Friday, November 23, 2012

Home for the Holidays

The shelter where I work (West Columbia Gorge Humane Society - started this awesome program last year called Home for the Holidays.  We find temporary foster homes for the dogs in the shelter over the holidays.  This gives our pups a break from the shelter and allows people who either can't foster long term or who want to try out a particular dog, the chance to help out.

We have several doggies whom we all knew would be a challenge.  Kira, Cutty and DeeDee are our special cases.  They need homes where they are the only animal or they are very selective about the dogs they will tolerate.  I'll be honest, I didn't think we would get them all out of the shelter. Trevor and I were already planning to go down on Thanksgiving and spend time with the ones who didn't get out.


I was particularly concerned about DeeDee.  She is our longest resident and she has got be an only dog.  She tolerates no one.  She is a sweet girl that would make a great pet, she just needs to be alone and there is nothing wrong with that.  It just makes it more challenging to find someone who can take her.

DeeDee weighed on my mind, I was trying to think of anyone who could take her.  I kept telling Trevor that I wasn' sure where she would go.  I love my husband...he is such a man of action.  He contacted a friend of ours who owns a local rescue.  She recently was part of a story that involved a pitbull named London.  London had been so badly abused that his front legs had to be amputated.  Amanda facilitated the medical care, finding a cart for London to use to get around and finding him an amazing forever home.  This has given Amanda and her rescue, Panda Paws, world wide recognition.  She has thousands of fans on facebook.  Trevor asked Amanda if she could help us find DeeDee a home for the holidays.

Amanda posted the plea on facebook and within an hour, it had been shared almost 800 times and had over 1000 likes.  There were lots of "I wish I could help, but....".  Then one woman said "my dog passed away recently, I have no other pets....I can take her".  I didn't get too excited because you just never know.  The next day, I got a text from Clint, our kennel manager.  "DeeDee has a home for the holidays".  I sobbed.  Then I realized....we could do this - if DeeDee has a home - why not Kira and Cutty.  And the great things is that everyone else thought that too.

The wheels set in motion, as each day passed, another text would  be exchanged among us "Rabbit has a home for the holidays", "Alfred has a home for the holidays".  Every day, I waited for it to say Kira or Cutty.  


I had two friends who offered to take dogs for the weekend.  That made me so proud.  One took Alfred, the other took Toby


Then I had another friend who offered.  A dog had just come into our shelter that I knew would be perfect for them.  Her name is Chelsey.  She is 7.  Her family got her as a puppy and she lived with their kids until she was about 4.  Then the kids developed allergies and she was forced to live outside.  Finally, animal control convinced the family to surrender her.  She is so scared in the shelter, her nose is cut up from trying to get out of the kennel. I go and sit with her and she leans all her body weight onto me.


We took Chelsey to a gift fair and she was excited to see every person who walked past her.  And then there were the kids.  She went nuts when kids past by.  It was obvious that she loved them all. To think of her loving her kids and then be put outside breaks my heart.  And I am sure it broke hers.  Well, my friend Tory has two girls.  They came to get Chelsey for the weekend and she was thrilled.  She walked out to the car and got right in, like she knew she was supposed to be with them.

I have been getting updates all weekend long and Chelsey is really enjoying herself.  My friends have all sent updates and it gives me such tremendous joy to see these sweet animals getting some much needed love and rest.  It also makes me tremendous proud to be friends with these people.  I know how much I love them and I know those animals love them too.

Wednesday was the day we needed to get all the doggies homes.  Finally I got word that Cutty had a place and then Kira.  I was so relieved.  But then we had several options for a dog named Mona...we call her Mo.  She had a litter of puppies and everyone wanted the puppies, but no one wanted Mama.  As Wednesday wore on, each option backed by one.  We could not believe that Mo was the dog we were having trouble placing.  Finally around 4 pm when the last option really didn't seem like a good option, I said "we will take her".  I had already asked Trevor if that would be okay and he, of course, said yes. 

I had a 5:30 cycling class to teach, so I left and was going to come back and get Mo.  Right after I left the shelter, I got a message "Mo has a home for the holidays".  A woman and her mother had come to the shelter to bring Thanksgiving treats to the dogs - they told her Mo's predicament and she said "we can take her".  Leah did a quick home visit and it seemed like a good fit, so Mo went home.


The shelter was empty....quiet.  They were all in homes.  Not forever homes, but that's okay.  Even a little break is good for them - reminds them what its like to be a dog, to sleep in a bed, lay on a couch and be around people.  Yes, it may confuse some of them when they have to come back to the shelter, but I just know they understand.  I have to believe it will give them hope and help them get through until they find their forever homes. It will remind them that people outside our walls care about them.

We posted this picture on facebook and it currently has almost 6000 likes and
 has been shared about 700 times!

 When they come back, they will all have stories to tell about the things the did and the people who loved them. They will compare notes - Cutty will talk about the big field he got to run through, DeeDee will talk about the car ride she took and the condo she was so comfortable at.  Toby will tell about learning to wait on the rug when he came back in the house because that is where dogs get their paws wiped off.  Alfred will talk about the cat bed he commanded and slept in.  Chelsey will tell of little girls and comfy couches.  Mo will talk about the quiet time away from her puppies and kindness of a stranger.  Kira will talk about being in a home with a person who understands that she is special and needs a special situation - about a woman who felt so sick but wasn't going to back out on her.

They will tell each other and us their stories, we will see it in their eyes and we will be even more committed to finding the right homes for these amazing creatures.  They will rest their heads and have hope that they won't spend the rest of their days in their kennels at the shelter.  They will have hope that someday, forever is waiting for them.  And even though it was just a brief few days, they will always remember their Home for the Holidays.  And so will we.  

Thank you to all the volunteers and staff, friends and strangers who helped us with this project.  Thank you to everyone who opened their homes or who shared our story.  We know not everyone can give the same things, but everyone has something to give.  Find out what that something is for you....and give it..  

Here is Chelsey in her home for the holidays

Here is Alfred in his (he is the one in the middle of it all)

 Here is Toby

And here is a video of Cutty

If you are interested in adopting or fostering any of these doggies, please contact West Columbia Gorge Humane Society:  We will be doing Home for the Holidays again in December, let us know if you are interested in helping.


Stefanie Adelman said...

I was already in tears by the end of this page, but the video melted my heart - you can see the joy in Cutty's face when he's running back to you! I've got my 5 rescues (4 dogs and a ferret) and all of them are so sweet. I hope all these special babies find their furever homes. I love DeeDee - she looks like my Daisy.

Sara said...

What a great dog! I watched Cutty's video and he came right back upon being whistled :) Prayer for Cutty, and DeeDee, and all the others to find not only homes for Christmas for fur-ever.

Lisa Decker said...

All I can say is Amazing!!! <3

Lisa Decker said...

All I can say is, Amazing!!! <3

In memory of Hero said...

Im am so impressed with this program. I too believe they need and will blossom with this break from the kennels. I know of a dog that was chained for years then went to several kennel and rescue situations and gladly went to each one until his forever family came to take him home. They are so much more accepting and resilient than we humans who try to figure it all out. Gordo just happily went from foster to foster. And when he went home, it was like he knew and had been waiting for them. It truly amazes me. They hold no resentment but are just grateful for the love, however long it lasts. Thank you. I wish other rescues would do this. Maybe you have started a movement, looks like "Home for the Holidays" is a success. Congratulations, Keli

Trisha S. said...

Crying happy tears and shared on the Yonkers Animal Shelter and The Forgotten Dog on facebook. What a wonderful story! Maybe one or more will even get adopted <3

Mara Comitas said...

What a wonderful program. The shelter my daughter worked at tried something like that over a 4 day weekend. We accepted a bluetick coonhound for the weekend. That was over 5 years ago and Riley, the coonhound, is still with us. We did not have the heart to send him back.

Gaye said...

I work with the rescue that had Kira; SO GLAD she was able to have a wonderful holiday!

Gaye said...

what an awesome program! I am so glad that Kira & Cutty and DeeDee were also able to have a holiday!

di.spencer said...

I cried with joy when I read this. What a wonderful program this is and God bless all the sweet volunteers that took these precious furbabies into their homes for the Thanksgiving holidays <3

whirlygirl said...

Heartbreaking and heartwarming! Thanks to all who gave their hearts and homes. Hoping all of these sweet creatures find furever family placements. I especially loved watching Cutty run free in the "wild", but came back so willingly with one little whistle...... Sweet boy ;). I wish I could take them all home with me and give them the love they so desperately deserve.....

Brenda Portugal said...

tears ... but maybe the woman that lost her dog will be able to keep her guest for the Holiday wish I was closer to you guys I would of taken probably all but thank you for sharing ...hugs and kisses to the babies at the shelter