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  • Writer's pictureThe Bond Between

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it's already 2024? It's crazy how each year seems to go faster than the last. I feel like I was just writing a "welcome to 2023" letter. Although it may feel that way, we were able to accomplish so much this year. We rescued 19% more animals year over year, we increased our owner surrender acceptance rate from 29% to 47%, we established a respite foster care program (with an 86% reunification rate!), we distributed over 175,000 pounds of dog and cat food through our pet food pantry... the list goes on and on. It's easy to focus on the big initiatives, the big numbers, but at the end of the day what really matters are the small moments. Each small moment matters, and I think sometimes even I lose sight of that. So, in the interest of celebrating just that, I want to share with you a little magic moment from each month of 2023.


On January 8th we received an email about a dog named Crunch. Backstory: Crunch was a hard case and had been returned many times due to some erratic (but not aggressive) behaviors. We were out of options for Crunch, but our office staff was in love and advocated for him at every turn. After doing a little fundraising, we decided to send him to a positive reinforcement boarding facility where he could work on his behaviors. He did beautifully in boarding and we finally found a foster who committed to continuing the work with Crunch. Which brings me to the January 8th email from his foster parents: "To be honest, he is stealing our hearts a bit and we’re leaning toward pursuing adoption in the future." 4 days later Crunch was a foster fail - he has since welcomed a human sibling and continues to thrive. It's amazing what can happen when you don't give up. 



This note from a foster mom: "I had a 96 lb yellow lab for 12 years. I had to put him down because of health reasons 3 years ago, it was devastating for me. Parker saved me in so many ways, through a divorce and losing my mom. He made me get up and out when I didn't want to. I said the heartbreak of that moment, I would never do it again. My kids and grandkids live 1+ hours away and I don't see them often. I slipped on my stairs while carrying a daycare baby, tore my rotator cuff, and had surgery last April. Because of the surgery, I had to retire from having a daycare. I thought I would savor the quiet, but this winter has been too quiet. I tease, that now I actually am talking to someone." That someone is Gunner, who she ended up falling in love with and keeping.


Eileen, our Hospice Coordinator, graduated at the top of her class to be an end of life doula for animals. In the 4 years that Eileen has been supporting our Hospice Foster families, she has built up a community by bringing families together for play dates and giving hospice fosters a connection to others who share some of the same experiences. Between tagging hospice animals, helping connect fosters with sometimes unusual supplies, and having tough conversations about quality of life, she has really embraced her role in helping both people and animals work through end-of-life transitions.


While at an Allianz event, I met a gentleman with MAC-V, an organization that assists veterans struggling with homelessness. Within 10 minutes we were discussing how our organizations could collaborate and just recently we took our first respite foster case for a veteran. A spark that led to a life-changing program for heroes.


A room full of volunteers, waiting. Waiting for 75 animals to arrive on our rescue van - one of the largest single transports in our organization's history. It was our Mother's Day transport and every single animal not only had a foster, they also each had a sponsor. Looking around at all the excited, eager faces is one of my absolute most cherished parts

of rescue. Knowing each volunteer choose us to send their time with. Knowing that they will love on and comfort every animal as they come off the van. Knowing they feel those bonds with our new arrivals even before they meet them. Priceless.


Tashina, our Vice President, and I had the great honor to watch Crisco (radio show host from KS95) give a speech about losing his beloved dog Babe and the ripple effect that created in the Twin Cities community, collectively raising almost $200,000 for homeless animals. Buck$ for Babe won the Service to America Award nationally, but the magical moment was seeing the palpable, ever-present love between a man and his best friend.


This one is a little different... in July, our Community Animal Visits Program won a Volunteer Dreammaker Award from Living Well, an organization that provides exceptional long term care for people living with disabilities. Every month our volunteers and their animals visit some of these homes, spreading love and excitement to their residents and staff. Yes, the award was fun to receive and so well-deserved, but the magical moments are those between the animal, their owner, and the residents. This program doesn't exist without their love, openness, and commitment.


Gathered around a table, laughing our butts off with each other. A small moment, but an impactful one. Bonding with other women from various organizations/tribal communities at our first annual retreat. This collective includes leaders from University of Minnesota SIRVS, Little Earth of United Tribes, Animal Humane Society, MNSnap, Minneapolis Animal Care & Control, Red Lake Nation, and The Bond Between. Together, we have been able to provide thousands of animals with vet care and supplies, but this small, magical moment was one of humanity and trust.


On September 8th, we announced a big change for the future of our organization. After months of assessing who we are at our core, how we want to serve the community, and all the ways we can continue to save lives together... We realized that for the last 15 years, our core mission has been to support the bond between animals and humans. That special bond couldn't have been more evident than when we shared Suki and Steve's story at our gala. Steve was hospitalized for weeks and couldn't imagine having to part with his best friend, a pug named Suki. We piloted one of our first respite foster care cases so that Suki would have a safe place to be while Steve focused on healing. They were reunited in early September - that was the magic moment. Supporting the bond between people and pets not only means rescuing thousands of animals every year, but it also means keeping pets with the people who love them when we can. 


In October, we rescued a dog whose story hit us harder than most. We have a strong partnership with Minneapolis Animal Care and Control and we work with them weekly to rescue dogs and cats from their shelter. We often receive calls from them about animals who have been injured, abused, or neglected- and we say yes as often as we can. The call about Bumblebee was different. He had already won over the hearts of MACC's staff and was in desperate need of love and care. We jumped in the car and headed to MACC as soon as we could to rescue him. The moment our team laid eyes on him, we knew he was special. Bumblebee was starving. He was emaciated and tiny and could barely stand on his own... but he was also kissing the MACC staff goodbye and snuggling into every pet or hug he got. This sweet angel had known immense cruelty and was still looking to feel a loving bond with humans. He was fostered with an amazing vet tech who supported him in his healing and right before the holidays, Bumblebee was adopted to his forever home where we will be spoiled and loved on for years to come.


Recently, we have been saying yes to animals who may not survive without a yes, even if it means they have to live in our office for a few days before finding a foster. This is not ideal, but an easy choice when lives are on the line. We have been working hard on animal enrichment while they stay with us and in November we had a first - a play group. It might not sound like much to some of you, but watching 3 young dogs run and play and wrestle with each other was magical. These pups would have typically just gotten out one at a time for walks and snuggles, but watching them romp with other animals was the absolute best. I sat there for an hour just studying their behaviors, smiling. They were so happy. And the videos we took of them playing found each of them a foster home.


Just last week I was sitting in my car during a puppy/kitten snuggle event at our office, waiting for my teenage daughter to pull herself away from the puppies. As I sat there, I watched a room with 5-6 strangers surrounding a litter of kittens, laughing and talking and interacting with not only the animals, but each other. Animals are one of the great connectors of this world, I truly believe that. It was such a simple moment, but I sat there watching this interaction of people from every walk of life connecting over a silly little kitten. It was beautiful. 

Just 12 small moments in the past year... the crazy part is that there are literally hundreds of these small, magical moments within our organization every single day. Every single day around 400 fosters interact with their foster animals. Every single day our volunteers show up, rain or snow or heat, to play with animals and clean and organize. Every single day animals find their forever homes. These moments may seem small, but together they make up this entire organization. Without them, we wouldn't exist.

I look forward to so many more of these little magic moments in 2024. Moments of compassion, of strength, of silliness, and of love. Thank you for being a part of Secondhand Hounds in 2023 - and for staying a part of The Bond Between in 2024. 

With love and thanks,

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