please adopt a shelter dog

The dogs at The Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary

This post is all about the dogs at The Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary.   Yeah, yeah, I know that my project is about the dog rescue organizations and the people who run them…but I find all the dogs and puppies so distracting!   All those personalities, those smiling faces, and all the wagging tails and busy feet–it’s too much for me sometimes and I only want to sit among them and play.   So, today, it is all about the dogs…and maybe a horse too.   I hope you enjoy the characters.  Hug a dog today…and everyday!

And please — Volunteer.  Donate.  Foster.  Adopt a shelter dog.

smiling dog
She barked, growled and grunted and now sits basking in our attention.
puppy dog in hay
This little one came out of the Puppy House to greet me. The next day, he had to go back to the vet. Two of his litter-mates had tested positive for distemper.
puppies heart and soul animal sanctuary
These babies are part of a litter of six at the Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary. Two of the six were already at the hospital and the four remaining in the Puppy House weren’t feeling so good. The next day, the two at the hospital were diagnosed with distemper and these four siblings had to join the other two at the vet for treatment.
Perry old dog dementia
Perry is about 16 years old and suffers from a little dementia. He wanders the Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary.
White horse and chihuahua
Jasmine the white horse and a little friend at the Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary
Dogs watch chickens
Dogs watching the chickens get a carrot treat.  Many animals find sanctuary at Heart and Soul. Every species has their space and everyone is safe.
three legged dog and puppies
Ivan may only have three legs, but he’s got a ton of patience for these rambunctious lab puppies. He spent most of the late afternoon watching the puppies rough house and occasionally got into the fray.
dog horse eating
While Jasmine worked on her alfalfa dinner, the dog kept her company.
Dog food dish
One lucky dog has the kibble bowl all to himself at the Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary
Dog on porch
This dog was skeptical of people, and watched me cautiously from the safety of the porch
Emma Tibetan Spaniel
Emma greets visitors on the porch of the Heart & Soul Animal Sanctuary’s Giant Doghouse
dog trees valley rock ridge
At Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary, there is a hike every day to the ridge.
three dogs in new mexico
Jasper, Ivan and Daisy enjoying the New Mexico afternoon at the Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary.
smiling barking growling dog
This little personality talked and talked and talked. She gave you about 7 seconds…and if you did not acknowledge her presence…there were some sharp words :)
Smiling dog
This smiling lovely barked, growled and scooted under the porch rail to get our attention without leaving the porch.
dog in doghouse
Jasper hides out in the little dog house after a hike at Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary.
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Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary / Rescue in New Mexico

In March, I spent some time at the Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary, a rescue located on 100+ acres outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.   Founder and Director, Natalie Owings cares for, and lives among, over 200 animals–dogs, cats, rabbits, wedding doves, horses, chickens, guinea pigs, ducks, llamas, alpacas, goats….  If any animal in the area needs a home, a meal, and some compassion, this is the place.

For the abused, neglected, sick or starving animals who have found safe haven here, this can only seem like heaven.  Many of the animals are rescued from shelters in the area.  And will stay here until adopted or transported to another state for adoption.  Some may live out their days here.

About 30 dogs have the run of the Giant Doghouse and surrounding grounds.  While they are fenced out of spaces for some of the other animals in order to keep the peace, they have ample selection of beds (inside, outside, in the sun, in the shade) and can help themselves to kibble anytime they are hungry.  There are no cages, no leashes… and no fights.   Every creature here is loved, respected, and safe …and they know it.

Please take a minute to visit the website:   http://www.animal-sanctuary.org/

Dog beds on the Porch
Heart and Soul Animal Sanctuary’s Giant Doghouse porch has beds for everyone.
Feeding the dogs
Food and water dishes are always full for the 30+ dogs.  They can eat whenever they get hungry.
New Mexico dog walk
Every afternoon, Natalie takes the dogs on a hike.  It begins with a chaotic cacophony of dog voices as Natalie leads the way to the trail…surrounded by little feet and wagging tails.  Once on the trail, some dogs run ahead, some stay close and others wander out to the sides…dashing back along the way.
dog tired puppy gets a lift
 On this hike, the puppies got so tired from keeping up with the big dogs and all the exciting activity, that they started falling asleep in the sun because we lingered too long…and a couple needed to be carried back.
memorial urns dog cremation
There is a quiet chapel with a shelf of urns–each with a photo.  Gone, but never forgotten.
chicken with Natalie Owings
Natalie brings a chicken into the barn.
Rabbits, heat lamp and space heater
On a cold day, rescued rabbits huddle under a heat lamp.
white doves peace birds
Some people release doves at weddings or funerals, not realizing that the domesticated birds cannot survive without their communities.  Doves will often be killed by other animals or starve after the release.  Natalie has built an aviary to give homes to rescued wedding doves.
Heart and Soul Animal Rescue gate
The dogs wait to see where Natalie is going. She almost always stays with them, not going beyond the double-gates.
Horse Chihuahuas puppies
The white horse, Jasmine, was abandoned at the Sanctuary a few years ago. Today, she wanders freely around the place, often with little dogs following her.
Thorn in dog paw
Natalie removes a thorn from a puppy’s foot during one of the afternoon walks.
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Transporting Rescue Dogs

Ever wonder what happens with the dogs saved by rescue groups? Transporting rescue dogs gives many a better chance of adoption or foster in a new state. Almost every weekend, hundreds of rescuers move these precious souls miles in 1-2 hour bits of travel. It’s an incredible network, and a feat of organization and determination, and sheer love for the dogs.

Last Saturday, I rode on a dog transport with Judy, picking up 10 dogs in Merrillville, Indiana and driving them to Itasca, Illinois. This was just one leg of their 8-9 hour journey from Indianapolis to Minneapolis.

I arrived at Judy’s just after 7 a.m. as she was configuring the van with her crates and cages. Like a Tetris puzzle, she arranged the crates to maximize the space and to make sure there would be enough separation for the parvo survivors we would soon meet. There was a smell of fresh laundry–bleach maybe–from the clean padding, beds, and towels lining the cages. Some towels were strategically placed on top of the cages under the air vents, so no dog would get blasted with the AC. Behind the driver’s seat was a bag of slip-leads and collars, some towels, baggies, water dishes and water.

We had a list of the passengers to expect…

  • 1. Shelby – Poodle-x, 9y F(S), 30 lb.
  • 2. Goofy – Pomeranian, M(N), 5 lb.
  • 3. Maltese – F, 8 lb.
  • 4. Juno – Terrier, F(S), 30 lb.
  • 5. BeaglePup – 10 weeks
  • 6. Lil Bit & Skittles – APBT puppies, 8 lbs. each
  • 7. Frenchie – 10 weeks
  • 8. Dexter – 4 months
  • 9. Puppy – 8 weeks. WILL TRAVEL IN OWN CRATE

The list also told us the that these dogs were traveling with health certificates, collars and that all were up-to-date on shots. There was an updated e:mail with more specifics on the meeting places for each of the 7 legs of the journey and who would be receiving the dogs upon arrival in Minneapolis. We pulled out of Judy’s driveway around 7:20 a.m. with the crates, the list and the sunshine, headed to meeting place #1 in Merrillville, Indiana.

We arrived a little early to the parking lot where we’d make the transfer from one car to another. A text let us know that Tara and Gwen were 10 minutes away, coming in 2 cars from Indianapolis. While we waited, Judy reminded me to be careful not to touch another dog after touching a parvo-survivor puppy. The parvo-surviving pups would also have to take their potty breaks in a different place.

And then, they arrived! Two cars pulled up, on either side of Judy’s van. Introductions, hugs and brief chatter as we jumped out to make ready for the transfer. I think I laughed and cried at the same time as Gwen’s hatchback opened to reveal a carload full of dogs looking back at me. The next 30 minutes was a whirlwind…get the dogs out, walked, watered and then situated in Judy’s crates and car.

Puppies!  These pooches have just completed the first leg of their 8 hour journey.  Lil Bit and Skittles (on the left) have survived parvo.
Puppies! These pooches have just completed the first leg of their 8 hour journey. Lil Bit and Skittles (on the left) have survived parvo.
The belongings of a Pomeranian named Goofy.  Goofy's  person passed away 2 days prior.  Life shattering change, maybe eased by traveling with familiar things.
The belongings of a Pomeranian named Goofy. Goofy’s person passed away 2 days prior. Life shattering change, hopefully eased a little by traveling with familiar things.
Switching crates/cages and cars.  Everybody gets a walk and some water.
Switching crates/cages and cars. Everybody gets a walk and some water.
Handsome :)   All dogs have a tag with their info.  Calling them by name earns you a tail wag and if you're lucky a little kiss.
Handsome :) All dogs have a tag with their info. Calling them by name earns you a tail wag and if you’re lucky a little kiss.
Shelby/Peaches and Frenchie getting situated in the next car.  Waiting for the other dogs to finish their walks.
Shelby/Peaches and Frenchie getting situated in the next car. Waiting for the other dogs to finish their walks.
Patience.  Last one to be unloaded.
Patience. Last one to be unloaded.
Jema is a parvo survivor.  I got the honor of riding shotgun with this puppy in my lap...but Judy gets a hug first.
Jema is a parvo survivor. I got the honor of riding shotgun with this puppy in my lap…but Judy gets a hug first.

After all the walks, after all the crate moves, Judy and I got back in the car with our passengers. Lucky, lucky me–I got to ride with Jema in my lap! This little girl was recently spayed, and a parvo-survivor. She tried so hard not to sleep…she wagged her tail and smiled at Judy, at me, at the dogs in the back, at the scenery out the window and for a few minutes chewed on my hair. And those of you who know me, know that I was in heaven holding this little happy and curious girl with her sweet puppy smell. Everyone settled in. Some stared out the window–and I wondered what they were thinking, their lives so changed. Some slept peacefully, despite the one who cried and voiced her opinion about a few things.

On the road.  Some are too excited to sleep and stare out the window.
On the road. Some are too excited to sleep and stare out the window.

We arrived in Itasca to meet the next 2 cars who would take these babies on to Rockford, Illinois. Once again, walks, water and a transfer of crates and cars.

Stop #2.  Getting situated in another crate, another car for the 3rd leg of the journey.
Stop #2. Getting situated in another crate, another car for the 3rd leg of the journey.
Judy puts Goofy into Nancy's car.  Shelby/Peaches will be riding shotgun on this leg of the trip.
Judy puts Goofy into Nancy’s car. Shelby/Peaches will be riding shotgun on this leg of the trip.

It was only in the last few minutes that I realized how bittersweet transporting days were, as we petted and hugged these lucky dogs one last time. Saying our goodbyes, and wishing them safety on today’s journey and much love and happiness for the rest of their lives.

Transporting rescue dogs, from August 3, 2013.

Want to know more? Check out these websites for dog transports–and donate, volunteer, foster or adopt–anything and everything helps:

http://www.everydogcountsrescue.us/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Liberty-Train-and-Rescue/161898060592344

By the way, I had planned to write a little more about Avery, the beautiful pup who had 17 broken bones. Shortly after I met her, she had her last two casts removed. I plan to see her again soon and get some additional photographs and details. So, more to come. Thanks for your patience!

 

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Rescue Dogs & Their People

Anybody who knows me knows that I am crazy about dogs.  I have never been able to understand people who would give a dog up.  And to be honest, I don’t want to understand them.  The act of giving up a dog is mean, and shows no empathy, no compassion, no responsibility.  And yet, there are many who do it.  Every day, every hour, probably every minute, dogs are brought into shelters all over the country…as strays, or maybe they are too old to play, too much to care for, or they just aren’t wanted anymore.  It’s a heart-breaking cycle…for the hundreds of thousands of dogs who wait for their people to come back and for those dogs who are euthanized because no one came.

It’s also an emotional saga for the people who rescue dogs.  These people go deep into the shelters to find the dogs who need them the most, or to locate certain types of dogs for breed-specific rescue groups.  They have an intense love of dogs that is all encompassing.  It is a daily, hourly, constant thought or worry for them.  They take dogs out of shelters to fill openings in foster homes–or their own homes.  They raise money for care.  They network to arrange permanent homes.  They schedule a patchwork of transportation to drive dogs to new fosters, or forever homes, all over the country.  These people…and there are many…work tirelessly and with all their might for the dogs.  I am in awe of their strength.

There is a great joy in opening a cage and rescuing a dog.  And there is great pain turning around during that moment of joy and looking into the eyes of the other caged dogs who are hoping you will reach for their door next.  So it is with a bittersweet determination that I begin this project to photograph some of these very special souls who rescue, foster and transport dogs.  Please take a look.  Meet a few of the dogs and the people I will be spending some time with over the next few months, and let me know your thoughts.

Rescue Dogs & Their People
Rookie loves Kelly.
Rescue Dogs & Their People
Atticus kisses Judy, with Hiccup & Beau
Rescue Dogs & Their People
Solstice’s fair skin sunburns easily. Most days, she wears a t-shirt and sunblock.
Rescue Dogs and Their People
Atticus is an older Boxer with one bad eye. He is protective of Edward, a Boston Terrier with cancer.
Rescue Dogs and Their People
Shakira stays mum.
Rescue Dogs and Their People
Rookie is afraid to come down steps…
Rescue Dogs and Their People
Rookie telling me why he is afraid to come down steps.

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