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. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heavenly Hound

What is it about hound dogs that makes my heart go pitter patter?  The big, floppy ears?   The soulful brown eyes?   Or is it their happy go luck, the glass is half full outlook on life?  Maybe it's all of the above.

The newest hound at the shelter is Denali.  He's one of those dogs that catches everyone's eye, even the "small dog" people that often stop by.  His velvety ears are as soft as a baby's blanket and he probably wouldn't mind standing in for a missing blankie if a child in his new home needed him to.

I recently took Denali on a field trip to do a little car shopping.  He was great in the car and a true gentleman with new people; in fact, he acted as if everyone he met was a old friend.

Wouldn't he look handsome IN the Lotus?

I was very impressed, as were the sales people, at all the commands Denali knew.  Denali came into the shelter as a stray and I am very surprised no one came looking for him.  He really is a charming guy.  The family that Denali chooses to live with, will be very lucky indeed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

There's Something about Yaffee

At first glance, one would say that Yaffee is a sweet, mellow dog.   Sweet  is definitely a word to describe Yaffee; mellow, well he can be depending on the circumstances.  You see, Yaffee is afflicted with a severe case of Separation Anxiety.
People often throw the term separation anxiety around to describe their dog’s behavior.  They may say, “My dog barks when I put him in a crate.”  Or, “My dog gets anxious when I get ready to leave the house.”  I ask them, does he destroy the crate he is in?  Does he destroy your home while you’re away?  Has he ever chewed through a door to find you?  Have you ever needed to bring him to the emergency clinic because he severely injured himself?  Because those are just a few of the things dogs with real Separation Anxiety will do if they are not treated for this horrible condition.
                 Snuggle time                             
Are you coming back?
Yaffee’s previous family did speak with their vet and started him on a medication that will hopefully help his situation; but, by the time they spoke with their vet, they were already frustrated to the point where they felt they could no longer keep him.  He is now back at the Animal Refuge League.  Because of the love he had for his family, he panicked when alone and became very destructive, including seriously injuring himself by breaking through a window to find them.

Since being at the shelter, we have continued the medication, which takes several weeks to take effect.   About five days ago, we rushed Yaffee to the vet to have a piece of metal fencing removed from the roof of his mouth.   This is an example of the panic he goes into when alone…he tried to chew through the kennel door.  It was a terrifying experience for me to have to try to remove this metal with a pair of pliers…it wouldn’t budge and all I could think about was that he was going to bleed to death.  That’s when my coworker picked up the 78lb dog and carried him to her van.  Her adrenalin must have been pumping!
Since that day, Yaffee spends his days in the office so we can keep him safe.  At night, we give him medication to help settle him, as well as, a homeopathic remedy used for fear.  It is our hope that his medication will kick in, then we can make him available for adoption (as a special needs dog) in a home where they will work at desensitizing him to being alone.  This will indeed be a long journey for someone, but we think Yaffee is well worth the effort.

Will you rub my tummy?
This is a strange looking human.
What Yaffee needs right now is a guardian Angel who would like to take him home at night and bring him to the shelter during the day.  Mind you, he shows absolutely no destructive tendencies when people are around.  He could hang out with them in the evening and snuggle on a dog bed next to their bed at night.  So please, please pass the word along if you know of someone that may be up to the task to be Yaffee’s special Guardian Angel.  FMI:  contact Teri at 854-9771.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Aurora is one of those dogs that everyone passes by.  Why?  Because she’s dark colored and doesn’t catch anyone’s attention.  But if someone would spend a little time with her and get to know how sweet she is, they would truly be happily surprised.  I know I was.   I am ashamed to say, that other than her basic care, I didn’t really notice her much myself.  Then, one day, she and I had a little chat, than she spent some time behind the front desk “helping” greet customers.  I was very impressed at how she handled herself.  Yes, she was a little excited and hopped in one of the chairs and began a little computer work.  But once I explained the front desk rules to her, she settled on her blanket, gnawed on a bone and played with her toys.  Very fast learner, indeed.
I love belly rubs

When she arrived at the shelter, she had just weaned 17 puppies.  Yes, you read it correctly, 17!  She was completely depleted of nutrients, her skin was dry, and her coat was a dull mess.  She just looked plain exhausted.  Thank goodness she came to the ARL and is now spayed.  Halleluiah!  No more puppies.
She’s feeling better now and would like to be given the chance to be part of a real family.  A family that will treat her with the love and respect she’s been looking for….any maybe a family that will teach her to use a keyboard.
Look at those soft eyes

Sunday, January 16, 2011

There's a First Time for Everything

They say there's a first time for everything; and I for one, believe it's true.  In all my years living and working with dogs, this is the first time I find myself falling for a Siberian Husky.  The husky I'm speaking of goes by a few different names...Fluffy Bottom, Fluffy B, and Kawi.

Mr. Personality

If you read the description of a Siberian, you would think they wrote it especially for him.  Social, gentle, playful, and mischievous are a few words to describe Kawi.  Many of the huskies I've met in the past show more of an interest in keeping me at a distance, while Kawi invites play with play bows and a big happy smile on his face.  I had such a good time with him recently watching him play in the snow with a 3 month old Siberian.  He was amazingly social and gentle with her and I'm certain that she learned lots of good things from him.

I don't feel I have a lifestyle that is fitting for a husky, as they need an active family who puts rolling around in the snow at the top of their list of fun things to do.  Kawi would love a companion who enjoys winter activities and is interested in teaching him to be a jogging partner (as he should lose a few pounds).   I can picture this guy pulling a sled and loving it!  Wouldn't that be fun!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Goddess of the ARL


So maybe she's not a goddess, but I think she's pretty special.  After hearing my story of how I first met Athena, one would understand how easily it was to feel connected to her.

She arrived at the shelter with four 4 day old puppies.  I was told by her "owners" that seven of the pups had already died.  Instantly I felt very sad for Athena.  She was a young mom who tried hard to take care of her babies.  Each day at the shelter her pups died one by one.  She was so attentive to them and seemed to know that the number of pups was getting smaller and smaller.  We were able to get Athena and her last puppy into a fabulous foster home.  Her last puppy was thriving, she was plump and beginning to move around and opened her eyes, but sadly, she too crossed the rainbow bridge.

Why?  We asked ourselves over and over.  Some of the pups may have been unintentionally injured when Athena tried to move them from place to place, but for the most part we feel the death of her pups stems back to improper prenatal nutrition. 

So I ask you, wouldn't you too be instantly bonded to this young lady?

She happily spent the holidays with her foster family, but is now ready to move on to her new home where even more people can fall in love with her.  She has lived with children, small dogs, and cats...what more could you ask for? 

                                     Taking a snooze.                       
                                                                                            Looking out the window.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Blossoming Roxie

Roxie is a sweet, small gal that I am so proud of.  She first arrived at the shelter very frightened and untrusting.  After a few minutes of soft talk, she crawled into my lap and licked my could you not fall in love?  She continued to growl at most people, especially men; but over time she began to trust the staff and volunteers.  The awesome ARL dog walkers were very patient with Roxie and let her warm up slowly, now everyone, including men are able to take her on walks and visit with her in her kennel.  She's much happier now.  In the beginning, dogs also proved to be an issue for this petite girl, but she is showing some signs of improvement and I think she may actually enjoy having a canine companion some day.  This is something we'll keep working on in hopes we can make her life even better.  Now we need to find a family that is willing to give her a chance.  A family that is patient and loving and has some dog experience.  We have one staff member that has been taking Roxie car rides and outings and truly has a soft spot in her heart for this beauty.  Roxie will make someone very happy if they choose to take her into their home.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Paws in Stripes Puppies

The pups have returned from the prison!  All I can say is WOW!  They are absolutely amazing.  Kudos to their inmate handlers for the wonderful job they did.  All the pups know how to sit, stay and shake paw; the majority of them even know down and come; and one knows how to roll over!  Not only are they smart, they are beautiful!  They are all available for adoption Friday, so stop by and visit.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Snickers is a 7 year old chocolate lab who came to us with a severe case of Heartworm disease.  She began her treatment a month ago, but her body is having a very difficult time with it.  This disease is deadly if not treated and, unfortunately, the treatment can be lethal as well.  Our awesome vets have consulted with one another and have decided to take a very slow approach to make sure she makes it through.  Snickers is comfortable and happy in a loving foster home.  She has already become a member of their family and they're planning on keeping her forever.  Isn't that great news?!  Please send Snickers your positive thoughts and prayers. 

Pass this on to every pet owner you know:   Have your pets tested yearly and keep up on their monthly preventative.  Trust me, you do not want your dog to go through this.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Liam the Greyhound mix

It amazes all of us at the shelter that Liam has not been adopted!  He is as handsome and as sweet as they come.  Yes, he may suffer from Addison's disease (, but it is well controlled and shouldn't be a deterent for adoption.  His medication is very inexpensive and the shelter has received generous donations to help Liam's new family with the cost.  Liam is somewhat timid with new people, but jumps for joy meeting other's as if he turns back into the not-a-care-in-the-world puppy he once was.  It is certainly fun to watch and it brings a tear to my eye to see him so happy.  It is because of this that I truly feel he would do best in a home with another dog.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lady the American Pit Bull Terrier

Lady has a special friend, named Joan, that has taken her home on many occasions for slumber parties.  While in her care, Joan reports that Lady is very affectionate and loves to give kisses.  Sounds like Lady would do well in a home with a resident jogger -- Joan took her on a 3 mile jog and she did very well.  She got distracted a couple times, but it was easy to get her focus back on the task at hand.  When Lady is ready to go for a walk, which is one of her favorite things, she will pull out the leash and put it on the floor...her cute little way of saying "Come on, lets go."  And for you sports fans out there, Lady likes to watch football.  She will snuggle, on your lap if you let her, and watch an entire game with you.  We adore our lovely Lady.

Preparing to go out in the Blizzard.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Welcome to our new Dogs of the ARL blog.  You will be able to tell the world how one of our dogs did on a sleepover at your home, something new you learned about them during a walk, progress they're making in training class, or just how wonderful they are.  If you're a blog follower and don't have direct contact with one of our dogs, please feel free to check back often and share with others what you've read.

I look forward reading all about your adventures with the dogs that steal our hearts every day...the Dogs of the ARL.