Friends For Life is not only honored to positively impact the lives of many animals, but also to build strong relationships within our community. Volunteer and foster mom, Jennifer Hopkins, is one of those friends we can always count on to share our stories. This time she has guest authored a blog, sharing some of those stories.
How far would you go to rescue a family member? Across town? Across the state?
As far as it took?
For Friends For Life staff earlier this month, it meant a 21-hour drive and over 1,400 miles.
Reggie entered the Friends For Life family in 2015 after he was found wandering the streets here in Houston. Our behavior team worked with him on his fear of strangers, other animals, and thunderstorms to help ease his transition to his future forever home.
Fast-forward to July 2017, and the team gets a call from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter after they’ve scanned Reggie’s microchip, and saw that we were registered as the original contact. They agree to hold him for the week, if we can pick him up by Friday. Atalie and Pam loaded up the car, and set out.
Over the next 5 days, they drove through 5 states, twice, finally arriving at the shelter on Saturday where the work began again to address Reggie’s fear of strangers.
Reggie will always be a member of the Friends For Life Family.
Tiki, formerly known as Taffy, entered the Friends For Life family in 2016 when her mom, Marshmallow, was pulled from an extreme hoarding situation while pregnant with 8 puppies.
The adorable puppies were quickly adopted out to their forever homes, and soon after, Marshmallow found her family as well. Then in March 2017, Tiki was returned to Friends For Life.
She was confused and didn’t love the shelter at first, but learned to revel in the attention her cuteness brought her from every volunteer. After a few different meet-and-greets, Tiki found a home with Kirstie Ehman and now is enjoying life hanging out with her new family. Tiki had a place to come back to, and a team that wouldn’t give up on training her and finding her new family.
Tiki will always be a member of the Friends For Life Family.
Wendy – a gorgeous German shepherd – joined the Friends for Life family in 2012 as just a puppy when she and two other puppies were found outside of an industrial complex with a terrible case of ringworm. After spending two months recovering at the vet, their hair wasn’t the only thing growing back.
Wendy’s personality began to shine through. She lived 5 happy years with her elderly owner, Tracy Berg.
In April 2017, Tracy passed away, and his family didn’t have the ability to properly care for Wendy. They knew Wendy had been adopted from Friends For Life, and so they came to us for help – and we welcomed Wendy back with open arms. At first she was confused, and a bit shy, but she warmed up as staff and volunteers tried to make her feel comfortable after losing the love she’d known for the previous 5 years.
She is now happily living with her new family here in Houston and enjoying being part of a family once again.
Wendy will always be a member of the Friends For Life family.
The stories abound. I hear them daily at the shelter, and find myself sharing with visitors that “we’re married to these animals, for life.” When I first saw the update on Reggie, it really impressed me – “Atalie and Pam are really going to drive all the way to Fairfax?!” – but I honestly don’t know why I was surprised. I know that every decision, every choice at the shelter, begins and ends with “How can we save this life?” It all comes down to what is best for the animal, and how we can make that happen.
Sometimes that means #ThinkingOutsideTheShelter. Last year the Friends For Life food bank gave away 11 tons. of dog/cat food to people that simply couldn’t feed their animal right then, many of whom came in wanting to surrender the animal to make sure they were fed. If we can rebuild someone’s fence after a storm to help them keep their dog, why wouldn’t we? It is so much better for everyone – the owner, the animal, shelters, the community – if that animal can stay in their home.
And each one of the people that we touch becomes a part of the Friends for Life family too.
This isn’t possible without transparency and accountability. Our leadership and directors embody this, and that means sometimes answering the tough questions and challenging the way things are done. We don’t do things the easy way. We face the day and try to figure out what more we can do to answer that same question – “How can we save this life?”
Because every animal matters, and they will always be a part of the Friends For Life family.