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.

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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.

Shae: A Story of Healing

Hi everyone, Linus here.
Did you know I have a foster sister?

And she’s a beautiful black cat just like me.
Her name is Shae and here’s her story:

Shae came to the shelter the same way I did – a lost cat in need of somewhere safe and warm. She got sick while she waited at the shelter, first for her family to hopefully find her and then for a family to hopefully adopt her. Other cats get sick with the same thing (they call it “upper respiratory infection”) but poor Shae got hit hard. So my mom, who has a really big heart, brought her home to be my foster sister and recuperate.

She needed lots of care so my mom set her up in our bathroom with a humidifier and would even give her fluids to keep her hydrated. Most importantly, she made sure that Shae just got to relax and sleep. She stayed in her own room although I got to see her through the door. At first I might have felt just a little jealous but I got over that because I could see that she really needed us.

 

It wasn’t too long before we got to see what a great cat Shae is. She started playing with toys, hanging out in a catio next to me, meeting the dogs, and snuggling, snuggling, snuggling with my mom. My mom said that Shae likes to get as close as she can and would snuggle all day if she could. She also said that Shae is so good – she never growled or hissed at me or the dogs, never complained about going in her carrier or when she had to get fluids.

It’s been a good experience having Shae with us. We worried about her at first so we are really happy to see how well she’s doing. It will be hard to give her up but soon she’ll have to go back to the shelter to find a new home. I’m hoping that by writing about her and telling you how special she is, she might find a home right away.

Abby’s Story: A Dog’s Best Friend

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This blog is written by Abby. Like many shelter dogs, only parts of her past are known.
But Abby reminds us it isn’t where you’ve been that defines you, it’s where you’re going.
This is her story.

I was terrified. I could hear voices and smell something yummy, but I was too scared to even move or leave this kennel. I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to eat. I just wanted everyone to leave me alone so I could think and figure out what was happening.

But the voices were sweet and weren’t giving up and the treats that were offered were ones I liked, so, I thought, what was the worst that could happen?  Eventually, I decided to venture out a little. I caught a glimpse of some warm, affectionate and concerned faces. I ate some treats, walked around a little and then went back to where I felt safe – my kennel.

 

This happened every day and slowly I started looking forward to the voices and the treats. The faces looked happier these days, the concern was melting away.  I bet my face looked different too. That is the thing about dogs, we cannot help but trust and love. It’s just inside of us, always pulsing through every fiber of our beings. Even though I was confused and didn’t understand why I was here and not in my home, I still believe in the good in the humans. We call them dog’s best friends.

Then one day, after I had an especially good time out of my kennel, I was placed in a new kennel in the “adoption area” where there was a lot more activity, lots more people to play with and yes, more treats. I started meeting new people –  they are all named “Volunteer”, isn’t that funny? They told me I was up for adoption and that someone would be lucky to have me as their friend. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I know that humans believe in me and I believe in humans. So, I sat and patiently waited for the one that smells like my best friend.

It didn’t take them too long to find me; their sweet faces reminded me of those first faces I saw that coaxed me from out of my kennel. Kindness is easy to spot. So, I am adopted now (check out those smiles in my adoption photo) and I am off to a new life. I used to like to play fetch, chew on bones and snuggle. I hope my new family likes those things too, but I am sure they do.

6.16.17_Abby_a231575

To a future full of smiles, hope, and love,

Abby

AFTER THE STORY UPDATE

When Abby came to the shelter on 5/28/17 she was quite fearful and she did not want to come out of her kennel. The staff at AACC worked with her every day – carefully and patiently coaxing her out of her kennel to play with her for a bit, before letting her go back in where she felt safe. Eventually, the staff gained her trust and started putting that smile back on her face. She was then moved out into the public area so the volunteers could work with her. She was adopted on 6/11/17.  Abby’s success is a perfect example of the effort AACC puts into its animals.  We want every dog, cat, and pet to have a successful re-homing and we do everything possible to try to make that happen. We want every animal’s story to be like Abby’s. 

Love’s not Time’s Fool

Love’s Not Time’s Fool

This blog is written by Kona Mae. A senior Blood Hound who was brought to AACC after her human passed away. Kona Mae’s favorite author is the great William Shakespeare; she likes to say that she and the playwright have one thing in common: that some things get better with time. This is her story.

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I know that it was just a step… well, a flight of them. I watched people scamper up and down them with ease all day. But to me, it was Everest. I had made the most out of my puppy years, but those were far behind me. The short of it was, I couldn’t climb stairs anymore. It was sad and frustrating to struggle. But what could I do? Time shows no preference; we are all her hostages.

I knew this better than many. I don’t like to talk about my past too much. It makes me sad and Blood Hounds already have a tendency to look depressed, so it’s not a good look on me. My human had recently passed away; the years we had together are buried and cherished deep inside my heart. But due to this, I found myself the occupant of a pen at the shelter with nowhere else to go.

So, I laid these old bones back down on the floor of my cage, waited and gave myself a pep-talk. I was still cute (or so I thought) had always been loyal and gave so much love. I was mellow too! Much mellower than the in-demand puppies around me and pretty thoroughly trained. Maybe I still had a chance?

Amazingly, I got adopted. A difficult hurdle to conquer for many. ESPECIALLY, us senior pups, but I was lucky. My joy, though insurmountable, was short lived. I couldn’t follow my new owners around. I couldn’t get up and down their stairs. I was returned to the shelter. It was the lowest of the lows for me. No pep-talk-tainted monolog would raise my chin of the shelter’s floor. This old dog had no more tricks up her sleeves.

I believe I have a guardian angel looking out for me (I have an idea who it is) because I did get adopted again to two saints. The first time I met them I tried to gather all the information I could quickly. I wanted to fit in perfectly this time. I rushed up to them, nose in the air and then nose to the ground. I learned a lot! They smelled, how do I explain it,.. kind. And they gave me a butt-rub! I love those. I heard the one say to the other with a smile “my heart goes out to her. What’s one more?”

When they came to pick me up, I understood what they meant for they had an English Mastiff in their back seat. She introduced herself as Miss Prue, was about my age and very welcoming. She was also wet from paw to tail, I inquired as to why and she said that she had been swimming!

Once we arrived home (don’t you just love the sound of that word?), I was let out into the backyard and met two other senior Blood Hounds, Pearl and Beaufort! It was like family immediately. Everyone allowed me to explore the yard, house, and all the rooms. The house did have stairs, but in my excitement I went right up them! If I do ever start to have trouble, my parents have a belly belt to help me out a little bit. My parents are pros at this senior pup thing!

Kona Mae_2

Kona Mae and her new pack: Miss Prue the English Mastiff and Pearl and Beaufort the Bloodhounds

I’ve heard them tell their friends, “ with older dogs you make some adjustments… but they still have so much to give back to us and are so loving. I wouldn’t change a thing or ask for anything more.” I am glad they feel that way and I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am on Glucosamine, Condroitin & fish oil to keep me as spry as possible and I also get to go swimming once a week at Alaska K9 Aquatics, to help with my arthritis. I am thriving.

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Kona Mae relaxes in her new home.

As Shakespeare said, in his lovely Sonnet 116, “Love’s not Time’s fool.” Our body’s might be slaves to time. But, love lives on; it lives on in my heart and in my everyday life. I am so, so lucky in love. Thanks to my new parents, not only did this old lady find a couple new tricks up her sleeves, she found a family too.

AFTER THE STORY UPDATE

Kona Mae’s new mom describes their journey with her as kismet and says that she is a blessing and delight. All three of the other dogs in the family have welcomed her in with open paws and the group is fondly referred to as the Geriatric Crew. The crew plays a lot in the yard but they are also self-proclaimed couch potatoes; they love to snuggle on the cushions and give kisses. Kona Mae, Miss Prue, Pearl, and Beaufort hope that their story of love, acceptance, and second chances will inspire others to adopt senior pups.

Linus’ Story: Numbers for a Name

Numbers for a Name

Linus on arrival

Linus on her first day at Anchorage Animal Care and Control

This story is written by Linus. A stray kitten who found love, fame and a name. Linus always says her favorite quote, penned by Victor Hugo, “to love or have loved, that is enough” because it was love that changed everything. Not many love stories feature a cat as the leading lady, but this one does. This is Linus’s story.

A224228 that was the first name I ever knew. It doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it? Just like Jean Valjean in Les Miserables who was haunted his whole life by his prison numbers, I too felt those numbers following me like a shadow. A heavy burden for a little kitten to carry, but carry it I did.

I came to AACC as a stray. Stray – another name I hate. I don’t remember too much about that day, all I remember is that my eyes hurt and I couldn’t see very well. I had some very noticeable eye deformities, that is probably why I was a stray. Why I ended up with numbers for a name. I didn’t have much hope. And then I met this person, a special person.

She was the Kennel Supervisor at AACC and, much to my surprise, she didn’t put me in a cage. She took me to her house. It smelled so good there and she had two other kittens! They both had names and I was envious. They told me that this was their foster home and that the food was really good. They also asked me what was wrong with my eyes, but I didn’t have a good answer.

She would go to work all day, I missed her terribly when she was gone. I’d just count the numbers on the clock until she got home. She was so kind to us. I ached for her touch when she was away. The other cats cried and pleaded for food as soon as she walked in the door. I would meow too, but I just wanted her to hold and pet me. Food could wait.

Under her careful hand, we grew fast, as did my attachment to her. Then one day she said it was time to go back to the shelter to get adopted. My kitty-mates were excited, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay with her forever, but nevertheless, we were loaded up and taken away.

The other kittens were adopted very quickly. Their new owners gave them new names, which I was surprised at, but my heart was so full of longing for my foster mom there wasn’t any room left for envy. I wasn’t surprised that both kittens went before me. I might not be able to see well, but I knew what people saw when they looked at me, just numbers. Like the cost for eye surgery and the cost of care for my eyes. Like my name, numbers were in my way again.

Linus on adoption floor

Linus in her kennel…waiting to be adopted (but secretly hoping to go back to her foster home).

Then one day a man did ask to see me. This usually makes the animals around here very excited. I was just excited to see my foster mom as she reached in and gently handed me to the man. “Why is someone else holding me? I’m her cat,” I thought. She even looked sad and concerned as she watched the man interact with me. She seemed eager to get me back into the cage. The man said that he was going to think about it. My foster mom walked away with the man, but she came back rather quickly and slapped a big sticker on my cage. The sticker read “Congratulations, I’m being adopted.”

I was very confused, because the man said he needed to think about it. But my foster mom smiled at me and stuck a soft finger through the wires of my cage to scratch my chin. She said, “all I was thinking while that man was holding you was ‘why is that man holding my cat!’”

My foster mom realizes she can't let me go!

My foster mom realizes she can’t let me go. See how happy I am?

That day I went home. Numbers are still a big part of my life. Not A224228, or 24601 or the cost for my care, now I count the number of times my mom says she loves me, the number of cat-naps we take together, the number of adventures we go on in my stroller and the number of times she says my name.

She named me Linus and it’s perfect.

I once heard my mom get asked why she adopted me, after all, the number of kittens she had fostered, cared for and seen is enormous. She just said simply, “because I love Linus and Linus loves me.” This is true. Sometimes numbers do lie, but love… love never does.

Loving and being loved,

Linus

 AFTER THE STORY UPDATE

Linus had the eye surgery she needed and she can see much better now. Which is good because Linus is one busy cat! Linus and her mom can often be found strolling in local pet supply stores or watching geese at the park. Their favorite spots to go are Turnagain Arm and Beluga Point. When not out adventuring Linus spends a lot of time in her “catio” on the deck. Linus also has a big heart for assisting other animals in finding the love of their lives. She appears on AACC’s Facebook at least once a week, conducting promotions. She is currently “hosting” Meow Mixer, a dating game between cats and people to encourage people to adopt. Here is what her mom says about Linus:

 “How much do I love Linus? I don’t know how to swim but if Linus fell into the ocean, I would jump in to save her. But to be safe, I think our adventures will not include boats.”

Here I am after my eye surgery.

Here I am after my eye surgery.

Life is good. Love, Linus

Life is Good. Love, Linus

Britannica: The Cat Who Could

The Cat Who Could

This story is written by Britannica, the little cat who could. Britannica’s message is simple and clear: never give up on yourselves or in the goodness of others. This kitty kept getting returned to AACC due to “behavior problems.” But all of her problems were solved when an AACC employee went above and beyond and a new adopter decided to give Britannica the real chance she needed. This is her story.

 

I stared out the window of the moving car as it took its final turn into a parking lot and my heart sank. I knew where we were, I’d been here before. Time to go back to the cage, back to the wire, back to the loneliness.

Now, don’t get me wrong this place (I think I heard a human call it Animal Care and Control) wasn’t all bad. I was well taken care of by very thoughtful people. But it wasn’t a forever home and every animal in this place knew it; none of them better than me.

You see, I thought that I was one of the lucky ones when I got adopted. But then they brought me back. Then, I thought I was super lucky when I got adopted again! Then I was brought back. Embarrassingly, I kept having accidents in the house. I tried not to, but I couldn’t help it; these transitions were hard for me and I was often frightened and nervous.

As I was carried back into this familiar place I was resigned. Maybe it wasn’t meant for me to have a forever home – maybe this was the closest thing to a home I’d ever know. Then this one special person showed up.

She was sweet; you know when some people pet cats, they are so heavy-handed? But she wasn’t like that at all, she had a very gentle touch and she smelled like… dare I say it? Home. I tried not to get excited again, knowing she would probably give up on me too. But I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of hope rise in my chest.

She adopted me! And I heard her and Sue, the lady who cares for us at AACC, talking extensively about how to properly care for me. Sue was working very hard to help me not have accidents and feel comfortable.

Britannica and her new mom on her Going Home Day!

Sue gave my new mom many helpful tips. She told her to start me out in very small spaces and give me options; to let me choose when to be approached and to give me some play exposure to build my confidence. She gave my new mom many things that are familiar to me to take home like: my litter box, food, bedding and toys. Sue even gave us her book called ‘Catify to Satisfy’ by the famous Jackson Galaxy.

My mom kept Sue updated on my progress and even took me to the vet. They fixed my diet among other things. This was helping me make it to the litter box. Now I get called ‘Sweet Girl’ and I absolutely love it. I want to say thanks to Sue for providing my mom with a lot of helpful information and to my mom for sticking with me.

 My story is about determination and what can happen when people don’t give up on one another. I am a very grateful cat and I try to show that every day of our lives together, from the moment we wake up snuggling in bed together, through playtime and into each and every evening. We are very close. I am happy to report that this little cat that could, eventually did.

Home to stay,

Britannica

AFTER THE STORY UPDATE

Britannica’s mom is still in touch with AACC and checks in often to give us. “I’m smitten with her. I wake up with her sleeping on me every morning. She has a very kitten-like personality… likes to chew on the decorations on my jeans and drag wand toys around the house. The best part of the day is when she’s relaxed enough to flop over next to me and let me give her belly rubs, while purring and chirping. Unbelievably cute, and a wonderful companion! ” 

It is through the dedication, heart and true love for animals that Sue, and other employees like her, possesses that made this story have a happy ending.

Britannica and AACC are very grateful to our volunteers and employees; for the hard work and compassion they show on a daily basis. They are the true authors of happy-ever-afters like Britannica.

Here are the dates of Britannica’s up-and-down journey:

Surrendered on 10/14/16
Adopted on 10/27/16
Returned on 12/12/16
Adopted on 12/22/16
Returned on 2/23/17
Adopted by her new mom on 3/21/17 – Britannica still calls this her home.


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