Friday, April 5, 2024

Beginnings - the Bakersfield Four and Danny's video

Danny Spanks made this video entailing the story of the Bakersfield Four and their amazing rescue...


Monday, February 19, 2024

It's all about Ace

Ace's intake photo at Dogtown
Ace's intake photo at Dogtown

I didn't rescue Ace. That was all on Angela Sera, my good friend and the executive director of Dogtown Ranch Sanctuary, Rescue & Rehab. Angela does some very good work. In fact, Dogtown Ranch is the last home on the block for many dogs saved from very high kill shelters. Both Angela and Reunion Rescue save California and Texas dogs. I never thought I'd see the day when California was worse off than Texas, but we have arrived, folks. It's a very sad situation.
Let's back up a little bit here. Reunion was founded in San Francisco, but we relocated back to Texas in 2005. However, I felt
Ace in California shelter

it was unfair to leave a void so continue to try and help out California dogs. Our website is also geared with the same training and health resources we've used for years to save lives. We can't save them all, but we can share easy to use and inexpensive techniques to help pet owners and fellow advocates, shelters and other rescue orgs. The goal is to get this information into the hands of the public and keep animals out of our overcrowded shelters.

Angela rescues on a much grander scale than Reunion. She has implemented a lot of the holistic practices into her own curriculum of which new rescue boy Ace is spotlighted in this blog. Ace arrived at Dogtown sick, depressed, shut down and full of fleas. He was an owner surrender and dumped in an extremely high kill shelter. Not going to mention the shelter, but all they sent along with Ace was one flea pill. He was misrepresented to Angela which caused a multitude of problems. Nobody let her know there was a bite on his record. This would've helped avoid many issues including how to set him up to begin his transition work at Dogtown. Angela is a trained and certified behaviorist and no newcomer to the rescue rodeo.

Ace had completely given up. His eyes, filled with despair, were glassed over. There was simply no way to communicate with Ace, a dog who'd turned himself off to human contact. That's when I got involved. When I saw those eyes, something inside me set off an alarm. Here was an animal who'd ceased wanting to live, who'd given up on life. Somewhere, somehow, somebody had stolen his hope. Anybody that doesn't believe dogs feel hope can look into Ace's first intake photo and reevaluate their opinion.

I sent Angela three items I use on all incoming PTSD dogs, Animal Relief, Emergency stock and CBD (each linked to our Health Page with item description and how the essences cure the body.) We'd already been through this with the Bakersfield 4 and the South Texas senior bait dogs, Floyd and Dino with great results. I'm a big believer in good dog training, but not until the body has been healed. You are basically throwing your money away, and believe me, I've been that route and am speaking from experience.
Ace does a turnaround

Patti received the gift of animal communication from Benny years ago when we pulled him from Turlock and she fostered him. He went from being a horribly abused dog to King of the Kompound at Doug the Dogwalker's spread where he spent a glorious life. Patti began a reading with Ace, but was immediately shut down. All he would acknowledge was he was done with all humans, including her. Patti is great at this work. I know, because every case has been spot on. She's helped cure so many animals of behavior and medical issues. Patti knew what to on the Reunion guardians. These are beings who in some way or another have been associated with myself or with Reunion. The head honcho is Penny, my mother's dog she had for 23 years growing up. I never 'knew' Penny in the flesh as he passed on before I was born. Only recently have I found out Penny has been watching over me all these years. In fact, I'm writing a new book Penny and Me.

Ace opened up just a tiny little bit to the RR guardians. He needed White Willow Bark added to his food along with Arnica Montana, the homeopathy to address his inflammation. In addition to the healthy food he'd been getting since arriving at Dogtown thanks to Tomlinson's Lakeway and 2222. We believe that a good quality diet is responsible not only for the physical body, but also behavior issues. Amazingly, the guardians were right. Angela texted a photo the next day and you could see a remarkable change in Ace's demeanor. His eyes had hope. I'm not animal communicator, but I've seen enough shut down dogs to know what a turnaround looks like.

The RR guardians checked in daily to report Ace was opening up to their communications with him. They told him about Dogtown, about Reunion Rescue and how some people were good people and he was with the good ones now. He told them he was "cranky" from his "discomfort"...his words. The guardians stayed the course. They said they are "determined to help him" and added he was "decompressing." The also said he was "calmer tonight."

Before I could send the update messages to Angela, she sent new Ace photos and video. She moved him to a new area filled with lots of hay. He got a romp outside, with potty and lots of sniffing around. His neighbors Rottie on one side and Chunk on the other are new friends. Ace really likes Rottie. He played in the new sweet-smelling hay before bedding down last night. He is on the road to recovery, Ace is. And one more thing. He has a reason to get up in the morning. Ace has hope.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

All about Wally - bad start but winning finish

Wally at the shelter - redlisted for behavior
Wally was pulled by Reunion Rescue back in September 2023. The shelter in Modesto had him red-listed as a pit bull soon to be exterminated due to fearful reaction. To their credit, a Stanislaus ACC employee brought Wally - he was known by another name in the shelter - into her office where he came alive and blossomed, so thankful for a little kindness and to be away from the noisiest clangiest part of the facility where animals were brought to their death nearly every hour.
I saw his TikTok created by a shelter volunteer with the story and couldn't get this little man out of my head. I knew he could flourish by using the Reunion Rescue resources we've trusted for years to save animals like Wally. First thing I did was contact Patti to get an animal communication reading. These conversations would go on over the next few months. Into the fray would pop other spirits from the afterworld who've helped Reunion pets over the years.
I had a big surprise this time. Various dogs would pop up from time to time. Pip from Bakersfield is a longtime guide who helps the new kid learn about Reunion and how they will be safe and never ever feel pain or cruelty again. Peanut from Alvin, Texas who'd wound up at the horror house Spindletop and ended up living his life with us until last year when he passed gently into the night from old age. But, the biggest surprise was Penny. Penny was my mother's dog who'd lived to be 23 years old. Even though he'd passed away
back in the 50's before I was born, the stories my mother would tell my sister and I about Penny were the bright spots in a dark dismal past. Penny told Patti that he'd been with me my whole life, watching over me. He told her about a tree I'd climb and sit after school, where he'd "be with me..." his words. These communications with Penny have opened up a whole new realm for me and I'm writing another book about Penny and all the rescues and animal communication that have saved me and a lot of animals. I have little Wally to thank for that.
So when Wally's time was up at the shelter, I was frantic. What could I do? There was no money in the Reunion bank account as usual. So like our Found a Pit Bull page suggests, I created a Gofundme and stayed up all night contacting anyone and everyone who'd ever donated to Reunion for the past two plus decades. That was a lot of bounced emails, but I was able to raise $775. With that amount, I was able to place a hold on Wally.
The volunteer who'd been so adamant about helping Wally had given me misinformation about how to collect the pledges. I'd been told the donations could not be accessed until a freedom photo of Wally in front of the Stanislaus shelter was taken and posted. I had nobody to pick Wally up and move him to the boarding facility, his only option. A last minute contact of that volunteer was good enough to retrieve Wally, but that's where the buck stopped. When I asked for a photo, no answer from the dude and a sound rebuff from the volunteer. When it came time to make good on the pledges, the volunteer only posted the Gofundme I'd set up rather than our Paypal, Venmo and website donation links as was the policy with all of the other rescue groups and last minute pulls from this shelter. What that translated to was Wally's funds only amounted to the $775 I'd collected on my own as the pledge donors saw the amount and figured that was plenty and their money was needed elsewhere for another dog in need.
Life is a carnival
Life is a carnival - only good things for Wally

What most people don't realize is upkeep for an animal is expensive. How costly you ask? The boarding and food was $850 a month. Wally was boarded for over four months along with pricey neutering.
And, he had no options. I finally in all that time had one longtime adopter willing to foster Wally. She had a pet rabbit and lived hours away from Modesto. We had to rabbit test Wally first. I posted on that same volunteer/pledge Facebook page and was shocked at the response. The same crowd who'd championed pulling Wally at the last minute were first to slam the request asking for someone who had a pet rabbit to agree to a very supervised intro with an experienced handler. Everybody seemed to have an opinion and none of them helpful. I was shocked to say the least.
My only option at this point was to transport Wally here to Texas. I'd just brought the Bakersfield 4 here and was over-full with pitties and dogs, not to mention cats and the birds. A full house but not in the poker hand sense. Like most things I do in rescue, it was a leap of faith. I'd deal with it when Wally got here.
The $500 transport put Wally at almost $5,000. Most people who don't get rescue would balk at this amount, but I knew I had to get Wally to me. I knew he needed me, but I had no idea just how much. The communications with Patti began to illuminate his awful past. Wally had a problem with men. First, the boarding facility owner, a guy, had to warm him up and that took some work. Then the transport driver, another guy, had some issues with Wally. When he got to us, he was not reception to Scott, to say the least. It was growling, fear-based lunging and most of the reactive behavior seemed to be associated with his crate. I'd first had Wally in a plastic kennel, my crate of choice, but not being able to see everything around him seemed to activate his fearfulness. I changed him to a wire kennel and while not perfect, the adjustment seemed to improve matters somewhat. I addressed this with Patti and that was when I found out Wally had been horribly abused. When he got to the shelter, he weighed 33 pounds at a year and half. Someone, a man, had inflicted great cruelty upon Wally. I still don't know exactly what happened and really don't want to. Patti added, "and it was severe." That was enough. We did not want Wally to have to relive his past. It was time for him to have a new life and that's where me and Reunion went to work.

First, I was amazed when Scott pulled me aside and told me I could keep Wally here even though it put us way over the top
Scott refused to give up on Wally
Scott refused to give up on Wally...check out the payoff!
with dogs. This when Wally was still barking, growling and reacting to Scott. This was big. I'd already begun the work to help him move past his trauma. Use of Animal Relief, the flower essences which help move past a horrible experience(s) 

For any abandoned animal, whether feral or residing in a relief shelter

  • Any animal being adopted into a new home, or being given a new guardian or caretaker
  • For loss of the primary caretaker due to death, divorce or changes in the family system
  • During any time of significant travel or re-location to a new home or living space
  • For any animal with a prior history of physical abuse, torture or abandonment
  • For performance or work animals who are exploited, or valued only for monetary worth or reproduction value
  • During times of prolonged illness, or extensive surgery; can be used in tandem or alternation with Magenta Self-Healer
  • For any time of pronounced stress in the animal - such as the prolonged absence of the primary caretaker or environmental disruption due to any natural disaster. Can be used in alternation or in tandem with Post-Trauma Stabilizer

Emergency stock Australian Bush Flower Essence for medical help, this essence will provide comfort until treatment is available. Administer this remedy every hour or more frequently if necessary until the person feels better. It can also be used topically or mixed into a cream.

These items are listed on the Reunion Rescue Health Page published to help others - shelters, pet owners, fellow rescuers - or any animal lover who might be facing issues.
It wasn't overnight, but Wally began to show marked improvement. Another factor - also on the Health Page - is a great diet. The more raw meat that can be added to the diet, the better. There are some great dog trainers out there who refuse to train a dog not eating a raw diet. It's amazing what eating the food intended to maintain the body can do for the behavior, the peace of mind.
The icing on the cake was a big surprise. Wally was a ball dog and a half. He loves it. He's learned to fetch and retrieve from all the way up to the top deck down two flights of stairs to the backyard. Not since Peanut have I seen such a great ball dog. Wally could go for it all day. Since he was so proficient on the ball, I tried him on Frisbee and he took to it like a champ. By the first day he was jumping up into the air to catch it. Wally has the makings of a real Frisbee champ.
He is very treat oriented and wasn't too fond of raw chicken at first, but I began chopping up some raw thighs minus skin and bone and covered it in a gravy of high quality canned and some premium almost raw kibble. He snarfed it up. By the third or fourth try, he was eating bone and all like the other dogs. And you could see the marked improvement. I've fed enough abused dogs to notice the difference in a kibble-fed pet and a well-fed dog. The food choices are a solid element in our E.A.T.S. Empty All the Shelters program. If you want to help us launch this incredible plan, please subscribe to the Reunion Rescue newsletter.

Check out Wally first day with his Frisbee -

Friday, February 9, 2024

Teaching this old dog a new trick

Good times at our neighborhood pet store. Tomlinson's Feed Lakeway always has something fun going on. They have been wholehearted Reunion Rescue supporters for years. We recently got a new pup Wally from Modesto, California. 

You know Reunion and our sister rescue for non-pit bulls Animals First Rescue saves dogs from both California and Texas. Wally is an Animals First dog .. why? Because he is a lot of things, but pit bull ain't one of 'em. The shelter had labeled this narrow boy with skinny legs a 'pit bull' but to me, he looked more like a Lakeway deer yearling than a pit bull. I'm pretty good at breed detection and see Australian Kelpie with maybe a dash of Ibizan Hound and Jack Russell in there.

Whatever Wally is, he's got a lot of energy. With other dogs to keep exercised and maintained, I didn't have the time for a daily Lakeway nature hike in the greenbelt and two or three ball or Frisbee sessions. What to do?

Enter Denise and Brad at Tomlinson's. I thought I'd heard of everything, but Brad had a surprise for me and
for Wally. He walked me over to the toy section and pulled out this big rubber looking blue cup thing called a Toppl by West Paw. Brad informed me to substitute Wally's dinner by freezing a portion in this funny looking toy. He told me - as advertised on the item - it took the place of an hour's romp in the park. I was up for anything and added it to my purchase.

Even though we feed raw, I loaded up on some kibble and canned to try out on the Toppl. It was Cricket's turn for a nature walk yesterday and I placed the toy in Wally's crate with a dog food mixture. He went to work on it immediately. Usually when another dog and I make our exit, it sets off Wally's barking, but this time, pure silence. He was intent on that toy. After loading Cricket, I went back into the house at the risk of setting him off. It was still quiet and when we returned, the whole house was calm.

It was close to feeding time, but Wally got an extra ball session as a reward. He has the makings of a real Frisbee champ and we're already practicing jump and catch. I really want to thank Brad and Denise at Tomlinson's Feed in Lakeway for teaching this old dog a new trick.

So for those of you not lucky enough to hava a Tomlinson's Feed in your radar - that delivers by the way - you can order the Toppl from West Paw or Amazon. Luckily Reunion had some credits from our Amazon Wish List and I was able to get a couple back ups. Thank you Brad and Denise for keeping us on our toes!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

A surprising resource for an old dog rescuer

I recently attempted to apply for a Petfinder Foundation grant to repair our sadly dilapidated dog play yard. Reunion Rescue fits the requirements to a T. 

"This grant program is part of our commitment to enhancing shelter dogs’ quality of life by allowing them to engage in natural social behaviors. Play Yard Renovation Grant are available to active Petfinder members that have completed a play-group training seminar. Grant funds must be used to construct or improve play yards to bring them into compliance with current safety recommendations."

One of the specifications was to complete two Maddie's University courses. The first course Canine Body Language in the Shelter focuses on understanding how dogs communicate what they are experiencing. The course includes a video followed by interactive materials to reinforce the learning. I immediately liked the instructor Sara L. Bennett, DVM. She was calm, spoke clearly and was very easy to listen to. Unlike many 'dog professionals' she didn't come off with a didactic 'leader of the pack' attitude. It was surprisingly refreshing and her approach compelled you to come to the class with a desire to learn what she had to impart.

Without giving away the whole class, she covered body language and signs of arousal. Despite all of the dog training classes I've attended and tons of speeches, many highlighted in my book Pit Bull Nation: Special Edition, I found Dr. Bennett's class to be informative and enlightening. I have used her teachings already in my dealings with the dogs here at Reunion Rescue refuge. It is fun to observe the dogs in your care and ask yourself what are they thinking? What does that wrinkle mean on the forehead? What does the growl mean? It's not always aggression. It gave me a deeper dive into the goings on with the dogs in my care. The class is designed toward shelters, but I feel any pet owner will benefit from this resource-packed session.

The classes offered at Maddie's University are free to the public.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

When a rescue helps a rescue rescue a rescue

Reunion Rescue/Animals First has been trying so hard to keep these two puppies together.

These two very bonded two puppies were found abandoned in Lodi and turned over to Reunion Rescue/Animals First Rescue by finder who feared that the landlord would discover them illegally housed in her apartment. Reunion Rescue had them vetted and immediately offered on our Petfinder/Adopt-a-Pet and website in hopes of finding a foster for both dogs. It was very important to Reunion to keep them together as they are extremely bonded. Being abandoned in a high crime area on the banks of the Lodi river, these two puppies - Jaco only five months old and little Coco just a year - only had each other in a terrifying environment. It's my belief that they survived the trauma because they had each other.
Coco was fostered under our foster-to-adopt program with the stipulation Jaco would be fostered with her until a perfect home could be found nearby where he could visit Coco. The foster immediately violated Reunion/Animals First protocol by attempting to adopt Jaco to people in Nevada. She was told Reunion Rescue never adopts out of state. Too many horror stories and we hear them all. We even suggested two very needy and adorable baby Chihuahuas on death row at Stanislaus Shelter in Modesto where we pull dogs, but they never answered our email.
The foster became irate and began demanding more vaccines for the two puppies when both had just recently been vaccinated. The vaccine certificates specifically state to not vaccinate for at least 3/4 weeks. When Reunion Rescue cited again the holistic protocol guidelines printed on our website - the same protocol the foster had agreed to initially or she would have never been allowed to foster for our organization.
The foster stated in text she no longer wanted the dogs in her home and we asked for a couple of days to arrange transport. Less than 48 hours, out great friend and longtime animal advocate saw our posting on Facebook and fell in love. He called and asked to adopt both dogs and keep them together forever. Thrilled, Reunion tried to text and call the foster who shot back she was keeping the dogs and "that would be her last communication."
Our representative attempted to visit and speak with her and the foster became highly agitated. The police were called as the dogs are now legally stolen. They under California law are legal property of Reunion Rescue.
She violated Reunion Rescue protocol and had both tiny dogs re-vaccinated less than two weeks since vaccines. The foster also told the police on record she'd had both the dogs microchipped again after they'd been microchipped by Reunion Rescue as legal Reunion Rescue dogs. All Reunion Rescue/Animals First Dogs are never adopted to the foster until the Reunion Rescue Adoption Contract is agreed to and signed by both the former foster and Reunion Rescue. No such contract exists between Reunion Rescue and this former foster. The foster only signed our foster application which has strict terms involving our holistic protocol and vet care, periodic wellness checks in the home and other strict guidelines listed in the signed agreement.
We have Jaco and Coco's best interest at heart and a great home for them to enjoy a wonderful long life together with our friend of well over two decades. We need funding to take this matter at once to the court system where a judge can look at our paperwork with Reunion Rescue listed as 'owner.'

I spent the week freaked out calling lawyers and got two great Oakland area lawyers who’re now on my speed dial to share with anyone else who need East Bay legal assistance. I have the names of three animal lawyers in the area to help other rescues who face these dire circumstances.

my beautiful friend Pali Boucher

Amazingly, the finder phoned me, frantic that the foster was threatening to bring the dogs back to her or leave them at some vet. When the finder asked her to relinquish to our good friend Pali Boucher, founder of Rocket Dog Rescue, she was turned down.

The finder was told the foster would only release our two dogs Coco and Jaco to her. She would bring them to Lodi Saturday 9/16 at 10 a.m. p.s.t. I didn’t sleep all night and waited for word. Nothing. Finally get a text from VCA Emergency Hospital in San Leandro from a woman who asked Reunion Rescue to send a rep to the hospital to pick up the dogs at 2 p.m.

I had a wedding to attend, good longtime friends and our landscape clients, but kept phone on silent to help officiate this exchange. Suzie E, a great friend and animal advocate repped Reunion as volunteer and retrieved the dogs. But, where to put them? They’d missed out on two arranged transports down to our good friend Bill where they have been adopted.

Here’s the magic part. Pali was in the midst of a lost puppy situation with all hands on deck tracking the missing dog. Even though she was completely wrapped up in her own rescue trauma, she without missing a breath told me to have Suzie bring the dogs to her. She would take care of them. And that she did. They are safe in the care of Pali who is truly the best animal rescue person I’ve ever met. She never stops and never says no. I will never forget this kindness. If more rescues like Pali and Rocket Dog behaved this way with each other, we truly could empty out all the shelters. 

Jaco and!

Here's what you can do...share Pali's Rocket Dog Rescue with wonderful adoptable dogs: 

Follow Rocket Dog on Facebook

Check out Rocket Dog website: Rocket Dog Rescue

and help by hitting the big orange DONATE button where you can help Rocket Dog Sanctuary save the lives life has thrown away.

Check out Pali's wonderful dogs for adoption AND foster homes..cuz you know what? Fostering saves lives!!




A little side story for all you believers...

the minute I got in the car to attend the wedding and still not in possession of the rescue theme and in my book PIt Bull Nation - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Learning to Fly came on the radio immediately...when the wedding was over and we got in the car to go to the came on the radio again!!

These are the lyrics that keep me going in rescue from that song:

Well, some say life will beat you down 
break your heart, steal your crown 
so I've started out for God-knows-where 
I guess I'll know when I get there

Last but certainly NOT LEAST: Sign up for the Reunion Rescue newsletter to help us empty all the shelters all the time. We can do this ya'll!

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Hippo-pittie-mus time at the dog ranch

How do you beat the heat? Well, the Bakersfield 4 have a solution. They love to run and play in the water and Angela keeps 'em happy. Yesterday, the family splashed and frolicked like the best of 'em and it must have been 105 in the shade. They didn't care. These dogs are so happy to be together and in a place where they can just be dogs for the first time in their lives. Thank you so much to the kind people who helped me save them and who keep donating so they can stay together in boarding.
Someday we'll all be together with them here at Reunion Rescue, but until there is room here, they're doing pretty good as you can see. We did a little bit of housekeeping with some poop scooping and sweeping. I got their beds rinsed off and some nail clipping and brushing. Then it was playtime. Check out these happy dogs!