Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Oh Melvin...

This week, the world lost an amazing dog.  It's strange - I don't "know" the writers behind my favorite blogs, but I feel like I do.  When a blogger loses a pet, it's like the whole community has lost that pet as well.  If you have read Oh Melvin in its wonderful entirely, you are surely mourning sweet Melvin too.  Please keep Tracey and Jake the Frenchie in your thoughts and prayers, and please head on over to the blog to share your condolences.

If you're unfamiliar with Oh Melvin, I'm including links below to some of my favorite posts.  Prepare to waste away the next week or so reading through the archives!

Fridays With Melvin:  Her - Melvin's beautifu "tribute" to his Person

Little Victories - Jake and Melvin adorably get to know one another

Happy Birthday Melvin - I love this poetic birthday post Tracey wrote for Melvin.

Stalker - These photos of brotherly love in the form of stalking crack. me. up!

(photo courtesy of Oh Melvin and kate with a camera)

Goodbye, sweet boy.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rescue & Romance

I read just about every genre of book, but I have never ventured into romance novel territory.  I don't know, I just always picture a shirtless Fabio with his hair blowing in the wind, and...I go look at the memoirs instead.  The closest I've ever come to reading a bodice-ripper is 50 Shades of Grey, and that's only because the media was all abuzz about it.  But I just might be a romance novel convert, because last weekend I discovered Catherine Mann's Second Chance Ranch series!

No bodice-ripping going on here! (photo from Amazon)

The first book in this series is called Shelter Me.  Yes, the majority of the plot is focused on this couple and their romance - of course - but there is a large subplot dedicated to a Shepherd mix named Trooper.  Trooper was Sierra's father's right-hand man in Iraq, and when her father is killed while serving his country, Sierra is surprised to find his two partners (one human, one canine) on her doorstep.  Sierra and her mom run the Second Chance Ranch, a hectic animal rescue.  The last thing Sierra needs is more stress and painful reminders of her father...but Trooper and his (very handsome) new owner are difficult for her to resist.

You mean you don't get frisky on a picnic blanket on top of a snow-covered hill?!  (Photo from Amazon)

Rescue Me, the second book in the Second Chance Ranch series, features the same setting with slightly different characters.  Sierra is a minor character, while her friend Mary Hannah - who now works at the rescue - is at the forefront.  Mary Hannah has a scandalous history with Detective AJ Parker, who is working with her now to rehabilitate a terrified Boxer named Holly.  Holly was seized by the pair during a drug bust - she is traumatized and unsure.  But Mary Hannah has to heal and train Holly, all the while trying to avoid her feelings for AJ.  

Each book has its share of "sexy" scenes, as well as cheesy lines and silly scenarios.  However, it's very well-written, and the characters are relatable and real.  What I loved most, of course, was the rescue aspect - I so wish there was more of this in fiction!  In each book, there were also a few portions that were written from the dog's perspective, which was super entertaining.  Take it from me:  If you aren't so into romance novels, but you're a dog-lover, try these books!  I'm not sure if the author is planning on a third in the Second Chance Ranch series, but I sure hope so! 

Because it is Tuesday's Tails, I am also including two adoptables:

This is Lady, and (like Trooper in Shelter Me) she is a Shepherd mix.  Lady is 6 years old, fully trained, and good with other animals.  And look how beautiful she is!!  Check out her Petfinder profile here.

Like Holly in Rescue Me, Fargo is a female Boxer.  Fargo loves other animals, children, and running around outside.  She's super sweet but pretty shy - she just needs a bit of extra love to bring her out of her shell.  And yes...her ears are always like this!  Adorable!  Check out Fargo's Petfinder profile here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

7 Ways to Volunteer When You're Short on Time

If you've noticed my silence for the past week or two, I apologize.  Life got in the way, as it tends to do.  I haven't had too much extra time to do the things I love - blogging, writing, volunteering.  I especially miss walking dogs at the shelter.  This made me think:  Lots of people, surely, have this issue.  Not enough hours in the day to volunteer.  So for those of you with too much on your plate to participate in the "hands-on" part of volunteering, a list of other ways to help animals in need.  Feel free to add more in the comments!

AmazonSmile - If you're a frequent Amazon shopper, check out their AmazonSmile program.  It allows you to purchase the same items you would normally buy on the site, while donating .5% of the price to the charitable organization of your choice.  It takes virtually no extra time out of your day, and your online purchases can benefit animal rescues - definitely a win-win!

Share a photo or blog post.  Let's say you're scrolling through Facebook while holding for a work call.  When you scroll by a cute photo of an adoptable kitten or a sad story about a dog in need, stop.  Don't scroll past...instead, click "share."  Just one click.  It really can make a difference.  This blog post is spot-on - I follow multiple pages on Facebook in which sharing and liking photos is what it's all about.  A couple great examples are Susie's Senior Dogs and Minnesota Dogs in Danger.

Remember this pittie-dachshund mix who went viral back in January?  That's what shares can do!!

Make a monetary donation or a donation of supplies.  If you aren't able to donate your time, consider donating in other ways.  Shelters are always in serious need of financial assistance, and they can almost always use practical supplies like bleach, towels, or newspaper.  A monthly donation doesn't take much effort - box up the supplies or seal an envelope and stick it in the mail.  Nonprofits are grateful for whatever you're able to give!

Send an email to your senator.  If your laws relating to puppy mills or animal abuse are anything like ours here in Iowa (awful), send a quick email to your senator.  Explain your experiences with the horror of puppy mills and why these laws need to improve.  Our voices can be heard if we care enough to speak out.

Transport.  Going on a business trip?  Find a Facebook page or website that organizes animal transports in that area and see if there is a dog or cat (or sometimes rat, ferret, or bunny!) that needs to hitch a ride.  There are tons of transport organizations out there, and they appreciate the offer, even if no transport is needed at that time or place.  Plus, animal transports are a blast - read more about my experiences here.  And here!

Ask for donations to a local shelter instead of gifts.  Let's face it:  Shelter dogs need food and comfy blankets more than you need another pair of slippers for Christmas.  Instead of making lengthy lists for Christmas, birthdays, or other parties, ask for donations to help animals in need.

Offer your skills and talents.  If you're a writer, offer to write up descriptions to make adoptable dogs' personalities shine.  If you're a photographer, take some photos of adorable adoptables over your lunch break.  Graphic designer?  Print out some flyers for the local shelter.  IT expert?  See if a rescue could use your expertise in making over their website.  Your work days might seem boring and dull to you, but shelters or rescues will jump at an offer of help.  How might your day-to-day tasks benefit nonprofit organizations?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pawprint String Art

I thought I'd share with you my most-pinned image from my blog and Pinterest page.  It's reeeeally not a great shot of it, but it does look much nicer in person.  I wanted to create some wall decor that was unique and easy to make...enter string art!  This project was super simple:

1.  I did a Google search for clip art I liked and found the heart within a paw print.
2.  I purchased my plain ol' wood slab from Walmart and painted it white.
3.  I printed my template out on a sheet of paper and had my husband hold it to the wood, while I...
4.  Hammered small nails evenly into the piece of paper as well as the wood behind it.
5.  Once every nail was in place, I tore the paper away.
6.  Then I started stringin'!  This was fun but a bit time consuming.  Basically, you just start with a knot around one nail and then loop from nail to nail in whatever  pattern you'd like.  (I'm sure there is a more professional and precise way to do this, but we really kind of winged it.)
7.  A dab of super glue on the end of the string kept the ends from sticking out.

The instructions make it seem complicated, but it definitely wasn't!  If I had known it would be so popular on Pinterest, I would have taken step-by-step photos.  I love that string art is so easy to personalize - you can do whatever shape (dog silhouette, words), color, and pattern you'd like!

If you're inspired by this project and make something similar - please share!  I'd love to see what you come up with!  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tuesday's Tails: Unbreakabull Bullies

When I worked for the Humane Society of North Iowa, I met a lot of wonderful people that are so passionate about animal rescue, including my former coworker, Lindsey.  Lindsey recently began working for a great Iowa organization called Unbreakabull Bullies.  As you may have guessed by their title, this group is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating the breeds commonly referred to as "pit bulls."

Bully breeds are incredibly misunderstood.  The media (even educated authors and writers) paints these dogs to be vicious, man-eating beasts, regardless of their background or upbringing.  However, since I started working with dogs, I have had nothing but pleasant experiences with pit bull breeds.  In fact, every single one I've met has been a goofy, affectionate sweetheart.  Unbreakabull Bullies feels the same way, and they've also dedicated much of their time toward putting a stop to Breed Specific Legislation.

Even though Lindsey has three dogs of her own, she recently agreed to foster three puppies and two adult dogs!  (Note:  This makes me soooo jealous!  I want to foster so bad!)  Amazing, right?!

Sweet "tri-pawd" Louie is a pittie mix who still has quite a bit of puppy in him at only two years old.  He came to Unbreakabull Bullies from Chicago, where, sadly, someone had shot him in the leg and abandoned him to die.  Once rescued, Louie had the injured leg amputated and made a full recovery - according to foster mom Lindsey, having three paws rather than four doesn't slow him down one bit!

Louie seriously sounds like the whole package:  He is house- and crate-trained, and he gets along with every kind of human and animal.  He loves to snuggle with Lindsey's young daughter, but he might love romping and playing even more - Lindsey thinks he would do well in a home with another high-energy pet so he has someone to run around with.  Louie sounds incredibly smart as well; he's even being trained to respond to hand signals!  Who wouldn't want to adopt this guy?!  Contact Unbreakabull Bullies to give Louie a home...before someone else gets to him first!

These three adorable puppies are almost ready to go home - at only eight weeks old, Lindsey is still learning about their personalities.  But typical of most puppies, they are equal parts playful and cuddly!  The roly-poly male's name is Echo (top photo), and he just loves being around people, soaking up all the attention and affection.  Bizzy's name fits her personality, because she is one busy pup - Lindsey says she is full of spunk and sass!  The other female is named Ezra, and she is rather quiet compared to her sister; she'd much rather snuggle than play.

And rounding off this pack is Jade, a petite little princess who was found roaming the streets.  About a year old, this girl weighs in at only around 35 pounds.  As you can see, Jade is one beautiful girl, and her foster mom says she is very snuggly and lovable.  

If you're interested in adopting one of these gorgeous dogs or know someone who might be, please contact Unbreakabull Bullies.  The puppies have an adoption fee of $150, while the adults have a $100 fee.  This includes spay/neuter, microchip, and all necessary vaccinations.  In the meantime, share their photos so they have more chances of finding their forever homes!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tuesday's Tails: Gorgeous Gizzy - UPDATED!

Update:  I originally posted this last May.  Sadly, Gizzy is still available and waiting for a forever home.  He is now about a year and a half old.  Gizzy was adopted as a kitten, then returned because his cat brother did not care for him.  However, Gizzy loves both cats and dogs, and he's great with children.  He's still just as handsome as ever, and y'all, he is so very sweet.  

Gizzy is tired of being in a cage all the time -  he's been at the shelter for his entire life!!  He loves visitors and attention of any kind, but what he would love even more is a home to finally call his own.  Please contact PAWS if you are interested in adopting, and pleeeeease share this sweet guy in the meantime. <3

I visited the PAWS Humane Society over the weekend and was instantly smitten with this young orange tabby named Gizzy.

(Photo from PAWS website)

Gizzy is estimated to be about 9 months old, and he was rescued as a small kitten.  He has a purr that is nearly deafening, and the only thing he seems to love more than cuddling is playing - he is still a kitten, after all!  Gizzy loves to bat his toys around and chase his fellow cats up and down cat trees.  He would be a wonderful, fun addition to any family...and he's quite handsome, too!

Gizzy says, "Won't you please pick me?!"

If you're interested in adopting Gizzy or would like more information, please contact the PAWS Humane Society.

Don't forget that Roxie is still available, too!  Update:  No, she's not!!  Happily, this sweet girl found her forever home over the winter! :D  Yay!

She is such a love!

Thanks for reading and sharing!