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 www.ehrdogs.org 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


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