Always a good dog 🐶❤️

Lessons learned from a dog never have to go away even when you don’t have one. During this time of sheltering in place and staying home, my time around dogs is socially distant. This has me reflecting on how dogs are still able to positively influence me from six feet away. I’ve been impressed by their work. I’ve also been thinking back to my big adopted dog from the San Francisco SPCA.

Best advice ever: Set your dog up for success!

One of the best pieces of advice the SPCA gave us was the notion that to help our new family member and dog flourish, we should try to set her up for success. This perspective struck me as both simple and brilliant, easy to remember, and you can apply it to everything. Each time I engaged with her, whether taking her for a walk or asking her to watch the house while I went out on an errand, I applied this philosophy.

Image from grouchypuppy.com
Good job puppy!

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Thank goodness for dogs who are social butterflies

One of the places nearby is a dog park that is big enough for folks to safely social distance while letting their dogs play off leash. Since the pandemic and number of coronavirus cases still prevent me from getting my dog fix with the sugar faces at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue as a volunteer, I have started stopping by the dog area. I have changed my route when I am going to the store and have added it to my outdoor walks when I need extra steep hills. It is a little hit or miss on how many dogs will be there but I am not picky. I enjoy just watching the scenery and dog play, and if a dog decides they want to come over and say hello, who am I to be rude?

Thank goodness for dogs who are social butterflies

If there is a smart reader of this out there good at math, I bet you could tell me what the odds are that there is a social butterfly in a group of dogs. There always seems to be one. Sure, it usually is a puppy but sometimes it is just a dog who is just not that into other dogs. Often they like other dogs, but they get tired of them pretty quickly compared to others. On this day, I was lucky to meet one of those, in the form of a big Anatolian Shepherd - St. Bernard type name Riley.

image from grouchypuppy.com

 

Being a dog, and the type he was, Riley saw me, but first walked over to check out the other dogs coming through the gate. Then he moved down the line to say hello to me and get some love while his mom laughed and introduced him. After me, he continued over to an area that looked like a piece of tasty trash had traveled over the fence, just in case there was something to eat. That entire session gave me the happiest feeling of continuity and life, and how there is joy still around.

I am so grateful for the social butterfly because I am not. And, if that social butterfly flies over to me in the form of a dog, then all the better. Dogs have delivery methods for their type of affection and interest which never cease to make me laugh, smile or feel my heart lift up a little. They blow through resistance like the wind. 

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So much has changed, but still there is the delightful consistency of dogs

It has been so many months since I have been able to volunteer with the oldsters at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue that I feel slightly desperate in my reactions when I see dogs on the street. The slightest look from a dog gets an immediate waggle of my fingers! Not gonna lie, there have been more than one person on the other end of the leash who looked embarrassed for me. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. What is important here is that dogs are dogs are dogs, and given how uncertain everyday life is right now, I am grateful for this fact.

So much has changed, but still there is the delightful consistency of dogs

Dogs can be so delightfully consistent! I mean, since this pandemic has us social distancing whenever we’re out and wherever we are, I find myself sitting alone on a bench, either at a park or neighborhood street. It doesn’t happen every time but often, a person out walking their dog will slow near me, either because the dog is interested in the tree nearby or the dog wants to say hi to me! It is usually the typical labradorable type dog, a puppy who would also say hi to the tree, the bench and the mailbox, or the sweet little old dog who can pick out a dog lover in a minute.

image from grouchypuppy.com
The chocolate lab social club of Dolores Park in San Francisco

 

I confess that I have taken to placing myself purposefully in the spots where a dog is likely to walk by during an afternoon break. I can’t help it. It’s a gamble to see what each day brings me but such is life, and if it is simply the chance to have a moments engagement with a happy or tired little pup on their way home, it’s worth it. We all need to find our own forms of self-care. Besides gardening, and walking the city hills, a dose of d-o-g helps my peace of mind. Dogs remind me of all the good that is around us. These loving sentient beings remind me to find joy each day. How something as simple as a soft pet or quick stinky kiss can send a jolt of happiness into your immune system.

So for all of you folks out there who aren’t able to volunteer with dogs, or have a dog, don’t be afraid to search out the ones living around you right now. Walk over to your dog park and see what happens. Try a bench. Give yourself permission to sit and rest, and be open to the opportunity of an offer of a fluffy head or maybe just a slow walk by with a knowing wink (yes, I’ve gotten those too!). We’re all in this together.

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Helping dogs get another chance at a forever family, one step and flight at a time

Pilots N Paws is a wonderful nonprofit. Their volunteer pilots and plane owners assist specific rescues and shelters, sometimes flying animals directly to adopters waiting to be united with their new pup. They take to the skies to give adorable adoptable dogs a second chance at a forever home.

 

Giving a dog another chance at a happy life is one of the reasons I support Muttville Senior Dog Rescue and volunteer with them. I believe that dogs offer us humans another chance to show kindness, do good, be humane, and demonstrate the best of humankind towards animals. This is how both sides demonstrate the animal-human bond. Whenever I have offered the sweet older dogs compassion at Muttville, they have generously offered me affection and gratitude in return.

Image from grouchypuppy.com

 

The world needs our positive influence, our empathy can heal. When we have a compassionate response to those in need, the world notices.

 

Learn more:

Pilots N Paws:

Pilots N Paws® is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our site is intended to be a meeting place for volunteers engaged in the valuable services of rescuing, sheltering and adopting animals, and volunteer pilots and plane owners willing to assist with animal transportation. The intent of Pilots N Paws is to provide an environment in which volunteers can come together and arrange or schedule rescue flights, overnight foster care or shelter, and all other related activities.

Through the Pilots N Paws discussion board, volunteers can exchange information regarding animal transports, coordinate and schedule transports, share rescue stories and recruit volunteers.

Read about more Muttville Senior Dog Rescue 

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Good boy, Moose!! 🎓 Therapy dog gets honorary diploma for his six year career at Virginia Tech

A Virginia Tech staffer (And senior dog!) who has spent a career serving and supporting the university community was recently recognized in a special commencement ceremony during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Moose, an 8-year-old therapy dog at Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center, received an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine Friday evening, May 15 as part of virtual commencement exercises. It’s the latest recognition for the pawsome member of Hokie Nation.

Moose therapy dog

Like the Hokies he helps, Moose has had a challenging few months. Just a week after his birthday in February (his 64th, in human years), the Labrador Retriever was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began a treatment regimen of radiation, chemotherapy, and other therapies.

His treatment has been managed by providers at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park. Moose was cared for and housed by a Virginia Tech veterinary student earlier this year while receiving radiation treatments at a private veterinary specialist in Richmond.

Moose, who came to Virginia Tech in 2014, is now one of four dogs at the counseling center who serve as working therapy animals and ambassadors for mental health awareness.

Trent Davis with Moose

Trent Davis, the coordinator of animal-assisted therapy and a counselor at the center, credited Veterinary Teaching Hospital staff for providing Moose with excellent care. Moose continues to receive chemotherapy and has been given a pawsitive prognosis.

“ They’re wonderful, amazing people,” Davis said of the veterinary staff.

Moose has returned to work with canine colleague Derek, who is also owned and cared for by Davis. Virginia Tech’s team of therapy dogs is rounded out by Carson and Wagner, whose humans are also staff members at the counseling center.

Moose has aided in more than 7,500 counseling sessions and over 500 outreach events in his six years at Virginia Tech. He was honored in 2019 with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Hero Award. When not working, he enjoys swimming, playing tug of war, and perhaps most of all, eating.

The Virginia Tech therapy dogs can be found on Instagram at @vttherapydogs. 

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Pandemic Stories: When your dog adoption doesn't work out. A fresh life lesson courtesy of a senior dog

What happens if you think you’re ready to adopt a dog, and you do, but days later you return them to the rescue? How do you feel? How do you process what happened? How do you understand that you got through the entire adoption process only to give them back? And, you go through this upsetting and unfamiliar experience during a pandemic that requires social distancing, masks and sheltering at home. That’s an unique twist. This is what happened to me and my husband. 

We had the best dog in the world. We adopted her as adult from the SF SPCA and had the best adoption experience with them. Our new dog lived and flourished in our lives for nine years. She passed away five years ago. My husband was devoted to her and had no interest in getting another dog right away, if ever. After about a year passed, I was ready to be involved with dogs again, so I began volunteering at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. I had loved my time during Cleo’s older years and appreciated all that she had shown me that I wanted to spend time with older dogs more. It has been a great experience going to the doggy loft each week. I am reminded of why I look toward dogs for answers to life’s moments since I was a child. They have provided solace, protection and simply a great distraction in the moment.

image from grouchypuppy.com
My big old girl

It’s no surprise that over the years I bring home stories and photos of the dogs at the Muttville doggy loft to share with my husband. I love sharing their personalities and all that I learned that day about the life of a dog. The stinky kisses and cuddles they share with me are pretty great too. Thanks to Muttville, I have learned so much about what little dogs are about. I’m more aware of their needs, behaviors and fears. Our previous dog had been a large shepherd husky with very different needs, fears and behaviors, plus her enormous size made her a third roommate.

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Spring brings pretty flowers and dangerous barbed foxtails: Protect Your Dog

Taking our dogs for walks is a wonderful thing. We both get valuable exercise, fresh air, and time to explore our neighborhoods. For many of us, springtime brings both pretty blossoming flowers and the dreaded foxtail plant. This dangerous barbed weed sprouts up along curbs, under trees on sidewalks and in parks. 

Image from grouchypuppy.com
Protect your dog from foxtail plants

These dangerous weeds can get into your dog’s ear canals, inhaled into their nose or wedge between toes easily. Now is the time to keep a close eye on your dog while you are out together, and giving them a once over after you get home.

“The most common thing we see is when the barbed portion of the plant works its way between toes or into ears and noses,” says San Francisco SPCA Veterinarian Dr. Nicolette Zarday.

From the San Francisco SPCA:

What You Can Do To Protect Your Pet

  • Keep your dog’s coat short during the spring and summer, especially around the feet. There are groomers who will do a “foxtail cut” if requested.
  • After each walk, check your pet thoroughly and remove any plant material from their bodies. If you see barbs from foxtails, use tweezers to remove them.
  • If your pet suddenly starts sneezing uncontrollably, squinting, or shaking its head during or immediately after a walk, there is an excellent chance a foxtail is involved. Call your veterinarian’s office.
  • Do not allow your pet to run through fields of tall grass that contain foxtails.

Click here to learn more from the San Francisco SPCA

Be sure to check all over your dog after being outdoors. Foxtails can blow through the air on windy days so even if you are just out walking with your pet, they can find land and attach on their coat or paws. Foxtails can cause infections, call your veterinarian if you have any concerns! 

Social Distance. Stay safe. Stay alert. Stay well. 

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Help Your Lost Dog Be Found: National Pet ID Week

Being lost can be scary for people or pets! It doesn’t matter whether you live in a city or in a rural setting, getting separated from family suddenly is frightening for everyone involved. I still remember as a small child getting lost for a few minutes from my mom while grocery shopping. I can imagine the panic a dog can feel when they don’t know how to find their humans.

Making sure your dog has an ID tag with current, readable, contact information is the first step to reuniting them with you if you ever get separated. The next step that is quite common now, especially for all adopted dogs and cats, is having your pet microchipped. Most states require dogs to be spayed and have a microchip before they can be adopted. However the next most important step you can take is registering your dog’s microchip and making sure all your pertinent contact information along with your veterinarian’s is included in your profile. A clear photo of your dog and any behavior detail is key to the profile too in case they ever go missing.

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No one expects their dog to runaway but accidents happen, and every loving pet guardian wants to be prepared. This week is National Pet ID Week and the first thing I’ve already done is register the microchip on our new furry family member. We welcomed Ruby home from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue this week. As we settle in and get to know each other, part of the next stage is getting her a health check up, check her chip location, and making sure her new home and routine is fit for a senior chihuahua girl. Imagine my surprise that it would take many years and a pandemic for us to be ready to open our home again, to a dog who may be a quarter the size of Cleo but with an equal amount of heart and attitude.

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For more information:

about Michelson Found Animals

Click here for HELP if you’ve lost your pet

Plan ahead to protect your furry loved ones

Pet Theft Awareness

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Five Universal Truths About Senior Dogs and Older People

What’s it like being an old dog? Ask your grandpa, or ask me! Something that may surprise people is how perfectly wonderful life can be when you consider aging alongside a dog. With a senior dog by your side, the possibility of learning all sorts of valuable life lessons opens up. I have also met lots of older people who appreciate having an senior dog to go through the day with. Not only did I have incredible teachable moments with my own dog as she aged, it was these experiences that motivated me to volunteer with Muttville Senior Dog Rescue after she passed away.

April 30th is Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

You have probably seen at least one evening news story, or read one of several stories about animal shelters becoming empty for the first time because of the pandemic. Folks and families have stepped up to become foster homes for dogs and cats. Others who were thinking about adopting in the future decided to open their heart up now to a furry one. I hope all who have are feeling their world change for the better right now.

I hope each new match made during this time turns into a series of deep memories and life affirming moments. Years ago a Grouchy Puppy reader wrote in with this thought about their life with their two senior dogs:

"Both old, beat up, and very slow. We were made for each other. We are specifically tuned in to each other as we go through the process of getting old. We both hurt, we both have "bad days" and we both spend a lot of time at the doctor's office. He and I have a very sedate lifestyle together. As a family, my wife and I read a lot about canine nutrition, exercise, and health. We are able to provide a fine environment for the four of us that is as healthy as possible, stress free, and safe. Senior people and senior dogs going through the education of life and old age together and helping each other "Get through" it."

These five universal truths about older dogs or senior people ring true:

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Whether you’re getting older and you want a companion who’s your (slower) speed or you just want to experience the joys and wisdom an older dog has to offer, I encourage you to adopt, foster or volunteer at your local animal shelter, humane society or animal rescue.

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Helen Woodward Animal Center Offering FREE Online Separation Anxiety Course for Your Dog

It’s time to start working on helping our dogs be prepared to spend time alone again as sheltering in place orders are lifted, and many more people return to work.

We love our furry family members and thanks to the wonderful people at the Helen Woodward Animal Center, you can learn how to avoid the pitfalls of separation anxiety with your dog from this FREE online course!

Image from grouchypuppy.com

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Can a dog still smell me from six feet away?

When I am out on a walk one of the nicest moments can be an encounter with a dog. Everything from a dog catching my eye from a window, to a passing butt scratch in the crosswalk, to several minutes standing at a corner discussing the joys of dogs with their person on the other end of a leash. It takes very little for me to get a warm rush of oxytocin from the fluffy encounter. But since the pandemic, and social distancing requirements, I have started to wonder, “Can dogs still smell me at six feet away?”

I know dogs use their eyes to get their cues from humans, and their hearing helps them distinguish between friend and foe. After reading the book, Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz, I also know dogs have a very sophisticated sense of smell. So for all the dogs that are now inside, and only viewing me from a faraway window sill, I wonder what they are thinking?

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Helen Woodward Animal Center Offers Stress Relief With Critter Cam!

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the necessitated quarantines, the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Humane Education department is spreading some light via on-line programming.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com
Dogs and Social Distancing

 

Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Humane Education Provides Adorable At-Home Programming for Those Who Need a Pick-Me-Up…

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.  (Mar. 16, 2020) – In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the necessitated quarantines, Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Humane Education department is spreading some light via on-line programming.  The animal welfare organization dedicated to the loving and healing power of our furry friends has begun live-streaming adorable critters (sure to warm the hearts of kids and adults alike), and will soon provide humane education classes for kids stuck at home, seeking enjoyable and educational content. 

Since its founding, Helen Woodward Animal Center has offered humane education programs dedicated to showing the incredible ways in which animals give back to the world.  The Center’s Pet Encounter Therapy program flourishes thanks to the amazing way in which animals provide healing and comfort.  The enormous growth of adoptions is based on the undeniable way pets create a happier, more loving home.   With this in mind, Helen Woodward Animal Center is dedicating this time to bringing the gifts of animals into the homes of friends, supporters, and animal-lovers struggling with social distancing.   Anyone needing a pick-me-up is encouraged to access the Center live stream at: https://animalcenter.org/programs-services/education/critter-cam.  All programming is free to the public to enjoy. 

The following “animal hours” are already up and running!

Monday – Friday

Animal schedule:

9:00 – 10:00

Rabbit hour

10:00 – 11:00

Puppy/Dog hour

11:00 – 12:00

Guinea pig hour

12:00 – 1:00

Kitten/Cat hour

1:00 – 2:00

Parrot hour

2:00 – 3:00

Baby goat/Rabbit hour

*Schedule subject to change due to animal health and availability

In order to take precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic, all on-site humane education programs at Helen Woodward Animal Center are closed until April 6th, 2020.  In the meantime, check back on Helen Woodward Animal Center’s main website for more details about when to tune in to participate in virtual field trips, fun animal-focused lessons, and cool make-at-home crafts!

For more information about the education programs at Helen Woodward Animal Center, log onto www.animalcenter.org.

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About Helen Woodward Animal Center

Helen Woodward Animal Center is a private, non-profit organization where “people help animals and animals help people.” Founded in 1972 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the Center provides services for more than 90,000 people and more than 10,000 animals annually through adoptions, educational and therapeutic programs both onsite and throughout the community. Helen Woodward Animal Center is also the creator of the International Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive, the International Remember Me Thursday® campaign and The Business of Saving Lives Workshops, teaching the business of saving lives to animal welfare leaders from around the world.  For more information, go to: www.animalcenter.org.

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Bonded Puppy Siblings Show Us Love is Blind 💞

In the dog world, we humans are often the beneficiaries of a dog’s pure love and undiluted support in all that we do. A wagging tail is one of the nicest compliments! Experiencing how the human dog bond is demonstrated is extraordinary, it can feel like a cosmic boost.

What is also incredible to witness is the pure love, support and affection between dogs. Meet Star and her brother Denver, an adorable pair showing us what it means to be a personal cheerleader for your puppy sibling.

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Adorable Bonded Puppy Siblings Star and Denver

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.  (Feb. 24, 2020) – It has often been said that “love is blind” but at Helen Woodward Animal Center two pups are displaying that colloquialism in its truest form.  In fact, the two 3-month old terrier-blends who arrived at the Center only two weeks ago have demonstrated a bond unlike any seen at the Center before.  The female pup named Star is deaf and nearly blind, and her brother Denver has taken on the loving role of being her guide.

On February 11th, Star and Denver arrived at Helen Woodward Animal Center via transport from a new rescue partner – Heart of Louisiana. The pups were part of a litter of 8 whose mother had been dumped in a rural location.  A couple who found the mother kept her with her babies and, once weaned, asked the southern rescue facility to help find good homes for her pups.  The litter, along with 31 other rescue puppies, traveled 1,900 miles to reach sunny San Diego and nearly all of the transfers were ready for adoption in little more than a week. 

However, Helen Woodward Animal Center staffers soon realized that Star had special needs.  Deaf and nearly completely blind, Star was learning how to make her way in the world by use of her other senses.  While the rest of her littermates frolicked without her, her brother Denver kept a protective eye on her.  Choosing Star as his main playmate, the two were rarely apart and when separated, Denver would come running back to love on Star and let her know he was there.

“It’s really extraordinary,” stated Helen Woodward Adoption Services Manager Dora Dahlke.  “We never stop learning from animals.  These two really can teach us all a thing or two about sibling love and how much we can achieve with the love of a good friend.”

Star and Denver will be adopted out as a bonded pair.  They will be available for adoption on Wednesday, February 26. As a part of their adoption, San Diego Pet Training’s Rob Kuty will be on hand to provide the new family with techniques on how to raise a special needs puppy.  One thing is certain, Denver will be right there to help show his new family how wonderful his sister really is.

Interested in Adoptions at Helen Woodward Animal Center?

To adopt Star and Denver or for more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center, please go to www.animalcenter.org, call 858-756-4117 or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.

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About Helen Woodward Animal Center

Helen Woodward Animal Center is a private, non-profit organization where “people help animals and animals help people.” Founded in 1972 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the Center provides services for more than 90,000 people and more than 10,000 animals annually through adoptions, educational and therapeutic programs both onsite and throughout the community. Helen Woodward Animal Center is also the creator of the International Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive, the International Remember Me Thursday® campaign and The Business of Saving Lives Workshops, teaching the business of saving lives to animal welfare leaders from around the world.  For more information, go to:  www.animalcenter.org.

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How do you celebrate the power of the dog human bond?

Grouchy Puppy is all about celebrating how the power of the human dog bond is demonstrated by dogs and those who love them. This demonstration is unique and special to each of us which is why it’s our passion to shine a light on it whenever we can. How do you celebrate this incredible bond? 

If you are the O’Donnell family, and you are forever grateful for the timeless experiences you had with your dog, Eli the most cherished Yorkie, then you decide to sponsor the senior dog adoption fees for February (Valentines ❤️ month) at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in honor of her.

This couldn’t be a more perfect example of how people might show the positive influence dogs have on us, or how we too can give fearlessly like they do. With older dogs, imagine being the one who gets to write the last chapter of their life!

All of February, qualified adopters will have their adoption fees waived at Muttville, to celebrate Eli’s Month of LOVE ❤️ 

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See the available dogs at Muttville 🐶 https://muttville.org/available_mutts 

Maybe you’ll find the missing piece to your family puzzle, maybe your first heart dog, or maybe just the one true friend you need right now.

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Discover why senior dogs rule: Fall in love with Chicken Little!

There is something extra about a dog you just meet, who looks you in the eye, and immediately sees you’re on their side. With my morning volunteer shifts at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, I love discovering an old dog who sees me and softens, and if I am lucky (it is early!) gets up and comes over to say good morning. Meet one of those dogs. This sweet man will see you in all your love and meet you half way.

Is the sky falling?? No, it’s you, fallin’ for Chicken Little!!

This handsome speckled chihuahua has flown the coop to become your new best friend!

Image from grouchypuppy.com
Fall for Chicken Little!

With a happy smile and wide eyes, Chicken Little is ready to take on the world with you! Perfect for taking on walks, playing in the grass, and cuddling up with after a long day, this curious and energetic guy will make your heart take wing!

Chicken Little may be small but he will make a BIG impression on you!

Fly on over to Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and meet Chicken Little!!

Learn more: https://muttville.org/mutt/chicken-little-6811

STAFF PICK

If you want a pup who loves to snuggle as much as he likes to play or go on a good walk, Chicken Little is your guy. Chicken Little is such a special dog who just wants to be squeezed and loved on by his person. All it takes is one look into those big, bright eyes and you’re in love. You’d barely know he was a senior, he’s got such great energy and a wonderful capacity to love. Chicken Little and I have had such a great time hanging out together in my office, it’s going to be hard to let him go.

Wags,

Danielle

Chicken Little is estimated to be 11 years young and weighs 12 lbs.

Chicken Little’s foster has to say:

Chicken Little is the sweetest little pooch! He will follow you around, especially in the kitchen, and will follow your lead at home, on whether it’s time to play or relax and chill out. He gets very excited for his walks and will take off running, stopping to sniff all of the interesting plants along the way or roll around in the grass. When home and relaxing, he’s happy cuddled up next to you. He’s good with a routine, and sleeps well through the night. He enjoys peace and quiet; it can take him a minute to warm up to other people and animals.

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