04/20/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) I don’t know what you were doing Thursday evening but I had a great time at the Rally event. Of course, the stars were the dogs…as one woman said “Whose idea was it to bring adoptable dogs someplace where people are drinking alcohol? Give me another couple of beers and I’ll take all of them home!”. Umm, that hadn’t crossed my mind until she mentioned it but … It was one of those perfect summer evenings and the location was excellent. I did have time to check it out earlier on Thursday and saw that they had a large tent with gravel ground, wooden plank tables and multiple doors available to dash outside if necessary. It was a good turnout and a lot of fun. I can’t speak for all the dogs but they were each working the crowd and I’m sure all slept well when they got home. The three puppies – I hardly think their paws touched the ground. They were snoozing in their pen toward the end of the evening. It was a welcoming crowd and good practice for the dogs. Win-Win-Win.
04/17/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) I hope I have some extra time today to check out the venue for tomorrow night’s Rally event. It is always dicey to bring foster animals (who are usually skittish to begin with as their foster is their ONLY security at this point in their life) to a new space. If I can’t check out the venue before an event — look for doors if I need to make a quick escape, find a quiet corner in case I need to take an animal away from the crowd for a minute etc. then I am leary of bringing a foster animal into unknown territory. On the other hand, what a great opportunity to have a foster dog mingle with new people. Maybe we will see you tomorrow night, check out NWAC Facebook for the details…
04/17/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) I like the current trend in rescue which is rewarding rescues to learn about and help each other. It allows us to better direct people to an organization structured to meet their specific need and it strengthens the flow of resources. For example, if we are offered a donation that we can not utilize due to space or some other reason, if we know of a rescue that can put that donation to work, we can help get the resource from Point A to Point B. It is time-consuming for sure but its a fun way of meeting a lot of great people.
04/15/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) There is a reason that rescues place animals in a quarantine when they are first released to rescue. First of all, you can’t believe everything you have been told about the animal. We took in a stray female dog on an emergent basis — and the foster woke up the next morning to find she had given birth to three puppies. In the foster’s defense, it was late at night and the dog was an emergency placement as the people who found her wandering couldn’t take her anywhere and no shelters were open. ANYWAY, we have recently accepted a four-year old female pitbull. What a sweetheart. However, yesterday was another first for me. I have never had a foster call (after the dog has seen two different vets!!) to say they were with a friend who looked the dog over and asked “What is that?” The foster replied “I think it’s a skin tag” and the friend said “A what? That is a tick”. Sure enough, back to yet a third Vet and yes, fourteen ticks removed. You just never know — which is why we appreciate both our regular fosters and our quarantine fosters and soon we will be looking for another category: temporary fosters. As we talk with people in other rescues, we are all looking for the same category of people, someone who can take an animal for a specific period of time while the owners are unable to look after them. Right now we have a 20 year old cat whose owner is just out of the hospital and needs to be in rehab for a couple of months. We have a foster home for this cat but we are becoming too familiar with this type of situation; we need to develop a roster of temporary foster homes.
04/14/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) I’ll admit it right off – I’m biased toward NWAC adoptable animals. Why? Because we know them. We know them because they are in foster homes and they aren’t “hurried” to get adopted. We wait for the right fit — not the “right now” fit. If we have a fearful one that needs to live in the corner of someone’s closet for three months (Winnie) – well, she can watch the world from her safe corner until she is ready to venture out; and then she will find a welcoming, calm, experienced transitional foster home waiting for her. I don’t even know how many fearful dogs this foster family have brought back from the edge. Yesterday at Mud Bay I met Hawk and Fletcher. Hawk is absolutely gorgeous and although he is timid/watchful, he WANTS to be included. Anyone will tell you that attitude is 75% of the battle. He is fortunate to be with someone who will encourage him to put his toes in the water. Fletcher seems to be a total goofy guy. I think if he had a vehicle, it would be a pickup so that he could put the tailgate down and invite everyone over for a party. Because Luther is a little guy, HE was up on top of the table so that he could watch the world without getting stepped on. Encouraged, supported, praised and protected…these sweet babies are safe for the moment but waiting on their forever families to start the next chapter of life.
04/13/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) FINALLY the weekend. I wonder how many of our pups wait for it like we do? More time for walks and doing “stuff”. Mine are looking forward (not really) to getting flea treatment today and generally some housekeeping. I think that is why we have rainy days. It’s an adoption event today at MudBay which is always fun to check in with other volunteers and people involved in the community. I hope you have a good day planned for all.
04/11/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) Honestly, it’s like sending a kid out for a sleepover. Sweet Gypsy is a cat who has been showcased at Vista Pet in the NWAC cat cage for a few weeks. Now, she is going home with someone for a trial and if it works (fingers crossed) she will have a new home. All those admonitions: say “please” and “thank you”, don’t chew with your mouth open, don’t get wild and crazy, eat whatever is served for dinner without complaining..I hope Gypsy has a good visit. I wish she knew how to text.
04/09/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) NWAC volunteers attended a really great meeting hosted by PetSmart Charities recently. There are actually very few opportunities for Rescue groups to network with each other so that WE know what is available out there. We each stood and introduced ourselves and our group. I learned about organizations I had no idea existed: Family Promises who works with families on-the-edge or homeless to stay together (including their pets) and Fido Pet Food Bank which works with Meals on Wheels to include pet food for people who get Meals of Wheels and who have pets to feed. These are just two that I was unaware of in the Portland area. What great ideas and what an opportunity to try to reach people further “up-the-leash” than a traditional rescue or shelter.
04/07/19 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC) What is going on? It must be a full moon. Two stray dogs needing to be trapped in different parts of Portland (we only have one dog trap so hopefully someone else will also step in), two cats needing temporary help while their owner is in the hospital, two dogs (12 yrs and 9 yrs) losing their home. I so appreciate our NWAC volunteer who listens to our voice mail messages and then distributes them for follow-up to either the dog or cat coordinators. Not sure what needs to happen with these but clearly something is needed in each situation.
04/07/19 – Elaine Hartman President of NWAC)
Tomorrow is National Dogfighting Awareness Day. Who knew. I hope someday we won’t have to remember there ever was such a thing.
04/05/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
You just never know, do you? I hope you soak up information like a thirsty sponge so that when you are presented with a difficult situation, you are able to give some constructive comments. One of our volunteers was presented with a sticky-wicket involving a dog with a horrible skin issue. Multiple Vets already consulted; no improvement, what to do? The NWAC volunteer contacted someone she knows with a health food store background who suggested some natural remedies. We’ll see if that works … if not, on to the next possible solution. Something somehow should work. Onward.
04/04/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
There are so many great books out there about Portland and the surrounding area – beautiful hiking trails, urban green spaces and around your own neighborhood. Spring always says to me: Get outside, get moving, take a friend and go exploring. Maybe we’ll meet some of you doing the same …
04/03/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
What a perfectly gorgeous weekend we had in Portland! Were you out-and-about? I was working in my yard. Two pups supervising activity in the front yard, two pups on sentry duty in the side yard and two pups supervising back yard activity. I hope whatever you did, you did it with four-footed friends along.
04/02/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Don’t you just love neighborhoods? I ran into the grocery store for that infamous “just one thing” and ran smack into Bruce. Several years ago, Bruce helped us at PetsMart when we were on Walker Rd/Cedar Hills Blvd and had a volunteer schedule to clean the cat cages. He also helped with our website and generally helped in a lot of niches. As life takes unexpected turns, Bruce was no longer able to volunteer and we left that PetsMart location. When I saw Bruce, we both whipped out our phones – him to show the latest kittens that he and his family are fostering and me to show pictures of my pups. I haven’t seen Bruce for a long time but it was just like yesterday! Volunteering turns strangers into friends. Try it.
04/01/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
I love taking care of my friends’ dog when they are out of town for the weekend. Although several training attempts have been made during several years (and the dog has been theirs since she was a puppy), the dog always celebrates any company at the door with a happy dance and a parade of toys — just in case you might find one that you particularly like and maybe, maybe, maybe would THROW it down the hall. I tell them, “Every time I enter your house, I feel like a ROCK STAR.” You can not stay in a bad mood with that level of enthusiasm
03/31/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Butterscotch. My first cat. A co-worker and her neighbor were taking care of a cat left behind when someone else moved out. They decided the cat needed a home. They decided that home should be me. I met Butterscotch, she seemed like a nice cat but truthfully, at that point, I had no cat experience. Butterscotch was a street-wise kitty. She trained me. She trained my Spitz. She ran the house. I was worried about bringing a cat into a dog-only home but my co-worker was correct: It depends on both the dog and the cat – and that particular cat was a problem-solver. She laid down the law as soon as she walked into the house and peace reigned. Never had an issue between them. Sometimes our limitations in life are the ones we make up in our own minds.
03/30/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
How many places have you gone with your dog? Long ago when I was working with a very fearful dog, it was suggested that I pop him in the car and take him EVERYWHERE with me – run as many errands, as often as possible.
We went to the bank (he got a treat from the drive-thru window), we went to Dairy Queen (he got a small cone from the drive-thru window), we went to Pet stores during the day when their parking lots were empty. I went in first and handed out dog treats to the employees. When I came back in through the door with my dog, it was magical: everyone who walked past him happened to drop his favorite treat without looking at him or talking to him. At the grocery store, I asked the person at the check-out stand to please carry my grocery bag out to the car, explaining that my dog was behind a barrier and that he would bark and growl but couldn’t actually do anything so I just needed the grocery person to totally ignore him and hand me the grocery bag after I opened the car door so that I could put the groceries inside the car. Everyone that I asked graciously helped me work with that dog…one minute, two minutes, five minutes they all add up to success.
Be creative – everyone breathing on this planet has issues and every single one of us can use a little help from a friend.
03/29/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Kitten season is upon us! Our first pregnant-roaming-the-neighborhood cat has been spotted and is in the process of being trapped/enticed inside to have her kittens. Rescue amazes me – the diverse skill sets that come together for the whole. There are people who go out in the evening/nights to feed colonies of feral cats. They have a route and they know “their” cats. There are people that trap stray animals – a rescue gets a call regarding an abandoned cat or dog that is lurking around a neighborhood and rescue volunteers set up traps and routinely check the traps until the animal is caught. There are people who love litters. Sometimes these fosters will have a different Mama cat/kittens in 2-3 different rooms in their home. Once the kittens are a little older, they invite kids in to play with the kittens to socialize the kittens while the Moms visit over coffee or they have their grandkids come over for the morning. What is your skill set? Rescue needs you.
03/28/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
I miss Fonzie. He was a bad-tempered peke-a-poo but he was an EXCELLENT fly catcher. It’s like being able to roll your tongue – either you can, or you can’t. Fonzie took it as his mission to have a fly-free home and he was a skilled fly hunter. Subsequent dogs couldn’t care less. Now, I have a border collie. He can stalk flies but he isn’t fast enough to kill them Celebrate the skills you have and those of your four-footed friends. I miss Fonzie.
03/27/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Sometimes we can’t help. I would like to say we can always help but that just isn’t reality. Another message was left on the NWAC voice mail and I returned her call. A woman with a cat, just evicted, no where to go, going to be living in her car. No phone service, using wi-fi for her phone so no response unless she is in a free wi-fi space. She was at WalMart when I returned her call getting a small bag of litter for the cat. She was unprepared and had no supplies and wanted to place the cat into rescue. I asked her to describe her cat. The cat doesn’t like dogs. It doesn’t get along with other cats. It has no experience with children but she said it wouldn’t do well with kids. It only lets her pick it up. No Vet records or vet to contact. I explained to her that this would be a difficult cat to place into a foster situation since we don’t have many animal-less foster homes and it doesn’t sound successful for a foster home with a dog or a cat or kids. She said they would try the car for a few days and see what happened. I was never able to reach her again. Sometimes, you just have to hope for the best. Socialization is so important…it opens a lot of doors. Please let your animals experience as much life as you can, get them out and about and used to all kinds of new experiences. You just never know what is around the next corner.
03/26/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Fearful dogs are a challenge. Sometimes they completely shut down. Sometimes they develop a “strike first” defense. So many dogs labeled aggressive are actually scared spitless. It takes time, energy, patience and attention to detail to work with a fearful dog. Sometimes you are lucky enough and observant enough to discover their triggers. I had one dog that reacted badly (lunged at) men with mustaches – I have no idea why – but I knew when I had the dog and we were approached by a man with a mustache that there was going to be trouble. So many times these animals need a calm home (either with or without calm, non-reactive animals) to chill for awhile. It is a long journey for every one but it is rewarding to watch their trust develop. Kathy (NWAC foster) is especially skilled with fearful dogs…but she can only work with one at a time and they literally take months to reach. Totally worth it, though.
03/25/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Another NWAC voice mail; from a woman wanting to rehome her dog because she couldn’t handle it on walks. I returned her call and then another volunteer and I went to visit her. Big sign on the front door: Oxygen in use. Woman using a walker opens the door. HUGE 60 lb black dog standing behind her. Conversation reveals the woman is confined to the house, so her two cats and the dog are also confined to the house. The dog is 8 years old, some type of Lab mix who spends her day sleeping on her pillow watching Animal Planet and then pads down the hallway to bed in the evenings. If they do attempt a walk, the woman can not control the dog, it pulls her over. It is clear she loves the dog. It is obvious the dog is well-fed, beautiful coat and sparkly eyes. The woman with tears says “My health continues to decline, this isn’t right, the dog needs a better life”. We offer to have volunteers come over and walk the dog for her every day. We offer other suggestions (family, friends, neighbors?) could become a safety net for her. She says she wants the dog placed in a “good home”. We start looking and through someone who knows someone who knows someone, we find a person that the owner also knows who is willing to give the dog a home with his family. This is rescue– even though technically the dog was never released to NWAC for placement. How do you define success? To me, this is it.
03/24/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Do you make an effort to compliment people on their dogs? I do. A well-behaved dog tells me someone has taken the time and made the effort to teach their dogs how to behave in public. …and for those of us still struggling to master leash manners, that team ABSOLUTELY needs encouragement! For those of you who have well-behaved dogs and for those of you who “dream of the day …” KUDOS to each of us! …and to the pups who make us proud and embarrass us but still keep trying anyway. Practice is how we learn…
03/22/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
It wasn’t until I recently toured the Clackamas County Animal Services building that I was told about a musician who decided to address the issue of “calming” stressed animals for their PhD degree. Through their research, the most soothing sounds and rhythms were identified. Then, this person approached professional musicians to compose music that would fit their criteria. Some very famous people donated their talent to an app that now plays music on speakers for shelter dogs. Who knew? I’m sure some of us with new fosters or anxious dogs could benefit as well. I learned a lot of new information during the Clackamas shelter tour. Next on my list is SW Washington because I’ve been told they have a program working with difficult dog behaviors and I want to understand what they are doing and see what is available. New skills usually come in handy at some point down the road…
03/21/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Our volunteer grant writer has found grants that are seeking “innovative programs that encourage adoptions or help animals while in transition”. We are exploring two: (1) some type of retention program to support families with animals BEFORE the animal is placed into rescue/shelter and (2) some type of collaboration with trainers and other professionals to help address behavior issues once the animal is placed into rescue. We are fortunate to have knowledgeable people we can contact when we are presented with new and/or difficult behavior: Why isn’t the cat using the litter box all of a sudden? Why does my dog softly howl at me for 30-45 minutes? New behavior that has an answer but we all need help trying to figure out what the problem is and what needs to be done about it – hopefully before the owner is so frustrated that rehoming the animal seems like the best solution. It is good that there are people “together” enough to reward rescues and other organizations for “thinking outside the box” for new solutions to longstanding challenges. Reading the previous years’ winners of these grants and the programs they have developed is truly inspirational. Maybe someday, we will be listed in the previous winners category. Do you have an idea/suggestion/comment for an innovation to either help the animals already released into rescue or to help a current owner retain their animal? We’d love to hear from you.
03/20/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
It’s getting closer, Gunner’s big day at the Vet to get his teeth cleaned, his nails cut and the hair between his foot pads trimmed. Gunner is an eleven year old purebred English Setter whose previous owner became very ill at the end of February, was placed in hospice and passed away the middle of March. It is a testimony to the previous owner that neighbors, friends, the hospice nurse and family came together to let Gunner out, feed him, bring him to the hospice for visits and give Gunner some company when he became bereft of his loving guardian. Once placed in rescue, Gunner was fortunate to have a foster home with older dogs and experienced enough to help Gunner find his way out of the familiar into the new. Placed on Petfinder as an adoptable dog, Gunner continued to give the foster home clues regarding his ideal home. Unbeknownst to us, someone looking for an English Setter had placed an alert in Petfinder to notify them of any setter within 100 miles of their zip code and – Gunner popped up. At the home check, Gunner found a retired couple very familiar with setter quirks and ready for a walking companion (the lady) and supervision in the garden (the gentleman). In addition, there were many, many bird feeders out. Is that how a bird dog defines heaven? Could be … after his dental, he will be all prettied up and ready to start his next chapter. New beginnings are exactly why rescue works …
03/19/2019 – Elaine Hartman (President of NWAC)
Rescue groups deal with a variety of issues that are not always apparent from the social media presence of a website, Facebook or other outlets. People who help with rescues, whether as grant writers, fosters, adoption coordinators, home-check people, event coordinators (and the list goes on) – we all have one thing in common: We are willing to be a voice for the voiceless and to step off the safety of the curb.
Northwest Animal Companions interacts with people from many different walks of life in sometimes difficult/complex situations. Some of our biggest challenges come from messages on our voice mail. Just last night I talked with a person who is trying to do the right thing but is exhausted and needs support. Nine months ago she took in her friend’s four year old hound/ridgeback/pit mix when her friend was in the middle of a divorce. The dog was raised with a family, is good with other dogs, likes cats and kids and is generally a sweetheart. The caller lives in the country. She loves this dog. Unfortunately, she was walking the dog into her house unleashed from the driveway and the dog saw a cow in the field next door and went over to investigate. I’m not sure what actually happened (or didn’t happen) but she has called multiple rescues because she believes the dog needs to be in an urban environment with a family. Talking with her, it was apparent she wants to keep the dog. As the conversation continued, she is actually packing her house and trying to move more into town with the dog and her cat but during this interim time, she is dealing with Animal Control, angry neighbors and her landlord. Unfortunately all the rescues/shelters she called have a 3-4 week wait list for dog intakes. She did move the dog temporarily to someone that she knows but within 24 hours she was called by someone else who found the dog wandering outside so now the dog is back with her. As I told her, many rescues are in the same position as we are: We work solely with foster homes and do not have a facility. We don’t take in animals unless we see their Vet records or have confirmation through our Vet that the animal has been vaccinated and is safe to be in our foster home. It’s a process. We don’t have an “emergency slot” anywhere. These situations are difficult because it is hard to discern how best to help: temporary foster for the dog for a couple of weeks? assistance with Animal Control? Take the dog into rescue to find a new family? He already has a loving person who is trying to do right with him. Things sometimes get messy when you step off the curb into someone else’s chaos but that is exactly what rescue does.