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How One Mom-To-Be Eased Her Cat Into Sharing Life With A Newborn

Miguel was 14 years old when his owner became pregnant.

Miguel was 14 years old when his owner became pregnant.

Last week we shared a story about two cats named Ragmuffin and Nina that were returned to Heaven Can Wait when their family became new parents.  Myths and adjustment to change can create a stressful atmosphere for new parents.  Heaven Can Wait volunteer writer, Colette Hays, shares  her personal story about how she eased her beloved cat into sharing life with a newborn.

By Colette Hayes

When my longtime cat, Miguel was 14 years old, I became pregnant with my first child.  Miguel and I had a very close relationship; I had raised him from a 4 week old kitten, bottle feeding him, carrying him with me wherever I went. Miguel currently threw his 20 pounds of black fur against my chest every night and slept purring with his face inches from mine. He followed me everywhere and would only consider my lap comfortable enough to sit on. During conversations with several close friends and family members about my pregnancy, I was told stories about behavior changes in their cats. I was told that I had to be careful because Miguel could smother the baby, scratch or hurt the baby and I could get Toxoplasmosis. Hearing this I began to look at my beloved cat differently and wondered just how a new baby would change things.

I learned through research that cats smothering babies was a myth and common sense and some simple precautions were needed to allow a baby and cat to live together peacefully. Toxoplasmosis, a parasite infection, passed through the feces of cats is a real concern, but one that my obstetrician helped me deal with. My obstetrician explained that if I had been around cats for a number of years, I had more than likely already been exposed to this infection. Using plastic gloves while I scooped the litter box and hand washing frequently would help limit the possibility of catching Toxoplasmosis. Getting a family member to scoop for 9 months was also another precaution and one that got me a 9 month break from litter box duty!

Setting up the baby’s room, I allowed Miguel to sniff and investigate everything. He enjoyed jumping in and sleeping in the empty drawers of the new dresser, but took interest in nothing else. He never once attempted to jump in the crib, although purchasing a crib net would have eliminated this option for him if he had showed an interest.

Miguel’s behavior did begin changing when I was around 6 months pregnant. I began noticing a urine smell each time I went up or down the stairs.  I attributed the smell to the litter box which was nearby. Thinking I was not sufficiently cleaning the box, I began scooping up to twice daily. Still the smell of urine was strong. One day I started investigating and found a corner of the stair landing saturated in pee. I ripped up the corner of the rug to discover the pad and concrete floor below were soaked in urine. Miguel was already diabetic so I figured a quick vet checkup would be the first place to start.  The vet gave him an exam, ran a few tests and everything was fine. Indicating my stomach, the vet said, “First baby?” I nodded. “Cats can have strong feelings about changes in the household.” Knowing Miguel and his haughty temperament, I figured he was having super strong feelings ending in urination. The vet explained that cats can be jealous of the new baby and are sensitive to the changes that were happening in my body.

The vet gave me several suggestions to get Miguel using his litter box again. These included cleaning the carpet thoroughly, making sure there was adequate litter boxes and they were clean.  Other suggestions included setting Miguel’s food dish near the spot he had chosen for his bathroom. Cats usually won’t eat where they pee. Miguel proved me wrong in that regard. I watched as he casually peed and then sauntering over to eat. I placed his litter box directly over the pee spot, but he took to peeing in the other corner. I put a second litter box in that corner and he peed in the third corner.  I now had two litter boxes and a food dish placed on my landing and he was still peeing on the carpet. Finally a trip to the local home store, gave me the idea of a plastic runner. I laid the plastic runner over the landing on the stairs. The next morning I woke to find urine and feces on the runner. I was about 7 months pregnant, overwhelmed with the upcoming birth and wondering how I was going to deal with a new baby and a cat that refused to use the litter box. I considered Miguel family and knew that I could not surrender him. I mean let’s be real who is going to adopt a 14 year old, diabetic cat who refuses to use the litter box? I was angry, but I also knew that Miguel was also feeling the changes in the household and my anger directed towards him would make the situation words. After a good cry, I cleaned up the plastic runner on the stairs and landing and made peace with the fact that every morning I was going to have to clean up poop or pee or both.

Patience and understanding brought baby Joseph and Miguel, the cat, together.

Patience and understanding brought baby Joseph and Miguel, the cat, together.

A month later, I brought my son, Joseph home from the hospital. I tried coaxing Miguel to sniff Joseph, but he refused to even pretend to be interested, instead he glared at me from his favorite bathroom spot, the landing.  For about 4 weeks, Miguel would leave the room when I entered and would sleep in the bathtub. I tried to pay extra attention to him and find time to spend with just him alone, but he made a point of leaving the room whenever I came to find him or hiding under the bed.  I did notice that his bathroom use on the runner was lessening, instead of daily it was three of four times a week. Finally when Joseph was about a month old, Miguel jumped on my lap and began investigating Joseph. He sniffed him, watched him and then carefully sat down next to him. Within minutes Miguel was purring softly and Joseph was sound asleep.

Over the next several months, almost as suddenly as he had stopped he started using his litter box again. Miguel also began taking an interest in me again, sitting on my lap and follow me from room to room. By the time Joseph was a year old; Miguel would lie next to Joseph and allow himself to be hugged and slobbered on.  Miguel eventually learned to tolerate Joseph and Joseph learned to be gentle with Miguel.

With time, patience and a sense of humor it is possible for a cat to adjust to the changes of pregnancy and a new baby. Cat and baby can learn to live together and if not like each other at least tolerate each other. While dealing with unwanted behavior changes in a beloved pet can be frustrating and difficult, realize that your cat is expressing their feelings about the changes in their lives and while we may not like how they express themselves, realize they need your love and patience during this transition.

Heaven Can Wait cat adoptions are held Thursday – Sunday in Petsmart at 7050 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy (off I-215 and S. Rainbow.)  Check out all the cats waiting for new homes at: www.hcws.org

Ragmuffin And Nina’s “Happy Ever After” Adoption

Ragmuffin and Nina were returned to HCWS after their family had a new baby.

Ragmuffin and Nina were returned to HCWS after their family had a new baby.

Ragmuffin and Nina are not biological sisters, but after living together most of their lives, they act like it.  The pair was returned to Heaven Can Wait in 2012 after their owners welcomed a new baby to the family.  Sadly, thousands of cats are surrendered each year because of myths surrounding newborns and felines or because the animal’s early response to a baby in a household isn’t positive.

The ASPCA offers lots of tips to help expectant parents prepare their cat for a new baby and protect against potential health hazards before an infant is born.

One of the main reasons female cat owners surrender their pets, is the fear of contracting Toxoplasmosis while they are pregnant.  It can cause birth defects.  Cats can get the disease from eating small outdoor animals that are contagious.  The disease is typically passed along to a human while cleaning a litter box.

The ASPCA recommends several common sense measures to protect against Toxoplasmosis:  pregnant women wear gloves while scooping litter, give the job to another family member and keep their cat indoors.

The ASPCA’s next suggestion is to prepare a cat for the upcoming change in the household.  Cats need time and patience to accept any change. The group recommends that furniture for the nursery be set up several months in advance to allow a cat time to investigate and realize there is nothing scary about a crib or changing table.  (Of course, you will want to clean the furniture before the baby uses it.)

Finally when the newborn comes home, the family cat should be introduced to the baby in a peaceful room.  These introductions may have to been repeated several times.  Then use common sense when the baby and cat are in the same room.

Nina relied on her big sister Ragmuffin for security and friendship.

Nina relied on her big sister Ragmuffin for security and friendship.

When Ragmuffin and Nina came back to Heaven Can Wait they were 9 years-old and 7 years-old, respectively.   Elaine, the Cat Coordinator worried about finding them a new home because of their age and because she wanted them to be adopted together.

Luck played a role when Christine and Colin walked into the HCWS Adoption Center.  The couple had come to see another cat, but Ragmuffin had other plans.

“This big fluffy cat came up to my boyfriend and started following him around,” said Christine.  “Then Nina started following him too.”

As an avid cat lover, Christine was looking to adopt an older cat and Ragmuffin and Nina fit the order perfectly.

“I’ve had cats my whole life and I knew I wanted an older cat because everyone else adopts the kittens,” said Christine.  “I had recently lost my 16 year-old cat to cancer and my house felt so empty.  I know we will have lots of years ahead of us with Muffin and Nina, even at 9 and 7 years-old.”

Christine shared that Ragmuffin felt at ease the minute she walked into the house.  It took about a week for Nina to adjust, but now she loves to cuddle.  Nina also loves to play with her new laser light game.

Recently Ragmuffin went back to Heaven Can Wait for a “Lion Cut” shave to get rid of some stubborn matted fur.  Christine said poor Muffin found the experience to be embarrassing, but she is glad Heaven Can Wait could help out.

Best buddies Ragmuffin and Nina are very lucky cats.  They get to spend the rest of their lives together and enjoy the companionship of guardians who will cherish them forever.

Ragmuffin hanging out in her new home.

Ragmuffin hanging out in her new home.

MEET YOUR NEW FURRY FELINE FOUR-LEGGED FRIEND AT HEAVEN CAN WAIT ADOPTIONS EVERY THURSDAY – SUNDAY.  Adoptions are held inside Petsmart at 7050 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy (off I-215 and S. Rainbow.)  Check out the cats waiting for new homes at: ADOPTIONS

Best buddies will now get to spend the rest of their lives together.

Best buddies will now get to spend the rest of their lives together.

Alley Cat Allies Sponsors Special Spay/Neuter Clinic

Alley Cat Allies, HCWS and C5 sponsored spay-a-thon to get ahead of kitten season.

Alley Cat Allies, HCWS and C5 sponsored spay-a-thon to get ahead of kitten season.

Alley Cat Allies, the national organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, sponsored a special “Spay-a-Thon” Saturday, March 9 in which 240 feral cats were neutered at the Heaven Can Wait Clinic.

The event was held to get a jump start on curbing “kitten season” among the feral cats living in Las Vegas. Volunteers with the Community Cat Coalition of Clark County (C5) helped humanely trap 188 cats to neuter and volunteer veterinarians and vet-techs from Heaven Can Wait Animal Society gave their time to spay/neuter and examine the felines.  Later the cats were returned to their colony site.

“Las Vegas is a great example for high-volume, high-quality TNR programs across the country,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. “Kitten season is perhaps the most important time of the year to champion this practice, because it improves the lives of the cats while humanely ending the breeding cycle among feral cat colonies.”

Taking cats off into the clinic.

Taking cats off into the clinic.

Springtime is “kitten season” – the time of year when female cats go into heat and give birth to litters of kittens after only 63 days of pregnancy. Keith Williams, director of C5, said volunteers worked into the night Saturday and Sunday to trap and spay/neuter an additional 52 cats, bringing the total number of cats spayed over the weekend to 240.

“The dedication of our volunteers to completing projects and the Heaven Can Wait clinic to supporting them is key to the success of our TNR efforts,” said Williams. “It is obvious why we are so successful. This type of caring and dedication will not be stopped.”

After surgery cats are tagged so they can be returned to the correct colony.

After surgery cats are tagged so they can be returned to the correct colony.

Heaven Can Wait and C5 partner together every month for a “feral cat clinic” where 100 to 300 cats are humanely trapped, sterilized and returned to their colony.  With the onset of kitten season, both groups were grateful to be able to hold an additional spay-a-thon with sponsorship from Alley Cat Allies.

“At this time of year, Alley Cat Allies will focus on the plight of feral cats and publicize the fact that spay and neuter can offset kitten season,” said Aileen Walden, Interim Director of Community Programs and Support.   “We will offer spay-a-thons in several areas around the country.”

One of the patients.

One of the patients.

Aileen explained that statistics show 80 percent of pet cats are sterilized, while only 2 percent of feral cats are fixed.  Stopping feral cats from breeding will cut down greatly on euthanasia rates.

Aileen is also an advocate of targeted spay and neuter programs, like Heaven Can Wait’s Operation Clean Sweep that goes into low-income neighborhoods.  She cited a study that found 90 percent of pets were fixed in households earning $35,000 or more, but the numbers plummeted to 50 percent in households with lower incomes.



A Happy Ending For BFF’s Tiger Lily and Tucker

HCWS knew they could find a home for Tucker, but were unsure about his BFF Tiger Lily who is 9 years-old.

HCWS knew they could find a home for Tucker, but were unsure about his BFF Tiger Lily who is 9 years-old.

By Charlene Proto

‘If dogs don’t go to heaven, when I die I want to go wherever they went.” — Attributed to Will Rogers

Every dog owner who has ever lost a beloved companion will agree with Will Rogers’ sentiment in this much quoted aphorism.  Life is wonderful filled with exuberant joy, playfulness and boundless love when our dog is young.  Middle age brings little change to these seemingly ageless happy go lucky very best friends of ours.  However as with humans, old age brings some subtle and some not so subtle changes that owners cannot ignore.  Some dogs leap and kiss and frolic right up to their last days.  Others unfortunately mimic the human condition and become frail, weak and subject to age related illness.  And just like with humans this is when they most need our love, affection and care.  And tragically this is when many owners decide to abandon their aging pet, renege on that commitment that is made when we take a pet into our family – the life time commitment to love and care for them for all of their lives.

Fortunately the King family believes very strongly in the commitment that when an animal comes into our lives it is a lifelong contract that they would never dream of breaking.  Samantha King (Sam) loves animals and particularly loves Boxers.  There were two very special Boxers in her family for many years – Kane and Maverick.  Both were getting to be senior dogs and when Kane died last year she felt she should find another companion for Maverick.  He seemed depressed, listless and lonely without his constant friend.  Sam and her husband too grieved for Kane and felt a piece missing in their hearts.  Sam likened it to the “empty nest” syndrome, but felt it much more difficult to bear with a pet.  Another dog was needed to assuage the sorrow for both Maverick and the Kings.

Sam’s boss told her about Heaven Can Wait Animal Society and the search began.  The dog adoption coordinator (DAC) sent pictures providing options for possible adoptees.  Sam was seriously considering one Boxer but finally decided he was too much for her old guy Maverick to handle.  Over the months the DAC and Samantha got to know and understand each other.

Tiger Lily and Tucker had been shuffled to several homes before coming to Heaven Can Wait.

Tiger Lily and Tucker had been shuffled to several homes before coming to Heaven Can Wait.

Then two Boxers named Tiger Lily and Tucker were turned into Heaven Can Wait.  These two best buddy Boxers had been together most of their lives.  Unfortunately they had also been shuffled about among different owners a lot in their lives.  When HCWS called a Vet’s office for records they were alarmed to hear, “Oh, no the Doctor will be so upset to hear they have been returned again.”  These were two very good dogs.  Tucker the young handsome guy would probably have no problem being adopted but his 9 year-old “BFF” Tiger Lily was another story.  Many people looking to adopt are only interested in the “Tuckers”.

When HCWS approached Sam about the pair they were so pleased to find that the Kings were interested.  They not only understood how difficult finding a home for an older dog was, but were eager to accept the challenge.

As so often happens at Heaven Can Wait a miracle occurs and a match is made – two good dogs with two good people with big hearts and “good souls.”

The dogs were all gradually introduced in the yard and then into Maverick’s domain of the Kings’ home.  They feared Tucker might be too rambunctious for their senior but as time went by the dogs all became friends and fit nicely into the King family which included their cat.  Sam’s husband would often take the dogs to their property in Pahrump for a weekend romp in the “country”!

Sadly both Maverick and the family cat recently died.   The Kings however have two good buddies to help them work through their grief.  There is of course no substitute for a loved pet who provided many years of companionship, but a pair of wagging tails and happy doggie smiles can lift even the saddest heart for a little while.

Heaven Can Wait is ready with lots of awesome cats and dogs that need new homes.  Adoptions are Thursday – Sunday for cats at Petsmart in the Arroyo Crossing Center and dogs are adopted on Saturday inside Bone Appetit on W. Tropicana and Ft. Apache.  Click Here to see the pets available.

Related Storues and Programs:

Second Chance For Happiness

Pawsitively Seniors


Doggie Door Leads To New Home For Connor And Maximus

A doggie door gave Connor (left) and Maximus (right) the opportunity for a new home.

A doggie door gave Connor (left) and Maximus (right) the opportunity for a new home.

Life has changed dramatically over the past five months for Brooke and Ryner Grubmueller.  Before September 2012, the couple, who have been married for 10 years, had never owned a pet.  First they talked about it, but came to the conclusion they weren’t ready for the responsibility and later the home they rented would not allow pets, so life carried on for a decade without a furry buddy in their household.

Last year Brooke and Ryner bought a home of their own.  It included a small doggie door neatly installed by the previous owners.  Facing the doggie door every day brought the subject of adopting a pet back into their lives.  The couple felt they were ready to be pet parents, so Brooke began searching online.  Her research led her to the Heaven Can Wait website.

Brooke said she had been looking for a dog for about 6 months when little Connor’s picture appeared on the HCWS website.  Connor, a Chihuahua-mix, was rescued after he was found running loose down a busy street.

Brooke said she was immediately attracted to Connor because he met the requirements she had for adopting a dog:

Connor was the right size to fit through the doggie door and she liked his name.  Actually Brooke knew exactly what she wanted in a dog’s temperament, so she was impressed when she read the profile about Connor’s personality.  It said he was slightly shy, didn’t chew on household items and he was perfect for the person who Did Not like to hike.

Connor's easygoing personality won over is guardians, who had never before owned a pet.

Connor’s easygoing personality won over his guardians, who had never before owned a pet.

Soon Connor was home with Brooke and Ryner living up to all their expectations.  And after one incident of separation anxiety and carpeting that was pulled apart, the family settled into a happy routine.

Then Brooke’s sister had a baby and began bringing the infant for visits at the Grubmueller house.  The newcomer took Connor by surprise and he wasn’t pleased.  At times Connor would jump on Brooke’s lap and push the baby away or he would pick up the diaper bag with his teeth and drag it the door.

“My husband and I want to have kids of our own some day, so I knew I had to break Connor of being jealous,” said Brooke.

Next Maximus was added to the family.  His owners like the idea of adopting a mature dog.

Next Maximus was added to the family. His owners like the idea of adopting a mature dog.

The family decided the best way to help Connor was to adopt a second dog.  Brooke went back to the HCWS website and found Maximus, a 7-8 year-old Pomeranian.   The couple did not hesitate to adopt and older dog.  In fact Max’s mature nature helped him get along with Connor.

The two have become best buddies, playing tug of war with their favorite rubber chickens and dashing around the house.  Connor has become less jealous and more independent since Max came into the family and Max has found a friend he can hang out with all day.

Both dogs are very lucky to have a safe and wonderful home with guardians who look out for their best interests and find practical solutions to make each pup confident and well-adjusted.  We wish the Grubmueller family many happy years with their first four-legged companions.

Connor and Max have become great buddies and have a wonderful home thanks to a doggie door.

Connor and Max have become great buddies and have a wonderful home thanks to a doggie door.

If you would like to add a furry friend to your family, Heaven Can Wait Animal Society holds adoptions each weekend.  Cats are adopted at Petsmart at 7050 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy each Thursday afternoon through Sunday and dogs are adopted at Bone Appetit on W. Tropicana and Ft. Apache on Saturdays.  You can see the pets ready for new homes at: www.hcws.org.  Heaven Can Wait has placed 8,000 homeless pets into loving homes since 2000.  You can help us rescue more pets and support our many community programs Here.

A Second Chance For Happiness

Taylor's winning personality got her adopted quickly.  Through no fault of her own, a year later she was back with Heaven Can Wait.

Taylor’s winning personality got her adopted quickly. Through no fault of her own, a year later she was back with Heaven Can Wait.

By Patty Carmichael

Little Taylor was rescued by Heaven Can Wait Animal Society along with her brother Connor. After a brief stay in our Pups on Parole program Taylor’s winning personality won the hearts of a new family and she was adopted.  Through no fault of her own, she was returned when the family ran into problems.  The story below is about Taylor’s second chance for happiness.

Hi, my name is Taylor Russell, and this is my story. I am a Chihuahua and Toy Dachshund mix. I lived with a small family for about a year but, for some reason, they took me back to Heaven Can Wait. It was scary but the people there were really nice – even made me their Office Dog – but it was still tough. I did like the obedience school that I went to while I was there. The women at the place were really nice but I understand they are in something called a prison. One special woman taught me commands like, sit, stay, and down. They also taught me how to walk really well on a leash!  I really liked the ladies, but I knew I couldn’t stay with them. I wanted a real home, where I never had to leave again.

My mom and dad had been thinking about getting a dog for a while, since they had lost their other doggies. Daddy had been looking online, and seeing what kind of dog he wanted. When the phone call came from HCWS to tell him and mom about me, they were very excited to come meet me.

Oh course, it was love at first sight, how could they not fall in love with me. I’m black and brown with an adorable personality and so cute and lovable. And as soon as I saw them, I loved them to and I knew I would have a safe loving home for the rest of my life.

Mom and Dad are so cool; Dad takes me to the office every day where I can meet new people. Sometimes they even give me yummy treats!!! After work dad and I go on long walks with mom.  I love to get some exercise and put my nose to the ground to smell all the stuff that has been there before us.

Taylor has lots of new toys to play with.

Taylor has lots of new toys to play with.

I love my new home. I have a few toys that are my favorite. Mr. Bill and Homer Simpson are so much fun to play with, but my favorite toy is a BIG bear that is 4 times my size. I love to drag Mr. Bear around the house and pretend it is my buddy. I bark and play and run to the front door when it makes this funny music sound. Mom and dad let me sleep in their BIG bed at night, and it makes me feel so loved and secure.

Dad says there are something called cats that live in the house too. They hide under the bed a lot and I hear funny sounds when I put my nose under there. Gee, are they ever going to come out of there????

I finally got to meet the cats. They aren’t so bad, and it didn’t take long before all the hissing and barking stopped. The cats have been with Dad for a long time, so I guess it will take them a little while to get to know how great I am!!!

One day in November, that mom and dad called Thanksgiving, I got to go for a car ride. We met lots of new friends, whose house smelled like turkey. I got to wear my new coat and explore a big backyard. It was truly a day to be Thankful!!!

Don't I look pretty in my holiday sweater?

Don’t I look pretty in my holiday sweater?

I am so thankful for Heaven Can Wait who found me running the streets with my brother Connor, and picked me up and found me. Without them, I never would have found my dad James or my mom Suzanne.

I even have a Facebook page where dad and mom put pictures of me up so all my friends can see me. I love my new life and wish every dog and cat could find someone to love them as much as my parents do.

"I'm so happy I got a second chance for happiness."

“I’m so happy I got a second chance for happiness.”

Dogs (and cats) like Taylor are ready for adoption at Heaven Can Wait every week.  Dog adoptions are held each Saturday at Bone Appetit on W. Tropicana and Ft. Apache and cats are adopted inside Petsmart at 7050 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy, Thursday afternoon through Sunday.  You can see all of the pets on our website: www.hcws.org.

Woman’s Dedication Wins Trust Of Special Needs Dog

Thor was given a second chance even as a special needs pup.

Thor was given a second chance even as a special needs pup.

By Amber Mahrou

With Valentine’s Day just behind us, love is in the air—especially for Sandra Holton and her loving, devoted companion, Thor. Although the two are inseparable now, their relationship was not always so heartwarming.  In fact, the story of Sandra and Thor is one of perseverance and uncommon dedication, and proves that love, while not always easy, is always worth the challenge.

It was more than a year ago when Sandra was introduced to Thor. Her roommate Joey, who is the proud pet parent of a Heaven Can Wait boxer, met Thor at an adoption event. Joey thought Sandra and Thor would be a great match, and when she saw how cute he was online, Sandra decided to meet the dog. Thor was well-mannered and just as handsome as his pictures suggested.  He seemed to know his commands well, so it was settled; he was going home with Sandra, joining her roommate Joey and their other boxer, Tye.

Of course, there is always a period of adjustment when you bring a new dog into your home, and when that dog happens to be a 100lb boxer who’s still almost a puppy, well, that does complicate matters, even if you don’t happen to be a petite woman like Sandra. Thor also had a few bad habits when Sandra took him in; he was a chewer who would demolish anything he could get his jaws around.  He’s such a big boy it meant that anything from countertops to all but the highest bookshelves was fair game.

But the biggest challenge with Thor had nothing to do with his love of chewing un-chaperoned objects around the house. Sandra’s biggest challenge with Thor was communicating with him.

Thor received training to help his owner communicate with him.

Thor received training to help his owner communicate with him.

You see, Thor is deaf.  Sandra knew he was deaf when she adopted him, but she wasn’t quite prepared for some of the more surprising challenges that came along. The first shock was Thor’s aggression. Having no way to communicate with him as you would a hearing dog, Sandra had a hard time convincing Thor that he was not her equal in the pecking order, and as a result his pushiness could be downright scary. He would jump on her, and at his size, one jump was enough to knock her down. He would mouth her hard enough to leave bruises and try to intimidate her into giving him treats by barking and growling. Concerned and not knowing how to get through to Thor, Sandra found herself putting him in his crate and appeasing him with treats for her own safety.

At times like this, Sandra wondered what she had gotten herself into. Had she made the right choice in adopting Thor? She read everything she could find about deaf dogs, and some of the things she read were disturbing. She read that deaf dogs could be aggressive, like Thor was, and that at one point deaf dogs were put down as a matter of course because it was thought that they could not be trained. But Thor was not always aggressive, and when Sandra saw how sweet and lovable he could be when he was not acting up, she knew there had to be a way.  Ultimately Sandra’s research led her to Deaf Dog Training.

Thor during his training session with Sandra.

Thor during his training session with Sandra.

Her internet search brought her to the website of “Sit Means Sit,” a large, well-known dog training organization with locations around the country. She gave them a call and was directed to David Heck, a local trainer who could help her with Thor. David at first came to do lessons in Sandra’s home, and his method employed the use of an electronic collar—on a very low setting, of course.

This is what allows Sandra to get Thor’s attention, since he can’t hear verbal commands. Using hand signals, David and Sandra were able to finally begin communicating with Thor and he turned out to be a much better student than they could have ever anticipated. In fact, it wasn’t long before Thor was able to join in Sit Means Sit group classes and he’s now not only is he participating in advanced classes which are essentially agility courses, he is also a better student than most of the other dogs in the class—and all of them can hear!

Sandra and even the trainer David are amazed with Thor’s progress. Once a destructive, pushy, disobedient dog, Thor is now confident and calm and learning more every day. He lives to please Sandra and will do anything she asks of him, from running up a narrow set of playground steps just to come to her to jumping onto a three foot tall cylinder at her command. The two of them are now so in sync that Sandra can communicate with Thor with just her eyes; he’s learned to read her expressions and her lips, and can understand some of her spoken commands now just by watching her. Thor is a happy, well-adjusted dog, and he’s learning so fast that Sandra and David are having a hard time trying to come up with a new challenge for him—it seems like he’s conquered them all!

Thor resting peacefully in his new "forever" home.

Thor resting peacefully in his new “forever” home.

There were certainly times when Sandra wondered whether she could handle Thor, but these days she says, “He’s so worth it.” Sandra is really glad she stuck it out with him, because he’s her pride and joy, and she doesn’t think he’d be in such a good place if she hadn’t held onto him. Her bond with Thor is so close and their communication is so natural, she even forgets he’s deaf sometimes. Thanks to Sandra’s dedication and unwillingness to give up on her companion, this is one love story that will last a lifetime.

Thor was rescued by Heaven Can Wait along with his two brothers.  Each was enrolled into our Pups on Parole program where they received the first steps of their rehabilitation and training.  All three dogs now have new adopted homes.  We congratulate Sandra on her persistence with a special needs dog.

Heaven Can Wait dog adoptions are held every Saturday at the Bone Appetit store on W. Tropicana and Ft. Apache.  You can see all of the available dogs ready for adoption on our website: http://ww.hcws.org

Thor and Tye hanging out together.

Thor and Tye hanging out together.

Sweet As Sugar


By Colette Hayes

Nearly a year ago, this sweet dog Charlotte, was homeless. Charlotte, a Cockapoo lived on the streets, helping a homeless man with his daily can collecting. Having nowhere else to go, Charlotte stuck by this man on his daily routine.

With her coat overgrown into long dreadlocks, the little dog proudly carried an old chicken bone in her mouth as a self-styled security blanket and makeshift toy.

One day as the duo passed by a veterinary office, one of the Heaven Can Wait dog coordinators called out to the man that he should get Charlotte groomed.  He told the coordinator that Charlotte was not his dog and she only joined him during the day to collect cans.   The coordinator coaxed the little dog inside the vet’s office to see if her owner could be identified through a micro-chip.

It was there that Charlotte began her journey to her forever home. She was given medical attention and a bath that lasted two full days to shave off all of her knotted fur. Then she entered the Pups on Parole program. During her time in the program, this darling Cockapoo impressed those she met with her independence, energy and beautiful personality.

The Berenzweig family was looking for a new dog to add to their family. Bruce Berenzweig, says they knew they wanted a new dog, but did not relish the idea of heading to an animal shelter and viewing dozens of animals in cages. They contacted Heaven Can Wait and spoke to the Dog Coordinator about adopting a dog.

Several days later a call came that the perfect dog was available for adoption.  Lucky Charlotte became that wonderful new companion to the family. Charlotte, who the family thinks is about two-years-old, is a well behaved, loveable, energetic girl.

Bruce says that Charlotte “fits into our life seamlessly.”  When the family comes home, Charlotte is so excited to see them that she will jump in the air and roll on her back.   Charlotte loves sitting on laps in her new home and soaking up attention.  Blanche Berenzweig, Charlotte’s new mom says that she is “sweet as sugar” and has become almost inseparable with their older dog, Gordie.   Blanche says that Charlotte enjoys her daily walks and is very well trained, “She is a wonderful addition to our family. Heaven Can Wait did such a good job with her.”

Heaven Can Wait has lots of cats and dogs ready for adoption each weekend.  You can see them on our website at: www.hcws.org and arrange then arrange to meet them in person.  Cats are adopted at Petsmart in the Arroyo Crossing Center (off I-215 and S. Rainbow) Thursday afternoon – Sunday and dogs are adopted Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. at Bone Appetit on W. Tropicana and Ft. Apache.

Goodbye Old Friend


All the cats and dogs that pass through Heaven Can Wait on their way to new families have a special place in the hearts of the volunteers who work with them, but once in a while when an animal who has had a particularly hard life finds the perfect home, those heartstrings are pulled a little tighter.  That was the case with Scout who passed away on January 14, 2013.

Scout was a beautiful Collie that was abandoned in 2007 outside a convenience store after his owner tied him to a fence, brought him a bowl of water and walked away forever.  When the store manager realized no one was coming back for the dog he called Heaven Can Wait for help.

Volunteers on the scene found Scout to be very thin and saw maggots running through his matted coat.  They rushed him to our clinic for veterinary care.  Soon Scout was feeling better and volunteers got their first glimpse at his friendly and gentle nature.  They had no doubt he would find a great home, even though he was a mature pup between 7 – 9 years old.

Then tragedy struck for a second time.  Scout was attacked by a stray dog when a vet-tech took him for his daily walk behind the clinic.  His injuries were so severe he needed two major surgeries.

It took several months, but finally Scout’s invincible spirit pushed him to get well.  He went through Heaven Can Wait’s Pups on Parole program and then waited to see if there was a forever family that would give him a new life.

That family turned out to be the Russell’s who had been through a rough year losing both a family member and a beloved pet.  When Jane Russell saw Scout’s face in a local magazine; she knew he would be a perfect fit.  An older dog that could be by her side was exactly what she was looking for.

Scout became a therapy dog.

Scout became a therapy dog.

Jane and Scout became inseparable and started a new chapter in their lives.  Scout became a therapy dog that made regular visits to Nathan Adelson Hospice.  Later when Jane’s father was admitted to a nursing home, the duo switched locations and each week Scout would visit the residents at the facility.

“He would get so excited when he knew it was time to go to the nursing home,” said Jane.  “He sensed it was his job to greet the residents and he took it very seriously.  Scout would walk up to each person, put his head in their lap so they could pet him and then move onto the next person.  He made his rounds until everyone had a turn at petting him.”

Scout spent time hiking and traveling with the Russell’s until he got sick last year.  Unable to walk very far both Jane and Scout were happy to just hang out together.  On January 14, Scout gave Jane the look all animal lovers hate to see.  It said he had enough time in this world and was ready to leave.

Jane wrote to Heaven Can Wait to let us know about Scout’s passing.  She said, “In our loving care from February 2008 – January 14, 2013.”  Heaven Can Wait doesn’t know much about the first half of Scout’s life, but thanks to the Russell family the second part was pretty amazing.  Goodbye Old Friend.

Therapy Dog 005

Your help is needed so Heaven Can Wait Animal Society can continue to give homeless pets a second chance.  Please click our the website to see how you can help – http://www.hcws.org

These Socks Were Made For Walkin’…Home!

Socks with his new forever family.  A perfect match!

Socks with his new forever family. A perfect match!

20121222_101016By Keely Biggs

Like most dogs, no one really knows where Socks came from; what trials and tribulations he suffered before being rescued by Heaven Can Wait. Socks is an adult dog, about 2 ½ or 3 years of age. We can only guess. Was he cared for during this time? Was he loved? Regardless, once he fell into the hands of Heaven Can Wait, his fate was ultimately sealed.

Socks is a larger black Labrador mix with white paws; hence the name. He was passed up many times in the adoption center. HCWS theorizes this was because people have a hard time connecting with a black dog. The truth is, however, that Socks is one of the most sociable and playful dogs I have met.

Thanks to friends on the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society Facebook Fan Page the word spread about Socks and May Yep just happened to be looking for a new companion.

A week before this, May had just put down Kahlua, her Rottweiler mix. She was grieving. May knew she wanted another dog but knew that she would have to make a special connection with her new companion. May searched many shelters for that special dog. She wanted a dog that was active and would go hiking with her. When she came to the Heaven Can Wait adoption center and told the dog coordinator what she was looking for, the coordinator said she knew the perfect dog! “She showed me a picture of him and I was sold!” May recalls of the day she first saw Socks.

Although May was sold, her partner Cheryl Ballow was hesitant at first. Cheryl wasn’t ready for another dog and thought Socks was a bit hard to handle with his boisterous and active demeanor. They decided to foster him for a few weeks. Cheryl really tried to work with him and with a little patience and training; she found that she too had fallen in love.

In late September it was made official, Socks had found his forever home. He now lives a lifestyle of socializing at the dog park almost every day and frequents Camp Bow Wow about three times a week. He loves to chase laser pointers and birds. And of course the occasional hike. Shortly after my interview with May and Cheryl, Socks went on a hike on a railroad trail in Boulder City.

“Whoever wants a dog should visit Heaven Can Wait,” says May. She says her next dog after Socks will also be adopted from HCWS and reminds people to always adopt a pet as opposed to buying one. This story makes it clear that you can indeed find your soul-mate at a shelter, just like May and Cheryl did.

Find your new best friend on the Heaven Can Wait website. Go to www.hcws.org and click on the “Adoptions” tab. There you can browse all of Heaven Can Wait’s cats and dogs that are looking for homes. In addition, HCWS holds cat adoptions at the PetSmart at 7050 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy off S. Rainbow Blvd and the 215 Beltway Thursday through Sunday. Dog adoptions are at Bogart’s Bone Appetit on Ft. Apache and Tropicana every Saturday. All of Heaven Can Wait’s dogs have gone through our Pups on Parole program where they learn basic commands and are housebroken. All cats and dogs are spayed or neutered and vaccinated.

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