Thursday, October 6, 2011


Legacy - Sept 2, 2011
I had planned to write a blog post yesterday about the latest addition to my family ... a sweet pup named Legacy who arrived on August 27, 2011 with 12 other puppies from Leech Lake Indian Reservation. I posted a video of the 13 puppies who took temporary residence in my home for 5 days until I was able to bring 10 of them to the Animal Humane Society (through MnPAW, Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare) so that they could be placed up for adoption. The day before I was scheduled to bring all the pups to AHS there was one pup I was particularly concerned about -- the pup we had named Legacy. Since early May we have been transporting dogs from the impound up at Leech Lake Reservation. Over 140 dogs have been rescued and given a second chance since then ... proof to me of how much can be done when we work together. Almost every week a transport arrives in the cities .... in an effort to stay organized and to keep track of the dogs arriving and when they arrived, my friend Jenny decided early in the process that all unnamed dogs in a given transport would be named with the same letter. The first transport began with the letter "A". By August 27th, we were at the "L" transport. At the beginning of this effort, in conversations with Karen Good (founder of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue) we were discussing what we could name our efforts to rescue the dogs of Leech Lake. Somehow, through our conversations, the name Leech Lake Legacy emerged. She said that at some point we could come up with a really cool logo using 3 L's and the word "Legacy" ... yes, it has so much meaning. In early July the name Leech Lake Legacy was born along with the Leech Lake Legacy blog. We knew that at some point we would hit the "L" transports and there would be one dog who would get the special name of Legacy. We didn't realize that the "L" transport was going to be one of our larger transports (you can read more about it here) ... on that transport we brought back 18 dogs/puppies and 1 kitten. 13 weak, frail puppies arrived in the "L" transport. The day after the puppies arrived at my house and we were feeding them I noticed one puppy (a cute shepherd mix) shaking, wobbling and walking around like a drunk. He would fall over and would shake uncontrollably then look at me with glazed eyes. He stumbled around but yet, there was something special about this little boy. I feared he had some neurological disorder or that he had epilepsy. As we were photographing each puppy and putting tags on them to identify them we began the naming process. There would only be one dog who would get the name 'Legacy' ... a name that represents the heart of our efforts to save the dogs up at the Reservation. I picked up the shaking, wobbly shepherd mix puppy and said, "I want this boy to be named Legacy."
Missy and Legacy

Along with two other very weak and frail puppies (Lenny and Lazarus), I ended up keeping Legacy and fostering all 3 puppies through Act V Rescue. I had every intention of just fostering him and adopting him out. Both Lenny and Lazarus have new adoptive homes. Lazarus went to his new home this past Monday and Lenny goes to his new home on Saturday. Legacy ... well, this boy kept wiggling his way into my heart. Dr. Vicki of Act V Rescue checked him out and treated him for coccidia -- turns out his symptoms were from either the coccidia or malnutrition/hypoglycemia or both. She immediately started treating him for coccidia and his wobbling and shaking began to dissipate.

The city I live in allows me to have a maximum of 4 animals. I wasn't planning on keeping Legacy. As the weeks went on I noticed how even my dog Missy (who is not good with other dogs) was welcoming him into the pack. And most amazing of all was witnessing my dog Ahnung (who is often regal and does not play with other dogs) respond to Legacy. Legacy began following her around the back yard and then one morning, as I looked out the window, I saw Legacy initiate play with a play bow and Ahnung break into puppy behavior playing like a puppy with Legacy. They played for an incredibly long time. Not only was Legacy learning from my dogs (Mister, Missy and Ahnung) ... they too were learning from him and I was being reminded, again, of the importance of play.

Ahnung and Legacy
Yesterday I was going to blog about Legacy, about how the word Legacy has been coming up in my vocabulary in the past few months (even before adopting Legacy). I've had health issues and I continue to have health issues. I simply have chosen not to focus on them and to live my life. I've shared with friends how I know that my heart problems are very real ... a couple months ago (just 3 weeks after my heart procedure) I learn that my heart is having electrical problems again. I also live with a diagnosis of a rare heart disease (left ventricular non compaction) which will eventually lead to weakening of my heart and eventual heart failure. Doctors can't tell me how much time ... it could be a year or two, or it could be 10 years or more. Yesterday, I got a call from Abbott Northwestern ... a reminder to pre-register for my appointment on Monday to go in to get my heart holter monitor which I will have to wear for 48 hours. I'll know soon if the electrical problems in my heart have gotten worse and if I'll have to have another heart procedure. My health issues haven't gone away .... i have told friends that i'm just grateful to be feeling good most of the time. The reality of knowing that my heart could give out any time can be a scary thought ... for some reason it isn't for me. If anything, it has taught me to really appreciate every day that I have and to recognize that our time on earth is limited. It has given me the opportunity to realize what matters to me, to follow my heart and to give all of me to what I believe in ... and for me, it's about making a difference for abandoned, abused and neglected animals. With health issues, I have found myself asking the questions ... If my time is limited, how can I make a difference on a larger scale? What's the legacy I want to leave behind? I have given my heart and soul to helping animals over the past years (in return, they have given me so much more) ... I believe at the core of everyone is good; I also believe we must think creatively, ask more questions of ourselves, challenge ourselves, and be willing to really listen to each other .... I watch my pup Legacy explore with curiosity his surroundings. I watch him learn different lessons from my dogs Mister, Missy and Ahnung. I watch him test the boundaries. In many ways he's fearless ... I love that. Somehow, I don't think it was a coincidence that he ended up with that name .... that of all the dogs we have rescued off of Leech Lake Reservation that he was the one who got the special name of Legacy, and for me, represents our efforts up at Leech Lake Reservation ... he is, for me ... Leech Lake Legacy.

Yesterday was a sad day for the world as we lost a true visionary, Steve Jobs. He shared  the following in his commencement speech in 2005 to Stanford MBA graduates ... a beautiful reminder to follow our heart .....

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

We all have something that matters to us ... when we face death it changes our perspective. To me, it's been a gift to have these health issues because it has been a reminder to me, to live my life as fully as I can. And like Steve Jobs shared with graduates in his speech, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am going to do today?" I am blessed to be working for the most incredible company (for my paying job) and I am blessed to be able to contribute and volunteer my time to the cause of animal welfare/rescue on such a large scale in the community of Minnesota. If today were the last day of my life, I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. I wish the same for everyone.

And just as my pups Missy, Mister, Ahnung and Legacy learn from each other, may I continue to learn from them ... and may I continue to be reminded of the importance of play as I watch Legacy bring out the puppy in Ahnung ...

and may we all follow our hearts, and live our legacies.


  1. Love the video! As always, I think your head and heart are in the right place. There are a great many things that are simply out of our control and it is counter-productive to fret about those things.

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