Saturday, August 30, 2008

Jasper - another black dog saved

Pet Haven received a plea to help save the life of but another black dog - Jasper. If not for some kind soul who took him into her home to spare his life, he (like many other black dogs) would've been euthanized. Pet Haven received the photo of Jasper with the yellow bandana along with the following plea:
"My name is Jasper. I was picked up on a rural road and brought to a scary place where black dogs are routinely put down just because they are black. My foster mom saw me there and her heart sank. She knew there was no way ANYONE would give me a chance.

***She knew as soon as my holding days were up I would be yet another DEAD
BLACK dog.
*** [To learn more about "Black Dog Syndrome" and the high rate of euthanasia of black dogs in shelters across the country visit Start Seeing Black Dogs]

She stopped to talk to me, to try and tell me it wouldn't be so bad because
soon I would be chasing rabbits in heaven, but she started to cry.

She just couldn't let me be another black dog in the pile in the back shed. She also knew that her house was full. But maybe, at least for a few days she could have me stay, she could send out my story and some wonderful person would hear it and want me for their own. She tells me I am the absolute SWEETEST dog she has ever fostered. She tells anyone that will listen that I am QUIET/GENTLE/ and LOYAL.

Since being at her house, I have become a Velcro dog. I love being LOVED. I want to be with my humans, and although my foster dog brothers are nice to me, I just want to be with my foster mom (who is pretty and very SWEET herself). I sit at her feet and watch her."

We have been able to help Jasper and bring him into Pet Haven's foster program, thanks to a new doggie daycare partner, Pampered Pooch. Thanks to Pampered Pooch, one more black dog's life is spared.

I accidently "fell" into the world of animal rescue a couple years ago. My life has been forever changed. And with every Jasper, every Ode the fire inside of me gets brighter and my desire to keep doing the work i'm doing on behalf of abused, abandoned and neglected animals gets stronger.

I met Jasper today. Words can't adequately express how he touched my heart and my soul as he sat in the passenger seat, eyes intently fixated on me, periodic kisses to my hand .. as i transported him from the vet clinic to Pampered Pooch. His gentle and loving spirit came through, and oh what a wonderful feeling to see him play with carefree abandon at Pampered Pooch.

Today, I am reminded of what it is that feeds my soul. Today, I am reminded of why we must be a voice for the Jaspers and Odes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Return to the wolf

It is my dream that some day, in Minnesota, there will come a time where there will be no more homeless animals; that there will no longer be a need for animal rescues and shelters to exist to take in abandoned, abused and neglected animals. In the work of animal rescue, I have learned that passions and opinions run deep, and that our largest challenge, if we are to substantially reduce (if not completely eliminate) the euthanasia of healthy, sociable, adoptable dogs and cats, that we must all work together. That, in itself, will be our largest hurdle.

The wolf symbolizes "Loyalty, success, perseverance, stability, thought, pathfinder, teacher, intuition, learning, the shadow."

Today, I find myself needing to return to the wolf, needing to pause and to find the wolf in me, so I can continue to be a voice for abandoned, abused and neglected animals like Ode.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stepping through another doorway

There is no doubt my life took a turn back in September of '06 when we lost our beloved Shen to cancer, and I found Pet Haven. Since that time, there have been many more turns and many more doors open up. Every doorway I have stepped through has changed me in some way.

Meeting Ode (click here to read my original post on Ode; the Pet Haven blog has many more updates on this brave spirit) has shifted something deep inside of me. It has led me to Jessie of Stray Dog Arts who has painted this incredible portrait of Ode that speaks so deeply to me and has touched a part of soul i didn't know was even there. There's yet another door i know i must walk through as Ode leads me to the core of my being and inspires me to be brave, and take action on behalf of abused, neglected and abandoned animals. And as she inspires me to be compassionate and forgiving to those who are suffering even more.

This shift, this door, what is yet to be when I walk through this doorway is exciting and scary for me. William Stafford in his poem "It's Like this" expresses so well what is in my heart:

It's like this - time opens
a door here. You find yourselves alone. That's when
in this big room that sound begins again.
To get away you have to come here and hide
as if you belong here, looking casually away.
You see, it's that sound. It starts almost like silence,
then an excited repressed voice. Then
louder, faster. You have to look around,
get away, get out of here. You can't
bear to listen for long, it's too intense.
But you have to find if it still goes on,
after these years. You see, there is something
beyond music. If you get there, you look around
quickly before the air breaks up into those
pieces of glass, the hail with claws in it.
People who find that sound shake from sympathy,
and what they held off for long can leap upon them
and put the ultimate blade into their hearts,
you see, and then twist, like this.

There's calmness and turmoil inside of me at the same time. I know i must trust and walk through the cloud of emotions - in focus, out of focus. Ode is leading me somewhere, just as Shen led me somewhere. To trust. To believe. To be brave.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Intimacy with fear

"Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth"
- Pema Chodron

I am reading Pema Chodron's books "When Things Fall Apart" and "The Places that Scare you." The following excerpts are resonating with me today:

"Embarking on the spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands. With wholehearted practice comes inspiration, but sooner or later we will also encounter fear. For all we know, when we get to the horizon, we are going to drop off the edge of the world. Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what's waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it....."

"... Fear is a universal's not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share. We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold on to. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth."

"If we commit ourselves to staying right where we are, then our experience becomes very vivid. Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape."

May I be brave and stay with my vulnerabilities and fear.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pure love

I took these photos last week at a photo shoot for Ode with Jessie of Stray Dog Arts. These photos reflect to me why I am so drawn to the art work of Jessie. Watching her interact with the dogs was like witnessing firsthand a connection so deep that words can't describe.

Jessie is donating her time and creative talent to paint a portrait of Ode for Pet Haven. Through art we hope to get Ode's story out, and how much we can learn from the loving, forgiving and open hearts of dogs - even those who are victims of horrific abuse.

I'm also happy to say, that in the process of taking photos of Ode for her portrait, she met Eve (little black pup who was being fostered along with Ode).

Pure love.

Jessie will be adopting Eve and will be joining Pet Haven in our efforts to help get the word out about Black Dog Syndrome, and to help us in increasing the number of black dog adoptions.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Brave Spirit

I have felt such a deep sadness in my heart these past couple of days. The realization of the number of healthy adoptable dogs and cats euthanized each month is weighing heavily in my heart. 3-4 million healthy adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year. In the Twin Cities alone, almost 20,000 killed. There is a crisis in the cat world in Minnesota - 2,000 healthy, adoptable cats are killed each month. To learn more visit the Pet Haven cat blog.

The realization of the work that must be done to overcome and break the cycle of animal abuse. The desire to keep my heart open - to allow myself to feel the pain. Yesterday morning, it came to me as I meditated -- i must be brave, like Ode. In order to be a strong voice for the animals, I must be willing to walk into the pain and to stay with the pain with an open heart. By not turning away, I can then be a much stronger voice for abused, neglected, abandoned animals, and for those euthanized.

For almost two years now, I have given so much of my heart and soul to Pet Haven. I believe with all my heart that we can make a difference. Animal rescue work is not just about the animals. It's about the people. We can help heal each other. I have learned that this is hard work. I have cried more these past two years - tears of sadness and pain, as well as tears of joy.

Today, I had the chance to see Ode again. We had a collaborative event at Common Good Books in St. Paul with a local author Dr. Justine Lee. Ode, along with several other Pet Haven dogs were there (Eve, Bubba, Hector and Mollie). This brave spirit touches my soul in an incredibly deep way... she is the fuel that feeds the fire inside of me to keep doing the work i'm doing. When I get scared, I pause... and i look at her photos, and I remind myself to be like Ode - open heart, brave spirit.

Visit the Pet Haven dog blog to read more about Ode's story.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A day to celebrate

I've never been one to celebrate my birthday. It's always been ... just another today. This year is different. Maybe because today I am able to slow down long enough to be grateful for all that I have, and to notice a door that is opening up. My life is taking a turn -- a new chapter is being written in the book of my life. Since my involvement with Pet Haven I have found my voice and my passion. At the end of 2007, after a year of volunteering and serving as President, I found my heart had opened up so much -- so much I was willing to share something very personal about myself to not only the Pet Haven community but to the world. My reflection piece can be found here.

Since that time, I have continued to feel my heart breaking a million times over and over as I immerse myself in animal rescue work, and my heart healing a million times over as i witness the commitment and passion of fellow volunteers and the community to come together to help abused, abandoned and neglected animals. Ode is a puppy Pet Haven took in a few weeks ago. You can read more about her at the Pet Haven blog. I have continued to post updates on this brave spirit. She has endured horrific abuse, yet she has learned to forgive and let her true spirit shine through. Ode (prounounced 'Oday' and means 'heart') has touched the hearts of so many. Her story is one that needs to be shared, and her arrival into Pet Haven's foster program has opened up a new door and given me the inspiration to start writing a new chapter of my life.

And today, on my 44th birthday I am grateful to be able to see little Ode, as I pay her a visit this afternoon with a new friend Jessie who is one of the most inspiring and creative artists. Together we have been touched in a such a deep way by this abused puppy. There's a new chapter, for me, for Jessie, for many Pet Haven volunteers (particularly Ode's foster who has become an incredible advocate and is speaking out on how Ode can help us prevent animal abuse by showing compassion even to those that abuse us) ... we must be like Ode -- open heart, brave spirit.

My prayer for the day... may we all slow down long enough to notice the beauty around us, and to open up our hearts and to be brave.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Business of Doing Good

It's Sunday morning and i'm sitting here listening to Krista Tippett on "Speaking of Faith". Her guest is Jonathon Greenblatt who founded the company "Ethos" and is the CEO of the magazine "Good". He talks about what has been filling my heart while in Ely this past week.... my wish to do more, to do good.. how do I bridge the divide between social change and corporate America?

The talk this morning couldn't come at a better time. He explores his way of seeing the world and his economics of "ethical brand architecture" and "fiercely pragmatic idealism."

More to contemplate. More to consider. More to integrate into what is yet to be.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ode - open heart, brave spirit

I am back home after an incredible week up north in Ely. Today, we (Pet Haven) had a dog adoption event. Ode was there.... i have so much to learn from this sweet pup. After all she has been through - the love, hope and playful spirit will penetrate your soul if you dare to be even half as brave as she has been.

To read more about her story visit the Pet Haven dog blog (

She is a teacher and through her we will be able to share her story, and together we can all learn to be a little more like her - Open Heart, Brave Spirit.