  And I think I have a handful with a small dog and an indoor cat to take care of! My heart went out to this woman, who was, by every measure, in every way, a caregiver. And a giver of tender loving care to so many, regardless of how many legs they have.

“My husband is also a Vet,” she continued.  Both attended veterinary school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  She graduated in 2005. “What do we say?” she asked her son. “Go Badgers!” he shouted as he punched his fist high in the air.

She is originally from Menasha, which is about two hours north of Milwaukee. After graduating, it was work that brought both she and her husband to the great Pacific Northwest. Kristin confesses that she misses the snow, but not the mosquitoes (okay, I prompted her about the mosquitoes because I hate mosquitoes).

Kristin needed to think about what she might do with her new $10 bill on this, the last day of the decade. As I took her picture and then thanked her for her time, I secretly hoped that an orphaned animal in need would be helped because of a chance encounter at a PetCo store on New Year’s Eve.

-Petra from Seattle, WA

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Today's recipient Kathy gets a hug from one of the wolves. (photo: Melinda T.)

Today I went with friends to view the wolves at Wolf Creek Habitat in Brookville, Indiana.  Upon arriving I was greeted with a hug from Kathy who is one of the caregivers for the wolves.  I explained the project to Kathy and she accepted the $10 and walked right over to the donation box with it.

 

Kathy was kind and passionate about educating people old and young about wolves.    They have a couple of packs of wolves that were either rescued or have been breed at the center.  We got to go in the area of two different packs.

One pack was still young about 8 months old and was bottle feed by human since they were ten days old.   They were not afraid of people and would come up to you.  The other pack was not bottle fed and they stayed further away but were still beautiful to watch.  At one time the habitat had a few rescue wolves that were bred with malamutes.  Kathy recommended staying away from these breeds as she feels you get the worst of each breed and they are not ideal pets like some think.

 

Photo: Melinda T.

 

The habitat gets their feeding meat from a butcher that processes deer meat.  This benefits both the habitat and the butcher since the butcher normally would have to pay to dispose the carcass and the habitat gets free food.

-Melinda T. from Xenia, OH

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