The Journey!

How does a middle age social worker become a published author?  The easy answer is by accident!  It was October of last year and I was settling in after another cross country move.   Emma and Matthew were more or less settled in Montana and I was experiencing the phase of life in which former college kids start real jobs and are no longer home for summers and holidays.  The reality of only seeing them 2-3 times a year had hit me.  It wasn’t pretty.  (What parents did before the age of social media and texting – I have no idea.  This makes long distance at least bearable.)

In any case, moving and empty nesting was exacerbated by losing both our Virginia Rescue Dogs in the same year to a very aggressive form of cancer.  This coincidence is unfortunately not as rare as it sounds in Labradors.  Both Eli and Sully were between 9 and 10 years old and they passed away about 11 months a part.  Bob and I were grieving to say the least.  I decided I needed a project and started what I thought would be a Christmas present for Emma and Matthew.  The stories came surprisingly easy, considering many had happened over 20 years ago.  I found that reminiscing and writing became a balm for what had been a rough year.

In the spring, we adopted an Anatolian Shepard named Abby and a Lab Newfoundland Mix named Cody.  Both are big loveable lugs with hip and knee issues (not so different from Bob and I – Ha!).  Abby is smarter than I am.  In fact she will probably be blogging more than me.  In any case, I started toying with the idea of publishing my stories.  I was fortunate to have a friend named Brianne Brown who agreed to edit my book – and in doing so saved me from the rabbit hole of the editing world.  I also hired an amazing illustrator Shane Watson who understood my vision – and made Rescue Dogs come alive with his magic.  Working with both of them was a gift.

I did a fair bit of research and found out about Booklocker, a self-publishing company that came highly recommended for their integrity and helpfulness.  Angela and her team made the publishing process easy.  And here I am!  A published author who merely had an Christmas present idea for her launching children.

I would love for this website to become a place where big and little people can share  their own stories.  So, if you have something you would like to post – please contact me!

You can also join our Facebook community at Vance Family Rescue Dogs.  It is a great place to share funny pictures, advice and insights in a supportive environment.

Rescue Dogs

Happy Mother’s Day! Love, Harper’s Puppies


Good Morning and Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  We are Harper’s puppies and we are giving our mom a little rest today and taking over the blogging for LCAL!  (Aren’t we adorable.)  Before we tell you about our family it is time for some updates!

Albus went on his sleepover this week and looks like he found his Furever Family with LCAL alum Twinkle!  We are so happy for Albus!  This is Albus looking happy.


Anson also went on a sleepover this week and it looks like he found his Furever Family too.  Anson is an LCAL favorite.  He has the looks and the laid back personality. We are going to miss you Anson!


Now back to our Mother’s Day celebration at LCAL.  Mother’s Day all started back in 1908 when a lady named Anna sent 500 white carnations to her church for all the moms.  It just took off from there!   Moms do so much for us – they deserve a little pampering.  Here is our Mom when she went to the spa last month.


Moms are the best multi-taskers.   “When one needs a bathin’ the other needs a feedin'” and our Mom can both at the same time!  She is a wonder!  Just look!


Moms also need a lot of patience because sometimes us puppies can be too much.  There always seems to be one child that pushes the limits a bit more than the others.  This is a picture of Mom telling us to knock it off.  She needs a break!


But that is okay because one of our favorite things to do is snuggle up for nap time!  (Well, one of us is napping.)   The look on Mom’s face pretty much says it all.  Don’t ya think?

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But when we settle down in all our cuteness – Mom forgives us for being rowdy.  She knows after all that we are puppies.


So here’s to moms everywhere today!  And if today is a sad day – we are sending you love and comfort.  Happy Mother’s Day MOMs!


Love, Harper’s Puppies!

Last Chance at Life
3308 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92058
Phone: (442) 615-7437
Email: Info@LastChanceAtLife.org




Albus: Wise and Enchanting

Good morning! My name is Albus. And much like my namesake Albus Dumbledore, I am kind and affectionate. In fact, we look something alike, don’t you think?

IMG_0625                      Albus_Dumbledore

Before I tell you about myself, it is time for some updates! Puppy Rav has been adopted! Doesn’t he look happy?


Also, Cody an LCAL alumni, has recovered nicely from his TPLO surgery and has been able to hang out in the yard off leash again. He is so happy to be able to play after months of being penned up!


Now, back to me. I was left at a shelter one night in their drop box. LCAL thinks maybe it was because I had a tumor growing on my leg. It was a biggie. But I had surgery a week ago to remove the tumor and I feel so much better. I am still waiting to hear about whether I need more surgery. But right now, I am living for the moment. That really is the only way to live, don’t you agree?


I am currently staying with my foster dad, Denis.  Do you recognize this pup?  Yes!  It is Tiger!  Denis adopted Tiger!  So I know I am in good hands.


Denis tells me that I am such a good boy. I am potty trained and I get along with my foster dog brothers just fine. In fact, it is great to see Tiger looking so happy.  He is overjoyed with his new freedom to roam.  He has rabbits and squirrels to chase.  What a magical change from being in the Klink for a year.  He will be happy for the rest of his life with Denis and his family.   And I am thrilled to be able to join him in all the fun.

Although I am going through a little bit of a difficult time right now, I told Denis “I am not worried because I am with you. And you are one of my favorite Humans!” Dumbledore once told Harry Potter this and I find it to be very true. We are stronger together. Here is a picture of me with Denis. I have always wanted to be a lap dog.


I am about 7 years old and Sweet and Sassy Stewart told me that I have been welcomed into the Old Guys Rule Association, even though I am a little young. (I think he just needed some new members since Henry and Tiger were adopted. Ha!)  Stewart has such a great personality!  I don’t understand why he hasn’t been adopted yet.  Hang in there gorgeous!  Your day is coming!


Back to me.  I am a pretty low energy guy, wise and distinguished. Denis tells me I am a very easy house guest. At a recent adoption event, a tiny dog growled at me and I just walked away. I said “Little lady, I am a lover not a fighter” and I took refuge in Denis’ lap.


Although it has been a tough month or so, I remember what Dumbledore once told Harry, “don’t dwell on things and forget to live.” These are very wise words that I take to heart. I put love and happiness into everything I do. My calm and devoted personality would be a wonderful addition to any home and I am patiently waiting for the right FURever family to find me. Until they do, I enjoy every moment of every day.


JK Rowling once said “It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us.”  I think that magic is love.  And nothing beats the enchantment of providing a home for a rescue pup like me.  If you are a FURever family with love to give – come by and meet me!

Last Chance at Life
3308 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92058
Phone: (442) 615-7437
Email: Info@LastChanceAtLife.org

Diva: It Takes a Village

Diva 1
Good Morning! Happy Monday Everybody! My name is Diva which is Latin for Goddess. That is my glamor photo above! Before I tell you about myself, I wanted to give you some wonderful news! Tiger the LCAL Ambassador and One Dog Welcome Committee found his FURever family! He went on a sleep over last week and his outgoing personality won them over. I am so happy for Tiger!  Doesn’t he look happy?


With Henry and Tiger both adopted, Stewart is the only remaining fellow in the Old Guys Rule, Young Guys Drool organization. But he is confident the right family will come along for him. Here is an updated picture of Sweet and Sassy Stewart when he went hiking last week.


Now back to me! At one year old and 45 pounds I am quick and athletic. LCAL says I would make a great Frisbee dog because I have a set of SPRINGS on me. I was rescued as a stray and when I first arrived at LCAL I didn’t have the best manners. I liked to jump and lick faces and I could be a little mouthy at times. But my best friend Amanda has been working with me and I am doing so much better!

Pamela, our trainer extraordinaire, explained that I just needed a “new job.” I used to think my job was to jump and say “Hello Everyone!” But now I know better! I go to my “place” and I “watch” my Human for permission to get a treat, say hello, or whatever I am working on that day. This is a picture of me “watching” and waiting for my “Yes!” I am concentrating hard. And me a moment later – relaxed because I did so well!

Diva 2 Diva 3

When I look at Amanda and she tells me “Yes!” I am so happy! My tail wags a mile a minute. I am very eager to please and so smart! This is me taking a little peak at my reflection in the window. Who is that gorgeous goddess? Me!

Diva 4

Sometimes Pamela and Amanda do extra training with me during the week and even Jen comes by to work with me! It takes a village to raise a Diva that is for sure!!

Diva 7
Hey interview lady! Are you paying attention? Look over here at me! Are you getting all of this down?

All this hard work is paying off! Last week, Amanda took me on a wonderful walk to the park. I sniffed everything and was curious about all the Humans! But I kept my cool and didn’t try to pull Amanda – even when a couple of kids on skateboards whizzed by us! Yea for me!

Diva 8
I used to be afraid of many things, my place cot, the car, and strange situations. But now I am adapting and trusting so much more. I love my Saturday morning training with Amanda, Pamela and all the other dog families! It makes me feel part of a whole dog-loving community.

Diva 6

And speaking of community, everyone at LCAL works very hard to help us find our FURever Families. Nicci (Stewart’s Bestie) and Leyla take amazing pictures of us and they join a whole bunch of volunteers who walk and take care of us. Amanda is my best friend but she also fosters Harper and her puppies! Just this past weekend Amanda and Leyla treated Harper to a spa day! Doesn’t every mom deserves a spa day?


And here is one of my favorite pictures of Eesha and Kuma!  Eesha is Kuma’s BFF and last month she took Kuma on a wonderful hike with the Marines.  Doesn’t Kuma look happy?!

Our network of foster parents ensures that some of us have a quiet stable place to live while we are waiting for our FURever Family. And nothing is better than when fosters fall in love with us and decide to KEEP us! Some people call this a “failed foster.” Ha! It is anything BUT failed when we find our FURever Family. Henry the Love Bug knows this first hand!!  Here’s a great shot of Henry with his stuffy.  We miss you big guy!


There are also adoption events, pack walks, and donations! Something is always happening around here.   Here’s Flynn Rider with Pam at Petco!


Well, that’s about it for me and My Village. If you are looking for a little Diva who is bound to make a wonderful companion and provide a lot of fun along the way, stop in and say Hello! You might be that lucky Human.

Diva 9

Last Chance at Life
3308 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92058
Phone: (442) 615-7437
Email: Info@LastChanceAtLife.org

Rav and the Angel on Route 62


Good Morning Everyone!  Happy Easter!  My name is Rav and at six months old, I am the oldest of the puppies at LCAL. That is my glamor photo above. I look very serious in this picture – which is funny because I am far from serious! I love to play and I am always wiggling and throwing my toys about. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things.

Nothing says springtime like baby animals.  So, before I tell you about myself here is a picture I took of the Duck Family yesterday.  Aren’t they the cutest?


Oh!  And here is my friend Squeaker.  I call him Squeaker because he is too little to bark.  He just squeaks.  His Mama doesn’t let me play with him yet because I might step on him in all my exuberance.  Squeaker is looking for a forever home too.  Puppy Power!


Ok!  Enough about ducklings and puppies.  Let me tell you a little about myself – because I almost wasn’t here to tell my story!  Route 62 coming out of 29 Palms is sadly a place where humans dump family members like myself.   It is a lonely stretch of road heading out into the desert and most of us don’t make it very far.  Everyone here at LCAL finds this heartbreaking.  Fortunately for pups like myself, there is an Angel who drives Route 62 looking for us.  Excuse me for a moment – I need a play break!


Okay!  I am back!   As I was saying, Angel rescues abandoned pups like myself and takes us to shelters so we are safe.  A couple of months ago, she saw a trash bag on the side of the road that didn’t look quite right.  So, she got out to check.  Lucky for me she did!  Guess who was inside?  Me!  I am such a social smart lovable boy, it is really hard to imagine who would do something like this.

But I don’t hold grudges!  I love humans and it would be great if my forever family had little humans who liked to play with me!  I am full of puppy energy!  Oh!  And dogs!  I love dogs!  (Last week I was even stalked by a cat while I was on my walk and I didn’t pay it much mind.  So, I am probably good with cats too.)  Play Break!


My friends at LCAL are teaching me manners.  I am so smart I already know Sit and Watch.  But sometimes in my puppy enthusiasm I don’t pay attention.  My forever family will need to continue to train me so that I am a well behaved boy.   This is me on my walk yesterday meeting some humans.  Hellooooo there!  And me in puppy training class.  I am very eager to please.


Hey do you have any treats?  I love a good treat.  My LCAL friends give me Kongs and Nyla Bones to keep me occupied.  Nothing beats a Kong filled with peanut butter!  LCAL thinks I am a Doberman Chocolate Lab mix.  I weigh about 50 pounds and need to fill out a bit.  I am working on crate training and place training which helps me settle down when my humans need a break from my puppy energy.  And I have very nice leash manners if I do say so myself.  This is me taking a little break – playing is hard work!


So, if you are looking for a smart loveable puppy who was rescued by the Route 62 Angel, then I am your boy!  Now Back to Playing Everybody!



Last Chance at Life
3308 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92058
Phone: (442) 615-7437
Email: Info@LastChanceAtLife.org


Kuma: Picture Perfect with a Heart of Gold

Good Morning and Happy Palm Sunday and Passover Weekend!  I am Kuma which means “bear” in Japanese.  The Japanese folk story is that Kuma was once an abandoned cub living on a Japanese estate.  The family discovered him and took him in as a pet.  Kuma was smart and very athletic and reached his full potential with his family.   As an abandoned pup myself, I think I have a lot in common with my namesake and can’t wait to find a family that discovers my true potential!  This is a picture of me at my interview!


First things first!  I heard some wonderful news on Friday!  My friend Henry the Love Bug was adopted!  His foster mom decided she couldn’t part with him and now good old Hank gets to stay with his brother Smokey!  These are the good news stories we like to hear at LCAL!

My friend Stewart is still looking for a home.  This picture was taken of Sweet and Sassy Stewart last week when he went for a hike to see the wildflowers.  Great shot of him, don’t you think?  (Us little Shepherd Mixes have to look out for each other.)


Speaking of hiking, I love a good hike.  I am a very athletic three year old who has been known to jump a fence of two when kept in a yard.  So, I would do best with an active family who keeps me inside when not supervised.  I am very trustworthy inside especially when I have big furry siblings for company.  Or human siblings for that matter,  I love kids!  Cats not so much.  I am hardwired to chase anything little that moves.  So, no hamsters or guinea pigs for me.  (But really who needs a guinea pig when you have ME?!)  This picture was taken when I hiked with my friends at Camp Pendleton.  The marines LOVED me.  I walk very nicely on a leash.


I also know when it is time to take a nap and I can nap just about anywhere.  This was me back at the office after my hike.   Nothing beats a good snuggle.


Hey!  Did someone mention another hike?  I am ready to go!


I was so happy to have an interview on Friday because it meant extra time outside with my humans doing what I love to do.  This is a picture of me with my best friend Nicci.  Stewart and I LOVE Nicci!


And this is me giving Nicci kisses because I am grateful for my walk.  My friends at LCAL affectionately refer to me as a Velcro dog.  But that is just because I love my humans and I want to be with them.


I love to play fetch too!  I made sure to show off my skills with a ball during my interview.


So, if you are looking for an athletic affectionate girl who loves her humans (even small humans); enjoys hikes and walks; plays fetch; and snoozes in the afternoon – I am That Girl!  Come meet me and realize MY full potential!55575678_10214497851261937_1585175856613949440_n

Last Chance at Life
3308 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92058
Phone: (442) 615-7437
Email: Info@LastChanceAtLife.org

Flynn Rider: A Little Dog with a BIG Personality


Good Morning and Happy Monday! How ya doin’? The name’s Flynn Rider. In case you aren’t a Disney fan, I am named for the swashbuckler in Tangled. And just like my name sake – I am known for my quick wit and charm. I was at the Petco adoption event this Saturday and did my best to impress. Here is a picture of me and my friend Pam.


I am about two years old and I was found as a stray. LCAL says I am an Australian Terrier and the American Kennel Club calls me “Spirited, alert, courageous and self-confident.” What does that mean exactly? Well, I am not your typical Little. So, if you are looking for a delicate lap dog – that is not me. I am spunky! And I love to play with my ball. (But I am not a fetcher. I leave that for labs like Henry.) I need moderate exercise to keep me busy. In fact, my friends think agility training would be just the thing for my hearty personality.

I enjoy my foster home because I have two furry foster brothers to play with. We run and tackle each other – I never get tired of it! I also live with a bird – but I am a little too interested in him to be trusted. Honestly, every good Hero needs a bird, don’t ya think?
I am very bonded with my foster mom and when she is around I can be a little indifferent to other Humans. Mom says I am “smart as heck!” And all my joyous energy means I try to swashbuckle with every dog I meet. Sometimes, these dog friends tell me “No! I don’t want to play Flynn Rider!” (That just means I will try again later. Nothing beats a good adventure romp with friends.) I also like treats. This is a picture of me sitting pretty for a treat from Pam.


I am eager to please and while I don’t LOVE walking on the leash, if my foster brothers are going out, I definitely do not want to be left behind. I would love a home with other dogs and a fenced yard to stretch my legs. Would you consider taking me home? My LCAL friends say I am a Hoot!


Contact Us
Last Chance at Life
3308 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92058
Phone: (442) 615-7437
Email: Info@LastChanceAtLife.org

California Cody and TPLO Surgery The First Six Weeks


Good Morning and Happy Hump Day! I am at Week 6 now and well on the road to recovery. I did have a few setbacks and I am looking forward to being able to play again. Being quiet is so hard for me! I thought I would give you an update on how things have gone. Hopefully it will help if you ever consider TPLO surgery for your fur baby.
The hardest thing about the first two weeks was wearing that dang Cone of Shame 24/7. Luckily I’m pretty adaptable. I am a big guy, with a big head and that Cone was HUGE! I got used to it hitting walls and furniture in my confined space and I learned how to drink and eat without too much trouble. But, I missed my soft bed under my head – that plastic was NO FUN! This is a picture of me in the yard. I was allowed to sit outside with Dad to get some sun. But always on that dang leash!

Co out
Then, just when Mom, Dad and Abby had gotten used to being wacked with Cone every day, I reached my two week mark! Hurray! Time to get my staples out! These pictures are my last night with CONE. I am so happy I will have my own head back tomorrow.
Co In

Co and Dad

Dad drove me to Bernardo Heights Animal Hospital early one Saturday. I recognized where I was in the parking lot and DID NOT WANT TO GO INSIDE. Dad half carried me and half dragged me using The Sling. The ladies took me back and a few minutes later I came out and the staples were gone! But I still had Cone on my head. They explained it would be good to wear Cone for a few more days until the soreness went away. “WHAT?! I have been waiting 14 DAYS to get this thing off my head!” I howled. Dad looked even more disappointed than me. But he lifted me into the truck and I went home.

When we got home, Dad opened up the door to the back seat and I leaped out of the truck and landed on Dad’s head. Dad fell over trying to catch me and save my leg. We both ended up laying in the street. Cone had caught on the back seat during my flight – like a parachute. It was now in pieces. Dad took it as A Sign and that was the last of Cone. Two weeks was a huge milestone – but tough times were just beginning.

Over the next 2 weeks, I still had to stay in a spare bedroom by myself during the day and night. It is the only carpeted place in the house with a door and it was very important I did not slip on the floors. This wasn’t a big deal at the beginning when I was feeling bad – but now that I was better – it was TORTURE!  This is depressed me.


During Week 3, I started to bark and howl during the night to voice my displeasure. I got Dad up at all hours of the night for potty breaks. (I didn’t really have to go – I just wanted some company!) Then, one day I’d had enough. I started to dig. I dug and I dug and I dug. I was trying to dig right through the floor and find a secret passage OUT OF THAT ROOM!

Mom came home first. She could not understand why Door was stuck. She pushed and she pushed. When she finally got Door open a few inches – she squeezed through. She was not happy. Carpet had been dug up, unraveled, and was smashed up against Door. I was not sorry one bit! “Now maybe I will get out of this room!” I barked at Mom. (I never bark – so Mom knew this was serious.) Mom took me for a short walk even though I had given her a headache. After that day, some things changed for the better. But then I had The Setback.


During Week 4, Mom and Dad let me stay in their bedroom at night. During the day, I still had to go back to my room. But, now Abby was staying with me. That was much better. I was satisfied. Unfortunately for me, I became overly exuberant while walking on my leash and jumped up to play with Abby. I came down on my leg. I immediately lifted my leg and refused to put it down. Later that night I could toe-tap when I walked, but something was wrong. Mom and Dad were very worried. Mom tried to put ice on my leg – but I was having NONE of that.

This is Abby. She is upset because I am hurt.


Dad took me to back to Bernardo Heights early the next morning before work. Nobody slept that night because we thought I had broken my knee. Dr. Anderson moved my leg around and announced that I was OKAY! He prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication and sent us on our way. “Short, controlled walks on the leash!” he said when he waved good bye. Dad just nodded wearily.

The last two weeks have a big improvement! Grandmom came to visit and kept me and Abby company. Thank goodness for Grandmom! This helped a lot with being bored and lonely. My leg is much better now but I still have two weeks until I go back to Bernardo Heights for my x-rays. Then, we will know if my bones have healed properly and if I can FINALLY start exercising. (Newfy Labs were not meant to be sedentary and I am afraid I am losing my buff body.) I am really looking forward to taking long walks and running in the yard with Abby. I took my deflated basketball with me on my last walk – but it wasn’t the same as chasing it across the grass. And I know Abby needs help racing after those skate boarders! Let’s keep our paws and fingers crossed for good news on April 11th guys!