By Janet McAfee
This column told Pippi’s story during the holidays last year while the dog patiently waited in a foster home, dreaming for her forever home. This year we happily report she is approaching the 1-year anniversary of her adoption by Rhoda Oltzik. A friend of Rhoda’s told her about Pippi after reading her story in CV Weekly. Intrigued by Pippi’s circumstances, Rhoda contacted Loving All Animals and Pippi soon arrived for a meet and greet.
Rhoda enthusiastically reports, “It’s a lovefest having this dog in my home. She is absolutely fabulous. I named her Jenny after Winston Churchill’s mother. Jenny loves all dogs and spends many happy days at the dog park. She gets along great with my two senior cats. She always surprises me with something interesting when I arrive home. She might move my shoes, or today she took a tomato off the kitchen table and put it by the front door, untouched. But she never destroys anything. I watched Jenny’s personality transform during the past year, and I think she feels secure now. It’s fortuitous that we found each other.”
Pippi’s first 3 years of life were a struggle. She was born into a family of dogs living outside in a tent with a homeless man named Bernie in rural Riverside County. Bernie took in a few more stray dogs, and his pack grew to 11 dogs when discovered by animal control. He loved his animals, but could not afford the vet care and nourishing food they needed. The 7 female dogs ended up at the Riverside County shelter in Riverside. Pippi and her sister Tyco ended up in the back isolation room due to the staff’s assessment they were “fearful, rescue only”. Animal advocate Cindy Sorenson alerted Loving All Animals to the dogs’ plight, and we rescued them from the shelter. Meanwhile, Cindy raised funds to vet and neuter the 4 dogs Bernie was allowed to keep. Bernie loved his animals, and kept in touch concerning the status of two of his dogs now in our foster system.
Initially, Pippi and her sister Tyco proved to be a challenge in foster care, managing to escape from two secure back yards. The dogs had never been inside a home, and never walked on a leash. Pippi attended Loving All Animals’ adoption events, but most folks seeking a new dog want to be enthusiastically greeted with wet kisses and a wagging tail. The more social Tyco was soon adopted, but Pippi proved to be reserved and a bit skittish when meeting new humans. It was discovered she needed to spend at least 24 to 48 hours with someone before becoming comfortable. When placed with a couple, Pippi tended to favor one person over the other and guard them. Perhaps she was duplicating her pattern with Bernie on the hilltop she once called home.
Foster mom Nancy Atkisson loved caring for this precious pup. She states, “Pippi is extremely affectionate, and she enjoys snuggling with you. She’s a 5-star dog in every aspect. She learned to walk on a leash and heel when she was in my home. She’s a sweetheart and a loyal companion. She loved her new toys when she was here last Christmas. Pippi had a bed beside mine, and as soon as she saw I was awake, she would grab a toy and fly around the room in joyful excitement. Pippi is a one-person dog and seems to prefer women.”
Rhoda decided to give her that second chance. She gave Pippi the day or two she needed to settle in, while knowing it was a deal breaker if the newcomer did not get along well with her cats. Now Jenny, she is a gem of a dog, a dog whose little heart loves more than most, a dog who has the experience and wisdom only a rescue dog can have.
The holidays are here again. This is the perfect time to adopt a new pet. If you are feeling lonely, a rescue cat or dog will fill that hole in your heart. If you are anticipating happy gatherings with friends and family, that new dog sitting sweetly under the table can only add to the season’s joy. For more information about fostering or adopting a rescue animal, contact Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000 or www.lovingallanimals.org. Take a second look at the animal that is a bit shy, they might be a diamond in the rough that will bring a “lovefest” to your heart and home.
(Photograph courtesy of Sandy Swett, Pets N Their People)