Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Duke of ARL

If Rex was human, he would be the courageous leader of an army going into to war knowing full well that his group was the underdog, but standing tall to do what needed to be done.

Okay, maybe that's a little far fetched.  But I will say, Rex is confident by nature and people enjoy being around him.  I can totally see him as a therapy dog some day.

I've seen many sides of Rex.  A couple weeks back he was at his most vulnerable state.  He wasn't feeling well and couldn't even walk on his own.  The vet wasn't exactly sure what had occured, but several times a day the staff would carry him into the yard for some fresh air.  He receive much TLC for about four days, then all of a sudden there he was walking once again.  During that time when we cared so much for him, thinking he might be on death's door, you could see in his eyes how much he appreciated the help and he grew a strong bond with each and every one of us.

Now he's happy & strong and ready to move on and grow a bond with a special person or family out there that is worthy of this fantastic gentleman.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is Black Dog Syndrome Real?

Coal, Raven, Licorice, Pepper, Ebony, Shadow, and Velvet are all common names for black dogs.  As a mom to a black lab mix and an admirer of all black dogs, I was amazed when I heard of Black Dog Syndrome.  While it is not a major problem here in New England, it is a very real problem in Southern high-kill shelters.  Sadly, in those shelters, black dogs are the last considered for adoption and the first to be euthanized.  When asked why people over look these beautiful dogs, the most common response is that they are too plain or they look aggressive. 



Working at a shelter, my feeling is that they are overlooked because they are so black and sometimes the lighting in the shelter is not perfect, therefore making it difficult to actually see the dog.  We've tried different ways to help make them stand out, such as light colored bedding or accessorising them with bandanas.  But, still when the shelter is overloaded with resident dogs, the lighter colored dogs or the multi-colored dogs still seem to be the first adopted.  So, even here in Maine and other New England states, these dogs need the opportunity to show visiting families their unique personalities and how fun and loving they can be.



I stand behind the phrase, Black is Beautiful and will always have a special place in my heart for all the black dogs out there struggling to compete with the more "fashionable" pups of the world.

All the dogs pictured here, and many other black dogs, are currently available at the Animal Refuge League, (207) 854-9771.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Apple of My Eye

We all know what a Cadbury egg looks like inside, right?  Creamy white and yellow, just makes my mouth water to think about it.  Well, my friend Cadbury, named so because he arrived at the shelter on Easter morning, brings a smile to face every time I see him.
The first couple of days, he was very reserved and not sure he wanted to make friends.  Once we gained his trust, you would have thought he knew us all along.  When I’m speaking with a potential adopter in front of his kennel, he always glances to me for reassurance that the stranger before him means no harm.  Because of his “checking in,” I’m sure he will bond quickly with his new family and easily be trained by using positive reinforcement to help him build his confidence; after all, what he truly wants is to be someone’s best friend.
He had the unlucky experience, while out on an enjoyable walk with a volunteer, of another shelter dog climbing a 6’ fence and attacking him.  He was painful and depressed for a couple days, but now he’s feeling better and hopefully has forgotten about that terrible episode.
I really hope this special soul finds his companion shortly, so he can enjoy his summer going on many wonderful adventures instead of hanging out in the kennels day after day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two for One Fun

When Gritty & McDuff arrived at the shelter, they seemed anxious, barky, and somewhat of a handful.  After all, it’s not easy to have your whole life turned upside down and find yourself in a strange place being poked and prodded by strange people.

Gritty, the larger of the two and missing one eye, is confident and likes to take the lead in their relationship.  This boy loves tennis balls!  He is amazingly fast and is an expert at the game of fetch.
McDuff can be anxious and can no longer hear, so he barks quite a bit when he’s kenneled, as is often the case with deaf dogs.  But, it’s important to note that outside of his kennel, he’s a dream.  An interesting highlight of McDuff’s past is that he was trained as a therapy dog when he was younger.  Pretty impressive!
They have been residents at the shelter for some time now and have definitely become more comfortable and are beginning to relax.  Initially we felt they would be better with older children, due to their age and the fact that they had never lived with children.  But, to the delight of everyone, they proved that they think young children are pretty cool, as seen in this photo of a recent fundraiser. 

We still would feel better if this handsome pair went to a quieter home and where the folks are thoughtful of Gritty’s “disability,” as he is easily startled when approached from his right side.
These two guys are sweet, fun, and full of energy.  Nobody told them that they should be slowing down at 13.  They love long walks and keep a pretty quick pace at that.
It’s wonderful to see these two come out of their shell, but it would be even more wonderful to have them find a family that would love them through their golden years.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


You've heard people say that 40 is the new 20.  Well so goes the same for this spunky little girl, Babe.  She's 12 years old, but has the energy of a 6 year old.  If she were human, you'd find her at a singles dance doing the electric slide or in aerobics class showing up the younger gals.

This is my Muppet look.

Yes, she may some age-related conditions like cataracts and difficulty hearing, but who doesn't.  Babe recently had a dental cleaning and had most of her teeth removed, but she's very food motivated and could learn the rules of her new home in a heartbeat.

I'm really in the mood for a snack.

Babe had the same family most of her life, but when the grandchildren came to visit, she was too overwhelmed by their exuberance and found it too difficult to handle.  But, boy oh boy whomever decides to adopt Babe will be very lucky indeed.

This is much easier.

Maybe if I tip upside down, I can get it.

This Kong kept Babe busy while hanging out in the office.  She may be a good take-to-work kind of dog once she settles into her new home.

I really like this gal and hope someone takes her home soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Newest Trend

As we all know, the bad economy has taken it's toll on many, many families over the past couple of years.  Many of these families have downsized, many can no longer care for their beloved four-legged companions. Some pets have been surrendered to the care of shelters while others have been let go to survive on their own...the lucky ones have found their way to the arms of compassionate human beings.  I've been noticing some changes over the past year or so related to dogs at the ARL.

Babe - severe dental disease - had 19 teeth extracted.
In the past, small breed dogs, spent all of two hours on the adoption floor.  People flooded through the doors and snatched up those small dogs faster than we could prepare them to go.  Lately, it seems, the small breeds are spending much longer in our care.

Another noticeable change is the amount of the dogs coming to the ARL with horrendous medical conditions.  Conditions that can cost hundreds of dollars to treat.  This type of money is not always easy for the shelter to come by.  These dogs are wonderful, sweet souls that deserve to have a better life.
Phoenix - severe ear infections & dental disease -
would scream in pain anytime we touched her.
 The staff struggles everyday wondering how are we going to pay the medical bills.  We often spread the word and donations thankfully trickle in (as I mentioned, the economy is hurting everyone).  The staff and many wonderful volunteers often times reach into their own pockets.

Carma - entropion in both eyes, upper & lower lids.
If we can't scrape up enough money to help these "throw away" dogs, what's to be done?  Should they continue to suffer?  Should they be humanely euthanized?  As I said before, these are sweet souls that look to us for help.  Often, after just a couple days at the shelter, even before their desperate medical care is given to them, they already look relieved and happier, as if they know we will take their pain away.  That look is bitter sweet.  What if we can't cure them?  Once again, we ask ourselves, where will the money come from?

Dusty - extreme ear infections that drained into the side of his
face causing a large abscess in his cheek that burst! - Dusty was a "stray"
If only pet owners could keep up on their pet's medical care.  Look over their teeth, check their ears, feel over their bodies for any strange wounds or lumps.  Conditions could be found early on and taken care of fairly inexpensively.  They need to understand, just as people feel pain and discomfort, so do their pets.  And, if they can't find a way to pay a veterinarian, then call a shelter to ask for resources or, if needed, about surrendering their pet before things get out of hand....and too expensive.

Thank you for hearing me out, as there are just some things I need to share.  (This blog is geared towards dogs of the ARL, but the sad truth is that we see many cats, bunnies, and other pets coming to us in a variety of alarming conditions.)

Please say a prayer to help us help these deserving creatures.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Work in Progress

A work in progress...that is how I would describe Cha Cha.  She certainly has a lot to offer and she is making great strides in her behavior.  After spending some time with Cha Cha, it’s obvious that her former owner did no training with her; then, once she “grew up,” they decided she was too much to handle (thus, she came to us as a stray).  If only they had the brains and foresight to start her training at an early age, they would have seen that she was smart, food motivated, and very interested in learning.  Kudos must go out to Cha Cha’s Mutt Mentor at the ARL.  Not only is Cha Cha improving on leash walking, but she can also sit and shake on command.  Down is coming along pretty well and she is just beginning to learn stay.  In the play yard, the old Cha Cha appears on occasion and it sometimes takes a couple seconds to gain her focus once again, but when you do, she’s back to doing perfect sits and hoping you’ll reward her with praise and a yummy treat.