Rescue Dog Birthday Party Smashes Cute-o-Meter, Sends Puptastic Medicine Straight to Hurting Hearts

Rescue Dog Birthday Party Smashes Cute-o-Meter, Sends Puptastic Medicine Straight to Hurting Hearts
Colby awaits his birthday cake with guests Sophia, Ava and Clara.

Yeah. We are. We are talking dog birthday parties today and you, my friend, are going to love it even if you think the whole idea is goofy (at first). OF COURSE it is silly, and anthropomorphic and all that but there is also seriously awesome juju at work here. I mean, just look at those guys. You gonna look at those faces and not chuckle? Don't think so. Cute like that triggers an involuntary smile reflex. Don't feel embarrassed. You can't help it. It's science. Look it up.

Susan and I giving one of our buddies her "freedom ride."

Susan and I giving one of our buddies her "freedom ride."

These pups are family members of my friend, Susan. She's a dog trainer and the angel who helped me overcome my pit bull intimidation and without whom I may would never have gotten as involved in rescue as I am. Or had this blog. Or become a pet sitter and occasional dog foster. Basically, she changed my life. I cannot begin to imagine it now without the river of dogs that has entered it. Seems crazy to me that I was so terrified to walk into the shelter not even two years ago.

So first, let me say, thank you, Susan, for everything you are.

So, okay, maybe you are one of those folks who walks by places like the Happy Dog Barkery and shakes their head. (I'll admit it. I used to be, and I love dogs.) Maybe you wonder about the sanity of people who have birthday parties for their pets. Fair enough. But hold on a sec, because there is so much more going on in these goofy little celebrations than meets the eye. 12748000_10154044211858701_5517394458229472523_o 12764371_10154044234713701_2080483704144910001_o Rescue workers see a lot of dogs that don't make it. In fact, if you consider the birthday boy here, a pit bull who came through the shelter system, his future was in no way guaranteed. If not for the good folks at Belly Up for Adoptions, it's hard to say where, or if, Colby would be right now.

There is not a rescue worker out there who cannot tell you, almost before you finish the question, the name of the first dog whose loss broke their hearts. Susan and I have shared more than a few tears along the way.  So when you wonder how people avoid that old devil Burnout and it's cousin, Compassion Fatigue, well, celebrating LIFE is one sure way. The sillier the celebration, the better. Laughter really IS the best medicine.

Ella one yoEvery birthday celebration of a rescue dog, like this little nut, who is turning one year old as I type this, is a victory. Ella's 'mom' admits to being emotional hitting this milestone and who can blame her? A barely weaned, deaf puppy found as a stray on the side of the road? Come on! Odds were not in her favor and that was before another dog almost ripped her leg off and sent her into emergency reconstructive surgery.

So, crazy dog people? ABSOLUTELY.

Crazy hard working. Crazy devoted. Crazy brave. Crazy strong. Crazy resilient.

And our communities need them like crazy. It is people who know how to love and celebrate and work for the good of these animals despite the challenges that are going to help places like Chicago turn messes like this around.

Let me introduce you to the other dog birthday party goers here before you watch them eat their cake. Sitting across from Colby is Ava, adopted from DuPage Animal Care and Control last year. Clara, the yellow lab, a loyal companion for many years now, came to the family directly through a responsible private breeder (they do exist).

And I need to give a special shout out to the darling black lab. She is Sophia, adopted when she was let go from Canine Companions for Independence for being a bit too distractible. However, she did go on to become a Pet Partners Therapy Dog and is one of very few dogs in Illinois who is certified as a HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response member. That means she can go into areas that have experienced recent devastation, such as towns that have been hit by tornadoes or other disasters.

Among Sophia's good works, she has made many visits to oncology patients.  In fact, she lost her human dad to cancer not so very long ago.  If you think her human family hasn't had a powerful need for some healing laughter in the wake of his loss...

Never judge a celebration, every party is filled with guests that you may never see.

Now, what do you say we watch some dogs eat cake? And don't worry, no birthday boys were injured falling off their chairs...

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