Alex had a rough road when he first came to City Dogs Rescue. Before coming to City Dogs, he had ended up in a shelter, significantly underweight with a chain embedded in his neck. City Dogs received an urgent plea from another rescue group - Alex was scheduled to be put down and no other rescue could take in a dog of his size. He was rescued just in time. He was Heartworm positive and required significant medical treatment.
Despite this rough beginning, Alex found a forever home in April. He goes by another name now - Tilghman. We're delighted to share an update with you today - talk about a success story!
Benjamin and Sam Trojan aren’t sure exactly how much Smokey weighs but they do know that he is one big dog. And their Logan Circle apartment is small. This wasn’t the only thing that made them question whether they were ready for dog ownership. They also regularly travel home to Buffalo, New York, and worried that could be hard on a dog. So when they signed up to give Smokey a foster home, they thought it might be a good way to try out temporary dog ownership while helping out City Dogs Rescue.
But Smokey had other ideas.
Soon, the Trojans noticed that it was becoming difficult to put on the “adopt me!” vest when taking Smokey out for a walk. “Putting the vest on started to taper off as we got more attached,” said Benjamin. Then came the day when they needed to drop Smokey off to meet a potential adopter. While separated from Smokey, they found themselves buying him treats and toys. “I bought him a turtle toy,” Benjamin said. “Of course, he kills most of his toys in a couple days.”
That’s when they realized that, reservations aside, they were ready to adopt Smokey. Luckily the potential adopter had been looking for a smaller dog and “Smokey is a couple 40 pound dogs in one,” said Sam.
Malachi the cat, perky in comparison
By the time Benjamin and Sam knew Smokey was their dog, Smokey had already adopted them. On a Friday, Smokey was nearing the end of a kill list at a shelter in Essex, Virginia. By Sunday, he was off the kill list and exploring the Trojans’ apartment. It took him “about ten minutes” to feel comfortable there, said Sam, a pharmacy technician. They quickly learned that, despite his size, Smokey was a great apartment dweller. “Our cat might have more energy than Smokey does,” said Sam. Malachi the cat and Smokey seem to get along just fine, thanks perhaps to Smokey’s mellow demeanor. Just recently, Sam had to wake Smokey up to take him to the dog park—and once they got there, he opted to continue his nap.
When the about three-year-old dog does socialize, he can be choosy about which dogs he’ll romp around with. Fellow City Dogs Rescue alums seem to be particularly close friends. On a recent visit to the dog park, Smokey quickly recognized fellow CDR dog Bodie before either of the humans had noticed the other was there. In fact, it was a CDR dog who brought Smokey into the Trojans’ life. Benjamin, a student of international relations, had bumped into a volunteer walking a dog with an “adopt me” vest, took one of his cards, and he and Sam soon found themselves volunteering to walk dogs. Last weekend, they also volunteered at a local festival, helping to spread the word about CDR.
Vest off, towel on
Volunteers helped them find solutions to their other dog-owning hang-ups, such as identifying places to board Smokey when they travel. But the transition to dog ownership has been easier than expected. “Before you get a dog, you do all this planning,” said Sam. But once the dog is at home in your apartment and even puts himself to bed in his crate, “it just falls into place.”
In fact, Smokey will soon travel to Buffalo to meet his extended family. They’ve been mailing him toys and Benjamin’s Aunt Chrissy (who has also become a fan of CDR on Facebook and a donor!) may treat him to a day at a ritzy dog spa—an experience Smokey will surely enjoy napping through.
They suspect Smokey is a mix of lab and bloodhound. When a fire truck with blaring sirens recently went by, Smokey added his own howl to the mix (and “perfectly matched the tone” of the fire trucks, says Benjamin), adding to their suspicious that Smokey is a bit of a hound dog.
Smokey snoozes in his new home
Though it’s only been two months, Sam said they feel like they’ve had Smokey in their lives forever. “Besides, we like going to the dog park even more than he does, so we could never get rid of him,” she said.
If you’re able to foster a dog, Benjamin, says, “Do it. That’s it. Do it. Every dog that you foster comes off the kill list.” Sam adds that CDR volunteers are always willing to lend foster families a hand; “they’ll help you out, no matter what,” she said. “They’re wonderful people.”
If you'd like to take Benjamin and Sam's advice and foster a dog, click here to find out what it entails.
Not sure? Watch this silly video of Smokey and imagine this happening in your house (or tiny apartment).
I had put in an adoption application for a specific dog through City Dogs Rescue, but that dog was already in the process of being adopted into a new home. Instead of City Dogs Rescue saying, “Sorry maybe next time.” Sasha, the Adoption Coordinator, gave me a call and asked me more in detail about the type of dog I was looking for. She told me about a dog she had recently seen on the site of one of City Dog Rescue's shelter partners and thought he would be a good fit for my lifestyle.
His name was Flipper.
Immediately after seeing a photo of him, I knew he was supposed to be my dog. Everyone at City Dogs Rescue was helpful in giving me the proper information about Flipper (vaccinations, general temperament, etc.). Since they knew that I wanted Flipper but hadn't had a chance to meet him, they offered to me the unusual option of fostering him until I decided to adopt him or until they could find him a good home. (They were willing to offer me this non-standard option because they were comfortable with my application and were already pulling dogs from this same shelter the next day). My gut instinct was, he’s my dog and I needed to get him out of the shelter and into a loving home. Just from my first experience with City Dogs Rescue, I knew that this organization not only cared for the well-being of the dogs they rescue, but also the potential adopters.
Flipper on his first day home!
With an amazing personality and such an expressive face, Flipper came into my life in February 2012. One thing that I was planning to work with him on was food aggression, an issue that City Dogs Rescue had learned about from his shelter records and had informed me prior to fostering. I thought his food aggression in the beginning was just because he was in a shelter. He was growling and guarding his food, which didn’t set off any real alarms, because he likely he had to fight for his own food in the past. I kept City Dogs Rescue informed of everything that seemed “off”. I always received positive feedback and support from them.
However, one Sunday evening at 10pm the aggression escalated and he had lunged and attacked me. I immediately notified Sasha that night and told her I was not sure if I could adopt Flipper anymore. She was very concerned for me and talked to the Directors, Dave and Darren, that night. After multiple emails through out the evening and into the next morning, Dave and Darren asked if they could come by to talk to me about what my options were with Flipper. They said I could continue to foster him until they found him a suitable home or give him back to City Dogs Rescue. They were completely understanding and supportive of my situation and realized how difficult this was for me, emotionally and physically. I didn’t feel pressured by anyone from City Dogs Rescue to keep Flipper in my household, but I knew that we had created a special bond. After much consideration I decided to continue to foster Flipper while having a personal dog trainer work with us on how to rehabilitate his food aggression.
Three months later, after seeing much improvement (I could now put my hand in his bowl while he was eating), I decided to adopt Flipper. Throughout this period of time, Darren, Dave and Sasha emailed me to ask for updates on to learn about how things wee going. Flipper and I have both come a long way and there is still a lot of work to be done, but I am extremely thankful to City Dogs Rescue for everything that they have done for us. It’s truly an organization that cares about its dogs and its foster parents/adopters.
I could not see my life without Flipper and I am forever thankful for the love and support City Dogs Rescue have given me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!
Postscript: I so enjoyed working with the folks at City Dogs Rescue that I became the Foster Coordinator! ~Alissa and Flipper
The first photo published by James Calder from a City Dogs Rescue event.
James Calder has always had a love of animals and was interested in helping them out but, “but being an urban, non-car owner, I hadn't come across any good opportunities to be a regular volunteer. Then I learned about the launch, or rather re-launch, of City Dogs Rescue when my wife Leigh and I posted an article and photo gallery on DCist about the Washington Hilton's Community Doggie Dip at the end of last summer.”
Calder discovered the non-profit dog rescue organization was within walking distance from his home and went to the website to sign up.
“One of the volunteer categories was photographer. Since that's my biggest passion, it was a perfect fit!” said Calder.
Calder’s portfolio, which includes such subject matters as travel, weather, music and sports, says he probably averages between two to four hours of volunteer time with City Dog Rescue between taking the photos and editing them. James is also a great resource for the dogs in boarding at City Dogs Daycare. Since these dogs do not have foster families for the adoption coordinators to talk to, James provides invaluable insight into the personalities of new dogs.
“Whenever there are new dogs brought to CDR, or if there are events to promote the dogs for adoption that I can attend, I’m there to photograph them. So I’m sort of ‘on call.’”
City Dogs Rescue Communications Director Meredith says, "The photos from James have been instrumental in helping promote our dogs and find them homes. Many of the photos we receive initially from the shelters are so depressing. I'm always so excited to see the photos that James takes because he does an amazing job capturing the true personalities of each individual dog. He's very talented and I love how he can get the goofy pictures and the money shots!"
Leigh often helps as a handler for the photo shoots.
Calder is no stranger to volunteering and his family and friends are often the source of his volunteer efforts. His wife, Leigh, got him involved with Scottie’s Place (a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower, educate and enliven impoverished, homeless and at-risk children) and Community of Hope (who supports families with healthcare, housing and education) where he not only lends his photographic efforts but also helps with IT work. A friend who used to work for Washington Animal Rescue league got him involved with their calendar; and he recently photographed an event for DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (who are office neighbors to LogicNets where he is the Chief Brand and Marketing Officer).
Photo by Marc Santos Photography
“Soccer is another strong passion of mine,” Calder said. “I volunteered for a year with DC Scores where I shot events and refereed soccer matches.”
He also has a long-standing volunteer record with the non-profit DC Rollergirls and local news and entertainment blog DCist. A friend to the captain of the team, he started out in 2006 shooting mostly the Cherry Blossom Bombshells for the first two seasons. Due to a hectic work schedule with a job in Baltimore, he had to take a hiatus, but in 2010 when they launched their All-Star team, the timing worked out for Calder to return. James has even recruited members of the Rollergirls as CDR volunteers!
“Since then, I now shoot pretty much all things DC Rollergirls, from individual player headshots and team photos to the “home team” bouts and the All-Stars, whether at home or on the road at regional tournaments, in locations from White Plains, NY to Raleigh, NC.” He’s even earned a derby moniker “Shutterthug.”
James gets down low to capture our dogs close up.
For Calder, it’s a no-brainer why he enjoys volunteering. “I want to be a productive member of my community, whether that means helping those (human or animal) less fortunate than I, or challenging myself to improve my creative skills while contributing to a cause and working with a group of smart, fun people that are passionate about what they do.”
When Calder is shooting photos for City Dog Rescue, he gets a kick out of getting down low with a wide-angle lens. He says sometimes the dog’s reaction is “too adorable.” And volunteering for a dog rescue organization provides opportunity for lots of unplanned, funny moments.
Meme (now Lucy) jumps up on a couple in Dupont.
“The first time I accompanied the volunteer dog walkers in April to photograph the new arrivals, one of the dogs, Meme, was so comfortable with her new surroundings, that she approached a couple sitting on a bench in the middle of Dupont Circle and casually jumped onto their combined laps as if they were her family!”
Calder’s own furry family members include two rescue cats and, if his apartment building would allow them, he said they’d have a dog, too.
“Volunteering with City Dog Rescue at least gives us a regular puppy fix.” To see more photographs from James Calder, visit his website. To sign up to volunteer your own talent, visit our volunteer page.
City Dogs Rescue just celebrated its 50th dog adoption. To celebrate their 50th dog adoption they have created a videoshowcasing the adopted dogs and their new families. The adoption form is on City Dogs Rescue‘s website where you will also find a list and photographs of the dogs.
You can also help City Dogs Rescue by making a donation to help rescue more dogs. However, adopting a dog is just one of the ways you can help — you can also foster dogs or volunteer your time to help walk them. A spokesperson for City Dogs Rescue said their summer dog walking spots are full, but they will have openings in the early fall.
City Dogs Rescue regularly organizes events in the neighborhood where you can adopt a dog or sign up to volunteer — with adoption and fundraising activities at local bars, stores and community festivals in Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, U Street, Adams Morgan and other neighborhoods. Their next one will be during the2012 Capital Pride Festival, Sunday, June 10, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.