Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Cats' Meow

Rachael Resk, the founder of PURRS Naperville Cat Rescue, is a nationally known animal communicator, professional animal behaviorist and spiritual teacher. She is pictured above with “Jacob,” her own brown tabby who passed away shortly after this photo was taken. Rachael is blessed with an amazing knowledge of animal behavior fundamentals and an uncanny understanding of animals and “their people.” Her intuition and animal communication skills have helped many an owner work with an animal behavioral issue, medical concern, or simply build upon a bond that already exists. She has also found several lost pets -- and a few missing persons!

When the NNHS Animal Shelter is dangerously full of cats and kittens, PURRS and Rachael have always been there to help. Last year, 31 shelter cats were transported to PURRS. All of those cats have now found permanent homes. Once again this year, just before litter season began in our community, another 24 cats traveled via transport to PURRS in February and March.

Among the cats traveling to Naperville in March this year was a kid named “Chaser,” a beautiful four-year-old gray and white fella. Chaser arrived at the shelter with what was determined to be an old spinal injury near his tail. The injury made it difficult for Chaser to walk sometimes or to use his litter box. While he seemed somewhat standoffish at first, when we discovered the old injury, it wasn’t hard to figure out why he had to be handled carefully to avoid causing him pain.

I told Rachael that I feared Chaser might need surgery to correct
the old injury. A month later she emailed to say that, after having been seen by their vet and then adjusted by a “kitty chiropractor” a couple of times, Chaser was pain-free and back to walking normally and using his litter box as if he’d never had a problem. Rachael added: “Everyone loves Chaser!”

Chaser is not the first NNHS “special needs” cat Rachael has asked us to send her way for treatment, and we trust he won’t be the last.

The NNHS cats all talk about you, Rachael! You are their guardian angel when they simply cannot find good homes here in Maryville. Thank you!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Pet's Ten Commandments

1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years.
Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don't be angry with me for long, and don't lock me up
as punishment. You have your work, friends, entertainment;
I have only YOU.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words,
I do understand your voice when you speak to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that
I could hurt you; and yet, I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative,
ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm
not getting the right food, have been in the sun too long,
or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old.
You too will grow old.

10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please.
Never say you can't bear to watch. Don't make me face
this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there,
because I love you so!

~ Take a moment today to thank God for your pets.
Enjoy and take good care of them. Life would be a much
duller, less joyful experience
without God's critters.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Black Dog Express

Former NNHS shelter dog, "Chocolate," is pictured above with his new family.

Black dogs (especially black Labs) are invariably overlooked at shelters across the country. Most people may not be aware of how doomed a black dog is when it arrives as a stray or an owner release. It’s tragic that far too many of these wonderful dogs are euthanized at pounds and shelters each week. “Contrary to Ordinary,” a website dedicated to these animals, suggests that the plight of black dogs is due to what they term the "black dog syndrome." Black dogs, they point out, are nearly invisible as potential adopters seek more colorful pets. They refer to these dogs as “The Black Pearls of the Dog World”.

The NNHS shelter provides sanctuary to many “black pearls” each year. Most are Labs or Lab/Shepherd mixes. As soon as they arrive at the shelter door, the rescue team begins searching for organizations in other parts of the country where these shiny-coated, good
-natured dogs are more in demand – just in case they aren’t adopted at our shelter.

Such was the case with Pansy, Tyson, Goliath, Irie, Kool, Josie, Donner, Doodle, Piston, Phoenix, Novella, and Chocolate in February and March this year. All 12 of them were transported to a wonderful rescue near Chicago whose mission is to help the seemingly “invisible” black dogs. With help from volunteer rescue transporters (Judy, Gary, Mary, Don, and Kelley) they were driven on the first leg of their transport to a second chance at life.

Chocolate (above with best friend Bella) had been with us since June 2008. While his estimated age was 4 years, he played like a young pup. Sitting in a shelter cage for 9 months didn’t dampen his spirits. In providing us with an update on our former shelter buddy, rescue writes: “Here is a picture of Wags (Chocolate) with his new sister Bella in the spring snow storm we are having today. Bella is 7 years young since she found Wags. They are best buds. Wags is also a perfect gentleman with their two small children. They just adore him. He must think he died and went to heaven! YEA FOR WAGS! His full name, per the kids, is ‘Wags Luv Peanut Butter Slight’ (the nickname given him by a two- and a four-year old). Thanks for all you have done for him! Know now that he is happy, safe and loving life!!!!”

Josie (now named “Kiera" and pictured above) is a beautiful black Lab who was overlooked at the NNHS shelter. Now, she is the pride and joy of two adorable children, a Beagle, and a cat named Flashbulb. Life is good!

This posting wouldn't be complete without mentioning the two NNHS shelter brothers, Piston and Phoenix. The boys arrived together as pups back in October 2008. We watched them grow into adults. As potential adopters passed them by, they would jump on the cage doors begging for attention (that they rarely got). Phoenix and Piston are pictured below at a doggie day care center shortly after they were transported to Illinois. What a blessing to see these two boys enjoying their new-found freedom ... no leashes, no cages -- just running FREE like other healthy dogs!

Donner (now named Chance and pictured below) hit the jackpot big-time! It’s easy to see how much he thinks of “Brie,” his new little girl. His adoptive family writes the following: “Here are some pictures of our new dog … Chance!! He is BEAUTIFUL! Chance was rescued from Missouri, and we were blessed enough to find him and get to adopt him as our own! We've had him almost a month now. He is about 10 months old. He's great with Brie and Stewie! He listens very well, and trains very quickly so far. He follows us around in our yard, and learned his yard boundaries in just one day!! He LOVES to play ball, eat bones, and run! He naps with Brie beside her bed at nap time; and, during the night, he goes between his bed (which is at the foot of our bed) and Brie's room. He's such a wonderful addition to our family! We hope you enjoy the pics!!”

As Alain Boucheron so eloquently writes on the “Contrary to Ordinary” website:

“To appreciate a diamond, the surface must be pierced to release the dazzling display of color that comes form its heart; but to appreciate the pearl, the eye must simply gaze upon its surface to behold its soft color and peaceful beauty.”

Saturday, April 11, 2009

PURRS -- Here, There and Everywhere!

Over the past six months, a wonderful cat rescue in Illinois – PURRS Naperville – has provided a loving sanctuary for over 50 NNHS shelter cats. Rachael Resk, PURRS’ founder, is a nationally known animal communicator and feline and canine behaviorist.

Our relationship with PURRS began in August 2008 when 15 shelter cats (Hector, Nessie, Wendy, Gypsy, Turquoise, Mitzie, Lucia, Archie, Duncan, White Fang and his brother Ozzie, Brittany, Harmony, Koy, and Mitzie) really had something to PURR about. Rachael agreed to get them OUT of shelter cages and find good permanent homes for them all.

Shelter dogs headed to rescue often enjoy settling down on a blanket in the back of a vehicle with a rawhide bone and taking in the scenario as they travel. They don’t mind getting out every 1½ to 2 hours to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, have a drink of water, and then (in most cases) are ready to jump into a different vehicle for the next “leg” of a transport. Not so with cats!

For most cats, riding in vehicles is somewhat traumatic. Switching them from cage-to-cage on a leg-by-leg transport isn’t recommended. Even the most gentle of cats is usually frightened. Since the shelter cannot afford to send cat cages forward (never getting them back again for the next time they're needed), we always try to find one or two drivers who are willing to transport the cats non-stop to rescue. In August, Barb, a shelter employee, quickly volunteered to make the long trip to Naperville with our 15 shelter kids.

Even though Rachael had found homes for all the Missouri cats transported to her in August, by October 2008 the shelter was caring for close to 90 cats – far beyond the facility’s capacity. PURRS came to our rescue again when Rachael agreed to take 16 of our much-loved cats under her wing. For Tippy, Buster, Poki, Patsy, Star, Sephie, Leona, Lana, Cali, Tiger, Bruno, Fiesta, Winter, Chani, Charise, and Patches it meant EVERYTHING – no more living in a cage and the opportunity to be adopted into a carefully-screened home for the rest of their lives.

This is just the first part of the story. It doesn’t include the lucky cats that have traveled to PURRS in 2009 and the rescue heroes who made it possible.

More about Rachael’s loving heart and the lives she has touched coming soon!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Sister, My Friend

I looked at all the cages animals in the shelter;
The cast-offs of human society.
I saw in their eyes love and hope,
Fear and dread, sadness, and betrayal.
I was angry!

"God," I said, "this is terrible"
Why don't you do something?"
God was silent for a moment,
and then spoke softly,
"I have done something,"
was the reply.
"I created YOU!"

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thanks for Taking Time

Andy and Scott have taken time out from their busy schedules to make this blog possible. Despite inumerable emails, phone calls back and forth, and a great of hand-wringing on my part, their support has remained steadfast. For that, I am so very grateful!

Andy set up the blog format in record time. When I unadvertently caused irreparable damage by tinkering with the format, he very calmly re-formated and, then, often had to reformat again. Andy, bless you for your endless patience!

Scott, on the other hand, felt more at liberty to let me know when he was nearing the end of his rope -- especially after Lesson 3 ... or perhaps it was Lesson 4.

I love you both for helping me spread the word!

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks??

Get Involved

"Animals lend a touch of grace to our lives
by teaching us the real meaning
of unconditional love and by bringing out
the kindest and best impulses in us.
They give us so much and ask for so little." ~ Carol Kline
There are many ways our community can get involved with rescue:

1. When NNHS shelter dogs are transported to rescue, we provide them with new collars and leashes – gifts from the Rescue Team to wish them good luck in their new lives.

Please Help Us! Add a couple of collars and leashes to your grocery cart once in a while and drop those items off at the shelter. Be sure the shelter staff knows they are specifically for the NNHS Rescue Program. Or, call Marlene (660-562-4612), and she’ll be glad to pick them up.

2. When our cuddly shelter cats find new homes with rescue organizations, we have to find a driver to travel non-stop with them to their destination. Most recently, that has been the Davenport or Chicago area. We provide our dedicated drivers with gas money, food money, and an overnight stay before they return to Maryville the next day – returning all our cat cages with them.

Please Help Us! We can always use more cat cages. So, if you have some you no longer use, please let us know. We’ll even pick them up if you’d like us to.

3. Our shelter is responsible for lining up drivers for the first “leg” of any transport. For example, if a couple of our shelter dogs have found foster homes in Minnesota, the first “leg” of the trip will likely be from Maryville to Lamoni, IA. Transports are almost always set up on weekends because so many drivers have full-time jobs during the week.

Please Help Us! If you can spend three or four hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning driving dogs on the first leg of their journey to a new life, we want to hear from you. Call Marlene at (660) 562-4612, email Marlene at, or tell Cindy at the shelter that you are available to drive. This is a team effort, and we welcome new volunteers!

4. We have been blessed to find amazing rescues in Illinois and Wisconsin who have made a commitment to OUR shelter dogs – especially the black ones that have been at the shelter for six months or more. When a rescue is willing to put 10 of our dogs into doggie day care of foster homes, we are thrilled. But, we don’t always have enough cages.

Please Help Us! In order to move all sorts of dogs – big, small, the more senior kids, and the puppies and kittens, we need crates of all sizes – most especially medium and large dog crates!

5. Financial Donations? We put any and all donations to very good use. The Rescue Team does not receive financial assistance from the New Nodaway Humane Society. We are responsible for raising or own funds to pay the shelter pull fees, help with vetting on the animals before they travel, and paying for gasoline needed to get them on their way – to Minnesota, Colorado, Wisconsin, or wherever their new families anxiously await their arrival.

Please Help Us! Any and all donations to the Rescue Program are appreciated. Unfortunately, we do not have non-profit status, so your donations are not considered tax-deductible. If you would like to help our grassroots effort to ensure that abandoned animals have a second chance at life, checks can be mailed to:

Marlene Thompson

620 West Halsey Street, Apt. 5
Maryville, MO 64468

Or, you can make a deposit to my PayPal account ( by going to

Thanks so much for getting involved!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dew, the Black Lab

Dew arrived at the NNHS shelter in 2006. Aside from being moved from one cage to another when the staff cleaned in the mornings, he rarely got to go outside on a leash. Yet his spirit never waned. Did he know that someone, somewhere would rescue him? Was it possible when there are thousands of black Labs put down every day in shelters all across the country?

A rescue organization in Bloomingburg, New York heard the plea and hit the ground running … to save some Labs … Labs they didn't know … in a part of the country they'd never visited. After putting some of our black Labs on their website, an adopter contacted them about Dew. An adoption application was carefully reviewed in Maryville and in New York and approved. Dew had a home! Now, how on earth would Dew get to New York?

After a lot of research and hard work, an NNHS rescue volunteer had the good fortune to meet Stephanie on line. Stephanie lives in California and is a certified Over the Road Animal Transit driver. En route to vacation in Massachusetts, she decided to save some dogs along the way. When she showed up at the NNHS shelter, she spent a considerable amount of time with Dew, the lucky dog she decided would accompany her on to New York. Do these kinds of things really happen? Are there really kind-hearted people in this world who will commit to saving one dog? You betcha!

From their pet-friendly hotel room the first night (a Ramada Inn, no less), she wrote: "My favorite part of the night was when Dew discovered his own reflection! I had so much fun watching him. There was a small stepstool/ottoman that I placed in front of the bureau and he learned how to step up on it to get higher up to see his reflection…. He's VERY smart.”

Those of us who loved Dew at the shelter always knew he had potential. He is pictured below in his new home with his new Dad. Way to go, Dew!


Connie Rides Shotgun to New York

An eight-year-old Australian Cattle Dog, Connie, and her owner were inseparable. Yep. She was spoiled and treated like a baby. Even when her elderly owner became quite ill, Connie never left his side. He needed her there, and that's where she was determined to stay – steadfast to the end. Her owner asked Michelle (his caretaker) to make sure that Connie was well cared for when he passed. Michelle tried hard to fulfill the commitment she made. But, when it became impossible for her, she brought Connie to the NNHS shelter.

Connie became a top priority for the Rescue Team. No one could ever replace her former owner, but someone would surely see the love in her heart and the sparkle in her eyes; she still had so much to give.
It took three months to find a rescue willing to help. Finally, Vicki in Pennsylvania responded that they had a foster home for Connie. Fantastic news! Now, how could Connie get to the east coast?

Trucker Tom, known far and wide among rescue organizations from Colorado to New Jersey, for his willingness to transport dogs to safety in his 18-wheeler. Tom's a certified Operation Roger transporter and a skilled dog handler. Long story short, you had to be there to see Connie sitting next to Tom in the passenger seat as they pulled out – north bound and down to Pennsylvania.

Connie (on the left) is pictured here with her new owner, Susan, and her best friend, “Marshall”. THIS IS WHAT RESCUE IS ALL ABOUT!

How It Works

Take one homeless animal.
Stir in a kind-hearted shelter worker.
Gently add one caring rescue person,
A tired transport coordinator,
And a tireless transport driver;
And what do you get?
Another animal saved!

The NNHS shelter is always overcrowded with abused, neglected and abandoned animals. Until such time as spay and neuter become law in towns, cities and rural areas throughout Missouri and nationwide, the situation isn’t likely to change. As the New Nodaway Humane Society’s Board of Directors struggles to remain financially solvent, adoption and rescue are the only two options for maintaining the shelter's low-kill status in rural northwest Missouri. When adoption does not provide enough homes for the many animals that come into the shelter each month, we turn to rescue for a helping hand.

Step 1 – Find a Rescue Organization
After a great deal of research and lots of emails, we have been fortunate to work with some of the best rescues in the country. Often, there’s more of a demand for our dogs and cats in other parts of the country than there is here in Nodaway County. Thousands of emails have been sent to rescue organizations over the past three years. Fortunately, many of those groups have responded to our pleas for help.

Step 2 – Testing, Taking Additional Pictures and Scheduling Vetting
Before arrangements can be made for transporting shelter animals, a Rescue Checklist is prepared for the shelter staff. Vetting often includes spay/neuter, a rabies vaccine (always required when transporting across state lines), a heartworm test and preventative for dogs and a FIV/FeLK test for cats. Appointments are made with our local veterinarians, and the paper trail to rescue begins.

Since those who work for rescue organizations cannot see the animals in person, we are often asked to re-visit the shelter to take additional pictures. Dogs in particular must be social and get along with other dogs, our team often does extensive testing for dog-aggression, food-aggression and other potential behavioral issues. Dogs are walked through the main cat room to determine whether they are cat-friendly.

There can be no surprises when one of our animals arrives at rescue and is placed in a foster home (or, in some case, a new adoptive home) where the family may have pets of their own.

Step 3 – Setting up a Transport and Recruiting Volunteer Drivers
Shelter dogs and cats from Maryville have been transported in two-hour segments, leg-by-leg, to rescue organizations in Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and New York. It’s a formidable effort that requires full-time oversight. We are blessed to have a professional transport coordinator who performs miracles almost every week by getting shelter animals to rescue.

Words do not adequately reflect the magnitude of a large transport. Until you have been involved in one, it’s quite difficult to explain the bond between drivers and rescue animals and the between the coordinator and her merry band of highly experienced volunteer drivers. Each driver travels with water, water bowls, the occasional dog treat, paper towels, wipes for accidents, and extra collars and leashes. They are prepared. Many have encountered long delays due to inclement weather, accidents on the interstates or when a driver is running behind schedule due to a flat tire or other vehicle emergency. They are experts at what they do, and they take their responsibilities very seriously.

Step 4 – The Transport
On the day of transport, Maryville drivers must arrive at the shelter early enough to exercise the dogs, offer them water, and get them loaded. A shelter staffer meets the driver(s) at the shelter – quite often before the crack of dawn – to assist. Each dog travels with an envelope that has its picture on the cover. The paperwork includes the shelter-to-rescue paperwork, the shelter vetting on that particular dog, a Rabies tag, and a health certificate.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Pete and Bubba

When the only home Bubba and Pete had ever known was torn apart by their owner's death, their lives fell apart. As if coping with the sudden loss wasn't traumatic enough, the duo found themselves shut in a shelter cage surrounded by strangers. Pete, a normally happy-go-lucky eight-year-old Pug was horrified. But he knew somehow Bubba would take care of him as he had for the past several years. And Bubba did!

Little did anyone know that hope and help were nearby for the big guy and his little sidekick. One of the shelter's rescue volunteers immediately contacted a rescue organization in Kansas City. Within hours of learning of their dilemma, this top-notch rescue made a commitment to Bubba and Pete. The following weekend, both dogs were transported to a foster home near Kansas City – together! But for how long?

Fortunately, Molly and Darrell, a retired couple from Georgia, fell in love with the twosome immediately and adopted both. THIS IS WHAT RESCUE IS ALL ABOUT!

Rescue Team

Since 2006, a three-member rescue team, operating in conjunction with NNHS Shelter staff, has worked day and night to place the shelter's urgent dogs and cats with well-researched rescue organizations.

In the past three years nearly 400 dogs and cats from the NNHS shelter have been transported in two-hour segments, leg-by-leg, to top-notch rescue organizations in Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and New York. It's a huge undertaking for three Maryville volunteers who believe that saving one animal makes a difference – especially to that one animal. It couldn't be done without the hard work and cooperation of an amazing shelter staff (Cindy, Sue, Kim, Barb, Jelyna) charged with getting the dogs vetted and ensuring they are healthy for travel. Obviously, n
one of this would be possible without the financial donations
we receive from a handful of kind-hearted contributors. They know who they are and what their contributions mean to our effort. THANK YOU!

Team Members:

Although Sharon has a full-time job and has pets of her own, she spends her “free” time researching rescues throughout the country to make sure they are no-kill facilities and “worthy” of the dogs and cats we have come to love at the NNHS Animal Shelter. Once the research has been completed, Sharon spends her weekends and evenings asking these organizations to consider pulling dogs and cats from our shelter and into their rescue programs. Through Sharon’s tireless efforts, we have been blessed to work with some of the finest rescues in the country.

Not only does D’Ann work non-stop to physically get shelter dogs and cats to rescue, she has also volunteered to take each animal’s picture when they arrive at the shelter so they can be placed on the NNHS website. She is our “dog whisperer” – the one who, after spending a relatively short amount of time with an animal, feels its frustration and fear. Rescues want to know everything possible about our dogs and cats before they agree to pull them from the shelter. D’Ann spends hours testing the dogs, taking additional pictures, and then actually transporting the shelter’s seemingly difficult-to-adopt animals on the first leg of their journey to a new life.

Working as a liaison with the shelter staff, Marlene coordinates with rescuing organizations to ensure the dogs and cats they take from our shelter are what they expect. She assists with testing – both cats and dogs -- and provides the shelter staff with information for the shelter-to-rescue transfer paperwork required by Missouri State Law. Marlene maintains the NNHS website ( and is also the founder and coordinator of the shelter’s Buddy Program (see link to Buddy Program to the left).


About Rescue

Our operation is a grassroots effort to find safe, loving homes for dozens of pets residing in cages at the New Nodaway Humane Society (NNHS) Animal Shelter. Although we strive to find homes for these animals via local adoption, it is also necessary to rely on rescue in order to save the lives of as many of these animals as possible. We're proud of our low-kill status at the shelter!

The rescue process can be quite complex and challenging. It begins with finding a rescue organization in another area (we’ve placed animals with organizations as far away as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Colorado) where there is a demand for one or more of our animals. Next, the animals are given shots and routine medical care, including spaying or neutering, and are tested for aggressivity or other behavioral issues. Additional photos may be required to share with potential adopters.

Finally, a transport must be organized. For longer transports, this may involve as many as six to ten trained volunteer drivers who each complete 1 1/2- to 2-hour legs along the route. A wonderful coordinator sets up these transports "in her free time". The level of responsibility and dedication required of drivers to make the transports successful is intense. Most have full-time jobs and are willing to give up their weekends (and their hard-earned gas money) to get OUR animals to safety. However, the payoff is the sort of inspiring stories shared on this blog—of animals previously seen as misfits or throwaways who are able to find new homes where they are treasured as members of the family.

Enjoy the stories, and if you’d like to help facilitate our efforts, please email me or check out my “Get Involved” post. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


In December 2008, Admiral had been at the NNHS shelter over a year. Last summer, Ron and Sharon Bonnett, Admiral’s Shelter BUDDIES, started visiting the shelter to spend time with the dogs. Sharon had her favorites, and Ron (who has trained dogs professionally) donated his time and patience to Admiral. Before we realized it, Admiral would heel and sit. He was just learning to stay when Gary in Council Bluffs called the shelter to ask if Admiral was still available. We quickly responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes. He’s here, and he’s been trained by his BUDDY.”
Gary and his family brought their Boxer pup, Bosley to the Maryville shelter to get to know Admiral. Ron walked the family through a number of commands. That day – that snowy, blustery December day before Christmas -- Admiral was adopted. Just recently Gary sent pictures of Admiral (now called Angus) on what has become Angus’ loveseat. He’s HOME, and we’re all thrilled! Thank you, Ron, for making Admiral into a true gentleman! Thanks to Gary and his family for making Angus “a regular family