Dog Rescue: A Passionate Tale about Tails

Pepper

Alex and Pepper

Shine Ministry Spotlight: Step into the World of Rescue with Alex Davis


Spotlight gives ministries and volunteers the opportunity to share their passion to connect with others who may want to contribute or partner with their mission.


Does your heart ache when you see the photos of sad dog faces, some of whom are bruised, battered, and starved? Have you wondered how you could possibly help those poor souls who have no voice? You can. Learn more about the rescue world and how you can make a difference in the lives of both rescuers and their forever families—one foster, one adoption at a time.

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You’ve probably heard the horror stories of raids on puppy mills, properties of pet hoarders, and dog fighting rings. Maybe you’ve encountered a hungry dog rummaging through garbage on the side of the road. Texas and many southern state shelters are full of unwanted animals who’ve grown up on the streets, were dumped on the side of the road, or owner-surrendered to a local high-kill shelter. The euthanasia list is a continuous tally of dogs who are days, hours, and minutes from their last breath. Yes, the stories are sad, but there is hope for many of these dogs. Just a few states away, in Colorado the local shelters and Human Societies are relatively empty with many families wanting to adopt a life-long companion.

Brylie

States such as Texas and New Mexico have supply and Colorado has demand—a perfect solution. But how do we get these dogs to their forever families? The heroes are the non-profit rescues and their dedicated volunteers who step in to fill this void. Their sacrificial stories are amazing—joyful, heart-wrenching, tiresome, and heart-warming. One young woman’s story will both inspire you and leave you feeling exhausted. My prayer is that Alex’s story will move you to take just one small step deeper into the rescue world where your efforts will be personally rewarding.

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Alex’s Story

When Alex was 6 years old, her mother asked her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She replied, “I want to be a seal trainer, have 10 dogs, 10 cats, and 10 kids.” In middle school, Alex slept in the garage for a week on a blow-up mattress with 2 stray dogs she nick-named Scooby and Spice. You could say she was babysitting those two until she could find their owners. In high school, Alex volunteered at the Houston SPCA. Now at 25, Alex is a certified veterinary technician with 3 dogs and 1 cat. She’s fostered over 200 dogs in nearly 4 years and directly touched the lives of thousands of rescue animals. What does the future hold for Alex? Who knows, but it may be too small to fit in those 10 kids.

Scobby

Alex and Scooby [2004]

She adopted her first dog in 2013, followed by a second and a cat in 2014. Based on a New Year’s resolution, in January 2016 she submitted her foster application to New Hope Cattle Dog Rescue (NHCDR) and got her first heeler, Juno, that March. Over 50% of first-time fosters adopt their rescue, and Alex almost became one of those statistics. She refused to become a “foster failure” and pushed through her tears to let Juno go to another family, so she could once again foster and give more dogs a chance at a forever home.

Today she searches social media sites for dogs to tag, runs short- and long-haul transports, provides basic medical care, screens adopters, does adopter home checks, evaluate fosters, helps with behavioral training, attends and sets up adoption events, serves on the Board of Directors of NHCDR, and works collaboratively with many other rescue non-profits.

How Does Rescue Start?

As Alex became more entrenched into the rescue world, she became aware first-hand of the struggle in springing a dog out of so-called Texas prison. There are multiple hands that touch a dog’s life from when it’s pulled off the Texas streets or shelter to its forever destination in the home of a Colorado family. The most critical need in the system is available foster homes—especially in Texas where the process begins.

SpotRescue starts when someone posts on social media, commonly Facebook, a dog found dumped on the streets or when volunteers post photos/video of available shelter dogs. Yes, there are volunteers who walk the Texas shelter aisles—whose sole purpose is to put those adoptable dog faces behind wire cages on social media, so someone’s heart can be tugged. A Colorado rescue can commit to take the dog but will only do so if it has a short-term foster in the shelter area that can hold the dog for about 1-3 weeks while out-of-state transport can be arranged and the minimum vetting completed to take the dog across state lines.

Two PittiesShelters will routinely allow registered 501c3 rescues to pull dogs for free by submitting their nonprofit incorporation papers or completing shelter forms. Ideally, the local foster will provide a home environment, learn of the dog’s behaviors and personality, take it to a vet to secure its health certificate and vaccinations (at rescue expense), and ensure it makes its transport to Colorado when space has been secured.

SprinklesColorado volunteers will pick up the dogs off transport and typically take them to their next foster home until they are adopted. Fosters take daily care of the dogs, which includes helping with training (crate, potty, behavior, and basic commands). Dogs are also spayed and neutered before their adoption. On average fosters give a loving home to these rescue dogs for a couple days to a couple weeks and commit to taking them to scheduled adoption events, vet appointments, and meet-and-greets with potential adopters.

OxAdoptable dogs are posted on the rescue’s website, social media pages, and available at the adoption events. Potential adopters must fill out an application and are screened, which includes home and vet (if family own other pets) checks. The adopting family must typically agree that the dog spend most of its time indoors. Although each rescue has its own rules, most have a trial adoption period to make sure the fit is right. At any time if the family can no longer care for the dog, the contract stipulates it must be returned to the rescue. This process delivers a high permanent adoption rate.

The Price to Adopt

Most rescues require a $250 – $350 adoption fee, which barely covers the cost of vetting (vaccines, heartworm test, deworming, spay/neuter, etc.) and transporting across state lines. Behavioral training, food, supplies, and special medical care (orthopedic surgeries, Distemper, Parvo, etc.) are typically covered by donations—not the adoption fees.

OakMany people don’t understand why the adoption fees are so high for unwanted rescue animals. The truth is that rescues want to make sure they put a happy and healthy dog in the home of its forever family. With that end goal, rescues are just covering their basic costs in the adoption fees.

Fostering Makes You a Rescue’s Hero

Rescues are looking for fosters with big hearts. There aren’t any special requirements to be a foster other than a willingness to open your home and show patience as a dog acclimates to its new trauma-free environment. As Alex says, “If you can love a dog, have patience, and be understanding, you can be a good foster.”

IMG_6318Fosters may find they work on crate and potty training as the history of the dog is mostly unknown. If the foster/dog fit is too strained, rescues will do their best to find another foster home. Fosters must realize rescue organizations run solely on volunteers, so nothing happens overnight.

Many families help the system by joining the ranks of relief fosters—helping long-term fosters who need to go out of town for a couple days or week. Rescues are always happy to have fosters who can relieve other fosters on a case-by-case choice which keeps the dog in a home environment and saves the kenneling of $15 to $40 per night.

Rescue Comes with a Personal Price

How does a young rescuer fit in the demands of rescue while earning a living? Not very well. Rescuers like Alex pay a heavy price to rehome these dogs. She’s lost personal relationships, forgone work hours, and self-funded expenses (gasoline and wear and tear on her personal vehicle) from her own meager vet technician salary of $25,000 per year.

IMG_6224Although Alex has gained an incredible support network of friends who have a common passion and knows the pure joy of connecting the family and rescue, the price has been expensive in both money and untold hours in the field.

How many hours does she dedicate to these dogs? On average Alex spends 4 hours a day on social media—tagging shelter dogs, responding to texts and calls of dogs in need, arranging transport, answering foster questions, etc. Because of her reputation in the rescue world, she routinely gets calls from locals for help with a dog they found abandoned or a neighbor who wants to get rid of a dog.

Emmy

Every 3 weeks she donates one of her days off for a 15-hour transport run. After cleaning crates and loading the van, she may travel to New Mexico to pick up 20 dogs and drive them up to Denver. There are 1-2 adoption events per month which usually involves 5-6 hours of her time for travel, setup, and tear down. None of this includes her time for taking dogs for vetting, supplies to fosters, and meet-and-greets with potential adopters. Oh, and she cares for upwards of 5 rescues in her own home.

Alex’s Future

Alex has a heart for the working dogs (cattle dog/heeler) and bullies, because people misunderstand these breeds. Many adopters don’t realize the energy level of working dogs who require lots of exercise or a “job”—otherwise, they can get destructive. She favors pit-bull mixes because the press has turned the American Pit Bull Terrier, once referred to as the loyal American family dog, into a villain.

DeliahToday Alex is serves NHCDR, breed specific for heeler mixes, and she tags pitties with From Forgotten to Forever Rescue (FFTF). She has a dream to own property to build kennels as backup to her own foster-home rescue. Her passion is to save death row dogs—those minutes from euthanasia—victims of shelter overcrowding. Alex is truly the champion of the underdog of underdogs.

Roosevel aka Max

A Simple Request

Please be a foster. Why? Because fostering adds so much joy to your life as you see these dogs’ personalities come to life. You can be a change agent who can help a dog go from being traumatized to thriving.

DiamondIf you have a dog or two, the rescue will require that your pets are spayed or neutered. No one wants an oops! If you’ve ever thought of fostering, do it. The upside is how fulfilled you’ll feel in helping an underdog, and the only downside may be some adjustment in a temporary living situation.

You Can Help in Other Impactful Ways

The innocent victims are the dogs, and the heroes are those volunteering in the rescue world. You too can be a hero, and there’s many ways to help:

  • Reach out to a local rescue and offer to be a short-term foster.
  • Offer to be a substitute foster for a long-term foster going on vacation
  • Offer to transport dogs from foster to transport
  • Donate money and/or supplies to a local rescue
  • Help a rescuer with expenses for gas, oil/filter changes, gift cards for services, or money to help defray their own out-of-pocket expenses

Any amount helps. If you’d like to learn more about rescue, send a word of thanks, or gift a woman who cares too much, you can reach Alex at alex.davis11_94@yahoo.com  or 281.881.1826.

Ruby


About the Author: Sandra Dillon who has a heart for ministry and servant leadership and can be found in the mission field coaching on relationships and marriage strengthening, drilling water wells, installing filtration systems, and teaching hygiene. You can contact Sandra at shinecrossings@gmail.com

Are You Letting God Speak into Your Life?

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As a Christian life coach, I’m always encouraging my clients to pray and hear what God wants to share about their purpose and direction as well as to set and go after personal goals that align with God’s vision. So, when my dear friend and Colombia mission mate gifted me with her recently published book 55 Devotions: Let God Speak into Your Life Today, I was proud and overjoyed in her accomplishment of combining all her God-given talents for His glory.

Brigitta has a love of Jesus, people, travel, and an eye for capturing nature’s beauty through the lens of a camera. Putting all together for good, she combined photos, Scripture, and stories for the purpose of inspiring others to action. A brief snip-it from the Importance of Encouragement (Day 35):

“The person whom I had met during the hike was on top of the wall. He told me that there was a great view from up there. He told me to come up. I hesitated, but he said that he would help me. He climbed down to the middle, and I found the right places to put my foot and climb up and then later down again. He did not really do anything, but his offering to help and his being there was enough encouragement for me to manage to climb up and down by myself….When you encourage me, do not tell me what I cannot do, but tell me what I can do.”

Although a perfect book for the coffee table, you’ll find yourself picking it up to read again and again versus watching it accumulate dust after the first read. This inspired work can be a powerful family devotional to read together, discuss, and share how you might be motivated to live a little bit differently tomorrow than you do today. I encourage you to take inventory of your talents, dream how you can bring them together, set a goal, go, and see how people draw closer to God through your commitment to say “yes” to Him.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, finances, and ministry. She coaches individuals and couples to be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her at www.shinecrossingsministry.com

Failure Is a Must for a Good Life Story

Sandra Dillon: May 13, 2018


Story to tell 1We should all have at least one great story to tell, and it is the story of our life. And if we want to make ours worth a read, it must have certain elements.

A good story has a theme that helps the reader learn something about his own life through the penned words of the writer. All memorable stories have a character that struggles with internal feelings or needs or a conflict which may or may not be a result of his own doing. The important part of the plot is the character must win or lose at least partially by his own initiative and choices as opposed to being rescued.

Why am I sharing the structure of a great story? Because we’ve entered a time when failure isn’t a socially acceptable option, and parents will go to great lengths with their time, money, and excuses to ensure their children don’t fail. In my opinion, these parents are robbing their children of a full life—experiences of personal growth and the telling of a good life story.

To ensure we’re talking the same language, let’s define failure. Failure can be driving hard for something never achieved or never working hard enough to achieve anything of personal significance. Failure can be not having the right priorities and living with the outcome. In the worse scenarios, failure can mean choosing selfish behaviors that result in harm to others. You may have other definitions, but these capture some common ones.

Who doesn’t like a good story where somebody struggles and overcomes failure or a series of failures? I don’t know one good story where someone has been rescued when he should have rescued himself. Parents should allow their children to (1) live with the consequences of their choices and (2) live their own life and not the plan parents dream for their children.

My encouragement to parents is to suspend any helicoptering parenting that clears obstacles in the path of their children or rescues them from their poor choices. Instead, pray for your children as you let them fail while they figure out life, and with faith you will likely see them flourish as they learn first-hand from their mistakes. Perhaps their story will be so compelling, it will find its way onto the New York Times best selling non-fiction list.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

Life Coaching: What to Look for in a Coach?

Sandra Dillon: February 15, 2018

Coaching Profession

Coaching has become one of the fastest growing professions, expanding beyond the ranks of sports to include life, executive, wellness, and leadership to name a few life coachspecialties. Brick-and-mortar as well as online schools are popping up and offering training and certification with a small investment of time and several thousands of dollars. These schools advertise they can teach you how to coach and build a client portfolio delivering a 6-figured salary. I’ve yet to find anything sustainable that does not require time, patience, and hard work. Without a doubt coaching can be transformational, and the responsibility lies with the client to vet a coach to find the best fit.

What I Would Look for in a Coach

Coaching helps people define and meet their goals, and coaches help clients get results. Coaches typically market themselves with certifications, degrees, and diplomas, yet a coach’s education is only one aspect of creating a successful coaching relationship. Other factors someone should consider before choosing a coach include:

  • Degree/Training/Certification: Does the coach have some form of training, formal education, or certification? Master’s degrees are available from colleges and universities. If selecting a coach based on his training, make sure he graduated from a program endorsed by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
  • Length of Experience: Many coaches hang their shingle up on a part-time basis, because it takes time to build a practice. They still have full time jobs to pay their bills, so when a coach advertises he has coached for 3 years, ask more questions regarding the amount of time he’s invested in coaching.
  • Type of Experience: Although coaching uses a general set of tools and processes, a coach who has practical experience in a specific field brings added value into that area of coaching. They’ll be able to offer suggestions if a client becomes stuck on how to navigate toward his goals.
  • Recommendations: Can the coach provide recommendations from satisfied clients? If coaching is primarily individual-based, recommendations may be more difficult to secure as clients don’t want to reveal they are coached. With business coaching, companies are usually more forthcoming with recommendations.
  • Business Legitimacy: Is the coach coaching as a hobby or business? Does the coach have a social media presence (business website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook Page)? What does it say about them? Although there are many talented coaches who approach coaching as a hobby, clients should be comfortable with the cost/reward structure.
  • Connection: Don’t underestimate the value of the coaching relationship. A coach can have all the right tools, processes, and background experience on a subject and be limited in what he can do for the client because of personality fit and connection. Liking, respecting, feeling comfortable, and being inspired by your coach is very important.

How I work with Clients as a Coach

As a Life & Leadership Coach, I approach my clients holistically because humans are multi-dimensional. Although a client may come to me to work on one specific issue such as transitioning careers, changing jobs, and learning teamwork skills to name a few, we explore what is happening in each area of my client’s life. As an example, if we’re going to work on changing careers, I need to know about his/her marriage. Why? Because we need to understand how the spouse will either support or challenge my client’s ability to change careers. Since I have a broad knowledge and experience base, I routinely coach on relationships, marriage, finances, career, jobs, business management, and time management.

I typically offer a free 30-minute call, so I can (1) answer any questions about myself, (2) understand what you are seeking from coaching, and (3) recommend how I think I can help you. During the call, you learn (1) how the coaching process works, (2) whether you are comfortable with me as a coach, (3) have any coaching questions answered, and (4) whether the fee/schedule fits.

During the first session, we typically review your Wheel of Life Assessment to understand how satisfied you are with each life dimension and how they affect each other. You then prioritize where you want to initiate improvement. Most coaches are trained not to advise and only ask open-ended questions so their clients can figure out what they want to do. In my coaching practice, I wholeheartedly drive on questions but find that clients at times need my support with brainstorming options and solutions. They also need help vetting these options against their standards and discussing approaches to get over obstacles.

Next Steps

I highly encourage people to consider coaching in an area of life that they’re struggling through. Coaching can be a powerful tool as just about any athlete can attest to.  The most difficult part is finding a talented coach you click with that can help you achieve your goals.

 [Note: The opinions and views of this article are of the author’s own and do not reflect those of any coaching organization or other professional coaches.]


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

The Power Of One

Sandra Dillon: September 16, 2017


changtheworldMargaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”  I would add, “Never underestimate the power of one.”  It only takes one to make a difference—a hero—an every-day person who gives a part of his life to something bigger than himself.

To be a hero one must ask the question: “What can I give?” The answer lives in the difference between what is and what can be.  People rise up by lifting up others.  The truth—the world needs more of you and your unique gifts.  People ask, “How and what can I give?” People tap into their “power of one” by answering the following questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What can I do for others?

Heroism is unveiled in action. Where can you mentor, teach, help, encourage, and inspire? Heroism is like a boomerang.  The boomerang flies across the horizon only to return to its sender.  Heroes are motivated to give but find they get even more in return. In the process of giving, you may just create your best life ever—one that can be described as:

  1. A life worth living
  2. One with purpose
  3. One with love and laughter
  4. With significance

What will you do 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years from today?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

Shine: Everyone Has Something to Offer

Sandra Dillon: September 14, 2017


shine 2I believe everyone has something to contribute to this world—a light within them just trying to get out.  That light may be a creation, an innovation, a word of encouragement, a helping hand, or a quiet presence.  I lovingly refer to these gifts as Shine moments where people are at their best.  Some of my favorite Shine quotes include:

The Purpose of Light Is to Create More Light (Paulo Coelho)

Live to Let Your Brilliance Show

We Are All Meant to Shine

Sometimes More Sparkle Is Called For

The World Is Far Brighter Because You’re in It

Never Pass Up a Chance to Glow

Shine With All You Have

I Want a Brighter World Than Bright (John Keats)

Your Shine is Not Simply Seen—It should be felt

Always Keep Your Fire Lit

Be Brilliant—the World Needs You

Your Light Touches Hearts and Minds—It Changes the World

What are your Shine gifts?  When have you been most blessed by someone’s Shine moment?  “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1, NIV).  I encourage you to continue to search within yourself for those gifts that need to shine out into the world and fill it with more light!

 

A Father’s Gift to His Children

Sandra Dillon: September 3, 2017


father-daughter-son2When TV cameras pan a sports field, how many times have you noticed players mouthing “Love you, Mom.” How often have you noticed dads getting credit when sportscasters are interviewing athletes after a big win? My recollection is that moms are receiving most of the public praise. Why do fathers seem to be forgotten or avoided?

As a child growing up in a single-working-mother family without any father contact, some of the discrepancy can be chalked up to the single-parent family structure.  I believe another portion can be explained by the lack of emotional bonding between fathers and their children.  Although I do not have all the answers, I do know that dads play a vital role in the lives of their children, and what boys need from their fathers differ from what girls need.

Eldredge (2004) proposes that every boy wants to be a hero and continually asks himself the question, “Do I have what it takes?”  Boys want to impress others and are often doing things that allow them to say, “Look at me!”  Since every boy is seeking validation that he has what it takes to be a man, boys often look to their fathers to help them answer that question. Even God said of his Son, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, NKJV).

On the other hand, Eldredge (2004) suggests that a girl has a different question she is looking to her father to answer.  Girls try to capture their father’s attention to answer the question of whether she is lovely and worth pursuing?  A father answers that question by letting her know that he is thinking of her and delights in her.

When fathers do not validate the core needs of their children, Eldredge (2004) proposes boys feel like a failure and girls feel abandoned.  Boys will forever try to prove they are a man and shy away from anything that might reveal otherwise.  A father’s silence can wound a son.  Since a father cannot give what he does not have, it is not uncommon for generations of fathers/sons to struggle.

Girls, whose worth is not validated by their fathers, may seek male attention outside of the family.  Children who are emotionally starved by their biological fathers, should seek a spiritual father.  Many wonderful fathers can step in to provide that need to non-biological daughters.  I am one of those girls, whose stepfather became my spiritual father. These needs cannot be fulfilled by a mother, only a father.  Mothers, on the other hand, give unconditional love, teach about mercy, and provide comfort (Eldredge, 2004).

If you are a father, consider looking for those authentic opportunities to say the words that convey to your son that you are proud of him and has what it takes to be a man.  For a daughter, make sure she knows that she is delightful and worth fighting for. Fathers are the most powerful men in their children’s lives.

Reference

Eldredge, J. (2004). You Have What It Takes: What Every Father Needs to Know. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional leadership coach with an extensive background in premarital and marriage coaching, education, and mentoring.  She coaches individuals, and couples, as well as facilitates relationship workshops.  She has a passion to help people experience outstanding marriages and relationships.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website www.shinecrossings.com

A Tale of Three Trees: It’s Not What You Think!

Have you ever bawled like a baby when reading a children’s fable?  I have!  Several years ago, as I was browsing the small bookstore at The Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas, I picked up The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale.  I guarantee you that this was no ordinary children’s story.   The tale tells of the dreams of three trees in the forest, who all long to grow into something that the world would value.  One wanted to be the most beautiful, the other the strongest, and the third the tallest.   After many years the woodcutters came to harvest these trees on the mountain.

Christ with CrossWhat these three trees wished themselves to be instead became how they were used to serve.   The purpose of each tree brought me to tears.  Can you guess how the tallest tree was used?  The third tree wanted to be the tallest tree in the land, and by some accounts this tree got what it wished for as it stood tall at Calvary with Jesus nailed to it.   This tree had one idea of its future, but God had another purpose and plan.  Despite the ugliness it endured as it co-labored with Jesus, the third tree had the opportunity to help bring Salvation to the world.  Now that’s worth both living and dying for!

We all have dreams, and the question we should ask ourselves is whether we are dreaming the right dream.  Are you pursuing your own dream or seeking to know God’s dream for your life?  Sometimes God’s dream for your life will take you through ugliness, harshness, and cruelty such as what Jesus experienced on the cross?  Much of the time you will never be made aware of the impact you are making and must maintain faith that God is using each faithful word and action for Kingdom impact.  On those seemingly rare occasions when I do get feedback, I find those are the fuel that keep me seeking the Lord’s will for my life.

God’s Promises

Bible to HeavenThere are days when we need the simple reminders of God’s promises to His children.


He has a purpose and great plan for your life

In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28


With Him, your future is bright and the best is yet to be

“For I know that plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “…plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11


You have everything you need to do all He’s created you to do

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13


God created you with strengths and gifts to offer this world

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14


He loves you and will be with you wherever you go

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5


With God by your side and Jesus in your heart, go change the world!