Linda's Blog

January 2017

We have been honored to gain some valuable insights from Teri Walters, a long time puppy mill rescuer and founder of Safehaven Small Breed Rescue. Puppy mill dogs present a special set of challenges and often require more patience and understanding than other rescues. Over the course of a week the following information provided by Teri was shared on our Facebook page. 

Canine PTSD

This is nothing new as many animals have exhibited signs of PTSD after life-threatening events. Just as humans, the events survived can leave lasting memories of the horrors they endured.  But there is another aspect of the PTDS that is just coming to light in the past few years.

There is evidence that prenatal stress can influence the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) a major neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress regulation in the unborn animal. So the stresses that a mother dog in a mill may endure, nutritional or environmental, can alter the pups HPA response and predispose them to PTSD. Once born these puppies are exposed to the same stressors. Evidence shows early-life exposure to extreme or prolonged stress can induce a hyper-reactive HPA Axis and may contribute to lifelong vulnerability to stress.

In other words, dogs born in mills and their parents have a predisposition for PTSD regardless of acute trauma. Add to that the lack of proper nutrition, being separated from the parent too soon (which scars both parent and pup) and lack of socialization, it is no wonder so many mill dogs suffer from PTSD.

This is not something that can be fixed by love. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “Oh I’ll just give them lots of love and he/she will be fine”.  I wish that were the case, but unfortunately it is not. The reality is that these dogs who suffer from PTSD are damaged goods.  That does not mean that they are unadoptable, but the new owners must be made to understand that the dog may never conform to their idea of normality.   ***

These dogs can recover to a certain extent. Some may act totally normal until a trigger presents itself, and you are back to square one.  The key is to recognize the triggers and do your best to be prepared for them.  When speaking of triggers, I think of Frankie. He was surrendered from a puppy mill because of undescended testicles.  Less traumatized than most, he adjusted well to being a house dog, mostly.  One day a commercial came on the television with an Amish buggy and showed an Amish man. Frankie became nervous, left his bed and began growling and backing up as he did. He continued this behavior until the commercial was over.  At that point we knew that buggies and Amish men were a trigger for his anxiety.  Coming from an Amish owned mill, this was not a huge surprise.  Within a few minutes of the commercial ending, Frankie was back to his happy-go-lucky self.  Recognizing these triggers can help us support the dogs in dealing with their fear and work through their apprehension.

While some dogs can cope with their PTSD, others are not so well equipped. Some suffer with symptoms of hyper-reactivity.  They may disproportionally react to touch, sounds, sights, tastes, or even smells. Some react poorly to multiple stimulations in a group setting; have poor focus and attention spans, while others completely shut down. Could this reaction be caused by anxiety? I suppose so, but coming from an isolated environment, I wonder if it is a sensory overload that causes the reactions. Whatever the cause, we as rescuers need to be aware of the dog’s emotional state if we are to help them move forward.

Empathy

One of the hardest things to do when rescuing traumatized dogs is to not become so empathetic that you cannot help. Seeing some of the physical and psychological trauma these animals have gone through can be emotionally devastating, leaving the rescuer in tears.  Although empathy is necessary for anyone working with animals, becoming distraught will do nothing for the animal and will hinder your ability to help in the best way possible.

Let’s switch this around and put it in human terms.  Say you are in an accident. The paramedics come to help you. Now how would you feel emotionally if the rescuer looked at you and became panic-stricken and began crying hysterically? I can tell you that I would think there was no hope.  But if that same paramedic came and matter-of-factly began to tend to your wounds, you like most people, would be optimistic. You have someone there who knows how to help you and give you hope that all will be well. Animals perceive our emotions in the same way. If we dwell on the injury or neglect, so will they.

I believe that all living things from humans to animals to plants have a “life force” of energy. And we as humans have lost our ability to see and understand this energy field, but animals have not. They can recognize our energy and can interpret our feelings.   So the energy that we put forth when working with them is acknowledged in their response. Presenting a calm energy in the face of a traumatized dog can help that animal relax as much as possible, and reduce the amount of stress they are under.  Is it easy? No. There are times I want to let the frustration take over and scream, but I don’t. I can’t because it is not in the dogs’ best interest.

Instead of becoming unhinged and trying to empathize with the dog, be the rock on which the dog can lean on IF it chooses to.  Consistency and patience do more for a traumatized dog than all the hugs in the world. Trying to smother the dog with hugs and kisses will surely make you feel better, but what about the dog?  Remember, mill dogs in particular have never been held or for that matter touched in a gentle, caring way.  Being held tightly may do more damage to their already fragile psyche.   Give them the time to absorb all of the new sights, smells and sounds of a new environment.

I have been told that I am hard-hearted, cold and uncaring because I don’t fall apart when I pick up new mill rescues in bad condition. What good would it do? Would my reactions help the dog at that very moment? Would becoming hysterical make the dog feel more secure?  No.  They do not need to be confused further by my outbursts. Once the dogs are safe and situated at the sanctuary, I excuse myself, take a walk, and allow myself to breakdown out of their audible range.

Choice

I have been told by some people that a mill dog, once rescued should NEVER be put back in a cage. I disagree. These dogs have known nothing but walls of wire, and however horrible we see this; it was their life, their safe place.

I can elaborate with the story of Kiara. She had spent 8 years of her life behind the wire walls of a cage. I wanted to give her as much freedom as possible. So after her quarantine I gave her the run of three rooms. She totally panicked. Found a corner and pretty much stayed there. Now I knew it would take her time to adjust, but even after a week, she preferred to hide out alone. She was a bit underweight, so one day I put her in an x-pen to give her an extra meal and guess what . . . she was happy! She became more outgoing, more social and curious and moved around within the x-pen quite a bit. Not because of the food, but because she had a much smaller space (4 x 6 feet) and she now could control her environment. She didn't need to be afraid because she could see her entire space and know she was safe. Eventually she became more comfortable with more space and no longer needs confinement to feel secure.

As rescuers, we want to take them from the mill life of being caged, and give them the freedom we THINK they want. When in reality, they want to be in control of their own space, a safe space. And if that space is too large too fast, they feel overwhelmed and frightened and no longer safe.  Something as simple as a crate in an out-of-the-way corner with the door removed can provide the security these dogs need.  We all have our safe place. Somewhere we can go to relax and unwind; a place of emotional comfort. Emotionally traumatized dogs are the same. They need to have somewhere to retreat when “freedom” becomes overwhelming. Eventually these dogs will work though their fears and adjust to their new lives. We need to give them the time and positive emotional support without pushing them to conform to our mental image of what they should be.

Staci is an 11 year old Pomeranian who had spent 9 years in a commercial breeding facility. That is 9 years of lying on wire floors.  She adapted well to life inside a home, with exceptions.  Staci refuses to use a bed or blanket, preferring to lie on the hard cold floor.  We would love for her to be physically comfortable and provide a variety of blankets and beds for her to choose from.  But we also must respect her choice to sleep on the bare floor. She may eventually decide that beds are a good place to rest, but until then, she is given the choice of where she wants to sleep. By allowing her this choice, we are giving her control of this basic part of her life.

It all comes down to what is the best for the dog, not what we THINK is best. Mill dogs especially have had little control over their lives and self. We as rescuers need to learn not to overwhelm them with "freedom" and give them the time to gain the confidence and courage to deal with a whole new world.

 

Training vs Support

Dealing with a traumatized dog, be it physical or emotional, is a challenge. And a rescue mill dog is not the same as a scared pet. Often trainers will suggest high value treats for fearful dogs who exhibit bravery, rewarding their fearless behavior.  This does not work on mill dogs.  Offering a piece of chicken or liver to a mill dog often results in the dog turning away in fear. Why? 

In a breeding facility, the dogs are kept in individual cages and only paired for breeding. Usually one dog is removed from their cage and introduced into another with the opposite sex. To get the dog moved, the facility operator offers food or a tasty tidbit to bring the dog within reach. Then they grab whatever part of the dog they can, leg, tail, ear or scruff and pull them from their cages. Thus, food or tasty smelling treats brings the apprehensiveness of being grabbed and manhandled and memories of pain.

It’s easy to feel inadequate when a traumatized dog refuses to respond to our coercion. What has worked for years with our own dogs, no longer applies.  The teaching is no longer on our terms, but on the dogs’. They must first trust you and that takes time.

I have had several other rescues contact me over the years and want to know what the secret is. There is no magic spell that creates a calm trusting dog out of a terrified one. I am amazed at the people who think 4 or 6 weeks is enough time for any dog to adjust. When you are dealing with unsocialized, neglected or abused dogs, you cannot put a time limit on their recovery.   Case in point – Wilma.

When Wilma first came to Safehaven in December of 2014, she was described by her owner as “a psycho”.  I can assume that part of the reason is that he was afraid of her. He grabbed her by a hind leg and tossed her into a crate. Can you imagine the fear and pain this little dog endured with that one event?  I can only guess that this is how she was handled for the 5 years she spent in the mill.

Any attempt to touch her head or back of the neck resulted in her flipping over, screaming, urinating and attempting to bite. Her little 5 pound body would tremble anytime someone was near.  She knew nothing of kind touches or gentle hands. Life for her was a living hell, full of pain and fear.

At first, Wilma kept to herself, but as time passed, she bonded with the other rescues here.  Making friends was an important step to her recovery.  She watches the others’ reactions to situations and although she was not sure of the outcome, she began to follow suit.  

 Wilma would run from any hand that moved towards her. Food didn’t matter and she would rather avoid any possibility of being touched. But after 8 months of watching the others take food from my hand, Wilma made the first attempt to approach.  She had to come to these terms on her own. No amount of forcing her would have given her the courage to accomplish this, and would have most likely had the opposite effect.  Each dog handles and overcomes stress differently and they must be looked and supported as individuals.

Everything Wilma learned had to be on her own terms, in her own time. It took nearly 2 years for her to be ready emotionally to accept human attention and companionship.  She now approaches humans and is no longer afraid of touch.

Although she will always carry the scars from her past and will sometimes revert to fear behaviors during new situations, she has learned to overcome what once controlled her life.  But the most important thing to remember is that SHE did this on her terms in her time. We can never put time constraints on the recovery process.

The best advice I can give anyone who wants to rehabilitate one of these dogs is make sure you have the time and energy to devote to their recovery.  There is no quick fix.  Years of trauma cannot be erased in a few short weeks with “lots of love”.  They need time to work through their issues on their own terms and the best you can do is be there to support every step forward.

 

 

August 21, 2016:  For the first time ever, Wrapped in Love ran a survey to get membership feedback. It was a series of 7 questions and was allowed to be anonymous, if they so chose. Over the space of a couple weeks, the results have been interpreted and shared with the Wrapped in Love group.  At this update, we are at the halfway point in sharing the results. The additional results will be posted here after sharing with the Facebook group.

September 14, 2016:  Survey results continue to be shared with the Wrapped in Love group. As of today, only 2 more questions remain to be shared and will be added here after being shared on our Facebook page.

September 15, 2016: Another question shared, leaving only one more survey question result for next week.

Survey Results Question 1:  How likely is it that you would recommend Wrapped in Love to a friend or colleague?

92% would recommend
5% neutral
3% negative

To the 92%, thank you. For the 5% meh and the 3% no, let’s speculate a bit. Let’s face it, although those seem like negative responses, they are real. For the friendship, positivity, lack of drama, and all the things that make WIL a great place, it’s great. The reality is, though, what we do just isn’t for everybody. Most of us have family and friends who approve, or at the very least don’t disapprove, of what we do. On the other hand, they aren’t necessarily interested in joining. We’ve all said it before, that everyone can do something. This is our something.  Perhaps their something is something else. For example, my brother and sister-in-law volunteer at a local rescue. She is a fantastic seamstress and certainly could be a member of WIL, but this isn’t her thing. I have friends who always and only rescue retired greyhounds. It takes someone truly special to rescue these precious animals. They also sew, quite well in fact. But WIL is not their thing and I know that and don’t recommend it to them. They know of WIL and approve, but this is not their something.  The reasons I’m sure are quite varied, but before we decide that it’s a bad thing that WIL isn’t recommended, let’s look at the 92% that do recommend instead.

We always need more active members and that is the key right there. Sure, I can recommend WIL to everyone I meet, but are they smart recommendations? Think about that just for a moment. Where are we focusing our sharing energy? In the business world it’s about demographics and target marketing. It’s very much the same for Wrapped in Love. We want to attract active members and word of mouth from all of you is so very important. To whom would you recommend WIL? Our family, friends, and colleagues are the ones we know the best, so when you can suggest they join in, please do so. But there are lots of others who you can invite who may be even a better fit. When you run across a new page on Facebook that seems like there may be some likeminded people, tell them about Wrapped in Love. When you are out and about and strike up a conversation at the Joann Fabrics cutting counter, tell them about WIL.  Share your ideas in comments. We have so many great ideas and really excellent feedback to share in the coming days, so stay tuned for more survey results. We will look at each question individually and have some action points, thanks to all your extremely valuable insights and honesty.

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Let's take a look at question #2 from the WIL survey. How would you rate the quality of interaction with the admins on the page(s)?

92.9% high
3.13% neither high nor low
0.0% low
4.69% other (reasons include it was an admin(s) who responded or the member(s) were too new to have an opinion, and sometimes the admins get off topic.)

Admins have a tough job. I'm not going to lie. Just ask anyone who agreed to run or co-run a page and they will tell you. It's deceptively difficult to keep up some days. The fact that such a great percentage of you felt the interaction with admins was a high rating speaks to the quality of people who dedicate so much time and energy to Wrapped in Love. Thank you to all our admins. Those who rate it as neither high nor low I am guessing are ones who visit the page less often. Those who mentioned the admins sometimes get off topic are absolutely correct.

Look! Squirrel!

Seriously, though, we do try to keep distractions at a minimum and we attempt to stay on point. If you look at it another way, this place feels so comfortable, so very friendly, so much like a safe place, sometimes we all just let go and don't stay on topic. Hopefully it doesn't happen enough that it becomes a problem, but do consider it a compliment that we all appreciate and like all of you enough to be goofy, interactive, and sometimes allow our comments and ideas to veer off. If it gets to a point that it is bothersome, please do not hesitate to notify another admin via private chat and discuss it, even if you notice it's me heading off into left field. We are all human and need reminders that it's about and for the rescue animals first and foremost. Have any additional insights to add to this line of thought? Share in comments. Once again, thank you to all the admins, past and present, for your hard work and dedication to Wrapped in Love. I'm not going to list names because I'm really afraid I might leave someone out unintentionally, but you know who you are and YOU ROCK!

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Let's look at some more survey results, shall we? The question was, how often do you visit the Wrapped in Love Facebook page on average?

57.81% visit multiple times a day
23.44% visit once a day
15.63% visit multiple times per week
1.56% visit once per week
0.0% visit less than once per week

Now I'm just guessing at this one, but those who actually do visit less than once per week probably didn't respond to the survey. There are many who join and then rarely, if ever, pop in to see what's happening with Wrapped in Love. That's not at all uncommon with group pages. I too have joined pages only to visit extremely rarely because my attention is focused elsewhere. That's not a bad thing. It's just a thing. What I want to look at is the very telling percentages that visit multiple times per week up through multiple times per day. Why is that significant?

It's all about our mission and how it speaks to the members. Those of you who come back over and over, sometimes in the same day, do it for two reasons (correct me if I'm wrong or am omitting something): the mission, which is all for and about the rescue animals, and the people who fulfill the mission, all of you. The mission speaks to us. It's tangible. You can make a difference from your own house. Yes, you can donate money and help rescue groups that way, but this feels different. This is something that you do with your hands and you get to choose where to send it. You get to sometimes even see photos of your donation in use. You come back because you share this extraordinary experience with others just like you, who feel like you, who think like you, who react like you, and who care like you. You make friends and become involved emotionally. It's truly an amazing family we have and I believe those simple basic reasons are why we come back so often. We come back because it fulfills a need for the rescue groups, for the rescued animals, and for us. We all feel Wrapped in Love. Have some additional thoughts? Please do share. Have a wonderful day WIL! You deserve it.

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Survey Question 4: Are you satisfied with the frequency of new project announcements?

93.75% Yes
6.25% No
                Comments (summarized and combined): As quickly as we fill the pledges, we should be able to do more, but others feel that they need more time between rollouts. We need to focus on areas where the members are located to save shipping costs.  The state page rollouts need to stay on state pages and national rollouts to remain national, plus regional location(s) are rolling out too frequently.  

Now for my comments, not so summarized and combined. It appears that in general the rollouts are timed successfully.  I think we are all in agreement with the idea that with as many members are we have, we should be able to do so much more.  It is a sad truth that our active member to inactive member ratio is typical, and in fact we have a greater interaction rate than many.  Active members come and go and there will always be a few who join in for the long haul, those who stick around for years. So, how do we figure out how often to announce new projects? It’s a multi-faceted, highly scientific approach. We see how quickly, or not, the previous pledges were filled. We see how many are not yet marked as sent on the website. We see how much is being requested on the other pages. We see the needs of the rescues still patiently waiting behind the scenes. We guess. If suddenly the pledges just aren’t happening, we know we need to wait an extra week before we ask for more. Occasionally I even throw some bigger numbers out there to see what happens. Science!

So, let’s discuss the regional Wrapped in Love pages.  In theory, the idea was that these local chapters would be self-sustaining. These would be areas where there are a good representation of rescue groups as well members and opportunities for new members. The admins would run the page and the rest of Wrapped in Love would operate as usual, only stepping in to help when a larger or emergency request came through.  Here is what we discovered: no matter how much Patrick or I have stressed the fact that this takes persistence, dedication, and time (so much time), it is difficult for admins to see how much work it really takes to get a page up and running and completely independent.  This is why we have since changed WIL-Florida to WIL-Southeast and we have absorbed it back into the main group for rollouts. That group is doing all the background work for finding and vetting the rescue groups. They are putting together all the information for the rollouts and all I have to do is feed the information to our webmaster. WIL-Colorado is doing well on their own, with Bonnie simultaneously running a business and running that page. She’s truly the exception to the rule. WIL-Illinois is resting because we lost an admin.  A regional page is a great concept and we still have high hopes that someday we will have more, not fewer.  The reason is, with a regional or state page, you get to lower shipping costs; you get to do hand deliveries; you get to experience first-hand the joy of WIL. What is required is work intensive. Success doesn’t happen just because WIL is so positive and such a great idea. What does it take?

  1. Building a page with all the files and information needed to get started.
  2. Members: first you get to contact the ones you already know of that are members of WIL. That’s the easy part.  The not so easy part is marketing to increase local awareness and drum up enough interest to get people to join. In the beginning it’s difficult because you MUST keep them coming back over and over until you actually have something for them to do. Daily posts, drawing them into thoughts and conversations, all while continuing to try to find more members; finding the members who will contribute and pledge and ship, and come back for more with positivity and enthusiasm can be tough.
  3. Rescue groups: researching rescue groups to find those who have a good reputation, who are volunteer run, who have a valid 501c3 tax exempt status, who has someone who will join the Facebook group and promise to take and share photos, who promise they won’t use the WIL items for fundraising or personal use, who can even take the time to respond to your message(s).
  4. Constant communication: with the members, with the rescue groups, with your other admins, spreadsheets, lists, thoughts, ideas, blogs, other Facebook pages, taking every opportunity to share Wrapped in Love.

So, when we look at the frequency of rollouts, this is all part of the picture. It boils down to two questions: can we do it? Should we do it?  Most of the time we seem to guess pretty well, I mean calculate scientifically with formulas and stuff. Sure, we are going to get it wrong occasionally. Yes, we should be able to do more, in theory. Yes, we should also have to assist local groups rarely, but as you can probably tell, if you have read this very long and drawn out explanation, it’s not easy for them to get as many active members as we would all think.  So, yes, we will continue to try to do as much as we can. We will continue to occasionally push to do more. We have been at this particular level of pledging for a while now. I’ve seen comments on the page where people don’t have the chance to pledge because it fills up too fast. I’ve simultaneously seen comments where others can’t seem to get caught up.  What do you think?

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How often do you pledge? (2 survey respondents opted out of this question)

11.29% every time
48.39% nearly every time
20.97% rarely
                The survey results for this question are not surprising.  We have a core group of people who are the most active.  It stands to reason that this same core group visits the page the most regularly, pledges most regularly, and therefore took the time to respond to the survey.  What was quite valuable to read was the comments. What prevents people from pledging? Life.  Pure and simple: life happens. Some folks just don’t have the time to dedicate, but wish they could. Some suffer with poor health, either temporarily or chronically. So many people have other obligations that must come first. At least one of the respondents is one of our rescue contacts and she is a recipient of our blankets.  These are all understandable.   Unfortunately, some of our members only access the internet via a smartphone and interacting with the website to pledge is a problem. If anyone has any helpful hints on how to work with this, please do feel free to share.

What is the take away here?  We don’t expect anyone to pledge all the time.  That 11 percent is pretty great, so thank you. The nearly half of respondents who pledge almost all the time are wonderful and amazing too.  To the 21% who rarely pledge, and to all of you who haven’t or just can’t pledge for whatever reason, this message is for you.  It’s okay.  We still love having you as part of the WIL family.  We need you to keep coming back to our Facebook page and interacting with posts. If you ever get the chance to participate, that’s wonderful. One blanket a year is still precious. That one blanket can literally change the life of a dog or cat in rescue.  If you don’t have the funds, but think maybe, just maybe you can find the time and energy to make a fleece tie blanket, please do join Deborah’s Fabric Depot. Perhaps someday some fabric that is donated will speak to you and you can be the recipient of that fabric.  If you are afraid you can’t afford the shipping costs, please mention that too. We have blanket angels in that group that can help. If you are one who perhaps can afford it, but you don’t have the time to shop, to ship, to help, please send me a message. There are still ways to help. If all of this doesn’t work for you, it’s still okay. Just keep being a cheerleader and when you get a chance, spread the word.  Just one mention to the right person can get them to join and maybe, just maybe, they will make that special blanket that saves a life.

Have a wonderful day, WIL. You all deserve it.

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Today I will share with you the results of Survey Question #6: If I were in charge of Wrapped in Love, this is what I would do differently. (1 survey respondent opted out of this question).
77.78% I wouldn’t change a thing.
22.22% Explained.

These are actual quotes in total or in part, sometimes edited for spelling. (I simply can’t help myself. I must edit.) This question was one of the most important ones for the leaders of WIL. Thank you for your honesty. This is your group as much as, no, even more than that of the leadership.

“The only thing that I would like is more advanced notice on who the rescues are going to be that week so we can research them properly and then decide when it's time to pledge how much of what we'd like to do.” - Addressed and we are now doing this, even though teasers are so much more fun.

“I would continue to encourage new people that it's not a matter of talent. You guys do a great job with that but there are so many beautiful blankets out there some people may not think they're good enough.” – Absolutely spot on. This fact cannot be repeated and posted enough. Your worst blanket in your eyes, may be the one blanket that makes a difference for a dog or cat who has never had anything soft and their own in their whole life. The love, the softness, the comfort, the reality of a blanket is all that matters. Dogs and cats come in all shapes and sizes. Shouldn’t the blankets be the same? We are all perfectly imperfect.

“…more exposure in certain parts of the country.” We are trying. In case you hadn’t noticed, we tend to focus on one area for a while, such as Oklahoma being a recent addition to our WIL rescue family network. Next we are looking at the Pacific coast, specifically California on up. Interestingly enough, some rescues are non-responsive. Some say no. Some just aren’t qualified to be a WIL rescue (a large portion of NW rescues have paid staff and larger budgets and there are just too many 100% volunteer run rescues on minimal budgets for us to start donating to these greater budget rescues, with some rare exceptions). Some rescues start out enthusiastically, but then never respond back to prodding for the necessary information to make it work. How you can help is to find a rescue in your area that is all volunteer, has a good reputation, is a valid 501c3 (we run across a few that are pending and have our fingers crossed their acceptance letter will come through), and is willing to join our group and post photos. You can save us a whole lot of time by getting all that information for us and email to nominations@wil4u.com. Another way to increase exposure in your area of the country is to share WIL on local FB pages that you follow or pin up a WIL flyer on local bulletin boards. Need more info? Just ask. We have info and can hook you up with the tools to succeed. Have ideas and would like to be the volunteer Marketing Manager for WIL? Let Linda and Patrick know. We will be happy to chat with you and see what we can accomplish together. This is a great segue to the next comment…

“I think it would be cool if we had press release packages in files that we could download and print ourselves. That way we could go to different community functions and have leaflets, flyers, coloring pages, word finds and other fun things that get children, families and community groups involved… outlines of how to set up a get together for tying blankets… church youth groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, national and junior national honor society members at schools, kindergarten classes, high school graduation projects…PTAs and PTOs, senior living centers, all kinds of people I am sure would love to help if they only knew how to get started and who we were… hostess parties where active members would bring the things to event nights and demonstrate…” GREAT IDEAS! Are you someone who can create WIL and rescue related word search puzzles or take some of blanket photos and turn them into coloring pages? Contact me. What fun!

In addition there were comments about state/local pages and how it appears they are ineffective and unable to stand on their own without greatly affecting the national page. The exception seems to be Colorado who is pretty well standing on their own, thanks to Bonnie Spillman Johnson and her large network of friends and colleagues in the rescue world there. Suggestions including killing the local rollouts (on their pages) and asking how we can grow the local groups and get them more functional, with the desire to put the local rollouts on the website for pledging. This is something we are all in agreement with. We are now looking at creating regional pages. WIL-Southeast, WIL-East, WIL-Pacific Coast, WIL- Midwest, etc… The regional Facebook pages will be for local WIL business, friendships, recaps of local rollouts that actually only occur nationally, but you all do the footwork and find the rescues, get them ready, etc…and we roll out nationally as we have just recently begun doing with WIL-Southeast. Please note that this will GREATLY affect the ability to rollout other areas in conjunction so we will need to come to an agreement and a schedule that works for everyone involved. Please ponder this idea and comment or send an email to me with concerns to linda.wallace@wil4u.com.

Excellent feedback, WIL. Thank you for participating. We have one more survey question to go and that will be shared next week.

 

May 2 through 5, 2016

~Thank you to Lori Harkey from Friends to the Forlorn for writing this inspiring series so that we could learn more about this extraordinary pitbull rescue.~

Friends To The Forlorn Pitbull Rescue

A Story

Chapter One/And so it begins

One man with a big heart and an even bigger dream and a rescue begins.   Jason Flatt, a native of NY, moved south to Georgia 9 years ago.   Always a dog lover and owner, it wasn’t long before he found himself rescuing a dog in Georgia.  Little did he know that this dog would turn his world upside down and change his future.  Jason had previously owned a pitbull mix as a child, but after rescuing Angelo, his first pitbull as an adult, he was hooked on the dog and the breed.   He very quickly learned the plight of pitbull dogs;   being a sucker for the “underdog” Jason began to do what he could to help.   He started by rescuing one pitbull at a time from the local shelter, but soon this was not enough and he realized if he was to ever make a difference he needed to get involved in a bigger way.   It didn’t take  long for a dream to take hold.  With the help of family and a few friends, Friends To The Forlorn was launched as a 501c3 in October of 2009.

Chapter Two/What happened next

With a LOT of dogs and learning curves, the next phase for FTTF was underway.   Unfortunately, there is no shortage of pitbulls  and  pit mixes in GA.  Sadly, they account for 90% of the dogs at county shelters, so immediately there were more dogs to help than was possible.   Jason began to grow the rescue doing what he does best--- being honest and upfront about the needs of the dogs and the resources required to help them.   As the Forlorn Family of fosters, volunteers, and donors grew so did the Freedom Rides and the  number of dogs being helped.   In 2009 and 2010, the average number of dogs in the rescue varied from 15 to 25.  By 2011, the number doubled and today, the rescue averages 75 to 100 dogs at any given time.   Of course, the number of adoptions each year has steadily grown as well.  In 2015, 120 forlorn dogs found their forever homes. 

Chapter Three/A plot twist

As in most tales, the Friends To The Forlorn story has an unexpected, but necessary twist in the plot.   Jason has a firm belief that rescue alone cannot solve the overpopulation problem for pitbulls or any other breed of dogs and/or cats.   From the beginning, Jason foresaw FTTF being involved in the community and the rescue has put that vision into practice with several community outreach programs.   By far, the most successful has been the Beat the Heat program in which free spay/neuter for community animals has been offered over the last several years resulting in the neutering of 2500+ animals that would not have been neutered otherwise.  This accomplished a nearly 50% decrease intake rate with the county shelter and an even lower euthanasia rate in the last 3 years.   Other programs sponsored by FTTF include Tails in the Hood, an outreach program providing medical services, food, and education to owners to help keep animals in homes and out of shelters.  Jason is also involved in 2 Metro Atlanta Jail programs speaking to inmates on the proper care of the dogs they are training.   Once a quarter, volunteers work with a local food pantry to provide dog and cat food to the individuals and families in need.    Beyond our breed—Helping the community animals is a vital part of the rescue.

Current Chapter/A New Day Dawns

Today is Tuesday.  This morning Jason got up at 6 am to start the morning process of letting out and feeding the 27 dogs at what the rescue calls the Pitbull Palace.   He cleaned the pee and poop that Una left overnight all the while praising her efforts.  Una was the first dog rescued from a dog fighting ring 5 years ago.  She’ll never be house broken and never adopted, but the truth is it doesn’t matter. The fact that she is here to pee and poop at the palace means that she did not die as a victim of dogfighting.   Jason will then blend food for Val and Buzz who both have Megasophagus requiring them to eat liquefied food standing up.  He’ll snap a selfie with Buzz to post on FB---“The Daily Buzz” is his first communication with the rescue followers each day.   As Jason continues to work with, feed, give out meds, and play with the palace dogs this morning, the 30+ foster parents began a morning routine of their own.   Integrating their fosters with their personal dogs and families, this dedicated group “groom” these dogs for forever homes of their own.   Today, like every other day, will require an investment of time and energy to teach and prepare these dogs for a new life and a new family.    As the day continues, pictures and posts of the dogs will begin to show up on FB, in email, and other social media praising a new task accomplished, an old wound healed, and sometimes asking for advice on something that continues to hinder the dog’s progress.   Other volunteers will begin communicating with donors, scheduling surgeries, picking up food,   processing  applications,   working on spreadsheets, planning events, working on community outreach, and other endless tasks AND because today is  Tuesday over 200 donors will give a $2 donation through our paypal   $2 Tuesday giving program.   Tomorrow is Wednesday.  Jason will get up at 6 am to start……

Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Rehome. Spay and Neuter.  Feed and Nurture.  Teach and Nurse.  Weep and Laugh.  This is our story.  This is Forlorn!

March 23, 2016

Good Morning WIL. Written by Teri from Safehaven Small Breed Rescue
I was once asked why I waste my time and money on these “damaged” dogs when there are so many other good dogs out there. I was told that while I waste my time rehabbing these dogs, good dogs die. So let me ask you this . . . what makes a good dog? Are dogs that are social and playful the only ones worth saving? It is not a mill dog’s fault if they don’t know how to play; they have gone their whole life without ever seeing a toy. It is not a mill dog’s fault if they are not social; they have been kept in isolation their entire lives, with very little human interaction. So does that make them less worthy of rescue? Some people think so. Some rescues feel that these “damaged” dogs should all be destroyed. But not Safehaven. We have something other rescues don’t. Time. We can give them all the time they need to recover from their lives in the mills. No dog is ever given a time limit here.

Look at Lizzy. She is one of those “damaged” dogs. So afraid of human touch that she would empty her bladder and bowels at the touch of a hand. Six years of Lizzy‘s life was spent in a tiny cage, in a shed, away from all human activity. When she was touched, it was not a gentle touch. For years a human hand only meant pain. Can you blame her for not being social?

We are giving Lizzy time. Time to learn that not all people will hurt her. Time to figure out that life is not what it used to be. Time to see, by constant kindness and patience, that there is nothing to fear anymore. I don’t feel this is a waste of time and I'm sure Lizzy doesn't either.

March 22, 2016

Why do rescue groups screen adopters so closely? I see this complaint everywhere on Facebook and elsewhere on the internet. When people want to adopt an animal they get frustrated that they just can’t have the one they want at the moment they want it from these small rescues. They don’t realize that different breeds have different needs. They don’t understand that some breeds just aren’t compatible with small children. They don’t understand what the rescuer has gone through to get this beautiful and friendly dog or cat ready to be adopted. This is one dog’s story.  This is a male Rottweiler. These are wonderful, magnificent, loving, big dogs who will always put their family first. Sadly, this one was severely neglected and picked up as a stray. He was emaciated and so covered with fleas that his gums were white.  By law he had to go to the local pound for 48 hour stray hold before the rescue group could take him and get him help. The photos show how horrifyingly malnourished he was, how weak, how helpless, yet he still was curious about his rescuers. Our friends at OK Save a Dog pulled him when the hold time was up and immediately took him to the vet for care. He weighed 37 pounds. He was so covered with fleas that his fur moved.  Fast forward and the care worked. Good nutrition and patience worked. The emaciated and anemic dog is now dearly loved and will never have that existence again. So, you wonder why rescuers care enough to screen, fact check, home visit, get references, and sometimes go with their gut instincts on who gets to adopt an animal? This is why. This dog is in the right home and they can rest assured that he will never deal with hunger and fleas and neglect again. He is king of his castle, as it should be. Thank you, rescuers, for doing the right thing, even when the right thing isn’t popular at the moment.

Have a wonderful day, WIL, and don’t forget to thank your favorite rescue groups for what they do.

Would you like to see more of OK Save a Dog’s rescues? Check out the video we loaded onto our  Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boQ7LL5tNQs.

February 17, 2016

Good evening WIL. I have found that no matter what happens during my day, my thoughts circle back to Wrapped in Love. Indulge me, if you will, with my latest train of thought. Today I opened the gate to the chicken yard and let them free range for a few hours. Chickens will tear up their own space with their scratching for tender green shoots and bugs, so they love the chance to get out and have fun in a different area. I opened the gate and they ran, flapped their wings, and instantly started having chicken fun. I came in the house, looked out the kitchen window and I almost cried. Why? I thought of puppy mill dogs and cats. Even inside the gate, my chickens have a better life than mill animals. I watched the chickens poking around in the grass looking for nibbles and saw how much they were enjoying the freedom to move around and just be. Puppy mill animals never feel anything but wire, or concrete, or feces, under their precious little feet. It's just not right. This Sunday we will be featuring a puppy mill rescue right in the heart of Amish country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. As I was speaking with the contact the other night, she said it means so much to bring in a new group of puppy mill dogs, give them a bath, and then wrap them in a clean blanket. It will give them their very first comfortable, safe, warm, soft, relaxing sleep in their precious little lifetimes. YOUR blanket will do that. You may worry about the knots or seams being straight or pretty enough. They will be happy to be clean and warm and safe. That puts it in perspective, doesn't it? You are doing great things, WIL. Thank you to all of you.

December 19, 2015

Today my thoughts have been centered around time. I saw the attached photo and it sparked something in me. I had recently been pondering how it seems that time truly does fly when you are having fun. For example, I can easily spend hours reading WIL posts and admiring all the photos. WIL truly feeds my soul, so it isn't exactly a time waster, but time does slip away. Then I thought about how very quickly the days have flown by this year. Can you believe we are only a couple of weeks away from 2016? It seems like the 80's were just 2 years ago, with all the big hair and Cyndi Lauper telling us that Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It seems that in all this time the world would have made greater strides in taking care of our animals. Supposedly there is so much "enlightenment" that has occurred over the decades and we aren't as oblivious as we once were. The heart of the matter is this: all the time in the world, and all the enlightenment in the universe, will not change anything. It requires action. I believe that Wrapped in Love is a part of that action. Through our network of animal rescuers, animal advocates, foster homes, blanket makers, belly band sewers, and peaceful protesters (thank you for staying classy, my friends), we are affecting change. It can be difficult to see the posts on other pages where the stories do not have a happy ending. They make us cry, they make us lose sleep, and sometimes they are so overwhelming we just can't look at them anymore. I get it. I feel the same as you. Today I'm taking the time to say thank you to all of you. So many of you take the time to do so many things. Some cannot do as much as others, but you are doing something. If everyone would do what they can, we would see even more change in the world of rescue. The goal is to shut down puppy mills forever. In 2016 we will be focusing on puppy mills and those who rescue the ones who are lucky enough to get out. We will have more restocks for those in our WIL family. We will continue to Wrap in Love the small and truly needy rescues who are underfunded, under publicized, under appreciated. I will tell you more about our 2016 goals in a future post. This has run on long enough! Thank you all for your time. This holiday season, embrace the moment, embrace your family and friends, embrace your furbabies even if they struggle to get away, you know they love it.

December 17, 2015

 

Good morning WIL! Time to do some bragging. Wrapped in Love people are the most amazing, giving, generous, warm hearted, supportive, accepting people there are in the world. If everyone lived life as a WIL person there would be no more war, empty bellies, lonely nights, or puppy mills. Every cat and dog would have a loving home and at least one blanket. Every child would have a four legged best friend and every adult would too. The world would be a better place, no doubt about it. I don't know what all our members celebrate this time of year and the beautiful thing is, I don't need to. We all come together with a common purpose, regardless of anything else going on in the world or in our lives. This holiday season, whether you celebrate or not, whether you travel or not, my wish for all of you from the very bottom of my heart, is that you somehow feel the love and appreciation that I have for this wonderful virtual family. May the idea of being "Wrapped in Love" surround you and all those you love. I imagine some of you will begin traveling this weekend, heading for family and friends, or perhaps being the destination for others to travel to you. Be safe in all you do. Although we will have two rollouts this Sunday we will leave them up until after the first of the year so that you all will have ample opportunity to pledge.

Remember, pledge wisely. Don't overdo it. You aren't expected or required to pledge to everyone, every time. If you think you can and will fulfill your pledge in under 6 weeks, then go ahead and pledge. If you aren't certain you will be able to in that time period it might be best to wait for the next one. If you do find yourself in a situation where you have pledged and life happened, which will happen, please feel free to post a "help wanted" statement. You shouldn't feel shy or ashamed to do so. That's what we are here for. We all have a chance to help each other out and we all enjoy assisting each other. You might even make a new friend in the process. We can help each other with our pledges when circumstances are beyond our control. This is another reason that WIL is so wonderful and amazing. Thank you for that.

December 11, 2015

Good morning WIL! Reason 875 (I'm not actually keeping count) why I love this group: we keep the drama out. We don't deal with politics or religion or anything else that might create discord. Instead, we focus on our common ground of loving rescue animals and doing our part to help in a tangible way. Thank you for that. This time of year a lot of people have gatherings to attend and there's such a push to be politically correct. Do we say "Merry Christmas" or leave it at "Happy Holidays"? Personally, I don't care what someone says because if they take the time to wish me a merry or a happy anything, I'm grateful. So to all of you this entire holiday season, I hope you find a reason to be happy, or as I saw it so eloquently put a few years back, Merry Christmahanukwanzakkah! I think that's another reason to love cats and dogs. They don't care about all of that. Kindness and treats and the occasional belly rub, plus a WIL blanket, and their world is good. The whole world could take a lesson from our furry friends. Have a wonderful day, WIL!

December 9, 2015

Good afternoon WIL! Sometimes I lay in bed when I can't sleep I wonder about a million different things. Last night, however, I thought about the people of WIL. We come from all different places, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religious beliefs, and are all different sizes, shapes and ages. It truly amazes me that we all found each other in this world that is often moving so fast that we don't always get the chance to do all the things we want to do or say the things we want to say. We are often so preoccupied by our own piece of the world that we feel distanced from everyone else and everywhere else. We then log onto Facebook and suddenly we are surrounded by friends and acquaintances that very likely would be friends if we hung out for about 5 minutes. It's amazing. Thank you for being a part of this wonderful world. Have a wonderful day WIL. You all deserve it so very much.

December 5, 2015

 

Good afternoon WIL! FIDO Friendly Magazine, Fall 2015 issue, has a pretty wonderful article in it. Thank you, Cheryl Smyth, for the interview and subsequent article. Thank you, Patrick Desjardins, for your vision and passion that allowed our little group to grow and touch lives in more ways that we could have imagined. Thanks to all of you, because you are the heart and soul of this fantastic thing we call WIL. It's on page 74...find it here. http://ca.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issue=416360667&o=int  Have a great day!

December 1, 2015

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 adopter blankets, 11 fuzzy tug toys, 10 kitty blankets, 9 adopt me hang tags, 8 kennel blankets, 7 catnip mousies, 6 frilly diapers, 5 belly bands, 4 adopt me vests, 3 soft sweaters, 2 tasty treats and a handmade Label of Love.

Admit it. You sang that, didn't you?

Today is December 1st, Giving Tuesday and you all do it so well. Have a wonderful day, WIL!

September 1, 2015

Good morning WIL! Let’s talk about money. We all like it. We all need it. Yet, Wrapped in Love does not deal with money in any form. Since our inception there have been suggestions, over and over, about ways to make money to help purchase fabric and it may sound like a good idea on the surface, but let’s really think about this for a moment. Wrapped in Love is not, and never will be, about money. In a hypothetical situation we would sell a portion of our blankets for revenue and then turn around use that money for fabric, or perhaps we would sell other items to raise money for fabric, we’d have to pay taxes on that revenue. In order to pay taxes on that revenue we would have to be a taxable, or better yet, a tax exempt company. You see where I’m going with this. So, what about donations? Why don’t we get donations instead of selling things? It’s the same story. It gets complicated. The Wrapped in Love mission keeps it simple. We are not a company. We are not for profit. We are not a non-profit.

Imagine a place where there is a river. On one side of the river resides all the rescues who day in and day out put their blood, sweat and tears into every animal they help. On the other side of the river are all these people who wish there was a way to help, but for any number of reasons need an alternative to being an actual rescuer. Yes, they could buy a bag of dog food or cat food now and then and although appreciated, it’s quite impersonal, isn’t it? Now, imagine a bridge. It’s not a rescue from that side of the river. It’s not someone who wants to help on the other side of the river. It’s a bridge that brings the two together. Wrapped in Love is a bridge. Our mission is pretty clear. We bridge the gap between those who need and those who WIL. It’s pretty simple, really. We don’t sell and we don’t buy; we bridge the gap. That’s something of which to be proud.

Now imagine a website dedicated to healthy living, losing weight and eating right. This website has members who are active and friendly. They love to post about anything about which they are passionate. Recipes are a real hit, as you can imagine. The problem is, there are a few who just can’t help but share recipes for things like “Death by Chocolate” and “Triple Caramel Turtle Sundae Brownies”. Sure, they are recipes and therefore technically deal with the correct subject matter, not to mention the fact that the members are passionate about their chocolate, but those shares just do not fit in with the mission. In fact, they detract from the mission. See where I’m going with this? If not, let me explain. Wrapped in Love has some very simple rules. No cross posting, no fundraising, no listing of animals needing transport, no selling of personal creations, no personal agenda, but instead sticking with the Wrapped in Love Mission Statement. There are plenty of other sites for our chocolate and we love our chocolate. By chocolate, of course, I mean all those other things for which we are passionate. We all love animals. We all want to see change. We all want to help in as many ways as possible. Wrapped in Love is just one way to help. I urge you to find all your passions and find all the pages. There are places for all of these. Let’s keep the Wrapped in Love page dedicated to doing what we do best. Thank you all for understanding and keeping our page focused.

Have a great day!

 

August 24, 2015

Good Morning WIL! As we face another Monday I will keep it simple. Over the past days I have posted information explaining about Wrapped in Love, why we are unique, who we are, who we are not, and I think we are pretty special when you look at the whole picture. The thing is, we would be nothing, non-existent without our members. As of today we have over 2100 members, of which there are but a small percentage that are what we call "active" members. Those are the ones who sew, tie, cut, shop, crochet, knit, pledge, repeat. Having a core group that handles the bulk of what we do is expected and we love all of you for what you do. Then there are those who stop in and are our cheerleaders. Those who encourage, like our posts, share the ones that speak to them the loudest and then go on their way. We appreciate the encouragement. Then there are those who join with the greatest of intentions but life happens and they gradually stop feeling the urgency to get involved. Monday is a day of new beginnings in our world. It's the start of a new work week. So, go do something.

That's my message for today. Just do something. If it's something for Wrapped in Love, great. Maybe you can't financially help WIL right now by purchasing fabric, making items and shipping them. Maybe you are convinced you can't make a blanket, even the tied kind. I guarantee there is a volunteer run shelter in your area that would be grateful for a bag of dog food or cat food, or someone to come in to walk a dog or read to the cats. Do something. Pay it forward. Everybody can do something. Now take it one step further. While paying it forward, encourage those around you to do the same. When you are at work, look around. Do you see co-workers' desks with photos of their pets? Encourage them to check out Wrapped in Love. We can all do something. For all the members we have, we will always have a core group who does the bulk of the work. The greater our numbers, the greater the core group. This is the best, most helpful, warmest, loving, genuine, drama-free, and happiest group around. We will always need new members and we are so thankful for all the new members who have recently joined us. Together we can change the lives of both the rescued and the rescuers. Have a great day, WIL. Go do something!

August 23, 2015

Good morning WIL! Welcome to part two of a more in depth look at what we do and why, who we are and are not. So how do we choose our featured rescues? We are so glad you asked. There are a number of ways, the first being our members. There are some guidelines. First and foremost they must be a 501c3 charity so that if our members choose, they can claim their donations on their taxes. Second, they must rely on donations and volunteers, and not have paid staff. The reason being, if they can pay their staff, they do not need us quite as much as the rescue one county over who is completely volunteer run and is solely dependent on donations. Three, they must have a good reputation. We do not want to find them in the headlines as being neglectful or cruel. This one is why we love getting referrals from our members. You may be a volunteer or have adopted your furbaby from a rescue that you know could really use our help. Fourth, we are admittedly and proudly partial to those rescues who take in puppy mill rescues. They are unique rescue babies and anyone who puts themselves out there to take in these precious animals deserves a helping hand. If you know of a puppy mill rescue who can use our assistance AND you are an active member of WIL (you have made and donated at least one item), please send the information, including a contact name, phone number, web address and any other available information to nominations@wil4u.com. Please, only active members should nominate rescues. The reason we request this is because we would very quickly be overwhelmed with nominations if everyone responded.

The final question is why there aren’t any rescues in your state, close to you, where you don’t have to pay quite so much postage to ship your packages? We do try to keep it as balanced as possible but there are a couple of things to remember. The rescues themselves are working hard, night and day, to rescue. They can’t always respond to Wrapped in Love quickly with all the information that we need. We may have a rescue that is extremely interested in what we can do, but they are overwhelmed with a large quantity of animals that just arrived and send us their pertinent information will take a backseat, and rightfully so. There are some that just don’t have enough volunteers to even accept regular deliveries, stock the WIL items, hand them out, file the donation forms with their tax papers, take photos, share them with us, provide feedback… You see, it’s not as simple as getting a blanket and putting it in a kennel with a dog. We do try to have a balance of east of the Mississippi and west of the Mississippi for each rollout, but that isn’t always the case and for that I apologize. If you really want to pledge but we don’t have a rescue close enough to justify it, please, please, please, just go ahead and make your items and don’t pledge right away. Take photos of your items, share them with our members and say, “I can’t wait to have a rescue near my home state of _____ because these blankets are ready!” I guarantee that very soon you will have a rescue featured that is closer to home.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask. We love questions and we love to explain why we do what we do. Wrapped in Love is successful because of how unique we are, and because of you.

To summarize, we are unique, we do not allow clutter on our page, we love puppy mill rescues, and thanks to you, the Wrapped in Love members, we are making a difference. It truly isn't that complicated, merely a rarity.

Enjoy your Sunday, WIL!

 

August 22, 2015

Good morning WIL! There have been some new members who have wondered about certain ideas and our methods, so this post will hopefully clarify what and who we are. This will be a two part series starting today and finishing up tomorrow.

First and foremost, Wrapped in Love is not easily defined because we do not fall into a box or a category. We don’t have an easy definition that says we are a non-profit or a for-profit organization. Let’s get that clear. We are not a non-profit organization. We are not a for-profit organization. In actuality, we aren’t even an organization at all (although our admins have some mad organizational skills). We do not have a physical location. We are not a business or a corporation of any kind. What we are is an ever growing group of people who come together with a mutual love and respect for rescue organizations and the animals they help. Every WIL person is here because they want to be. Our admin staff is 100% voluntary, just like every other member of the group who makes blankets, belly bands, toys, diapers, etc… We do no fundraising. We are proud that we do not trade funds in any way whatsoever. That means all the control lies with the individual people who make up our group. If you have the ability, YOU make the blankets, YOU ship them out. If you do not have the current funds to do so, other members will pledge and they will make the blankets and ship them out. It’s a simple concept that gets complicated because Wrapped in Love doesn’t conform to a typical group standard. A typical group does fundraising or selling items in order to be able to make and send their items to the rescues. Instead, we have donation forms and that’s why we choose rescues who claim 501c3 charity status. We will never sell, buy or barter Wrapped in Love items. We will not be making keychains or tee shirts for a fundraiser. We make sure rescues know that when provide our items to them, they are to be used for their original intent, which is to be handed out to the animals, free of charge. All of that being said, if you want to make a tee shirt, or business cards, or hand out flyers do it! Spread the word of WIL! If, however, you try to make and sell them, we will have to cut you loose with no apologies. The law is pretty clear about revenue streams, and we want to retain our status as being who we are. A couple more suggestions: please do not put the Wrapped in Love name on anything that could be misconstrued. A rather humorous but equally tragic example of this would be putting the name Wrapped in Love across the backside of a pair of yoga pants. Ugh. Please, use nothing see through, nothing suggestive, nothing that could be misinterpreted. What I personally have done is print out a flyer page and hang it on the bulletin board of my local Joann Fabrics store.

To summarize, we are not a non-profit because that implies a tax exempt organization that is registered with the IRS. We are not a for-profit organization because that would imply a revenue stream on which we would pay taxes. We are a group of like-minded individuals who care enough to do something. We are a virtual gathering place that allows the administrative team to coordinate and organize everything behind the scenes, allowing the members the luxury of picking and choosing to whom they would like to send their items. We thank you for being a part of it. Thanks to all of you, we have been amazingly successful for only being 13 months into it.

Thank you for all you do, Wrapped in Love. Check in tomorrow for part two. Have a great weekend!

 

August 21, 2015

Good morning WIL! Let’s talk about puppy mills. It’s not a happy subject, at all, but there is hope. Education is the key and slowly but surely the public is being educated. If you are anything like me, you have understood the need to adopt and not shop, but really were not all that educated in the realm of puppy mills. Perhaps once upon a time you had a vague notion about someone who was a backyard breeder with a few female dogs living out back, but surely they received veterinary care and adequate food, not to mention clean water. These are beloved pets, right?

The saddest moment for us all is when we find out that dogs and cats can be, and are, treated as livestock. Puppy mills are ugly. There is nothing beautiful about them. The dogs and cats are a cash crop.

The reason so many small breed dogs are used in puppy mills is because there is more revenue per square foot. It’s just dollars and cents to the breeders. Once a dog has outlived his or her usefulness in breeding, then they are no longer wanted. There are many losses along the way before the animals get to that point though. There are just too many horrifying facts that could give us all nightmares tonight and that’s not the purpose of this post. So, what is the point of reminding us all of this tragedy? All those rescues out there that take in the perfectly imperfect puppy mill animals is the point. There are many who rescue from high kill shelters and puppy mills. Day in and day out the rescuers use every last ounce of energy and then run on sheer willpower just to drop into bed exhausted and then get up to do it again. The foster families and volunteers work with these animals to prove to them that life is better than anything they have experienced up until now. We will be featuring many of these rescues in the coming months.

You all make your blankets with love, there is no doubt. Every one that you make, imagine it going to a puppy mill dog who has never experienced cleanliness and softness, kindness and love, security and safety, until now. Thank you for that. If you have questioned whether or not your blanket can make a difference, once again you are reminded that yes, your blanket does make a difference. If you think about it, include a thank you note to the rescuers when you send your items. That can make a difference too.

Have a great day filled with Love!

 

August 20, 2015

Good morning WIL! Let’s talk about Labels of Love. Those of us who have been around the WIL block a time or two know what I’m talking about. The newer members may not, so let’s discuss. Wrapped in Love is based on a pretty simple concept and it’s pretty well implied in the name, but there is more to it. Our goal is to provide the handmade blankets and other items to rescue dogs and cats. Let’s be honest, there is a whole lot more involved than that. Labels of Love address the people who rescue, foster, adopt, eat, breathe and live for rescue. Some days it’s a pretty thankless job out there seeing the need outweighing their ability to help. So here is the rundown on a Label of Love:

1. It, along with a heart added to the blanket, identifies the item(s) as being from a WIL member.

2. It, along with your fabric choices and method of construction, is a personalization of your gift.

3. It is a way to express your thoughts to the person with the blanket and you can thank them for giving a furbaby a home.

4. It is a way to address the furbaby directly and wish them and their new family a happy life.

5. It is a way to request whoever ends up with the blanket to send a photo either directly to our Facebook page or to Linda Wallace at our email address for photos and videos: wilmedia@wil4u.com. You can use your own email address if you wish, and then you can share with our page.

6. You can get really creative. If you are someone who scrapbooks, is an artist, you have pretty handwriting, you enjoy playing with free clipart off the internet, you have an impressive rubber stamp collection, you have all the colors of Sharpies, or you just like to add a personal message, this is your chance.

Labels of Love started out as a slip of paper safety pinned to the blankets a year ago. Today they are as varied as the members and the blankets themselves. Although they are not required, they surely are fun. Share your ideas here so we can see what good stuff you all have included on your Labels. New members, share with us your ideas and ask questions. Let’s get creative!

 

August 19, 2015

Good morning WIL! We have so many new members that I want to post something very important. I hope you all have taken the time to read our Mission Statement at the very least. It’s crucial to our success and our vision that you understand (and hopefully agree with) what we do, what we don’t do, and the why of both. We cannot be successful without our members, without people like you, who take a chance on Wrapped in Love and find out that the sense of purpose and the realization that we are making a difference can make all the difference in the world to rescued dogs and cats, one lovingly crafted blanket at a time. Recently Patrick Desjardins asked for people to volunteer for a conceptual donation: 100 people/100 blankets. That is one blanket per person. Your choice of where to pledge and send. If 100 people can do one blanket, that is 100 more dogs and cats that have a WIL blanket.

A blanket? You may ask yourself if a blanket can really be that important. It’s just a luxury item, something nice, sure, but could it possibly make that big of a difference? Really? Really.

Imagine, if you will, being in your home surrounded by everything and everyone you hold dear and suddenly it’s all taken away. You are put in a box, in a cage, in a strange and foreign environment and surrounded by others just like you who are also confused and sad. You try to get comfortable on a cement floor but it’s cold and damp. If only you could just escape into sleep, but the noise, the sounds, the smells are overwhelming. You are uncomfortable and you cry. You retreat to the back of the kennel and hang your head. Why? What did you do that was so wrong? You become depressed and lose your appetite. Then one day someone brings you a blanket. It’s warm, it’s comforting and suddenly you having something that is yours. You sniff it and then touch it. Then you start squishing it just so, circle around and lay down and have the first good sleep since you arrived. This blanket represents hope. Hope puts the interest back into your heart and the twinkle back into your eye. You now feel encouraged and wonder what other good things may come. You begin to interact with people again and sure enough, someone points at you and says, “That one.” You and your blanket venture forth into a new and loving home.

Fiction? Nope. It happens more often than you realize. It happens over and over again. Read the Blanket Stories in our Files section. They are all true and you all, the WIL members, have the power to make this happen thousands of times again, so welcome to all the new members. Thank you to all the current and past members. We are just now in our second year of existence and I see great things ahead for Wrapped in Love. Wrapped in Love has made and donated over three thousand blankets. Once again I submit for your contemplation: one blanket per person per week or even per month. Not too much to ask, is it?

August 15, 2015

A Summary of WIL and How it Works

*What is WIL? WIL stands for Wrapped in Love. WIL is a kind of family of artisans and crafters that just happens to love animals. We come together with the common goal to Wrap dogs and cats and their rescuers in Love. We began with a primary focus of blankets, but we also donate other handcrafted items such as toys, bandanas, diapers and belly bands.

*Where is Wrapped in Love located? We don’t have a physical location. WIL is a virtual group. The WIL leadership is located throughout the United States, literally from coast to coast with the membership hailing from nearly every state as well as outside the country.

*If you don’t have a physical location, where do I send my donations? The WIL leadership team does all the background work of getting the rescues vetted and ready. The projects and their wish lists are announced on the Facebook page found at www.facebook.com/groups/artisanswithamission. Pledge counters for each current rescue willbe found at www.wil4u.com. It’s that simple!

*To what address do I send my donations? Each project/rescue group will have its own Donation Form that you will need to print out and send with your items. (Make sure to keep a copy for yourself because your donations are tax deductible.) At the top of the donation form is the address to send your items.

*I made a pledge but the rescue and donation form is no longer on the Current Rescues page. What do I do? No worries. On the website there is a tab for “Donation Forms”. All past and present donation forms can be found there.

*I don’t sew or crochet. Do you accept cash donations? No. Since Wrapped in Love operates virtually, there is no buying, selling, fundraising,etc… We do offer additional options, however. There are no sew blanket kits available at nearly all local fabric and department stores. In addition, we have set up a specific group for sharing. Deborah’s Fabric Depot (DFD) is our group for fabric and yarn sharing. The buddy system works well. If you have the means to purchase the fabric or yarn, you can find a buddy on DFD to use the fabric or yarn to make the blankets or other items. Checkit out here: www.facebook.com/groups/fabricshare/.

*Can I cross post for adoptable dogs,cats, transports and other things on the WIL page? No. We have a strict policy against crossposting only because we have so many other forums for those types of posts on our individual pages. We really want to focus on the positives in rescue, and that is Wrapping these precious furbabies in Love and helping them get a new start on a better life. We do encourage interaction between members though, and highly recommend everyone get to be friends and be friendly. We pride ourselves on being a no drama, 100%positive and supportive page. To crosspost, share a laugh, ask for a virtual hug when you are going through the tough times in life, or just be silly, we created the WILLY NILLY Friends of WILpage. Feel free to join us there. WARNING: it is fun and you might not want to leave. Join us at www.facebook.com/groups/WILLYNILLIES/for a laugh or two.

*Belly bands and diapers? We have a special page for those too! They have patterns, tutorials, helpful hints and more. Join that team at www.facebook.com/groups/295802950619995/. All the members of all our teams are happy to answer questions and help you if get stuck. Belly bands are for boy dogs and diapers are for girl dogs, generally speaking. For animals who have never been house trained, they sure do come in handy and the rescuers, adopters and foster families thank you!