Dearest Romeo

Published in the PATIO issue
/ Written by Betsy Marquez / Photos supplied by Betsy Marquez

 

December 10, 2019
Dearest Romeo! I was brought to tears in meeting you—you’re in probably one of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen. I have so many questions! Were you a stray for long? Did you have owners and were just not cared for? Did they just watch you decline medically and not do anything? Could they not afford the care? Did they drop you off somewhere? Let’s face it—none of those questions matter, because I’ll never have the answers. All I know was that I could not leave you alone in a shelter for your remaining days.

Bone cancer, heartworms, and whatever other diagnosis there was in those big words … I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do more than to open my already fragile heart to give you the very best of a loving, caring, warm, comfy, quiet, boring home life for your remaining days. I’m bringing you home not knowing how many days you have left. Will it be weeks? Will it be days? Might it just be over night? It really didn’t matter to me. I got the green light from Clay County Animal Services—you are coming home with me. Was this in my plan? No. But sometimes you just do what’s right and being there for you is just that.

Romeo you, Sir, have been such a love! You seek out a gentle touch. You like to walk around the yard, then stop and take it all in, looking around. You constantly look for me if I’m out of sight. You follow me around the house like the Velcro pup that you are. You love your crate with the oversized bed, and soft music playing in the background. Unlimited treats for you, love.

Just know this, Romeo—your remaining days will be some of the very best days of your life. When your time comes, you’ll be surrounded by those who love you. Your life matters.

December 13, 2019
The last 24 hours have been pure bliss. ROMEO—this 12-year-old throw-away hound is living his best life.

 

December 16, 2019
Dearest Romeo! I sit here watching you sleep and listening to you breathe … my heart is both full and broken at the very same time.

December 22, 2019
Last night, just before midnight Romeo crossed the rainbow bridge.

Dearest Romeo, yesterday was just short two weeks since I brought you home. You were only supposed to be a three-day hospice foster, but the veterinarian thought that you were well enough to make it through the holidays. As everyone can see, you had a huge mass on your face. You had a VERY mean and fast growing tumor in your nasal cavity. In spite of that monster, you were free of cancer mentally and in your spirit and heart. You were such a loving, happy, attention-seeking, leaf-rolling, back-scratching, treat-finding, always hungry, Velcro pup. You loved sleeping in the living room on your new blanket. You loved being in the back yard, rolling around smelling the air and watching people walk by. Most of all, you loved being loved by foster momma and brother.

Yesterday you had such a good day. You slept in just a little, till 6:30 am. You ate breakfast, went out in the yard for a bit, and back to bed. I went out in the living room with you and watched you sleep. Your foster brother had been sleeping on the couch for two weeks, so you weren’t alone out there.

I ran an errand and brought back Zaxbys—I think you ate more than I did. After dinner, more yard time and some good rolling around in the leaves. Then some good love from foster brother when he got home from work.

When our friend Lisa got here, we got you up and almost immediately noticed a little blood from your eye—still, you were your happy self meeting a new friend. But we couldn’t make it stop. We kept wiping the blood with a wet paper towel, as we didn’t want to irritate your eye with a harsh dry one. We thought taking you to the vet would be a good idea so they could do something and you’d be back home.
But your tumor had ruptured. And I wasn’t ready.

When we made the decision, you were surrounded by love. You spent your last days in a home being our family member. We only had you in our lives two short weeks, but in that time you made such an impact. Losing my three-year-old grandson just months ago has my heart already in pieces. My heart is shattered making that call for you, dearest Romeo. I have absolutely no regrets being your hospice foster. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Run free sweet boy. I love you, dearest Romeo.
Your life mattered.
Love, Momma

If you are thinking about fostering—don’t debate. Please don’t make excuses. Do it!
“I don’t have room.” I live in 800 square-foot home with my 22-year-old son and my other dogs.
“It’s too sad!!” If you know me… you know that my heart is extremely fragile these days. It’s not about me, although I do have to say … Romeo made my heart so happy.
“But my dogs aren’t friendly.” I shuffle. It’s only as hard as you make it. A little bit of work? Yes, but so worth it.

There are a ton of dogs at the shelter, and a heartbreaking amount of seniors!
Please consider fostering. It will change the life of an animal, and, trust me, it will also change yours. •

 

 

Fostering Hope – Cover Story

 

Published in the PATIO issue
/ Written by Lea Guedin / Photos by Woof Creative Photography

See Hope’s full photoshoot!

Becoming a foster mom to Hope saved my life, as much as it did hers. She came to me at a time when I needed her more than she needed me. After a traumatic accident at work, I was horribly depressed, not getting out of bed, not getting out of the house, not doing the things that normally brought me happiness. I felt very alone.

One Sunday afternoon, I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across a post from Fur Sisters about becoming a foster parent. I was feeling incredibly depressed that day, and deep down I knew fostering a dog was exactly what I needed. I’d fostered a few years before through a different organization, and when I tried to foster through them again, I was unable to be connected with a dog for over two years and I’d gotten frustrated. I got a call from Fur Sisters the day after filling out my foster application, and I was thrilled the process was moving along so quickly—I needed it to. I could tell by the way Channing from Fur Sisters spoke to me during our call that her heart was completely dedicated to rescuing dogs, and that I wanted to foster a dog with the Fur Sisters organization.

Channing texted me a few pictures of other dogs, but when I saw Hope’s picture I completely melted. I knew she was the dog I wanted to take care of. She looked like a tiny, sick grey hippopotamus who desperately needed a safe and loving home. I knew agreeing to become her foster mom was going to be risky, as Hope had suffered through an abusive situation and she only had a 50/50 chance of survival.
She’d been found abandoned—with a tumor the size of a baseball—at the dead-end of a road. It was obvious her previous owner had been using her for backyard breeding, and had attempted to give her a hack c-section without the proper medication or tools. The c-section wound didn’t heal properly, and it started pushing Hope’s intestines outside of her body, which caused a large tumor to form on her lower stomach, putting Hope’s health in great danger. Hope’s case was so severe she needed to go into surgery immediately if she was going to live. Channing reassured me that Fur Sisters would give me everything I needed to care for Hope, and they’d would be there to support us every step of the way.

I agreed that if Hope made it out of surgery I’d be her foster mama and see her through the recovery and through heartworm treatment. This was the absolute best decision I could’ve made. The way Hope accepted my help with so much love after all the abuse she’d endured was so inspiring to me. On so many occasions I thought, If Hope can make it through her trauma then I can make it through mine.

Becoming Hope’s foster mom has given me so much purpose, responsibility, and most of all, unconditional love. She’s brought me back to life and reconnected me to the simple things that matter—like kindness and love. I know that we were sent to each other for a reason.

Taking care of her hasn’t always been easy, but I love Hope so much, and seeing her recovery has been deeply rewarding. The days following surgery, Hope’s health was touch and go, and there were times I didn’t know if she was going to make it through the night. But, after a couple weeks of recovering and lots of love, Hope is now playing, cuddling, and sometimes so full of energy I can barely keep up with her! She will start her heartworm treatment soon, and once again I’m praying this miraculous little dog to make it through another challenge. She has so much love and support around her, I just hope she makes it through so she can live in a forever home where she is truly loved and appreciated!

Fur Sisters and Bluestar hospital have been so supportive of us and given Hope and I everything we need to make her recovery possible. They’ve delivered kennels, sheets, toys, food, and medicine to my door and I have never felt alone in this journey. If you are thinking about fostering a dog I would encourage you to contact Fur Sisters because there are so many other dogs—most of which have no medical issues—who need to be loved and protected. I am beyond grateful for my little Hippo. She’s everything I could have wanted in a companion and I am honored to be her foster mom! •

When you foster for Fur Sisters, everything is taken care of! Fill out the application today:
fursisters.org/foster

Resolution: Ditch the Retractable

/ Published in The NEW Issue, Written by Connie Cannaday of the London Sanctuary

May 18, 2019, is a day that will be marked in my mind forever. Very early that morning, I got a call that no rescuer or pet owner would ever want to receive—a puppy under our care was found deceased on the side of the road. She’d gone missing from a sleepover with a potential adopter not 24 hours prior, and we’d been looking for her until late in the night. There’d been not so much as a sighting of this sweet girl since the first hour she disappeared. I was absolutely crushed. I’d certainly hoped to be bringing her back with us to The London Sanctuary that day, just not in this way. My husband and I went to Jacksonville to retrieve her little body.

In rescue you experience quite a bit of loss, but this was quite devastating. She was a beautiful, healthy, 5-month-old puppy who’d left on an adoption trial one Saturday, and a week later, when we should have been finalizing her adoption, we were picking her up to take to the vet for cremation. Cassandra was born in my home and lived with us for over five months. Now she was gone forever, and the reason was frustratingly simple—a leash that failed.

A brand new retractable leash that failed. I’m sure many families have used these without issue, but this time, this one failed. I didn’t like these leashes prior to this happening, but I didn’t do enough to educate the potential adopters, or this wouldn’t have happened. I want to be very careful in how I say this, because under no circumstances do I want the family to feel any more guilt than they already do. If you aren’t entrenched in animal welfare, the dangers are not common knowledge—many people still use retractables. And, for whatever reason, they are still sold in stores. I’ve even used them before I knew better. But I’ve made it my mission to help educate people about the dangers—to both humans and dogs—that can happen as a result of using these leashes.

Sweet Cassandra

Cuts, burns, or amputations of human fingers are very common dangers. Yes, I said common, and I said amputations. There’s even warning label on most of these about that very thing. Additionally, innocent bystanders can also become injured if the dog suddenly sees something and gets the leash entangled with a person, which can happen easily when a dog extends and you don’t have control—retractable leashes give you very little control, despite what you might think.

Some of the dangers to your dog can include: Injuries to legs (entanglement), injuries to backs and necks similar to whiplash when the human has to react quickly to a dog that has become hard to control. Dogs have been hit by cars after extending the leash too far. In Cassandra’s case, the leash fully extended and snapped, even though it was rated for her small size. Much of the problem is the lack of control these leashed offer—trainers do not recommend them for this very reason—the lack of control over your dog is just not safe.

To honor Cassandra, The London Sanctuary has rolled out a program to provide community members with durable regular leashes in exchange for their retractable ones. For this, we will have partnered with Max and Neo, who has donated the first batch, as well Brook from Troop 451 who experienced her own injury from one of these leashes.

We’re making this resolution easy on you! Stop by any of the exchange locations and let’s give your pup a new leash on life for 2020! •

Exchange your retractable leash for free at the following locations:

Arlington
Jax Biker Gear
1301-4 Monument Road (44.36 mi)
Jacksonville, 32225

Atlantic beach
American Well & Irrigation, Inc.
1651 Mayport Rd
Atlantic Beach, 32233

Bryceville
All Paws Pet Boarding and Day Care
8356 US Highway 301
Bryceville, 32009

Jax Beach
Beach Bark
2185 3rd Street South
Jacksonville Beach, 32250

Julington Creek/Fruit Cove
Jen Kespohl, Round Table Realty
1637 Race Track Road
Jacksonville, 32259

Lakewood/Mandarin
Central Bark Jacksonville
5614 San Jose Boulevard
Jacksonville, 32207

Middleburg
Homemade Hounds Bed & Biscuit
3450 County Rd 220
Middleburg, 32068

NAS Jax
Accu-Air Cooling Services
8544 Alicanta Ave.
Jacksonville, 32244

Westside
Star Nails and Hair
4819 San Juan Avenue
Jacksonville, 32210

Would your business like to be a leash exchange location?
Please contact The London Sanctuary!

 

 

THE TRUTH: I used to work in a store that sold puppies …

/ Published in The NEW Issue, Written by Anonymous

I can remember how excited I was when I got a job at a pet store. Like most, I thought it would be so fun—playing with puppies all day! It didn’t take long to realize it’s not fun at all, but extremely heartbreaking. Almost every single puppy that came through the store suffered from a respiratory illness at least once while it was there. Many came in already sick from being on a truck with hundreds of other puppies in filthy conditions with little food or fresh water until they got to their destination. These tiny beings would have so much poop stuck to their little behinds and all of the lighter colored ones would have urine stains.

We were taught to tell people about the loving responsible breeders that we were getting our puppies from. We never saw the actual parents of these pups, and even when we got them locally they would usually be covered in fleas and full of worms at the very least. There was the man who would bring tiny sick pups to us covered in burns from the generator outside his trailer. The couple who brought in Chihuahuas that had deformed legs that we’d send back and tell her not to breed them and we knew she would if she didn’t sell them.

Then there was the mange that would flare up so bad from these babies being so stressed that their eyes would swell shut, and the smell of parvovirus that would make us all scared to go home and touch our own dogs before we scrubbed ourselves.

I know this first hand, because I’ve experienced it behind the scenes—pet stores don’t make a profit off of well-bred dogs and that’s the bottom line. They get cheap puppies they can mark up and market as designer breeds because purebred dogs that are registered and have health testing done aren’t cheap. One little pup was returned to us because she needed a surgery for something that was missed when she went to the vet for her health certificate. The family couldn’t afford it and the store owner wouldn’t help pay for it but happily gave them another puppy because that was much cheaper and easier. I can remember we all wanted to steal her while she sat waiting for the company that she was purchased from to come pick her up. She was surely either euthanized or used to breed instead of living a healthy life with a loving family. That wasn’t the only instance that happened, just the first I had to see. My heart broke for every one that sat in those little containers and didn’t get a home right away—months of not getting to run and play and be loved by a family. I didn’t want to think about what the parents of all these dogs were enduring because it had to be so much worse. We’ve seen the hoarding cases over and over on the news. It’s easy to justify buying the cute puppy from the store when they all just need a home though, right? •

A note from the publisher: Be Better
^^ I so appreciate the former puppy store employee writing that article. Many places make their employees sign a non-disclosure agreement so they’re afraid to tell people what they’ve seen, but it’s important to have all the correct information when making decisions.
I’m sure you’re a lovely person who regularly crouches down to pet dogs, and doesn’t knowingly want to support any kind of cycle of suffering. You might not yet know that responsible breeders would never sell their puppies to stores or to the first person who shows up with cash—they have a process to keep their puppies healthy and safe. But … NOW YOU KNOW, my dear. Too often, a kind person like yourself unwittingly ends up buying a puppy mill pup. True, it’s hard to tell the difference, as they’re the same level of cute as other puppies, and when the store clerk tells you it came from a “good” place (and may have papers to make it look like they do)—why wouldn’t you believe them? According to the Humane Society of the United States “Most pet stores do not disclose the true origins of their puppies, instead using deceptive sales pitches about ‘USDA licensed’ or ‘professional’ breeders.”

I, of course, always encourage people to adopt—it’s the best! You can find pure-bred dogs and puppies in shelters and rescues, but maybe you don’t really need a purebred? There are major benefits to having a mixed breed.
If you’ve checked shelters and rescue groups and still haven’t found the right pup, you should ask for referrals from your veterinarian, or contact local breed clubs. Always always visit where the puppy is born and raised. Personally go to a breeder’s facility before committing to a puppy—don’t rely on website or emailed photographs. Take the time now to find the right breeder and you’ll thank yourself for the rest of your dog’s life.

What happens if you go ahead and buy that store puppy? Several things: You create a demand for more. You become part of an inhumane cycle of greed. Many other dogs suffer in puppy mills across the United States and in hands of backyard breeders. We have to speak with our wallets—this is NOT OKAY. Please think beyond the cute factor, be strong, and be better. Walk away. •

Download The Humane Society’s “How to Identify a Responsible Breeder” Guide

RESOLUTION: No more Riding in the Back!

/ Published in The NEW Issue Written by Jerr Blinkster

Buster is my BOY! He’s my sidekick—he goes everywhere with me. It’s always been just easier for Buster to jump into the back of the truck when we go places. It’s cleaner, too. I don’t want dog hair in my purty F150. He always did whine a bit, because he wanted to be with me in the cab, but he also loves the wind in his jowls.

But, listen guys, I was driving over the intercoastal a couple weeks back behind a truck with a dog in the bed and I saw something I can’t unsee—I’m a big hairy man and it made me ball like a baby. The truck had to swerve suddenly and the black lab skittered across the truck bed, over the side and onto the bridge. The truck wasn’t even going to stop because the driver didn’t realize they’d just unwittingly killed their dog. After I saw that, I did a little research and learned something staggering—according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it’s estimated that around 100,000 dogs every year are fatally injured by jumping or falling from a pickup truck’s cargo area. Yikes man. Buster could become startled, see something tempting, like a squirrel or a hamburger, and jump out of my truck! He could be injured by the fall or struck by oncoming vehicles (and potentially cause an accident and injuries to other drivers). I thought about just tethering him with a leash, but according to the American Humane Society, many dogs have been strangled when tossed or bumped over the side of the truck and been left helplessly dangling.

Here’s another concern of mine, living in Florida—the galldang heat! The floor of a truck bed can become VERY hot, I’ve seen Buster dancing around back there, but figured his paws were like shoes. They’re NOT! He could get horribly burned and we’d have to take him to the emergency room. I’d feel like a real bad dad. I can’t stand to see Buster in pain.

One last reason that I’m resolving to keep Buster in the cab with me from now on—as if I needed another—I have a lead foot. That’s right. I like to drive real fast. A truck traveling at high rates of speed can kick up small pebbles and other road debris, which could strike my boy, Buster. He could lose one of his big brown eyes or worse. That would just about kill me.

Buster is a dog, but he’s also my best sidekick. The last thing I want is to see is him hurt just because I didn’t want a little dirt in my sweet F150. You got a truck, too? Save everyone a bit of heartbreak and make this resolution with me. •

September Jax Veg Fest

FREE to the public and DOG FRIENDLY!

Let’s have a party in the park and enjoy a day of vegan everything. Come enjoy cruelty-free living.

Vendor, volunteering & other deets at jaxvegfest.weebly.com

YUM!!!  Bacon Snack Factory Shop is coming back to hook us up again for September Jax Veg Fest ! If you’re not familiar, check them out on their social media outlets here:
Instagram: thebaconsnackfactory
Facebook: thebaconsnackfactory
Web: www.thebaconsnackfactory.com

My Kylo – It hurt my heart to let him go

My Heart Dog / Laurie Fowler
As seen in Unleash Jacksonville / No. 24 HEART Issue

Kylo

We were fostering three 7-to-8 week-old puppies for Fur Sisters Furever Urs Rescue for several weeks—two little girls and one boy who were taken from a bad situation. I was personally going through an extremely difficult time and fostering, along with my own pups, just helped ease the pain. The girls were quite hyper and would pick on the little boy. He just wanted to cuddle and be next to someone and usually that was me. He (Kylo) became a huge comfort for me. He helped me through many hard days.

Fast forward a few weeks … we’d pre-planned a vacation so another volunteer was going to take over fostering the puppies. I helped to get the girls get settled, but I just couldn’t bring myself to hand Kylo over, so I had my husband do it as I went to sit in the car crying. We’d fostered before and, although you love them all, you’re happy for them and their new lives. This time—with him—all I wanted was for his new life to be with us. But I knew my husband didn’t want three dogs. I was just so connected to him, it hurt my heart to let him go. The exchange was over and our drive home was rather quiet, minus the sniffles from my crying.

The whole time on vacation, and even when we got back home, I just felt lost.

Two days after our return, I was having a particularly bad day, and it just so happened that my husband told me that he had a meeting and would be coming home late. That just sent me deeper over the edge.

I was laying in bed when he got home. I didn’t turn around to acknowledge him, and before he said anything I felt the familiar sensation of excited little feet on the bed. I turned around to see the beautiful little puppy face I missed so much running up to me, ready for snuggles and kisses! Needless to say I burst into tears! Once composed, I asked my husband what made him bring him home and he said, “It was more important that you had him, then me not wanting a third dog.” He had planned the day after our return from vacation to pick him up after we got back. 🙂

Photos by Woof Creative Photography. See Kylo’s entire gallery!

Barks, Brunch & Brews

What could be better than a Sunday Funday food truck brunch with your dog? Enjoy Jacksonville’s hottest brunch trucks, plus bottomless mimosas and drink specials all day.

August 25 – A Flying Sausage
Pure Barre Pop Up class at 10am
Athleta store pop up at 11am!
Please bring a bag of treats to donate to JHS to be entered into a raffle for Athleta items!

September 22 – Pup Active Pop Up!
Please bring a bag of treats to donate to JHS to be entered into a raffle for swag!

First visit to Kanine Social? Please create an account using the ticket link below. All dogs must have proof of up to date rabies, bordetella and distemper. All dogs over 6 months of age must be spayed/neutered.

Clear the Shelters Jacksonville

Join us for a free adoption weekend as we aim to CLEAR THE SHELTERS in Jacksonville. Come to PetSmart in Regency and meet over 100 dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies looking for homes. This is a national movement to promote pet adoption – don’t miss it.

ADOPTIONS ARE FREE! *

Three Locations:

PetSmart
356 Monument Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225

The Jacksonville Humane Society
8464 Beach Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32216

Animal Care & Protective Services
2020 Forest Street
Jacksonville, FL 32204

This event is made possible from a generous grant from PetSmart Charities.

*Additional fees may apply.

Click here For more info