Ruff House Rescue is a non-profit no-kill shelter in Oceanside, NY. Ruff House saved desmond's life and, subsequently, completely changed ours. we were never planning to go to Ruff House. we didn't even know it existed when we first decided it was finally time to go get a furry son. a few weeks before our official dog-acclimating vacation weeks, i sort of begged the husband to go and visit some local shelters to get an idea of what the adoption process would be like and see what our options are. in the back of our minds, we really thought we'd be adopting from North Shore Animal League because of their large selection and the tendency of folks from around here to get their pets there. (little did i know that upon actually visiting that place, i'd burst into tears and have to leave the premises, but that's another story.) he pretty much agreed to go on this little tour of local shelters because i'm cute when i beg (kind of like desmond) and i agreed to just window shop.
Ruff House was our first stop simply because it's the closest shelter to our home (our home that we moved to not that long ago, relocating from NYC. i really like to think it was fate). even though it was march and not all that warm out, there was quite a bit of action at the shelter--volunteers and prospective adopters were all buzzing about and a few dogs were out meeting, greeting, and hanging out in the early spring sun.
we met some of the staff and told them what we were looking for in a dog, personality-wise. they suggested that we meet desmond (although his name was david at the time). this cutie needed some extra TLC (and a few cheeseburgers!) after having been through a less-than-stellar past (more details of his story are in the right column of the blog page) but was a sweetheart who loved to snuggle. we knew he was a younger pup than we intended on adopting and he actually didn't look anything like the dog we thought we'd get (we thought we'd be bringing home a smaller, scruffier, scrappier dog), but what can you do when someone steals your heart?
|desmond on the day we met|
the Ruff House staff made the process easy without it seeming like they hardly cared about the dogs. they not only understood our predicament of having already planned our weeks off from work more than 10 days from when we met desmond, but they were more than willing to work with us during that time so we could come back every few days to walk him and hang out with him. they didn't even think about turning us away because we needed more time, and they didn't harangue us with threats about other people who were interested in adopting desmond. they were all very patient with us as we started to bond and fall madly in love with mr. wonky legs. they also put up with all my stupid questions and incessant emails (actually, they still put up with my incessant emails!) and worked around our schedule so we could come by when it was best for us .
every person we spoke to there knew things about desmond. he wasn't dog #4763 in a cage in the top row of the east wing. they knew a lot of his history and nearly all of his personality. they knew what he liked and didn't like. they knew what he had been eating that was working for him--and what wasn't. they knew his quirky tendencies and what made him anxious or nervous or excited. they knew his "i swear this is my happy face" happy face. they knew that he had great use of his wonky legs but still needed some strengthening. they knew he was housebroken, for sure. they knew he was good with kids, noises, crowds, and being in someone's home. they knew he was also a nervous nelly who just wanted to be loved, for real for sure forever.
one of the volunteers took desmond in as a foster dog while he was recovering from his neutering surgery, so she knew even more about him than anyone else, and she was especially invested in his well-being and future. she was in contact with us often, both during the adoption process and after we brought him home. she provided us with advice and reassurance over the first few days when desmond was acting more like a kangaroo than a dog with wonky legs. she loves desmond very much and wants him to succeed. her family loves him, too. they keep up with his antics, here and on FB/Twitter, whenever they can (as do some of the other volunteers). they miss him and would love to see him soon, and i have no problem with that at all.
you're not going to find this kind of care and attentiveness at a lot of other shelters.
at Ruff House Rescue, you can be sure that the volunteers want all the dogs to be happy in their forever homes. these aren't just a bunch of kids fulfilling school requirements for community service hours (though there certainly are some wonderful young volunteers there)--these are people who love dogs, who have jobs and families and many other responsibilities but who still find the time to spend at the shelter and with the animals. they're spending money out of their own pockets on quality food for the dogs (these pups are not eating low-grade supermarket kibble) and vet bills and toys and bedding and hygiene. and they are seemingly never not pulling dogs in need of rescue from all over the country. and they've got plenty of happy tails to show for their efforts!
like so many shelters, wonderful things are going on there with little resources. imagine what they could do with more?
but this is desmond's shelter. this is our shelter. i'm not going to just talk about them--i'm going to help them. we're going to help them: me, joey, and desmond (yup, desmond, too!). we start volunteering there tomorrow, once a week. it may not be much, but it's a start. be the change.
want to learn more about Ruff House, see their dogs who need forever homes, or help out? here are a bunch of ways to do just that (please note that RHR has recently moved to a new Oceanside location. not all links reflect that. they are now on Lawson Blvd).
RHR on Petfinder
RHR on Adopt a Pet
RHR on Dogster
RHR has two FB pages; one you can Like and one you can send a friend request to. they are here and here.
Donate to RHR!!