GOTCHA DAY FOR SWEET SEMINOLE SAM! by Cheryl Pierson

Tomorrow, August 18th, is a very special day in the Pierson household. It’s “Gotcha Day” for our sweet boy, Sammy!

“Gotcha Day” is what many call the day a new pet comes to live with their family—a perfect, heartfelt matchup—and not only did we “get” Sammy, he got us, too!

The beginning of this story starts now nearly 12 years ago, before Sammy was ever born. My daughter, Jessica, adopted a fluffy white Great Pyrenees puppy from a shelter named “Embry”—at that time, the Twilight series was very popular, and when the puppies were born in the shelter, the staff named them all after characters from Twilight. “Embry” was a minor character in the series and my daughter kept the name because she thought it fit him.

About a year-and-a-half later, Jessica had to move from where she lived to a place that had a small backyard, no fence, and was close to a highway. We became “grandparents with custody” at that point—a big relief for all of us—except my husband, Gary,  had sworn off pets after the kids had left home after high school.

Embry as a puppy

It took about a DAY for him to realize that Embry was his soul-mate dog. Embry lived with us until his death in July, 2018.

I’ve spent my life taking care of animals and people, and I knew Embry would want us to rescue another dog and bring him or her into our lives. I bugged my husband relentlessly. He dug in his heels. He did not want another dog. But I DID. So how to solve it? I begged him to just “go look” and see

We went to the city shelter in the small town where I was raised, Seminole, Oklahoma. There was a dog that I’d shown him on their website that he’d shown mild interest in. I asked them to bring Sammy out for us to see. Sammy came right over to us, sat down on Gary’s foot, and would not budge. When he looked up at Gary, his entire expression said, “You are mine. I’m so glad you’re here for me!” I asked Gary if he wanted to look around, and he said, “No. There’s no need.”

Sammy’s shelter intake picture

He dubbed Sammy “Sweet Seminole Sam” and August 18th became Sammy’s “Gotcha Day”—one of the best days in our lives.

The first real bed Sammy has ever had. His first day with us.

But the story doesn’t end there! At the shelter, Sammy had been a social butterfly. The employees and other dogs all loved Sammy. Believe it or not, Sammy had been adopted once and returned—for digging holes in the backyard. He was about three months old, and put into the backyard alone, left to his own devices. I think he was trying to dig his way out and back to his friends!

After we’d had Sammy for a couple of months, I noticed a kind of pensive expression on his sweet face sometimes. I could only imagine what was going through his mind. I told Gary I thought Sammy needed another dog.

Sammy looking thoughtful. He’s about 11 months old here.

I love them all, but knew that we should probably look for a dog that was about the same age or younger than Sammy, who, at that time, was around 13 months old. This was in February 2019. 

There was a little waif that had been dumped with his siblings on the shelter steps when they were not even a month old. That would have been late January. He was white with light brown shading on his back. They thought he was part Great Pyrenees, probably from his coloring, but there were darker colored siblings, so said he might be also part German Shepherd. I didn’t care what he was—he was ALL love! He looked so lost and forlorn in his picture that was posted. I knew he was the one.

He had been named “Axel”–but that didn’t fit. We changed it to “Max” in case he’d gotten used to hearing that sound, and already might have started learning his name.

Jessica and I drove the hour drive to Seminole to pick him up. On the way home, he threw up in the back seat, and when I was holding him, he peed on me—twice! Then he went to sleep. I was in love. His “Gotcha Day” is March 11, 2019.

When we got him home, I went to pick Sammy up from doggie daycare, and Jessica gave Max a bath. Sammy walked right in and loved him immediately. It was “Gotcha Day” for Sammy, too—he got a new little brother!

Sammy and Max meet each other for the first time. Sammy is being so careful. Max adores him!

If I had a bigger place, I would have as many dogs as I could. It would be “Gotcha Day” several times over!

This was taken about a year ago–one of my favorite pictures of them. Max has gathered all the toys in a pile in front of him. Sammy came up to tell on him, and their expressions say it all–Max is so proud of himself. Sammy is saying, “Oh, brother! Look what I have to put up with!”

Do you have a pet that you celebrate “Gotcha Day” for? Since we don’t know their birthdays, this is the day we celebrate with ice cream cones, special treats, and car rides! What do you do for your pet’s “Gotcha Day” to celebrate?

HOW CAN I SAVE THEM ALL?

Although I normally blog about writing, marketing or books, today I’ve been wondering about something that I can’t get out of my mind. It crept up on me in its own sneaky fashion, until I finally realized that there’s no escaping it, and no turning back. It’s an obsession that is fast rivaling my daily writing “fix”.

Have you ever gone to Facebook and clicked on one of these pages set up by animal rescue organizations? I did. Now, it has taken hold of me and won’t let go.  All it takes is one look at a face like this one. You’ll be hooked, too.

The pleas for these animals are desperate. In many states, the organizations work to pull animals from shelters that are known as “kill” shelters. Dogs and cats that come in sick or hurt, or the ones that are aggressive—even if they are just afraid—are the first to be put down.

Yes, I realize that not all stray animals can be saved. But did you know that many animals that are brought to the shelters are “owner surrendered” pets? Why would someone do this? For many reasons—I think one of the main ones being that owners believe that taking an animal to the shelter and ‘dropping it off’ will result in the shelter finding it a good home.

The hard truth is that most shelters are running over. Dropping off your animal is probably not going to result in a preferable outcome of adoption. Most likely, the animal is going to be euthanized within the week.

One story that really tore at me when it was posted was the picture of a sweet golden retriever mix, that was taken in her cell at the shelter. Her eyes were kind. She didn’t understand what had happened to her world. After living with her master for 12 years, she had been “dropped off” at the shelter when her human had to go into a nursing home. I guess no one in the family was able to take her in to finish out her last years. And I can only imagine what anguish her master must have gone through, knowing that his family had surrendered his loving pet to a shelter. “Please help Sadie,” the post began. “She is alone and scared, and doesn’t understand why she’s at the shelter.” Sadie’s story haunted me all day. But it wasn’t the only one.

A few hours later, I saw that Middle Mutts, one of these wonderful organizations, had posted the story of yet another sweet little dog whose family had “surrendered” him as well. Only, they had moved off and left him to fend for himself rather than try to find a home for him. How could a family do this? I pictured them driving away from their home in their mini-van, the dog sitting in the front yard watching them leave, the husband and wife comforting themselves with the hope that “maybe one of the neighbors will take him in…” Nope. Animal control got him first and he went to the shelter, where he awaits certain death if no one adopts him or sponsors him. The picture above is of Zina & Mimi. Mimi is a gorgeous Great Dane/Lab mix around 1.5 years old. She was an owner surrender along with her best friend, Zena, a deaf Boxer. Zena depends on Mimi, and if possible, they’d like to find a home for them together. Please check out a new video of them! http://youtu.be/QyIRUjGmCYI

There are too many stories like this to describe in this short post. What I hope to do is to let you know how you can help these animals.

First: Click on the pages for these animal rescue organizations on FB and LIKE them—Here are three wonderful, very worthy animal rescue activist groups that are in the business of working tirelessly to get these sweet fur babies pulled and transported (with help from some guardian angels across this great country of ours!) to their new owners.

Pet Pardons http://www.facebook.com/#!/petpardons

Middle Mutts http://www.facebook.com/#!/middlemutts

The Bella Foundation http://www.facebook.com/#!/BellaFoundation

Second: When these notices begin to come in on your FB page about the animals that are going to be put to sleep (PTS), the ones who are injured and in need of treatment, the pleas for fostering or transportation funding, RESHARE them on your wall. You never know who might see these pictures and stories and want to adopt that dog/cat, or maybe knows of someone else who will. This doesn’t cost a thing and is a wonderful tool to “get the word out” about these animals, especially if you ask your friends to reshare, too!

Third: Most of these animals have a special “CHIP-IN FUND” that has been set up just for their needs. When you donate to it, the money goes to THAT ANIMAL for their shots, medical care (many of them have been abused or neglected terribly) and transportation if necessary. Most people think their contributions won’t matter. I have seen time and again where the contributions inched upward each day and finally reached the amount needed to pay for the “vetting” for these animals. Even $1 is important. It all matters. Some of the animals require surgery or medical treatment for other conditions. These are the ones that desperately need funding to help them get that treatment and get to a new home. If you have a Paypal account, it takes less than a minute to click on the link for the Chip-In and transfer a few bucks over.

Fourth: Talk about it. Blog about it. Get the word out. Not all support has to be financial! We all have to do what we are able to do, and some can do more than others, but many of these people in these organizations are volunteers. Is there something you could do at your local shelter? Could you start a group like this on your own? Fostering dogs until a home can be found for them is a wonderful service to provide if you are able to do this. There’s no monetary gain, but the reward you get from these loving animals will more than make up for it. Many have never had a kind word or loving touch. The picture above is of Pet Pardons’ co-founder Chris Hoar’s dog. Here’s what he has to say about his work:

“You know sometimes even I find it very hard to look at the pictures people post on my own wall, sometimes it seems like this horrific cruelty will never end, sometimes I want to just give up and go hide in a hole. Then I look at my little rescue Jimmy 2 Shoes, and he reminds me that I can never give up, for any reason, because as hard as this is for me sometimes, it is nothing compared to how hard it is for all of them.”  Chris has devoted his life to saving these animals. He’s my hero.

Have you been inspired yet? I hope so. Many of these stories have wonderfully happy endings thanks to regular people like you and me. Sadie, the 12-year-old golden retriever, was rescued within a couple of days of being posted and reshared again and again.

Another remarkable story is that of Vex, a dog who had been hit by a car in Romania and was paralyzed in his back legs. He had been dragging himself around, wearing his hide off for months. But the money was raised to fly him to America to a new loving home. Someone donated the money for him to have a little cart for his back legs so he could get around on his wheels. What a happy ending! Want to be part of something wonderful? Get involved. You’ll be ‘heart happy’ as soon as you do.

Our own “happy ending”–my daughter, Jessica, with her dog, Embry. This was taken about 2 years ago after Embry had to be treated for menengitis. She adopted him as a puppy from a shelter. He has brought us all so much love and joy I can’t imagine NOT having him around!

If you have questions, please e-mail me at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com  If we all work together, we can at least make a dent in animal cruelty, abuse and neglect and find loving homes for some wonderful sweet fur babies.