Dixieland, dog rescue, Dogs with Issues, foster cats, foster dogs, fosterdogs, fostering, Gala, hard to adopt, heartworms, kittens, Oreo, Spay and Neuter

We All Need a Sanctuary

I just dropped off Dixie for her spay surgery and 4Dx test. She stood shaking beside me on the passenger side floor for the entire drive.


I tried to explain to her that this was for the best and that it would move her a step closer to her new life – the one that won’t include puppies or horrible people who don’t take her to the vet when she breaks her leg (or who possibly broke that leg in the first place).

If her heartworm test comes back negative, it’ll be just a few days until her adopter can take her home. There will be tears on my part and a definite adjustment time for Dixie. No doubt, she will retreat back into the terrified spot in the corner of her heart for a little while. Hopefully, it won’t be weeks as it was here.


That sweet girl is the poster child for rescue. The desperate way she is drawn to trash cans and her ability to hold it (she only goes out to potty about once a day), make it clear that she has had to learn to take care of herself. The puppies born at my house were not her first and I’ve often wondered what became of the others. Thanks to OPH, her latest litter all have forever families that adore them and don’t leave them to fend for themselves outdoors or kick them out of the way when they hover too close.

Without rescue, Dixie’s life and the puppies’ lives would have turned out very different.

Some dogs that arrive in rescue are happy and healthy and ready to go. “Turn key” dogs, you could say. Oreo is certainly one and so were many of my other dogs like Snoopy, Hops, Enzo, and Nelson.


But others take time. Their scars run deep and they need time to decompress and remember how to be a happy dog. Sometimes it’s because they’ve spent too much time in a shelter. I know, first hand, that even in the best shelter run by the best people, dogs are under a tremendous amount of stress. Just like us, some handle it better than others.


Those dogs, the ones with fragile hearts that have been broken again and again, the ones who jump at every loud noise and startle when you touch them, those dogs need more time. They react defensively because that is probably what allowed them to survive until now. They need to learn that they are truly safe and that humans can be trusted. Sometimes that takes more knowledge or skill or time than the average foster home can provide.

And so, OPH is building a sanctuary.


Thanks to Laurie, our fearless Director of Operations, we now have a place for it. Laurie and her husband Brian, have donated the land and even built the outside structure. But now OPH needs to finish the building and provide the resources and staff to make the sanctuary a reality – a safe place for dogs that need more time than we can currently give them.

galaWhen I think about the sanctuary, I think of dogs like Gala who could have benefitted from time there or a few of the dogs who are currently in boarding because they have exhausted our available foster homes or cannot live (yet) in a family setting. Currently, OPH pays $265 a day to board these dogs simply because they refuse to give up on them. Rescue means rescue. The sanctuary can put an end to that and center our resources and people in one place where we can help dogs heal, receive training, and be assessed.

If you feel compelled to help, please join the campaign today through Giving Tuesday or if later you are looking for a place to send your tax-exempt donation, consider OPH.

Another area that OPH has been evolving is Cat Rescue. As I noted last week, we are currently housing Opal and Phyllis, two 5-month-old kittens who are (slowly) learning to trust humans. After a few days in the puppy room, getting used to the noises and smells of the house, we’ve installed them in Ian’s room — our own little cat sanctuary. He is committed to helping these two and refers to them as his roommates. They hang out with him as he does homework, plays endless video games, and listens to music.


Progress is being made. Instead of hiding under the bed, they have begun to venture out—climbing his dresser to knock off all the items crammed on shelves above, and nesting in his drawers that live forever in the open position. They’ve even begun to seek him out for attention, rubbing against his leg, insisting that he pet them.

I love that my 6’2”, 200-pound teenager is nurturing these tiny beings. It’s improved his mood and given him something to focus on besides the stress of Junior year and the pressure of varsity sports. It’s a win-win.


Oreo is doing great, but he’d be doing great anywhere. Here’s hoping he finds his forever home soon! This boy deserves a family of his own. Frankie featured him on the latest video on his YouTube channel (if you haven’t subscribed – please do!).

Happy Giving Tuesday! Get out and give!

(and get out and vote EVERY DAY for my story, Together We Rescue, so that OPH can win prize money to help save more dogs! I need your vote! Read the story of Sky/OPH Lillianna here)

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Hey – good news! The vet just called and Dixie is heartworm negative!!!!!

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter (which is rarely monthly, but I’m working at it…everybody needs a goal).

If you’d like to know more about the book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, check AnotherGoodDog.org, where you can find more pictures of the dogs from the book (and some of their happily-ever-after stories), information on fostering, the schedule of signings, and what you can do right now to help shelter animals! You can also do some holiday shopping that benefits shelter dogs or get your own signed copy of the book!

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more pictures and videos of my foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook group.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.



Released August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available now

Another Good Dog cover


9 thoughts on “We All Need a Sanctuary”

  1. Thanks for the wonderful work you do on behalf of the OPH and especially for helping poor Dixie. I’ve seen dogs who were so broken we thought they’d never heal, but with time and patience, almost all of them did. That sanctuary is a great idea for those who need the extra time!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great news about Daisy’s test result. Tell Ian to always close the drawers (if he chooses to close them) very slowly. Cats and kittens sometimes climb over the back edge of the drawer and nap there. And if he ever can’t find Phyllis or Opal, tell him to pull out the
    bottom drawer slowly. The kitten may be napping back there. I have read stories of cats who got trapped behind the back of drawers on moving day and end up being trapped there, on the moving van. (The families looked everywhere, but couldn’t find them.) Of course the cats were dehydrated and scared, but they miraculously survived. That is so cool that Ian is taking care of his furry little roommates. For that kindness tell him that I wish all of his time splits drop at his next swim meet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will tell him – he needs the encouragement, he’s a little frustrated that the kitties aren’t progressing any faster. I tell him it’s two steps forward and one step back because they have to learn to trust. They are sweeties – just skittish, so this will take time.


  3. I just read this post for the first time. I like the idea of a sanctuary for dogs. There are sanctuaries for other types of animals, so hearing about a dog sanctuary is a first for me. But it’s a good idea. Some dogs need some serious help before they’re ready to be with many people or dogs at one time. Keep us posted on how the process to build one is going. While I’m not a dog person, this sounds like a good idea to me. I’ve been around dogs in foster care and have witnessed how on edge they can be. You’re moving in the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an exciting development for the rescue. We have too many dogs that need more than a foster home can give, so this will meet a need, giving them space and time so that they can someday (hopefully) find their forever families.


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