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733 8th Street Southeast
Washington, DC, 20003
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Underdog Blog

Please Consider Rural Dog Rescue This Year!

Ali Legros

Dear Rural Dog Rescue supporters,

As we approach the end of 2015, it is important to reflect on the many animals our organization has rescued from certain death and placed into loving, forever homes this year. This year alone, Rural Dog Rescue saved more than 250 dogs and cats from high-kill shelters from rural areas, as well as from urban shelters near Washington, D.C. Our rescue also rebranded itself. We now Root for the Underdogs. Rural Dog Rescue is dedicated to saving the lives of dogs in shelters who are often overlooked for adoption or rescue.  

We save the dogs who are at most risk of being euthanized:  the hounds, the black dogs, the seniors, the sick and the broken… WE MAKE A COMMITMENT TO RESERVE A MINIMUM OF 50% OF THE DOGS WE SAVE TO THE UNDERDOG.


We could not have done this without the help of our amazing donors, volunteers, and supporters. To all of you, an enormous “Thank you.”

There are countess stories of triumph and hope that come out of Rural Dog Rescue that illustrate the heart and soul of this organization.

Take Autrey, for example. Volunteers in Rutherford County, North Carolina saved Autrey from impending doom. He was brought to the shelter injured after being hit by a car. Our quick thinking volunteers worked with animal control officers and were able to save Autrey before he was about to be put down. Autrey was deemed “unadoptable” but Rural Dog Rescue, true to the Underdog knew that was not true. Autrey received the care he needed including an expensive surgery to his hip. With the help of our awesome volunteers and supporters, we raised the funds to provide his surgery. Soon after Autrey’s surgery, he found a loving forever family to care for him so he’ll never have to be scared again.

FeFe came to our rescue just in the nic of time. FeFe was brought, with several puppies from a previous litter, to the shelter after their owner didn’t want them anymore. FeFe was soon found to be pregnant again with an unplanned and unwanted litter. When the shelter discovered this fact, they were ready to euthanize her on the spot. Shelter resources are hard to come by and a mother dog and her pups are a hefty burden to bear. Rural Dog Rescue was immediately notified of FeFe and her family’s circumstances and she was immediately saved. Rural Dog Rescue vows to dedicate at least 50% of our funds to help the Underdog, and FeFe and her unborn pups were the epitome of an Underdog Tale. FeFe was rescue with little time to spare as she had her pups shortly after arriving in Washington, D.C. FeFe was the proud mom of 8 little puppies. FeFe is now looking for her forever home where she can live out her days, free of ever having another unwanted litter of pups.

While not all cases are as severe as Autrey and FeFe, Rural Dog Rescue does rely solely on the kind donations of supporters like you to fund shelter fees, spay and neuter fees, vet costs, transportation costs, boarding, and food. Adoption fees cover some of these costs. However, the expenses for saving these wonderful animals add up quickly. It costs us an average of $250 - $550 to save the life of one dog. We are 100 percent volunteer based and have no paid staff. One hundred percent of your donation goes directly to help the homeless animals of Rural Dog Rescue, the true Underdogs.

As you make your holiday and year-end charitable donations, we ask that you please keep Rural Dog Rescue and the hundreds of animals we have saved – and will save – in mind. Please click here to donate today. You can make a donation to our Critical Care Fund, which helps fund major surgeries like Autrey’s, or In Memory Of a loved one, or even on behalf of one of our current dogs!

We all know there are, unfortunately, countless homeless animals in need of good, safe and reliable homes. Be assured that with your help, we will continue to save as many of them as our resources allow. Every animal we place into a new home is another life saved.

Happy holidays and many blessings in the New Year!

Your friends at Rural Dog Rescue

All donations made to Rural Dog Rescue are tax-deductible. Please see our financial info page for tax information.

Newly Adopted Dog? How to Prevent Escapes!

Ali Legros

How to Prevent Escapes...and What To Do If Your Dog Gets Away

"Help! My dog's gone!" All too often, rescue and shelter volunteers receive frantic calls from people when their beloved dog escapes. Even if it hasn't happened to you, it could -- so be prepared.

Despite their love for their families, most dogs -- given the right opportunity -- can't wait to escape. Why not? There are all kinds of exciting things that induce a dog to bolt, if only for an adventure or the thought of a good chase of the deliveryman, the neighbor's cat or a passing squirrel. An open door is an invitation throughout the life of the dog.

The most common ways a dog can escape a home include:

* Through an improperly latched door that blew open with a gust of wind or didn't close properly (so be sure to close doors all the way and repair doors and locks as needed);

* Through an open window or flimsy door or window screen on any floor of the house;

* Through a fence gate left open by children, trash collector or meter reader; or

* Over or under a fence when the right stimulus presents itself (typically something to chase or a neighbor's dog or cat).

Although the risk of flight is high at the time of adoption, adopters should not relax as time goes on! Examples of when a potential escape moments throughout the life of the dog include children's/adult parties or visits, holidays, and construction, repair or delivery to the home. In short, an escape can happen on a normal day or special occasion when an adopter's attention is diverted for a second.

First, make sure your dog is always wearing an ID with your up-to-date phone numbers and address. More and more people are using microchips to ID their dogs, and some use tattoos. However, it is still wise to keep a collar ID on dogs as well.

What can you do if you're expecting visitors? The easiest thing is to safely contain the dog in his dog crate or in a separate room. (For details, see the web articles listed at the end of this article.)

You can teach older children to hold a dog's collar and to put a dog in a sit/stay position at the first sign of entry or exit from the home. Children understand the concept of a protecting a baby brother or sister; and they will be able to think about the dog's safety in some ways. However, adults must not expect a child can hold a dog back if the dog wants to run.

People presume that older dogs will not escape. In many respects, senior animals are just as much at risk, due to diminished senses. Older dogs have been known to wander off. Often they are so quiet that they are not missed right away.

Many people feel a dog will understand the home's or neighborhood’s boundaries or the risk of a car in its path. However, most dogs run with wild abandon, and will travel farther and more quickly than you'd imagine. Dogs do not differentiate between a dirt path, driveway and a multi-lane highway, and they have no concept of danger. We hear of fortunate few returned dogs who wandered miles within a few hours. Most likely, dogs who escape and have time to travel will not be found or returned. The longer the absence is not noted, the less likely the dog will be found.

One of the worst times for escape are during vacations. Your pet is at risk whether you take him along on the trip, or if you leave him behind with a petsitter or at a relative's home.

If you travel with your pet, "pit stops" are risky. So are campgrounds or vacation homes. If you’re not sure about the use of training collars, double-leash your dog using a halter with an ID tag with your numbers on it. (It really helps to have a cell phone, and to list that number on the ID tag.) Please be aware that dogs can back out of a cloth collar even if snug against the neck!

If you leave your dog with a petsitter or relative, please review your routines and safety practices.

Make sure you have posters and contact information ready whether you take your dog or leave him behind. It takes a second for your dog to escape. Keep in mind shelters have only a limited number of days to hold animals before they are euthanized to allow room for other strays.

There is no safe time for off-leash walking, but that's particularly true when in a strange place. Many dogs are lost each year when people let their dogs off-leash while hiking or at the beach. The dog does not know where he is and has less or no familiarity with the site. Don't fall for the concept that dogs seek freedom to explore. Sure, the dog may enjoy the freedom -- but he could get hurt, get in a fight with another animal, jump on or injure a passerby who may even decide to sue you. And you may never see your dog again.

What should you do when your dog escapes? The best thing is to be prepared NOW. Create a poster or flyer with the dog's photo, his name and your phone numbers including mention of a reward. If your dog is lost, distribute it door-to-door and post wherever possible. Also have the name of local animal control and humane society phone numbers handy to give a family member, friend or neighbor to call while you search.

Take these steps without delay:

* Check the immediate surroundings first, such as your yard and neighboring yards.

* Enlist your neighbors in the search.

  • POST on Facebook and boost the post for your immediate area!  You would be surprised how many people will respond!

* Contact your rescue  volunteer contact immediately. Rescue volunteers will help you search and provide needed assistance.

* If your dog likes car rides, drive around your neighborhood calling the dog's name, hoping that he will run from where he is and jump into the car. Just be sure that you don't call your dog into incoming traffic.

* Tell everyone you see you are looking for your dog and to induce the dog to enter an open garage or fenced backyard. Give everyone your dog’s poster.

* Sometimes it's best to pursue the dog by foot because you can go between homes and take

unpredictable routes...just as your dog is likely to have done. Again, alert people as you go.

* If you spot your dog, DO NOT CHASE HIM! If your dog is enjoying his adventure, he will think you are playing and will run from you. The best chance for you to safely get his attention is to stop running, drop to the ground and call your dog. If you and your dog took obedience classes and he responds to "sit/stay!", you have the added advantage of potentially stopping his escape because he remembers his training.

* Remember, cars are as likely to be escaped as a home. A car ride can end in disaster, because a dog will jump from a window (often dogs can slip through a narrow opening). Or an excited dog will bolt from a car when the door opens. And dogs can easily jump out of pick-up trucks.  Lastly, if you own a convertible, keep the top up or leave your dog at home!


Tips for Crate Training Your Puppy (or Rescue!)

Ali Legros

Using a crate is an effective way to train and manage your pet. Crates are not just useful in providing your pet with shelter in your home or when you travel, it’s a very common and safe technique to house train your pet while it adjust to the rules of the house. Without a crate, some dogs will mistreat your home instead of showing you and your home the respect it deserves.

Crate training is simple. Dogs don’t like to soil their own dens or home. This teaches the dog simple concepts like using the bathroom outdoors and not chewing on the furniture. Yes, I know chewing on furniture may sound like a lot, but trust me it happens to more owners than you think. To properly crate train your pet, you must first determine what type of crate you want for your pet. Some crates have plastic outer shells, while others are made out of strong wire mesh all around. Wire mesh crates are best for dogs that want to see all around them. This also provides the best ventilation for your dog during those hot summer months. I recommend the wire mesh crate because it allows your dogs to be alert for your security while you’re sleep, and they are easily collapsible to travel when need be. Whatever your choice, the crate should be large enough to stand, lie, and stretch out. Keep in mind you don’t want the crate to big that the dog can still have room to use the bathroom in the corner. You want it to be comfortable, but to also serve its purpose of housetraining your pet. Make the crate welcoming by adding pillows, a few toys, and maybe an old shoe just for enjoyment. Use positive reinforcement by throwing treats or scraps from the dinner table so that your pet understands the crate is not a punishment, but its own personal space for when the family is away at work or sleeping.

Once your pet becomes accustomed to using the crate, you can start leaving it alone. This means you can put the dog in the crate and walk away without having to worry about it crying or becoming lonely. When dogs get lonely, they become anxious and tend to be disruptive. Leaving the house with your dog alone inside the crate is the most important part of crate training. Both you and dog need to be comfortable leaving one another knowing that when the other comes back all will be ok with both your pet and your home. Over time your pet will learn your routine of using the crate when you are away at work or out and about on the weekends and when you are home. You will know your dog is successfully crate trained when it starts to love their crate as their very own special place. Yes, accidents may still occur when you leave it in the crate for too long, but you will see it respects its crate and your home equally. Crate training is a slow process and can’t be rushed. It’s something you have to build up to so that your dog knows how to behave both when you’re home and when you’re not.

Separation Anxiety: A Survivor's Tale

Ali Legros

By: Ali Legros, Rural Dog Rescue

Separation Anxiety, or SA to those living it, is one of the top reasons a dog gets returned to a shelter or a rescue and it can be fixed but requires time and effort. Here is my survivor's tale, that has lived to see the end, or almost the end of SA--- most days.

We brought Crimmy into our home and she was a skinny bag of bones with a bloody happy tail. This dog had our hearts instantly. We nursed her back to health and she quickly became a member of our family. Then the notes started; "Your dog barks all day. Please leave your dog responsibly. Love, Your Neighbors" We felt the love and Crimmy felt the anxiety. Crimmy was stressed the moment we left her in her crate. She'd bark, chew the bars, and even try to escape. That's when my SA journey began. We learned through Crimmy, that SA is VERY common and can be fixed with consistent training, rewards, time, and patience. SA can manifest itself in many forms: crating chewing, barking, and destruction, are the most common traits. See my life below.

Things We Learned By Accident:

1. Exercise is key. A tired pup is a happy pup. A brisk walk before you leave will certainly help.

2. Crates= happiness! Give awesome treats when putting your dog in the crate. Feed all meals in the crate. Begin the crate training process by putting your dog in the crate with said awesome treat for 1 min. while you are there. When your pup comes out, away the awesome treat goes. Begin building up time in the crate, with you present, until they feel totally comfortable. A nap= success.

3. Once your dog is comfortable in the crate with you present, begin leaving your dog in the crate for 1 min and leave your home. Return and praise! Keep giving the awesome treats and then taking them away upon your return. If your dog barks or scratches, start over. You do not want them to panic. If you can leave your dog in the crate with you outside of your home for up to an hour, you've done it. 

4. If your dog is like Crimmy, who loathed the crate, sometimes space is what they need. Repeat tip 3 just remove the crate. Sometimes a crate can represent everything that dog went through in their past and simply leaving them out will do wonders. If not, then there are drugs.

To Sedate or not to Sedate?

Disclaimer! Drug therapy should be discussed and prescribed by your veterinarian! Sometimes, the training isn't enough. Sometimes you need a little herbal or pharmacological help to support your training. There are many natural products on the market aimed to "calm" your pup. For us, those didn't work. If your dog has severe SA i.e. self injury, your dog may need something a little more potent. We consulted with our awesome vet, Dr. Gross, (shout out Union vet!) who prescribed Crimmy the 5 o'clock cocktail she needed to be a less stressed dog over all.

Not all dogs need drugs, and not all dog owners want to medicate their dogs. We chose medication because for us, the idea of Crimmy being stressed and the impact that had on her body outweighed her taking a daily pill. 

In conclusion, SA can be treated. SA is difficult. SA will bring you and your dog closer together, you just have to stick it out. After all, they'd do it for you.

We survived

We survived

Helpful Articles: 

1. Dealing with Separation Anxiety- Cesar's Way

2. ASPCA- Separation Anxiety

3. Quick and Dirty Tips- Separation Anxiety

4. Separation Anxiety

Ali is the Vice President of Rural Dog Rescue and adopted Crimmy in 2014 from Rural Dog Rescue. She lives with her boyfriend Sean, and Crimmy in the Navy Yard.

Adopt Don't Shop

Ali Legros

Easier than it looks and harder than buying from a pet store (Rural Dog Rescue doesn’t support puppy mills!), adoption through a shelter or rescue is infinitely more responsible and rewarding. Remember, you are saving a life of a dog that was scheduled to die in a shelter within 24 to 72 hours of arriving!

Here’s a look at our adoption process.  If you are interested in adopting, start an application today!