Friday, September 26, 2014

Raising the (Barn) Roof on October 11

Maude and Eddie were kind enough to model for us to help announce our yearly fun-raiser at the Rescue Barn. The Pits & Giggles event is coming up quick --> Saturday evening, October 11.

Celebrating our 15th B-day (which was back in April) and a great year of good saves and satisfying outreach work.

We look forward to enjoying time with our friends and supporters as well as many of our alumna dogs who will be there with their families. Cajun food, Zydeco music, a warming campfire and good conversation. What could be better?

Tickets Here

If you can't attend, please consider gifting a ticket to an area shelter worker or rescue volunteer. There's an option on our event page that signals your interest in donating this way.
Thank you, and hope to see you on the dance floor real soon!

Friday, September 5, 2014

a view from the inside

Generally, the barn blog features pictures of the rescue dogs romping or doing activities out in the yard.  But the kennels inside the barn can give you  a glimpse of each dog's personality.  Let's take a look.

Little Chiquita is well known for her love of stuffies and tennis balls.  Here she is presiding proudly over her nest of favored indoor toys, complete with an overstuffed teddy bear that's almost as large as she is.  She keeps her little "family" together where she can watch over them.

And the delicious Ms Maude is shown here with her beloved armchair, ahhh!  This girl with her wonky hip is all about comfort.  Who needs toys when you have something soft and squishy to snuggle up on?  All that's needed is an attentive human cuddling in the chair with her to bring her to a state of nirvana.

Check out Preston's frat pad.  He's all boy, toys scattered around, a beat-up armchair (he loves chewing on it) with his mess spilling out of the kennel.  A little messy suits him just fine - let's just call it "lived-in".  He just loves a good party.

 His dainty neighbor Gwennie, on the other hand, is more of a minimalist.   Her toys & blankets are neatly contained in her bed where she serenely watches the antics of her fellow barn residents.  Like a little black dress, this little black dog isn't showy or extroverted, but when you get to know her you'll see that she's a classy and intelligent girl.

These pictures were taken before the arrival of the new guy, Badda Bing, so we've yet to see what his kennel reveals about him.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

addicted to love

Though Reverend Al has taken his bounty of block-head love to his new family, a new messenger of love has taken his place in the barn.
It's Badda Bing, who unaware of the furor leading to his arrival at the rescue barn, is settling in nicely.

On Labor Day morning, his second morning at the barn, after exercising, eating, and working on his manners, he got a relaxing sponge bath from Jr. Barn Crew Kiki and melted into a blissed out giant 'butter bean'.

Oh yeah! Touch Junkie in the house!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

simple pleasures

You may heard of Chiquita's fondness for her family of faux furry babies, and her habit of nesting on them and her pile of eggs" aka tennis balls like a little mother hen.  She's an adorable little pooch and we, the barn crew, enjoy her antics during our shifts with the barn dogs.

But Ms Maude of the squishy round-eyed face has also discovered things she's very fond of: playtime with friends;  the sweet sun spots where it's not too hot for a little sun-bathing; her comfy re-homed leather chair; and during my last shift, she showed me her newest "simple" pleasure.

It happened while Maude was supervising my chores, making sure I filled the buckets with cool fresh water, sweeping the dust-bunnies from the corners of the kennels, and....just as I was about to fold the clean laundry piled on the couch, I realized that I couldn't see or hear Maude anywhere. So I called her, and then, rising from the midst of the pile of laundry, up popped Maude's blocky head with a look of ecstasy on her face.  She had discovered the joy of laundry - warm, soft, fresh smelling clean!

The crestfallen look on her face as I gently removed the pile from under her reluctant butt was priceless.

So I'm adding to Maude's wishlist for her new family - a request. She would like a home where she will be allowed to "help" with the laundry, please?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hiding a Bug

Bug's arrival into our so-called 'witness protection' program is one of the toughest recent secrets we've had to keep. There wasn't any wiggle room in this mission: Since last December, we've had to suck it up and keep her and her litter mates' stories hidden or risk blowing their chances of freedom. The deal was, her owner was facing federal dog fighting charges and dozens of his dogs were seized as part of the larger "#367 case" that first rolled out in the news in August 2013. The canine victims of this cruelty were all waiting in limbo while the defendants played the cards they were dealt: After their arrests, they could transfer ownership so their dogs could be streamlined into rescue groups and start new lives, or they could make them wait several long months in shelter kennels until they either pled guilty or their case went to trial. Evidence against the pups' owner was piled skyscraper high and the other defendants in the case were quick to enter guilty pleas, but he was said to be extra stubborn. We learned early on that it was going to be a long, long wait. "Months," was the answer we received when we accepted the secret squirrel assignment.

It's certain that the dog fighter knew - as did we - that there was a chance the case could be dismissed on a technicality and the pups would have to be returned. We tried not to think about that possibility too much.

Below: Greeting a stranger on the way home to Oakland. "Oh a puppy! Did you just adopt her?" Foster mom Katie Moyer mumbled a quick fib, one of many she'd be telling over the next few months.

Bug, Luna, Ollie and Francy Bear were seized by authorities with their mother 'Gummy' when they were just two days old. Medical notes showed that Bug was initially listless and may not survive, but she soon found her bravado. Gummy was not able to raise the pups well and they had to be separated early on to a shelter kennel without her.

We met them all just over six weeks later when our team of ten volunteered to spend Christmas week with 160 of the dogs from the case. They were receiving care at the busy HSUS-run shelter "somewhere in the southeast." (Location held secret for obvious reasons). The ASPCA hosted the rest of the dogs from the case in a different location.

The bulk of the dogs we worked with had already been waiting four long months when we met them. Federal prosecutors worked steadily to build their cases against the thirteen men who'd been charged with abusing their dogs in three different states and numerous staged dog fights. Thankfully, Bug never experienced that world, but growing up in a loud and busy shelter can bring its own damage to young minds, so getting them into home environments meant saving their lives in a different way. How could we say no? When we flew home, we maneuvered the litter through a busy airport and slid tiny carriers filled with pee pads, chews and precious cargo under our airplane seats and on our way to new adventures.

Our wonderful volunteers were under strict orders: "Do not facebook your project pups and don't tell anyone where they came from or what their story is." A tall order in the SF bay area where pit bull puppies are crack to the thousands of dog lovers who live here. The foster homes told vague stories, "They're rescue pups from BADRAP," and in the flurry of daily life, no one seemed to notice that our website and social media never made mention of them.

The first order of business when raising a puppy into a healthy dog is designing positive experiences with as many dogs, people and places as she can comfortably handle. Bug hit the lottery with two different foster homes, a bevy of dog friends, field trips and adventures. Her caretakers coached her through her shy spells, taught her good puppy manners, suffered through her car sickness phase and bravely channeled her larger than life energy level into non-stop play sessions ('zoom' means 'ZOOOOM' to Bug). She spent time at the barn for rowdy play sessions with Molly, Elliot and Eddie - and most recently, enjoys foster home life with Uncle Teddles and foster mom Cindy.

Aunt Molly gives in to the cheek grabs:

Growing up, Bug hit the "ear hat" phase back in March, three months after her arrival. We regretfully edited her gorgeous image from social media updates as the weeks ticked by.

On July 23, seven months after we met Bug and her sibs and brought them home to hiding, HSUS rep Chris Schindler phoned with the news we'd all been waiting for: The pups abuser had plead guilty and they were free dogs. The abuses this group of men committed were so egregious that a federal judge delayed sentencing so prosecutors would have enough court time to submit the evidence of their crimes against the dogs. News Link. They are not set to be sentenced until October 2014.

Bug will never know about that world or about the stresses of growing up into an adult dog in a shelter kennel. We're so very indebted to our team of volunteers for making this right.

Bug is the only pup now looking for a home. She's fun, energetic, hopeful and incredibly affectionate. She's in her teenage stage now, so is full of energy and would love to live with a dog or two who can appreciate her "Life is a Party' play style. Foster mom Cindy has given her excellent leash skills, fine tuned her social skills and helped her develop calm crate time patience. We'll be rolling out more info, photos and meet-n-greet opps now that she's ... Free.

Now! Photos from a recent Open House, where Bug was "just another dog who needed a home." We sure like it that way.

If you are interested in being part of this pups amazing adventures and are considering adoption, please contact:   Thank you!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Maude: What's in a name?

Canine infatuation arrives in all forms. With this girl, I was smitten the minute I saw her name. MAUDE it said in big capital letters on the side of her kennel.  

Maude is also the name of my 8-year-old niece — my only niece — and we are very close. We both love drawing. And elephants. And being silly.  And I know, implicitly, that she would be delighted  that I’m comparing her to a blocky-headed dog with a slight under-bite.

Canine Maude is every bit as gorgeous as my niece, though considerably less chatty. There are other similarities too. For example, a strong desire to please, tempered with a healthy independent streak.

Both are strong and athletic. Both are curious.

Both know when they've got you wrapped around their little finger (or dew claw).

Both play nicely with others.

And while I would never tell her moms this, when I first learned of my niece’s name, I didn’t love it. Eight years later, it’s one of my very favorites. I think I may be destined to adore every Maude I meet. 

It certainly happened with this cutie.

omiGAUDE, is she cute...

And like my niece, canine Maude is going to land in someone's family and remind ’em just how incredibly much you can love someone. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Gwennie's Got the Grinnies

Hanging out with Gwennie today at the Barn, I suddenly started thinking about "Black Dog Syndrome" -- that is, the oft-cited phenomenon that black dogs (and cats) are harder to adopt out than other animals. Whether the syndrome truly exists generates some debate, but the reason cited is pretty consistent: Many feel that it's harder to photograph darker colored dogs than lighter ones, and therefore they don't get as much attention online.


I'm clearly no photographer, but come on. Is there any doubt that Gwennie is a gorgeous freakin' specimen? Look at that grin.

And sure, she's way cuter (also sassier, smarter, bubblier, etc.) in person, but isn't that true of most of the dogs you first see on a website and then meet in person?

Today, Gwennie charms not only me, but the resident gentlemen as well. Not sure what witty observation she's passing along to Eddie (maybe, Does that human with the camera ever wear anything besides overalls?) but Beast also hopes to get in on the secret...

And Beast still has his eye on her a bit later when Gwennie decides to see what the rope-toy is all about.

Honestly, can you blame him? Over by the slide, I start to tell Gwennie the joke about the blocky-headed canine who walks into a bar. Before I can finish, she gives me a knowing laugh:

Black Dog... what?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gal pals: Molly and Widget

Molly is one of those “guys’ girls.” Athletic, a bit flirty, and just barely masking a vulnerability that brings out the protective side in both Eddie and Elliot. It doesn't hurt that she’s stunningly beautiful.

But whereas Molly can be a bit of a mystery, Widget wears her emotions on her tail. She’s all wiggle and full of spunk — optimistic to the core. For weeks, she’s been Molly’s next door neighbor in the Barn. And then, this last week, it seems they went from a couple of chicks on the same block to... really good friends. 

Hey? Hay! It's Molly and Widge!

Where Widget goes exploring, Molly is eager to follow. And when Molly wants to hang out in the shade, Widget manages a few wiggle-free moments to keep her buddy company.

Tennis balls. Shade. It's cool.

 Innocent as they think they look, like all good gal pals, they share a few secrets.
Up to no good -- who, us? 

And at the end of the day, when Molly wants a minute or two with her good pal Eddie, Widget doesn't mind. Friends understand these things.

Still... there's nothing like old friends.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Invasion of the best kind!

Just over two weeks ago, our 2013 Christmas gifts arrived when a group of dogs who survived a large scale dog fighting case was delivered to Oakland. (News LINK of the raid, that saved 367 dogs from a life of fighting.)

We'd first met these survivors when our team of handlers flew to the the southeastern US to assist with the dogs' care. We worked in the HSUS temporary shelter, where 13 different groups of dogs lived until their abusers had their day in court. Once our group of dogs was able to be released, Chris Schindler - the Animal Fighting Response Manager of the HSUS - made a big cross country trip to bring them to CA.

It was gratifying to see them again, to say the least:

and Megg (photo, right)

We've also committed to helping young Ollie, Lady Bug and Luna - who we can't show you yet since they're still inside the custody window. Dixie left with Chris to join her new home in CO with breed advocates ColoRADogs, and Londyn and Megg stayed behind for two weeks, getting acclimated to life outside of a shelter before leaving for new adventures with the Seattle Animal Shelter.

It's been a very busy time for our team, but everyone has been handling the extra work like a pro.

If you visit our facebook page, you may have seen this. It's a SLIDESHOW (with heart tuggy music, of course) with a few of the dogs' firsts - first play session, first sensation of cool grass under their feet, etc.

Today, a video of the wonderful Monkey. She enjoyed a week of wrestling, rolling fun with Elliot and Eddie before leaving for foster mom Letti's house to begin two 30-day heart worm treatments. Sigh. We sure wish she didn't have to, but it's time to get healthy and then get that HOME finally. We sure love us some Monkey.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March happys at the Barn

It's always fun when Seattle friend Maggie McDowell pops by for a visit. Not only do the dogs love the extra attention (slumber party in the cabin!), we get to enjoy the little moments she photographs while she's here.

Here are a few snaps taken during working shifts at the barn. Thanks for sharing your eye with us, Maggie!

A breakfast of champions for a hungry girl. "Wait, Esther!"
It's taking every ounce of focus she has not to jump up on the counter
and hurry Charity along with this morning chore.

Eddie and Molly show off some carousel style prancercise moves. The not-so-shy-anymore 
Molly will be going to class for the first time this coming Saturday, then will 'graduate' to 
adoption status. We hope she finds a nice home with a dog mentor to take Eddie's place.

Elliot teasing his now-favorite barn dog Widget into a game of chase.

Esther flirting with Charity, "Can I pretty, pretty please?"

Molly gets some TLC from Jose.

Yes Esther, you really are a pretty little thing.

Megg enjoying a quiet conversation with Connor.

Londyn is just here for a few days.
Next stop: Seattle, where she hopes to find a new home through Seattle Animal Services.

"I can see you!"
Lookie who discovered a new place in the yard to squeeze and get stuck.
Gee, thanks Londyn! She was able to move forward but couldn't back
out to release herself. We were giggling so much that it took twice as long as it
should have to free her.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Steady Eddie, Brave Dave

He probably has no idea, but Eddie’s a natural teacher. Last week at the Barn he helped show shy Molly the ropes. Today, he demonstrated perfect sits for unfocused Esther —

 and then revealed how to swipe a plastic chicken right out from under her nose.

"Now we're sharing..."

"Now I've got it!"

And on Sunday, Eddie achieved what I'd never been able to get my own dogs to do.

My father-in-law, by his own description, is not what you’d call an “animal person.” Sometimes dogs can make him a little uneasy — even fearful, it’s fair to say.  I’m really not sure what he thinks about my involvement with a group rooted in advocacy for pit bull-type dogs.  

So when Dave, who was visiting from out of town, sweetly expressed an interest in visiting the Barn, I was nervous. Not that his experience would be bad, but that it would be… just… meh. And I wanted my father-in-law not only to see what I see, I wanted him to fall in love with these crazy blockheads. And to understand why I do what I do.

Of all the dogs, Eddie caught his eye. I’m not sure who approached whom first, but I do know that when I glanced their way, I saw Dave stroking Eddie’s ears like he’d been doing this all his life. The rest of us talked. We walked around the yard. And each time I looked over, there was Dave, lovin’ the heck out of Eddie (who was relishing every second).

“Are you seeing this?” I asked my husband. He snapped photos, and I stood there and grinned.

The cutest image of all, however, wasn’t captured on film. When it was time to go and we headed out the gate, Eddie remained on the other side, his eyes fixed on Dave. “Your new friend doesn’t want you to leave,” I said.

My father-in-law turned around to look at Eddie. He paused. And then he smiled, perhaps pondering the significance of it all. He didn’t need to say anything.

Monday, February 24, 2014

In the Barn This Week...

Its always fun to go to the barn and see new faces and find out the little things about each dog that makes them special. 

First up, Widget.  This super affectionate girl has the most beautiful soft brindle coat. Her favorite activity is snuggling and she is very skilled at curling her petite body into a lap.

Next, Eddie brings the charm. He spent a a good part of the afternoon rolling around on his back proudly showing off his new neuter.  Then he saw a squirrel and was convinced that it ran into a storage shed to hide from him. Sweet guy!
Molly quickly made friends with me and showed that she might not be so shy after all. Not caught on camera - her gazelle-like leaping skills. 
Last, but certainly not least Esther brings the puppy power. This youngster is the "senior" barn resident now that Benny and Joon have gone on to their forever homes and she is keeping all the adults on their toes.  Go, Esther!

These four dogs are just amazing - sweet, fun, beautiful and eager to please. Each one of them will make their future families complete.  If I didn't have two dogs of my own and a new foster on the way...