July 31, 2012

Room At The Inn

Meet the new girl. She's been through the wringer, and it shows.

With all the complexities and opportunities swirling around in the Roanoke animal welfare arena, we are feeling a little on the inside what she is looking like on the outside. We've been through the wringer too.

But here is the thing... she's going to get her groove back, and we are right there with her. Although a little raggity and worn out, we share this thing call perseverance. Life is going to get better for this new Assisi Biscuit, and it's going to get better for the other homeless animals in our community as well.

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”
~John Quincy Adams

July 20, 2012

Enrichment: Keno and Micah

We are working on this concept called shelter enrichment; making improvements in the lives of Assisi dogs while in our care. In this blog, we will be following the story of 2 dogs recently transferred to us -  where they came from, what they learn, what we learn, and how we progress together.

The words and the photographs are from Hany Hosny, and we know you will love his narrative and images as much as we do; enjoy!


Every dog has a story. Shelter dogs’ stories tend to have at least a little bit of drama in them. Their plot lines tend to revolve around reaching a very low point in life, replete with a loss of family, loss of a place to call home, loss of confidence, and a loss of purpose.

Let’s be real honest. There are very few places that are less beneficial for a dog than a shelter. Shelters are intensely over stimulating and they tend to make it very hard on the dog’s behavioral, mental, and emotional health.

Every now and then, though, we encounter a dog for whom a shelter is actually better than the alternative that was being experienced before arrival to Angels of Assisi. Keno and Micah are a case in point.

These sweet and beautiful boys hail from south of the state line where they were pulled out of a very bad situation in which human greed trumped any sense of concern for Keno and Micha’s physical and emotional needs. Thanks to some nifty networking between ourselves and two heavyweights in the pit bull advocacy world, Keno and Micah are just one step away from having a place to call home.

Animal Farm Foundation (the prolifically influential organization that works tirelessly to advocate for pit bulls) and Ring Dog Rescue (the outstanding pit bull rescue group in Richmond) contacted Angels of Assisi as time began to run short for Keno and Micah. Having been privy to the temperament evaluations that were done on both dogs shortly after being removed from their previous circumstance, we happily offered to shelter them.

In doing so, we know there’s still lots of work that lies ahead. Keno and Micah will need extra love and attention to prepare them for life in a more compassionate world. They’ll need to build confidence. They’ll need to learn that bonding with humans is an investment worth making. They’ll need to learn how to navigate simple structures like stairs. They’ll be learning leash manners. And so on and so forth.

In a nutshell, they will be getting what all dogs and cats should be getting in a shelter environment : enrichment.

Shelter enrichment is about animals’ having their social and physical needs met. For dogs like Keno and Micah, it’s about not living in the extreme zones that dogs are so often trapped in : high arousal and depression.

In recent months, we have begun paying more attention to the idea of a more carefully developed enrichment program as a right and necessity that all cats and dogs at Angels of Assisi should benefit from.

Please be sure to keep up with Keno and Micah to witness their progress. Through them, we will share the successes and challenges we experience as we share the details of what goes into shelter enrichment and turning lives around.

Learn and grow all you can; serve and befriend all you can; enrich and inspire all you can.
~ William Arthur Ward


July 17, 2012

With An Oink Oink Here

A little pig turned up at the Roanoke Pound, and we were asked for help. Sure, no problem, she can go to Harmony Farm Sanctuary and live out her years with the other pigs. We arrived to pick her up, and discovered she was little, with a wagging tail and sweet eyelashes. She made you stop and have an "aww" moment.

It's been a busy week summer year for everyone at Angels of Assisi, and instead of heading up 81 North to the farm, we turned left and made our way to Campbell Avenue, thinking a little 'aww" moment may be good for the soul all around.

Mission accomplished.  Poppleton was a huge hit, and probably lowered everyone's blood pressure about 20 points (except for that one minor yet horrendous squealing incident during her bath, sorry Dr. Phillips!). She slept in a cushy dog bed, loved getting treats, pushed her nose at us for attention, and flopped over for belly rubs.

The cutest pig in the world had fun in our visitation room, and met many new friends. One special friend will be taking her home today, and she will get her happily ever after. We sure will miss her standing at the screen door, wagging her tail at us.

Thank you, Poppleton, for putting a smile on our faces and stretching our heartstrings, your timing was perfect. Have yourself a wonderful life.

As always, thank you to Vicki Holt for the great photos and dedication to the animals!

July 12, 2012

Dog Around Town IX

Teresa Powell and her favorite boy, Jack, made the rounds about town, and the photos are beautiful! Jack is oh so ready for adoption, and is taking visitors from 2-6 everyday. He is a gentleman in every aspect, and has a smile that will melt your heart.

July 10, 2012

After Hours

It is after 6 pm, and many Angels of Assisi volunteers are just getting started. Teresa and Chelsea are taking Smilin' Jack out for a very special photo shoot, and we can't wait to see the spread. Jack is just about the best dog ever, and deserves every ounce of TLC he can get.

Meanwhile, Tony and Crystal Wright of Country Pet Grooming kept their shop open late, and do they ever have their work cut out for them. This is one of the dogs rescued from the Roanoke Pound yesterday, and he and his brother are covered in matted and dirty  hair. We're pretty certain they have eyes somewhere under all that mess. 

Thank you to all for lending your talents to the animals in need, and for doing it with cheerful and happy hearts- we love you guys!

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
- Tom Bodett

July 9, 2012


Jack, one of the rescued dogs from Dinwiddie County, is getting ready to make his TV debut on Fox 21-27 news this morning. Heartworm treatments be dammed, this guy has a smile that can make your heart sing.

July 8, 2012

Brave and Strong

Promise me you'll always remember:
You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
 ~ AA Milne

Nell was literally dragged into the Roanoke Pound by her former owner. She was on her belly as he pulled her into the building and signed her over to a kill shelter. She was the third dog this person dragged into the pound and left.

Fortunately, she had a very special person, Libby, looking out for her. Nell was transferred to Angels of Assisi, and went to the Best Beagle Foster Home in the world yesterday, And guess what? She has an application for adoption already!

There are indeed people in this world who can drag you into scary, loud, and dangerous places. Thankfully, there are others who can also make you feel braver, stronger, and smarter that you ever realized you were. Those who give you a quiet place to be still and let the healing begin. Those who gently guide you out of the danger zone, and keep you safe. We are thankful for these special friends every day, and hold them tight in our hearts. Thank you.

Four Pretty Girls

Sierra, the little dog with the near embedded collar, went home today. Botetourt Animal Control did a wonderful job saving her, and we have enjoyed having her in the adoption center. Her new mom is head over heels for her, and we can't wait to see Sierra come out of her shell and enjoy every minute of her new life.

After The Storm

Lloyd, from the Red Cross, stopped in at Angels of Assisi to donate the blankets used at the cooling stations last week. At a time when things were getting back to normal, and everyone was packing up to go home, we appreciate him taking the time and remembering the animals :)

July 7, 2012

“That was what a best friend did: hold up a mirror and show you your heart.”
~ Kristin Hannan, Firefly Lane


July 6, 2012

Dog Around Town!!

Part Three in the Dog Around Town Series, and this time our good friend Teresa Powell was behind the lens. Beautiful work! Many thanks to Hany and Lori for their expertise and guidance, and to Andrew for being there when we need him.

Atticus looks as handsome as ever, and is ready for a new home. Enjoy!

The soul never thinks without a picture.

Ends Of The Spectrum

For the most part, normalcy has been restored after one very long, and very strange week. To those still without power (Amanda!) we feel your pain, hang in there. To those who have resorted to tending to personal hygiene at Starbucks, you shall remain nameless. Just know that this too shall pass.

We were very thankful for the joint effort between the Roanoke Civic Center, CART (Community Animal Response Team), and Roanoke Animal Control for setting up a safe haven for pets. They had everything well prepared and under control, and it was so awesome knowing that a plan was in place, and executed so well.

We also gained an even bigger respect for our foster homes. Many of the Assisi foster dogs and cats returned for a few days while their temporary homes were out of power. They arrived with special toys, special food, beautiful collars and leashes, and with an aura of protection around them. For a few days we had 2 mama dogs with a total of 21 puppies between them. That is a lot of poop. Sorry, but it needs to be acknowledged. We have no idea how Janet and Lisa cope with it all, but they do it as a labor of love, and we are forever grateful.

Hopefully our little summer fun glitch is over, and we can move on. This weekend starts another step in our shelter enrichment efforts, including mental health initiatives for the adoption center dogs.

Many of these measures are pretty groundbreaking in a shelter environment, and we are extraordinarily lucky to have a team of staff and volunteers forging ahead and changing the status quo. Within a week, we've gone from survival mode and worrying about the basics of water and shelter, to to taking important steps in changing the future for homeless pets in our community and beyond. That's what we call dedication, and we love you all for it. Have a great weekend, everyone!