[099] Beagle Freedom Project

Rusty.xmas87I like all dogs better than most people… but I have a soft spot in my heart for beagles. I guess it goes back to our family dog when I was a teenager. Rusty was mostly beagle, with a little bit of basset hound mixed in. That explained his oversized ears. When he was a puppy, everything about him was small-sized – except those ears. They hung in the water when he drank from his dish, and dripped all the way across the kitchen floor. And sometimes when he walked he would step on an ear and face plant. I felt sorry for the little guy – but it was hilarious. Eventually, he grew into his ears. He was a good boy and I have the best memories of him.

Which is why I find the following so… horrifying:

Beagles are the most popular breed for lab use because of their friendly, docile, trusting, forgiving, people-pleasing personalities. The research industry says they adapt well to living in a cage, and are inexpensive to feed. Research beagles are usually obtained directly from commercial breeders who specifically breed dogs to sell to scientific institutions.

That information comes from an organization called the Beagle Freedom Project:

bfp.beagleBeagle Freedom Project began in December 2010 when Shannon Keith received information that beagles who were used for animal experiments in a research lab were to be given a chance at freedom. Our mission is rescuing and finding homes for beagles used in laboratory research.

Testing done on beagles in university and other research facilities includes medical / pharmaceutical, household products and cosmetics. When they are no longer wanted for research purposes, some labs attempt to find homes for adoptable, healthy beagles. Working directly with these labs, Beagle Freedom Project is able to remove and transport beagles to place them in loving homes. All rescues are done legally with the cooperation of the facility.


Click here for foster/adopt info

Anyone interested in fostering or adopting a lab beagle should be aware of the challenges these dogs have. They will not be accustomed to life in a home and will not have experience with children, cats, or other dogs. They will not be house-trained and accidents will happen, although they learn quickly. Many have gone directly from a commercial breeder to the lab, and have never felt grass under their feet or even seen the sun. They will have been fed a special diet formulated for lab animals and may be difficult to adjust to new foods. They will be unfamiliar with treats, toys, bedding and may never have walked on a leash. They will have lived in cages with steel wire floors and may have inflamed or infected paws from the pressure. They may be fearful of people initially and may have phobias from a lifetime in confinement or from being restrained. They are likely to have been surgically de-barked by the breeder and have an ID number tattooed in their ear. Please also be aware that although these beagles are considered healthy, you will be given very little information about the beagle’s medical history, and you will not be told its origins or what kind of testing they may have been used for.

With time, patience, play, companionship, love – and most of all, freedom – these dogs will learn how to become dogs, and their transformation will be amazing.

Our hope is that with your help, we can encourage more research labs to release animals and give them a chance at life, instead of destroying adoptable pets.

Please watch this video. It will break your heart… and then it will give you hope.

Of course, not everyone can foster or adopt. There are so many ways we can help:

Click on this logo to learn more about the Beagle Freedom Bill:

beagle freedom bill.logo

Click on this logo to sign a letter to test labs in your area:

sign petition

Click on this logo to learn more and help Build the ROC Rescue & Outreach Center!
Brick by brick

Or click here to make a donation at any level.

And spread the word about BFP – they’re on every social media platform.

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about Beagle Freedom Project and helping them succeed in any way you can. They are amazing people doing amazing things for animals who deserve so much better!

Now, watch this! for the best 3 minutes of your day/week/month.

Day 099 #100happydays


The End (so far)

[087] Solar-Powered Dogs


Bernardo + Charlie bliss out in the sun on a spring morning.
Which reminds me…

It’s not having what you want,
It’s wanting what you’ve got.
–Sheryl Crow

Day 087 #100happydays

[085] Bubbles + Bella

What’s not to love about this?


Friendship. Even better than a ball.

Day 085 #100happydays

[064] You Have What You Give

You’re about to meet Ralph. I’d say he’s the luckiest little dog in the world. But really, he’s tied for first place among so many thousands of lucky dogs, and cats, and animals of all types… who were rescued off the street or from a shelter’s ‘death row’.  Need a good cry? Want a good cry? This vid’s for you.

You don’t need a red cape to be a hero. You don’t need to sit in a vacant lot day after day, coaxing a wary, abandoned dog into a crate. You don’t even have to go to a shelter, if you don’t want to. (I can’t do that, it breaks my heart… and I’d leave with 30 dogs.) Just go to Click on the Shelters/Rescues tab and enter your zip code. BOOM! You’ve got a list, sorted by distance, of all the shelters and rescues within 35 miles (or more) of your home. If you grew up with beagles and know that you want to adopt a beagle, you can find a rescue (more than one, probably) that specializes in rescuing beagles. Likewise for every other breed. Last spring, a neighbor and I found two baby hummingbirds Ralph.Trustfallen out of the nest. I googled info on caring for baby hummingbirds. Sure enough: there’s a hummingbird rescue. I kid you not! Or, you can keep it as general as “dogs”, “cats”, “horses” or “lizards”.

Hope For Paws is the Los Angeles rescue organization that saved Ralph. They have many more heart-tugging tales on their website, along with the Adopt-a-Pet search box. Please visit them and support their work, or a similar rescue in your area.

Ralph.3monthslaterSo, pick your species or breed or all-of-the-above, and GO. Not ready to adopt, or just not in a position to be able to care for a pet long term? You can still get that hero card stamped. The people you don’t meet in the Ralph video are his foster family – the folks who gave him a temporary home after he was rescued and before he was adopted. If you can give an animal a home and lots of love for a little while, you’ve saved her.

And don’t for one minute think “Oh, I could never do that… it would be too hard to give them up!” Sure, it’s a little bittersweet to say goodbye to an animal you’ve nurtured and loved, no matter how short a time you’ve had her. But you enabled her to be adopted by her ‘forever family’ – plus, when you took her on as a foster, you freed up resources for the rescue to bring another animal in from the cold. In the end, it’s one of the most gratifying things you can do in life. And to borrow a line from the potato chip commercial: Betcha can’t foster just one!


You have what you give.

Day 064 #100happydays

[060] Why We Rescue

why we rescuePhotographer Theron Humphrey traveled to all 50 states over the course of ten months, interviewing people who have rescued animals. Why We Rescue is the online collection of beautiful photographs and audio clips of stories told by the folks he met along the way, one from each state. It is a quirky and touching tribute to the depth of the relationships we have with our four-footed family members. As soon as you click on a story, the audio launches and you scroll down through the dozen or more photos… I find there is something so intimate, listening to the human voice, hearing someone tell his story. It creates a focus that is entirely different than watching a video. The project was sponsored by Purina, and I think you’ll enjoy this. You can also find more of Theron Humphrey’s terrific photography on his Instagram: @thiswildidea

Why We Rescue

Screenshot 2014-03-06 22.14.18Screenshot 2014-03-06 22.05.45Screenshot 2014-03-06 22.08.15Screenshot 2014-03-06 22.04.53Screenshot 2014-03-06 22.09.24

Do we rescue them, or do they rescue us? Yes.

Day 060  #100happydays

The Afterbath

The Afterbath. Bernardo, Charlie, Tiger: "Fine. But we don't have to like it."

The Afterbath. Bernardo, Charlie + Tiger: “Yeah, we’re clean. But we don’t have to like it.”

[017] Bernardo

When a dog is found or rescued, he may have a name that no one knows. Or, he may have been given a name at a shelter or a rescue organization that isn’t really his name and so he doesn’t know it. In buddy.nametagany event, when you foster a dog, you pretty much go with whatever name is attached to the him at that point. You’re a temporary guardian, and his forever family is likely to give their new dog a new name.

Like Tiger (who appeared in an earlier post), we rescued Bernardo from the elderly animal “hoarder” in Compton. In fact, Bernardo & Tiger came to us as fosters on the same day, back in December 2012. They joined Charlie, our first ‘refugee’ from the hoarder, who had melted our hearts in a hurry – but Charlie will have his own post.

Whereas Tiger is a feisty little Chihuahua-Dachshund mix who was hopping into our laps in no time, Bernardo was much more apprehensive. His nerves would have to be calmed, and his trust earned. I doubt he was ever called Bernardo by anyone. But when we figured out that he is a mix of Italian Greyhound and (maybe) Boxer, that name seemed to fit him a little more snugly. When we decided to keep him, we kept the name, too.

We’ll never know what situations our rescues came from, good or bad. The hoarder didn’t mistreat the animals she had – 40 dogs and 60 cats, give or take. In fact, she had them all spayed / neutered, vaccinated and they were well nourished. But we also don’t know where they were before she claimed them. None had any identification or microchips. Bernardo remained tentative and unsure of the world for quite some time. But like Charlie did before him, Bernardo made us foster failures soon after we had him with us. There is something so special about winning a frightened animal’s trust and watching him slowly, slowly relax into the feeling of being… home. It forms a powerful bond. Love really is the cure.

bernardo.nose.2These three boys get along very well. It’s natural to think that they knew each other at the hoarder’s, but it was a pretty crowded place, and so who knows? Of the three, Bernardo has been a bit of a loner. He is naturally very lean and so he gets cold more easily. If there’s a sunbeam coming through a window or on our little terrace, that’s where you’ll find “B” (the shortcut I find myself saying more and more). Or, look for the lump under a throw on the sofa or a blanket on the bed – that’s his next favorite spot. (He’ll poke out his nose to keep tabs on what’s going on outside of his blanketed cocoon.) Oh, and warm clothes out of the dryer? Fuggedaboutit! Heaven.

I think he must have hung out mostly with the cats. Maybe he was even raised by a mamacat. Because Bernardo has the most feline behaviors I’ve ever seen a dog exhibit! He rubs against things and people… arches his back as he walks under your legs… and makes this very undogly sound, it’s a happy mewling noise. He also curls up with his front paws curled under him. That’s a cat thing, isn’t it?


Anyway, dog-cat or cat-dog, Bernardo is a joy. At one point, I don’t know when exactly, I noticed he had started wagging his tail. He has learned how to play, with his brothers and with us. And he’s really kind of a lady’s man; B gets smitten. Aunt Mandy, Aunt Janice, Aunt Brooke and Aunt Maria can attest to that. Tail-wagging and playing and letting strangers “in” are three very good signs of a happy dog. He still has absolutely no idea whatsoever what to do with a tennis ball. But that’s OK. Neither do I.

Bernardo makes me happy. 
Day 017 #100happydays