Monte’s Story: A Tale of Perseverance

Imagine…you are less than a year old, you are still learning about the world and the humans you live with. And then the first people you call your family surrender you to the shelter because you have too much energy.

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Monte at AACC. Making the best of waiting for the right home.

You go home with another family and just as you are beginning to settle in, they also decide you have too much energy and give you to another family.  So you start again…maybe this time will work except that by now you are beginning to feel anxious because you keep having to learn about new people and new homes. But no luck, this family brings you back to the shelter because you destroyed items in the home as an outlet for your energy and anxiety.

OK…the people at AACC haven’t given up on you because they place you up for adoption again. And again you go home. But this time the family decides they don’t have time for you and you come back to the shelter. Have you been counting? Four homes. Four different homes.

And what you haven’t been able to tell anyone this whole time is that not only are you young and energetic but you also don’t feel quite right. And this makes you anxious.

Once again the staff, who knows you are good dog, gives you the chance to go home with another family. And this time, this time, you are adopted by someone who has PERSEVERANCE. And you learn how important a human’s PERSEVERANCE can be to a dog’s life, especially your life.

per·se·ver·ance
noun
steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

This time your new family is determined to work with you and all that wonderful, exuberant energy you have! And they are determined to figure out why you feel anxious. So they take you to the veterinarian and they try different foods for you. And they notice something…when you eat chicken your skin and your eyes get red and you get anxious. And you start barking, barking, barking.

Monte_allergic reaction 2

Monte’s skin while having an allergic reaction.

So they check the ingredients in your food and make sure you don’t eat any food or treats with chicken. And guess what? You calm down. You stop the anxious barking. You feel better. Most importantly, you feel loved. And you know you are home.

Signed,

Monte

Note: Monte’s change in behavior was noted by his family after they discovered his food allergy. AACC is not confirming that food allergies and behavior are directly linked. We also recommend obedience training for all young dogs as well as exercise and dog sports to keep young dogs physically and mentally challenged.

 

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A Day at Anchorage Animal Care and Control

Want to see what happens behind the scenes at AACC on a typical day? Well, take a look!

Our shy kitten, Holiday, went on holiday from her kennel to be pampered in a foster home. She had been sitting, quietly, in her kennel for several weeks while adopters passed her by because she was so shy.

Holiday 1a

Holiday wonders what’s happening. Don’t worry kitten – you’re going on holiday!

Her foster mom met with AACC Kennel Supervisor, Sue, to get tips on how to help Holiday gain confidence. Why do we do this? So that Holiday will be set up for success when she comes back to the shelter and meets with potential adopters.  We’ve already heard from her foster mom that Holiday is learning how to play and loves to lay snuggled safe in her arms, purring contentedly.

And little Mina got lucky today. As Brandi, the AACC Executive Assistant, walked through the kennels she spotted this little one cowering in the corner of her kennel, terrified by the barking of the other dogs. And Brandi said “Well, this just isn’t going to work, is it?” as she scooped up little Mina and then settled her into her office.

Mina 2

Mina gets comfy on Brandi’s desk.

Mina made sure to let Brandi know just how grateful she was. Keep reading to see what happens with Mina later in the day!

Is she not adorable?

While our clinic was full of adopted cats and kittens who had come back for their spay or neuter surgeries, our maternity ward was hosting this sweet family. It’s amazing that we get any work done – we really just wanted to spend all day watching this momma with her babies. But duty calls…

After the day’s spay and neuter surgeries were done, the clinic was quiet as the felines recuperated – some a little better than others.

Neuter cat

Someone is going to sleep well tonight.

And what about our Mina? After bringing her into her office, Brandi picked up the phone and made a phone call…to Kitty and K-9 Connection, one of AACC’s rescue partners. She told them that this little girl was too frightened to stay in the kennels and asked if they could take her in to their program.  And they couldn’t resist. So later that day Mina was ushered from Brandi’s arms to the arms of Carol who will help her find her new family.

A Cricket’s Second Chance

It was a tough time to be a cricket at Anchorage Animal Care and Control. With over 30 cricket-loving bearded dragons to feed many a cricket met his fate.

But a week after all of our cricket connoisseurs had been adopted a kennel technician heard a sound in the hallway…the chirp of one lonely cricket. The cricket was easily scooped up but then – what to do? No one was willing to put that poor cricket out in the cold. You had to admire the little guy’s perseverance – escaping the maw of a bearded dragon and surviving the tread of many a dog and human in the hallways. And so, the cricket was christened Davey and a new home was designed just for him.

12.22.17_Davy Cricket 4

Now Davey enjoys a gourmet diet of fruits and greens brought from staff members’ homes, toilet paper tube tunnels to hide in, and his own little Asian-style house. And he even dines with staff because no one likes to eat alone.

We think Davey is a symbol for all of our sheltered animals. Why? Because the cricket has played an important role in Chinese and Native American cultures where they are said to be a sign of prosperity, vitality and good fortune. But what we like best for our animals is this: the cricket’s jump is said to give the power to leap over a difficult situation – and maybe land in a good home.03648-Roesels-Bush-Cricket-leaping

A Day in the Life of AACC

Ever wonder what goes on here all day? Well, we’re here to share some snapshots of a day at AACC with you!

The day started dark and early with a volunteer picking up a dog and driving him to his neuter surgery. Thanks to our volunteers, unaltered dogs get transported several times a week for their surgeries.

Allegra with neuter dog

Notice how perky he looks? 

The morning continues with Officer Jonsen befriending a frightened dog who was placed in our night drop kennels. The night drop kennels are a safe and warm spot for stray animals picked up by Good Samaritans to spend the night. We are so appreciative when members of the community take their own time to help these animals. You all rock!

Eric in night drops

A small bribe can go a long way with a frightened dog.

Later in the morning our Veterinary Assistant gets kittens ready to move out to the adoption floor. Just a little de-wormer and a quick vaccination and they are good to go! In her steady and quick hands, they hardly notice what’s happening.

 

We got to hang out with Riley, a staff member’s dog. Riley has a tough time when separated from his people so he comes to work when his humans will be gone for a long time. Notice his Thunder Shirt? Thunder Shirts have been known to help decrease anxiety in dogs . He looks pretty comfy (and handsome) in his.

Riley

Riley rocks his Thunder Shirt. 

And we got to celebrate adoptions. Including this one of stunning Regina after only one day on the adoption floor! We wish that could happen for all of our cats.

The kennels in clinic began filling up with adopted cats coming back for their spay/neuter surgeries. Our Veterinary Assistant and a veterinarian will spend the morning on Thursday performing the surgeries.

spayneuter cat 2

And then late in the day a second volunteer brought our dog back to us after his surgery – a bit less perky than this morning. Poor baby. He’ll sleep it off and be ready for adoption when his incision has healed.

after neuter

Poor guy can’t wake up from his surgery.

Thanks for spending the day with us! See you again soon.

 

Pay It Forward: Samantha and Bella’s Story

You know that saying “Pay it forward?” Well, we have proof that paying it forward really does make the world a better place. A little over a year ago, two bonded Chihuahuas were available for adoption together. They were spotted on our website by an elderly woman who was looking for companions. Knowing that small dogs are adopted quickly she and her daughter rushed down to meet these two. At the same time, another woman was also coming in to meet these dogs and she arrived just before the other women. But fate stepped in and these three women met at the customer service counter just as the woman was about to adopt the dogs. As they talked about the dogs, it came out that the elderly woman had rushed down to meet them and had been looking forward to their companionship. So the soon-to-be adopter asked her a few questions and then…stepped aside. She saw that this woman needed the two dogs more than she did and she graciously offered her the chance to adopt the dogs. But the elderly woman, in her rush, had forgotten her wallet so the first adopter paid the adoption fee and went home without the dogs she had hoped to adopt. And the elderly woman went home with her new friends, Samantha and Bella.

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Samantha and Bella on their ride home. September 2016

Fast forward a year….we receive a message on Facebook from the elderly woman’s daughter who tells us that her mother, due to health reasons, has to move out of her home. And she wants to know if we remember the woman who had wanted Samantha and Bella and had paid their adoption fee. If we did, could we please contact her to see if she would still like the dogs? The only reason we were able to track down this woman was because she had paid the adoption fee so we had information on file from the receipt.

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Samantha and Bella keep their first mom company.

We put the women in touch with each other and now Samantha and Bella are settling into their new home.Their new mom tells us they howl together, bark at dogs on the TV, sleep together in a puppy pile and crawl under the covers with her at night. She has told the previous family she is happy to bring Samantha and Bella over for visits so their first mom can still enjoy their companionship. Paying it forward sure did make the world a better place for everyone, including Samantha and Bella.

We don’t know about you but this story might have made us cry a little and smile a lot.

Nigel Finds Home

This post is written by an Alaskan husky named Nigel. Nigel is proud to be from Alaska. He finds the people here so self-reliant and brave. Bravery is always something Nigel has admired – after all his name means ‘champion.’ But it also means darkness.’ For much of his life, he never felt like a champion; he lived in the darkness of fear. But the night is always darkest before the dawn. This is his story.

Nigel comes home

Nigel on the night he returned home.

“I always found a way out. Out of the room, the yard, the car, the leash. Everything terrified me. I was described as “skittish and “timid.” I did not want to be perceived like that, but confidence didn’t come naturally to me.

Finally, my human got tired of chasing me around so he brought me to the shelter. Well, I didn’t like to stay in my kennel so I would just scramble up the walls and sit on the top of my kennel until a shelter worked climbed up and got me down. If I couldn’t go out, at least I could go up. The shelter people were very kind, but I could see the concern on their faces. I heard one say softly to another “I love him dearly, but who is going to adopt this dog? How are they going to keep him safe?” Safe? Safe? I wasn’t sure I knew the meaning of that word.

But then…something incredible happened – I met some humans who were very special. They didn’t seem to be afraid of anything. Even I couldn’t scare them away! In fact, I heard them say that they loved my gentle spirit and goofy smile (well, I think it’s a very charming smile!). I thought that was very nice of them to see past my insecurity. And they brought me to their home! Imagine that!

In our family there is a little human and he’s my favorite. I seek him out because I think we need each other. He is the best person to go to the vet with, he always helps me stay calm. In return, when my little boy is sick or hurt, he just wants to lay against his “doggie-brother” and I am more than happy to oblige.

After about 2-years of happiness, I had a bad day. I was out on my 25’ line for the last time before bed and something scared me. I pulled against the line and the clip to the yard stake broke. I don’t know why but I ran away. Before I knew it, I was lost in every way imaginable.

My family was devastated and terrified that I was tangled up somewhere, due to my line, and wouldn’t be sighted. My little human would lie on my bed and say “Doggie?” over and over again. They did everything right: they searched for me, getting the word out with posters (they hired FedEx to make super professional fliers), they paid Facebook to run an ad, paid for robo-calls to reach out to hundreds of people in my area. And people searched for me, including my trainer, some people from the shelter and even people I didn’t know (I heard that one of them was a pet detective). Wow – I didn’t know I was that important!

Almost a whole week went by and they hadn’t found me. But then, my dad got a Facebook message from someone who said he saw the posters and that he had me and wanted to get me back to my family. Here’s what he told my dad: He saw me the day after I ran away and took me in. He thought to himself “Why are you so sacred? You look a little skinny too….” He thought that because I was shy and kind of skinny that I wasn’t being taken care of properly and didn’t have a wonderful family who I loved and who loved me. So he gave me a new name and kept me in his house. Once again, I was terrified; not of him, but that I would never see my family again. I needed to escape but I wasn’t sure if I could this time. I could smell home…I knew it wasn’t far away.

But after seeing the posters my humans put up he realized that I was loved and that’s when he contacted my dad. And I can’t even explain how happy I was when my dad came to get me. I think I even did a doggie happy dance!

I am home now, with my family. I’m wearing my GPS collar and my dad said he won’t use the yard stake again. Yay, they are going to keep me safe! Safe. I hope that lady at the shelter who was so worried about me knows how loved I am.”

Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” I can appreciate that greatly. I know that through compassion, persistence, hope, endurance, and love that I can master fear. One day I will live up to my name and become the champion of my own darkness.

AFTER THE STORY UPDATE:

When asked why they have chosen to stick with Nigel despite his anxiety, his parents say that it’s because he is a sweet, gentle dog who so very much wants to enjoy life. Sometimes his anxiety holds him back from enjoying life, just as it holds back many humans, but they want to help him embrace life as much as possible.

Blog posts are written by AACC volunteer, Stephanie
Edited by AACC staff.

Meatball: A Short Story

A Land Flowing with Meatballs and Ice Cream

Meatball

This blog is written by Meatball. His saucy name makes him feel tough when he’s scared and hungry, so he likes it; but he has a sensitive, artsy side too.  For example, his favorite artist is Monet. His favorite Monet pieces are the Nymphéas or Water Lilly series. Meatball said, “I’ve heard some people describe others as ‘late bloomers.’ Well, if I had to describe myself in that light, I’d say I was plucked just a little too early. But thanks to the love and support of special people around me, I too was able to know love and feel safe.’ This is his story.

On the morning of June 14th, I was found in the night drop kennels at Anchorage Animal Care and Control. I was very hungry and I was letting everyone know about it! I had been brought there by a Good Samaritan who found me for sale in a Walmart parking lot.

I was being sold with my siblings, but I was far too young to be away from my mother. I was only 3-4 weeks old and weighed a mere 11 oz. I missed my mommy’s warm milk and the fuzzy comfort of my siblings.

At the shelter, this nice lady said, “He’s so cute I want to name him Ice Cream Cone.” Everyone laughed but they agreed and that became my first name. I’ve never seen an ice cream cone, but it sounded delicious!

Due to my early departure from my mother, I needed a lot of attention and care so I was placed in a foster home. It was my foster dad who changed my life and my name to Meatball. I liked it a little better and I liked him a lot!

He has the coziest chest and I just love to sleep on it. I also like to snuggle with his old dog who doesn’t seem to mind. I’m hungry all the time and I really like to let him know it. I like to talk to him while he is making dinner in the kitchen; I also like to sit on his foot. Pretty much where ever he is, is where I like to be. Sometimes I try to suck on his arm because I get confused about where my food is going to come from next.

Even though I am very weak and delicate, my dad does his best to help me stay strong and feel loved. “You must be so out-of-sorts being away from your mom, little guy,” He said to me once. He totally gets it and he made me purr for the first time. It feels so good to feel that rumble in my little body and nice to be able to show him that he makes me happy.

I am not very sure about my future. I don’t always feel the best, but I know how lucky I am. There is darkness and wrong-doing in this world, but the amount of love I have been shown in my short life has been incredible. I want the world to know that it is important to live and let live and to let things grow and thrive where they belong. Right now, where I belong is on my dad’s chest purring away and dreaming of a land full of meatballs, ice cream cones, and lilies.

AFTER THE STORY UPDATE

It breaks our hearts to say that our little guy didn’t make it. But we still wanted to tell his story and let his voice be heard for all the kittens who lose their mommas too soon and for all our foster kittens who first know love from our amazing troop of foster parents. AACC foster parents open not just homes but their hearts every time they agree to care for a kitten and for this we, and our kittens, are grateful,

In Meatball’s memory, remember to be kind and show love to those around you every moment that you can. We know Meatball would think that is just perfect.

Reflections from Meatball’s Foster Dad

Meatball 3

Meatball came to me as just a tiny squirt of a kitten. Here was a little guy who was taken from his mom way too early and no longer had any siblings to find comfort with so we became very attached very quickly, which, of course, had me thinking “should I keep this one?” on our very first night together. Despite being so tiny Meatball seemed healthy. I was sure that with a lot of love and care he’d make it and be a great companion for either myself or some other lucky person. I was already feeling proud of the chance of a great life we were giving him.

Throughout the weekend he sat on my shoulder or in my sweatshirt pocket (yes, he was that tiny) as I went about my usual routine. In the evenings he would lay on my chest while I read.  He never let me out of his sight and either chased me down or meowed until I returned. I was the most important thing in the world to Meatball and I didn’t take that sentiment or responsibility lightly.

I had a trip planned and only had him for 5 days before moving him to his second foster home.  While I was gone I thought about him often and was anxious to see him. I was out of communication and had no idea that he was not doing well so it was hard to hear when I came back that his health was failing.

In a matter of a few days Meatball’s health went south despite our best efforts…and then he was gone. The whole experience- which lasted barely more than a week- is one I think about every day. I take comfort in knowing I, and his second foster home, were able to give Meatball love, security, and companionship for at least part of his short life. I didn’t think I’d be ready to foster again for a few months because I was feeling raw about Meatball’s passing but I already found myself with three foster kittens this past week! Meatball would be proud of me.

Blog posts are authored by AACC volunteer, Stephanie.

Photos courtesy of Meatball’s foster dad.


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