By Janet McAfee

Sparky Official photoRebecca Pikus spotted this tiny Terrier puppy on Facebook on a San Bernardino City Shelter networker’s page.  She contacted Loving All Animals with an offer to foster him if we would rescue him.   When someone offers to be part of the solution to save an animal’s life through fostering, we spring into action.  Rebecca recalls, “I fell in love with the Facebook photo showing his scruffy adorable little locks, and his intense incredible hazel colored eyes.”

This pup was a 7-pound package of fun and frolic the moment he exited his kennel cage.  His tiny size belied his mega bigger-than-life personality.  When I delivered him to the Pikus’ lovely studio home, the confident dog pranced around happily as if he’d never lived anywhere else.  I was surprised when Rebecca advised me her husband Mario did not know they were getting a foster dog, but she assured me she knew her husband well, and this was the best way to proceed.  Guess who was the first to fall in love with the new dog? Within a couple days Mario sealed the deal to adopt declaring, “There is no way he is going anywhere.  He is my dog.”

The couple named the dog Sparky because he’s like a sparkplug full of energy.  Sparky was an instant hit with the Pikus’ other two rescue dogs, Shadow and Whitecloud.  Mario Pikus is an award winning painter and sculptor, and Sparky loves his colorful, love filled life at their studio home.

A month later, Mario and Rebecca learned of a teacup Chihuahua puppy abandoned in the desert and offered to foster her as well.  Sparky was overjoyed with the arrival of another canine, and the two twirling joyous animals were the subject of dozens of entertaining videos on Facebook.  Leila Blue, the adorable teacup, had other horizons awaiting her.  Rebecca’s son, an artist in Berlin, Germany, recently lost his dog, and his mom who was planning to travel to Berlin for his birthday decided to include Leila Blue as a birthday present.  This pup is now the toast of Berlin.

Back in California, spunky Sparky quickly got over his grief at Leila’s departure.  He has a beautiful half acre estate on which to run around chasing his brother pups, Shadow and Whitecloud.  The trio chase after the birds that flock to the grounds in the early morning, and run after tennis balls during their afternoon outing.  They run with abandonment and joy, making wide circles around the trees and around Mario’s sculptures that dot the landscape.

Sparky’s humans are the recipients of an upcoming Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars for their activism, humanitarianism, and promotion of the arts.  If he could, Sparky would surely put his paw print in the cement in the fashion his paw print is embedded in everyone’s hearts.

While a team of a dozen networkers daily photograph, videotape, and post the animals like Sparky at the San Bernardino shelters, our Riverside county shelter cats and dogs in Thousand Palms are sequestered away in an industrial area, often unseen.  A Facebook page designed to promote them, “Coachella Valley Animal Campus Adoptable Dogs and Cats” is not being utilized.

Coachella Valley’s shelter dogs deserve the kind of Facebook networking that goes on in San Bernardino County. The shelter needs volunteers with photography skills to take quality photographs that capture the animals’ beautiful souls and touch the hearts of potential adopters.  You can locate our county shelter’s volunteer application online at

Loving All Animals hopes that more folks will see the animals at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus shelter on social media and offer to foster them.  The snow birds are leaving the valley, and our list of available foster homes has dwindled.  Won’t you open your heart and home and foster a sweet dog or cat?  Veterinary care and related expenses are provided.  Contact Saleen Rowan, Loving All Animals’ adoption coordinator, at (760)834-7009.  We don’t mind if you become “foster failures” like Mario and Rebecca Pikus.  Take a look at adorable Sparky, and consider fostering a pup as precious as him.