The Starfish Dog

The Starfish Dog // Suzanne Cardiff, Unleash Jacksonville Contributor // Photos by Suzanne Cardiff

 

We’ve all heard the story about the person walking down the beach, purposely throwing starfish back into the water. “It matters to that one!” In our lives, we each have times to ask ourselves, is this my starfish? For me this story became reality one December evening many years ago with a dog named SuzieQ.

Her story is much like a starfish being tossed across ocean waves as it moves toward the beach until thrown on shore through no fault of its own. For Suzie it started far before we knew of her landing on Animal Control’s euthanasia list immediately following the minimum stray hold. On the outside she had a scar from a previous C section, was fearful and was a biter triggered by touch. On the inside she was complex and broken, her true self only to be revealed with time and compassion. A small rescue stepped forward for her.

I met her after she had been at the rescue for a while. Volunteers passed her by intimidated by her wild display known as barrier frustration. When it was my turn, I held out the leash in peace offering for her one chance to get outside. As I slowly opened the crate door, she walked right into the slip lead.

Over the next nine months, my dog and I showed her a great deal about the world and her place in it. Until one afternoon when a group of dogs turned on her leaving her scarred physically and emotionally. Then a few days later her rear became paralyzed. No longer able to walk she regressed to a point of feeling threatened by everyone and everything. Yet, fate was not finished with her. I was at AVS for my own dog when the surgeon offered to examine her after hearing her story. The diagnosis, a slipped disc pushing on her spinal cord. He said most likely it had been slipping for a long time which explained her biting behavior when being picked up. The attack was the traumatic final blow to that disc. IVDD or Intervertebral Disc Disease. SuzieQ had a successful surgery, less than a year of rehab her back recovered leaving little residual nerve damage. The surgeon gave me caution it was probably the worst case he had seen and she probably would not survive another surgery. With the absence of pain for the first time in a long time, she was a like a puppy playing and chasing her ball. Her behavior improved some but the lasting effects of her trauma remained. I adopted her on August 1, 2014 as we celebrated her 5th birthday and adoption together.

Life with SuzieQ is always filled with twists and turns.
She was a dog wanting to live like any other dog but with more baggage then any being should have to carry. She is small but fierce, with a bold, independent, adorable personality that had gotten her through the toughest experiences of her life.Once labeled “unadoptable,” over the years she has enjoyed all the good things in life. She has a safe, comfortable home with healthy foods, affection and enrichment. She loves going on car rides and our adventures around town. She learned to feel comfortable around people, even kids. We have been through phases of medications and treatments for her behavior and her back. Physical therapy, acupuncture, laser therapy, Reiki, EMDR, salt cave, music therapy, essential oils and even a pet communicator. Some experiences in her early years were revealed and she has had many traumas leading to her PTSD behaviors.

Fast forward several years to Fall 2018 when she was diagnosed with a pinched nerve in her lower back. Life may be different now for her but the trauma from her back injury is still very real for her. Monthly acupuncture and laser therapy minimize progression of that pinched nerve and keep her comfortable. These treatments have become necessary to keep her moving and with the goal of preventing another slipped disc. This past year she was diagnosed with a heart condition possibly as a result of ongoing hypertension. We recently started Reiki sessions with Jade Paws, and it has become a greatest resource in addressing her past traumas.

I am still the only person she allows to touch and handle her. I can pick her up, give her a bath, even put on a muzzle. The one lasting challenge we have is in grooming. Her fear of the tools and being hurt again far outweigh any grooming benefits. These years of experience with her, and other misunderstood rescued dogs, has drawn me into the life of dog behavior and rehabilitation. She has led me down a path to studying positive and partnership training methods and teaching dog’s necessary life skills to fit into our world. I find alternative therapies and positive approaches to training outperform conventional methods. SuzieQ did not have to experience all her trauma. Of the traumas we know of, they were a result of human error in the form of lack of knowledge or access to providing appropriate vet care, a safe environment, and even basic knowledge of dog behaviors.

And now we’re here in the midst of a world crisis that has brought our medical and veterinary facilities to limiting patient services to curbside and drop offs. We cast aside the special needs of dogs like SuzieQ who once again do not conform into the mass molds. What happens to them? For SuzieQ, we’re fortunate to have places like the Saint Francis Animal Hospital which continues to keep the needs of the individual animals as their priority. For SuzieQ and me, this is not a new reality. For even specialists have refused her necessary care. My dog has PTSD and will not allow anyone near her without me handling her. This is her choice, her safety net, after all she has survived and grown through. And is she worth it? To be tossed another chance? To encourage us to perceive differently? When they ask her, I can see in her eyes and heart she is saying back, “Are you?” Maybe we need to put our egos aside more often and ask ourselves, are we worthy of their trust?

So, when is a dog a starfish?
When one is at your feet washed up on the shore of possibility. Be open, be mindful, and most importantly, listen. If you watch quietly with an open heart, they will tell you, “I am meant for more.” •

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. •

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!

What to do if your pet is lost

Originally published in the Unleash Jacksonville GOOFUS issue

tips to find lost pets of jacksonville
Find your lost pet

It’s a horrible horrible feeling to know your pet is out there somewhere without you. Getting the word out and starting the search quickly can greatly increase the chances of getting your baby back safely. The following are tips and resources that can help you be successful in your reunification:

• Start looking immediately.

Search your OWN home & property to make sure he’s not just hiding.

• Search your neighborhood. Bring your pet’s favorite things with you, a “squeaky” toy or favorite treats and rattle them loudly while calling your pet’s name. It’s also important to stop regularly, be quiet, and listen to see if your pet is making any noise.

• Use social media! Facebook, instagram and twitter are amazing for spreading the word. Post on Lost Found Pets Jacksonville and North Florida, your neighborhood pages, Unleash Jacksonville, and ask your friends to share share share! Post on the NextDoor app.

• Use the power of scent. Place a recently worn article of clothing (at least a day… the stinkier the better) belonging to a family member or the lost pet’s unwashed bedding in your yard or outside your front door where the breeze can carry the scent. Familiar scents can bring them home. Cats will respond to an open can of tuna fish or litter box also.

• Post signs at intersections. Include the breed of dog (or cat), sex, age, weight, and color, use bright colored paper for higher visibility. Give copies of your flyer to people that walk their dogs in the area… and even the postman! The Jacksonville Humane Society has a FREE flyer generator.

• GO TO all the local shelters. Calling the animal control department or shelter on the phone is not very effective. You should go to the shelters at least every other day.

• Contact veterinary clinics both in your area and surrounding areas. Leave a picture of your pet with contact information for the staff.

Use FindingRover.com or the Finding Rover App (free) to mark your pet as missing. The facial recognition technology could help your pet find his or her way back to you.

• Microchips. When your pet is microchipped, be sure to register your pet’s microchip with the microchip company, and if you move, update the information.

• In Jacksonville, file a report with Animal Care & Protective Services. 904-630-2489 (select option 5) or visit coj.net/pets

Notify the shelter or rescue group where you got your pet. They can help!

• Don’t give up hope! There are amazing stories of found pets every day!

JACKSONVILLE LOST PET RESOURCES

Jacksonville Animal Care & Protective Services
(904) 630-2489 • coj.net/pets
ACPS current strays or found dogs

Jacksonville Humane Society
(904) 725-8766 • jaxhumane.org
Free online flyer generator

jaxanimals.com/lost pets

Lost Found Pets Jacksonville and North Florida

Lost Pets of Jacksonville

petharbor.comlostmydoggie.com
fidofinder.competamberalert.com

Atlantic Beach Animal Control • (904) 247-5866
Neptune Beach Animal Control • (904) 270-2411
Jacksonville Beach Animal Control • (904) 247-6167
St. John’s County Animal Control • (904) 209-6190

Have you had a successful reunion? Are you still looking for your pet? Do you have more ideas to help others? Post them in the comments!

 

A letter from a heartbroken family

To whomever picked up a tan and white pup on Plainfield Ave in the Town of Orange Park on October 13, 2107:

Missing since October 13, 2017, in Orange Park, Florida

Please know that she is deeply missed and loved by her family. Please take Doucie in to the nearest vet and scan her for her chip! Doucie is a female, Aussie Shepherd/Beagle/ Lab mix, she is about 18 inches at the shoulder, has white on the legs and belly and last half of her tail. The rest of her is reddish brown with a dusting of black on her nose and ears. Her fur is medium length and seems to be a double coat, hence her love of swimming in all weather. She may have a slight limp from her surgery. She got loose through no fault of ours.

Around 9 o’clock that morning, my mom and I took Doucie to AVS-BluePearl Veterinary Hospital, located at 275 Corporate Way behind Adamec’s Motorcycle Shop, for an after-surgery check-up. Three weeks prior she had ACL surgery on her right knee, hence the shaved fur on that leg and the stitches. We were told to leave Doucie in the care of AVS/BluePearl becuase the doctor that did the surgery wanted to look at her, and the doctor was performing an emergency surgery. We handed Doucie over to a vet-tech after removing her harness. Doucie still had on her yellow and green waterproof collar with an i.d. tag showing her name and phone number, as well as a little red cow bell. We left, believing all was okay. That was the last time we saw Doucie. 

The vet-tech that took Doucie didn’t correctly latch her kennel. Doucie was able to open the gate, open and walk through to interior doors, scan the lobby, and then use her head to open the heavier front door. Even though an alert customer called out that an unattended pup had come through a door and was in the lobby, no vet-tech’s seemed alarmed. They didn’t react until Doucie was outside. Doucie scanned the parking lot for us, but we were already gone, so she ran across Corporate Way and went for a swim in Wells Lake. After her swim, Doucie ran back across Corporate Way, almost getting hit, and ran back to the front door. At this point, either a vet-tech outside, or someone inside scared Doucie and she ran off again. 

Doucie ran along Corporate Way then darted over the railroad tracks and through the woods and brush. A vet-tech did see her crossing the tracks.  We learned that a truck driver had seen Doucie running through the parking lot of the warehouse behind the hotels on Wells Road. Doucie eventually made her way through the woods, possibly resting near a feral cat colony in the area. We found out two weeks later that she was seen being picked up by an unknown person in an unknown vehicle near 704 Plainfield Ave. (verified by Pat Totillo and her K9 search team).

Over the next month and a half, our family and friends made fliers and posters, tacking and taping them to every post, pole and phone box in Orange Park. There is also a Police report on file of the incident. The town of Orange Park was very understanding to our dilemma and allowed us to leave our signs up for a month and a half. They have a town ordinance against unauthorized signs being up more than a day or two. Since October 13, 2017, there have been over 25 possible sightings. None have been verified as Doucie, all have been linked to local pups, even if the caller describes Doucie perfectly.  Case in point, we received a call about a dog that could have been Doucie near W.E.Cherry Elementary School in the Blairmore Blvd area, the caller described her perfectly, even down to the shorter hair on her leg that had been shaved for surgery a month before.  This call proved to be false. The dog seen was a boxer mix, we saw him.  There have been possible sightings all over Clay County, from Plainfield Ave to Oakleaf to the Orange Park Country Club to Ridgecrest to Middleburg and Fleming Island, even up Blanding Blvd to Townsend Road, behind Lexus of Orange Park. We have posted fliers wherever there is a sighting. 

Two weeks into our canvassing of the Town of Orange Park, we encountered an employee of a business on the business loop at the end of Loring Ave that said she saw a dog that looked very much like Doucie being picked up on Plainfield Ave, the day Doucie escaped from the vet hospital. This led to us contacting Pat Totillo and her team to narrow down our search. The K9’s were able to track Doucie from the AVS/BluePearl, down Corporate Way, across the tracks and through the parking lot.  They lost her scent in the woods, but picked her scent up on Ash Street and followed it to an area near the mailbox of 704 Plainfield Ave. To verify this, Ms Totillo had her other K9 come from Loring Ave. This K9 did not alert to Doucie’s scent until he reached the same patch the first K9 alerted to, this verified that Doucie had been picked up. And the K9’s were able to verify that Doucie had never been at any of the sightings that were called in. The only unverified call belongs to a farmer, possibly in Clay County, who described several of Doucie’s characteristics, as well as her collar and tags, in a deep, gravely voice. He said he had to go but he would call back. He never has returned the call, and his numbers were blocked. We have several contacts in Clay County that have been helping us with spreading Doucie’s story and fliers, among them are the Town of Orange Park Police Department, Melissa from PrimeVet on Kingsley Ave., and Mary from Crackers in South Orange Park.     

Doucie has been my moms constant companion ever since we rescued her.  Doucie would sleep by her bed, and check up on her throughout the day, no matter where each one was at the house. Doucie would interrupt her front gate guarding, her sunning, her swimming, or her strolling to go and check on mom, to make sure everything was alright. Mom would go out and check on Doucie too.

Doucie is chipped and was wearing a yellow and green waterproof collar with an i.d. tag and a red bell. She is reddish brown on top and sides with white underneath, and white legs and the last half of her tail is white, like a flag. She has a light dusting of black on her nose and ears. She has medium long fur that seems to be a double coat, based on her penchant for swimming in all kinds of weather.  She is smart, energetic, playful.  Her absence is weighing heavily on us.  We miss Doucie and need her to come home.

If you have ANY information, please contact us! Please share her photo and search for her call/text 904-327-3698

THANK YOU,
James Mooers

Doucie has two facebook pages, Find Doucie and Help Us Find Doucie (please follow!). 

BREAKING NEWS: Florida Dogs are Bravely Facing “Winter”

Sure, it has gotten down into the 30s a few days this winter, but for the most part, we have it preeeeetty good here compared to other places buried in snow. Many of us have dogs that don’t appreciate that Florida is a sweet place to live. We asked our readers to submit photos (via Facebook) of how their dogs cope with Florida winters. Photos also appeared in our Transformation issue!

My Bella said not to wake her till spring is here.
Our little rescue “Willow” keeping warm in a cool winter morning!
These three are forced to keep each other warm because mom refuses to turn on the heat!
Florida dog, Knox, on vacation in GA mountains!
Davi on vacay … what is this white stuff?
Vega likes to belly up to the bar at Green Turtle when it gets cold.
Ally likes to stick one foot out like a human!
Keep on keeping that head warm, Francesca!
Find Rocket in his blanket cave
Sir Walter brings his blanket with, just in case it gets gusty.
Solo likes to stay cozy!
Brody loves wearing his pajamas when it’s cold!
My Biggie is a typical Florida dog.
Dramatic when it’s cold!
Bruno … am I posh yet?
Bella says Florida dogs don’t know what they’re missing!

Submit a photo of your cool dog in a cool location for our next issue!