Tag Archives: animal rescue

Finding Thelma ~ by Shirley Zindler

A text message that one of my former foster dogs had escaped from her new adopter caused my heart to miss a beat. Thelma is a precious girl who originally came to Dogwood Animal Rescue from an overcrowded shelter after being confiscated from her former owner. When she arrived, nursing 5 young puppies, she was in skeletal condition and very subdued. She was a kind, gentle dog and a wonderful mother and I grew very attached to her. Once the puppies were weaned, Thelma went into another foster home where she could receive further training and socializing while I focused on her puppies. I still saw Thelma frequently over the following month or so. She and her foster mom, Alex, often joined us at the beach or came to visit. Thelma also stayed with me when Alex traveled and I was thrilled to learn that she was adopted into a loving home.

Thelma escaped from her adopter only a few days after she was placed so she didn’t really know him or the area yet. She went missing on a dark, chilly evening on a busy road and her adopter was distraught.  Within moments of our post that she was missing, dozens of volunteers were out looking for her but hours of searching in the dark did not yield a single sighting.

Early the next morning we were back at it and finally had several sightings called in from one area a couple of miles from where she was lost. It was encouraging to see how many volunteers and friends arrived to search and post fliers. For the next four hours we walked the trails and paths nearby and drove all the surrounding roads over and over but there were no further sightings.

Exhausted and discouraged, I said to fellow volunteer Janet, who was searching with me, let’s go back one more time and drive through where she was last seen before we head home to rest for a few hours. Lost dogs are often seen in early morning and late evening so we made plans to come back later.


When we got to the place where the last sightings had been I decided to place a couple more fliers in the area. I parked, leaving Janet in the car with our dogs, and took a couple fliers to the walking path. I put one up, then decided to put my last one up a little farther down the path. It was quiet except for a few bird calls and the babbling of the creek nearby. It was beautiful place but my heart ached with sadness. In my experience, these things often don’t end well. I had literally placed an extra blanket in my car that morning to wrap her body in it if we came across it in the road. Even if they survive the busy roads, many lost dogs get into panicked survival mode and won’t even come to their owners.

I had my eyes on a pole I was going to put the flier on when I heard the click of dog nails coming up fast on the paved path behind me. As I started to turn around my heart was pounding and my mind was racing. It can’t be. It can’t be. But there was Thelma racing toward me, joyfully, ecstatically. I dropped to the ground and she was in my lap in an instant, wiggling, kissing, whining and pressing herself to me. I was crying, unable to believe she was safe and in my arms.

My leashes were all in the car so I scooped her up and started walking back toward the road, my cheek pressed to her fur. I was sobbing so hard I startled her and had to pull myself together for her sake. We were soon joined by her other foster Alex who also had a touching reunion with her before she was reunited with her frantic adopter.

The emotional ups and downs of those two days have taken it out of me, but knowing that darling Thelma is safe is worth all the heartache. And seeing so many out searching is a reminder how much people care. Thank you to everyone who helped and all who sent up prayers for Thelma’s safe return.

Room at the Inn – by Shirley Zindler

As a rescue we get requests for help every day, sometimes many times a day. The scenarios are endless and the people calling range from desperate to demanding. We provide rescue and spay/neuter services based on the number of volunteers and resources we have. We are a foster-home based rescue, and we can only take in as many animals as we have homes to care for them. We help as many as we can but we have to say no a lot too.

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The Beginning of a Beautiful Thing – by Janet Palma

It was a beauFullSizeRendertiful September morning three years ago when my sweet husband asked me how I would like to spend my birthday. That was easy, I wanted to start with a walk on Dillon (off leash) beach with our two dogs. As it happens so often in life, I had no idea that decision was going to slowly change my life for the better.

It was most likely Tyra, the gigantic black Great Dane that started the conversation that morning with Shirley and Paul. I instantly liked this woman! Was it her bubbly, fun, easy-going personality that popped out, was it that I discovered within minutes that we both love dogs and horses, and rescues and fosters, and that we lived walking distance for 12 years and never met each other during that time? That we both raised a son and a daughter that went to the same schools, or that I used to be a flight attendant and Paul is a pilot? That their son, Scott was trying to get on as a fire fighter, and my husband George, had just retired from the Fire Department?   Maybe it was all the smiling, laughing and talking we crammed in to those few minutes. As we went to continue on our way, Shirley caIMG_1966lled out, “friend me on facebook”! And Paul made a little joke about her 400 fb friends!

That evening I did friend her on facebook. And not too long after that it turned into a “real” friendship. A friendship you can’t thoroughly describe, but that you can only feel with your heart.

Shirley and I have stayed up a few nights watching homeless mommy dogs deliver their unwanted puppies. We have kissed those puppies daily, played with them over glasses of wine, and watched them go off to their new loving homes. All the while we were developing a strong bond as we got to really know each other. We shared stories, secrets, hopes, dreams and heartaches with each other. We laughed often, cried occasionally, and talked constantly! We never took for granted that luxury of time. The time it takes to grow a close friendship. We appreciated the rare and unique chemistry we shared.

Our Monday morning beachIMG_0324 walks started spontaneously with just the two of us and a pack of dogs. Shirley would pick me up in the “clown car” with 4 or 5 dogs and my 2 would jump right in, and off we’d go. On the way home, we would stop in Tomales at the deli and split a turkey sandwich, and bet each other we couldn’t get the sandwich guy to smile! (Now he has our sandwich waiting for us with a big smile on his face!)  Shirley would post all her fabulous photos of our fun morning on fb, and soon other women began showing up and joining us on Monday mornings. Now our ritual has become somewhat famous with 20 dogs at times running and playing on the beach! It’s therapy for all and a great way to start the week!

I was also honored to be in on the very first discussion of a possible non-profit. Now here we are…off on a glorious adventure! Shirley has already done so much for animals in need, now the sky is the limit! Shirley has a heart of gold, and I am so grateful to hold a place in that heart.

Written by Janet Palma