Three years ago, at a BBQ, a friend showed me a picture of the cutest little cattle dog puppy I had ever seen! Her brother, John, lived next door to the owners and this puppy was his favorite. My eldest dog, Pe'ahi, was about to be 8 and I had started thinking about getting a second dog. Pe'ahi was a rescue from Smiley Dog Rescue in The Bay Area of California, and I had always imagined my next dog would be a rescue as well. But when I saw this little face, I fell in love instantly and knew I couldn't live without him. I made arrangements to bring Nalu home.
Shortly after making Nalu a part of my family, I learned that he was from a backyard breeding situation. I was shocked and horrified that I'd supported that. I also learned that John had been working to get the owners to spay the mother. I immediately reached out to John to see how I could help. After the initial shame of supporting irresponsible breeding, I learned that rescue work could take many forms and made a commitment to see the spay of Nalu's mother through.
John and I communicated often about how to get Valentine, Nalu's mother, spayed. It was a sticky situation as the John is the neighbor and wanted to tread lightly, although I went so far as to offer to kidnap the mama!
Unfortunately, about a year an a half after I brought Nalu home, John texted that Valentine had had another litter. He reached out to me to because he knew that I had a large cattle dog community via social media. At the time, there were two female pups left and John was worried about their safety as they were about 4 months and still living in the same backyard as the father.
I networked my pants off and thought that I had secured forever homes for the two females. I drove out to collect them and transfer them to a third party rescue where they would receive their first round of shots before going to their forever homes. Shortly thereafter, I learned that the woman who was supposed to adopt Leilani didn't want her because she had a double mask and was going to put her up for general adoption in her rescue. I was disappointed and offered to foster Leilani until a home was secured.
As soon as I brought her home, I realized she would need a very special home. At 4 months, she had had zero socialization and was terrified. She spent the first few days hiding under the kitchen table and quivered any time I tried to approach her. I contacted the rescue and said that I wanted to keep her. That brought about a whole new round of hurdles as the rescue had "promised" her to a couple sight unseen. I was very uncomfortable with that and unwilling to let Leilani go to a home I didn't know. It was a bit of a fight, but we came to an agreement and Leilani stayed with me.
She still has some issues meeting new dogs stemming from fear, but we have done a ton of work and come so far from that first week!
After Leilani's litter, John and I communicated again about how to get Valentine sprayed. Unfortunately the owners were still unwilling to make the commitment. We agreed to keep in touch about what we could do.
In late April of this year, John texted again with news that just broke my heart. Valentine had had another litter. I was devastated, but Nalu is 100% my heart and I had made a commitment to do whatever I could to help his family. At the time, there were three pups left. After years of seeing these litters, John decided to keep the male. I decided to just get the two remaining females and drove to pick them up on March 1st.
They were so tiny, but of the two Honu was the smallest. The first day she was so quiet and refused to eat. I assumed she was just adjusting and kept my eye on her. On day two, she was downright listless. We immediately took her to the vet for a checkup where she was diagnosed with Parvo and giardia. My heart sank. I knew the treatment would be hundreds if not thousands of dollars and I didn't know if her little 3.33 pound body could take it. But she was part of the Nalu family and we weren't going to give up on her!
I arranged to have the sister fostered by a friend so that she would be safe and we transported Honu to an emergency hospital where they started an aggressive treatment plan. Lo and behold that little one was a fighter!
She made a miraculous recovery and was released two days later. At that point we'd fallen in love and decided to add another to our pack. With the tremendous support of our @instagram family, we were able to raise enough money to cover all of her medical costs. Her sister was eventually adopted by a good friend I had met via Instagram and now lives the life with @badget_and_bodhi.
This process has been hard, and never in a million years did I think I'd have 4 dogs. I've received negativity from people who think that my involvement in removing the puppies is supporting the breeder and just creating room for more. I will gladly admit I paid for Nalu. And I would happily pay that $50 every day for the rest of my life for the joy he has brought me. Rescuing a life can take many forms. I have not paid a penny for any of the other pups I have picked up. Those pups were born, I couldn't take that back. But I could make sure that they went to good homes with responsible owners. I am happy to report that after years of effort, Valentine has been spayed and will live her golden years in peace! And in the meantime I have acquired the most amazing little family that just fills my heart each day!