If I lost my dog in the woods, this is what I’d do….

I lost my dog in the woods of Harriman State Park

Dog lost (and then found) in Harriman State Park, New York.

I had no idea:  there is a network of tracker dog organizations that will (for FREE) come to where you’ve lost your dog, and aggressively and diligently work to find him. 

Dogs Finding Dogs looks like a cool group to call if you’re in this kind of trouble (OR if you’re interested in training your dog for “nose work”).

I hike almost every day, and almost every day I see a poster at a trailhead for a lost dog.  I always wonder, too: did he make it home?  Or is he still out there, wandering, and confused?  Or worse?

Here’s the link to the story of lost dogs in Harriman State Park, with reference to Dogs Finding Dogs, and Find Toto (another search service that delivers automated calls to hundreds of households within the area of your dog’s disappearance).

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Great Rescue Photos — Now What?

You know that great pet photography on your Facebook timeline can get homeless or shelter pets home faster, and you have great photos from volunteers and professionals.  Now, MAKE SURE they fit the space!

I always feel a little sad when I see this:

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We’re missing the smile.

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I bet this guy has a really, really cute face….

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ish I knew what they we

It reminds me that these animals are not in control of their own destiny; they rely on you to get the word out about them and to show them at their best.  And the pictures above are, surprisingly, really common: faces, tails, captions cropped out.

Think of your Facebook timeline as a shopfront, with little windows to the world, and remember that you have something that most businesses on Facebook would KILL for: a legitimate reason to post pictures of cute dogs and cats!  So, make sure you can see their faces.

Facebook has two different sizes for timeline photos: a regular post, and a highlight.  The dimensions are:

403 px x 403 px for a regular post;

843px wide x 403px high for a highlight picture. 

Crop them that way so you’re putting an appropriate frame on your pictures.

And to make them really stand out, and unify your page, you can also put a small, pinstripe border around them, to keep them from getting lost in the white space.  Like so (from the inspirational page of The Lost Dogs’ Home:

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Great “centering” and framing of pet pictures on The Lost Dogs’ Home Facebook timeline. You can add a border manually to make sure your pictures don’t get lost in the white space of Facebook — doesn’t that look neater?

Great highlight pictures of pets are also surprisingly rare on Facebook timelines, but you can find excellent use of this feature at Tischman Pets Photography’s Facebook page, like so:

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Some pictures are strong horizontals, perfect for the “highlight” feature on your Facebook page’s timeline. This is Junior Mint, by  Tischman Pets Photography.  She was available through Adopt-a-Dog in Armonk, New York, in April, and I’d be amazed if she still is!

This is a simply beautiful picture, a strong horizontal that makes full use of the highlight format — again, sized for the space at 843px wide x 403px high.

Seeing a picture like this makes me think EVERYONE must be using “highlight”, but it’s not true.  It’s actually rare, and so it’s easy to stand out.

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Not only are you making them look better on your timeline, but you’re making sure they look great on everybody else’s timeline and newsfeed.  And that’s more “shareable”.

Don’t forget that, for maximum sharing and interaction, almost every post to Facebook should be a picture that occupies the entire space.  If you’re linking to a blog article, just include the link after the picture has been included in the post, so it doesn’t include the (much smaller) thumbnail that comes with that link.

Plush stuffed animal toy pocket pittie

Plush “Pocket Pittie”, Adala, from CharlieDog and Friends, is based on a real-life pit bull rescued pet.

CharlieDog and Friends has created the world’s first plush dogs and cats based on real-life animal shelter adoption success stories.  They also make colorful “Adopt” collar bracelets in a variety of Michael Miller prints.  Available from CharlieDog and Friends’ store.

Is a Like as Good As a Share? Like and Comment on Facebook Pages to Boost Homeless Pets’ Visibility

Rescue Pet Puppy

You like it, you comment on it, you share it: They’re ALL helpful in finding homes for at-risk and shelter pets.

With so many homeless pets in your news feed, sometimes you hesitate to share them all.  It’s understandable if you feel that, if you do, you run the risk of losing friends who love animals but grow tired of the posts or feel helpless to do anything about the dogs and cats we are cross-posting.

And that’s counter-productive: if you have no Facebook friends left, it doesn’t matter how often you cross-post.  A big dilemma for those of us who love to share, but understand you need to have an audience with which to share.

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Adorable, adoptable! This is Betty, and she’s at New York City Animal Care and Control. Here’s her thread on Bruised Not Broken: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152884248495403&set=a.348075825402.355697.323965755402&type=1&theater

But here’s a fact:  “Likes” and comments are also helpful.  And don’t listen when someone makes the comment: “”Likes” won’t save him!”.

Cuz, they just might.  Because when you “Like”, you’re giving a boost to the post’s rank.  The more engagement a post receives, the more likely it is to show up in the newsfeeds of page subscribers.

Comments work in the same way: they boost a dog or cat’s chances of showing up in someone’s news feed. 

Another thing:  you might not want to share a homeless animal on your page.  But “like” the post or make a comment, and that post will show up on your friends’ ticker.

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This makes the cheap, quick “Like” and comment a more valuable commodity than you might think.  In fact, while some rescues complain that they now have to pay Facebook to boost their page’s exposure in fans’ newsfeeds, what they should be doing, instead, is simply asking their fans for “Likes” and comments which, of course, are free.  At the very least, these actions shouldn’t be dismissed as meaningless.

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This gorgeous shepherd is Jackie — have you ever seen a friendlier face? She’s available for adoption through SPCA of Westchester (http://www.spca914.org/). Great photo by Tischman Pet Photography.

They’re not.  They might even saves lives.  So don’t let anyone ever tell you that “Likes” don’t help.  Keep liking, keep commenting, and share when you can.

Plush rescued Australian Cattle Dog Gypsy from CharlieDog and Friends toy company

Gypsy is a plush Australian Cattle Dog toy from CharlieDog and Friends toy company, based on the real-life Gypsy, from Potsdam Humane Society. Photo by the gregarious Alice G. Patterson (http://www.alicegpattersonphotography.com/).

CharlieDog and Friends is currently offering 15% off ALL plush toys and “Adopt” collar bracelets with the following code: Happy15.  Use it at checkout!  All CharlieDog and Friends plush stuffed animal toys are based on real-life shelter and rescue animals, and spark donations to various local rescues. http://www.charliedogandfriends.com

Lexie: Mastiff in Boarding in Pennsylvania, From Red Hook Dog Rescue

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Pet ownership is this whole deal, wrapped up in minor and major decisions that are simple and complicated and everything in between, and somewhere in New York City there is a person who decided that when this special-needs dog became “too big” at the age of one, they would be better off without her.

No matter that Lexie literally couldn’t stand on her own feet, or that her family felt the best place for her was one of New York’s notorious high-kill shelters.  And no one knows what Lexie thought about that first night in the kennel, three paws on the cold floor while her family, with whatever degree of difficulty, put their decision behind them.

Mastiff mix special needs dog Lexie from Red Hook Dog Rescue

Abandoned: Lexie’s intake picture at New York Animal Care and Control, before Red Hook Dog Rescue saved her life. Lexie is currently boarding in Pennsylvania as Red Hook continues to rehome her.

Sometimes we get lucky and sometimes that luck runs out.  For Lexie, a dog with a deformed and useless front leg that made it impossible for her to sit, it was the other way around, and right away she melted the heart of Harriet Zucker at Red Hook Dog Rescue.  Red Hook pulled her; surgery removed the leg and now, where there are supposed to be four legs, there are three.  And that’s just fine. Two days after her surgery, Lexie sat for the first time.

Mastiff mix special needs dog Lexie from Red Hook Dog Rescue

Happiness from the best thing on three legs: Lexie, a mastiff mix from Red Hook Dog Rescue. She’s boarding in a kennel in Pennsylvania.

You’d think she’d be down on the world but for Lexie, there is much to be happy about, much to love in the limited world of this Pennsylvania kennel where she is boarded, and where few people come to see her.

She’s a clumsy, big-headed fruitcake.  Rollicking and rambunctious, she gets excited to be out of her kennel and is snuffling around with her big head buried in the lobby couch. She is every bit as capable of running, walking, sitting, as a four-legged dog, an once outside, she loves to explore.  Her three legs sometimes propel her farther and faster than she can handle, and she tumbles a little.  She picks herself up and gives me the big mastiff smile, as if we’re both in agreement that everything about her is in superb working order.

She’s a puller on the leash but soon she settles down to normal throttle on a day that hasn’t yet become unbearably hot (but will), and in a quieter moment I look at her and think, is there a place in this big wide world for someone like Lexie, an unwanted, homeless dog that loves the world and all it contains?  A lopsided girl in a world that treasures perfection?

Lexie, of course, would say “yes” — “yes” because it’s the only answer for a dog that knows that it’s not misery that wants company — it’s happiness.  Her joyfulness is meant to rub off on whomever she’s with and loves, and she loves the world.

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Lexie, Couch Spud. From Red Hook Dog Rescue

There is nothing as hopeful as believing that someone out there is thinking of adopting a three-legged dog in boarding, and I have to believe she will find a home, be someone’s welcome home every day, someone’s couch-snuffler.  In my head I almost have a picture of the guy (I believe some would call him a “dude”) who will eventually fall in love with this girl and drive her, both cheering, across the Pennsylvania countryside toward her new home and life with him.  He wears nice warm plaid shirts in the fall.  He likes jazz.  He wants to like fly-fishing, but he’s not there yet.  More than anything, he loves his dog Lexie, and the way she embraces every day with the same can-do attitude that he’s adopted for himself.

Lexie and The Dude are go-getters.

When you meet Lexie, she will come bursting out of whatever door she’s behind to say hello.  I want her to know that she’d “show” better if she’d calm down a little on entry but, there you go.  Lexie, as I say, loves the world.

TWEET this story for Lexie!

But just let her have at it for a few minutes on the leash, and she settles down.  Just be a little patient with her in the first five or ten minutes.  After that, you’ll see that the only thing dangerous about this big mastiff mix is the off-chance that her big boulder head will clunk into yours.

Lexie is in boarding in Frederick, Pennsylvania (not far from Philly, and a gorgeous ride through the PA countryside — if you’re going, give yourself time to stop for ice cream or fresh fruit at one of the stands.)  Contact Red Hook Dog Rescue on their Facebook page, or email harithspi@gmail.com for more information.

Suzy Allman is a professional sports photographer for The New York Times and Sports Illustrated; she is also the founder of CharlieDog and Friends, a plush toy company that makes soft stuffed animal dogs and cats based on real-life rescues.

Pitbull pitbull stuffed animal plush toy from CharlieDog and Friends

Jeffrey, a stuffed animal pitbull from CharlieDog and Friends, is based on a real-life rescue of an at-risk dog from New York Animal Care and Control.

How It’s Being Done, Brilliantly: Pet Superstars’ Group Board on Pinterest (and why you need one!)

Rescue Pets in Wedding Photo from CharlieDog and Friends

Want to boost engagement of your adopters and rescuers? Try the marriage of Pinterest and a communal board, for after-they’re-rescued photos.

Sure, Pinterest is full of boards and pins of adoptable pets.  But what happens to these pets after they find their forever homes?

I searched high and low for a communal Pinterest Board of “happily ever after” pins, where new pet owners could post pictures of pets living with their families. It was tough.  Pictures of the pets in shelters abound.  So do “farewell” pictures of the pets, with families, leaving the shelter. What I wanted to see was a group board of pets on the “outside”, fulfilling their dreams, living out their days with all the love and care they deserve.

Pet Superstars Nails It.

I had to go all the way to Australia to find Pet Superstars (a project of The Lost Dogs’ Home), and their super communal board.

Pinterest Communal Board for people who have rescued or adopted pets, including dogs and cats, from Lost Dogs' Home in Australia

Pinterest Board, community-style, for pets adopted from Lost Dogs’ Home.

The Lost Dog’s Home is an Australia-wide animal welfare organization that could be the model for what a rescue organization is doing right in social media, and it doesn’t stop once the animal is home.  Their program, Pet Superstars, has a website dedicated to celebrating the family pet, from the moment he leaves The Lost Dog’s Home:

"Each dog and cat that is adopted from The Lost Dogs’ Home is a Superstar
in our eyes! All pets that find their lifetime home through adoption share
a special story as well as a unique bond that connects them to their
new family for life. Finding the ‘one’ is a mix of chemistry, timing,
the right circumstance and a pinch of luck – but when it’s meant to be, 
it’s meant to be!"

Pet Superstars has set up one of the ONLY Pinterest group boards dedicated to pinned photos of adopted cats and dogs.  Note this is not the same as pinning a shelter photo after the pet’s been adopted.  Nope.  It’s the pet on the couch, or being hugged, or swimming in the lake, or on a playdate, or lazing in a sunbeam.  Or in a wedding party.

Indie, a rescue or adopted pit bull terrier, posted on the Pet Superstars Pinterest page

We always talk about how important it is to be able for potential adopters to envision, not the dog or cat before them in the shelter, but the potential in the dog or cat.  The dog or cat as they’re meant to be, in a family.

Start Your Shelter’s Own “Happy Tails” Board — Adopted Pets Only!

Stand out and boost engagement with your adopters and foster families.  You can take advantage of this gap in rescued animal promotion by starting your own group Pinterest board.  You can set it up like any Pinterest board, and then invite your followers (and they must be following you on Pinterest to be invited, because that’s how Pinterest has set up group board pinning).  You will use the drop-down menu to invite your followers; you don’t have to type the names individually, because Pinterest will “suggest” them.

Just make sure the purpose of the board is crystal-clear: you don’t want pins of animals in general, or “Adopt Me” pictures.  And you definitely want to know from which rescue the pet came (yours!).

Check out the Pet Superstars website for even more inspiration for your social media strategy to get more dogs and cats home.  And, for their continued brilliance, CharlieDog and Friends is sending Pet Superstars our complete Pocket Pittie collection for their next fund-raiser.

Make a Statement With a GoPro For Your Dog

Rescued shelter dog in a kayak with a GoPro camera mounted on the front was used to take this cute and amazing photo.

Get a great picture of your rescue, foster, or adoptable dog by mounting a GoPro camera in an unusual place — like the front of a sea kayak, for example! This is one of our most-shared photos on Facebook, so think of what a wiiiide GoPro picture of a homeless pet could do for his “shareability”.

Pet camera, anyone?

Read any tips about photographing a particular dog or cat in a shelter, and you’ll find the same tips — because they work.  Get in close; use selective focus on the eyes; get down to their level; eliminate distracting backgrounds.  Shoot tight.

But there are times that you are perfectly within your rights to throw this all out the window, and go as wide as possible.  Make something the world hasn’t seen a million times before. Enter the GoPro.

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As a sports photographer, I felt like GoPro was a game-changer when it came out, allowing us to really get close and wide.  But more importantly, it allowed us to shoot where we couldn’t physically go ourselves: under a boat, or jumping out of an airplane, for example.

It can do the same for shelter dogs, too.  The photo above, and the video below, were both shot with the GoPro.  They offer a completely different point of view, a view you don’t see everyday.

Check out the video below:

The shooter mounted one Go Pro on his dog’s collar, and let ‘er rip.  He also shot his own footage and edited it together — something that must have take a lot of time — but you don’t have to do that.

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GoPros ALL ship with an underwater housing as well, so you can put it in the shelter swimming pool and let it run, for summertime.  You can put it in the bottom of the cats’ water bowl while they’re drinking.

And you can imagine the hit that simple GoPro footage of your shelter’s or rescue’s (or foster’s, or dog park’s) playgroup “scene” would be online?

Why not put a GoPro on your wishlist?

A GoPro can be picked up for 299.00 at B&H Photo and Video.

Have footage or frames from a GoPro of your pet or shelter?  Send to info@charliedogandfriends.com, and (with your permission) we’ll share on all our social media platforms.

The Facebook Page, Truth About Pit Bulls, posted a link to our Pocket Pitties, which in turn gave us a nice big boost in sales, which in turn helps Bruised Not Broken.  A great way to help animals.

THANKS, Truth About Pit Bulls!

Thank you to The Truth About Pitbulls, who posted a link to our Pocket Pitties on their Facebook Page, and gave us a really great boost in sales — all benefiting the tireless advocacy work of Bruised Not Broken.

CharlieDog & Friends: L.O.V.E.

CharlieDog and Friends:

Generous. Awesome. I loved “And Foster Makes Five” since I found their blog. But how sweet to get this in return. :0)

Originally posted on And Foster Makes Five:

“I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!”

-Buddy the Elf (…and Stephanie the Blogger)

Love #1? All of you. Can I just say how awesome our readers are?? You never fail to inspire me with your comments and support and even constructive criticism. This blogging community has become such a treasured and vital part of my life, and I don’t know what I would do without all of you! It is so special to be able to share my passions and find others who can relate.

Love #2: CharlieDog and Friends

pitties_set3

Charliedog and friends is a company that is doing amazing things for the plight of unloved and unwanted animals. Their approach? Start small… as in, with the smallest of animal lovers.

Almost every family experiences the begging and pleading from their children for a new four-legged family member. But what if those children…

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How it’s Being Done, Brilliantly: Calgary Humane Society Applies a Little Peer Pressure

Calgary Animal Shelter Loves Their Rescue Shepherd, Tova

Recreate this photo, using lots and lots of people and that ONE, SINGLE DOG you’ve been trying to home!

One week after this photo was posted by Calgary Humane Society, Tova the shepherd was adopted.

And I wonder: is it easier to be a hero if everybody’s watching?  Do dogs that get that extra notice from a lot of people get adopted more quickly?  Or to put it another way, do we want to help more, if we know the thing we’re doing will be noticed for the good deed that it is?

This picture says to me, Here are all the good people who will sleep easier at night knowing Tova is home.

Calgary Humane Society’s Marketing and Social Media Coordinator Shandell Van Hell seemed to know this intuitively when she posed shelter staff and volunteers around Tova:

"It wasn't hard to get everyone gathered -- I just sent an all staff email
asking staff to join us for a photograph with Tova for our website and 
social media avenues.  At that point, staff would have done pretty much 
anything I asked of them if it meant getting Tova adopted!"

She shot the photo purposely leaving a nice clean background (the brick wall) where she could drop in giant text afterwards.  And who wouldn’t love that group picture?  It shows the staff of a shelter that looks fun and welcoming.  The precise opposite of the “territorial” shelter.  The picture went up on the Calgary Humane Society Facebook page.

By involving as many people as possible in this photo, she gives Tova’s social media marketing campaign an added boost: if there are thirty people in a photo, that’s thirty people who might post this picture to their Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest page or blog (I know I did!).  That’s the chance for thirty more exposures to their friends.  (This group picture was shared 247 times).

Tova was adopted from Calgary Humane Society.

Adopted! Tova leaves Calgary Humane Society. Is it any surprise? This picture was posted on Facebook with the message: “Last night, just one day shy of the 300 mark, we finally matched Tova with her forever family. Last night, a lovely woman walked into the shelter, met with Tova, fell in love and will be taking our sweet girl home tonight! A HUGE thank-you to everyone who shared Tova’s story and never stopped believing that her pefect home was out there.”

The next time you’re thinking of using social media marketing for a particular long-term dog or cat, try this:

  • Provoke the hero instinct in potential adopters, and get a crowd that looks like they’d do anything for your dog or cat;
  • Compose the photo with a clean background, enough space to drop in great big text;
  • More people in the photo means more posting and sharing across social media platforms;
  • Put your dog or cat front and center!;
  • Make the textual message, above, as simple, straightforward, “in the moment” as possible.  No bummers.

TWEET THIS.

I can’t tell you how happy I am for Tova.  Shepherds form a very special, strong bond with their owners and I hate the thought of a shepherd without a person to love and be loyal to.  Shantell, you and CHS are AMAZING.

Stuffed animal plush toy pitbulls based on real-life shelter rescues.  Pocket Pitties, from CharlieDog and Friends

CharlieDog and Friends’ “Pocket Pitties”, plush toy pitbulls based on real-life shelter rescues.

For this post, CharlieDog and Friends is sending Calgary Humane Society a collection of our “Adopt” collar bracelets and Pocket Pitties.

Do you know a shelter that’s doing it brilliantly with an innovative or unique approach to social media marketing for their homeless pets?  Let us know!: info@charliedogandfriends.com

NFL Draft Day, and Why I Care (Kind of).

Pit Bull plush shirt, from CharlieDog and Friends

Red Carpet wear for NFL Draft Day, at Radio City Music Hall. And in case you NEED this shirt: Arggh! It’s not available anymore!

I’m the Chief Everything Officer of CharlieDog and Friends, but I also have another career that I will probably never let go of, and that’s as a sports photographer for The New York Times (and now Sports Illustrated).

And today — although I SWORE I would never shoot “red carpet” — my assignment is to shoot (oh yes) red carpet arrivals at the NFL draft.  So I guess it’s sports.

And it’s about time.  Long after the last whistle blows on the field of an NFL game, and after I’ve filed my pictures for the night and I’ve packed up to go home, I like to watch the players leave the stadium, trickling out toward waiting team buses, either surrounded by their families or solitary, with earbuds in.

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They’re usually dressed exquisitely, in colors that make you think of Easter, or street festivals.  Satins and seersuckers, suits in pale yellow, purple.  All white.  Magic.

NFL Receiver from Baltimore Ravens, Torrey Smith, with his pit bull rescue, Prince.

What’s not to love about Baltimore Ravens’ receiver Torrey Smith, and his rescued pitbull, Prince? From the campaign, “Show Your Soft Side”, to encourage kindness to animals in Baltimore.

So today’s assignment, I don’t mind so much.  Radio City Music Hall. Then back to the dogs.

Adala is a stuffed pitbull plush toy from CharlieDog and Friends, to benefit rescue pets.

Adala, our stuffed pitbull plush toy “Pocket Pittie”, comes to you in style! Specially-boxed, in tissue and colorful crinkle paper, labeled “Special Delivery” on the outside of the package. She wears our unique “Adopt” collar bracelet that can be removed and worn by her human.

Need to send a pick-me-up to a dog-loving friend?  CharlieDog and Friends’ plush pitbulls and Pocket Pitties are delivered in style!

Ginger May be a Dunce, But….

Ginger, a SharPei mix and adoptable rescue pet dog, from Granite Hills Animal Care in Granite Hills, Georgia.

Ginger is a SharPei mix, an adoptable dog in Granite Hills, Georgia, and a dunce.

I don’t know Ginger.  I’ll probably never know Ginger, because she’s in Georgia, and I’m in New York.  But, out of all the dog pictures I saw on Facebook and Pinterest this week, Ginger (at Granite Hills Animal Care) is the one that I’ll remember best.

I think it’s because her foster dad put a dunce cap on her with a computer pencil.

I don’t know how you could go past this photo without wondering about the story behind it.  I had to know.  So I read: Last year Ginger got spooked by a retractable leash and ran into the woods for the night.  All night.

Ginger is also a-scared of baths:

"Ginger is being extra clingy this morning. 
 You see. . . Lena got a bath and dip, Rosie got a medicated bath . . .

 Imma thinking that Ginger is thinking that she might possibly be next. . . ."

There are so many photos of gorgeous, sweet, adoptable dogs and cats out there, that the trick is to stop the eye long enough to linger over YOUR dog, and provoke a question. If a straight-ahead photo of your dog doesn’t do it, apply your own touch.

TWEET THIS.

She hasn’t had much interest, ol’ Ginger, but I feel like I know her.  If I lived in Georgia and were looking for a dog, I would be inclined to ask about Ginger.  I like her.  And you can tell Ginger is well-loved by her foster, because he didn’t hesitate to put a dunce cap on her.

Read more about Ginger on her Adopt-a-pet page.

Andy Mathis is the vet who keeps a Facebook page for Granite Hills Animal Care, here. It’s quite entertaining and worth the befriending.  Shelter Pet Magazine, Andy’s publication, also has a Facebook presence.

CharlieDog and Friends' "Adopt" Collar Bracelets encourage adopting the family dog or cat

CharlieDog and Friends’ “Adopt” Collar Bracelet (“Bella”), is one of twelve Michael Miller print designs.

Don’t you love telling your rescue or adoption story? CharlieDog and Friends has twelve different “Adopt” collar bracelets that, when you wear them, make people ask!  Great as Mother’s Day gifts for ladies with children of the furry persuasion, they’re only $10.00, and we give $3.00 from every bracelet sold to our “Rescue of the Month”. 

Suzy Allman is the Chief Everything Officer of CharlieDog and Friends, a plush toy company dedicated to helping America’s shelter pets go home.  She’s also a sports photographer for The New York Times, where she tries to get the dwindling newspaper readership to pause for more than a second in the Sports section.