Four-Legged Members

What? You didn’t know we have four-legged members? Well, we do, along with winged-, feathered-, scaled-, and even eight-legged folks. Find out what all this fuss is about! Click here for details today!

Lucy by Brenda Hamlin 

Lucy, my furry friendLucy, is a micro schnauzer and a vegan eating munchkin. She was born in September 2004. I got her from a breeder in Chicago in December 2004. She is now six years old and converted to Vegan in 2010 after her sister had to be put to sleep because of cancer. She enjoys eating fruits and vegetables.

Princess by Rebecca

Princess, my furry friendPrincess was abandoned here three years ago, around the same time that my husband passed away. We became inseparable. She is the love of my life and my best friend. She is somehow psychically connected to my thoughts and moods. She is just pure love and loves everybody. Princess is great with kids and often does therapy with me as she is a great ice-breaker!

The Story of Whippersnapper by Peggy Farrar

Multitudes of starfish washed up onshore. A young boy started picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone saw what he was doing and told him that it was pointless, that there were too many to save, that it wouldn’t make a difference. Throwing another starfish into the sea, the little boy responded, “It makes a difference to this one.”
I was working at a fund-raising bingo game for a homeless, no-kill, animal shelter in rural Kentucky when a man approached me and said, “I gotta ‘get rid’ of this dog I got at home.” I nervously explained to him that the shelter currently had no space for canines (all the cages were full). He glared at me and said, “Well, I guess I’ll have to go on and drown ‘it,’ then.”

I was horrified—the thought of someone drowning a dog just cut me to the core and I knew I had to do something. I quickly said, “Sir, I think I might be able to provide a foster home for this dog if you could bring him to the shelter tomorrow.”

“I’ll do it,” he sneered.

What was I going to tell my (former) husband? We lived with two rescued dogs who were dearly treasured in our home, but I was not sure Alec would be receptive to the foster care idea. At any rate, I walked toward Alec (he was also helping volunteer that particular evening) and announced that we would just have to try to find a home for this dog because the people who “owned” him had threatened to kill him. Alec agreed to provide a temporary foster home. I was determined to find an acceptable forever-home for the pup.

The next morning, I reported early for cage-cleaning duty at the shelter. Sure enough, the man from the bingo game showed up with the most precious beagle-basset mixed puppy to abandon at the front gate. The puppy was voraciously attacking the food bowl that I had just placed on the cement and I leaned over to pick him up. He was adorable, but I instantly noticed he had a huge, plump belly distended well beyond what was normal. I panicked and wondered what was wrong with the little guy. Inge, another shelter worker, took one look at him and said, “He is full of worms. We will have to treat him for worms.”

Again, I was horrified. “How do we get rid of them?” I asked.

“We will give him oral medication for a week and it should clear up.”

“Will my other dogs get worms while we have him in foster care?”

“You will have to keep his [excrement] cleaned up in the yard to prevent the other dogs from becoming infected. Just make sure you scoop the yard every time he goes outside.”

Inge gave me pointers and I took the puppy home that evening and began nursing him to health. Within two weeks, he was worm-free, healthy, and happy. He had developed an affection for our other two dogs, Chelseigh and Clementine. Clementine would play “puppy games” with him and observing this became a source of entertainment for us.

We decided that, since the puppy might be with us for a while, we would try to give him a name. I originally began calling him “Snoopy” because of his resemblance to Charlie Brown’s pal in the comic strip. I called him “Snoopy” for a couple of days. One evening, Alec was eating a sandwich that he had spent a great deal of time preparing. He was sitting in the armchair watching television and holding the sandwich, when, all of a sudden, “Snoopy,” the foster puppy, sprang into the air and gobbled the entire sandwich in one motion! Alec shouted, “You little whippersnapper!!”

“That’s it,” I cried with relief. That’s his perfect name—”Whippersnapper.” From that day on, he has lived up to the title!!!

About a week later, I had several people lined up to come by the house to look at Whippersnapper for possible adoption. I had listed his information in the local paper and received several phone calls. The day of the first potential adopters was amazingly sad for me. I dreaded the afternoon when I knew the first possible adopters would arrive to look at Whipper. I couldn’t bear the thought of complete strangers taking charge of him and being responsible for his wellbeing. I had developed a deep bond with him—in the short three weeks he had lived with us. I began wondering about the “what ifs”:

What if I choose the wrong person?

What if the person or people turn out to be cruel or mean to him?

What if the adopters decide later on down the road (when he grows up and is no longer a cute puppy) that they don’t want the responsibility of a dog?

I couldn’t take my mind off of all the possible disaster scenarios.

At about 6 pm, the first family came to look at Whipper. They came to the door announced that they were there “to look at the dog.” I went to get the puppy and took him to the front yard where I told the family they could spend time with him. The family had a young son—about 8 or 10—who immediately reached for the puppy. I went into the house and watched from the front door as they played with Whipper and he unknowingly wagged his tail and reinforced his adorable nature. They rubbed his belly and he responded with total trust and happiness.

Tears overtook me. I could not handle the thoughts of choosing the wrong family or person for this puppy.

As I continued to observe the scene, the second family showed up and began playing with Whipper. Eventually, Alec noticed that I was crying and extremely upset.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I can’t do it,” I responded I can’t bear the thought of giving this little guy to the wrong people. I feel so responsible for his future. His future is literally in my hands right now. The only way I know that he will have a good life for SURE is to keep him here with us.”

“Do you want to keep him?”

“I do, but I know you don’t want any more dogs.”

“I think we can make an exception for Whipper. I think he is home now.”

I was relieved. I would not have to wonder what happened to this captivating little guy. I would keep him in our house where I knew he would be happy and well cared for his entire life. I called the rest of the potential adopters and told them that the puppy was no longer up for adoption.

Whippersnapper is now 15 years old and still going strong. He has been in my life all these years—through a divorce, remarriage, the birth of my son, illnesses of my parents, and the death of my beloved Grandmother. Through life’s turns, Whippersnapper has been a constant, loyal companion and has taught me many lessons. Here are a few:

1. Forgive:

Initially, I learned about how people can be incredibly insensitive and heartless when it comes to animals (his original family), but, over time, I discovered how forgiving animals can be. Despite what conditions he met early in life, Whippersnapper did not hold onto the original cruelty perpetrated against him. He is completely accepting of me and of every situation or person he encounters, asking for nothing in return (except an occasional belly rub and some nourishment). Whippersnapper gives much in return—complete acceptance and unconditional companionship. Nowadays, I try to let go of grudges.

2. Strays and unwanteds matter:

I know there will be a horrible day when my beloved companion will pass and I dread this reality. But I can always find a sense of peace in the knowledge that I tried to ensure that Whippersnapper’s future would be better than before I met him. He is just one dog among billions, but I know I have made a difference in his world. I try to apply that to others I encounter as I go about my daily routines. Marginalized people matter. We all matter, we all can make a difference somewhere. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, a nursing home, a hospital, or even an animal sanctuary can make our communities and our world a little bit better. Making a difference in the life of another brings purpose to our own lives.

3. Millions suffer needlessly:

He is a constant reminder to me of the millions (more than 14 million a year just in the U.S.) of homeless and unwanted animals who are unplanned and/or abused, ending up in “shelters” where they eventually meet their fates—gently named “euthanasia.” Whippersnapper motivates me to be dedicated to discussing this problem and stressing the importance of spaying and neutering to reduce the number of homeless companion animals. In our modern civilization, this problem could be ended–if everyone would just care a little…. If everyone had a little Whippersnapper in their lives, maybe … just maybe… I hope…