Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's Time for Pet Bowl!

Ya know what's great about spring besides the start of baseball season, warmer weather and longer walks with your four-legged best friend?

Pet Bowl!

ALIVE Rescue's 7th annual Pet Bowl, on Saturday, April 18, at the historic Timber Lanes, 1851 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago, includes free shoe rental, vegetarian buffet and dessert, and a live auction. Everyone in attendance will receive a Stayin' Alive gift bag. 

The second shift (Adult Bowl, 9:15 p.m. - 12:45 a.m.) has sold out, but tickets are still available for the first shift (All Ages Bowl, 4 - 6 p.m.) Bumper bowling for the kids is available upon request.

All proceeds from Pet Bowl go toward animals at ALIVE needing medical attention.

In addition to helping the cats and dogs of ALIVE, you'll be having fun in an old school city institution with a remarkable past. According to the Timber Lanes website, www.timberlanesbowl.com

• Timber Lanes was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, after the graves were moved to another location. Still, rumor has it the bowling alley is haunted!

• The property was once a safe house for slaves seeking emancipation in the 1860s. A network of tunnels as part of the Underground Railroad ran through the property.

• The original lanes were made of wood that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. 

• It was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Al Capone, Charlie Chaplin and Babe Ruth were among the notable personalities who enjoyed a drink here.

• Actor John Goodman practiced for his role in The Big Lebowski at Timber Lanes.

Tickets for Pet Bowl are $35 in advance, $45 at the door. To purchase tickets, visit www.aliverescue.org or www.eventbrite.com/e/7th-annual-pet-bowl-tickets-15923499616.

Special thanks to our host Timber Lanes and sponsors Second City Scooters, Urban Pooch, Canine Crews, the Alley Ballard Team, Ruff Haus Pets, Integrative Pet Care, Sam & Willy's, Nichole Beck and Roscoe Village Animal Hospital.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Reach Out Days are a Win-Win-Win

A barking dog brought a reclusive resident at an assisted living facility out of her room for the first time in many weeks. She smiled as she walked into the hallway and began petting the dogs visiting on one of ALIVE’s Reach Out Days.

Understanding the power dogs possess to generate happiness, love and calm, ALIVE developed Reach Out Days to share some joy among residents of assisted living facilities, nursing homes, residential and therapeutic day schools for children, and people with brain injuries or illnesses.

Reach Out Days were started with the idea of giving back to the community, by providing interaction and socialization with animals to persons in need of companionship,” said Carolyn Jones, coordinator of Reach Out Days. “Our goal is to comfort such people within our community and connect them to our animals.”  

Dog as ice breaker

Volunteers, who typically bring their own dogs (and sometimes a dog up for adoption at ALIVE), have witnessed forlorn residents perk up and share stories, memories, jokes and just carry on a conversation in general when dogs enter the room. Conversations really begin flowing when the sick or elderly pet the visiting dogs.

Lisa Dartt often volunteers with her dog Midge.

“The dogs can draw people out,” she said. “They laugh and smile and chat with us about animals they might have had in their lives. We can be a welcome distraction for an hour or so. They can chat with us about what is going on with them or, if not, we can chat about the dogs.”

The visits are a win-win-win situation, as both volunteer and dog benefit from the interaction, too.

Chelsie Lukens, who volunteers with her dog Pierre, enjoys the conversations with elderly residents and leaves content knowing she and Pierre helped improve someone’s day.

“I just wanted to take their mind off of being cooped up in one building for the rest of their lives,” she said. “To give them a bit of happiness in what, I assume, is a very frustrating time in their lives.”

One conversation with a woman at a rehab center was so moving for Chelsie, she made a promise to herself.

“She started crying as she was petting Pierre and we were talking, I had just asked about her family,” Chelsie said. “She had seven kids, all grown with children of their own, all in Illinois, but she never sees any of them. She raised them as a single mom by herself, as an immigrant, but none of her children ever visit her. That really resonated with me, and I made a vow to never let my mom whither away by herself.”

And the dogs love the attention, especially if they’re waiting for a forever home at ALIVE. No matter what breed they are, they all become attention hounds on Reach Out Days.

“Sometimes our own adoptable Barn residents or foster dogs are able to attend the Reach Out visits,” Carolyn said. “The dogs get the stimulation of a day out in the world, meeting people and getting lots of love and attention!”

Register for Reach Out

Anyone who is a registered ALIVE volunteer can participate in Reach Out Days. (To register, fill out the volunteer form at www.aliverescue.org and sign the waiver.) There are no special requirements for dogs to participate other than they must have a good disposition. They should be comfortable being around and being touched by strangers and do well around other dogs.

“Also, it is fine if a volunteer wants to come without a dog, and just talk and socialize with the participants,” Carolyn said.

Taking part in Reach Out Days can change a person’s life, as Lisa saw the day the withdrawn woman emerged from her room and on subsequent visits.

“She came over to us and was smiling and petting the dogs, she had tears in her eyes,” Lisa recalled. “I saw her on two other occasions. Once, in her room, where we saw she had a stuffed animal dog on her bed and she was very happy to see us. Midge spent some time on her bed. The next time, she was up and out in the lunch room looking alert and much improved.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What You May Not Know About Fostering

Brita, who has been with ALIVE Rescue a long time, is still waiting for a foster or forever home.

By Ranise Coppens

Fostering an animal can be looked at from a rescue organization standpoint as the single most important part to saving a life. Rescues all across the United States have the financial resources to  pull an animal from a shelter, but no place to temporarily house it.

That is where fostering comes in.

The most common reason for animals being euthanized in a shelter is, simply, space issues.

Most people don't realize how easy a responsible rescue organization will make fostering for you and your family.

All the supplies you need will be given to you, transportation can be supplied for your foster pet to go to and from vet visits and adoption events, and the animal will be getting exposure to attract the right adopters. 

It’s beneficial to the animal because he/she gets to transition from the shelter into a place that will be a lot like their adopted home.

Basic training and socialization, which a foster home can provide, also makes the animal more adoptable. It's also a huge advantage for the rescue organization to have a foster family, so they can pass along information about the animal's characteristics to potential adopters.

Some people think it will be to hard to give up the animal they have bonded with when the time comes for the animal to be adopted. But it truly is one of the most unselfish ways to directly save an animal’s life. Not to mention that once your foster pet finds a home, there are so many other animals out there who need you.

Ranise Coppens is president of ALIVE Rescue Memphis and a former foster coordinator for ALIVE Rescue in Chicago.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shelter Shiver Keeps Animals Warm and Safe at ALIVE Rescue

Kick off 2015 by doing something warm-hearted for homeless animals.

Take a dip in Lake Michigan during the 6th Annual Shelter Shiver for ALIVE Rescue at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 4, at North Avenue Beach in Chicago!

Individuals and teams will participate in either the Shiver Swim, a full plunge into the frigid waters, the Chicken Dip, an ankle deep walk, or the I'll Meet You at the Meltdown, virtual participation. Don't worry. Others have braved a moment in the lake during the winter and survived. And really, what better way to show your Chicago pride?

Prizes will be awarded for Best Costume, Best Team Theme and Top Fundraisers, which will be awarded at a party following the Shelter Shiver at Joe's Bar, 940 W. Weed St., Chicago. Free appetizers, juice and pop will be served and drink specials offered to all participants.

If you don't feel like experiencing a little cold, maybe you'd like to sponsor a team or individual. For more information, check out ALIVE Rescue, http://www.aliverescue.org/, or visit us on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AliveRescue.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Giving Thanks for Our Pets

See that big lug sleeping on the sofa?

I'm very thankful for that guy, Trout, being in my life. He's been with me almost 10 years, and I wouldn't trade a day of his companionship.

I'm sure many of you feel the same way about your pet. So, when you're counting your blessings this Thanksgiving, make sure you include thanks for your four-legged friend.

My life would not be the same without Trout. He's been a constant through a few relationships that went South, two moves, two cars, career highs and lows and an in-between jobs time. He made the loss of my mom's dog easier for her to deal with, and he welcomed three new dogs into the family.

Trout has made sleeping in the woods easier when I knew there were bears out there. He also patrolled our campsites and chased off other critters he thought were a threat.

Trout remains alert every single night. Who knows what or who he's barking at at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday, but I'm glad he's here and keeping whatever or whoever out there. I sleep a lot better when Trout is around.

Trout's personality is gigantic. I love when he shows up and stares at me early in the morning as I contemplate taking on the day. I'm convinced my friends like me more because Trout makes them feel welcome after his happy dance by presenting them with a gift (usually one of his toys or one of my shoes). He can walk and howl at the same time. He watches airplanes fly overhead. He chases bees. He loves children. Sometimes he rests his head in the crook of my neck. He lets me use him as a pillow sometimes.

There are at least a thousand more reasons why I'm thankful for Trout being in my life. To show my thanks, I'm going to give him one of his favorite things: A long walk and some play time in the park. Your pet will be even more thankful for you if you also spend a little extra time with him or her during this busy holiday season.

I would be remiss if I didn't also give thanks for the shelter that cared for Trout before I met him. The shelter staff kept him in a clean space, treated him well, provided food, water and a comfortable place to lay his head at night. Trout, then Rocky, was a healthy and happy dog when we met.

If you got your dog or cat from a shelter or a rescue, you know how much work goes into caring for these homeless animals. If you didn't get your pet from such an organization, consider the cost and effort to care for your pet, then multiply it by the number of animals at your local shelter or rescue. Plus, the cost of utilities and the time spent staffing and performing the hundreds of other duties involved maintaining the organization.

Let's give thanks that these animals are being cared for and given a home until they get their forever home. Please consider showing your thanks by volunteering, making a donation, fostering or adopting.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let us know why you're thankful for your dog or cat in the comment section!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stay Fund is Keeping Families Together

Rescues do more than adopt out cats and dogs. For example, ALIVE Rescue offers several programs that address the needs of pets and owners, and work toward keeping pets with their families and out of shelters. The Stay Fund is a program ALIVE is very proud of.

The Stay Fund, developed by Cisley McPhail, ALIVE’s director of adoptions, is intended to help families with financial limitations who have dogs displaying behavior problems that can’t be easily rectified. Basically, ALIVE pays a trainer or certified veterinary behaviorist, or CVB, to work with the dog and owner to resolve the issue, which can be expensive.

Not long ago, while seeking help for some dogs with serious behavior problems, McPhail realized the average person would have trouble affording the initial visit with a CVB, about $400. And, when some adopters who had dogs with behavior issues called McPhail looking for help, she felt helpless just giving advice, sending them some articles and recommending they contact a trainer or CVB. “I knew they were at the end of their rope with finances,” she said, “and it was unlikely they would end up calling trainers/behaviorists.”

So, she began developing a scholarship program for dogs and owners in this kind of situation. “I feel like that's a major reason pets are relinquished to shelters,” she said, “and there aren't many avenues for help.”

The Stay Fund scholarship is for dog owners who are committed to working with their dog, to make life better for it by resolving his or her behavior problem. The added benefit is that resolution makes life better for the rest of the family, too.

“People qualify for the Stay Fund by demonstrating dedication to helping their pet live a happier life. It's not about getting the pet to do something just to make the owner's life easier, although that's often a perk,” McPhail said. “It's about wanting to help the pet get over his/her anxiety/fear/stress.”

Tiffany and her dog Axle were one of the first recipients.

“Tiffany had already tried things with her vet and another trainer with her dog, Axle,” McPhail said. “She was laid off from her job and needed help. She made it clear she was willing to do whatever it took, so long as it was positive for Axle, to keep from having to relinquish him.”


A lot of dogs don’t like getting baths, but Roy became downright surly whenever his new owner Erin tried to bathe or groom him. McPhail said determining Roy had fear aggression issues was easy shortly after getting him from Chicago Animal Care and Control and noticing his coat was severely matted. Obviously, he wouldn’t let anyone groom him.

But, Erin was determined to help the little guy deal with his fear aggression. Life for Roy got better after his new family received a Stay Fund scholarship.

“His amazing new mom tried many things to get him groomed, and ultimately had to resort to sedating him and having him shaved,” McPhail said.  “After she was awarded the scholarship, she had two sessions with trainer Lisa Collins, worked very hard with Roy at home, and now he is voluntarily getting in the bath tub!”  

McPhail added, “Our trainers are amazing and subscribe only to positive reinforcement methods. We've personally met with every one of them and observed their training methods and styles. We select the trainer to work with based on the behavior issue in question, physical geography and availability. For CVBs, there is a very limited number of them in our area, so we would coordinate with whomever had availability and was geographically closest to our applicant.”

ALIVE partners with Applied Animal Behavior, Collins Canine, Anything is Pawzible, Barker Behavior and Sally Bushwaller to provide training and behavior modification.

“We're always looking for more partners, though,” McPhail said, adding any interested positive-reinforcement trainers or behaviorists should email ALIVE at info@aliverescue.org.

Ultimately, the Stay Fund keeps dogs out of shelters because dog owners get the help they and their dog need, but might not be able to afford, and the family stays intact.

“The Stay Fund,” McPhail said, “helps keep owners and dogs together because it gives committed owners a way to get help for issues that just can't be dealt with in a class setting or with books or public resources.”

The Stay Fund, which is just one of the programs offered by ALIVE, relies heavily on donations. If you’d like to help dog and family stay together, please consider donating to the Stay Fund, http://www.aliverescue.org/donate/donate-stay-fund/.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gonna Bust a Move (and Throw Out My Back) for the Chicago Community Pet Coalition

I'm not a good dancer. Really, I can't dance at all.

When I was a kid in junior high, everyone but me went to dance classes. I wanted to learn how to play the guitar and be the reason everyone was dancing, so I took guitar lessons instead. Bad move. I failed at playing guitar. My teacher encouraged me to quit. Now, many years later, I stand at the edge of the dance floor, watching everyone else twirl, dip, move their feet to the music accordingly, and I think, "Doh! I sure wish I knew how to dance!"

Well, no more! This Saturday night, Aug. 30, is the Hideout Dance Party benefiting the Chicago Community Pet Coalition, made up of ALIVE Rescue, New Leash on Life and One Tail at a Time, and I plan on hitting the dance floor! Don't be alarmed. I'm not having a seizure. Those are my moves.

I've chosen to embarrass myself for a very good cause. The CCPC, http://communitypetcoalition.org/, formed in March 2014 with the aim of keeping pets off the streets and out of shelters by making it easier for low income families to keep their dogs. Food and health care for pets can get expensive, so the CCPC relieves some of the financial strain by offering vaccinations, microchipping, vouchers for spay/neuter procedures, collars, leashes, toys and food — all for free — at the coalition's Community Pet Days.

At its first Community Pet Day, on May 18, the CCPC helped 237 dogs in Humboldt Park in just about four hours! It was an amazing day. Dog owners were happy and grateful and volunteers were happy that more than 230 dogs would be living healthier lives with the families they love.

So, I will gladly pay $20 to attend the dance party at one of Chicago's coolest venues. While I'll receive kudos for my dance moves (which really translate as, "You're an idiot. Keep up the good work"), I'll leave more content that I helped some families and their dogs stay together than proud that I overcame my fear of dancing.

Please consider joining me (but watch your feet) at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30, at the Hideout Inn, 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or at http://www.hideoutchicago.com/event/625605-chicago-community-pet-chicago/