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Success Story "Danny Boy"

Success Story "Danny Boy"

Danny Boy is one of Muttville’s hospice dogs, and we are grateful to have fospice caretakers Marie and Russell offer up their home and their hearts to dogs like Danny Boy – and they’re helping him fulfill his bark-it list too! Read on to hear all about Danny’s awesome life:

Danny Boy has loved every day of his life with us. His joy is infectious. He tells the world that his life is awesome by singing with his raspy voice, or rolling on the ground, arching his back side to side and touching his back toes to his nose all at the same time. When he is outside, basking in the warmth of the sun, wading his feet in shallow water, or romping through tall grass, he is beyond happy. He is perfect. And he is invincible!

Anyone would expect a senior dog as handsome as Danny to catch the eyes of many adopters. As fosters, we planned to hang out with him for a short time until he found his forever home. As part of a routine senior wellness exam at Muttville, Danny received a blood test. It came back with very strange results (the vet thought that it was due to equipment error). The strange results turned out be due to multiple myeloma – cancer of the plasma cells. That means cancer cells are in his blood and bones. Although we happen to be hospice caretakers for Muttville, it was ironic that this healthy-looking senior dog that we thought was going to be an easy foster turned out to be a dog in need of special TLC and a hospice home. An oncologist told us he didn’t have much time to live, and we could buy some time if we started him on chemotherapy. We decided a quality life was better than a longer life.

Danny has cheated death for the last 13 months – without the use of chemo or cancer drugs. According to his vet Dr. Adam, who cares for Danny with both Western and Eastern treatments, Danny’s ‘shen’ is strong because of his joy and will to live. His cancer care has been simple: a home-cooked wholesome diet, Chinese herbs, and daily adventures. Danny says, “Cancer care? This should be every dog’s care for an awesome life!”

When we first learned of his cancer, we created Danny’s “bark-it list” -  all of Danny’s final wishes he wants to accomplish before he ‘kicks the bucket’. We have happily helped him fulfill his wishes – from visiting the state capitol to attending a fancy fundraiser to being a model! Danny’s bark-it list was read by over 300 people when it was featured on Dogster.com. How did he manage to get interviewed by Dogster? Well, the #1 wish on his bark-it list was to be a Dogster Hero! Of course they were honored to fulfill his wish! (Click here to see Danny’s complete bark-it list.)

Danny included on his list that he wanted to be a philanthropist. He wished that he could help other hospice dogs fulfill one of their wishes too. Danny made a goal to raise $1000 so he could spread a little joy to other dying dogs. (He only needs $43 to meet his goal!) 

Danny still has a few more wishes left to fulfill. Will he complete all the wishes on his bark-it list? Paws crossed, we hope so.

Many people have witnessed the awesome times in Danny’s life through his photos and stories on Facebook. We decided now was the right time to share his Muttville success story. Although Danny has been joyful most of the life we’ve known him, the cancer in his body hasn’t miraculously gone away. And it is time for us to face the reality of our roles as hospice caretakers.

Danny is also facing his mortality. He wants all his friends to know that he is thankful to be a part of the Muttville family. He is grateful for the chance to live life to its fullest, thanks to his family – Marie, Russell, and his canine siblings Gracie, Calvin and Ocean. And he wants to savor the memories when he was happy, funny, and feeling invincible. So Danny asked us to share our happy memories about him, like the times when he made us laugh with his ‘touching my back toes to my nose’ trick, or annoyed us with his terrible singing, or reminded us not to take life so seriously. And we’ll always remember the times when he invited us to roll around in the tall grass with him or enjoy a nice swim. Or just take a moment to smile.

“Short time or long time, as long as it’s a good time.” That’s what his hospice dad Russell likes to say. Danny Boy can attest that he has truly lived up to this motto.

Danny Boy would love your well wishes. Send him a note at dannyboy@smallclubsf.com

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 | 04.30.14 | 3 comments

"It’s Never Too Late! Building your Senior Dog’s Brain Through the Power of Scent (Part 1)" by Shoshi Parks, Ph. D

"It’s Never Too Late! Building your Senior Dog’s Brain Through the Power of Scent (Part 1)" by Shoshi Parks, Ph. D

Canine Cognitive Disfunction (CCD) is similar to dementia in humans. Dogs suffering from (CCD)experience changes in the brain that result in disorientation, decreased social and environmental interaction, altered sleeping/waking cycles, housebreaking accidents and other changes in activity.

Studies indicate that somewhere between 50-60% of all dogs age 11 or over exhibit one or more symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Unfortunately, there is no specific test that can confirm whether your senior is experiencing CCD (with the exception of an MRI which may show brain shrinkage). It is, therefore, often up to guardians to identify early signs of mental degeneration in their pets.

Early identification is the best defense against rapid mental decline. Drugs such as L Deprenyl, Nicergoline, and Propentogylline, and nutritional changes that increase antioxidants and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), have been shown to improve memory, attention span, and interactivity between senior dogs in their families. But there is a third piece of the puzzle that is helpful in treating canine cognitive dysfunction: mental stimulation. According to Dr. Jill Cline, a veterinary research nutritionist, encouraging concentration and improved brain activity through structure and predictability, consistent messages, simple commands and clear rewards is most effective in improving a senior dog’s chances for a long life of mental health. For some pups, though, this is easier said than done. How do you provide good stimulation for a dog with severe arthritis, for example?

What if your dog no longer enjoys playing with toys?
What if aging has impaired your dog’s eyesight and hearing?
Is it still possible to help more debilitated seniors get the mental stimulation they need?

In short, the answer is yes! Even if your senior dog is physically disabled with arthritis or spinal deterioration, even if your dog has cataracts that impair his eyesight, even if your dog can’t hear you calling him anymore, he still has one sense that has brought him endless joy and information about his world, his sense of smell!

The amazing abilities of a dog’s sense of smell is well documented. The dog’s nose is literally made for collecting scent. When a dog sniffs, he inhales scented chemicals in to the nasal cavity where it they are processed by sensory cells. Cilia extending from sensory cells contain scent receptors that deliver messages to the olfactory bulb of the brain. Once there, those scent messages shoot out to other regions of the brain including the centers for emotion, memory and pleasure. This means that a simple scent likely has an entire set of meanings, memories and emotional ties to each dog. What’s most amazing is that nearly 1/3 of the dog’s brain is devoted to olfactory cells making the dog thousands to millions of times better at recognizing and interpreting scents than humans.

Although a dog’s sense of smell may decrease as he ages, it is rarely impacted by trauma, disease or degeneration in the same way as sight or hearing. This makes a dog’s sense of smell the easiest and most rewarding focal point for mental stimulation in senior dogs. Games that encourage your dog to find or identify scented objects (particularly stinky foods like blue cheese, liver, or baby food) engage your dog’s brain in a way that other physical, social and environmental stimulation may no longer do. Beginning early with scent games, before or at the outset of any symptoms of canine cognitive decline, is your dog’s best defense against worsening symptoms and the best opportunity we have to provide our seniors with enhanced quality of life as they age.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Simple Scenting Games for Every Senior!

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue has teamed up with dog trainer and owner of Modern Hound, Shoshi Parks, Ph.D., to help the guardians of senior dogs to keep the brains of their pups sharp and active in a games and training class we call Senior Stars! This four-week class focuses on stimulating the senses of scent and taste with games like hide-and-seek, obstacle courses, and the shell game and is open to seniors with all levels of disability. Guardians can take their new knowledge home and easily integrate it in to the daily lives of their seniors. For more information and to sign up for our next class starting May 13, visit modernhoundsf.com under the “Classes” tab. Discounts are available to Muttville alumni and volunteers and half of all proceeds are donated to Muttville Senior Dog Rescue!

Shoshi Parks, Ph.D. is a positive-reinforcement dog trainer and owner of Modern Hound Dog Training and Care in San Francisco. Since first discovering Muttville in 2010, Shoshi has been dedicated to their mission, first as a foster parent and later as a volunteer dog trainer. Her adoration of and respect for senior dogs inspired her to create the Senior Stars! class, a chance for older dogs and their guardians to learn fun games and tricks to enrich their lives. Shoshi also works with the San Francisco SPCA.

mariem3 | 04.29.14 | 0 comments

Unsung Heroes: Muttville Canine Volunteer, Keelin

Unsung Heroes: Muttville Canine Volunteer, Keelin

We’re starting a fun new blog series called “Unsung Heroes”. Many of our wonderful foster families are comprised of humans as well as canine family members. What’s it like from your dog’s point of view to foster dogs for Muttville?

Keelin, who lives with foster mom Ellen, has a few words about fostering for Muttville:

Volunteer? I don’t recall. One day Mom brought home a new dog. Sure, my friends and her friend’s and sisters’ dogs had stayed with us but never some strange dog. That was over six years ago, and boy, has it been … interesting.

Once a few had come through, I realized I kinda liked it. I am laid back, easy going, well really a pushover; I get along with everyone. Heck, Mom rescued me so why not help out. Jimmy, our first, was funny. He liked to go into Mom’s closet and burrow into Mom’s shoes so we started calling him Jimmy Choo. Annie and Maxwell were really fit so I would run with them and Mom. Molly, on the other hand,

mostly just needed a buddy to hang out with on the couch. Harry, Brady, and Spike looked like they needed a good meal when they showed up while Portia and Lefty could have gone with a little less kibble and more exercise. Bella and Bruno had to go to the Vet a lot to get treated from heartworm but they recovered. (After seeing what they went though I always take my heartworm pill; well I don’t bite

Mom’s hand when she shoves it down my throat). Luckily, only a few have been what Mom uses the “B-word” to describe, but I won’t name names.

Mom bought me a nice, new comfy bed when she realized I let our fosters sleep on mine while I slept on the floor. I get just as many treats as them too although I really am starting to pack on the pounds. All in all it seems I have been just as lucky as them.

Thanks Keelin!! Thanks for your selfless work for Muttville! Keelin is currently Dude, pictured above.

If your dog would like to share his or her experience being a foster home for Muttville, please send your story along with a short caption to marie@muttville.org

mariem3 | 04.28.14 | 1 comment

Success Story "Gracie" (1847)

Success Story "Gracie" (1847)

Left in a backpack and covered in urine and feces, poor Gracie was dropped off at the local SF shelter. Muttville staff were shocked and horrified that someone could leave this sweet blind girl in such shocking conditions. But Gracie proved to have an unbreakable spirit. Her personality remained sweet and kind and trusting. Helen saw Gracie’s amazing will to live and be happy, and Helen decided Gracie was her perfect first dog! Read their beautiful love story, as told by mom Helen:

I think I’m the luckiest person in the world – because I found Gracie! Gracie is super sweet and gentle, and has the most adorable wiggle when she walks. She steals everyone’s heart, even the five bunnies who share the house with her. She visits them in their various rooms, and she must wonder what they are because she can’t see them, but she loves their smell! One naughty bunny will tease her when she’s eating!

This is what Gracie says about her new home: “I love lots of things in my new home – the sofa with lots of pillows – going for short walks and rolling in the grass – snuggling with my mom when she’s watching Mad Men – roaming around the house and bumping into bunnies – kisses and belly scratches and being silly. And I love going to work with Momma on Fridays – everyone at the office says I’m super cute!”

Still, Gracie has challenges because she is blind. But I think that makes her so much more special. I can’t imagine having any other dog except this sweet girl – she makes me smile so much every day – from the moment I wake up and find her dozing on the sofa, to the moment I come home from work and she’s wagging her tail patiently waiting for lots of hugs and coos and smooches. She is incredibly tolerant and resilient, and is teaching me all about being a good dog “parent” – she is my first dog and I am so delighted!

I am sad sometimes because I don’t know what happened to Gracie’s first family, and I worry that she misses them, but I try to give her as much love as I can, and make her feel safe and secure, and hope that she knows she will always belong right here with me!

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 | 04.23.14 | 3 comments

Success Story "Slippers"

Success Story "Slippers"

Slippers discovered his inner happy mutt after he was adopted by Stacey and her family. What a difference love makes! Read their beautiful story.

We Love Slippy!

We were looking for a new dog, well, actually, a new family member. Our dog Scruff (also adopted mid-career) had passed away at 16 years old, and we were finally ready to commit again. We were looking for a running partner who would also be gentle with our 3-year old daughter, co-exist well with our two cats and come to work with me. Also must love car rides and hanging out at the barn while I take care of my horse. A big order.

We searched all the shelter and animal rescue websites, met dogs, but none of them seemed just right. Then I saw a photo of a very handsome Pointer mix on the Muttville website. He was sitting in a car and was wearing a tweed cap set at a jaunty angle. We had to meet him!

On June 2, 2013, my husband, daughter and I drove up to San Francisco to meet Billy, at the Maddie’s Adoption fair weekend. I was so nervous, I felt like I was on a first date. I think it was the prospect of actually meeting the right dog and knowing that I was going to commit my heart to a dog again. After Scruff, this was a big deal and one that I didn’t take lightly. We saw Billy coming down the sidewalk with a Muttville volunteer. I knew it was him. He was thin and kind of dingy looking, his head hung low and his eyes were sad, kind of vacant. But he was determined to trot along and be a part of the festivities. We took him for a walk and he was extremely gentle with our daughter. We adopted him that day and I promised him he would be safe forever. He had been picked up as a stray and a lot of kind people had helped him along the way to make it to Muttville. I knew Billy was not going to be a running partner, but that wasn’t important all of a sudden. I knew that he belonged with us.

Billy was quickly renamed Slippers by our daughter. She announced it after he came home with us and it kind of fit him. His other nicknames include Slip, Slippy, Pickles, Doggy, Boojie, and our daughter’s favorite, ‘Meat Nose’. He was fairly shut down when we arrived, but gradually he seemed to understand that he was staying and we were his family. He attached to me right away and hasn’t let go yet. He’s rarely more than a couple of feet away from me in the house and if I sit down, he does his best to lay on top of my feet. We have been helping him with his separation anxiety and he’s able to stay at home for a few hours successfully, so he’s doing quite well, thanks to his Kong and relaxing music. Luckily, he can come to work with me and we are together most of the time.

Another amazing thing about Slip is how gentle and tolerant he is with our daughter. She is 4 now and grew up with our other big dog, so has learned the ways of big dogs with wagging tails and how to pet gently. But she’s still a young kid which involves lots of running, shrieking and random chaos. Slip takes it all in stride, in fact, sees it as his job to monitor all of her playing out in the yard, helping out with bedtime routine, stretching out next to her to watch Sesame Street and supervising all meals to help with clean-up. He’s also teaching her how to walk a dog although she has not yet mastered picking up dog poop.

Slip participated in a race in Carmel (got a medal and a dog cookie!), walked on the beach for what seemed the first time ever (his toes were splayed and his legs stiff as if he thought he might fall through the sand) and has a regular gig as Massage Demo Dog for the BodyWork for Shelter Dogs class that I teach at the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

Slippy’s progress from thin, shut-down, confused dog to who he is today is remarkable. Dogs can be so incredibly resilient and forgiving. He had a tumor removed and a large pink skin tag taken off that was hanging from his belly (several passersby told me my dog had laid in gum…) We had a couple of bad teeth removed, which seemed to make him a lot more comfortable. He LOVES his massages and falls asleep within the first few minutes. After struggling for months with digestive issues, Slip is now recovered and glows with health. He dropped his dingy wiry coat and grew in a brilliant thick, soft white coat. He’s stronger, has muscle tone and loves to go on his daily walks. He wags his tail, especially around mealtimes and when he sits for food, his face lights up as if it’s the first time he has smiled.

He is almost totally silent. He will make a very quiet whining noise when he sees a dog or person who he wants to go greet, but otherwise seems to have no voice. He has only barked 3 times in almost a year since he’s been with us, and each time was at the UPS driver coming to the back door. His reaction was fierce with a huge big defensive bark. Apparently the FedEx guy is ok, but UPS is a threat.

He’s made me cry, or at least teary. His moments of realization or courage or trying something new, usually something that seems to come so naturally to dogs that live in homes, have really touched me. They are fleeting and might seem insignificant to an outsider, but they are huge to Slip and to us. The first time he grabbed his stuffed alligator and stiffly bounced around the living with it was a big deal. He was self-conscious and looked like he instinctively knew to do this, or maybe thought it was what I wanted, but wasn’t sure exactly how to do it. It was adorable. The first time he barked at the UPS guy was so out of character and so surprising to all of us, even the cats were staring at him with huge eyes. I was teary-eyed while I praised him and reassured him that we were safe. I was so proud of him.

Slip’s past is a mystery and he seems to shut down in busy, populated areas. Luckily we live in the mountains so most of his time is spent in quiet areas. Although he appears to show little emotion or excitement much of the time, he is extremely friendly and interested in meeting others when we are out and about. He is friends with every dog on our street, even has diffused the “drama queens” who want to make a big deal out of meeting each other. Dogs relax in his presence. He also loves meeting new people, especially if he sees a group of people gathered – he must go over to the group and stand among them. He’s very polite, as always, but he acts like it’s really important that he go over to say hi. Once they greet him, he’s happy to move on. Our two indoor cats own him. They steal his beds, make him wait in line at the water bowl and rub their bodies all over him, while he stands there waiting for them to finish. He’s such a sweet dog.


Napping, especially with a body part touching mom
Walks off leash
Friends Daisy, Keenu, Albus and Ruger
Wiping his mouth on the couch after eating
His Kong full of something yummy
Wearing his fleece jackets after his bath


Getting the last bit out of a stuff Kong
Eeyore imitations
Mopping the floor
Being adorable

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.

Thanks to everyone who posted wonderful comments on our Facebook page.

mariem3 | 04.16.14 | 1 comment

Success Story "Ishkabibble"

Success Story "Ishkabibble"

Ishkabibble was an adorable ball of love when he arrived at Muttville. But since being adopted, it turns out there was a svelte hunk waiting to be revealed! Read this adorable update about sweet Ishi written by mom Aja:

When I first adopted Ishkabibble (who now goes by Ishi, pronounced Eeshee), he was a very chunky (yet very adorable) chihuhahua at about 8 lbs. His nickname at my work was “Potato.” It was hard walking him the first couple weeks because he walked so slow, and tired out after nearly a half block. He also had difficulty breathing, and would snort with every breath. He was so lethargic in those early weeks, and only showed any sort of excitement or happiness when it was meal time. While walking Ishi one day, a woman asked about him and I told her that I just adopted Ishi a few weeks ago. She leaned down and told my dog that he was lucky to still be loved even though he was a 10 year old, overweight chihuahua. I was obviously outraged and confused by the comment. If only she could see Ishi now!

I gradually started restricting his diet, because I knew that this and exercise were key to getting my new little buddy healthy! After a month or so of his new diet, daily (slow) walks, and steady weight loss, something seemed to click in his mind. He can walk fast- even run- effortlessly! Ever since then, he’s been speed walking like a youngster, and even I have trouble keeping up with him. It’s like Ishi has suddenly transformed into a puppy (he’s been mistaken for a puppy a few times)! He has so much energy and LOVES his walks. He seems to have so much excitement for more than just food- but for life! His favorite thing to do is run around at the beach. Fast forward 3 months, and Ishi is just under 6 lbs. His original nickname “Potato” no longer fits because now he is a slim jim! A potato wedge! Losing 2-3 lbs doesn’t seem like a lot for humans, but that’s HUGE for such a little dog. I feel that Ishi was only able to show his true personality once he shed the pounds. There’s nothing weighing him down now (pun intended)! He’s such a ridiculous and goofy little guy, and has always been a sweetheart. But now I see more of that spunk on a daily basis, and I love it.

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 | 04.09.14 | 3 comments

Success Story "Ella Enchanted"

Success Story "Ella Enchanted"

Ella Enchanted captured the hearts of her family, thanks to a stunning photo they saw on Facebook. They traveled thousands of miles to meet and eventually take home this little 3 lb girl. Here is their story:

It started with a picture on Facebook. Ella Enchanted, a senior Chihuahua in need of a forever home. With huge ears, a hanging tongue, and eyes so bright and full of life, we couldn’t get her picture out of our heads. The only problem was this little angel was 3,000 miles away in California. Thanks to Ella’s awesome foster parents and the caring, dedicated people at Muttville (and trains, planes and automobiles!) Ella arrived at our home in early November. She left the sunny California weather and found herself right smack at the beginning of one of the coldest New Jersey winters on record. She has been a little trooper, braving the polar vortex and thundersnow! Ella has seen and felt snow on her little paws for the first time. Let’s just say, she is NOT a fan.

Ella not only has a new mommy and daddy, she also has an older Chihuahua brother named Chachi. The two have already become friends and sleep together every night. Ella is the boss and Chachi is okay with that, since he likes to be lazy in his old age.

Ella is a ball of energy and makes us laugh and smile every day. For a 4 pound dog she has a huge personality. It feels as though Ella has been with us for years. She is our little princess. We are so thankful to Muttville and her foster parents for bringing Ella into our lives. Our little family is now complete.

AnnMarie & Michael

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 | 04.02.14 | 0 comments

A Record Month: 63 Senior Dogs Found Forever Homes in March!

A Record Month: 63 Senior Dogs Found Forever Homes in March!

We had a record month of adoptions! 63 senior dogs went to forever homes in the month of March, including a few long-time residents. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this success – Muttville’s adopters, volunteers, fosters, and staff. We’re so proud of this amazing accomplishment!

John Deere
Lovegirl (S4S)
Crumble (S4S)
Bonnie Blue
Red (S4S)
Elton (S4S)
Jellybean (S4S)
Chelo (S4S)
Moopsy (S4S)
RJ (S4S)
Willy Von Stickleback
Sampson (S4S)
Chloe (S4S)
Care Bear
Suzi Q (S4S)

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 | 04.01.14 | 1 comment