From here to there

The other day, we got our signed and counter-signed copy of the Dude’s official adoption contract back from the rescue. Although his adoption date is officially February 24, seeing that contract — all signed by everyone — really made it feel real in our heads. So we got to thinking — how did we get from here:

to here?

We’re not quite sure, but it makes us tear up a little to think about how close he was to the edge.

In a moment of facebook procrastination, I was reading back through the 500+ comments on Doodlebug’s (then “Red”) shelter photo in the Partners of Arlington Animal Services FB page announcing his scheduled euthanasia the following day. I was overwhelmed by how many people had pitched in a little bit of effort to help our boy find home — a few handfuls of monetary pledges to his rescue, several offers to transport him, and some long-distance requests to adopt.

He had only been there two weeks, but it seemed that he earned “favorite” status in his time at the Arlington, TX shelter — by the time our rescue Love-A-Bull agreed to take him, he had already been granted two or three “reprieves” from his schedule euthanasia. Most dogs are not so lucky. But the December 30 date was the last shot. And it turns out our rescue pulled him just in time. What a lucky dude.

But it was more than luck. Partners of Arlington Animal Services is an all-volunteer group dedicated to sharing, re-sharing, and re-re-sharing the photos, stats, and stories of animals on the endangered list at the Arlington, TX shelter. These folks — and a large community around them — work tirelessly to get the word out about dogs and cats in need, and some of these dogs end up winning the lottery — like the Dude.

Via Facebook, the Dude’s photo and rescue plea was shared 400+ times, including one life-saving share — with Love-A-Bull co-founder Lydia. Lydia gets dozens of dogs-in-need shared with her every day, but lucky Dude caught her eye — turns out he looks a whole lot like her love-of-her-life dog, Mocha:

One thing led to another, and the Dude was claimed by Love-A-Bull, overnight fostered by a volunteer, transported by another troupe of generous souls, stopped by our vet’s office to get checked out and fixed, and finally landed in our home three days later — on January 2.

Looking back, I think it’s the sheer volume of activity on Dude’s profile photo from the shelter — more than 500 comments and 400 shares — that is the most astounding to me. I have often been overwhelmed and, frankly, kind of irritated by the amount of energy poured into promoting the sad stories, urgent pleas for help, subtle blame game, and pathetic photos of terrified caged animals that are circulated via facebook as desperate efforts to inspire adoptions. I’ve often thought: sad photos of sad animals don’t work. They don’t inspire adoption or rescue. They only appeal to a small number of people, and those people are already doing everything they can. And in a lot of ways, I still do think that.

So it’s interesting to find ourselves on the opposite side of that equation — if not for the huge and dedicated underground railroad of advocates, shelter workers, volunteers, and facebook activists, Doodlebug would not be sleeping with his butt in my lap and his head on Chick’s hip. He would be dead.

Yes, I still believe that bigger-picture advocacy of adoption and pit bull type dogs in particular, and a strong focus on the positive / happy sides of adoptable animals are the better way forward. But in the meantime, we’re feeling pretty darn thankful for the tireless network that put this ‘Bug in our bed.

Ready to meet your own true love? Check out the adoptable sweethearts from Love-A-Bull!

17 responses

  1. i have to admit i got a bit teary eyed… so much could have gone wrong! thank god did doodle have an army of people caring for him!
    i cannot wait for my first dog rescue… my three cats are all rescues, and i wouldn’t have it any other way!
    much love x

  2. What an amazing transformation when you look at the “before” photo and then the “after” photo. Amazing how so many caring people saw the beautiful boy behind that sad face. Now he’s smiling and part of a lovely family. Brings tears to my eyes and many others, I’m sure.

  3. My last foster, Schatzi, came from Arlington as well. Similar story – she was a staff favorite and had been given the life-saving “reprieve” several times. If it were not for the volunteers at the shelter, she would have died, as so many others do. I saw her photo and said “I want to help save her.” And it was a great moment in my life – one that I will feel proud of for the rest of my life! It is hard to see all the photos of abused, neglected, terrified animals that are left to die, but obviously, it helps them get rescued and adopted. It just takes that one person to say “I’ll do it – I’ll take that unwanted animal in” to keep the hope alive. It’s a powerful thing.

  4. I really love this post. Living in Chicago, I see tons of heartbreaking photos and stories posted about depressed animals sitting in shelters. Though the situation is bad here, it’s even worse in our neighboring cities in the depressed towns in Northwest Indiana. I receive daily emails from their fearless volunteers who work to free their dogs and cats from death row. Sometimes these updates are so unbearable to read that I delete them (which makes me feel like a horrible human being). If I could, I would take them all home … but we all know that’s not a real solution. So I share your mixed feelings about all the sad posts, though ultimately, as Dude’s story reveals, it’s so important to get the word out about what’s happening to our animals. I’m so glad that Dude is a positive example of the power of animal-lovers to work to save lives!

  5. I think we need all types of rescuers – those like you who focus on showcasing the positive aspects of adoption and fostering, which opens many eyes and hearts to adoption that may not have been opened before. This has a long term lasting effect to raise awareness and acceptance of adopting pets. But we also need the network of “urgent” sharers to save the ones we can save now. I’m just so glad that The Dude was lucky enough to have an army of both types of rescuers behind him!

  6. Doodle’s story makes me so happy! I volunteer at the Collin County shelter (not too far from Arlington) and we network our dogs like crazy. We always stay away from the sad pictures and the ‘he is going to die’ posts. We make sure that we take pictures that really show the animal’s personality and good traits, while also being honest about any issues that need to be addressed. I’m always amazed when people come to meet a dog based on the shares of a picture on Facebook. It is so rewarding. Networking saves lives everyday!
    If you get a moment, please take a look at our page:

  7. He’s come such a long way and gone through quite the transformation! How lucky for both him and you guys for fostering him when you did…I’m glad that this tale ended happily for everyone involved 🙂

  8. I often feel the same about all those sad pictures, and it makes me feel so helpless in what I can do, it’s frustrating. But it does make a difference, in the end, doesn’t it? I guess it just sums up what dog rescue is all about really – a ton of heartbreak, heartstring-pulling, hope, and a bit of gambling. But the payoff is unmeasurable – all the joy and love that can result, the bonds created like with your family and the Dude. It’s pretty amazing what one choice, one decision can make.
    Sometimes I wonder what our dogs’ lives would be like without us. Maybe they wouldn’t be here at all. But in the end, I know how lucky we are to have found one another. 🙂

  9. Hi,
    I’m pretty new to your blog (LOVE IT!) and am moved by the story of the Dude! You humans and Chick and Dude seem like one awesome family!

  10. Wow, I had no idea how close the Dude was to death before he was rescued. I must have started following your blog after his sad beginnings. Im so thankful that everyone involved pulled for this little guy, and that he has his forever home w/ you and especially Chick.

  11. Aleks…thank you so much for this post. We in Arlington pulled for this baby so much and were so happy to see him get rescued. I was then even more elated when 2 weeks later I see “Red” featured on your blog!! I can’t tell you how happy I am that he is now yours forever. I have shared this post on the Partners of Arlington Animal Services facebook wall. They will be happy to see the story and hear that their hard and often emotionally tolling work paid off in this case!

  12. I started following the Dude’s story around the time he started his six-week training, so I didn’t know his backstory until now. It hurts me so much to know that he almost didn’t make it, because when I look at him all I can think is what a beautiful, loving boy he is. To know that such a good heart was even being considered for euthanasia is agonizing. I’m just so relieved to know that he was saved and got a second chance at life (and a great one at that!). I know he will make a wonderful foreverdog for Chick and the family.

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