Thursday, August 27, 2009


There is nothing quite as comforting and reassuring after a rough day/week/month as cuddling a sweet, snuggly, furry puppy or kitten. Having lost so many dogs during the distemper outbreak, seeing this little face again was a joy and a sign of hope. She is a mix of... well, I'm not sure and I don't recall what the kennel card says, but she is likely going to be a big girl when she grows up, which is why she's still at the shelter. But just look into those big chocolate-drop eyes and tell me she wouldn't fit right into your heart.

Arlene survived the distemper outbreak in spite of her tender age and precarious location. After all that, it would be such a tragedy for her not to make it out. Hopefully, someone with room to spare will come for her. She will give that person a lifetime of cuddles and comfort.

UPDATE 9/1: Arlene was adopted! What a lucky dog and what a lucky owner! I'll miss her but I'm so glad she's safe!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shelter Diaries on hold

Due to an outbreak of illnesses at the shelter, as well as personal reasons, Tim and I will be taking a break from the blog for a few weeks at least. We're still very much devoted to helping our furry friends, but we need some time to recover from a rather traumatic week. We wish all the best to our friends, both human and animal, at the Irving Animal Shelter and are deeply saddened by what's happening there.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We don't feature puppies much here on Shelter Diaries. Puppies are cute and popular and pretty much sell themselves. Everyone seems to want a puppy but so many times we get these same little guys back six months to a year later because they outgrew the "cute" phase and were never properly taught how to be civilized dogs.

I'm not sure why Squeeky was brought in. He was friendly, happy, affectionate and so darn cute. In fact, one of the things Tim told me a week or so ago-- the day that Squeeky came in-- was that he looked like our Rufus did at that age. When I met him at the shelter the next day, I had to agree. I got into his kennel and cuddled him and kissed him and laughed as he kissed me back, even though he nipped my chin and nose as he did so. Here was an awesome puppy who just needed a bit of training.
A few days later, the area he was being kept in was quarantined off after a couple of dogs came down with a serious illness. We weren't allowed into the area for a few days. I worried about my little buddy and was so happy to see him alive and happy a couple of days ago. He was curled up in his "nest": a plastic bin with a blanket inside. We snuggled and played a bit and then I went to make the rest of the rounds.

Yesterday, Tim and I took him outside to get some photos. His favorite game seemed to be "chase," and he happily ran after us, then turned and let us chase him.

In fact, the only way to get him to hold still was to either roll him over on the ground or else pick him up. We had so much fun but it was hot out and our little buddy had dinner waiting for him inside. I put him back into his kennel and said goodbye.

It wasn't supposed to be forever.

He was a tough little stinker, but puppies are fragile and when sickness hits, it tends to harm most the very young and the very old. Squeeky became ill quite suddenly and was euthanized today. I'll never know the kind of dog he'd have grown up to be, but I like to think that he'd be like my Rufus.

I miss you, Squeeker. I love you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Rusty is one of those dogs that's both easy to overlook, and really difficult to (and one that I should have featured days ago - I really apologize). He's a mix of... well, dogs. I'm pretty sure. Beyond that, there's some kind (or many kinds) of shepherd in him. And if you have a soft spot for mutts, he's your man. Or dog.

Fair warning: Rusty isn't a dog for the faint of heart or the timid of spirit. Like Sarge, if Rusty had a sleeve, his heart would be worn proudly on it. He's about five years old at our best guess, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if a lot of that was spent as a stray, or possibly just not having a lot of pinky-up-when-you-drink-your-tea kind of social interaction. What he lacks in sophistication, he easily makes up for in friendliness, though.

When walking him, don't expect a lot of calm and tranquility on a quick jaunt to the mailbox and back. Rusty is definitely a dog of action, and he needs a couple of minutes of quality exercise to shake out his inner puppy before he can settle into a groove. If you don't feel like jogging, he's fine with that; he'll simply run around in circles like a carousel animal until he gets winded, and just a tad dizzy. After that, it's chocks away and he's your number one wingman.

If the first thing you notice about Rusty is his joie de vivre, the second will probably be all of his diplomas from the School of Hard Knocks. His face is peppered with scars and grey hair. There are scuffs on his eye, mouth and elbow that tell of a possible skidding halt on concrete or asphalt. His swaggering gait has a hint of a limp to it (which might be related to the skinned-up elbow). At one point, a child petting him said, "I don't think he likes that dog over there. It sounds like he's growling." Putting my head down close to his, I noticed that instead of growling, he was laughing - and likely, an earlier broken nose had given him a peculiar, gravelly pant.

Reading back through this entry, I feel like I've done Rusty such injustice - I've pointed out every flaw and quirk that would make the faint of heart... well, faint. But the right person will see the character and history in every grey hair and every scar. And they'll know how to smooth off the rough bits, laugh at the pratfalls, and burnish the larger-than-life qualities that make Rusty absolutely shine.

UPDATE (Aug. 4): Things keep getting more frustrating at the shelter. There's construction on the street just outside (you can even see it in the top photo), so no one is really coming in to look at dogs or cats. Seems like the only people driving the extra couple of blocks to get there are doing so to drop off more animals they don't want.

Rescue groups have come, and come again - pulling what animals they can to place in "no kill" shelters and foster homes. But they're full. And the shelter is full. And every time I see Rusty's smiling face as he asks for just one more walk outside, just a few more minutes of palling around... My heart breaks a little bit more.

UPDATE (August 8): Rusty was picked up yesterday by a rescue group! I'm not sure which one yet, but I'll try to follow-up if I can find out more.