February 2017: Justine Smith
In the second half of our “Foster Families of 2016 Litters” spotlight, we are recognizing Justine Smith for her dedication to fostering Dolly and her pups! Dolly was found in San Bernadino as a stray. TRD had to spring her from the Devore shelter when we learned she was on the euthanization list for “medical” problems—she was pregnant! One look at her sweet Beagle mix face and she became a TRD dog. Scrambling to find a foster family for a pregnant pup, Jessica van der Stad (July Spotlight Volunteer) agreed to take Dolly until we found someone more permanent. Justine came to the rescue and offered to foster this little family.
Justine was born in Ithaca, NY and moved to San Diego when she was just six years old. Her very first pet was an albino guinea pig named Herman. Justine, a Certified Nursing Assistant, worked for Scripps for many years before raising her family. For the past 16 years Justine has worked with developmentally disabled adults. Her mornings consist of working in a group home making sure the residents are cared for and loved by helping blind, deaf, autistic and physically disabled adults with their activities of daily living. Justine’s experience as a CNA, her huge heart, love for animals and intense mothering instinct made her a natural at being an amazing foster mom to Dolly and her pups!
Justine’s human family consists of her husband, Danny, her three children: Jason, Joslyn and Amy and her two grandsons, Jerald and Travis. Justine and her husband’s animal family include their two dogs; Kimo, 10 and Bentley, 2 (a foster failure from TRD), two cats; Oliver, 10 and Lucy, 5, a 10 year old snake named Jedi, a 17 year old Iguana named Lola, and a part time dog, Zoe Anne, who lives with Justine’s daughter most of the time. Justine’s desire to foster dogs began after taking a veterinarian assistant course through the Grossmont ROP program. She did some on the on the job training through the San Diego Humane Society and it was there she fostered bunnies and a pit bull named Migo. Lucky us, Justine joined forces with TRD about a year ago. Her first foster with us, Penny, was a bit of a handful but she got some great training from Fernando with Canine Education and she was soon adopted. When presented with the opportunity to foster Dolly and her pups, Justine wasn’t sure what to expect but she knew she had more free time than most other fosters and that would be an asset with puppies, so she jumped in to help!
The biggest challenge for Justine fostering puppies was generally making sure they were happy and healthy. She says, “It was like having a new baby x7!” Justine loved Dolly’s natural instinct to protect them and said she was a wonderful mama who did most of the work. Justine’s strong mothering instinct herself created a very tight bond with Dolly and thought of the pups as an extension of her motherly love. Justine will always have a special place in her heart for Dolly because of their deep bond; she cried when Dolly left and still misses her. The most rewarding part of all this hard work was watching the puppies learn how to walk, eat, play and bark. Initially, they had no idea that they were the ones making that barking noise! The older they got, the more responsibility they were, especially keeping them safe and out of trouble in true puppy fashion.
I asked Justine if she could offer any advice to people considering fostering a litter—she said, “It’s a lot of work and an adjustment. Keeping them clean and safe takes a lot of time. It’s a commitment and there were times I thought I couldn’t do it any longer, but then you see what they give back and you know that you’ll endure and it’s all worth it.”
Justine, from our hearts, thank you for being so dedicated, and loving to Dolly, her pups and all the other foster dogs you open up your home to. We are so grateful to have you on our team providing such amazing care to so many TRD dogs!
January 2017: Erin Talley
We ended 2016 with a Puppypalooza of sorts with 2 litters up for adoption, so we thought it appropriate to spend the first couple of months in 2017 recognizing our fantastic foster families to these litters! First up is Erin Talley and her family who took on pregnant Sage who was expected (best guess) to have 4 puppies. Sage, rescued as a young stray, was underweight and had struggles with some GI issues from the get go. Erin spent time trying various foods, home cooked meals, numerous trips to the vet (stool samples in tow!) and lots of love and patience to help her get healthy. When Sage went into labor Erin was fascinated and involved, texting the TRD team as things were happening. We got the “4 th healthy puppy” text. Then came a “bonus puppy!” text. Then “Another!” and “Another!!!”. Little Sage, a pup herself, gave birth to seven healthy puppies. The work of a super dedicated foster mama began. Sage’s pups were known as the “Spice Puppy” litter; Basil, Ginger, Pepper, Cinnamon, Mint, Rosemary, and Clove.
Erin was born and raised here in San Diego and had also spent time in other areas including TN, NY and No Ca. Erin’s family includes hubby, Gene, ex-Marine, daughters, Alyssa 16 and Jennifer 10 and two cats, Sunny and Daisy. Sunny came from a litter of a stray Erin’s sister took in back in NY. Erin and Gene moved across the country with him when he was 6 weeks old. He’s the alpha pet in the house, dogs be damned. Daisy was rescued from the shelter here on Gaines St. when she was about 7 months old. Erin has a long list of childhood pets ranging from dogs, cats, hamsters to a rabbit. As a young girl her Chocolate Lab, Toby, would get out of the yard and go see her on the playground at preschool in Ventura. Lady, a Border Collie, was another childhood dog she adored. When she and Gene married they had Rottweiler/Aussie brothers, Max and Jake. Max ended up having Parvo and Erin and Gene nursed him back to health through that scary ordeal. When Erin and Gene moved to NY they had difficulty finding a rental and felt they couldn’t provide what two large puppies needed. Gene’s brother ended up adopting these two and taught them to be the most amazing dogs, says Erin.
Erin decided to foster after visiting the shelter for years on and off wishing she could adopt a dog, but her rental had a no dog policy. Once they bought their home she went back to the shelter hoping to add a family member but the 2 dogs she was interested in were adopted quickly. At that point she thought about fostering instead. Since she falls in love with every dog anyhow, helping to save dogs and foster seemed like a no brainer. She quickly decided she wanted to foster a litter because…. well, puppies!!! Her self-admitted “inexperience” caused her to jump in not knowing really how much work it would be. She says it was all worth it, but it certainly takes a lot of time and patience. The most rewarding part for her is the obvious—puppy love. She says, “It was so precious watching them learn to walk, learn to play with each other, and seeing them become independent little dogs with their own personalities.” Erin tells us until about 4 weeks old it’s not too hard but after that, once they bark and potty everywhere, it’s a true test of will-power to be able to handle it. Erin’s advice for anyone considering a litter is to have patience—it’s work to clean up after 7 puppies! She says she fell in love with all of them and thought about keeping a couple of them all the time. However, she continued to remind herself there will be many other foster dogs who need her.
Fostering a litter is no small feat. We can’t thank you enough, Erin, for not only helping to raise healthy puppies for 8 weeks but also for your love and dedication to Sage to be the healthiest mama she could be. All puppies and Mama Sage have found their forever families and Erin is back at it with 2 adorable foster dogs in her home this month. Thank you Erin for all you do for rescue pups!
December 2016: Fernando Steffey
Rounding out 2016 for our Volunteer Spotlight is our one and only amazing dog trainer, Fernando Steffey. We can’t imagine where we (and some our pups) would be without the knowledge, commitment and support of Fernando over the years. His training philosophy teaches a holistic approach with a leader/follower basis and positive reinforcement. All of us at TRD have seen him transform one or two of our foster dogs into completely different dogs with boundaries, confidence and respect that can then be integrated well within families. Fernando and his kindness, patience and skill helps TRD to set up families for success with their new family members.
Fernando was born in San Salvador and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a degree in elementary education from the University of Utah. After living in Park City, and Bend, Oregon (with his dog Floyd) he then settled in San Diego. In 2012 he got married to Ashley, (our other “dog whisperer”) who is TRD’s Rescue Coordinator. Fernando and Ashely were heavily involved in volunteering at another local dog rescue when Fernando began to see the need for working with kenneled dogs and their adopters to better prepare them for their transition to family life. One of the first dogs he helped was O’Ryan an Aussie Cattle Dog who was a guarder. As he became more interested in complex canine behavior and wanting to deepen his knowledge and skill, Fernando worked with renowned dog behaviorist, Randy Davis. In 2014 Fernando opened up his full time business, Canine Education. Fernando sees a future for Canine Education as a brick and mortar training facility where he can hold group classes and train trainers.
In Fernando’s spare time he thoroughly enjoys San Diego’s famous craft beer scene—choosing dog friendly breweries to enjoy a good beer. (We are happy to mention most breweries are dog friendly here in SD!) He also enjoys college football season, classic rock music and hanging out with his own canine pack. Personal dogs of Fernando and Ashley include, Floyd, Thor, Audrey, Tigger, Mylo, and Stella.
With over 400 dogs trained we are so grateful to have his expertise for our shelter pups and their adopters. Fernando truly sets people up for success in their new relationship with their dogs. I asked Fernando what’s the biggest mistake people make when adopting a new dog. He said without a doubt, “Giving them too much freedom from the get-go.” Dogs need to learn how to interact and gain skills and confidence before we can expect them to manage complete freedom around their family and house. Crate training, at the very least in the beginning, is a great way for pups to manage their new responsibility and house/family manners safely, setting them up for success. After the human-dog relationship is established freedom can be gradually increased.
Thank you Fernando for all you do for The Rescued Dog, foster families, adopters, shelter pups and families all across San Diego. You single handily help families start on the right foot to ensure a successful canine-human relationship, you help families to overcome challenges, and you’ve saved dogs from being rehomed or abandoned in shelters with your expertise and skill.
August 2016: Kathy Toomey
The Rescued Dog is honored to be featuring one of our founders, Kathy Toomey, for August’s spotlight volunteer. Rescue work is not easy; it’s emotional, time consuming, exhausting, challenging, and frustrating at times. To run a successful, ethical, supportive, proper rescue it takes immense dedication, love, tough skin, a positive attitude, lots of teamwork and a hell of a sense of humor. Enter, Kathy.
Kathy’s road to rescue is such a great example because she began as most of the general public still is today—with limited knowledge of pet overpopulation, where or how to obtain a dog and a lack of knowledge of the staggering numbers of dogs in shelters being euthanized. Growing up in Philly, PA, Kathy’s family had cats but did not own dogs. No matter how much she begged, they were not allowed to have a dog. She says of her childhood, “Born and raised on the streets and playgrounds of Philly, like Will Smith.” (Haha!!) As a young adult, Kathy’s first dog was a bulldog, Sophie, bought from a breeder for 2k. She was a first time dog owner without a deep understanding of dog ownership. The breeder did not ask her any questions about her knowledge or preparation for owning a pet (much less bulldogs who are predisposed to various medical ailments). Immediately, Kathy began researching and learning about pet ownership and quickly learned about the millions of dogs in shelters. This early interest in the pet overpopulation crisis led her to visiting a shelter one Christmas eve where she fell in love with a sick, senior lab sleeping on the cold concrete floor. She wasn’t affiliated with a rescue so she wasn’t allowed to adopt him (certain dogs in shelters are only allowed to be ‘pulled’ by approved rescues). His face haunted her. Shortly thereafter he was euthanized. Her heartache, new found knowledge and animal loving passion led her on her journey to become actively involved in dog rescue. Although most people who learn about rescuing over buying from breeders end up becoming part of this movement by rescuing/adopting their own furbabies, most will not go to the extent Kathy did to start their own rescue! Kathy’s journey is so important to share because it’s rooted in education; educating oneself and then acting on that new knowledge to create change.
Kathy, an RN, has that innate caring and compassionate nature. She moved to San Diego in 2005 on a 6 month assignment as a travel nurse and never left. She volunteered at another rescue where she was an adoption coordinator, poop cleaner upper, nurse to sick pups, dog walker and mentor to other volunteers. After becoming close with TRD’s other founders during their volunteer work, this amazing group of women decided to start a rescue of their own. With TRD Kathy wears many hats. She was initially the lead Adoption Coordinator and then changed avenues and is now our Events Director as well as a board member. Kathy is a natural events planner; with her super social personality and love for throwing good parties! She puts in many hours each week organizing fundraisers and happy hours, while also supporting the adoption team doing home checks and adoption meetings. Kathy has three rescue loves now, Buddy, an 11 year old Poodle/Bichon mix, Wookiee, a terrier mix, and Kadence, a Basenji.
Kathy is a key player to TRD, helping us to continue to grow and become more and more successful. She has tons of motivation, an incredibly positive nature, immense dedication and a sense of humor that keeps us light and laughing during some of the more difficult times in rescue. TRD could not do what we do, as well as we do it, without Kathy! I asked Kathy one thing she would like to teach the world about pet ownership. She says, “It all falls under the same category, the pet population. The importance of spay and neuter, and how important it is to rescue over buying from a breeder. It’s much easier to rescue over buying because the transition goes smoother when you adopt a dog that’s been in foster care. TRD gives you a support group to set you up for success!”
More fun facts:
- If Kathy had a superpower it would be to make the world love, cherish, respect and co-exist with animals.
- Kathy admits to being a reality TV junkie, but at the moment her favorite TV show is Homeland.
- The place she most wants to travel? Thailand. We’re sure she’ll get there.
Thank you, Kathy, for all you do to save pups, educate people and help run TRD! We are so fortunate to have you on this team!
July 2016: Jessica Van der Stad
At The Rescued Dog, we’re always talking about our fantastic volunteers and foster families. Jessica van der Stad is an “everything” to TRD. She and her boyfriend, Jesse, happily take in fosters (including some medical cases) and are also great supporters in general; attending events and spreading the TRD word. This year Jessica has also jumped in and completely organized one of our biggest fundraisers, Fit for Fido. She’s gone above and beyond for TRD and she deserves to be in the spotlight for July!
Jessica grew up in the Palm Springs area and lived in Boulder, Co while attending college. She moved to San Diego in 2008 and with perfect weather, dog friendly places everywhere, great veggie food and beautiful beaches, she can’t imagine ever leaving. Jessica works for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). After losing her dad to suicide in 2008 she became involved with AFSP and became an Area Director in 2010. She oversees chapters in San Diego, Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino counties. Jessica says this is not only her work but her passion –to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.
Jessica’s love for dogs began as a kid. She says they were ‘that house’; always with a pack of rescue dogs. With deep admiration for her mother, Jessica describes her as always stepping up to help rescue, save and care for animals. Leading by example, she taught her kids to do the same. Last September, Jessica and Jesse adopted Abu, a TRD pug they were fostering. Since then they’ve also fostered Jazzi, Gigi (mama and pups!), Jeffrey, Percy, Koda as well as other short stay temporary pups. Jessica and Jesse have a soft spot for pugs; 3 foster dogs and Abu are all pug mixes. She says they’ve loved each foster dog equally and she cried when each one got adopted. Percy the pug was extra special because she spent 10 weeks with them while she recovered from mange. Jessica says fostering fills their home with love and is incredibly rewarding. We just love that their home is open and welcoming to shelter dogs!
As if fostering isn’t enough, Jessica also took on a fundraising endeavor for TRD last March. Jessica has a background in fundraising and took it upon herself to offer her expertise to run our Fit for Fido event. The CrossFit gym she belongs to, F3 Athletics Home of Imperial Beach CrossFit, gladly hosted our event (we can’t say enough about how awesome they are!). Jessica really did an incredible job running this event and raising money for shelter pups. We thought it would be a small community event but we ended up with close to 100 people and raised over $3k! Jessica is hoping to make this an annual event (So are we!!).
In her free time (besides volunteering for TRD) Jessica loves to travel and stay busy. Abu has been a great travel companion, flying with her to San Francisco, Boston and Orlando! (Go ahead, follow Abu’s adventures in Instagram- @about_abu) Jessica studied abroad in college and visited dozens of countries. Some of the most fascinating for her were Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Next month she is flying to Alaska to provide suicide education and training. Toksook Bay and a small Yup’ik Eskimo village of about 500 people on the edge of the Bering Sea are on the itinerary.
A couple fun facts about Jessica:
~Favorite movie- Step Brothers- whenever she needs a good laugh it’s her go to.
~If she had a superpower it would be Superhuman Endurance—she says she could run marathons, clean the house like crazy, answer a thousand emails and take care of dozens of foster pups with ease!
~Favorite quote: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” ~Charles M. Schulz
Jessica is a wonderful volunteer and foster. She is incredibly supportive, dependable, fun, down to earth and a true friend to the rescue. We appreciate everything she does and are so lucky to have her in our corner! Thank you Jessica!
We always talk about our incredible foster team at The Rescued Dog. It’s true, our foster families take their “jobs” very seriously; doing everything they can to integrate these pups from shelter life to family life. Linda is one of TRD’s most dedicated and loving foster moms, always ready to take on any rescued pup to shower with love and security. It’s really important for a foster based rescue to have some “go-to” volunteers that will step up in a pinch, take on a challenge, or be a super solid foster home that we know we can place most any dog at any given time. Linda, with her huge heart, is one of those volunteers for us.
Linda grew up in Colorado and then landed in San Diego after she lived in London for 10 years. She tells us her family dog growing up, a Boston Terrier, was the best dog ever. Here in SD she is a real estate planner for San Diego Gas & Electric. (That’s her “real” job, but we know at heart she is a foster dog mama 100% of the time.) Linda’s own dog passed away about a year and a half ago and she wasn’t ready to fully give her heart to another dog right away so she decided to try fostering. It’s safe to say she was hooked instantly, as she’s fostered 12 dogs so far in the last 18 months! Besides getting to know all the different dogs themselves, Linda also loves fostering for the connections she’s made with like-minded people. We couldn’t agree more—our TRD family and supporters make for some really fun get togethers where we can all be our own crazy dog-loving selves with each other.
Linda’s list of foster dogs include Willow, Rusty, Freya, Bernie, Kramer, Opal, Lulu, Quippers, Sapphire, Sunshine, Snoopy and Barney. We asked if she had a favorite and spoken like a true foster mom she said, “All were my favorites”. However, the closest to a foster failure was Opal but she just couldn’t get along with the cat. Linda even had a pet communicator discuss it with her and she was better for a bit, but she just couldn’t help herself when it came to cat chasing! Linda’s hobbies include fostering pups (we love this answer!) and traveling. Her favorite destination is Greece. On her list of places to explore is Iceland and the southern tip of South America. Linda’s favorite book she reads about every year or two is To Sir with Love (a memoir about prejudice and racism in London in the 1940’s) and her role models are strong women leaders. Linda not only helps us and the pups by fostering, she also supports TRD by coming to our fundraisers and functions almost all of the time! We love spending time with her and love placing our special pups in her home where we know they will consistently be loved and cared for while they transition and await their forever homes. Thank you for all you do, Linda, you are a fantastic member of the TRD team!!
May 2016: Diana Lewis
Diana is one of those volunteers that sort of lands in your lap, smiles, offers to help and then hits the ground running and gets results right away. When Diana came on board with TRD and offered to be our Donations Coordinator we were absolutely thrilled. Everyone knows it takes a lot of manpower to keep this rescue running. The Donations Coordinator job takes a patient, persistent, savvy, friendly and dedicated person to procure the amazing and much needed donations that help to keep us afloat. Diana is all this and more for TRD. As a rescue, we obviously want to spend our money on the dogs; providing them with the best vet care possible, and having the ability to take on more critical medical cases when needed. Obtaining donations of treats, food, collars, leashes etc. for our daily use is imperative. Diana puts in a ton of time doing this for us as well as scoring amazing donations like Jeep tours and passes to Wet-n- Wild, Palm Springs to auction off at our bigger fundraisers. She is always on the lookout for products, experiences, contests and helpful connections for TRD. She sends countless emails, written letters and is constantly scouring the internet to find ways to help TRD save money, raise money and ultimately save more dogs.
Diana grew up in Alahambra, CA and now resides in Palm Springs with her 3 dogs. She has two daughters, one of which adopted TRD alum, Pippin! (Who we hear is living the life with her new family and canine bro, Murphy.) Diana has always been surrounded by dogs. One of the first dogs she remembers was a black standard poodle, GoGee. Her family then had a Beagle, Tippy, who lived to be 19! Late in life, Tippy had his own Seeing Eye dog, their German Shepard, who took wonderful care of him. Then there was what Diana describes as a “hot mess” Tea Cup Poodle who caused some trouble around the house. Diana now has 3 dogs of her own. Thai is her beloved Staffordshire “velcro” dog (seriously, attached to her hip she says!). Molly, a German Shepard mixed with what Diana and family think might be coyote, is the protector of the house with a serious hoarding issue. All the toys in the house end up in her crate. Nalla, the latest addition as of a couple years ago always has a sour look on her face, but Diana promises she’s totally loving and enjoying her life with her canine siblings.
Diana has always had a love for animals and tells us giving back and getting involved in rescue work was an easy choice. She says it’s simple; helping needy pups brings her joy. We think she’s awesome, dedicated and super amazing at bringing in the goods! Diana works very long hours at her regular job as an Event Manager for a global company specializing in Big Data. While Diana works long hours, volunteers her time from her home, she also drives to San Diego for just about all our fundraisers and events. Did we mention she’s dedicated? We are very, very fortunate to have Diana as such an important member of the TRD team. Thank you, Diana, for all you do!
April 2016: Jessica and Tyler Stone
Jessica, Tyler and their two boys are another one of our rock star foster families. We are so fortunate to have them on our foster team. This dedicated family has provided some wonderful care for some seriously sick foster dogs! So far they have fostered McGreggor, Scarlet, Taz, Snoopy and Bella. Scarlet had eye surgery, Taz had a mean upper respiratory infection that required daily trips to the vet, and Snoopy came to them with mange. Bella, the sickest pup we’ve had in a long time, had a parvo-like illness and was hospitalized for a week.
Jessica took her in emergently when she was lethargic and vomiting. The vet said we were lucky for such fast action as he wasn’t sure she would have made it without quick and aggressive care. She was on round the clock medications and was not able to walk at all. Upon her discharge back to the Stone family, Jessica and Tyler truly nursed her back to health. Jessica did some physical therapy work with her to help get her strength back and slowly she began to walk again. It is no doubt that the constant watchful eye, nursing care and love Jessica provided helped Bella through this terrible illness. Bella is now a playful, healthy puppy and ready to find her forever home!
Jessica was born and raised in Chula Vista. She used to work at SeaWorld with our Adoption Coordinator, Dani, who introduced her to the idea of fostering. Who knew she’d end up being such a life saver for some very sick shelter dogs! Jessica works at her kid’s elementary school and in her spare time also fundraises for blood cancer research for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She is also currently training for her second marathon! Tyler is from St. Louis, MO and has been in the Navy for 11 years. Tyler recently received the Sailor of the Year Award for his ship out of a crew of 300. Jessica and Tyler met in 2006 after a Padres vs. St Louis Cardinals game and now have two amazing dog loving boys, Jordan(8) and Jacob (7) who are into all sorts of sport including running races like their mom!
The Stones have an 8 year old black lab named Peaches. They describe her as the most loyal dog a family could have. (We hear she adores her daddy most even though mommy is the one who takes care of her.) Peaches thinks everyone who walks in the door is there to see her and pet her. Jessica says she has been such a wonderful foster sister to all the foster pups. Peaches favorites have been Taz and Bella. Jessica and Tyler also have 2 cats, Charger and Motoe. They are Polydactyl which means they have extra toes! Originally they went to the shelter planning to foster a cat whose owner was being deployed but fell in love with these kittens and their extra toes. When they went back a few days later to pick up the one they adopted, the people at the shelter said, “Oh we couldn’t remember which one you adopted because these two litter mates look alike.” Tyler said, “Just give us both of them!” They drove across country with all 3 animals when they moved back to San Diego.
Jessica and Tyler fell hard for foster pups Taz and Bella and say they could have foster failed with them. Jessica says being a foster mama is very rewarding and she’s happy she’s making a difference in the lives of these dogs. She says if they adopt fosters they won’t have as much ability to help save more, so for now they won’t foster fail! It is families like this that keeps TRD able to save more and more dogs. We are so grateful to the Stones for fostering, we know the pups that come into their care are truly some of the luckiest! From our hearts, thank you Jessica and Tyler for giving such amazing care to your foster dogs.
March 2016: Rah Mahtani
With each dog we rescue there is a lot of manpower put into each one. Besides physically getting the dog, making sure we have a foster and then financially backing and vetting each one, there’s another element to helping our dogs find their forever homes. Rah is a man of both worlds as our Marketing Lead and foster, he helps us out on all fronts. Rah keeps our branding on track and looking good with our marketing material. Our t-shirts, business cards, fundraising fliers, dog bio cards, and eye catching banners on our Facebook page (and much more marketing collateral, both digital and social media) are all products of Rah’s talents from his product design background. This behind the scenes help is crucial to getting our dogs adopted, helping us to connect to our supporters and of course grow our rescue. Rah doesn’t stop with marketing help though (and we give him A LOT to do!), he also fosters pups for us. Rah and his wife, Pooja, take foster dogs right from the shelter and provide them with the much needed love and safety they haven’t had. He’s a fantastic team member of TRD!
Rah grew up in NYC and spent time living in NJ as well as upstate NY. This east coaster moved here for some sun and a change of pace in 2014 (our gain). On the east coast he and his wife volunteered with See Spot Rescued in Jersey City and at the Liberty Humane Society. Rah’s desire to volunteer with dog rescue began back in design school. He spent his thesis year re-designing the animal sheltering system. He had always had a passion for dogs, but during the research phase he was introduced to rescue. He spent hours sitting in shelters taking notes and watching interactions and how dogs were handled/treated, etc. for his final design solution. Rah watched a man bring his dog into the shelter dragging him by his leash, livid and yelling to the shelter staff, “I just don’t want the damn thing anymore!!” Rah said, “That was the turning point. Nothing on earth should have to be treated that way.” He decided then that he would do whatever he could to help.
Rah has a family rescue dog that lives with his parents named Flake. He calls him the King of Bichons because after he came to live with them, he just kept growing. A standard Bichon usually grows up to about 12lbs, Flake dwarfs even medium sized dogs, coming in at a feathery 33lbs. Rah says it’s this guy who began his love for rescue dogs and has even hinted that someday there will be a children’s book inspired by Flake on bookshelves. We asked Rah how he feels about fostering and this is what he had to say, “It’s like we’re this bridge for these dogs who lost hope and we’re giving them a chance at something better. What’s so crazy is that as fosters we see these dogs at their absolute worst and through it we get to watch them blossom into the family dogs. No matter how many times we say “We won’t fall for this one” we inevitably do.” We agree completely. (Not to mention, most of us have fallen for our fostershere at TRD!)
We were also curious about a few other things about Rah:
Role Model: Too many to choose. DaVinci was a crazy dude! He could literally do everything. Definitely something to aspire to.
Favorite Travel Place: South Africa is holding down the top of my list right now. It’s an incredible combination of culture, great food, unparalleled beauty, direct connection between man and nature, and epically delicious wine.
Superpower of choice: It’s got to be super strength. Think of all the awesome things you could do.
Thank you, Rah. We appreciate all your hard work in all the awesome ways you help TRD!
February 2016: The Hoches
The day Ashley, our Rescue Coordinator, and Alana, our Volunteer Coordinator, met and talked with Shawn and (a very pregnant) Jaclyn about fostering was one of those moments when after chatting with them we practically high fived each other! We knew instantly they were going to be incredible volunteers and fosters and we felt really lucky they wanted to give their time to TRD. These guys have been incredibly supportive of our rescue work. They foster just about any dog we need to place, they consistently come to our adoption events to help out, they support our fundraisers and they are always willing to lend a hand with anything else we need. The best part is, besides being awesome advocates for rescue and rock solid fosters/volunteers, they are just really fun to hang out with. Shawn and Jaclyn are down to earth, kind, funny and they come with a super cute 9 month old baby too! Seth, a dog lover already, hangs out with us at adoption events, sometimes sleeping, but most of the time smiling and looking adorable.
Shawn grew up in Sloatsbrug, NY (45 min outside NYC) and Jackie grew up in Milton, WA (45 min south of Seattle). They are both Navy helicopter pilots and have lived in Annapolis, MD, Pensacola, FL, Milton, FL, and Chesapeake, VA, prior to moving to San Diego. Shawn and Jaclyn both grew up with dogs and now have 2 dogs of their own. Shawn’s first dog in childhood was named Rocket (he’s admittedly a NASA nerd) and the first dog he and Jackie adopted, a black lab in 2008, they named Apollo (yes, after the Apollo missions). They then adopted their hound mix, Hunter—or should we say Apollo adopted Hunter. Hunter’s foster family with the Humane Society in Pensacola said Shawn and Jackie had to adopt him after seeing how the dogs immediately played and bonded so well- instant bros. After adopting Hunter and seeing the foster experience firsthand, they knew it was something they had to eventually become involved with. They started fostering with K-Nine Justice League in Norfolk, VA and were hooked.
As of today, their 23rd foster just recently found her forever home!! Another tidbit that adds to their awesome factor? Shawn and Jaclyn have a “foster wall” where pictures of every foster they’ve had adorn their wall so they can be reminded of all the dog love that happens in their house. We asked the Hochs their thoughts on rescue and pet overpopulation and they said, “it seems that rescues (especially foster-based organizations) are still such a foreign idea to most people. The number of people we’ve spoken with that are shocked and surprised when we explain what we do is staggering. We appreciate the opportunity to educate people about rescue. For us, our view on fostering/rescuing, especially when people ask us how we let the dogs go when they get adopted, is that our ability to get one dog out of the shelter opens up a spot that will save an incalculable number of lives. Dog overpopulation will never go away until laws are passed to shut down puppy mills, people who do not properly care for their animals are held accountable, and the public is truly educated about the issues including spaying and neutering.” They continue to claim that they will never “foster fail” (adopting a foster) to ensure the spot for a dog in need stays open. Although they have admitted coming very close to foster failing with their foster, Finn.
Shawn and Jaclyn look forward to continuing volunteering and fostering with TRD to help make a difference in all the lives we save. They are true advocates for rescue, are amazing volunteers/fosters, and are wonderful people with hearts of gold. We could not be happier to have them in the TRD family. Thank you Shawn and Jaclyn for all you do!
January 2015: Ramey Murphy
Just over a year ago Ramey came on board with The Rescued Dog as our Foster Coordinator. As a foster based rescue there are a lot of moving parts. Keeping in touch with all of our foster families about how the dogs are doing, finding fosters for incoming dogs, and organizing temporary fosters for vacationing fosters is no small feat! Ramey keeps all of these balls in the air and just when we think we are in a bind, she usually sends out an email that says, “It’s taken care of.” Sometimes we aren’t quite sure what kind of magic she’s working, but we are sure glad she keeps the wheels turning! Ramey puts in some serious volunteer time with TRD and she is amazing at what she does.
Ramey was raised in Kansas with dogs all her life. Growing up, her parents, ahead of their time, always rescued their dogs from local shelters. One particular rescue dog, a Pitbull named Ringer, saved her baby brother from drowning after he fell into the pool! A real life “Lassie”, he also alerted their family to a house fire by waking them up. Ramey and her family have always had deep connections with their canine family members and were able to save and provide homes for needy pups. In recent years, Ramey and her husband Bob (also an awesome volunteer with TRD), have been the lucky parents to a beagle named Zoe and Max, a cocker spaniel, that both passed away in 2014. Today, Blueberry the Chihuahua and Sassy the Pug, ages 12 and 13 and their long term foster, Quip also a Chihuahua, grace the couches of their loving home. Ramey and Bob are some of the best doggie parents we know, spoiling the heck out of their cute little senior dog family. Along with their dog brood, Ramey and Bob (married for 23 years!) have 2 sons in their twenties living in the Midwest.
Ramey is a huge advocate for raising kids with dogs and has seen firsthand how this incredible bond is so rewarding for children. She believes the importance of teaching responsible pet ownership from an early age is paramount to helping to solve the pet overpopulation problem. Education about spaying and neutering is the first step. Ramey also thinks we (as rescues and advocates) need to help lift the stigma that shelter animals are problem animals. Educating the public, along with streamlining the adoption process to be welcoming and supportive is important to Ramey and exactly what we here at TRD strive to do.
Ramey’s passion, dedication, and love for rescue animals not only makes her an awesome person in general, but also a huge asset to TRD. Our foster families, foster dogs and all of us here at TRD are incredibly lucky to have Ramey. Thank you, Ramey, for all your hard work in keeping our foster program running so smoothly!
December 2015: Tyler Oliveros
This particular volunteer spotlight is bitter sweet for us. Our rock solid foster, Tyler, is moving! We just had to recognize him before he ventures off on his new adventure and let all our supporters know how lucky we are to have had him on our team for this past year.
Tyler has been fostering with us since Jan 2015 and has had 8 fosters (Beatrice, Finnegan, Jade, Kate, Buster, Rocco, Mandi, & Annie!), along with a several others that have crashed at his house for weekends here and there (Ella, Roxie &Trixie to name a few). We’ve been able to rely on Tyler to take any dog that needed a place; both large and small, he’s opened his house and heart up to all pups. Not only does he take great care of his fosters, he also supports TRD in general—he’s always willing to hang at an adoption event, talk to potential adopters about his foster, do play dates in the adoption process and attend our fundraisers.
Along with being a great foster, we think Tyler is a great guy in general. He graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis MD in 2009 and was stationed in Hawaii and Virginia before spending the last two years here in San Diego. In his free time he plays soccer and tennis, cooks and sails with the Team Fiasco Sailing Team and of course spends time with his foster dogs. Tyler also volunteers at the North Park Library helping kids with their homework twice a week. It’s no wonder he’s been such a dependable, kind, supportive, awesome foster for TRD! Tyler is moving back to a little town in Pennsylvania, where he grew up and his parents still live.
Tyler started fostering because he grew up with dogs and always enjoyed that companionship but didn’t feel that he could make a ten year+ commitment at this time in his life, so he decided that fostering was the best of both worlds. His favorite thing about fostering is watching the dogs grow—“A lot of the dogs we get have had a hard time, and affection is meaningful to them; they can be very timid at first but watching them open up and trust me more and more is very rewarding.” We are certain that all the foster dogs placed with Tyler were very lucky dogs; we have no doubt he was crucial in their transition out of the shelter and into family life and love.
TRD wishes him the best of luck and we know the next dog rescue he works with is going to be one lucky rescue!! We feel so fortunate to have had his support this year, he will be missed greatly!
All the best to you, Tyler! Thank you for all you’ve done for TRD!
November 2015: Brittney Mazzone
Let us introduce you to one of our amazing Adoption Coordinators, Brittney! We aren’t even sure where to begin there are so many great things to say about her. We’ll start by mentioning her huge heart! Brittney has a big heart for helping to save shelter dogs. Her selfless giving nature is also apparent in her job as well as in her future ambition to help both animals and people together wither own nonprofit that is in the works.
Brittney grew up on Long Island, NY and moved here in 2013 for her job. She is a research physical therapist at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego where she does research with service members with amputation(s) and/or bad leg fractures. Brittney decided to foster a dog with us back in February when her boyfriend was away on a training exercise. Brittney saw how much work goes into running a rescue; saving dogs and finding forever homes for them. Brittney immediately noticed how much all of our volunteers put into TRD, so she asked how she could help and get more involved. Well, we knew right away she was a good egg—so we, well… we had her to jump right into the adoption coordinator position! She may not have realized just how involved she would get, but she doesn’t regret any of it. She definitely has what it takes to find our dogs the most amazing homes. We are humbled and so appreciative of the amount of time she has given to TRD and the dogs.
Brittney has grown up with dogs all her life, always having a few in the house. She’s joked that her mom, aunt and entire family are all dog crazy! Her own dog now, Otis a 3 year old mutt (Jack Russell, chi, doxie-?), was a rescue dog as well. She was told he didn’t have a great temperament and may never be an affectionate smuggler. Otis blossomed with Brittney and is definitely a snuggler now (evidenced by sleeping under the covers with her!). Brittney lives with her boyfriend, who also supports TRD, and his dog, TRD alumni, Ned. Although she’s incredibly busy and doesn’t have much free time these days, her hobbies include running, hiking and camping (all with her dog of course). Brittney isn’t just stopping at helping TRD to save dogs either. She and her mom are in the beginning stages of creating their own nonprofit organization that will help train rescued dogs as service dogs for wounded veterans. Now that is a huge heart!!
Brittney has had a direct hand in the number of dogs we were able to save and place this past year. Her favorite part? “Seeing the excitement on a family’s face when they meet and fall in love with their new dog.” We are incredibly lucky to have her on our team. Thank you Brittney for all you do for The Rescued Dog! You are pivotal to our success!
October 2015: Lihini Aluwihare
Lihini is one of The Rescued Dog’s most amazing, dedicated foster moms. All of our foster families are wonderful, they are all saving lives after all, but Lihini and her foster pup Cassie stand out. Often times our dogs roll right through TRD: they are saved, they go to a foster home, and they get adopted. Most of the time this happens relatively quickly, averaging 3-8 weeks in a foster home. However, every now and then we get a medical case unbeknownst to us and quite often we have to share this load, moving a pup from one foster home to another based on what’s best for their care, what the foster can provide, vet appointment transportation etc. Cassie initially came to us with psychological issues involving fear, but shortly after getting her Lihini noticed a limp. Cassie had an old injury and she had surgery in an attempt to fix it. Her recovery consisted of casting, rest, vet appointments, re-casting, more rest, and more vet appointments. Lihini brought her to the vet every 10 days for a good portion of her foster life! When it was clear the surgery had not helped the way we’d all hoped, Cassie had her leg amputated. Now happier, more mobile and not in pain any longer she’s a happier girl but also still healing from those old psychological scars in the safety of Lihini’s home. After 5 months of surgeries and recoveries we think Cassie hit the jackpot to have Lihini as her foster mom. Lihini stuck this out with Cassie, she’s been there for her since day one, seeing her through her long medical road. We don’t come by this type of love and dedication every day and we know this is what has helped and continues to help Cassie heal.
Lihini is a professor of chemical oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UCSD. (Wow) Having known Ashley from grad school, Lihini first fostered with us after losing her 13 year old dog. She ended up adopting her first foster 5 days in! She now has 2 rescue dogs of her own and a 6 year old human child along with Cassie her foster dog! We’d say she’s pretty darn dedicated (and busy….and probably a bit tired!) Lihini is no rookie to rescue—her previous dogs have been rescues, and she recently lost her rescued cat. When she visits Sri Lanka she is constantly attempting to bring stray dogs home to her cousins, and she’s succeeded on a few occasions—they all have a street dog of some type.
When I asked her what she loves about Cassie, she had a beautiful response: “I remember as a kid I read a story (or was told a story) about a dog that sat on his master’s grave for days or weeks (I don’t remember). I think of Cassie as that dog. I have had many dogs and they have been loyal in their own way but Cassie is special that way. She is so attuned to me, chosen me as her person (for the moment) and is extremely faithful. She will be that way with the next person that is willing to be patient with her.”
Lihini, we are so very thankful for you. We are thankful for the time, love, and patience you have given to Cassie; we could not have asked for a better foster for our special girl! Thank you!
September 2015: Bobbi Ames
The Rescued Dog is very, very lucky to have Bobbi. Bobbi is a long time, avid foster that jumps in whenever we need her. She has helped us out in a pinch many a time—and most of these times it’s for fostering puppies! She’s taken on pregnant mommas directly from the shelter and fostered them the entire time; from pregnancy, birth, to 8 weeks. Bobbi is one of those solid volunteers that we rely on; there are several dogs that would not have been able to be saved without her in our corner.
So what’s the driving force for Bobbi’s volunteerism and love for animals? She grew up on a farm in upstate New York where her passion for animals began. She had cows, pigs, chickens, a few barn cats, and of course a dog or two running around. Dobermans and Labradors were the common breeds in her childhood. Bobbi’s very first job was at a dog boarding facility. She also worked at pet stores, was in 4H, and pet sat for neighbors. In 2002 Bobbi went to vet tech school and worked as a tech for several years. At her favorite vet hospital, located in a Humane Society in Boulder Colorado, she started learning about the shelter process, and thus began her overwhelming desire to help.
Bobbi is a big believer in giving back to your community, finding something that inspires you and making a difference. When I asked Bobbi what keeps her coming back for more fosters? – She answered, “I believe I can make a difference. I think if everyone took responsibility we could really get this over population problem under control. So I try really hard to move forward and active without getting overwhelmed and burnt out.” Her biggest reward? “Happiness, and that happens when we match the right dog with the right family.”
Currently in her home (besides her adorable kids), all her animals are fosters—one puppy and 2 kittens from a cat rescue she also works with. Bobbi is on foster #14!!
From the bottom of our hearts, Bobbi, thank you so very much for being a part of the TRD team.
August 2015: Ashley Corrigan
This month we are taking our Volunteer Spotlight right down to the nuts and bolts of The Rescued Dog. Completely run by volunteers, TRD has an incredible team that does a great deal of work, spending a lot of time on rescue related needs. This includes numerous people that spend countless hours in areas of foster coordination, events and fundraising, writing (blogs, education, grants etc.), coordinating donations, managing volunteers/needs, coordinating adoptions, financial/legal, marketing, database management and much, much more! All these “jobs” are dependent on TRD saving awesome dogs out of high risk shelters to be adopted. Here’s where our own TRD Co-founder and Rescue Coordinator, Ashley, comes in.
Ashley’s animal connection began while growing up on a farm in MN and she has a long history helping shelter animals. She started volunteering at a Humane Society in St. Cloud, MN when she was 14. At 16, she requested dog and cat food for birthday presents and donated over a 1,000lbs to the humane society! After moving to San Diego she found herself at a shelter in Devore trying to adopt a sick dog and seeing firsthand the incredible need for help in this overcrowded, high kill shelter. While talking to a rescue networker, she found out transporting animals was the biggest need. Transporters: people who willingly load their car to the brim with dogs/cats/rabbits (even the occasional chicken) and hit the road to various rescue groups. It was then Ashley and her Prius began the journey of rescue work. She’s had as many as 17 dogs each in their own crate packed into that Prius! Coined the “Prius of Freedom”, more than 50,000 miles have been put on her car saving and transporting dogs since 2010.
Ashley and her partners started The Rescued Dog because they knew they could do rescue differently. Dogs need to be in foster homes where they learn house manners, security and love. This prepares them for an easier transition to their forever home. When dogs are kenneled, shelters and rescues have dogs returned frequently for house training, owner guarding, separation anxiety, etc. – all behaviors not easily identified in a kennel setting. Foster homes provide the opportunity to target these behaviors and provide additional training when encountered. The crew at TRD are always amazed by Ashley’s super powers to pull awesome dogs. She has an incredible intuition and knowledge and we trust her judgment completely when pulling dogs for the rescue. She and her husband, Fernando, a dog trainer himself, have spent a great deal of time learning and teaching dog behavior. We lean on Ashley all the time for her incredible assessments, information and advice on all of our TRD dogs. She is TRD’s very own “Dog Whisperer”.
We, at TRD, know Ashley puts in A TON of hours to the rescue. She’s either driving to shelters to get dogs, driving around San Diego to vaccinate our dogs, coordinating with vets for our medical cases, emails/admin tasks, coaching foster families with their new dogs, coordinating with shelters to get more dogs and training her own foster dogs …she is always working for the dogs we just saved and the ones we are about to save. When asked about how many hours per week she devotes to TRD work she said, “I don’t think I should answer this question… it’s a large number! Way more than my ‘real job’.” When asked the most rewarding part of rescue she says it’s by far the updates we get from our amazing adopters. One word that describes the feeling of rescue work for Ashley? Hope.
The long term goal for Ashley is to get back to living on some land and run The Rescued Dog’s Sanctuary someday —it would allow her (and the dogs) the time and space to work with dogs needing advanced training. Ashley’s partners and rescue friends cannot say enough about her commitment and dedication to rescue work.
“Ashley is the driving force behind our organization. Her super power is pulling great dogs. She seems to know instinctually which dogs are great, and which ones are diamonds in the rough. Of course it’s not instinct entirely. She puts a lot of time and effort into understanding dog behavior, and she puts an equal amount of time cultivating the relationships we have with shelter managers and leaders. In turn, her shelter connections help us save our dogs. I think we can all agree that Ashley’s work on behalf of TRD is a large part of why we have been so successful. We really couldn’t do it without her.” ~Katie Michelmore Co-Founder of The Rescued Dog
“I met Ashley a year ago when she first came to the Humane Society of Imperial County to start pulling our dogs. She has been so supportive of our tiny little shelter. She’ll take our hard medical cases and she’s always there to lend a helping hand. We are truly blessed to have Ashley in our corner; she has driven down to help take pictures of animals, she has brought us food when needed and she has helped us do our very first adoption event in San Diego. We love Ashley and all of The Rescued Dog’s team, we wouldn’t be saving so many lives without Ashley’s help and support.“ ~Mikey Garcia, Networker/Rescue Coordinator for Humane Society of Imperial County
“Ashley is the backbone of TRD. The amount of work she puts into this rescue is incredible— her commitment, work and passion for rescued dogs is amazing. Someday I will sew her a Superhero Dog Temperament Tester cape!! She’s awesome and I’m so happy I get to work with her.” ~Alana Lawler Volunteer Coordinator for The Rescued Dog
July 2015: Mika Manzo & Family
Mika has been a foster extraordinaire for The Rescued Dog! She’s coming up on her year anniversary volunteering with us and has fostered over 10 dogs in that time. We count on her quite often to take various breeds of the smaller guys, and she’s always up for the challenge. Mika got into fostering after her beloved cat died after 17 years and they moved into a new place with a yard. Her kids were a bit scared of dogs so she wasn’t sure if it was the right time to adopt; instead she gave fostering a go. This turned out to be the best decision—her kids have gotten lots of experience with dogs and are now walkers, cuddlers and helpers to all their fosters. Recently, the Manzo family foster failed (as most TRD team members have!). Pixie was the only dog their cat openly welcomed and although, she says it wasn’t the dog her husband had in mind for their family dog, he was the one who suggested keeping Pixie! We love these stories; when a dog takes someone by surprise and they fall in love with what wouldn’t be their “ideal dog”. Another reason fostering is so wonderful—experience with all types and sizes—you never know who you’ll fall in love with.
Mika was born in Japan, grew up in San Diego and spent 10 years living in Hawaii. She has always loved animals; in the past she’s worked in an animal hospital and spent time pet sitting. With two kids, fostering and all her hobbies- Mika’s a busy woman. When she’s outside, she’s at the beach bodysurfing or training for a half marathon. When she’s inside she’s crafting and sewing; all in between training foster dogs and being a mom! Mika has recently submersed herself in another hobby- photography. Some of the beautiful pictures you see of our rescue dogs on our site are Mika’s photos.
We are so thankful for Mika and her family for taking on this foster role. A couple stand out dogs she’s had? Captain Hook was one of their favorites, providing a lesson to her family that a dog with a disability can still have an amazing fulfilling life. Her other favs were Donny and Dolly whom she fostered together. Her family loved watching these two bond and go to their forever family together!
Thank you Mika and family for being such a wonderful foster family for so many TRD dogs. We are so grateful! This is an example of how fostering can change lives—the lives of the foster families who learn and grow from such enriching experiences, the lives of the dogs who are saved and learn trust and love in their foster homes, and the lives of future forever families who are waiting to connect and fall in love with that special dog.
June 2015: Dani Ramos
Remember the 7 Harry Potter Puppies??—it was Dani who fostered them (for a total of 9 dogs in her house!). Dani had previously been fostering/volunteering with the San Diego Humane Society and when they didn’t have many opportunities for her, she decided to foster with TRD—and boy are we happy she did. Since then, she’s been an amazing volunteer and foster. Dani is one of those volunteers that just always seems to help, whether she’s organizing what feels like 1 million puppy applications, taking on a new foster, dog sitting another foster, or attending adoption events, she’s seriously everywhere!
Dani is a born and raised SoCal girl from her love of the ocean to San Diego’s sports teams. She worked 2 jobs for many years, raised her two girls as a single mom (also amazing volunteers with TRD) and took care of her mother for the last five years of her life. Dani knows hard work and what’s important in life. Now that she has some time for herself, she’s using it to save dogs— it’s obviously her passion.
Dani’s own dog, Mikki, part blue heeler who was found as a stray puppy in southeast SD, is very protective of her people and always needs to keep her eyes on the girls. Through all the hard times she was right there by Dani’s side. The Rescued Dog is so very grateful we’ve got such a dedicated, wonderful volunteer that is willing to give so much for dogs. Thank you, Dani!
We asked Dani some fun facts about her… here is what she had to say:
- I’m a tree hugger! (She’s not alone)
- I think bottled water is a plague on the planet (agreed)
- I am terrified of clowns (good to know!)
- I ran a half-marathon (Way to go!)
- I crochet (Did you say you crochet doggie sweaters??)
- I’m manic about organization and lists (We especially love this…knowing our adoption applications are in good hands!)