September 29, 2009

Breaking the Stereotype

Raider was found in the freezing cold rain in the middle of a busy intersection. He was scrawny, bony, sickly and scared, but with an inner resilience that could not be hidden.

We are forever grateful to Laurie, who found him. Because of his breed, Laurie knew many shelters would automatically put him down and not give this wonderful boy a chance. (Roanoke stats for 2007: 66 percent of pits were euthanized, compared with 44 percent of all dogs, and 12 percent were adopted, compared with 25 percent of all dogs. The rest were returned to their owners).

Laurie searched far and wide, and ended up in our front lobby on a mission to save this dog. She made a point to talk to Lee, the adoption center manager, and stated her case. After 5 minutes of conversation, mission accomplished! Raider had a new hope and a chance to be adopted to a loving family.

Laurie sponsored Raider, and came in to walk him almost daily. After several months of proper nutrition, exercise, and TLC, Raider blossomed into a beautiful dog and was adopted to a wonderful family: We were happy to receive this email!

Raider is doing great!! He is adapting to his new home amazingly well. He has developed a kinship with my grandson whom we take care of while my daughter works. He loves all the space to run in and all the new smells to discover. He is eating very well and , yes, he has discovered the nice soft pillow top of our bed. He loves to bug the cats. In short, he is truely in "dog heaven".

We love him-- thanks so much for matching us up with him.

You see more info on Raider here.


Foster mom Wendy got a phone call from a concerned animal lover living in Elliston. She had been at her mother-in-law's home when they heard a cry from under the front porch. There were two kittens... Madeline and Mozus. Both had their eyes completely fused shut with severe conjunctivitis, and they were suffering from upper resp. infections as well. Needless to say, they were at Angels the next morning to get medicine. At this point neither Angels staff nor Wendy knew if they had eyes at all.

After days of swabbing their eyes with warm water and medicating, morning and evening, they both began to open their eyes. Mozus came out with both gleaming green eyes. Madeline wasn't so lucky. Her one eye was so severely under developed that it had to be removed.

Despite her handicap, Madeline (or Maddy as she is called now) is a bouncing baby girl. She has gotten so attached to Wendy, that she has found her home. Her favorite place to sit is in the window, and Wendy says "Sure, she's only got one eye, but she's my little girl".

Welcome home, Maddy.

Photo by Vickie Holt

September 28, 2009

The Meaning of Zen

Mazey is available for adoption at Angels of Assisi- she's an "old soul" and when we saw this quote, we thought of her:

I put down my book, The Meaning of Zen, and see the cat smiling into her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. "Cat, I would lend you this book to study but it appears you have already read it." She looks up and gives me her full gaze. "Don't be ridiculous," she purrs, "I wrote it."

~Dilys Laing, "Miao"

Tomato Cats

Meet Tinker, one of the 'Tomato Cats". Here is her story as told by Diane Novak, the coordinator of Barn Cat Buddies and the Angels of Assisi MasCat program:

Back in early May a strange call came into the feral cat hotline unlike any other. A woman called concerned about a neighbor who was feeding her cats only tomatoes.

This woman said she had donated money for cat food but never saw the results. I sent out an emergency email for food donations and as usual our volunteers stepped up to the plate. Another feral cat clinic volunteer (Dianne) kindly agreed to meet the neighbor and deliver the cat food.

In describing the situation I dubbed these animals 'the tomato cats'. After much conversation with the woman who lived at the trailer with her young children and father, we were given permission to come assess the situation.

I asked another foster volunteer, Chris, to take the trip with us to Shawsville.
We were met with a situation that looked straight out of the old TV show Sanford and Son. Junk strewn everywhere amidst two trailers. There were empty lasagna pans on the floor that may have once served as food dishes.

And then the most lovely, friendly (most of them!) cats and kittens came out to greet us apparently starving. We fed and watered them from a nearby stream and had to hold back tears. We were especially concerned about a beautiful Siamese who would not come out from under the trailer and appeared ill. We attempted to call the owner of the trailer who was not willing to speak to us on the phone. Eventually she came home and agreed to let us take two mother cats with their nursing kitters.

Chris and I headed straight to Angels where Dr. Spangler promptly checked them over. With flea meds and basic shots they went to Chris' house for fostering till the kittens were old enough and the moms could be spayed.

The following week Chris enlisted the help of Wendy, another foster volunteer to return to Shawsville. That's when they got the sick Siamese cat and some others in various stages of injury.

The Siamese was hooked up to IV's for two weeks until his condition became worse. Sadly he had to be euthanized. Chris and Wendy rescued several other cats with broken paws and terrible oozing wounds. One of the cats needed her leg amputated.

Chris and Wendy returned another few times together and Chris made a total of twelve trips on her own. When all was said and done 30 were taken out and one feral was sterilized and returned to the trailer. Barn Cat Buddies donations paid for the animals' surgeries and sterilizations. Through Assisi's Wellness clinic the animals' needs were taken care of and the gals did a wonderful job of giving them their basic needs and loving them which they surely missed.

We could not have done this without the kindness of Dr. Spangler and the organizational skills of Tammy and Debbie at the front desk. Now they are all available for adoption to either indoor homes or safe barns.

Thanks to Chris, Wendy and Dianne - because of their willingness to get their hands dirty, 30 cats have been saved from a life of hunger and sure pain through injury.

Photo by Vickie Holt

September 25, 2009

Housebreaking Hints

Melanie Schlaginhaufen is a wonderful dog trainer in the Smith Mountain Lake area. Her website has many helpful articles including this one on housebreaking tips.
If you are need of a dog trainer, please contact Melanie. She has very reasonable rates, and is always helpful with our rescue dogs- from puppy mill survivors to big ole' hound dogs!


Harlequin was seized by an ACO (animal control officer) last summer. She was left with 3 puppies out in the heat with no protection from the hot sun. Suffering from heat stroke, she had to be carried to the emergency Vet's office. After receiving urgent care overnight, she was brought to Angels of Assisi and received IV therapy for several days. With a cool place to rest and extra fluids, she started feeling much better.
Harlequin's puppies were also brought to Angels of Assisi and received medical care. They have all found new homes, and Harlequin is in a wonderful foster home. Please contact us if you would like more information about Harlequin.

We appreciate the hard work of our community Animal Control Officers- it is not an easy job!

September 23, 2009

New Beginnings (click play and turn up the volume!)

Shiloh- adopted from Angels of Assisi

She is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds.
She is the part of me that can reach out into the sea.
She has told me a thousand times over that I am her reason for being:
by the way she rests against my leg;
by the way she thumps her tail at my smallest smile;
by the way she shows her hurt when I leave without taking her.
(I think it makes her sick with worry when sheis not along to care for me.)

When I am wrong, she is delighted to forgive.
When I am angry, she clowns to make me smile.
When I am happy, she is joy unbounded.
When I am a fool, she ignores it.
When I succeed, she brags.

Without her, I am only another person.
With her, I am all-powerful.
She is loyalty itself.
She has taught me the meaning of devotion.
With her, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.
She has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.
Her head on my knee can heal my human hurts.
Her presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.

She has promised to wait for me...whenever...wherever--in case I need her.
And I expect I will--as I always have.
She is just my dog...

September 22, 2009


Gabby was rescued over the summer from a home with over 80 cats. She spent several weeks at a rural pound while the details of the legal system were being worked out. Meanwhile, the phone and email lines were busy trying to find a place for these now homeless feline friends- we only had a few days to find a place for them.

Our adoption center was already flooded with cats and kittens, but the HSUS came forward with a gift card to PetSmart for supplies. Ann from the HSUS also drove down with about 50 large crates for us to borrow, and many good friends brought us food, kitty litter, toys, blankets and a whole 'lotta appreciation and support. And so the plan was in action for 80+ new residents at 415 Campbell Avenue.

The cats arrived on a Monday, and they were scared and unhappy- rightfully so. However, as they had time to settle into their new surrounding, they have turned into a great group of kitties. Most of them have the most beautiful eyes- some even with 2 different colors!

Over the last few few months we have gotten to know them, and many have found new homes. Gabby is a super sweet gal, and she loves to be in your lap. Feel free to come visit her anyday between 2 and 6 pm.

September 20, 2009

Pets for Adoption at Angels of Assisi (click play and turn up the volume)


Walker is another victim of "failure to hunt well". In this part of the country, it is a strange fact that the pounds fill up with hounds and beagles in the fall after hunting season.

Apparently, the lucky ones get dropped off at the pound, and the unlucky ones are left to fend for themselves in the woods. You can see more info from the HSUS and how to help here.

Angels of Assisi tries to bring these hounds into our adoption center as often as we can. Walker was rescued from a rural pound along with his friend, Peggy Sue. Peggy Sue has been adopted, and Walker is still waiting. He is a purebred Treeing Walker Coonhound- this means he has some awesome traits and a few challenges as well.

Coonhounds are very special dogs, but they aren't the perfect pet for every family. The average Coonhound is loving, gentle, and good with children. However, many folks think of Coonhounds as being "laid-back" but actually this couldn't be further from the truth. These big Hounds need an owner committed to providing lots of exercise (remember, these breeds are genetically programmed to hold up to hours and hours of running and hunting!) Once they are taught not to pull on leash, they make wonderful jogging companions.

Like any large breed of dog, they will become bored if left alone in a fenced yard and are prone to digging, barking, some can even open gates or climb fences. A Coonhound wants to be part of your family, so crate-training him (for housebreaking purposes) so that he can stay inside with the family, then go outside with you for supervised exercise in a six foot high fenced yard is the ideal situation. A roomy crate will keep him out of trouble when you are away from home (to prevent chewing and destructiveness). Coonhounds are slow-maturing and may engage in puppy behaviors until they are two or three years old.

Most Hounds are quite dog friendly, but due to their hunting instincts, should not be trusted with cats. All this said, why would you want to adopt a Coonhound?

A Coonhound truly is a charming family dog, will bond closely with children and once trained, they are great dogs for families who want to take them anywhere and everywhere. They are good watchdogs, barking to let you know when a stranger is around, but not over-protective so they rarely bite.

To quote Coonhound fancier Ruth (Clark) Hoffman "They are very affectionate, and can take all the petting you can dish out. They like to be talked to. At the same time, they are usually not very demanding, and are content to lie at your feet. (You may trip on them frequently.) Coonhounds are very intelligent, and have inventive minds. I enjoy watching them figuring things out. You may have heard someone say they had a hound who was dumb as a stick; that dog was smart enough to fool his owner into thinking he was untrainable! "

September 19, 2009

Photo Appreciation

A very special thank you to Vickie Holt, who takes the extraordinary photos of the animals waiting for adoption at Angels of Assisi. Each and every weekend, Vickie arrives at 415 Campbell Avenue armed with a camera, props, lighting, and a huge heart.

She captures the inner spirit of each pet and gives them all extra special attention and TLC. She learns the personalities of each animal, and understands that they are all special and deserve a place in this world with a family to call their own.

Thank you, Vickie.

Please visit Vickie at


This big boy was rescued just in the nick of time last fall. He was found in terrible conditions and was very, very thin, living in a kennel with 2 other dogs.
Jake spent the first part of his life living outside with little food. One of his kennel - mates made it out alive, and the other was not so lucky...

Despite his rough start in life, Jake really likes being with people. He loves going for walks and spends the entire time with his nose on the ground and his tail high in the air. Occasionally he'll glance up and give you a look of total appreciation for taking the time to be with him, then it's back to being a hound.

When he is inside, he enjoys having his ears rubbed, and even though they are a little tattered, they are very soft! This good boy needs the chance to prove that he will be the most loyal companion.

Our wish for him is a soft bed, a warm fire, and a million chances to smell all those good smells waiting in the world.