When you’re the director of a rescue, it’s inevitable that you’ll get stuck with a “collection” of dogs that were either unadoptable to begin with, or got returned so many times you just took them off the roster. Anyone who knows me knows that I call my home “The Island of Misfit Toys.” I have a dog that’s almost feral, Scary Mary, who won’t let anyone near her; her son Buddy who has seizures; another dog I’ve had for 10 years, who bounces off the walls and has anxiety issues, named Flurry (should’ve been a clue…); one named Gertie, who’s the “Cruise Director” and makes sure everyone is entertained…ALL the time and finally my 100 pound shepherd mix, Jax, who likes to “herd” my house guests by biting them.
No, I didn’t pick any of these dogs to adopt or even foster, and likely, no one else would have either, but I’ve had them all for several years now, some longer than others, and the one thing that it’s made me realize is that different is good. In the Christmas classic, the misfit toys were not like any of the others, but what’s wrong with a “Charlie in the Box,” and how cool is a bird that swims, or a water pistol that shoots Jelly? In the end, it’s the reindeer with the odd glowing nose that “guided Santa’s sleigh” through the storm and saved Christmas. Like the toys, each one of my misfits has their quirks and some took a lot of patience (and still do), but there is NEVER a dull moment or a time when my home isn’t full of love and life.
Atlanta Lab Rescue is considered a “breed rescue,” but one thing that we have realized over the years is that different is good. Anyone can find a purebred lab that looks like something you would see in a coffee table book, but ALR has proven that along with the purebreds, we can bring in dogs with a multitude of variations of the breed and some completely out of left field, and people love what we have! There is a lot to be said for a unique dog that looks like no other dog, and it says a lot about our adopters that they recognize that too. Don’t get me wrong, Atlanta Lab Rescue wouldn’t exist if we didn’t love labs, but early on in the process of picking which dogs to rescue, it became painfully obvious to me that we couldn’t base our selection totally on breed specifications. There were wonderfully adoptable dogs in shelters that were getting passed over by other rescues because of a white spot on their chest, or a curl in their tail, or their ears were too short???? How horrible that dogs would be euthanized because their ears were too short, so we started taking those dogs and you adopted them! The large breed mixes are the LAST to get rescued from shelters, but ALR has continued to be one of their biggest advocates because YOU keep proving to us that there is someone for every dog and different is good.
In addition to our wonderful adopters, we have incredibly dedicated volunteers. The time, money and effort it takes to rescue, vet, house and place even a single dog is pretty amazing and we have volunteers who have driven thousands of miles, or opened up their home to 1 or 100 dogs, spent numerous hours on the computer and phone and dedicated many a weekend to work adoption days and do meet and greets. Rescue is not for the faint-hearted and our volunteers continue to step up time and again to help us achieve our mission to get more deserving dogs into loving homes.
This coming year will see a lot of exciting changes. The first being our new ATLANTA LAB RESCUE KENNELS! Through a partnership with Happy Paws Inn in Mableton, and a very generous donation by Charlie Kleman to build the kennels, we now have 9 very spacious SUITES that will house our dogs. The dogs will continue to be cared for by Happy Paws’ knowledgeable staff of veteran handlers that will have them in play groups during the day and tuck them in at night. I’ve spent a lot of time over there in the last few months and never in all of my years in rescue or otherwise, have I seen a nicer set up with a more loving and attentive owner and staff. This is the most amazing opportunity for ALR and we are so thankful to Happy Paws Inn and Charlie for making this dream come true! We hope you will join us for the Grand Opening on the 21st of January. We’ll have refreshments and giveaways. Details to follow.
We would also like to thank all of you who have financially supported us this year. The adoption fees don’t cover half of the expenses of a healthy dog and when you average in the MANY injured dogs and even more dogs with heartworms, it drives the average cost to over $1000 per dog! Large or small, one time donation or monthly, it all adds up to make the impossible possible and I wish I could personally thank each one of you!
In closing, I would like to wish all of you a safe and happy holiday and ask you to please keep ALR in mind for an end of the year tax deductible donation because there is still a lot of work to do and dogs to rescue.
Atlanta Lab Rescue