This is a subject that's been very close to my heart for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until I moved to Toronto in 2015 that I truly got involved in the rescue world, with Save Our Scruff as a volunteer.
Save Our Scruff is a non-profit organization located in Toronto, dedicated to rescuing street dogs from around the globe, bringing them back into a safe environment in Canada, and eventually finding them their furever homes. My journey into volunteering with Save Our Scruff began with my previous employer, and since then, I've been doing everything I can to volunteer with global rescue organizations.
Volunteering can be anything from fostering, donating food or money, assisting foster families with requests, or even being a flight parent (which is the most awesome thing I've done). I had the pleasure of flying down to Miami to meet two Mexican street dogs who had been prohibited from boarding their connecting flight to Toronto - my employer sent me to the rescue that same day, and by that evening I was cuddling the two Mexican scruffs in the bed at my hotel. We got to spend the weekend together, bonding, cuddling, playing, and a few days later I escorted them back to Toronto, through customs & immigration where they became residents of Canada.
I admit, it can be heartbreaking when you form a bond with the dogs you're caring for, whether you're just dog sitting or if you're fostering short or long term, but think of it this way, you're just preparing them for the love and care they deserve when they end up with their furever families.
I've cared for all sorts of dogs over the past couple of years, many different breeds, different attitudes, different sizes, but they've all had the warmest and most loving personalities, and have been the best companions. These dogs have brought so much joy to my life.
I work a full time job, and I've wanted a dog my entire life, and I'll admit that at one point I really thought I was ready for that commitment, and purchased a puppy through a breeder, without much thought. Little Oscar was the most beautiful little puppy I'd ever seen and he stole my heart the second I saw him, but the reality was, I couldn't give him what he needed, which was full time love, attention, and lots of play. I made the responsible decision to make sure he ended up with someone who could devote their everything to him, and I know he's living a very comfortable and happy life now. So for those of you who do work long hours and aren't ready to make a commitment, Save Our Scruff, and many other rescue organizations are always looking for short and long term fosters.
The next little pup I grew attached to was Bowie, now named Bella, a gorgeous Husky Shepard mix. We all grew attached, the entire office. A colleague and I rescued Bella from horrible conditions, where she had been living outside attached to a cable run. My employer, colleague and I couldn't bare to see her in that situation, so we rescued her and took her under our wing. She lived with my colleague and came to the office everyday, boosting staff moral and making friends with everyone. We eventually found Bella a home, where she's still living, happy as can be.
Then there was little Fonzi, or should I say a cute little nightmare. Fonzi was terrified of men, and it took us a while to form a bond. I remember chasing him around the apartment for hours, and I ended having to call in some help from my boss. He eventually came around and cozied up to me, thankfully.
The reason for this post really is to share how grateful I am that I've been involved in such a large organization, something that I'm extremely passionate about, and I've been able to help so many suffering dogs in need.
Some advice for anyone considering purchasing a dog, consider fostering first. Get a feel for life with a dog, it may not be what you expect, and when you foster, you're not committed. I'm also not saying that every dog you foster will be a delight to work with, some of them do need more attention, some have more fears, and more issues than others due to how they've been treated in the past, but the fostering experience is so worth it.
Another rescue I've been following for a long time is the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation, founded by Marc Ching. Ching has not only uncovered the harsh realities of animal abuse, but has changed the face of animal rescue throughout the world. Marc and his team have shown incredible bravery by dedicating themselves to stopping the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China, and through his efforts he has saved thousands of dogs from slaughterhouses in Asia. Despite having found himself of the other side of guns, machetes, fists, and other life-threatening intimidation methods while on these grueling rescue trips, he continues on, committed to his mission.
So, you might be wondering, how can you get involved? Well there are many ways...
Check out the Save Our Scruff opportunities page for information on getting involved. They also have some pretty cute merchandise available for purchase. And you can donate by clicking here. Follow @saveourscruff on Instagram for the latest dog postings and events near you.