Stray Dog Arts

Stepping in...

I returned home last night after spending a couple days immersed in the world of Red Lake Rosie's--an animal rescue situated on the Red Lake Indian Reservation of northern Minnesota. It seems that, lately, blog posts are not easy to write. Seriously, where to begin?

At the moment I am listening to the snuggle-puffin-play of Louie and Ella at my feet (Ella is a Red Lake Rosie's pup herself). They are happy that I'm home and are staying close to my side. To begin writing, I find the need to root myself in the moment. It is a gray almost-winter day that I am balancing with the glow of lamplight and a fresh mug of coffee--a habit I'm becoming accustomed to. I've decided to move through the day in a sacred way. A quiet way. I'm going to get a lot done, but I'm going to honor every action--and writing this post is my way of making sense of everything I experienced in the past 2 days. Of course, making sense of it could take days, weeks, months, years. Instead, perhaps I am sitting here with the intention of sharing--because I think we are capable of much more than we often give ourselves credit for. Karen Good, the woman behind Red Lake Rosie's, is an incredible example of what it means to make a difference.

But wait. I don't want to get sentimental and overly idealistic. Maybe I should start over.

This week I traveled 5 hours north and met a woman named Karen. 3 years ago she was driving to work taking photos of all the dead dogs laying on the side of the road between her house and Red Lake High School. There were more than 20. That was the day of the Red Lake shootings. Karen remembers the smell of gunpowder and fear. That day was also a turning point in her life. It was the day she brought her first stray dog home with her. Maybe it was then that the shift occurred--in the act of deciding to pull over and pick up a dog that needed help. It started out with one dog and then turned into another and another and another. Red Lake Rosie's was born and, since then, she has saved the lives of hundreds.

Karen is quite possibly the most incredible combination of ordinary and extraordinary that I have ever met. She is real. She is down to earth. She is hard-wearing, determined, humble, and intelligent. Her and her boyfriend, Kevin, sing together as she works--the sound of their voices weave together, causing shivers to run the length of my body. Karen has an open heart. She tells it like it is. She doesn't shy around the facts. She knows how to organize and delegate. Karen is a visionary. She has a name for every animal she brings in and knows exactly who each one is. Karen, to me, feels like a grandmother, mother, and sister--all at once. She is fierce, yet feminine. There has both incredible softness and strength in her. She is a teacher, of the truest kind.

Marilou, me, and Karen.

The shelter.
Many animals rescued suffer from disease, starvation, dehydration, mange or injury. The property behind Karen's house marks the beginning of a better life for all the animals that are lucky enough to find their way to Red Lake Rosie's.

Being swarmed by puppy love. I would have liked to simply lay down on the ground and be covered in snuggle kisses! But there was work to do, so I soaked up the love vertically instead.

100% certified Munchkin.
One of the pups at Red Lake Rosie's

The "big" dog clan.
These rescue dogs roam free, but never far from the place they are happy to call home.

This is "Rea Ann," a beagle (and possibly hound?) mix. She is one of the dogs we transported back with us to Minneapolis. Her shy, anxious nature reminded me of my babe, Louie. It breaks my heart to see a dog feeling nervous or scared. Mike, a volunteer at Red Lake Rosie's, was obviously a source of comfort for her. I can't wait to see who adopts her. She is going to be so happy with her new life. In the meantime, she will live with Ann, one of Pet Haven's best fosters. Rae Ann will be with someone who will help let her brightest light shine.

Karen feeds a gaggle of hungry dogs and pups canned dog food from a spoon.
They're crazy about it! They're crazy about her. ;)

This is "Mama." She stole my heart. Maybe it was because she reminded me of Sam, one of the first dogs whose transport I was involved with. Although Mama is still skinny, she is putting on weight after being found, just a rack of bones. Her eyes were pleading. I took her for an extra long walk and wish we could have gone even further. It was snowing and she was beautiful to be with. What these dogs want more than anything is love. I wanted to fold her up in my arms and hold her forever.

The "Cat House." This is Karen's old house, which has since been renovated into space to house rescued cats along with a guest room for people like Marilou and I. Have you ever fallen asleep to a room full of kittens purring and meowing? Well, I can now say that I have. It felt good to once again be sleeping in the middle of nowhere.

Morning chores. Life with dogs.

This is "Chief." And he certainly had the personality of one.
His breed and boldness made Marilou and I think of Ode.

Chief helping himself to a snack from the food bucket.

Bear kisses from Lauren.
We transported 3 cats to St. Cloud and 7 dogs back to Minneapolis with us. I picked out this big pup for my friend, Mary, to foster. The puppy's name is Lauren, but if it was up to me, I would name her "Bear." Honestly, I think this brown lab mix IS part bear cub! She is the biggest bunch of lumbering bear fluff I've ever met. Somehow, I hope that this pup stays in my life forever. I think she will--even if only through her ability to rearrange my heart molecules. How else could one heart hold this much love?

I'm already looking forward to my return. I have a feeling that it will be often.

Learn more about Red Lake Rosie's Rescue here.



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