Archive | June, 2013

Falling In Love with Your Pet Project

7 Jun

I always wanted to volunteer but I was always too busy with work, the house, my family and all other aspects of life that I never did anything about it.  For me, I believe Hurricane Sandy brought me the courage to join Eleventh Hour Rescue. After the dust settled from Sandy and life returned to ‘normal’ I started visiting Eleventh Hour’s website and in January, I signed up as a volunteer. I jumped in with both feet, but my passion is the kennel. The kennel is home to many special needs kennel kids that need the special care to heal the hurts they are not able to tell us about. As volunteers, we can see and feel them.

At my kennel orientation in February, I saw Gracie for the first time and found her to be such a beautiful and unique looking dog. My first few pack walks I took the dogs that were recommended to me by the leads of the walks because I did not know which ones I would be able to handle. Zeb was my first then he went into foster. Next, I moved on to Diesel, brindle, and then he went into foster. So on one particular pack walk, I wasn’t sure which dog to take and the leads suggested Gracie. That is when I fell in love and from what other volunteers tell me when they see us together, I think it is mutual. I mean look at that face – what’s not to love?


Gracie’s story should be a simple one but like many of the special needs kids at the kennel, it is not. Born on February 8, 2012, she came to EHR with her siblings as a 3-month old puppy on a transport from Atlanta, Georgia. She went into foster and her foster mom and family took amazing care of her. She was adopted by a family with young children that she loved and was loved by them. Gracie can sit, stay, and shakes paws on command. She loves treats and responds positively to treat rewards. Unfortunately, for her, she had an incident with another dog in her home and in November, 2012, had to be returned to the kennel. That incident along with her manners at the kennel had instilled fear in some volunteers, so Gracie spent less time outside the kennel and more time inside.

After my first pack walk with Gracie, I decided to make her my pet project and dedicate myself to learning everything I could about her so I could help her. I have learned what she likes as well as what she does not like. She loves water, I mean really LOVES it. I have never seen a dog dance in the water, but she does and it is quite comical. She loves grass. She does the slow roll, snout first followed by a full body fall and continues to roll around in the grass, seeming to feel every single blade she rolls over. She loves to be touched and rolls right over for belly rubs. She has no problems with getting her coat brushed or with brushing her teeth or trimming her nails. And as a thank you for anything you do for her, she gives big fat sloppy kisses.

In the short time I’ve known her, her fears seem to stem from human behavior. She does not like to be rushed at by people and seems to be threatened at being stared down upon.   I have found that approaching Gracie has to be on her terms and is most successful with a treat. She does not like hands shoved in her face or pets on the head from strangers.  Coming to her from under her chin or letting her make the first move is the secret to a successful meeting. She does not like loud or high-pitched noises and does not appreciate being left alone in the car, even for a minute. She takes correction very well and that is why I believe her fears can be overcome.  Thanks to the many volunteers at EHR who have helped me by meeting Gracie her way… I believe her confidence is building and she is becoming less fearful. I am dedicated to continuing to help her build that confidence and find her furever home.


Why did I choose Gracie as my pet project?  I don’t think I did, I think she chose me and I feel very lucky that she did. Take the step I did, log onto and find out how you can help a special needs kennel kid at Eleventh Hour Rescue.  You won’t regret it and it will give your Pet Project the opportunity to find you, like mine found me.

-Anne Parsons


She Adopts, Rescues and is Rescued in Return: Elaine’s Story-

4 Jun

In 2005 I wanted to adopt a dog after Hurricane Katrina, as I used to live in New Orleans and wanted to help somehow.  I looked on and somehow came across Ralph the Beagle’s ad…  he was reportedly fighting the “battle of the bulge” and it said, “If you too are watching your carbs…trying to go for walks more… could be that you and Ralph are a good match”.  I was trying the Atkins diet, and my doctor had advised that I walk more, maybe even get a dog to walk around with. Although he wasn’t a “Katrina dog” and lived two hours away, his ad made me feel that he was my match! I went to Linda’s house, where the rescue dogs were in her living and dining rooms when I finally got to meet Ralph. I was approved, and went up a second time to pick him up.


Unfortunately, Ralph had seizures, one in which that I was witness to one on the car ride home from Linda’s house. It didn’t seem so bad, and the vet didn’t feel he needed any medications, so we went about on our way getting to know each other.  On 12/7/05, I came home from work to find that poor Ralph had been seizing and was not very responsive.  My friend rushed over to help me get him to the vet, and he died in my arms on the way.  I couldn’t believe I had him for only five weeks, and he was gone. The Eleventh Hour Rescue team took it hard too because everyone loved him. It was a rough time for me. But for some reason, I tortured myself by looking on the website again the next day…

And there was Chance. “You wouldn’t be taking a chance with Chance, he’s perfect!”


I felt he was my “second chance” to be a dog mom.  So up I trekked to Linda’s to meet him, and brought him home. He had heartworm and was treated, but was doing fine. I wanted to get him to the vet that day after all I had been through with Ralph, so we went to our appointment and then left to check out his new home. The vet said it was ok to give the heartworm preventative, but evidently it wasn’t and around midnight, Chance had labored breathing. I was so scared that I had another friend come to get us to take him to the ER. It ended up the extra medication caused an embolism, where the worms clogged his lungs making him unable to breathe.  They weren’t really sure if that was the cause, but it was their best diagnosis. He had to spend four days in an oxygen box, and I was devastated. He almost didn’t make it, but when he was cleared after four days, EHR took him back to heal. I felt terrible that the vet I took him to did this, but the team was very kind and cared for him while I got myself together a bit after both traumatic experiences. I just wanted to be sure he was healthy, and I wanted to seek out a new vet. On January 20, 2006, Chance came back to live with me.  We had six and half wonderful years together full of car rides, the beach, eating, walks, playing, sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating, eating, eating… he really was no trouble, listened, and was a very happy dog.  In 2012, we found he had anemia caused by a spleen hemangiosarcoma.  After all the medical attention he had been through by the age of twelve, I didn’t see the sense in torturing him with surgery, especially since it likely had spread by the time we realized what was going on. All I could do was just pray for mercy and peace. I managed his declining health until it was clear he needed to go to Rainbow Bridge to be with Ralph. The vet came to my home on July 2nd and he peacefully passed on his favorite spot, the sofa.

I wasn’t sure how long I would wait before getting a new dog. Chance had big paws to fill.  I lost my best friend; the house was so different without him there.  I did not know what kind of dog I would get, but I was not in a hurry and figured Chance would help guide me. I looked at dogs online, but didn’t feel much for any of them even as cute as most were. About one or two of them I tried to adopt fell through because they didn’t come up from the south or they were taken quickly. Then there was Preston. He seemed cute, almost similar to Chance. I knew he could not replace Chance, but also knew I needed to take my dog for walks and have a happy face around again. I’d like to think Preston has some of Chance in him, as he was born shortly after Chance died.

Preston did not come up for a few weeks. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not and did not want to get my hopes up too fast, until I finally got the call that he was on his way. I went to see him on October 18th at the Mt. Olive Pet Smart, again two hours from where I now live at the Jersey Shore. I went up to the crate, where he was with two of his four siblings. As the other two slept, he came right over to me. I asked, are you Preston?  And when I saw his collar, I laughed knowing he was my dog. We played in a room, and went through the updated adoption process, which was very different from being in Linda’s kitchen.


All three experiences were great as far as the adoption process itself; the volunteers were friendly and helpful.  You can tell they are invested in what they do, and care about the adopters as well as all of the animals. The worst part for me was the long drive, but it was worth it to be able to have these three special boys in my life.  I often wish I could attend all the special events, but it is too difficult with the commute.

All three dogs adapted very well. There were never any issues as far as them being destructive or aggressive. Chance had several friends and a girlfriend, and was no trouble anywhere I took him. My family and friends never minded looking after him when I had to travel because he was so easy going. Preston has grown from 18 lbs to 80 lbs and is a ball of energy, but has come a long way and keeps on learning. He loves to be outdoors to play and walk or just lounge in the yard, and he has fun chasing a red laser light around the back yard. He even made it through Hurricane Sandy like a trooper. I think he would love a big snowstorm, and some more big-dog friends that he could roll around and play with more often. We have worked on training classes, and plan to take more. He is a rock star at my Pet Smart – They all know his name, even though they don’t know mine!

I did stumble online across sites that sold dogs, but it did not feel right.  Not only was it expensive, but also you were unable to meet the dog first. There are just so many dogs in shelters that need a happy home. EHR volunteers were always very understanding and helpful with all of the situations I encountered (ie. the vet), and with the adoption process in general.  They like to get updates and hear how we are doing, and I love sharing pictures, because I tend to take “a few”…

They say we rescue the dogs, but really the dogs rescue us. Even though they are not here with us long enough, I cannot imagine my life without any of these special babies.


-Elaine Galante

You can also read about Preston’s journey to New Jersey in our previous blog, “Transport Tails: My First Transport”