Great NonProfits 2015

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For the fourth year we have been listed as a 2016 Great NonProfit! We hope to continue this the trend and would love to hear about your experience and earn this title again in the coming year.

TDL's 2013 Great NonProfit Award

TDL’s 2013 Great NonProfit Award

If you’re new to our rescue, you might not know that in 2013, we rated #9 on Great Nonprofits in the country.  We received the award because of reviews from people like you!  In 2014 we skyrocketed into the top 50 in a short period of time thanks to your dedication and feedback.   Only your reviews can help us move up again this year!  Simply Click Here to share your comments about your experience.

If you have adopted from us recently, please take a moment and rate our rescue efforts, and describe  your experience adopting from us.  If you asked us for help surrendering and re-homing your dog through our Canine Connect Service, you too can leave us a review.  If we have helped you in any way, please take three minutes of your day, and help us by describing how our help impacted you.

 

Great NonProfits can be described as the Angie’s list of non-profit companies.  Last  year, only 500 non-profit companies received the top-rated award, and thanks to you, we were one of them!  Woo Hoo!

 

 

I was Just a Kid

Waiting in the lobby, Lady Di makes herself at home

Waiting in the lobby, Lady Di makes herself at home

Yesterday was an amazing day.  I went to the Orlando Executive Airport to pick up two Alabama dogs, Amelia and Bennett’s Boots.  I was also asked to be interviewed for a documentary Tales In Flight.

Bennett's Boots

Bennett’s Boots

When I heard there was going to be a film crew, I immediately panicked, and asked my friend Irma to drive me there.  I was too embarrassed to let anyone see my van, which is rusted out and has missing parts!  Okay, so maybe my hideous van was a great excuse to bring a friend with me to keep my calm!  It worked!  Sarah White-Buxbaum also joined us, and what a blessing!

Once on the tarmac I was very comfortable-not nervous one bit.  Before the operation began, I re-introduced Jeff to my Lady Di.  Lady Di was the first dog Jeff ever flew to us, back in September of 2009.  He remembered her, and I’d like to believe she remembered him.

"I remember you!"

“I remember you!”

The number of dogs and puppies that poured out of Jeff Bennett’s plane was unbelievable.  As I watched rescuers receive dozens of puppies, I didn’t envy them.  Nor was I ashamed that only two dogs on this flight were TDL.  I’ve accepted the fact that our rescue is about quality not quantity.  If we want our dogs in foster homes, we refuse to board them, and we don’t have an actual shelter, our numbers will always remain small.

When Shaggy’s crate was carried out of Jeff’s plane, he was scared.  He turned and hid his head into the crate, and we gave him time to come out on his own.  Eventually, he did, and hid his face under my arm!  Shaggy was Jeff’s 2,000th save, and I informed Jeff that his new name would be Bennett’s Boots.

Amelia

Amelia

It took a while before Amelia was uncovered.  Jeff lifted her out of the crate, soaked in urine, and handed her to me laughing.  Poor thing was terrified.  We got the dogs into Irma’s car, left the tarmac and gave them some time to walk around and find their legs!  Then it was interview time.  I met with Director, Michael Samstag and Producer Josh Gildrie and they explained what was going to happen.

one more goodbye

one more goodbye

But before the interview started, Jeff said one more goodbye to Lady Di!

I thought that I would sit down with other TDLers, and an interviewer – but that’s not what happened.  Instead, I sat in a chair and  had a camera film me so close I had hoped that the lens  had a wrinkle filter.  I was completely alone, no one to my left, no one to my right, only a camera straight ahead, and my interviewer was not going to share the screen with me. UGH!

With Lady Di by my side, I tried to relax, but half-way through the interview, she fell asleep at my feet.  I realized as I was answering questions, that I’m a writer, and it’s very difficult for me to answer questions, and express my opinions verbally.  I was nervous and tense just like most of the dogs we rescue!

I hadn’t felt this way since I entered into my 3rd grade classroom, the new kid, in the middle of a school year.  I opened the door, felt dozens of little eyes staring at me, petrified I wanted to be invisible.

The interviewThe interview took place in the airport’s lobby, where electronic sliding glass doors continued to open and close as people went about their business.  I would answer a question, and the doors would shwoosh, and producer Josh Gildrie would ask me to say it again!  Many times, I forgot the question, or had no idea what I had just said!  I could never answer a question the same way twice!  This was not easy for me!

When the question was asked, why did I start to rescue, and where did my love for dogs come from, instead of answering by telling the story of my Reckless, I went off on a bunny trail to when I was about eight years-old – my first dog, Nelson.  Before I knew it, I was sharing stories about my life as a child, and how we moved often, and how many animals I had to leave behind.  I talked about the sadness coming home to an empty house.  I was asked about Lady Di, and because Nelson was also a collie, I explained when she was brought to me, it brought back so many childhood memories of my Nelson, and without warning, I was flooded with memories, and I began to tear up during the interview.  Trying very hard to be professional, and push my emotions aside, I knew I had stumbled onto something that I was not prepared to fully address.

Since Lady Di was fast asleep, and starting to snore, at the request of director, Michael Samstag, we woke Bennett’s Boots up, and brought him on the set.  I scooted over and gave the chair one tap… I didn’t have to ask him twice… and he was in my lap for the rest of the interview.  Having a dog to hold and rub on made me relax and not feel so self-conscious.

All in all, I think I fumbled through most of my interview.

When I returned home, there was a lot of work to be done.  All of my dogs had to be cared for, Claire Bear needed her Tofu and Lentils, and my new dogs needed to be introduced to their new temporary  home.  Too tired to cook for my own family, and too exhausted to go out to eat, we got pizza!

My Nelson

My Nelson

I called Sarah White later that evening, and was able to share and process my unexpected melt down.

While I have mentioned Nelson in passing to friends, I never truly shared his story with anyone.  I actually named one of our rescued collies, Nelson, two years ago, but I still never really shared his story in detail.  Maybe it was too painful for me to share?

One of the first dogs I remember as a child was a purebred Collie named Lord Nelson of Baltimore III.  I don’t know where my Mom bought him from, but we got him as a puppy.  He was the most gorgeous puppy I had ever seen.  It didn’t take long before he was HUGE!  He was kind, gentle, noble, loving and easy to train.  He was my brother’s dog, however, once my brother left our nest to go into the Air Force, I made him my dog!  I remember laying on the floor and kissing his long nose and hearing his tail thump!  He loved the snow and he loved to run!

I remembered that warm feeling coming home from school to my Nelson.  I didn’t have many friends, moving around a lot prevents lasting relationships!  I only had one brother who was eight years older than me, and big brothers really don’t “play” with little brat sisters!  My parents worked and were always busy, but none of that mattered, I had my dog.  I guess my relationship with Nelson is very much like my daughter Sarah’s relationship with her China.  It’s tight!

I don’t know why I was surprised when my parents announced that we were moving again, this time back to Florida.  I never dreamed that Nelson wasn’t coming with us, but he wasn’t.  It wasn’t until just a few days before we were leaving that my Mom told me Nelson was going to Canada to live with my cousin, Victor.  But that wasn’t true.  Victor couldn’t have a dog, so Nelson was going to live with Victor’s Grandfather.  I didn’t know these people, but I was assured that Nelson would be loved and well cared for, and he was.

Despite my parents’ assurance, I protested but it had no effect.  I sat in the back seat with my arms crossed, pouting, crying, leaving my home, and knowing I would never see my dog again.

Just a few short years later, we got the news that Nelson had died of cancer, he was only five years-old.  I remember feeling angry that I couldn’t be there with him when he died.  I wondered if he knew that I didn’t want him to leave me.  I wondered if he knew how many nights I cried for him.  If he was in heaven now, surely he knew how I felt.

But how could I be with him when he died?  I was in Florida, Nelson was in Canada, and I was just a kid.  I must have been around 13 years old when I realized that I had never been given the pleasure or the honor to have a pet until it died of old age.  All of my animals were either left behind, or given away.  I tried not to grieve over the loss of Nelson, after all, he wasn’t my dog anymore.  But something happened yesterday, during that interview, and I cried.

Maybe this experience makes me a better person with regard to feeling empathy for owners who have to surrender their dogs to us.  Maybe because I have felt their anguish, their pain, I do not judge them, instead I assure them that their dog will have a good life, as was the case with Mic.  When Carol came to adopt Mic, I called Mic’s former owner, and gave him the good news.

I was just a kid

I was just a kid

Maybe Nelson is really the reason why I love dogs, and why I love to rescue.  Maybe after all of these years I’ve been working to right the wrongs.

This morning, I used a step-ladder to get into my closet, and I climbed up to where I keep very old photo albums.  I found it.  The album dates back to 1970, and it only contained a few of his photos.

I have finally given myself permission to grieve over his loss today.  Yes, life goes on, but I always missed him.  He wasn’t given up by me, yet I had to surrender him.  I protested, I begged, I pleaded, I got angry, but there was nothing I could do, because I was just a kid.

 

See all of the photos taken during this transport on Facebook.

 

Bennett’s Boots~Adopted

Bennett's Boots

Bennett’s Boots

All eyes were  on this little boy, who was named Shaggy.  Rescued from Baldwin County, Alabama, he was chosen to be Jeff Bennett’s 2,000th dog.  There were a lot of people wanting to pet him, a lot of cameras, and noisy airplanes flying around, but he did very well considering the chaos!  The documentary, “Tales in Flight” covered his rescue from start to finish, and they will continue to follow his progress until he is adopted.

I do not believe he was an owner-surrender, maybe, but he is covered in scabs, which makes me wonder if he was found as a stray.

You can see more photos of him on Facebook.

Bennett’s Boots is resting quietly, he’s been through a lot, and he was neutered last week.  He is very much a velcro dog and is very quiet so far.  Updates coming soon!

11/22/13 Update:  What a difference a day makes!  Boots has been very quiet and almost lethargic.  Sure he’s been through a lot, and neutered just a few days ago, but still.  He walks slow, and doesn’t have much expression.  But this morning, he greeted me with a leap, and kisses.  I can’t remember which dog we rescued a year ago, that every time she walked by me, she’d lick my feet!  Boots does that too!  He give me a wiggle butt (an Aussie trait), a kiss on the face, and he had a spring in his step.  His appetite is good, and is goes right into his crate!  I don’t hear a peep out of him until he needs to wee wee!

I know that his teeth are very white, but I’m wondering how old he really is.  He’s covered with scabs where the ticks were, yet his hair is not terribly matted.  He is incredible stinky, but he’ll be groomed Tuesday.  I really think Boots is a couch potato, but the next few days will tell.

Another major turn around, is that at first, he would growl at my dogs when they came close to his crate.  Today, he saw Claire Bear through the sliding glass window, and wagged his tail.  YES!

Mr. Boots

Mr. Boots

When a dog has been on his own for a while, you can’t push him into your world overnight.  You have to ease him into his new environment, and he has to feel safe before you can expect him to experience new things.  I think we’re going to have a great weekend with Mr. Boots!

11/24/13 Update:  Mr. Boots has found his wiggle!  He’s running around the yard and playing.  He loves Sarah, and loves to give kisses and hugs.  He does have one bad habit, he likes to talk with his mouth… he nibbles you out of love, but we are correcting that.

Boots is the perfect dog.  When it’s time to rest, he is as quiet as a mouse.  When it’s time to play, it’s game on!  He’s going to make an awesome companion dog!

Boots and Shannon

Boots and Shannon

11/26/13 Update:  Boots is now playing with other dogs.  He had a wonderful visit at the vet yesterday, where he entertained everyone, playing gently with Dr. Kim’s tea cup chi pup.  He played ball and frisbee with everyone!  He had a great bath, but did NOT like the blow dryer one bit.  He is heartworm negative, and very  healthy.  We estimate him to be 12-18 months of age.  Boots made a lot of friends, and Shannon, specifically, was madly in love with him!  This is one incredibly dog!  You can see more photos of him on Facebook.

Boots goes home!

Boots goes home!

12/3/13 Update:  I’m just now sitting at my desk for the first time since Friday, and grabbed my camera to see the photos that were taken while I was stuck in bed with a fever.  

Just as I thought, I LOVE the Van Dorns!  They came and adopted Mr. Boots on Saturday.  But wait, if I was out of commission, who did the adoption, and who snapped the photos?  My daughter, Sarah did!  Told you she’s got it!

I heard the knock on the door, and grabbed my daughter, Sarah.  I handed her his file folder, and told her she would have to do this adoption… and she did.  She remembered everything!

Alabama Bossie

shelter photo

I guess at the young age of 11, my Sarah has seen me do hundreds of adoptions.  She talked about our vet, his microchip tag, walked through every step of the contract, and yes… she remembered to take some adoption photos as well.  I was floored!

Mr. Boots is now lovingly known as Buddy Boots Bigfoot from Bama, adopted by the Van Dorn family, living in Orlando!  Welcome home Boots!

Click here to read more about Sarah.

Click here to read about her first solo adoption!

05/13/14 Update:  We receive regular updates about Mr. Boots, and he is doing fine, but his rescue was so impressive, it was published!  So while I’ve been rescuing hundreds of dogs for almost five years, my daughter’s first solo adoption, gets published in the Rescue Me magazine!  Amazing!

Here it is!

The Dog Liberator's Bennett's Boots published in Rescue Me Magazine  The Dog Liberator and Jeff Bennett

 

The Dog Liberator's Bennett's Boots Published in Rescue Me Magazine

Pilots N Paws, Lady Di, and Goldie Hawn by Mitch Stacy – A Paw and a Prayer


Just read this awesome story written by AP Reporter Mitch Stacy about Pilots N Paws and their recent rescue, which included my Lady Di and Goldie Hawn.

A paw and a prayer: Pilots save shelter animals
By MITCH STACY, Associated Press Writer Mitch Stacy, Associated Press Writer – Tue Sep 15, 5:47 am ET

TAMPA, Fla. – Lady Di is a lovely purebred collie with a pleasant disposition, just like lots of other dogs dumped at shelters in areas that lack anywhere near enough would-be owners. Unlike all but a lucky few of those animals, she got a plane ride away from death row.

Along with one of her sick, emaciated pups, Lady Di recently was brought to a shelter in the central Alabama interstate town of Clanton by a man who first tried to give her away in a Walmart parking lot.

The small shelter north of Montgomery was already heaving; healthy dogs and cats are euthanized by the hundreds every week because there’s just no more room.

Shelter workers knew the collies stood a better chance somewhere else.

That’s when Lady Di met private pilot Jeff Bennett, a volunteer with Pilots N Paws, a group that moves pets from overwhelmed shelters to communities, often ones with higher median income, where they’ll stand a better chance of adoption. The pilots donate their time, planes and fuel.

This week, Pilots N Paws is seeking to transport 5,000 animals to safety in a flurry of flights designed to raise awareness of the charity and draw attention to the importance of spaying and neutering.

Bennett, 50, is a retired Florida Keys businessman with a soft spot for homeless dogs. He’s got a Cirrus SR22, a zippy little four-seat plane, and is always looking for an excuse to get above the clouds.

So he flew to Montgomery recently to bring the collies and a dozen other dogs and puppies back to Florida, where rescue groups stood ready to take them in until homes could be found.

The “mission,” as Bennett calls his rescue flights, brought the number of animals he’s transported for Pilots N Paws to 124 — including snakes, lizards, a chicken and a potbellied pig — since signing on with the charity about a year ago.

“It’s a great feeling to know that you’re saving some animals and hopefully finding some good homes for them,” says Bennett, noting the millions of dogs and cats euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. “What I’m doing is pretty small, but you can only do what you can.”

Pilots N Paws got its start in February 2008. A Knoxville, Tenn., pilot named Jon Wehrenberg had offered to fly his friend, Debi Boies, from her home near Greenville, S.C., down to Florida to pick up a Doberman pinscher she wanted to adopt from a rescue group. Wehrenberg asked Boies if there would be a regular need for such a thing.

“I said, ‘Oh Jon, you have no idea,'” Boies recalls. Rescue groups have long moved animals from high-kill shelters around the country, she told him, but it usually involves long, exhausting car trips.

The Web site for Pilots N Paws now serves as a forum where shelters and rescue groups can hook up with pilots. Boies says more than 680 pilots have already transported thousands of animals all over the country. Many were plucked from death row at overpopulated, high-kill shelters in Southern states, where people are less likely to sterilize their animals.

“A rescue animal that’s had a living hell for a life and now has a warm and loving home, they look at you differently,” Boies says. “It’s just hard to explain.”

On Bennett’s recent two-hour flight from Montgomery to Tampa, he carried Lady Di and her pup, plus nine squirmy Lab-mix puppies, a red mix-breed called BBQ, a terrier-mix named Roscoe and a female mutt so pregnant she looked as if she might explode any minute. Fourteen dogs in six crates stacked into a cargo area no bigger than the back of a Honda Civic.

The droning of the plane’s engine seemed to subdue the dogs, but the puppies made sure the air in the cockpit was pungent. Blasts from a can of air freshener provided temporary relief.

“They’re a little anxious to start, but once you fire up the engine and start taxiing, a lot of times they settle down,” he says. “Most of them go to sleep during the flight, and when you start descending it’s almost like they know what’s going on and they start waking up and making a little bit of noise.”

In Tampa, volunteers with four different rescue groups were waiting.

The nine pups went to Mid-Florida Retriever Rescue. Last weekend, they met potential new owners at an adoption event at an Orlando pet store. BBQ and Roscoe went to The Humane Society of Sarasota County, where BBQ was adopted Thursday by a family whose dog had died recently.

The pregnant female, who was named Summer, was taken by a Saving Animals From Euthanasia chapter north of Tampa.

Lady Di and her pup got a ride to a foster home north of Orlando, where the younger dog is being treated for malnutrition and kennel cough. Lady Di, though, is energetic, housebroken and is being taught some basic commands. Gisele Veilleux, who is caring for the collies, says people have already applied to adopt her.

“She was sweet but didn’t have much personality,” Veilleux says of the dog, which she guesses is about a year old and was bred for profit in her first heat. “I don’t think she’s had that much human contact. She had no joy in her eyes. She’s getting that joy now.”

Pilots N Paws

Mitch designed this awesome slideshow that includes actual interviews with volunteer Pilot Jeff Bennett. I guess some people sky dive for thrills, we rescue dogs for thrills, and Jeff Bennett has made such a difference in the lives of so many animals, their rescuers, and the people who have adopted them.
Mitch’s SlideShow

Goldie Hawn, Lady Di’s collie pup, and her journey’s end.

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