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#thankfulthursday

It's #thankfulthursday! There's no better time to tell you about someone very special here at Wagaroo. We are thankful for Brooke! Brooke is the heart and mind behind the hundreds of customer emails at Wagaroo, in addition to sharing the wonderful dog updates on our social media accounts. She guides rehoming owners through the posting and response process, at a time when they are feeling incredibly sad about having to rehome their pet. She introduces those owners to potential adopters. And she answers questions. So many questions. Each one answered with genuine compassion and care. Brooke truly loves helping animals and people!

Here are just a few of the comments we’ve received:

The attention to detail and customer service were brilliant!

Very supportive and helpful. Personal contact and follow up emails made me feel as if we weren't alone in the process.

I really liked Wagaroo. The professionalism and level of service was something I did not expect from a pet adoption site.

Everything was exceptional working with Wagaroo, cannot think of one thing that needs improving.

VERY GOOD. The introductions worked very well. I like that Wagaroo had a middleman that would initiate the introduction between myself and who ever was interested. It really got things going and it was nice to know that someone was there to offer help whenever need be. I also really liked the helpful tip emails. They were great to have and I really felt that she was with me through the whole process. This is an amazing website and I'm so thankful that I was able to find the perfect home for my puppy.

The advice was invaluable and well appreciated. I'd really like to thank Brooke for her wonderful guidance.

AROO to you, Brooke! From your Wagaroo team, from all the people you help each day, and from the more than 500 dogs who have skipped the shelter because of your work!  

Brooke and Fufie. Fun fact about Brooke. She loves all dogs, especially pugs!

A goodbye to our friend, Daisy

Friends, 

In 2013, we published this heartwarming Wag Story about Daisy and her family. Sadly, Daisy passed away this weekend. Her mom wrote a beautiful tribute that she has graciously shared with us and with you.  We hope you will read it and hug all your loved ones, the four-legged and two-legged ones, tight. Tonight and always. Our love goes out to Daisy's family during this sad time. 

-Elena, Brooke, and Christine

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For those who don't know, our sweet and crazy Daisy passed away this weekend. Thanks to my husband who decided we should bring her with us to Tahoe, she had a beautiful last couple of days enjoying the fresh air. She even climbed into the creek each morning for some cool relaxation. She received many pats on the head and ear scratches and she spent some beautiful quiet time with each of us as well. She waited for a quiet moment, when we were all out, to pass away. A nearby vet will take care of her remains and we will pick up her ashes in a couple of weeks.

Daisy had a tough start to life -a lost puppy in the streets of Oakland who was picked up by Oakland animal control and put into the city animal shelter. By luck, an SPCA representative from Vacaville visited the city shelter while Daisy was there and thought she showed potential as an adoptable dog. They took her to the SPCA in Vacaville and we found her advertised as Bernadette, the Bernese Mountain dog (no picture) on Petfinder. As luck would have it we were on our way north for a weekend in Tahoe and were able to meet her (love at first sight) and take her home. So appropriate that we welcomed her and said goodbye from the same spot.

Daisy has been by our sides for 11.5 years through thick and thin and we have a hole in our hearts today.  I like to think she is in a restful state somewhere with endless tummy rubs and swims and yummy food - perhaps even reuniting with other special family members who have passed. They will enjoy her singing voice and loyal companionship smiley

On our walk before we received the call, our four year old son exclaimed with amazement and enthusiasm that Daisy and daisys are the same and that 'Daisy is everywhere!'  He hadn't drawn the connection before and it was really sweet to hear him thinking it through. Beautiful timing in retrospect.

Bay Area Landlords Save Abandoned Dog

Bay Area landlords are in the news and the news is usually not good. Whether you’re reading a story about rents climbing ever higher or our low inventory of rentals for pet owners, you can’t help but imagine that the typical Silicon Valley landlord bears a striking resemblance to Scrooge McDuck.

Enter Joe and Jenny. Joe and Jenny own a duplex in Stockton, California. They allow pets.  Yes, that’s right. THEY ALLOW PETS! This already puts Joe and Jenny in the awesome landlord category, however they took pet-friendly to the next level recently when their renters left a dog behind after vacating. Think about that for a moment. Put yourself in the paws of that pup. You’re hanging out in your backyard, just as you’ve done thousands of times before. The sun is shining and you’re watching your people bustle about going back and forth to the car. When they drive away, you don’t worry. They’ll be back because they always come back. Except this time, they don’t. Not after one day. Not after two. Not after ten. This lovely dog was left on her own for ten days.

Joe and Jenny could have easily called animal control to report the dog and have an officer pick her up. Instead, these compassionate folks committed to finding this dog a home. That’s when their daughter, Gloria, contacted Wagaroo to ask about posting the brindle shepherd mix in our Family2Family program. When we shared our recommendations about what to do with an abandoned animal, Gloria replied with this happy news:  

“We’ve received such incredible support from all our family and friends (several have wanted to adopt her), but in the end, we fell in love with the sweet girl and just couldn’t part with her. She was very fearful at first, but we’ve had her for about 3 days now, and she’s just so sweet and bonded to us. Curry had her full check-up yesterday and shots - everything is looking great!”

Here’s to Joe, Jenny and family! They saw an animal in need and committed to finding her a home. In the meantime, they fell in love and gave Curry her forever home. Congratulations to this wonderful family and to one lucky pup! 

Our new favorite Curry. Sorry, Steph!

 

Happy Curry with her new family!

My wiggly-butt-big-head-sweet-pit-bull-love Pepper

Some people say that dogs show you what it feels like to be loved unconditionally. That's true. I think the more remarkable thing about Pepper was how unconditionally I loved her. 

She never once made me angry. She never disappointed. She couldn't even if she tried.  She was nothing other than pure love and joy.

It all started when I was 17 years old.  I had been volunteering at my local animal shelter for several years by then and certainly had my heart broken more than once. One day, a sweet brindle pit bull caught my eye.  She was in one of the stackable cages with newspaper on the floor.  Her wiggling butt and fast circling tail made it clear that her cage was way too small for her. Even after weeks at the shelter, her love for life and people was unshakeable. All she wanted was to kiss you and hang out with you. So the day I noticed her kennel card was turned sideways -- an indication that she was likely to be put down soon -- I could already feel my heart breaking.  At the shelter with one of my good friends, we took her for a walk and did not come back. This time my heart didn't break.  

 

I remember arriving home with Pepper.  I am certain my Mom knew this day was coming.  We had indeed fostered a couple of dogs before.  

"We are just fostering her, Mom. She is definitely not a pit bull."  

We were definitely not just fostering her, and she definitely was a pit bull.  My mom probably already knew both of these things and just welcomed us all inside. 

It worked out well that my Dad happened to out of the country for a couple of weeks.  One of Pepper's first adventures was eating part of my Dad's chair.  The chair where you are only allowed to sit if you are over the age of 40.  The chair got fixed and don't get me wrong: Pepper wiggled her way into my Dad's heart after not long as well.  She was like that. She would get up in your face and love you until you have no choice but to love her back. It's why one Thanksgiving morning my Mom sent me this text of Pepper and my Dad on that same chair:

It's why I get exactly what my Dad meant when he remembered Pepper by saying:

"If she was a dog, she was the best damn dog we ever had."

For the first several years, Pepper would go on long runs with my Dad.  But, then Pepper became too lazy or realized being home was too awesome.  She still loved to go on trips to pick up bagels on Saturday mornings with my Dad, and go on daily long walks with my Mom. 

Two things that made Pepper the happiest?  First - going home.  It did not matter if she only had walked outside for 2 minutes or taken a 2-hour trip to the beach.  Whenever Pepper's paws stepped back inside our home, pure joy broke out.  She would sprint around, find a toy,  show her people her toy, and then convince her people to come sit with her and her toy on the couch. Sometimes, my parents would drive Pepper to the end of our block and back just so she could experience the joy of coming home again.     

Second - people coming to visit her at home.  One friend summarized it perfectly:

"What I remember about Pepper is how excited she was to meet people. She had the highest hops, the hardest tail, and the most energy of any dog I know."  

Once people came through the door, Pepper's joy did not dwindle.  Indeed,  a close family member recalls:

"Pepper showed her joy through that whipping tail, so much so that she'd self-induce a sprain when surrounded by the people she loved."  

For me?  What do I remember about Pepper?  Everything. 

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The crazy thing is, I only got to live (full-time) with Pepper for one year.  After that, I was off to college, and grad school, and then my first job.  It didn't take long before Pepper was my Mom's shadow.  When I think of how much my Mom loved Pepper and Pepper loved my Mom, it is impossible to describe.  They were an unstoppable duo -- dance walking around the neighborhood -- showing off just how wonderful this wiggly-butt pit bull was.  And, of course, my Mom always kept me in the loop. 

 

 

 

 

I'll close with just two notes: 

Dear World: Let's just stop with breed discrimination. If you want to get into the economics behind why there are so many misconceptions about pit bulls, let me know.  But, a simpler answer is as follows: If you want a nice dog (or landlords - want to ensure your tenants have nice dogs), judge the dog's behavior.  A dog's behavior is more predictive of a dog's behavior than a dog's breed.  Breed discimination is less effective and causes pups like Pepper to be killed because they cannot find homes.  That is a lose-lose.  The world shouldn't be robbed of pure goodness like Pepper. 

Dear Mom - You are the best. I hope every kid is lucky enough to have a Mom who will love their pup like you loved Pepper. I promise to pass on her treasured pig, and I promise to pass on the love that you and Pepper showed me. 

 

Do 5 Star Yelp Reviews = A Responsible Breeder?

--by Elena Battles

I received this email recently and knew I wanted to share it with you.

“I wanted to see if you knew anything about this breeder? I am on the waiting list there and want to make sure they are reputable. Their Yelp reviews seem pretty good and they at least don't seem like a puppy mill... everything is on Yelp these days!” –“Yelper”, San Francisco, CA

Isn’t it a great question? After all, I use review sites all the time: Yelp for restaurants; TripAdvisor for vacation info; Angie’s List for household service providers. Can we also trust these review websites if we are searching for a responsible dog breeder?

Before we begin, I want to acknowledge that dog breeding is a controversial topic. Many people reading this would say there is no such thing as responsible dog breeding as long as there are dogs without homes in animal shelters. After more than a decade working in shelters throughout the U.S., I understand this point of view. I do. At the same time, Wagaroo takes a different position. Why?

We believe that the way to save animals in shelters is to reduce consumer demand for dogs from puppy mills. We do this by offering objective information. Failing to do so can drive potential pet parents away – away towards easier sources of puppies that do not follow ethical breeding practices. When a future pet parent asks us where to find a particular breed of dog, we assess whether the person/family is interested in buying a dog, adopting a dog, or both. Rarely will someone entirely rule out adoption. Depending on their answer, we then:

  • Share the availability of that breed in rescue and in shelters, locally, regionally, and nationally.
  • Provide free breeder referrals based on our professional experience and extensive local network. Wagaroo never works with puppy brokers, pet stores, online puppy sellers, or puppy mills. Breeders never pay Wagaroo for referrals.

And with that, I’ll get back to the original question: Can we trust review sites if we are searching for a responsible dog breeder? To answer this, I started by evaluating breeder referenced in “Yelper’s” email.

Here are Wagaroo’s red flags:

  • The breeder will not let you visit the breeding facility in person. Responsible breeders will be happy to have you visit!  By visiting, you want to make sure that all of the dogs (not just the one you are adopting) live in a clean and spacious environment.  The dogs should be happy and not seem not be shy or fearful of people.
  • The breeder has multiple breeds of dogs available year-round. Responsible breeders specialize in a small number of breeds, so they can know things such as the common genetic problems of a given breed. Responsible breeders also only have weaned puppies (typically 8 weeks old or older) available at select times during the year, since their dogs are not overbred. 
  • The breeder does not ask you a lot of questions. Responsible breeders want to make sure that their puppies end up in good homes, so they will ask you tons of questions!  You may need to complete a detailed application, provide references, and be available for a home inspection.
  • The breeder does not require you to sign a contract saying that you will return your dog if you can no longer keep him. Responsible breeders want to ensure that their dogs are in good homes for life!  They do not allow their dogs to be surrendered at animal shelters, and instead want to personally re-home any of their dogs in need.

Of these four red flags, the “Yelp breeder” raised three of them. I don’t know if they require a contract for purchase because I wasn’t able to find that information online. I shared this with “Yelper” and recommended strongly that they get their money back and be removed from the waiting list. Last I heard, they did.

Checking for red flags is a good place to start. It took me ten minutes to find these red flags on the breeder’s own website, and then confidently recommend against this breeder. However, the breeder has 5 stars on Yelp – not a negative comment in the bunch. Would a future pet parent take time to check for these red flags with such positive reviews? How about if no red flags appear as well? Would a future pet parent then take the time for additional research that we know is needed to separate out the bad actors that may just try to appear good?

In short, my answer is “No”. Online reviews don’t stand alone in determining breeder quality. If you’re interested in a breeder recommendation, ask Wagaroo!