August 30, 2011


Hemi came to Angels of Assisi last April, when the Roanoke pound called and asked us to transfer a group of dogs and cats to our adoption center. Happy for the help request, we arranged to take 12 dogs and 11 cats. As we were loading the precious cargo into new crates, they asked us about one additional dog- he was a "tail banger", a "little crazy", had a bad leg, and not high on the adopt-ability charts.

The added on Tail Banger was named Hemi, and he certainly does have issues. He twirls constantly in his kennel. His banged and gnawed tail had to be docked. He has a really hard time keeping any weight on his bones, despite special food and extra calories.

Hemi has worked through some of these behaviors, but still has a way to go. We have moved him from the general dog population, to a quieter area, and now up to the clinic for even more attention and a change of scenery.

At one time he was aggressive with other dogs, growled over toys and treats, and just kept up the incessant spinning in his kennel. However, with some patient TLC and creative energy from staff and volunteers, some of these problems have resolved. Underneath it all, we have discovered a very sweet and very smart dog.

Last Sunday, a few of us were in the clinic doing some cleaning, sorting, and overall on-going organizational chores. Before we started, I took Hemi for a walk; he was a perfect gentleman on the leash- no pulling, so spinning, no tugging, just nice and easy walking. There were a few loud noises that made him drop to the ground in fear, but he bounced back well after some gentle pats and reassuring words.

When we returned, we let him have the run of the upstairs clinic. Being a Sunday morning, the place was quiet and empty, and he could go any old where he wanted. Eventually he found a bouncy red ball, brought it to me, and we played fetch for about an hour. Me throwing the ball, going back to cleaning, Hemi chasing the ball as it bounced, grabbing it, and bringing it back. If he did not drop it at my feet, he let me take it from him- a big step.

Another milestone: although craving attention, he tried his best not to jump on us, instead doing a little half jump and holding back the best he could. This resulted in more gentle pats and reassurance. In return, Hemi showed us how he has learned to sit, stay and shake on command.

Overall, it was an awesome morning with Hemi, the misunderstood guy who has made great progress. Yet as pleased as we are with him, there is something missing. When you look at him, his eyes seem, for lack of a better word.... flat. There is no mischief there, no eagerness. The lack of any type of sparkle makes your heart hurt.

We finished our chores, and it was time to go. I put Hemi back in his kennel, he spun around a few times, and settled in for a nap. He got some hugs and an extra treat, and although I looked at him hard and willed some life and spark to enter his eyes, it did not.

As human schedules dictate, life went on after leaving Hemi. Later that night, I had the very good fortune to attend an outdoor Steel Wheels concert at Lime Kiln Theater in Lexington. If you have not been there, you need to check it out, because there is nothing like a night under the stars to renew the spirit. The companionship was safe and easy, the music was beautiful and the weather- just cool enough for a sweatshirt- was perfect. I sat back in the wonderfully wooden and rustic seat, and took a good long mental picture. It was the kind of night you want to soak in and remember always. 

There was an older couple in front of us, and the lady had some trouble navigating the stairs to her seat. Her husband carefully guided her to her destination, and they settled in and started to enjoy the music. I noticed she was wearing a wig, and had some bandages on her hands that may have been from IV sticks, and wondered what type of illness she had. Throughout the concert, her husband would lay his hand on her shoulder, and between the collaboration of music, a beautiful starry night, and his reassuring touch, I bet she did some healing in those 2 hours. I know that I did.

As I watched the husband lay his hand on his wife, I thought of Hemi, how badly we want him to heal, and wondered when he lost that sparkle, and why.

Fortunately, he has a team of staff and volunteers working to get it back. Thank you to Bobbie and the clinic staff for attending to his physical needs, but more importantly for attending to his mental needs.

Thank you to the volunteers who take him out and walk him, and especially to Leanna for taking him to the park and to her house for the day yesterday- he needed that.

We'll never know how or why Hemi lost his groove, but like the little lady at the concert, he has a support system working to guide him back, lay reassuring hands on him, and ease him into healing. Don't give up on yourself yet, Hemi, because we certainly are not. Better days and starry nights will be here soon.

Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.
-- Buddha

August 26, 2011

What It Is

In early July, a beagle mama and her 9 babies were seized in Botetourt County and brought to Angels of Assisi for housing and medical care.

The civil court case to determine their custody was held within 10 days of the seizure. After reviewing the condition of the dogs, and hearing testimony from the owner, Animal Control, and Dr. Spangler's medical findings, the Judge decided to take the dogs away from their owner.

The decision was appealed, and we are now waiting to find out when the second court case will be held. 

Meanwhile, at Angels of Assisi, we have 9 beagle puppies growing up in a shelter, and one mama who is so happy for any type of humane contact that it kind of hurts your heart to see her.

All of the beagles have finally been cleared medically of the contagious skin condition they had upon arrival. What does this mean? It means we would be ever so appreciative for volunteers to work with the puppies, socialize them, and start some basic training. They can now go outside in the play yard under close supervision, as long as they stay on the property. Come to think of, I bet they would love some time in the baby pool.... 

The best times to take the beagles outside would be during lunch time (12-1:30) and after 4:30 pm when the other Assisi dogs are not in the yard. We would suggest working in teams of 2 or 3, because they can be a handful to get in and out. Mama beagle can be walked outside, but quite frankly, she is usually content to sit by your side (right Amanda?).

Thanks to Vickie Holt for getting some updated photos of the babies- we think they are looking much better and ridiculously cute. They all have unique personalities and lots  of beagle mischief to share.

Please send us an email or talk to a staff member if you can help. The bottom line is this: they are stuck in the adoption center through no fault of their own, and deserve a shot at as happy a puppy-hood as possible. For those that can help make that happen, eight million thank you's.

August 23, 2011

Clinic Cuties

Miss Phoebe came to the Wellness Clinic today to get updated on all her shots. She was perfect lady, and is good to go for another year- see ya next summer!

And We've Got Ourselves A New Biscuit

A great big thank you to Carol and Trish at the Roanoke pound (RCACP) for their help in transferring this little gal to Angels of Assisi today. She came in with a large tumor that at one point was so swollen her feet could barely touch the floor. Apparently, the tumor shrunk, and is now filling up with fluid again.

She has been at the Roanoke pound for 10 days, enough for it to swell, drain, and start to swell again. She did received her shots, but came with no Vet records regarding the tumor.

Dr. Spangler evaluated her today, and we'll have more information on her medical treatment soon. It looks like she will be going to foster tomorrow, and once again we appreciate all who have helped give her a second shot in this world.

I think we'd all agree that she's worth it.

August 19, 2011

On The Road

The 5 dogs coming from the Spartenburg Humane Society are on their way!

 And just because we can, here's a close up, color enhanced view of the littlest one ♥

Foster homes are always welcome! Come visit between 2 pm and 6 pm any old day of the week!


What's Happening With The Franklin County Dogs?

As a follow up to the 5 dogs that were surrendered a few days ago in Franklin County, here are some more photos of the 2 that stayed at the Franklin County Humane Society.

We have been told that the mama dog's foot was chopped with a shovel. She will be going to surgery today.

No word yet on any pending charges for the conditions of the dogs, in particular that of the mangled foot. We'll keep you posted, as many are very interested to see how this will play out.

Meanwhile, please consider fostering or donating funds to the Franklin County Humane Society for their medical care.

August 18, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic

Yesterday, Angels of Assisi and the Franklin County Humane Society (FCHS) partnered to rescue 5 dogs from a bad situation. As always, it was a privilege to work with this amazing group of people, and they never cease to amaze us.

Puppies thrown in dumpsters, abused cats, dogs running at large in busy streets and isolated areas are everyday occurrences for these folks. They go above and beyond not only for the needy pets in their area, but for others that are even less fortunate. We have seen them transfer dogs and cats to their shelter from horrible rural gas chamber pounds, and assist those that are trying to better their situations and routinely need help, like Pittsylvania County.  

So when the call came in that they were rescuing 5 neglected dogs, it was no surprise to anyone. Three of the dogs arrived at Angels of Assisi yesterday afternoon, and they are all terrified, have some wounds and one has a displaced hip that will need x-rays and possible surgery. They are now called the Franklin County Biscuits and will benefit from the Biscuit Fund.

One of the dogs that stayed at the FCHS has a severely damaged foot, and both are very thin. Rumor has it that the dogs were hit with shovels; however, we cannot verify that, and for now it is time to move forward with the healing process.

Upon arrival, they were shaken and scared, but behaved very well for their initial Vet check with Dr. Spangler. After some food, quiet, and reassurance, they settled in nicely.

We went to see them later in the evening, and tails were up and wagging ever so slightly, and the best way to describe their demeanor would be "cautiously optimistic".  "Hmmm, these folks seem OK, the food is pretty good, and I've got a soft bed.... things may be looking up..."

As always, we appreciate the FCHS and Angels of Assisi staff and volunteers for their part in this rescue: the medical staff and kennel attendants in particular for their extra work. Michelle for her cheerful transport help. Anita and her seriously awesome networking skills. Vickie Holt, always ready with her trusty camera, came immediately to take the above photos and more that can be used for evidence if needed. And the dog walking volunteers who have more to socialize and ready for adoption. You guys seriously rock.

As for the future of these 5 dogs and the homeless pets in our community? We've got a lot of work to do. It's hard to see animals arrive in this condition, and wonder what their story is and how long they have been suffering. But we know that community members will pitch and help anyway they can, and for that, and strong partnerships like the FCHS folks are developing everyday, we are cautiously optimistic as well.

"After 5000 years of recorded human history, you wonder, What part of 2,000,000 sunrises doesn't a pessimist understand?" 
~Robert Brault,

Optimism is the foundation of courage.  
~Nicholas Murray Butler

Please consider helping these Franklin County Biscuits by donating to either FCHS here or the Angels of Assisi Biscuit Fund here, and thank you.

August 17, 2011


A big shout out to Dr. Dana Miller of the Spartanburg Humane Society for all her devotion in helping the animals under her care. When asked just how many animals they intake each year, she answered with the following: 

"We get in about 18,000 each year.  Summer months are the busiest and we’re usually at 100-150 / day during the summer.  But despite the total, every animal counts and it really make all of us feel good to give a second chance to some of them that wouldn’t make it to our adoption floor (or made it to the floor and still don’t get picked because we have so many great animals)."

Dr. Dana not only medically treats the dogs, cats and smaller critters they receive, she also networks them for adoption. Among many other places, volunteers bring some to Angels of Assisi about once a month. Whether they arrive by car or private plane, it's always in style and they have beautiful collars, leashes, and bags full of toys. 

We're expecting a new group this Friday, and seriously, how cute are they?? 

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers of the Spartenburg Humane Society for your outstanding work and dedication to your mission. You're doing a wonderful, wonderful, job. And we can't wait to meet the new guys!!

The drops of rain make a hole in the stone not by violence but by oft falling.  

August 15, 2011

Friendly Reminder: It's Meatless Monday!

Overloaded with tomatoes? Pick up some Morningstar Veggie Bacon and whip up some BLT's- a summer favorite! It happens to be on sale at Kroger this week.

Cutting out meat one day a week is not only very healthy for you, it has a tremendous positive impact on the environment, click here to read more

And besides all that, pigs happen to be pretty darn awesome. 

August 12, 2011

Be Kind


Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.
~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

August 8, 2011

This One's For You, Foster Boy

Last week, I got a foster dog from the Roanoke pound. He had been picked up as a stray, sat there for his hold time, and was never evaluated by the staff to see if he was suitable for adoption.

We were told that he was sick with a respiratory infection, had a flea allergy, and lost quite a bit of hair on his back half. As it was "not fair to leave him at the pound suffering", we had a day to get him, or he would be put down.

So, we got him. 

He's a big, black dog: the hardest to adopt. He's got a lot of pit bull in him, another strike. He's kind of bald on his back end. When he first meets you, he jumps up and down like crazy. He busted through 2 crates the first day I had him. The third held him in, thank goodness. His collar was about 5 sizes too big and he could slip right through it.

What to do with a big old pit bull-ish dog with a bunch of energy? We walked. And then walked some more.

During these walks, Foster Boy learned quickly how to behave on a leash. I plugged in my headphones, and sang to him. He could not hear the music, and my off-key singing is horrible, but he liked it. A little bit of Janis Joplin, some Natalie Merchant. We went to California with Led Zeppelin, and Boys Were Girls and Girls Were Boys according to the Kinks' Lola. Rhianna loved the way Eminem lied to her, and the Dixie Chicks, Foster Boy and I worked through letting some things go with the Fly album tracks.

During our times together, I learned a lot about Foster Boy. He jumps up and down when he first sees you because he is just so dang happy for the attention. And when you give it to him, he becomes quite submissive and rolls over, taking it all in.

He really likes other dogs, and is tolerant when they get up in his face and jump all over him.

He finds cats interesting, but is a little leery of them. That's probably good for both parties.

His walk is more like a horse's trot. And when he trots, his ears to do the cutest little flopping motions.

He's afraid of thunder.

When it rains, he tries to put his paw over his face and get the water off.

He seems to be house trained, or at least very eager to please; he did not have one accident in the house.

He can rip through a rawhide bone in about 7 minutes flat.

He figured out that car rides are actually pretty fun. 

This morning I took Foster Boy back to the Angels of Assisi adoption center. He never did have a respiratory infection, and his flea issue has been resolved; in fact the hair is already starting to come back in.

Foster Boy, this one's for you. I'm so glad you learned all the basic and necessary dog manner stuff in a short time. Now we can promote you as being crate trained, leash trained, and good with dogs, cats and kids. You'll be up to date on shots, fixed, micro-chipped, and ready to go to a new family.

I wish you every happiness that this life can bring, and more than anything I wish that someone will see the big, goofy, handsome, smart boy you are. One who learns quickly, and one who doesn't ask for much in this world. We'll tell them you are afraid of thunder.

My best friend and I often wonder how > insert the name of any one our collective eleven dogs' names here< would survive in a shelter, and you did it with grace and dignity. So proud of you for for that. 

I hope someone sees past the hair loss and instead looks into your smushy face and soulful brown eyes, because they speak volumes. You, my friend, are a good, good boy, and better things will come your way soon. The volunteers named you Romeo, because they are already half in love you, as I am. Together we'll work hard to get you that happily ever after.

And if this blog entry seems like it is jumping all over the place and scattered, it's because that's how I feel about taking you away from your foster home, my house, the only home you've known for a while. For that, I'm sorry. I wish you well with all my heart, and know that I left a little piece of my soul with you in that kennel this morning.

August 6, 2011


These 2 hound pups were picked up by Botetourt County Animal Control and brought to Angels of Assisi a few days ago. They are sweet as can be, but still pretty scared.

We hope to find their owner soon! If not, they will be available for adoption on August 11th.


August 4, 2011

My Girl

"Silences make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts"
 ~Margaret Lee Runbeck


Pit Bulls On The Move

The Angels of Assisi clinic is packed with pit bulls today! They are taking advantage of the $30 spay/neuter special, including Nyla, pictured below.

Nyla was rescued by Waynette Anderson, of Sponsor Hounds- the good folks who put on Woofstock and all the fun events here in Roanoke. 

Using her PR skills, Waynette did a great job of promoting Nyla, from living on the end of a chain to her journey in becoming a house dog. Waynette knew that Nyla would have been killed if taken to the Roanoke pound, "because she’s not a puppy & she’s a pit". 

According to Barbara Dahlhouse, board member of both the Roanoke Valley SPCA and the Roanoke pound, "we have to acknowledge that Roanoke (like many urban areas) has a pit bull problem and deal with it. Over a third of the dogs at the Pound that are euthanized are pit bulls.

Most pit bulls are sweet, lovable dogs, but they generally do not do well in a confined environment such as a shelter. 

Furthermore, they are less popular with adoptive families than other types of dogs because of the stigma associated with pit bulls. Therefore, they do not move well at the Roanoke Valley SPCA's adoption center." 

Huh. We believe that otherwise pit bulls in Roanoke most certainly ARE moving well. They are moving their way to be spayed and neutered, as can be seen in the clinic today. 

They are moving from the pound into persistent foster homes. 

 Romeo: transferred to Assisi from the Roanoke pound.

They are moving onto their own facebook pages.

 Mable, transferred to Assisi from the Franklin County pound

They are moving to the adoption center, and once there they are moving on walks, hikes and trips to the park

Charger: Botetourt County neglect case, transferred to Assisi

 Jinx:  transferred to Assisi from southern Virginia high kill pound

Julie: transferred to Assisi from the same pound as Jinx

 Kyle: transferred to Assisi from the Roanoke pound

 Ned: transferred to Assisi from the Roanoke pound

 Yota: transferred to Assisi from a northern Virginia pound after his owner was deployed.

 Hemi: transferred to Assisi from the Roanoke pound

Bergh: transferred to Assisi from the Roanoke pound

And they are moving into responsible, adoptive homes. 

Delila- transferred to Assisi from the Roanoke pound and adopted!

Healey: transferred to Assisi from the Roanoke pound and adopted!

So keep on keepin' on, all you folks who are doing the right thing for these dogs. 

You've moved us to have a love for this misunderstood breed, and we appreciate all your dedication in working towards a more certain future for pit bulls in Roanoke.