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

A Thanksgiving Puppy Poem

It was Thanksgiving Week and all through the days


New pups kept arriving – shelters had run out of space.


And the Village responded with its usual grace.


A volunteer took Niko hiking the trails.


And walkers came out despite some strong gales.


Pearl was adopted by a family who signs!


And Bella found HER Humans – it was about time.


For Blessing/Lobo its a holiday first – he’s thankful and hopeful his spirit well nursed.


LCAL fosters so special to open their homes


And help the pups heal – so they won’t be alone.


Hey!  Prince got adopted the coup he has flown!


Alana is happy and sad – on her heart he had grown.


So on this day the pups have taken the time.


To write a few words – in a poem that rhymes.


So thankful we are to all be alive.


Thank you to The Village that helps us all thrive.



Montana Mona: The Huskies Have It!

Good morning SOCAL and Happy Friday!  We are coming up on Thanksgiving week and I am stepping up to blog about my favorite subject.  Huskies!  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Mona and I was rescued two years ago from a hoarding situation by my emotional support animal Emma!  Here is a picture of me with Emma.


Before I go any further, let me introduce you to my LCAL Buddies:  Niko and Zephyr.

Every day is a great day if you ask Niko.  He is playful and loves people.  He does great with other dogs when properly introduced.  He is always looking for some fun and if there is not an adventure to be had – he can be found playing in his water dish.  Niko is such a beauty he was featured in the LCAL 2020 Calendar!  Here is his glamour photo!


And here is Niko at the LCAL Halloween Party!  He was such a good sport about putting on a costume for the event!  Thanks Niko!


And Zephyr is a total heartthrob.  In fact, I have a big crush on him.  He has David Bowie eyes and is a smaller Husky closer to my size.  (Hey that rhymed.  I am a poet and didn’t know it!  Emma write that down!)   And he loves running, hiking, and playing.  Here is Zephyr’s glamour photo.


And here is Zephyr enjoying a play date with friends.  He just loves dogs and people.


Like most Huskies, Zephyr is a smart guy and would do best with an active family who has time for training and adventuring.

So why adopt a Husky?  Let me tell you a few things you might not know.  First, Huskies love to nap and cuddle.


We like to howl when fire trucks go by.


We are athletic and like to hike and camp when the weather is cool.  (And most of us should be kept leashed.  We have a pretty strong prey drive and love a good chase.  I am the rare Husky that will not leave her emotional support animal’s side.  Wait for me Emma!)


And Huskies can look a little wolfish and love to pretend they are on a wilderness adventure – even in their own back yard.  Hey Emma!  I need you to clip my toe nails!


Most Huskies are good natured and love to play with other dogs when we have been properly introduced.  This is a picture of me with our summer foster Harley.  Harley was a baby and didn’t have very good manners.  But I taught him the ropes of being an inside dog.


Hey Harley!  Give me back my stuffy!  Patty Platypus isn’t for sharing.


Is there anything a Husky doesn’t like?  Well, yes.  Getting our anal glands expressed at the vet.  That is no fun!  (I didn’t talk to Emma for the rest of the day.)


We are very smart and are known to be a little sassy.  This is me giving Emma a little Husky sass because she is not paying attention to me.  Hey Emma!  Take a study break and let’s go see the neighborhood goats!


So, if you can handle a little shedding and are looking for an athletic, happy family member to take on adventures – consider adopting my friends Zephyr and Niko.  They would love to find their FURever family.  This is Niko saying “Hey guys!  Give me a home for the holidays!”  #lastchanceatlife.org


Montana Mona says “The Huskies have It!”






Zach’s Veterans’ Day Blog


Good Morning Everyone!  Happy Veteran’s Day Weekend.  I am Zach and this is my glamour photo above.  I love playing in the water and if a pool isn’t handy – my water dish will do!

Before I get into all the happenings at LCAL this past month, I would like to take a moment to thank all our veterans for their service to our country!  We are the land of the free because of the brave!  And a special shout out to all our LCAL Vets….especially our active duty service members Eesha and Sean.  You make us proud!  Hey Sean, we can’t wait for you to get back from deployment and meet all the new pups!

Okay, back to me!  I can’t believe it is November already!  October was such a busy month with volunteer trainings, adoption events, holiday calendar creations, and volunteer appreciation night!  Woosh!  Before we knew it, October was gone and none of us pups had written a blog.  So, here I am.

First!  Let me tell you about JoJo!  JoJo came to us a year ago as a puppy with Mega Esophagus.  That is a fancy way of saying that when JoJo eats, food comes back up from her stomach.   It is dangerous because the food can find its way into her lungs.  Plus, it makes her very skinny.  When JoJo came back to us, she had pneumonia and we weren’t sure she was going to make it!  But medical needs are an LCAL specialty!  She recovered and has now been adopted by her veternarian!  What a perfect FURever family for JoJo!   Not only that, but her special chair arrived.  She sits in this after eating so her food stays in her belly!  Doesn’t she look great!  Way to go JoJo!


We also had TWO adoption events in October!  Look who came out looking for her FURever family?  Hey Bella!  So nice to see you greeting families at PETCO.  That is the best way to find your FURever family.  Hee Hee.  This picture makes me think of Little Red Riding Hood.  But don’t tell Bella I said that!


Amanda and the Board also planned a Volunteer Appreciation Night so us pups could say Thank You to the LCAL Village!  Here are some pictures from that night.  We got dressed up in our Halloween Costumes which was so much fun.  This is Niko hoping for a cupcake.


This is me!  Sitting pretty for a volunteer.


Appa (AKA Bubba now) couldn’t make it but his FURever family sent us a picture of him.  He got dressed up to show his support!  We miss you Bub!


Bella has too much dignity to put on a Halloween costume but she chatted with our volunteers just the same!


Thank you to everyone who made this night so special.

Jamie and her calendar committee worked hard on our holiday fundraiser last month too.  I probably shouldn’t tell…. but guess who made the cover!  STEWART!  Hurray!  We miss you buddy!  I heard you are loving life with your FURever family.  (SSHHHH.  Act surprised when you see it.)


OKay, now let’s talk about me!  I was saved by LCAL when they rescued me and a bunch of my friends from death row!  It was a close one.  LCAL volunteers drove SEVEN hours round trip to save us!  All of us are good with Humans and other dogs, walk well on the leash, and have sunny dispositions.  We think I might be part Beagle and part Cattle Dog.  I can be a little camera shy.  Here is a picture of me with Jamie and she is trying to get me to smile at the camera.


Oh alright!  I will cooperate for one more picture.


All the girls tell me I have the most beautiful eyes.


But my friend Zephyr is the real heartthrob around here.


The Marines like to say Adapt and Overcome.  I think that is especially significant for all of us at LCAL.  Us pups have found resilience through our adversity.  And we are so thankful to the LCAL Village for giving us a chance at life and to meet our FURever families.  So if you or someone you know is looking for a FURever family member, stop by and say Hello!  This is Zach saying Over and Out!




The Village Prince


Good Morning Everyone!  Happy Thursday morning!  The weekend is almost here!  Hurray!  Let me introduce myself, I am Prince!  Blessing mentioned me last month when I was just starting to recover from my surgery.  My Foster Mom, Alana, is taking such good care of me.  And keeping a 100 pound Dobie like me sedated is no easy job – let me tell you.  This is a recent photo of me in my yard.  Don’t I look the part of a noble prince in this picture?  Mom says don’t let this picture fool you because I am really a big goof ball.  I am showing more of my goofy personality in my Glamour Photo.


So, as my buddy Blessing mentioned last month, I had a Boo Boo on my toe.  The LCAL volunteers took good care of me and put medicine on it twice a day.  (This was not fun for any of us.)  But it just didn’t get any better.  Then I started getting kennel stress.  Us Dobies are working dogs and being cooped up in a kennel is torture!  That is when Alana, my Foster Mom came to my rescue.  She took me home and I settled right in with her.  (I actually went to Foster Mom Lisa’s house first – but I was a little too interested in her cat.  I swear I wasn’t doing ANYTHING!  But they were having none of my shenanigans.)

Once I settled into Mom’s house, I went to the Vet and got the news that no one likes to hear.  I had Spindle Cell Carcinoma.   These are connective tissue tumors which luckily grow slowly.   But Mom was still devastated for me, I am only four years old after all!  At first it looked like I might lose my leg.  Mom advocated for me, and since it was a low grade tumor, the Vet decided to just take my toe.  Whew!  Then came the Cone of Shame.


As you can see from this picture, I was feeling a little depressed.  Mom felt bad for me, so when I snuck up on the couch, she just let me stay there.  My buddy California Cody sent me pictures of his Cone of Shame to try and cheer me up.  And it did help.  Doesn’t he look silly? IMG_1433

And this is Cody now, 8 months post TPLO surgery.  This gives me hope because hard times do eventually pass.


Okay, back to ME!  Mom takes such good care of me, that I am embarrassed to tell you the next part of this story.  But do you remember when Cody was sad and shredded his bedroom carpet?  Well, one day my Mom found me like this.


I am sorry Mom!  I was sad and lonely and Bed was bothering me!  Mom understood.  I am a good boy after all.   This is me giving hugs and saying sorry for my mischief.  Mom says it’s hard to keep a good Dobie down.  We are busy boys.


Now Mom says that she knows I am feeling better because my true personality is coming out.  I love kids and other dogs.  I love to play!  And I take my Watching the House job very seriously.  If you come by, you might hear my belly growl or even a warning bark.  Then I run around and grab Stuffies to make things a little more fun.

Here is me hanging outside.  What a beautiful day!  Wait, do I hear someone approaching? “Hey who’s there?  Present yourself Human!”


Last week, Mom took me for a ride in her car.  I love Car Rides!  The simple abundance of the wind in your ears is such a treat!


I am healing up nicely and Mom told me I might have a FURever Family waiting for me!  I am trying not to get my hopes up too high because you never know how things will work out.  But I am keeping all my other toes crossed.  (Gotta remember to laugh in the face of adversity!)  Some people ask Mom how she can Foster and then give us up.  “Isn’t is just too hard?”  They ask.

Well, that is why Foster Families are so special.  They love us for a little while.  Often at times when we are not at our best.  They give us space to heal emotionally and physically.  And then when we find our FURever Families they let us go.  And that is true love?  Don’t you think?

Counting Our Blessings


Good morning everyone!  What a beautiful Saturday!  My name is Blessing and I joined the LCAL Village all the way from the Philippines!  It is quite a story – but before I get to ME – I want to give a shout out to my friend Prince!


Prince is a big lover – totally goofy – and easily makes friends with dogs!  He LOVES butt scratches and bringing toys to his Humans.  He is a Big Boy weighing in at 115 pounds – but needs to lose about 15 of those.  Prince came to LCAL with a Boo Boo on his toe.  When it didn’t seem to be getting any better he went to the Vet and we found out it was Spindle Cell Carcinoma.  We were so worried!  Prince lost his toe.  BUT the good news is that the radio graphs came back clear and it looks like he is going to be just fine.  Prince doesn’t seem to be missing his toe – he has other toes after all.  And just this week he was out riding around with his foster mom, Alana and his furry foster brothers.  We are truly counting our blessings with Prince and know he will make a wonderful addition to a lucky Rescue Family.


Okay guys!  Back to My Story!  My best friends Nicci and Rebekah went to the Philippines to do some volunteer rescue work.  Rebekah had deployed to the Philippines several times in the Marine Corps and had met a bunch of Rescue Ladies there.  Here is a picture of the kennels.


I started my life as a stray on the streets and then was picked up by the City Pound.  These pounds don’t provide any resources for us – but it is better than the streets.  Eight years ago, the Rescue Ladies bribed a pound employee so they could go in and help take care of us.   They would come in on Saturdays and Sundays and for awhile that was the only time my friends and I were getting fed.  Man, those were hungry years!  Unfortunately, people in the Philippines don’t adopt dogs very often – so I spent 7 long years in this kennel.  Things are a little better now, but there is still no money for treats, beds, or toys.  None of us really know how to be dogs.  Here is a picture of me while I was living there!


If you think I look happy, you are right!  I was thankful for every new sun rise!  I have quite the resilient nature.  And then, one day EVERYTHING changed for me.  Originally, Nicci and Rebekah planned to raise money for a spay and neuter clinic but then they met ME and decided I needed to join the LCAL Village!  They started fundraising and Nicci donated money from her business BGPhoDOGraphy.com.  Nicci’s wonderful portraits help get us Rescues adopted!  In fact, here is a picture she took of me!  Isn’t she talented?


They worked hard and finally they came back for me!  I always knew they would!


The Ladies named me Blessing.  But really Nicci, Rebekah and the LCAL Village are the true Blessings.  They have brought such support, good will and protection to us Rescues!  And then there is my foster mom, Colleen!  She is a wonder!  She opens her home to us and provides a safe loving place for us Rescues to heal and learn to be dogs again.   Here is a picture of Mom with Princess Lucy at a Petco event!

Lucy and Colleen

Mom says I am full of joy and curiosity, easy to train, and walking better on a leash every day.  I love dogs, cats and even birds!  And I barked for the first time last week and I surprised Mom with a deep throaty “Good Morning Mom!  What’s for breakfast?!”


Amazingly,  I seemed to have sloughed off the memories and experiences of my early life quite easily and have quickly adapted to being a pet.  Mom says I am never less than gentle and love my toys and treats!  I have learned to sleep in a bed and play with my furry foster brothers.  I have decided that couches are an amazing invention!  And I even give kisses – but just to Mom.  So, on this beautiful Saturday morning I leave you all with this thought.  There is nothing better than giving and receiving love.  That is the Blessing for all of us.  Don’t you agree?  So, in a world where we can be anything, let’s all be loving and kind!


If you or someone you know might be interested in adopting Blessing or Prince contact Last Chance at Life Rescue.  Or consider making a donation or checking out BGphoDOGgraphy.com so the LCAL Village can continue their important work.

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


How Sweet Stein Learned to Trust


Good Evening and Happy Tuesday everyone!  September is in full swing and this past weekend we had our monthly adoption event at Petco!  Let me introduce myself, my name is Stein and that is my glamour photo above!  It was a really Big Deal for me to be a greeter at the event this weekend because I am very shy.  I have been working with Robin on trust and it is really paying off.  I actually came out from behind the table to say hello to people on Saturday!

Now before I tell you more about myself, let’s share some good news stories!  Guess what?!  Stewart found his FURever Family at the National Dog Day event!  It made our hearts so happy for him.  Way to go Stewart!


AND Clooney went on a sleepover this weekend with a wonderful lady who thought he was her perfect match!  Hurray for Clooney!


Not only that, but BOTH Fluffy and Lilly were adopted this past week!  Puppy Power!  So, there has been lots of good news in the LCAL community.


Okay, back to me.  I have a story to tell – so let’s get started.  I began my life in an abusive home with owners who were cruel.  Luckily, I was saved by a shelter and eventually found my way to LCAL.  The Village knew I wouldn’t do well at the kennel because I was so nervous.  Every strange sound made me startle and relaxing was impossible.  LCAL found a foster home for me and the nice lady picked me up and brought me to her house.  But Humans were very scary to me back then and as soon as I arrived in her driveway – I leaped out of the car and ran away.  I really thought I was running for my life because I hadn’t learned to Trust yet.

The LCAL community sprang into action and tracked me for about a week all over Oceanside.  They would field calls from the neighbors and try to guess where I might be headed next.  It was a long week out there on my own – running from everything and everybody.  But the LCAL Village finally found me and I went to live with my foster parents Karen and Martin.  This is me on my bed.  Don’t I look content?


The compassion and consistency Karen and Martin (AKA Mom and Dad) have shown me – has made a real difference in my life.  And Robin has worked hard with me – so that I can be my best self.  Little by little I am learning to trust Humans and my anxiety is being replaced with a sweet, sensitive and gentle personality.  I have formed a strong bond in my foster home and Mom tears up when she tells the story of how far I have come.  I even play with my furry foster brother!  Who knew I could learn how to play?

Finding me was a very important Milestone for LCAL – it gave our community the strength to continue our important work!  Rescuing is a calling that can often result in Compassion Fatigue.  It is hard to connect empathically with people and animals who are suffering…without taking some of that suffering on yourself.  And no matter how many of us are saved – there are many more who keep coming.  It is like a bottomless ocean of animals who need to find FURever families.  Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are common.  The key to managing Compassion Fatigue is good self-care and taking it one Rescue at a time.  LCAL likes to remember the Starfish Approach.   When we start to wonder if all our efforts will ever make a difference – we remember for that one Rescue – we are making ALL the difference.  And LCAL made all the difference for me.


And this gives us the strength to continue our work.  Over 1300 animals have been rescued by LCAL and most of them have special medical or mental health needs that would otherwise be disastrous for us.  So, thank you for all your efforts LCAL Village!  I am an example of the difference you make!

I do love Karen and Martin but I hope I can find my FURever family.  I will do best in a quiet, low traffic home.  I am fine with other dogs, in fact being part of a pack is beneficial for my anxiety.  I love to go walking, hiking and jogging and I walk very nicely on a leash.  Now that I have learned Trust, I form very close bonds with my Humans and feel safe enough to show my sweet side.  At four years young – I will be the perfect companion for many years to come.  If you think you might be interested in a 50 pound Dobie mix with a heart of gold – come check me out at LCAL!  Have a good week everyone!

National Dog Day – The Dogs’ Night Out


Good Evening and Happy National Dog Day! According to NationalDogDay.org, yesterday was a day that celebrated all breeds of dogs and helped motivate the public to recognize the number of us who need to be rescued each year, from shelters and rescue organizations.

We had so much fun celebrating at The Compass last night in Carlsbad. All the proceeds went to LCAL so that they can continue to save lives! Lots of people came out and even brought their own Fur Babies.


Oh! Let me introduce myself! My name is Fluffy. That is my glamour photo above. (Now that I am stretching out a bit – I don’t look so fluffy anymore – and it will be okay if my Forever Family gives me a more grown up name.)

I was one of over 25 puppies who were rescued from the desert this summer by the Angel of Route 62. Why humans insist on leaving us in the scorching desert without water – and easy prey for the coyotes is something I will never understand. It is so simple to drop us off at a shelter where we will be safe. But I digress. This is about National Dog Day and I want to keep things upbeat. Here is a picture of me last night at the event! I was sitting very pretty.


And here is a picture of my sister Lilly! We used to live together but we don’t any more – so it was nice to see her! She was being a little nosey because she wanted a treat.


“Helllooooo. Do you have a little something to share? Anybody interested in giving me a FURever Home?”


And here is Lilly playing in the garden at her Foster Mom’s House. Lilly loves to play outside.  She looks like she is missing me a little bit.

Lilly and I are most likely a Shepherd Hound Mix. I look like I have some Beagle in me -maybe. We are playful and athletic.  Once we warm up to you, we show our cuddly side too. We were giving out lots of kisses at the event last night! We will need a patient family who realizes that we are just babies who like training and consistency. We would both do well in an active home – ready to put in the time and love to help us be the best dog we can be.

Speaking of puppies, Lennox and Hendrix joined us last night too. They are still little, not big like me and Lilly. So, they stayed in the puppy pen unless they were getting cuddles. These guys were rescued by Angel of the Desert too! Look at the size of their feet! These guys are shepherd lab mixes who will probably be medium to large size dogs when they grow up.


This was a big night out for them and they got a little sleepy towards the end.


Okay – enough about puppies! Let’s talk about Blessings! Blessing is so new to LCAL, he isn’t even on our website yet. Blessing came all the way from the Philippines! One of our volunteers does Rescue Work there. Here is a picture of Blessing at The Compass last night.


Blessing spent seven years in a kennel. That is his WHOLE LIFE! When our volunteer was working in the Philippines, she fell in love and realized Blessing needed to come to LCAL. She arranged everything to get him here – and now he lives with his Foster Mom Colleen. You would think that Blessing would have some special needs – but he is very adaptable and gets along with his foster siblings just fine! He has learned what a bed is (very comfy) and he enjoys his regular meals, and occasional channel surfing on the couch.

Blessing has even learned what AFFECTION is. And not only does he accept affection from humans….he gives it too! Last night he showed us all what a wonderful boy he is and greeted all the humans with a big smile. Even the little humans. Makes you realize everything happens for a reason and Blessing was meant to be here with us. Welcome to the family little guy! We will help you find your FURever home!


Let’s see, who else was there tonight? Oh! Appa! Appa is a pure bred yellow lab and his prior owner developed a medical issue and needed to rehome him. He lived with two other large breed dogs and a cat. So, Appa pretty much loves everyone. He is a year old and about 50 pounds but needs to put on a little weight. Like any young lab, Appa has lots of energy and is curious and interested in everything.


He has training—sit, stay, lay down, place—but forgets that he knows this when he gets excited. He loves people and kids. Appa would do best in an active home. Someone who hikes or likes outings at dog parks and such, and is looking for a best bud. Here is Appa at Compass hanging out with Eesha and her friends. He is sitting pretty enjoying a beautiful evening out.


Here is Appa’s glamour photo.

And we can’t forget about Old Stewart. He was his distinguished self…quietly taking everything in last night. Sometimes Stewart can be a little nervous, but he is getting the hang of these adoption events and taking everything in stride. He still likes to stick his feet in the water bowls when no one is looking. He loves the feeling of the cool water on his tootsies. Nothing bothered Stewart last night, not the crowds, strange dogs, or loud music. He left a little early to get his beauty sleep but it was great having him around.


Oh!  And Frida was there too!  But truth be told – National Dog Day excitement was a bit much for Frida.  All the people and music had her a little shook up.  She stayed for a bit and then headed home with her Foster Mom.   Since we didn’t manage to get a picture of her – here is her glamour photo!


Ok Guys! That is about all you’re going to hear from me tonight because I stayed up WAAYYY past my bedtime to meet with everyone for National Dog Day! When you go to sleep tonight, let’s remember all the dogs that work selflessly to save lives and bring comfort to their humans. Some of us even put our own lives on the line every day – for law enforcement partners, for blind companions, and for humans needing a little extra help due to special needs. We are real life super heroes protecting our humans’ safety by detecting bombs and drugs, and even finding victims of tragedy and pulling them from wreckage! We are pretty amazing if I do say so myself. And deserve way more than being dumped in the desert. Eh? Good night Lilly! It was great seeing you Sissy!  Fluffy is out!


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