Guest Post by Red Curl Gurl and Meredith
Since the early days of her childhood, Shera Beck has always loved dogs and horses. It began with some stuffed animals and continued through the wonder of reading books so it’s no surprise that she chose to blend her passion with her career.
An Animal Behavior College certified dog trainer and member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Shera recently decided to utilize her skills and become a volunteer for City Dogs Rescue.
“I just moved back to northern Virginia from New York City and wanted to get involved with a rescue in DC to help train homeless dogs to make them more adoptable,” Shera said. “Meredith [City Dogs Rescue Communications Director and Volunteer Coordinator] originally contacted me about a dog who was returned after he was adopted because of separation anxiety." Shera worked with a hound dog she called a "handsome, mellow, sweet guy with a big heart" to overcome his anxiety so he could flourish in his new home. He has since been adopted and continued his training with Shera.
As part of her certification program in New York City, Shera trained shelter dogs basic manners such as walking on a lease, not barking, sit, down and touch. This is an important step for many of the dogs, as some have never had that type of communication before being rescued. She noted that City Dogs Rescue pups have a jump start on others because most of the dogs are fostered
which allows them to come out of their shells easier.
“My goal with City Dogs Rescue is to continually train new dogs, help adopt out as many as I can and decrease the number of dogs that are returned to the rescue after adoption.”
Breck and Shera
Shera said she chose to volunteer for CDR because they are a new rescue organization (formed as a DC non-profit corporation in September 2011) and she wants to help them grow. Meredith originally found Shera on Twitter
. This isn’t her first time to volunteer to help homeless dogs. While she was living in NYC, she volunteered at Bideawee where she spent four to six hours a week at the shelter working with shy puppies that weren’t getting adopted.
“I was helping to build the dog’s confidence and make them more comfortable with people and their environment,” she said. “One time, I was working with a 16-week old Shepard puppy who was so frightened of people that she would hide under anything possible, shake uncontrollably and wouldn't take any food. I sat with her for three hours one day while she hid under a bench. I was about 10 feet away and threw a trail of cheese around her, which she ignored for the first hour. Slowly she began to eat the cheese right next to her and then eventually got up to take the cheese that was near her. After another two hours, she came close enough to take the cheese off my leg. It was an amazing moment knowing that she was learning to overcome her fear of people. I was the first person she was starting to trust and she showed me so much hope in that moment. She forever reinforced how important patience and persistence is when dealing with dogs with special needs. I hope to have many moments like these dogs at City Dogs Rescue.”
Shera’s own dog, Breck, suffers from separation anxiety. While dogs that suffer from anxiety will never be fully cured, Shera said they can be managed allowing you and them to live a healthy, happy life.
Through her own business, Pawfect Pups
, Shera is developing an exercise boot camp/obedience class, with local personal trainer Karen Krieg of Thank Dog! Boot Camp
, where individuals and their dogs can exercise together.
Shera only recently began volunteering for City Dogs Rescue, but everyone including Shera is looking forward to a long and happy relationship with the organization.
Shera, Breck and Danny
“As a trainer, I am always being challenged with new cases that are unlike any other. Volunteering keeps my skills up to par and allows me to see the difference I am making at the same time.”
Shera believes that it’s all the little things that volunteers do that make such an impact on rescue dogs.
“There is no better feeling than knowing you can help make a difference for a dog or puppy that hasn't been so lucky in life. The dogs are so grateful and appreciative for every second they get alone with you,” she said. “ I love seeing pictures of the dogs I have worked with after they get adopted and how spoiled and happy they are in their new homes. It makes every second worth it.“
Samson at the park with Shera
The folks at City Dogs Rescue are just as pleased and excited to see their alumni working with Shera after they are adopted. For example, Samson from Bladen County has done great training with Shera. Meredith says, "We can call Shera anytime day or night about any of our foster dogs and she is always willing to help. She offers great advice and has already provided support for countless fosters and rescue dogs. What she does is truly amazing and a gift for our dogs. "
To learn more about Shera and her training service, visit her website.
Reese, one of Leslie's foster dogs
Most of us make New Year’s resolutions and by January 3 have forgotten all about them. That is not the case with City Dogs Rescue volunteer, Leslie Forte.
“One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to spend more time volunteering. I used to volunteer with other rescues years and years (and three children) ago. I am so blessed with a wonderful family and life that I wanted to give back. A friend had liked CDR on Facebook and so I clicked on their page
and checked it out. They had posted a call for someone to do animal transport so I responded,” Leslie said.
Her first volunteer transport was in April 2012 where she brought dogs from Fredericksburg to City Dogs Daycare. Leslie credits the support of her family and especially her husband for helping with the dogs.“My husband and kids love road trips!” she said. “I started replying to more and more volunteer opportunities. I am a sucker for all the pictures that they post and all the dogs in need.”
Leslie's current foster: Lily
Having rescued a black Lab, whose mother died of cancer this past Christmas, Leslie noticed that he had been pretty lonely so she decided to foster some dogs.
“Having another dog in the house isn’t really that much more work.”
Leslie explained that fostering is pretty easy as it basically means treating the dog like it is one of your own: loving and caring for them and taking them under your wing.
“If you already have a dog, it’s a piece of cake. You’re feeding and walking one dog, why not another? Many of these dogs have never been indoor dogs and don’t even know how to go up and down stairs. It is so fun to see how they adjust to living in a warm cozy house with a huge wrap-around sofa (where all dogs are welcome).”
As luck would have it, her own dog, Fatty, was a foster she took in ten years ago.
“My sister and I answered an urgent request on one of our mailing lists about a new mamma dog who was neglected with her six small pups. We agreed to foster them, having zero clues about puppies or dogs,” she said. “Fatty was the largest of the pups and would push the other dogs out of the way for food. We nicknamed him that assuming we would eventually adopt him out and his new family would give him a real name. But by the time we realized we were in love with him and wanted to keep him, the name stuck.”
Daisy and Buttercup are looking for a home
She said Fatty probably thinks the family is a little crazy for having dogs show up for short periods of time and, initially he was a bit skittish, but since they’ve fostered seven dogs, he’s pretty used to having new dogs around. And her entire family is in on the efforts of providing a supportive environment for the dogs.
“I love meeting new dogs and seeing all their different personalities. And I love how excited my kids get when we have a new foster dog. They always ‘test’ the dogs to see if they will play catch.”
Leslie’s extended family have benefitted from her efforts as well. Her father, sister and brother all had dogs who were once fostered by her. Once of her recent fosters, Chloe, was adopted by a good friend. She’s really happy to see pictures and hear stories of how much joy Chloe has brought to her friend’s family and how content Chloe is being in her forever home.
And her commitment to helping dogs extends beyond the border of Washington. She traveled to New Orleans to help an animal rescue group after Hurricane Katrina. Although it was a sad time, Leslie said it was also very inspirational.
Pepper one of Leslie's fosters
“One elderly man, who had lost absolutely everything, including family members, brought his dog to our makeshift animal shelter since the human shelter where he was in would not take animals. He was so sad to leave that dog but knew he could not keep her in the short term. We promised him we could take good care of the dog until he was on his feet and expected we’d see him again in a few weeks,” she said. “As it turned out, he showed up twice a day, walking miles from the shelter to come see his dog. He’d bring her fried chicken or some biscuits and just sit and sing to her for hours. His dog and her love were the only thing that helped him survive a horrible tragedy. I always cry (and smile) when I think about that old man, singing silly nursery rhymes to a scraggly little white dog. Dogs really are a man’s best friend!”
For those who are thinking they might want to foster a dog, Leslie can’t say enough about CDR.
“City Dogs Rescue is the most organized, well-run rescue I have ever seen. I am impressed every day with the group and how much good they are doing. They do a fantastic job of communicating and they are really supportive of their foster families, helping with medical issues, behavior issues, etc. They make fostering easy.”
And while fostering might appear to be a long-term commitment, Leslie noted that City Dogs Rescue is also in need of short term foster care.
“This is a great way to get your feet wet and see if fostering is for you. CDR also has a ton of other ways that you can contribute as well – fundraising, dog walking, adoption events, and more!”
At the end of the day, it’s fostering a dog that keeps Leslie true to her New Year’s resolution.
“I love watching the dogs blossom and come out of their shells,” she said. “But most of all, I love knowing that one life was spared because I agreed to be a foster.”
Think you’re ready to provide a loving environment for a dog while they wait for their forever family? Visit the fostering
page to find out more or email email@example.com
. For all other volunteer opportunities, click here
“I’m telling ya, I’d be Lucy and you’d be Ethel,” said Daisy.
“So then, you’d be Laverne to my Shirley?” asked Buttercup.
“Exactly. Just like you’d be the Betty to my Wilma,” said Daisy.
Buttercup thought about this. “Yes, I think that sounds about right.”
“Hey, you know what we should do?” asked Daisy.
“Sit on our foster mother’s lap and get a nice scratch?” Buttercup asked stretching out her front paws and yawning. “Maybe cuddle and take a nap?”
Daisy gave Buttercup a look. “No, silly, we should play with our toys. And then maybe, she’ll take us for a walk after we get a bite to eat.”
This gave Buttercup pause. “Hmmm. That does sound like a nice idea.” She looked at Daisy. “Come over here. You have a little schmutz on your face.”
Daisy walked over to Buttercup who proceeded to groom her friend.
“Whew, thanks. You saved me from having to take a bath,” Daisy said.
Buttercup smiled and wagged her tail.
“Perhaps we should move this discussion outside,” Daisy said as her foster mother opened the door to the backyard. The two pals gentle trotted out to the green grass.
Daisy went over to a bush with Buttercup trailing close behind.
“You know Buttercup, this is where we are supposed to do our, ahem, business.”
Buttercup looked down. “I know. I know. I’m working on it.”
“Well, work a little harder my dear,” Daisy nudged Buttercup with her nose.
Buttercup smiled. “Hey, look it’s a bird!”
In a flash, Buttercup was off to chase the birds in the yard. It’s simply her favorite way to spend her time outdoors.
Daisy decided to wander over to one of her soft toys and nibble on it.
The two girls enjoyed all the fresh air that the outdoors had to offer them before lying down to sunbathe on the porch.
“I’m really glad we’re friends. In fact, I think of you more like a sister,” Daisy said.
Buttercup snuggled in close to Daisy. “I feel the same way.”
“Do you think we’ll get adopted?” Daisy asked. “Even though we have heart worm, we’re almost done with our medication and we should be just fine. And while we may be what they call ‘mature ladies’ we still got a whole lot of life in us.”
“Yes, we do,” Buttercup said.
“I heard the nice folks at City Dog Rescue say that we’re a package deal. I think that means we’ll get to stay together. Because I couldn’t imagine living without you.”
“Me, neither,” Buttercup said. “You’re the peanut butter to my jelly.”
Interested in adopting Daisy and Buttercup
, the Chihuahua/Rat Terriers? An adoption fee of $175 covers both dogs and includes all vaccinations, spay/neuter procedure, microchip, and initial health check. Please note that City Dogs Rescue requires that you complete an application prior to visiting these two dogs.
Adoption fee, home visit, and application required.
Please email adopt@CityDogsRescueDC.org
with any questions
Here are six videos of the girls:
By Guest Blogger Clint
As I get to meet most of our rescues when they first arrive in DC, it brings a piece of happiness knowing that these puppies are in for better times in their lives. No matter how scared or sickly the dogs may be when they arrive, we know that their lives are about to make a turn for the better. While we rarely know the specific circumstances of a rescues life prior to their existence at the shelter, we can certainly see neglect of many forms by simply interacting with the dogs. Some dogs are skinny, some have illnesses due to neglect, (ex. heart worm), some are uncomfortable around humans, and in a recent case, one had a been shot in his leg (he still had shotgun pellets in his leg). While these disturbing images are somewhat normal for these new dogs, the pleasures of working with City Dogs Rescue are the changes I see from these initial conditions, to the healthy, happy dogs that they invariably become! As some dogs return to use the City Dogs Daycare facilities, I get to see dogs come full circle. Not only do they return as the beloved pet of their owner (instilled with a new sense of confidence), but they return as a friend of the other daycare dogs. While they would always like to be at their owner's side, some are truly happy to return and see the other dogs (and people), that got them back on their feet. This is the true reward of working with City Dogs Rescue...being able to see mental and physical change in the faces of our saved puppies. From being hours away from being put down at a high kill shelter, to being a loved family companion, the transformation is remarkable, unmistakeable, and a tribute to all of the volunteers, donors, fosters, and adopters that work to save these dogs. From skinny and scared, to fat and happy, the outcome is it's own reward, and at City Dogs Rescue, these outcomes have become the standard...
This week, City Dogs Rescue saved these three sweet girls from a very over-crowded shelter in North Carolina.
On left: Lilly the Jack Russell Terrier
Lilly is an adorable terrier mix about 1 year who is looking for a forever home. Lilly comes from North Carolina so she'll be ready for the DC summer. She's the perfect size for city living. With her perky ears, she'll always come running to greet you when you come home.
Upper right: Lilly Mae the Lab Mix
Lilly Mae is a 7 year old female lab mix who came into shelter with her housemate Freckles. Their family decided to turn them into the shelter after they had a baby. She has a nice personality and would be a great friend to someone who is past the "puppy days" and appreciate a quiet, gentle girl who does not need training. How can you say no to those eyes?
Lower right: Freckles the Pointer
Freckles is a pretty speckled Pointer girl, who is very friendly and greets you with wags and licks. This beautiful two year was recently left at a shelter in North Carolina when her family no longer had time for her. She'll be the perfect addition to your home.
This is Hayden enjoying her first night's sleep in her new home. We are so happy for Hayden and her new family!
We are happy to announce that our Adoption and Foster Applications can now be submitted directly online. (If you prefer, you still have the option of printing out the Adoption Application, completing it, and then scanning it to adopt@CityDogsRescueDC.org).
Jewel, a beautiful black lab mix, was adopted on Saturday and will be living a few houses down from City Dogs Daycare. We are so happy to have her so close by!
You might remember this sweet Jack Russell Terrier from our last Nellie's event. She has now found a forever home in Williamsburg, VA.
Three sweet dogs found permanent homes this weekend - - Carley, Boone, and Commando (now "Pete"). Congratulations to the new families!