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Success Story "Moppit"

Success Story "Moppit"

Beth’s love story is what Muttville wishes for all adopted dogs. Moppit found a new, loving beginning after once being a homeless unwanted senior mutt, and Beth shares with us how she was blessed with a new beginning too:

I dreamed of having a little white fluffy dog named Moppit. I would scour the internet looking for the dog who fit the name. I did this in spite of the fact that my apartment lease said, “NO DOGS.” In my mind, it was kind of just a fantasy.

Then one day I went to a friend’s house, and low and behold, there was the perfect Moppit. My friend was fostering her for Muttville, and she had just picked her up from the shelter. Someone had dumped her off in the night box: she was underweight, dirty, had rotting teeth, and she hopped around on three legs like a tri-pod. But underneath, I could see that she was just the perfect dog because she was uncommonly sweet and well-adjusted.

I knew that I just had to have her. But alas, my landlord said, “absolutely not.” I was crushed. Then my friend suggested I look into calling Moppit a service dog. I did some research, and though I did not qualify for a service dog, I suffer from depression, and I did qualify for an “emotional support animal.” I felt goofy saying it, but after getting a prescription from my doctor for such, my landlord was legally obligated to roll out the red carpet for Moppit.

Since then, Moppit and I have had a happy ever after story. She’s super sweet, low-maintenance, and is loved by all my friends. She doesn’t bark EVER so she’s not the best watchdog. She loves sitting on my lap as much as she does going on hikes. Her leg has completely healed, and she doesn’t limp anymore. In spite of her tiny size, she can hold her own with all the big dogs in her daily dog-walking pack. Best of all, she truly has helped me with my depression.

I don’t know how anyone could have abandoned Moppit as she is an amazing dog. I like to believe that her owner must have died or gone to a nursing home because I can’t imagine her not being loved. I’m sad that I missed the first eight years of her life – but hopefully there will be eight more for us to enjoy.

Thank you Muttville!

Are you the proud parent of a Muttville dog? Send us your story! Include 3 of your favorite photos and send to success_stories@muttville.org with the subject line ‘Success Story’.

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.

mariem3 | 06.26.13 | 3 comments

Success Story Coco

Success Story Coco

Not only was Coco special to her family, she also holds a special place in the history of Muttville. Read in the words of her dad Dale how Coco came to be a part of our founder Sherri’s destiny. Thank you Dale for sharing her story.

Coco came to us via a neighbor, Sherri Franklin, on Potrero Hill who volunteered extensively at the SPCA. They have an agreement with SF Animal Care and Control to take adoptable dogs into their no-kill system, provided they judge them to be adoptable. Dogs that they do not accept are returned to ACC for euthanasia. She was about 10 months at the time and had been loose on the streets of SF for as much as 3 months by the time she was picked up and had an extreme aversion to people and could not be shown. In addition she had radiological evidence of dysplasia. Sherri believed that after some time at her house with other dogs she might calm down enough to tolerate being shown. It was at that time that she approached us to accept her on a foster program largely on the strength of the physical resemblance between Coco and our older lab-shepard mix, Ryker.

The two dogs got on quite well right from the start. However she could not tolerate any human attention, so much so that even leashing her for a walk was traumatic enough to cause her to fire her stink glands. But thankfully that only lasted a week or so and she began to settle into a routine with us, always keeping her distance with Ryker between us and her.

After a few weeks, she suddenly became playful with Ryker and would regularly engage her in puppy play, much to our surprise and Ryker’s puzzlement. But they worked it out and became good littermates. She also was eventually wooed by the treats and learned to at least accept being handled if not actually enjoy it.

She was quite the streetwise dog. On a few occasions while up at the Rec Center on the hill, she decided to go home without us. The first couple times she went to Sharri’s but finally accepted that our house was her new home. It scared us to death each time it happened but eventually she trusted us enough to obey us, at least most of the time.

Ryker and Coco had a regular dog walker in SF since we both worked. The first one took summers off to develop a spay-neuter program in Indonesia and arranged a substitute. Our regular walker only brought them up the hill to our local park but on the eve of starting her substitute walking she announced that she would take them to another park on Bernal Hill. She lost control of her and she bolted and wouldn’t return. We searched for hours, with Sherri’s help, but could not find her. Miraculously she found her way from Bernal Heights to our doorstep by 5 am the next morning, nails ground down to the quick, filthy dirty, but happy to be back.

Our second walker, Joe, had a similar experience when he took her to Fort Funston. It was a few days before July 4 and during the walk she heard a bunch of firecrackers go off, something that she has always been deathly afraid of. She bolted and would not come out for him. He tried valiantly to find her but no luck. We were certain it was the end of her since there was no way she could navigate from Fort Funston to Potrero Hill on the opposite side of town. But like some Phoenix, when Joe did his morning round in the park she came out of hiding and gladly rejoined his pack. So this dog was well on her way to having as many lives as a cat.

Coco had a very distinct personality. Perhaps it was the chow or perhaps there was some other breed in there but she could be very intimidating when she wanted to. Twice I had friends over and had to leave the room and asked them to just wait for me on the couch. Coco, for whatever reason, decided that they were expected to just sit there and would watch them. If they tried to get up from the couch, she would utter a deep guttural growl and not move a muscle. It was enough to keep them seated until I returned. The first time I was certain it was exaggeration but the second account was identical and neither person was inclined to exaggerate. She was never aggressive but she seemed to take a great delight in intimidating people.

Ryker passed, we moved from SF to Sacramento and Coco seemed happy as the sole dog in the house. But Steve felt that she needed company so we got a pure lab (American) that was named Nugget. Despite being a rambunctious 6 month old male, she immediately told him who was boss in the house and proved she meant business. He has been her adoring brother since 2006 and only stopped trying to play with her a couple months ago.

Despite the radiological evidence of dysplasia, Coco never had mobility trouble until her 13th winter. Then it became clear that the cold, damp mornings caused her stiffness. But she always rallied for the afternoon walk and as soon as the worst of the winter was past, he was back to her old perky self.

This past year she was finally diagnosed with kidney failure and she began to lose weight. But is hardly dampened her spirits. For a time we were giving her pills for her arthritis but we found that they upset her stomach and caused her to stop eating. It was either some joint pain or a fast death so we stopped the pills and she rallied again. Then the symptoms of Cushing’s disease started to appear.

Our older dog Ryker had died of complications of Cushing’s so we knew the symptoms well; incontinence, constant drinking, aggressive behavior, panting, and weight loss. Since she already had kidney failure, was 14 years old and would not likely tolerate the aggressive treatment for Cushing’s, we opted to just treat the symptoms and make her comfortable. But then about a month ago she started going downhill very rapidly. First she refused walks, then a few days later, had trouble walking. She has gotten to the point that she cannot stand by herself and can barely walk. And she sleeps 20 out of 24 hours in the day.

For a dog that was so close to being put down for behavior, and health problems, she has had a remarkable life with us. She had been sweet and attentive and required no vet visits beyond routine shots till last year. She’s been a companion to Nugget as well. We miss her already.

The most remarkable part of Coco’s story is that she was part of a career change for our neighbor, Sherri. She went on to found Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco.

Thank you for reading Coco’s story and thank you to Sherri for bringing this remarkable dog into our lives.

Are you the proud parent of a Muttville dog? Send us your story! Include 3 of your favorite photos and send to success_stories@muttville.org with the subject line ‘Success Story’.

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.

mariem3 | 06.20.13 | 1 comment

Adopted Mutts! June 3 - 16

Adopted Mutts! June 3 - 16

Big congrats to these very happy senior mutts who found forever homes! (S4S indicates the adoption was part of our Seniors For Seniors Program)






Sweet Pea










To see the profiles of these lucky mutts, visit the Recent Adoptions section of our Mutts page.

Every dog adopted means another life we can save.
There’s a perfect senior waiting for you!
Click here to see all of our mutts.

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.

mariem3 | 06.18.13 | 0 comments

Training Tips: Training Troubleshooting Series, Part 1: Consistency

Training Tips: Training Troubleshooting Series, Part 1: Consistency

Muttville’s own dog behavior specialist, Maureen Backman, brings us this training tip for June. I bet we all could use it!

Saying that dog training is complex is like saying life is unpredictable. It’s a massive understatement that is of little use to anyone in the midst of teaching a dog a “sit” from a “down.” Training involves communicating with a different species that speaks a different language. Training involves teaching dogs how to behave – not always according to rules that make sense in our dogs’ minds, but according to rules that make sense in our minds. Often, despite research and consultation with others, training hits obstacles – and this is often when clients call my colleagues and I for help.

Although it can be incredibly frustrating when training techniques fail to change behavior, it doesn’t mean the training is a failure. Tweaks in timing, mechanics, and procedure are sometimes all that’s needed for a successful outcome.

Over the next several blog posts, I will focus on ways to make your training more effective and how to troubleshoot the difficult spots. This week’s post will focus on a topic that is critical to any type of behavior modification program: Consistency.

Pat Miller, a noted positive dog trainer, summarized the importance of consistency in the Whole Dog Journal, writing, “…consistent responses to a dog’s behaviors, both desirable and undesirable, are predictable for the dog, which helps him make sense of his world and feel safe. A dog whose world is orderly and safe is usually calmer, more relaxed, predictable, and better-behaved than one whose world is chaotic and intimidating. Dogs and owners who perceive each other as safe, predictable, and well-behaved, tend to enjoy a better mutual relationship.”

When teaching a dog any new behavior, be it a simple obedience command or reverting a deeply entrenched phobia, repetition and consistent communication are key.


Think about what you do to learn a new behavior, change a bad habit or train for an athletic event. In order to do any of these successfully, you need repetition. By practicing maneuvers for a specific sport, the body builds muscle memory. When learning a new behavior, your mind and body practice in order to do it well and to do it well in real-life situations. When changing a bad habit, repetition breaks the behavior cycle.

Now think about what happens when you don’t use repetition. That’s when you endure a painful run in which you feel like you have weights in your shoes. That’s when you forget knowledge you used to know by memory. That’s when your bad habits creep back to the surface. In short, that’s when you stop learning and maintaining behavior.

The same goes for dogs. In fact, it is impractical to expect dogs to learn new behaviors and cease old ones with only a few spare moments reserved for teaching and practice. When teaching a new behavior or working on mitigating an emotion like fear, you need to put in the time, not just in random bursts, but each day. Once you’ve installed a behavior or quelled an emotion, remember to reinforce it to maintain the hard work.

Consistent Communication

Because dogs don’t speak our language, and because we don’t speak theirs, we need to be consistent and specific about what we communicate during training.

When choosing a verbal cue for a behavior, like “watch,” make sure you and everyone involved use the same cue. If you sometimes say “watch” and other times say “look at me,” and still other times say your dog’s name, your dog will have a difficult time learning the meaning of the verbal cue. You will also encounter difficulty teaching your dog to pay attention to you on command; when you have an inconsistent command, you will get an inconsistent behavior. The same rules apply for using hand gestures as behavior cues.

Similarly, if you are using time outs to reduce unwanted behavior, make sure that every instance of the unwanted behavior results in a time out. If your dog avoids a time out some of the time, but gets a time out at other times, your dog will be confused and the unwanted behavior will continue. If your dog realizes that each time he jumps on a visitor he gets placed in a room alone for 2 minutes, he will form the connection that jumping equals alone time. When he realizes this 1:1 ratio, he will quit jumping on strangers. With a 5:1 ratio, or even a 2:1 ratio, your dog will have trouble determining what you want him to do.

Training Never Ends

In another issue of Whole Dog Journal, dog trainer April Frost writes, ‘Many people are in the habit of “tuning out” their dog when they are not in obedience class or engaged in some other dog-centered activity. But the rules and requirements of behavior have to exist in all aspects of a dog’s environment. If you don’t want your dog to pull on his leash, then it’s never an acceptable behavior whether you are at an obedience class or walking down the street.’

The fact is, training never ends. Don’t let this scare you. Let it encourage you to take advantage of each learning moment that comes you and your dog’s way. One of the best ways to love your dog is to provide her with a safe, steady, predictable environment. In short, when it comes to dogs, consistency equals love.

Maureen Backman, MS, is the owner and trainer of Mutts About Town. She is also the author of"Navigating the First Weeks After Adopting a Dog":/resources#new-adopters-guide, Muttville’s ’How-To-Guide for New pet parents.

mariem3 | 06.13.13 | 0 comments

Success Story "Axel"

Success Story "Axel"

This story certainly pulled our heart strings. Thank you to Rhonda for sharing this tender story of healing and happiness that little Axel brought to their family:

February 23, 2013 was a special day. It was the day that Axel (formerly known as Schroeder) joined our family! 2013 started off to be a very difficult year for our family, filled with loss and sadness. One such event was the passing of our beloved Rocky, which not only broke our hearts but took a toll on our little Ricky as well. We were very fortunate to cross paths with Muttville 2 1/2 years ago when we adopted Ricky to be a companion to Rocky after the passing of his best friend, our Golden Retriever, Goldie. Ricky has brought nothing but joy to our family since that first Thanksgiving day when we brought him home. Over the past two years, he provided comfort and companionship to our aging Rocky, who lost both his sight and hearing. After the passing of Rocky, Ricky became despondent and was not the same happy boy he had always been. Once again, we turned to Muttville. This time it was the profile and story of Schroeder that tugged at our heartstrings. Found sick and starving on the streets of Stockton, he was literally saved from the euthanasia table by Muttville. While he was described as a mini schnauzer, it was difficult to see that with his thin, sparse coat and very thin frame…and yet we were told how much better he looked and how much weight he had gained! In spite of all that he had been through, Axel was a sweet, gentle boy who badly needed a family of his own. In the short time he has been with us, he has blossomed into a very handsome and happy boy. He has not only provided companionship to our Ricky, but has brought much needed energy and life in to our home. Who rescued who? Once again, thank you Muttville…we can not imagine life without our boys!



Are you the proud parent of a Muttville dog? Send us your story! Include 3 of your favorite photos and send to success_stories@muttville.org with the subject line ‘Success Story’.

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.

mariem3 | 06.12.13 | 1 comment

Success Story "Izzie"

Success Story "Izzie"

This lovely senior lady came to Muttville from a shelter that told us she was likely a hospice case who needed a loving place to live out her final days. Nothing could be further from the truth! Izzie (formerly Miss Trudy) is healthy and thriving, thanks to mom Stephanie! Read her story, then sit back and smile!

Our Izzie girl has been with us a year now! Since we met her in the park in Bakersfield (where she was brought by transport volunteer, Whitney) she has been a go-getter who is always ready to try out another adventure. The former Miss Trudy and her younger ‘big brother’ Porter both travel well and most recently enjoyed a camping trip to the Mojave National Preserve. Izzie is on board with hikes of a few miles or less – for longer hikes she stays at home to watch over the cats and rest up for her next adventure.

One of her favorite treats are Ice Pups. The powder to make these freezer tray treats came with the Honest Kitchen care package she arrived with, and they are especially favored by both of the dogs during hot days here in the desert.

Thanks to Muttville for all you do and for bringing Izzie to our desert home.

Are you the proud parent of a Muttville dog? Send us your story! Include 3 of your favorite photos and send to success_stories@muttville.org with the subject line ‘Success Story’.

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.

mariem3 | 06.05.13 | 1 comment

32 Adoptions and $34,000! THANK YOU, MADDIE'S!!!

32 Adoptions and $34,000! THANK YOU, MADDIE'S!!!

We are still catching our breath from the whirlwind weekend of adoptions! June 1 & 2 were Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days, an “adoptathon” that spanned 5 states and 180 locations. Muttville had an amazing 32 adoptions!

Thanks to Maddie’s Fund, Muttville received a $1,000 grant for every adoption of a senior dog rescued from a designated Bay Area county, with an additional $1,000 if the dog has been treated for one or more medical conditions. Muttville raised a total of $34,000!!

Big congrats to these very happy senior mutts who found forever homes! (S4S indicates the adoption was part of our Seniors For Seniors Program)

Mitzi S4S
Ellie May S4S
Codie S4S
Teddy Bear
Bear S4S
Trooper S4S
Rio S4S
Nikki Sixx S4S
Mikey Lee
Chloe S4S

We captured many amazing moments in pictures, including every new Muttville mom and dad with their new furry family member. Click here to see the photos on our Facebook page.

To see the profiles of these lucky mutts, visit the Recent Adoptions section of our Mutts page.

Every dog adopted means another life we can save.
There’s a perfect senior waiting for you!
Click here to see all of our mutts.

You can help create many more new beginnings!
Adopt. Foster. Volunteer. Donate.

mariem3 | 06.03.13 | 0 comments