Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy Tail: Chester

Chester has arrived at TAGS in June and he was adopted by the end of July! This handsome but timid dog found his home fast at the loving home of Krys Caughell and her family. 

Why Chester?
My Husband and I decided to adopt Chester because we fell in love with him when we met him. He’s such a special little dog! He seemed a bit shy at first and we knew he’d need some extra attention. But we’ve got a huge heart for animals and knew we could give Chester a very happy home. Oh, and he’s cute as all heck!

What did you think about the adoption process?
The adoption process was amazing. We felt very informed and comfortable throughout. And the organization is well run and does amazing work! We were pleasantly surprised with all of the things included with adoption – Chester being fixed, micro-chipped, pet insurance, training, week trial with food and accessories – it was more than we ever expected. I have and will continue to recommend TAGS. Adoption is the only option! (Want to help me convince my Husband that we need a few more??)

How did you find Chester? On the website, etc.. ?
Yes we saw Chester’s profile online. Actually – to be honest we almost didn’t meet him because of his picture – he looked like a completely different dog! But I’d seen his profile and looked into the organization and figured we should at least go and see him.

When you met Chester did you know right away that he was who you were looking for?
Yes and no. I fell in love with him right away because he is so adorable. But I also love all animals and I would seriously take them all home if I could. We were a bit unsure if he would be the perfect fit because of his shy and nervous temperament, mostly because we have cats. I think it was the week trial that we really knew he was our dog. Once he started to settle in and warm up to us – we could finally see the dog he really is! And he’s awesome. Best little dog ever!

What were his first days like?
His first days on the week trial were a bit tough for him I think. He was very shy, quiet and almost depressed. I imagine he was having separation anxiety from his foster mom, who you could tell he loved very much. He didn’t want to eat or play and he kept running to hide in the corner. He was also very afraid of my Husband! But after a few days, once he started to settle in and started trusting us, he transformed dramatically into a happy playful crazy little puppy.

How is he getting along with your other dogs/family members?
I have 3 cats – Alvin, Elvis and Lou. Chester likes the cats. Alvin especially – he wants to play with him so bad! But Alvin is a scaredy cat and runs. Which makes Chester think they are playing. Cue stampede. Elvis and Chester sleep and cuddle together sometimes, but might scuffle over food. And Lou is indifferent (pretty much to everything!)

Tell us a funny story or habit about Chester! 
Just one? Well, during the day he is crated. But my husband comes home at lunch everyday to let him out and spend time with him. So one day, like every other day, my Husband puts Chester in his crate and goes to work. He comes home at lunch and to his surprise there are 2 sets of eyes staring back at him from the crate. My cat Elvis must have snack in there earlier in the morning to sleep – and my husband not knowing and not seeing him just put Chester in like usual!

How did the training classes go?
Training was awesome. We learned a lot and felt like Chester did too. He could use more training I think in other areas. Like for example when the doorbell rings (even on tv) you’d think the world was ending. I’ve never heard a wee dog bark so loud!

 I could go on and on about how amazing Chester is and how much we love him. He is absolutely the perfect dog for us. He fits with our family and lifestyle so well. He is definitely the right dog for us!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Website Makeover & Blog Location

Our website recently had a makeover! Our website address is still but it looks very different from before!

As a result, TAGS Tails will be updated directly on our website instead of at this address.

Please continue to use this page if you would like to look back through older entries, but please note that some of the hyperlinks will no longer work due to our website being re-organized. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you will bear with us as we work through some kinks with our new system. 

We will continue to bring you interesting, cute and inspiring posts about the rescue world on our new site. 

See you there! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Why I Volunteer: Shelley

Shelley began volunteering with TAGS in 2012. At our recent volunteer dinner, she was awarded with a 1-year pin and congratulated for banking over 100 volunteer hours. Below, she tells us all about why she joined TAGS, what roles she has, and what keeps her going.

1. What encouraged you to become a volunteer with TAGS?

Since finishing my education, moving out and getting married I have wanted a dog of my own. Well, OK, let’s be honest, I’ve wanted a dog long before that – I’ve wanted my own dog since my last beloved family dog passed away many years ago. I love dogs! And cats too! I had a cat for 19 years – she’s even in my wedding photos! But since my husband and I were living in a one-bedroom apartment and despite really, REALLY wanting a dog, I knew, realistically, that we could not provide the best environment for one. I worked some evenings, some weekends and some days and knew that with our schedules we also didn’t have the time to devote to a dog. And did I mention that my husband is also allergic to cats and dogs too, to top it all off! Totally 3 strikes against me ever getting a dog! Greaaaattt. Then I thought, “How can I still be around dogs and cats without actually having one myself?” That’s when I found TAGS!

2. What are your roles at TAGS?

Just over a year ago, I started with TAGS as a volunteer in PetSmart, supervising the dogs and telling people all about them, their wonderful qualities and our adoption process. I enjoyed informing people about the incredible journey some of our dogs have made (some from puppy mills others from high-kill shelters or similar) and I was truly inspired by these dogs’ courage and hope for a new life. And I loved seeing the amazement on the faces of people who, after hearing what these dogs had endured before reaching TAGS - like myself just a few months before - had just gained a new-found respect for the world of rescue animals in just a few moments of discussion.

Me with Rocky at PetSmart. (Rocky has since been adopted)
Over the past few months, now that I have a more regular work schedule, I now also assist with some administrative tasks and have become responsible for booking our foster dogs to be showcased in some of our supporting pet stores in Durham Region. I just love hearing when these dogs have Meet and Greets and then ultimately get adopted – and knowing it could have all started with someone seeing our dogs at the stores. It just shows that what we do here at TAGS is making a difference. And that keeps me going.

3. What are some of the memorable moments you have from volunteering with TAGS?

One moment that stands out for me is when I was volunteering in PetValu Ritson and I had Jill (a dog up for adoption) with me. And we were almost done for the day when a lovely man and woman came into the store to purchase some food for their other dogs. As I was packing up, Jill was on her leash and she started to pull me towards these people. I let her sniff and the couple thought she was so sweet. And then she followed them. All. Over. The. Store. I apologized to the couple and said “There’s just something about you that she likes I guess, but I’m sorry, this doesn’t normally happen.”  

Shortly after, Jill’s foster mom arrived to pick her up and the couple came back to where I was finishing packing up, and starting asking Jill’s foster mom all about Jill and her habits. Jill had melted their hearts. Within the following 10 days or so, the couple had set up a Meet and Greet with Jill, who fit right in with the couple’s other dogs, had a Home Visit and a successful Extended Visit and was officially adopted! It happened so fast! If I had ever had any doubt about this process, this sequence of events completely affirmed that having the dogs out in the community to meet people as a way of getting them adopted really does work, and I felt so lucky to be a witness to it. Me, myself and I had actually bore witness to a dog, who had been transported all the way from a Kentucky High-kill shelter, literally choose her forever family! And shortly thereafter, Jill’s new mom (and her teenage son) decided to volunteer for TAGS. How fantastic! (Click here to read about Jill's new life.)

4. Do you have any other comments/things you would like to share about your experiences? 

When I started with TAGS I just wanted to be around dogs and cats because I couldn’t have one of my own. But since learning about the significant over-population in Canada and the U.S. and the reality of the gruesome living conditions some animals have to endure, animal rescue has become something I am truly passionate about. I am realistic, and I know that despite anyone’s best efforts, that we can’t save them all. But shouldn’t we at least try to save, and give a second chance to as many as we can? A few hours a month of your time volunteering can make a huge difference in the lives of so many animals. That is now why I volunteer for TAGS. For those who do not have a voice of their own, let us be their voice.
+   +   +

We are always looking for more volunteers!
Find out how you can become a part of the TAGS family on our website. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

For the Love of Dog...

This compassionate, wonderful account of adopting a rescue dog comes to us from Kaitlin Bernard. It was originally posted on her blog, Blank Cage, on Friday, November 22. 

I won’t lie, when my boyfriend and I first entertained the thought of getting a dog I had my heart set on a Shiba Inu. I researched the breed, I contacted breeders, I picked out names, I watched training videos on how to deal with the notoriously headstrong breed. I had my perfect little boy all dreamed up, a red Shiba puppy named Oden. Then something happened, my sister (who has the biggest heart of anyone I know) adopted two dogs from a local rescue group called The Animal Guardian Society(TAGS). They were a pair of brother and sister Border Collie/Basset Hound mixes from a high-kill shelter in the States. They flourished in my sister’s loving household. They were remarkably well-balanced, healthy, happy dogs.
My sister’s experience with adopting totally changed how I viewed rescue animals. I thought adopting meant going down to the local pound and looking through the cages and being heartsick that you couldn’t take them all home. After spending just a few minutes with an animal, you would have to decide whether or not to take it home, knowing little of its behaviour. Then would come the nightmare of re-training a broken animal that has been through goodness knows what. Let me take the opportunity to acknowledge my complete and utter ignorance. This is NOT the case at all. There is absolutely nothing wrong with adopting an animal from a shelter. Some of the best behaved dogs I know came straight from shelters. But I also learned that this is not the only option. There are tons of rescue organizations that take animals into their care and place them in foster homes. Volunteers with huge hearts take these dogs into their homes and they live with them as a member of their family.
When it came time to add a dog to our family, we turned to Pet Finder (think Kijiji for rescue animals). It didn’t take long before we fell in love with Leia, a cute, shy-looking, 1-year-old Boxer/Catahoula Hound mix from TEAM Dog Rescue. Everything about her bio resounded with us. It wasn’t quite a happy ending just yet though. We contacted TEAM only to find out she had already been adopted. Saddened, but realizing it was par for the course, we started to look at other dogs. But then something fateful happened; the person who adopted Leia realized it wasn’t the right fit and made the difficult decision to take her back to the rescue organization.
We met Leia shortly after Christmas. She waddled into our house wearing this little red sweater and she stole our hearts instantly. She didn’t want to walk on the tile and she wasn’t a fan of the hardwood, so she curled up on the area rug and took a snooze while we talked to the people from TEAM. We heard about how scared she was on the transport up here from North Carolina. She was picked up as a stray who had recently had puppies. We heard how she was scheduled to be put down the day after TEAM sprung her. But we also heard how she was flourishing in her foster home with two other dogs. They told us how she was the middle of her pack, dominating the fosters’ big Boxer and submitting to their little American Eskimo. We saw right away what they meant about her being a cuddle bug once she trusted someone.  
People say they “just know” when they meet the right dog for them. It’s cheesy and cliché, but it’s true. We filled out the paperwork, gave TEAM our references, and after we’d been thoroughly checked out, they brought her to us on New Year’s Eve. We decided to forego the typical New Year’s party and spent a quiet night at home with just the three of us, my sister, her boyfriend, and her two dogs.  
Now, I by no means intend to paint the picture that owning a dog is all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it’s hard. Just like any dog, Leia has issues that we work on every single day. But we also remember each and every day that her life is a gift in our lives. We don’t know exactly where she came from, we don’t know her story, and we’ll never know what she looked like as a puppy. You very quickly realize none of this matters.  
Leia has truly changed our lives. She has turned us into rescue advocates and passionate dissenters against breed-specific legislation (a serious problem for Ontario rescues that are forced to deny help to the breeds that need them most of all). She has made me more compassionate when it comes to animal welfare. I’m more conscious than ever about the products that I use and the food that I eat. She makes the end of every work day even better because I know she’s at home waiting for me and will be happy to see me no matter what. She makes our house a home and our couple a family.
Getting a dog isn’t about owning a dog. I wish I realized this sooner. When you stop thinking about it like shopping for a designer handbag and start viewing it as finding a new family member, adopting is the only thing that makes sense. I don’t think I’ll ever understand buying from a breeder again. At one point it’s what I wanted, but I know I will never “buy” a dog in my lifetime. There are so many dogs out there that need homes and will die without one. Plus, there is no reason not to adopt. It’s a huge benefit to get a dog that’s behaviour has already been assessed. A lot of people buy based on breed for behaviour, but breed does not necessarily guarantee predictable, uniform behaviour. What better predictor of behaviour than someone who lives with the dog and can tell you if he barks a lot, or sleeps a lot, or how he is with kids, cats, and other dogs? And if you do happen to want a specific breed, there are pure bred rescue dogs out there. There are also wonderful mixes. My sister is currently fostering a gorgeous, well-mannered Dalmatian/Lab mix. What I’ve also learned is that many rescues will work with you if you have a particular breed in mind. If you can find it online somewhere, they can usually help you arrange transport to where you live. And it’s not very hard to find puppies if you really want to raise the dog yourself. Also, don’t think you need any sort of special training experience to adopt a rescue dog. They all come with their own unique quirks, but I swear up and down that if we raised Leia from a puppy, she would have way more behavioural issues. Plus, when we adopted Leia, we essentially got adopted into the TEAM community. They have wonderfully fun fundraisers and a Facebook group where you can ask behaviour/medical/and any kind of dog question. When Leia had some stomach issues shortly after we adopted her, two of the directors from TEAM were on the phone with us and the vet’s the entire weekend and they even offered to pay for the medical bills related to the issue.
I guarantee you, your next family member is already out there in need of a loving home. When you go in with an open mind and an open heart, you’re sure to find a furry piece of your life you didn’t even realize was missing. So when the time comes to welcome an animal into your family, please consider adopting.
P.S. This all goes for cats too.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Santa's Little Helper

Yogi Bear is ready for his first Christmas! 

<>    <>    <> 

This is a blog hop. 
Don't forget to check out the other participating blogs by clicking on the image below.

Blogging tips