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When I moved to this town a few years ago, I had one dog, a Husky/German Shepherd mix named Banjo. He had lived among my many rescued cats for about a year. As the only canine, I’m sure he felt like a tourist in a foreign country: “Excuse me, do any of you parlez Dog?”
My new house was on a fenced ½ acre, so I decided to get Banjo a buddy he could relate to. A friend of mine, who also saved animals, told me about a woman in her area she learned about through the rescuer grapevine. The lady was an animal hoarder (an addiction to collecting pets). She had way more dogs and cats than she could care for and had been reported to the county. The animal control officials were about to confiscate her cats and dogs. Once the county took them, unless adopted they would be euthanized. Finding homes for them was unlikely, considering most of them were frightened around strangers and not well fed or groomed.
My friend and two other rescuers went to the hoarder’s house and offered to take the animals so they wouldn’t be destroyed. It took three visits for them to get all the critters out, as some were feral and afraid of humans. The animals were all placed in home-based shelters.
I mentioned to my friend that Banjo needed a companion and promised to take in one of the dogs if she could find one that fit our needs: female, not big, not too aggressive and good around cats. She called the next day to tell me she’d found a female dog that was tame and friendly and offered to bring it to my house. I was planning to be out most of the day, so I told her to put the dog inside and leave her in the pet carrier.
When I returned home, I saw the carrier by the front door and looked in, curious to see the newcomer. The creature was pathetic! I couldn’t even tell what her breed was. She appeared medium small in size but clearly had not been well cared for—very thin and dirty. She peered at me with wide eyes as if I was an alien. I spoke in a soothing voice then opened the carrier door. She bolted out, ran down the hallway and hid under my bed.
For about three days, the poor pup stayed in hiding, so I pushed bowls of food and water to her. Finally I was able to coax her out, which was good, because the smell coming from underneath the bed was pretty raunchy! I knew then that this animal could never be adopted and would be a permanent resident in my shelter.
I introduced her to Banjo, and that was the beginning of a marriage made in pet heaven. As she was the “second fiddle,” I decided to name her Viola. She was very afraid for several weeks, but gradually began to calm down. I bathed and groomed her and, unlike many dogs, she loved it. Afterward, she pranced around like a princess!
Viola began to venture around the yard with Banjo and become integrated with the cats inside. When she arrived it was winter, and though the house was heated, I noticed her shivering at night as she slept on top of the bed. I think it was because she was so thin (and maybe still a bit afraid). So I brought her under the blankets with me to warm her up. Soon she gained weight and her chills stopped.
About a month after her arrival, I decided to take Viola out of the yard for a walk with Banjo. Using a double leash, I coaxed her along, and Banjo pulled too. We were doing fine walking down the street, until Viola spotted some people coming toward us. Before I could react, she freaked out. Leaping into the ditch at the side of the road, she almost dragged Banjo and I with her! I picked her up right away and took both dogs home. Gradually Viola began to enjoy her walks, but for months I had to carry her when other people approached.
After she became more confident, she started a habit that was hard to break. I live in a small town where there are lots of rabbits. Whenever Viola saw one nearby as we walked, she would lunge at them. I had to shout to her, “Viola, no bunnies!” over and over again and hold her back. After about a year, I think she realized there was no way she could get close enough to catch one, and she stopped this behavior. But I had called out the words so often that I decided her full name should be Viola No Bunnies.
Now it’s been several years since she came to live with me and her furry friends, and my pretty girl is very content and well adjusted. In fact, she’s become the alpha dog and leads Banjo around like a wife who’s in charge. But there’s one thing this dog never forgot. When my friend who rescued her visits me, Viola runs away into the far part of the yard and will not come near her or me until the Evil Woman leaves. Though my friend feels slighted, we both understand it’s because Viola associates her with being taken away. And now that she’s found a happy forever home, Viola is determined she will never leave it. And that’s how I feel, too ;)
ARCH Sanctuary Pictures
When a woman in my small town passed away unexpectedly, she left a houseful of cats with no one to care for them. Her evil family came from out of state to inspect the property they’d inherited, and evicted all the animals. They were left outside to fend for themselves. @%*#@*&!
Tara "The Recluse"
I heard about the situation and, with the help of a neighbor, caught all 15 kitties in about two weeks. None were spayed and neutered, so I worked with another rescue group that helped get 'er done. I found a cat lover in the kitties’ neighborhood and we agreed to each take half of them home. One kitty was very elusive. Because she was so afraid of people. she was the last to be rescued. While I was in the process of catching the other felines, she picked a very unfortunate time to cross the street and was sprayed by a county truck that was covering the road with hot tar! It took two days, but finally I was able to grab her because the sticky goo, which covered her entire left side including her head, made it difficult for her to move. I rushed her to a clinic where they medicated and shaved off the tar before spaying her. The vet wasn’t sure she’d live, yet incredibly, she survived YAY! When I brought her home, the poor thing was terribly traumatized after all she’d been through. She hid from me, coming out only when I was away from the house or asleep. I didn’t see her for over a year! Gradually, she began to appear--darting out then hiding again
if I came into sight. She was beautiful: dark gray with white markings, and her long fur had grown back. Now Tara is back to “normal.” She always makes an appearance when treats are served, though I still can’t get very close without scaring her away. She’s still a recluse and may have lost one of her nine lives, but she’s living out the rest happily at the ARCH shelter.
Gimme shelter! Sniff around...Here you'll find tales about some of the furries at our Animal Rescue & Care Home. ARCH is a non-profit, no-kill, home-based sanctuary in the Western US. From refuse to refuge, we care for cats (many feral) and dogs that stay here for all of their (up to 9!) lives.
Pet tales with a happy ending!
Pet tales with a happy endingTM
One day a few years ago, Fate lured me to the gate in my front yard that borders the street. I happened to look left and suddenly saw a brown blur dashing down the road toward me. It was a small bundle of fur running full-out, like it was being chased by a pack of hungry reality show contestants! Thinking the dog must be an escapee from the neighborhood, I ran into the street to try to catch it. Just as I was closing in, it veered into the yard of the property across the street. Seeing no one in the yard, I ran over and shut their gate behind me.
Realizing she was fenced in, the paranoid pooch began running madly in circles around the perimeter of the house. Then the homeowners—four of them—stepped outside and asked what was going on. I explained in 25 words or less and, wanting to help, they joined in the chase. So now the poor pup was running from a gaggle of giants with uncertain intent.
After another few house laps, the dog was tiring and slowing down. When I told them they were making the it more frightened, the neighbors understood and went back into the house.
Once alone, I positioned myself in a crouch near the front gate, waiting and calling out in what I hoped was soothing voice. “Come on, sweetie…over here…it’s OK!” After a couple more minutes bouncing around the yard, the little tyke made a beeline for the gate and surprised me by jumping right into my arms!
After thanking the neighbors, I brought the dog into my house and examined it. Small, weighing maybe 3 or 4 pounds, it looked like a Chihuahua mixed breed. It was friendly and wore a collar, but there was no identification tag. I discovered it was a female and, though nervous and worn out from her marathon, otherwise she seemed OK. I put her in a large pet carrier with water and food in my bathroom to give her time to calm down.
About 15 minutes later, I heard a strange noise coming from the bath. I opened the door and saw the little one jumping up and down behind the crate door like a jumping bean, obviously to get my attention. It was so funny, I couldn’t help laughing! I brought her out, and soon she was hangin’ with the rest of the pack, playing with the other dogs and chasing the cats as if she belonged there.
I put up “Found Dog” signs in my neighborhood and on town bulletin boards, but after a week with no calls, I decided to find her a good home. At the time, I had three other dogs in addition to my “herd” of cats and was definitely not in the market for another animal.
I posted adoption notices and got a call from a woman in town who wanted to see the dog. She came to my house, met and said she liked her, but wasn’t sure. She asked, “Can I take her home and try her out for a day?” (What?...This lady wants to, like test drive the dog?... Seriously?!) I said thanks, but no, and decided to keep the pup after all.
I named her Feather, because she loves to explore the yard searching for stray bird feathers. When she finds one, she parades around with it in her mouth. What a clown! She spends most of her time running, wrestling with the other animals, begging for belly rubs and eviscerating her plush toys to “kill” the squeakies inside.
A mobile pet clinic came to town and spayed and vaccinated Feather. The vet told me she had no microchip and appeared young, maybe 2 to 3 years old.
Now, three years later and 2+ pounds heavier, Feather is convinced she’s a 200-pound security dog. When she’s in the yard, her job is to bark loudly and annoyingly (yipe! yipe! yipe!) as she runs up and down the fence chasing anything that dares invade the space on the road in front…from people walking, to the UPS truck, to the occasional wandering wild javalinas (big, hairy, pig-like animals that are native here). She and my other dog, Viola, are like sisters: They chase one another around the yard and take daily walks together with me, Every night Feather does her cat impression and licks Viola's face to groom her.
I’m so grateful Feather ran into my life, bringing way more than 200 pounds of laughter and love!
Feather T. Fuzz
(The "T" stands for trouble!)
ARCH dogs sing morning song!
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A big Thank you
to ourcorporate partner
Nestle Purina for their
regular food donations!
Click here to hear my or "Purr-ina"
song & see photos of a trip to the Purina Flagstaff plant.
Viola "No Bunnies"