A few months ago, I had the honor of meeting Razzle at a local shelter. She was supposed to be in renal failure (or have cancer) and was earning a reputation for having a bad attitude. A shelter volunteer who had bonded with Razzle wanted to make sure that she had a chance to get out of there, but based on the strikes against her that wasn’t likely to happen without a rescue stepping in.
The volunteer contacted HKRT and offered to sponsor Razzle’s veterinary care if we would pull her. Unfortunately, we were over capacity already. All we could do was try. So, we posted a request on our volunteer page and I went to meet Raz. The volunteer and I took her to the vet for a nose to tail exam.
We learned that Razzle was not in renal failure but did have a pretty nasty urinary tract infection. She also had several masses all over her body that would need to be biopsied and her back legs were extremely weak. It was obvious that she had been bred multiple times and not well cared for. This poor girl was a Hard Knocker if we’ve ever seen one. When we finished at the vet, we still didn’t have a foster for her, so she had to return to the shelter. I promised her we would get her out and told her to behave in the meantime. By the time I got home, we had a family agree to take her! I got ahold of the shelter volunteer and told her we would pull Razzle in the morning.
Raz was the first foster for the Mathias family. They agreed to bring her into their home sight unseen, and I brought them a lumpy, skinny, snotty nosed, cantankerous pit bull. They loved her immediately and gave her the best days of her life. Razzle loved them, too. When the Mathias’s found out that despite all their hard work and care, Raz had chronic pain and many medical problems that made daily life a struggle for her, they loved her harder and gracefully accepted that it was time to set her free. They fed her steak, and cheeseburgers, and made her queen of the castle for her final days. They bravely attended her final veterinary appointment with me, and we surrounded her with love as she went to sleep. Among many tears, there was BIG love in that room.
I hope that days like today never get easier and that my heart always aches when we have to say “Goodbye” rather than “See you later”. The depth of my sadness reflects the abundance of love and respect I have for the HKRT team. Razzle knew peace and happiness because a group of people pooled their talents and resources to give her a chance. Today, this group is hurting but we are lead by our hearts and will continue to do what’s right, not what’s easy.
RIP Razzle Dazzle
HKRT receives multiple intake requests each day, and more times than we want to
count, we have to say no. The biggest reasons for that are a lack of volunteer/foster
support and funding. The first question we ask ourselves is “Where will the dog go if we say yes?” We take into consideration size, age, sex, and the type of issues needing to be addressed. Surprisingly, funding is easier to find in emergency or urgent situations than foster homes are. But don’t let that fool you into thinking we have funds aplenty. Our number one job is fundraising because without money we cannot responsibly care for our dogs.
When assessing whether we have space for a new dog in the program, we must
consider the fosters we have willing and able to take them. As of now, we do not have a facility or sanctuary to house our dogs which limits who we can take. The handful of
foster families we have are wonderful but there is only so much time in the day and
space in their homes. We simply cannot keep up with the demand without more
dedicated foster homes. HKRT covers all expenses for our dogs while they are in the
program, so don’t let finances deter you from giving it a try. We even provide dog food! Because we focus on the ones with special socialization needs, a different management approach is often needed, which basically means more structured interactions and/or closer supervision. Sadly, our reactive dogs tend to spend more time in isolation or in a crate, but that does not mean they are bad dogs! Frequently, the issue is not aggression but rather a lack of confidence or an inability to communicate appropriately. With our guidance, they will learn, but catch on fastest when given more frequent opportunities to practice.
If you can’t foster, consider volunteering a couple hours each week to help with
socialization. We always need dependable, kind, and fun-loving folks to join our team!
Volunteers can give foster families a break while providing wonderful enrichment for the pups by just taking them for a hike or a sleepover. While our goal is quality over
quantity, the quicker a dog can work through their obstacles, the sooner they can find
their forever home, which opens space for another. We want to save as many as we
can, but a devoted team is needed to make that a reality.
Lastly, funding…UGH. Money goes out as quickly as it comes in. We are fortunate to
have an amazing sponsor in Pet Supplies Plus of Madison, who provides all the food,
treats, and toys our dogs need. That is a tremendous help and we are so thankful for
them! Vet bills are our number one expense. For us to grow into the program we dream to be, complete with a facility for training/boarding/rescue and sanctuary space for the truly unadoptable, we need funds. Monthly sponsors would go a long way towards helping us reach those goals. The donors who have helped us get this far into the journey have been incredibly generous, but we need more consistent and reliable monetary support for future growth. We are always on the lookout for fundraising opportunities so don’t be shy about reaching out if you have some ideas. Our Fundraising Coordinator will be happy to speak with you!
The next time you see a dog in need and go to tag your favorite rescue, consider also
offering to help in whatever way you can. Tag Hard Knocks (@hkrtinc), share the post
with your pledge of assistance, then challenge your friends to foster, volunteer, donate, and share as well. Let’s all do our part! Every little bit helps.
Lisa Maasen, and Nikki Hinsdale are Partners in Hard Knocks Rescue & Training, Inc. They have years of experience within the rescue and training community, and a drive to see its teamwork bring positive changes to the dogs in most need.