March 29, 2014


When I saw you I fell in love,
and you smiled because you knew.
~ Arrigo Boito

March 27, 2014

Risk and Reward

Lori- held as a stray dog with a bulging tumor, limited vision, a soft, pretty coat, wagging tail, and a disposition exuding sunshine. One of our favorite animal control officers informed us that she had very little chance of survival. It probably was not worth pulling her from the pound. Argh. Dang it, she is such a nice a dog. You know what? I am just not used to people willing to take a risk on dogs that need so much, or have so little time. Yes, please come get her. Let's give her a chance. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Enough said, Tammy was on her way. They rode back to Angels of Assisi with Lori's head on Tammy's shoulder, and even though she could not see the pretty day outside, we know she felt it. Upon arrival, Lori got lots of hands on love, told how beautiful she was, a visit to the play yard, and was witness to many conversations about the awesomeness that was her. She also got a medical exam, and the news was not good. The tumor was pushing her eye out, and the likelihood of her surviving any treatment was next to nothing. We asked if she could have two days in a foster home, and let her last time on this earth be in a home, surrounded by love. The answer: of course she can.  

Lori's foster mom arrived stat, but she did not make it out of our building. A massive stroke took her quickly, and left us all stunned. Rest in peace, little one. In the few short hours we knew you our hearts expanded looking for hope and a miracle, and then expanded some more knowing that the best we could do was give you a last few days of comfort and love, returning some of the sunshine that you were giving us. When that did not happen, those same hearts shattered, and now we're left with putting  the pieces together so they can embrace the next animal who needs us to take a chance. We'll do it in memory of you, and dedicate our mission to those who just aren't used to folks willing to take a risk, but go for it anyways.

This time yesterday we had not even met Lori, and now she is gone. Knowing what we do now, would we make the same choices? You bet. Sometimes you just have to try, hope for that miracle, and then understand that some miracles consist of a head on shoulder car ride kind of day.

There is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value.
-Jeanette Winterson

March 25, 2014

Will You Walk This Way For A While?


It's soon to be Kitten Season. The time of year for kittens to be born, most unplanned. They come from neighborhood cats, your crazy aunt who did not get her cat spayed, from over the river and through the woods. And then out of the woodwork. Many of them in the Roanoke Valley will end up at our local pound, the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection (RCACP).

A sad fact is that many of the babies will be too young for adoption, and some will be orphans needing bottle feeding. In the past, these kittens would have been automatically euthanized; however, seeing the need, 2 years ago Angels of Assisi started a special foster program for very young kittens called the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.

It works like this: you sign up, we give you information on how to do it, supplies, support, and medical care. The kittens will come, day or night, and foster parents won't get a lot of notice on when they are needed, but they will be. Some kittens, like the Assisi ones in the photo above, will have a mama who will do most of the work. Other kittens will need to be bottle fed until they can eat on their own, usually around 3 - 4 weeks old. At 8 weeks old they can come back to our adoption center and be readied for their new homes.

Once kittens start eating on their own, they are surprisingly self sufficient and a ton of fun to watch growing up. TV can't even hold it's own to some of the crazy antics that are there for the taking.

Managing a kitten foster program is like, well... herding cats. Therefore flexibility on everyone's part is necessary. We have learned a lot in the last 2 years, and worked hard to make the program as easy as possible for the foster families. We've also got a goal- I'll let you in on a little secret- and that is to help Roanoke become a no kill community for the first time ever. We are so close, and saving this very fragile and vulnerable population from the RCACP is vital. We need your help to get it done, and can guarantee that the family rewards will be endless.

Check out the information here, and drop foster coordinator Chelsea Ellis an email to sign up. Let's share the tremendous amount of compassion we see in our community every day with those who need it most this spring and summer. We know you can do it, and we thank you eternally for your continued support.

We're all just walking each other home.
~ Ram Dass

Thanks to William Mahone for the wonderful photos!

March 23, 2014


Silence make the real conversations between friends.
Not the saying, but the never needing to say that counts.
~Margaret Lee Runbeck 

Stephen gives shy, shy dog Frisky some extra comfort in his kennel today. It's one of the first times Frisky has come out from hiding since his arrival last week.

It's amazing how our volunteers arrive, and without us needing to speak a word, find the animals who need them most. We're humbled by your kindness, and honored to call you friends.


March 14, 2014

The Angels of Assisi - Stories From Our Lobby

Sarah: I'm here to see if you can update my dog on his shots, and whatever else he needs. We've been hitchhiking across the county, and are stopping in Roanoke for a while. I have family here.

AOA: We'll get him everything he needs today. A check up, shots, worming if needed. Where did you get him?

Sarah: Another friend found him in Oklahoma, he has been traveling with me ever since. 

AOA: What's his name?

Sarah: Tanner Bacon Cheeseburger.

AOA: Can we call him Tanner for short?

Sarah: Sure.


March 13, 2014

Biscuit to Biscuit

And then my soul kind of sighed and said oh, there you are. I've been waiting for you~

Matthias has gained almost 5 pounds in the 6 days he has been on our care, and discovered that food bowls are OK, dog beds are good, and eating is great, absolutory great! He has come out of his shell very nicely and starting to run and play. It looks like he walks on his ankles, and we think that is because his leg tendons are weak from malnutrition.

We headed to work together today, and were softly greeted in the office by a new, very scared dog named Clint. Shy Dog Clint arrived a few days ago, and has stayed huddled in the corner of the office ever since. He tucks his front legs up underneath to make himself as small as possible, and hopes none of us notices him. He only eats when he is alone, but this morning he had uncurled himself and seemed a little more relaxed on a big new bed. I set Matthias down, noses touched, Matthias climbed into the bed next to him, and it was there they stayed together for a few hours.

2 dogs with tough histories, finding safety with each other. Sometimes you just need to be next to the one who understands the closed off corners of your heart, and let the healing process begin.


March 9, 2014

Logic:0, Heart:Won

Last Friday, on the way to the pound to euthanized a very thin, and very sick puppy, Roanoke City Animal Control stopped at Angels of Assisi to see if something, anything, could be done. The general consensus was no, he was probably too far gone.

Argh.... decision time. Either humanely euthanize him at our clinic, or let him go home with me, and have his moment on a nice, warm bed. Option 2 won the internal struggle, and off we went with pain meds, IV bags, and a don't get too attached because you know his chances are very slim but let's make his last night comfortable attitude.

He made it through the first syringe feeding, and then to the 6 hour mark for more medications. I know this sounds weird, but the studies about putting preemie twins together for the human touch factor to increase their chances of survival kept going through my head, and I wrapped him up and put him in the bed with me.

Next thing we knew, it was morning; he had beat the odds and made it through the night. And then this happened.

Drinking water suddenly became no problem, but we were still faced with the eating- eh, I'd prefer not to demeanor. More medications were added, the tail slowly became un-tucked and visible, but he had no interest in food and still had to be syringe fed every 3 hours.

As the campaign to get this dog to eat continued, I tossed some dry food on the floor next to him. That resulted in a weak, sad eyed nose turn up, until, all of a sudden... crunch crunch crunch. Another food toss into the folds of the blanket brought about some sniffing, followed by crunching. This slow but steady progress has been happening throughout the day, and although he is not out of the woods yet, we have growing hope that he is going to make it.

Thank you to all who have been pulling for him. Oftentimes we make decisions based not on logic, but on what the soul dictates. No matter what the outcome is for this Biscuit, we will have no regrets.

I know you're tired but come, this is the way.

March 7, 2014


Baby Girl came to us from the Bedford pound in July of 2012. She was a hot mess, and we say that with love and affection, knowing her incredible spirit underneath the sore and bald skin. Turns out, she is allergic to most things under the sun, including grass. GRASS. That thing that dogs run, play, and go for walks on. A wonderful lady named Janie took Baby Girl in anyways, and all her issues, to foster and recently adopted her.

Janie and Baby Girl may be the only ones smiling through the recent snowstorms, because, you see, the snow covers the grass. And that means Baby Girl can go out and play. And her mom makes sure she does. Thank you, Janie, for helping us believe that there truly is someone for everyone, despite the obstacles. 


Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
- Dalai Lama XIV

March 6, 2014


Animal lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy,
perhaps a little prone to sentimentality, and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky.
- John Grogan


March 3, 2014


This mama dog was left to fend for herself and 7 puppies after her owner died. She was chained outside with her babies roaming free. If you look closely in the first photo, you can see 2 poking their heads out of the broken dog house.

She has most likely never known what being inside feels like, or had a bed of her own. That all changed yesterday when she was transferred to Angels of Assisi. Some good folks along her journey to us named her Angel, and we think it is a perfect fit.

Donations to the Biscuit Fund for abused and neglected pets will be most appreciated, and help get this family a much needed fresh start.

Thank you to the Bedford Humane Society for their help, our special friend Cathy who has every right to be angry at certain people and the situations that these animals come from, and to the Leonard family for transporting, with Lisa and others on standby. You all are the helpers, the ones we see everyday, and together we'll right the wrongs that were done to Angel and her babies.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
Fred Rogers

March 2, 2014

Tag Team

A little bulldog mix recently arrived at Angels of Assisi. She was surrendered to a pound after breaking her leg, because her owners could not afford a very expensive surgery. Jinx is a sweet, friendly dog, one who is adjusted and appears to have been treated well. Judging by her pretty little collar and tags, she was loved.

Tomorrow will bring the surgery to amputate her leg, and then she will be available for adoption. We do not have any way to get in touch with her former owners to let them know that she made it out of a high kill pound alive, and that she is here with us at Angels of Assisi. I wonder if she would be better there, with them, but for Jinx that is not an option. As our services aimed at keeping pets in their homes grow, it will be for many other animals behind her.

Meanwhile, the Angel of Assisi team will get our new charge back in the game, and ensure that she has a future as sunny and bright as she is.

By acting compassionately, by helping to restore justice and to encourage peace,
we are acknowledging that we are all part of one another.
― Ram Dass