Give a little bit . . .

Give a little bit of your love to Catalina Stirling.

photo courtesy Catalina Stirling

Co-Founder and Director of Jasmine’s House Rescue in Maryland, Catalina’s name entered countless American living rooms through Jim Gorant’s bestselling book about the Michael Vick dog fighting case, Lost Dogs. Catalina’s patient, loving work with Sweet Jasmine — the most shut down of the Vick dogs released to rescue — was neither the beginning nor the end of her involvement in dog rescue, but rather a pivot point.

Catalina spent six months on the enormous-yet-tiny task of coaxing Jasmine out of a hole in her back yard, and many more months celebrating baby steps together — always moving forward. It was a precious, rare, patient, selfless love. After Jasmine died unexpectedly in 2009, Catalina filled part of the hole in her heart by opening Jasmine’s House Rescue with partner Kate Callahan. They envisioned a safe and gentle place for dogs who were dealt a bad hand in life to recuperate and learn to trust once more. And they built it.

photo by Mary Kate McKenna

photo by Mary Kate McKenna

What strikes me most about the good folks at Jasmine’s House is their unwillingness to turn their backs on the hard cases — the dogs who will cost too much to heal and be too difficult to adopt out. Where most rescues make careful calculations about who they can and should take, Catalina operates — to a great extent — on courage and gut.

When I walked into the Montgomery County Humane Society last August and met Little Zee, a 9-year-old pit bull with a mysterious neurological condition, I sat with her for a long time, making promises I was not sure I could keep. My eyes welled up with tears at her likely fate, and in a last-ditch effort to be true to my word, I called Catalina. She said yes.

Little Zee was pulled by Jasmine’s, and what followed was amazing. A massive fundraiser that raised more than $4,000 toward Zee’s care, a surge of popular support for our little elderbull, a record-quick adoption, and a lasting, treasured friendship with Catalina.

Since we moved away, Jasmine’s has continued taking heroic actions to save the dogs who need it most (including our other former foster, Stevie Wonder, when she was given up by her adopters), and extended their reach beyond direct rescue and into community education. Project Mickey — a humane education program that brings Jasmine’s House dogs into inner city Baltimore schools to teach lessons about kindness to animals and each other — stands out as a particularly needed and beautiful effort.

photo courtesy Juliana Willems

I met up with Catalina — and rescue coordinator Heather Cole — for coffee while home in DC last week. It was lovely to catch up. Catalina and Heather told me all about their latest endeavors, their new dogs, and — unfortunately — their financial plight.  True to their mission to help the dogs who draw the short straw in life, Jasmine’s House has recently taken in two very sick dogs — Sunny and Isis. Sunny has late-stage heartworm that will be sensitive and expensive to treat, and Isis has severe pneumonia — which requires intensive steam treatments, regular vet visits, and costly medication. Neither dog’s case is the dramatic kind that inspires heroic acts or donations — they are just sick dogs whose road to recovery will be long and slow, and whose vet bills are high and unexpected. For both of these lucky dogs — like for many others —  Jasmine’s was the last chance.

Sunny. Photo courtesy Jasmine’s House.

They could have said no — they have 20 dogs in rescue, many of which have medical and behavioral issues of their own, and funding in rescue is always scarce. But they said yes.

Stories like Catalina’s remind us of the power of vision, heart, and courage to move mountains. And how beautiful it would be if vision, heart, and courage were enough to soothe all the world’s pains. But money is the magical, scarce ingredient that keeps rescue dreams afloat. The financial support of those of us who believe in this work is what keeps it going.

So if you are able, on this fine summer day, please give a little bit. The dogs thank you.

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29 responses

    • Yes!! Just use the Chip In link at the bottom. Thank you!!

      Typed by my trained monkey. Please excuse tybos.

  1. I wish so badly that I had the money to give to this worthy cause. I will share this blog in hopes it will generate some much needed funds. Blessings on all that you do Catalina and Jasmine’s House Rescue.

  2. Thank you Aleks and everyone. I’m Isis’s foster mom, and I am so glad we were able to save her and care for her on her road to recovery. Every dollar helps … along with every share, if you don’t have a dollar to spare.

    Thanks again. I am honored to be a part of this amazing organization.

  3. Pingback: Leopard « Sadie & Dasie

  4. Just donated! What a great organization-Project Mickey is so important. I used to teach in Harrisburg City schools in PA and was horrified by the culture that surrounds pit bulls and dog fighting. I never realized how prevalent it was until then. Teaching and modeling kindness to animals is so important; it usually ends up spreading into other areas of a person life. Thank you Jasmine’s House!

  5. There are 3,331 subscribers to this blog never mind the ones who have bookmarked it and didn’t subscribe … that works out to be less than 50 cents a person. We can so do this. Thanks for posting about this amazing charity and all the wonderful work it does.

  6. Could not agree more!!! LOVE Jasmine’s House – wish I could increase my monthly donation. Thank you for sharing this :)

  7. Thank you Aleks. I love this story, I love these women and I love those dogs. Jasmine’s story made me cry many times. Thank you for sharing. I will spread the word.

  8. So inspirational! Although I know that most rescues need to run on taking in the “easier to adopt” cases, it is wonderful to know that there is an organization out there who is working to help out those who need some extra love and support. Thank you for sharing – just donated and it looks like they will meet their goal soon! I will definitely be following Jasmine’s House in the future. :)

  9. Reblogged this on Musical Foodie Love and commented:
    This blog takes my breath away. The author has taken on the monumental task of correcting the image problem of the pitbull (which is really just a catch-all phrase for these dogs, most of which are mixed breeds). The dog and animal lover in me just loves the educational value of what she is doing. The compassionate one in me wishes more people would do this sort of thing. Please check this out and help if you can.

  10. I have so much respect for Catalina and Jasmine’s House for taking on the most sick, the most needy dogs. It takes a lot of courage and faith to pull these dogs and give them the chance at a better life when the costs are so high that other rescue groups turn away. I get paid on Friday and will most definitely be sending a donation their way. They are awesome. Until Friday, I am sending lots of positive mojo their way!

  11. Sent a donation from Canada. My Border Collie is also recovering from pneumonia, I hope these two lovely puppies feel better soon!

  12. I had the pleasure of meeting Catalina once. It was one of those moments where you know you’re talking to someone whose mission to help is really selfless and free of ego. She’s lovely and Jasmine’s House is amazing.

  13. I’ll never forget the story of Sweet Jasmine and think the word Catalina has done is amazing and inspiring. There are just no other words to describe her organization.

  14. Just catching up on my reading of your posts……this is an amazing and inspirational story. I will go to the chipin now. And I’ll “like” Jasmine’s House on FB. Thank you!

  15. Pingback: Baxter’s Journey Comes Full Circle | Peace, Love, & Fostering

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