78 million dogs live as pets in the USA. These are the lucky ones. Five to seven million companion animals enter shelters every year, and more than half are euthanized due to the lack of space.
Miracle Dogs celebrates and honors the rescuers and the dogs whose lives they've saved. It features wonderful stories and photographs of dog rescuers, dog trainers, and rescue organizations such as The Gentle Barn and Tamar Geller's Operation Heroes and Hounds, along with celebrity pet owners such as Chevy Chase, Hoda Kotb, Bob Einstein, Amanda Hearst, Jamie Lynn Siegler, and Lance Bass. Each story includes portraits of the dog and its new family, followed by a concise, compelling narrative detailing the dog's journey to its new home.
A professional pet photographer, Liz Stavrinides spends much of her time on projects related to animal rescue. Miracle Dogs was born out of her desire to collect and share the stories of the dogs she's met over the years, showcasing the incredible bravery and compassion of both canines and owners. Readers will be moved by stories like that of Wyatt, an assistance dog who helped a young boy with autism communicate with the outside world, or Fiona, who was found blind and starving and is now in a loving family. All of them have finally found their furever homes. Stavrinides' portraits are heartwarminga loving and poignant tribute to man's best friend.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||8.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Melding her passion for photography with her immense love of dogs, LIZ STAVRINIDES' uniquely creative style emanates from her life-long pursuit of being a professional photographer. Each photograph is filled with the emotion, love and compassion for these incredible rescued animals and showcases their now cherished lives after being saved from unspeakable hardships and overwhelming tribulations. Through her work, Liz wants you to be touched by her photography and warmed by reading amazing stories about the incredible connection between heroes and their canine companions- ultimately helping these and other dogs find their forever homes. Although a San Francisco native, Liz now resides in La Quinta, California with her life-long best friends – her adorable rescued pups. Liz hopes you feel the unconditional love of dogs expressed in her work.
Read an Excerpt
By Liz Stavrinides
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Liz Stavrinides
All rights reserved.
In the Field of Dreams
I typically get about two kisses per year from Ashton. One on his birthday, and one on mine, maybe. Before he will agree to it, I have to wipe down my lips, and he insists on touching them to make sure they are dry. And then, the kiss is as quick as he can possibly make it. It has kind of turned into a joke in our home, but when I really stop to think about it, it's sad.
I carried Ashton in my belly for the full nine months, delivered him naturally, and had so many plans for all the hugs and kisses I would smother him with for the remainder of his life. Life didn't quite turn out like that, though. Instead, when Ashton falls and hurts himself, which is relatively often, I have to painfully watch from about two to three feet away. I wish I could grab him, kiss what hurts, and make it all better, but I now know that doing any of that will only make his pain worse. So I watch, trying to will some of his pain to transfer over to me.
When you have a child with autism, you read all these stories of how expensive treatments are, how there are a bazillion possible new causes, or how so many kids are on the spectrum now that the word autism has become as mainstream as ADD was twenty years ago. What you don't hear about as often, is the feeling of inadequacy that you feel as a parent. Suddenly, you question every decision you made during pregnancy. Are all of the therapies worth it? How much are you making the rest of your family sacrifice? I have actually had my other children say that everything we do is always for Ashton, Ashton, Ashton. And it is true. He needs more than they do. But how do you explain that to a six-year-old?
I've had feelings of guilt that we failed as parents of an autistic child. I still have not been able to reconcile with the fact that I can't comfort Ashton when he gets hurt. And even worse were the times he would disappear. I would be in the front yard pulling weeds with all the kids playing behind me. When I would look back, suddenly Ashton would be gone. No noise, no screaming, no one saw what happened to him, he would just simply disappear. Usually, it was because someone had upset him, and he decided to leave. I always found him in time before anything catastrophic happened, but I always felt that one time I might not. He has darted into elevators, right before the doors closed. He's run into the street, missed only by slow, careful drivers. I have received calls from school saying that he was missing. I was always on edge.
My feelings of incapability have always been outweighed by love, though. However tired I am, I never give up. If he needs an advocate, I am there fighting. If he needs therapy, we make it to those appointments. If there is a program that might help, I am going to make sure he is a part of it. I have no interest in curing Ashton. I think he has a lot to offer just as he is, and if I changed that, I would be doing this world a disservice. I just want to help make his way through our world a little easier. In that quest, I found Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW).
I had heard of service dogs being used as tools for people with autism a while back, and, when Ashton was almost five years old, I looked into several organizations. I chose to go with ADW because their methods were so thorough. They train rescue dogs and some dogs also come from accredited breeders. During their two years of training, the dogs live with several different people, that way they don't bond with one particular person before they are matched with their recipient. Kids help train, so the dogs get used to children giving orders, instead of just adults. People with various disabilities are also used to train the dogs. Not only does this provide jobs for these people with disabilities, but the dogs become desensitized to wheelchairs, walkers, slurred speech, or emotional outbursts. ADW has some of the most accomplished and amazing trainers and staff of any facility we visited.
We began the interview process with ADW in July 2010. They spent a lot of time getting to know us and our needs, and they listened to what I said we needed for Ashton in a dog. One of Ashton's autistic symptoms is that he has an extremely difficult time making new relationships, so he needed a dog that really wanted to bond with him. Our process took much longer than expected. We interviewed with dozens of dogs, and Ashton almost got placed with a chocolate Lab named Trevor, but Trevor developed some health problems that made our family a difficult match for him. There were times that I became a little discouraged, but ADW always assured me that we would get the right dog, and we definitely did. In June 2012 we finally found Wyatt, our little golden retriever. The first time we met Wyatt, he was only eight months old. It was love at first sight. Wyatt just knew. He knew what Ashton needed from him. He knew what I needed from him. He knew just the right amount of energy to have. And that FACE! Really, no one can resist him.
Once we brought Wyatt home, there was an immediate change in Ashton. He began to develop a certain amount of patience and empathy that we had never seen in him before. He and his younger brother, Nathan, are now inseparable almost all the time at home. It definitely wasn't like that before. Ashton would isolate himself. Now, when I meet with school staff, they explain how Ashton is so well liked and social in class. Last spring, Ashton and Wyatt joined a Little League team for special needs kids. Ashton is a fielder and hitter, and Wyatt is the mascot and sometimes pinch runner alongside those who need to borrow him for a little encouragement. I never thought I would see Ashton play any type of sport. It's such a huge change from where we began. When we are out, Ashton loves to tell people all about Wyatt, and how he belongs to just him.
During Wyatt's training at ADW, both the trainers and Ashton worked exhaustively with hide-and-seek. Since Ashton is what we call a "bolter," we needed Wyatt to be able to find him in a hurry when Ashton disappeared. This was always one of the main goals for Wyatt. But Wyatt and Ashton had ideas of their own. Although they still love to play hide-and- seek, they have just decided that it would be better if they stayed together all the time, and that it would be better if Ashton didn't disappear anymore. It was a consequence of Wyatt being around that I had never even considered. When we are out, Ashton always holds on to Wyatt's leash, so he does not have the opportunity to wander off or hide. At home, instead of running off when he is upset, Ashton is comforted by Wyatt. Although he rejects any comfort from people, Wyatt doesn't seem to have to follow the same rules. If Ashton scrapes his knee, Wyatt comes and licks it, and then he licks Ashton's face, and then lies next to him and takes his mind off of what happened. If Ashton is having a meltdown, Wyatt comes and lies on top of him to calm him down. When Ashton needs to go to sleep, Wyatt hops in bed with him, or Ashton crawls and sleeps with Wyatt on his bed. Ashton is finally getting a good night's sleep for the first time in his life.
Has Wyatt cured Ashton? No, of course not. But Wyatt gives Ashton an outlet. He gives him protection. He gives him kisses. He gives him comfort. And by proxy, he gives the rest of us all of those things, too. I even sometimes bribe Ashton to give me a hug by telling him that I won't feed Wyatt until he does. Call it what you will, but I've easily doubled my hugs! "I'm only doing this because I really care for you!" he tells Wyatt.
I still feel like I come up short sometimes. I assume every parent does at some point. But now Wyatt is like my helping hand. Even though he has only been with us for a short time, I could not imagine life without him. He finally gave Ashton a connection to the world and for that I will always be thankful to him, and to all of those who had a role in bringing him to us.CHAPTER 2
Dingo, Foster, and Lily
What Money Can't Buy
Lance Bass, who rose to fame as the bass singer for 'N Sync, has had an extended career in film and television, and most recently he was paired with the swing dance champ Lacey Schwimmer on Dancing with the Stars. Lance, who has a passion for music, dance, and acting, is most passionate about, you guessed it: rescue dogs!
Lance has had eight rescue dogs from animal shelters. "The nicest, sweetest loving dogs come from the pound," Lance says. "I think that they know where they come from. They started with a rough life being sent away, not being loved and wanted, and they know that, and it stays with them the rest of their lives."
"Finding a home for a dog is so fulfilling," says Lance. And who better than him to know this!
Lance is brave and softhearted, his dogs would tell you, because they know this to be true. When he went to the shelter for one dog, he came home with two, both of whom had serious injuries. They could not have survived without him. "They had suffered enough," he says.
Shannon, a friend who worked at the shelter, relayed to Lance that two dogs had just come in together. Lance was touched, and he missed having a dog since his recent move to Los Angeles.
He was stunned when the shelter manager told him of these two dogs, and their brothers and sisters, being thrown out of the window of a speeding car in a garbage bag. His heart sunk. The dogs had landed hard on the road surface. Only two had survived; these two, with major injuries.
Lance mustered his courage for what he would see as the manager led him to the crate where the dogs were housed. The dogs had been named Dingo and Foster. Lance looked at them, alive and suffering. Their injuries were multiple, terrible, and required costly care.
They had not only hit the pavement, but they had also been struck by passing cars. Dingo had two broken hips, and a torn ACL and he also suffered from cancer. Foster had two torn ACLs and a broken leg. Both dogs struggled to stand when Lance approached, and they winced in pain. Their life story had been tragic so far.
Dingo and Foster were half–Australian shepherd/half-beagle mixes. Foster was a good-sized brown-and-blond dog, and Dingo was a stockier dog with the tricolored Aussie markings of brown, black, and white.
Lance was immediately taken with them, but he felt conflicted: He had only came for one dog. His heart leaped for Dingo. Dingo was mellower and seemed resigned. Foster was more active and struggled to Lance's side, and Foster was clearly not going to let Lance go. Aussies are known to be smart dogs. Maybe Foster knew that Lance was his only chance in life, and he was going for it.
Lance relented. "It wouldn't be fair to separate them," he says. He bucked up and adopted both.
They went home, had all the surgeries they needed, fought to gain their strength, and, today, Lance says, "They are the greatest dogs ever." Dogs can have a bad start, and somehow become so filled with gratitude that love just keeps pouring from them.
Lance's heart took over again, when he fell in love with Lily. Lily was being used as bait for dogfighting. She, too, was in horrible shape when he first saw her and his heart broke. "So many dogs need a loving home," Lance says. This was the tenderness that led to fixing Lily's life. This terrier mix is playful and loving, and she is now the boss at home, along with Dingo and Foster, of course.
Dingo loves to snuggle, Foster will play catch until the cows come home, and Lily will only ride in the car on the driver's lap! Lance says, "I just love them all!"CHAPTER 3
Can't Keep a Goodman Down
Things were very hectic at our home last summer. My husband was recovering from a heart attack. I was stressed about his health. We had just lost our precious Matilda, a border collie rescue, to an illness and were still grieving. I missed her — a lot. I remember getting up one day and thinking, "I cannot handle one more crisis!"
Later that day, I received an e-mail from my good friend, Michelle Neufeld Montak, founder of the Gimme Shelter rescue organization in the Hamptons. One of her rescues, a pit bull named Katie, needed a foster home immediately. As I looked at Katie's photo, my mind flashed back to the old reruns of The Little Rascals series because she looked just like Petey, the gang's faithful dog.
I thought of all the strays that have physical and emotional problems resulting from abuse. Homeless. Helpless. Unloved. I remembered how hard Michelle works to find homes for them. Suddenly I quit thinking about my problems.
I called Michelle and told her that I would come to her boarding facility to meet Katie. When I arrived, she introduced me to Katie, who had no interest or connection with me at all. I was disappointed, of course. As I started to leave I saw the most beautiful white, black, and brown dog. He looked just like an Aussie shepherd/border collie, very similar to Matilda. He was so timid and shy and cowered when I went to pet him. I told Michelle, "This dog just has the greatest eyes, there is something so special about him."
Michelle began to share the details about this Aussie mix. She told me how she rescued him from Chesterfield County, a poor and very rural county in South Carolina, where people don't spay or neuter their dogs, which results in the county having a very high population of homeless animals. He was picked up as a stray by animal control one day and brought to the county kill shelter. She had no idea what his life was like before she found him at the shelter, but she said that someone must not have been very kind to him, because he would hit the ground flat if you looked his way or reached down to pet him.
"The minute I saw his face I connected with him. I saw something very soulful and vulnerable about this sweet boy, which touched me. I knew I had to save him," Michelle said. She then added: "His name is Goodman."
Halfway through Michelle's explanation, I had already made up my mind to foster him, but as soon as I heard his name, I felt it was fate.
"This must be meant to be!" I told Michelle. "My maiden name is Goodman!"
"I want to take him home to see how well he will get along with the girls," I said to Michelle. Panda and Foxy, my little Pomeranians can be very possessive and territorial.
"If you have any problems, please call right away and I'll come get him," Michelle said.
As I opened the back hatch door of my SUV, Goodman just sat there and looked at me and then looked over at the passenger door. I understood what he wanted. When I opened the front door, he jumped into the "shotgun" position. As I drove, he kept his nose out the window as if he was taking his first smell of freedom. I had tears in my eyes as Goodman's head turned to take in every sight, smell, and noise on the ride home, every once in a while licking my hand on the steering wheel.
I called and asked my husband to bring Panda and Foxy outside for their first meeting because Goodman was so skittish. When we arrived, my husband was outside with the girls. Before Goodman's paws hit the ground, Panda and Foxy welcomed him with lots of doggy kisses and they all rolled in the grass. The three dogs fell in love instantly. As the girls ran to the front door, Goodman looked at me with his expressive eyes. They seemed to say, "Thank you," as he took off to follow them.
Once in, Goodman suddenly stopped. The sound of his nails clicking on the wood flooring frightened him. He picked up one paw, but didn't put it down. He whined until my husband picked him up and put him on the carpeting.
Panda and Foxy ran past Goodman, and up the stairs they went. He ran after them, but stopped at the foot of the stairs and refused to climb. He looked at me as if he was beaten and began to cower again.
When I climbed the stairs and called for him, Goodman howled, the mournful cry of an animal in pain.
It suddenly dawned on me that Goodman had never been inside a house before.
My husband and I weren't sure what to do. We'd never had a dog that didn't know what being an indoor dog meant. In fact, Goodman was so nervous about being in the house that when my husband left for work the next day, and every day for a week afterward, Goodman bolted out of the door behind him and ran down the street howling in the opposite direction. I became known in our neighborhood as "the crazy lady in the robe chasing a dog down the street yelling, 'Goodman, come back!'"
It took weeks and lots of love to get Goodman to trust my husband and me. We literally had to take the smallest steps to get him used to walking on the wood floors and climbing the stairs. Once this was accomplished, we still had the challenge of getting Goodman to come down the stairs. I think someone must have thrown or kicked him down the stairs because he would howl and curl up in a ball if we stood behind him.
Excerpted from Miracle Dogs by Liz Stavrinides. Copyright © 2014 Liz Stavrinides. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Author's Note 19
1 In the Field of Dreams Wyatt Danielle Townsend 23
2 What Money Can't Buy Dingo, Foster, and Lily Lance Bass 32
3 Can't Keep a Goodman Down Goodman Marcy Warren 38
4 From Trauma to Trust Jake, Trooper, and Sage Andrea Eastman 46
5 The Gentle Barn Ellie Laks 54
6 My New BFF Blake Hoda Kotb 64
7 The Dog in the Gilded Cage Goobers Jennifer Miller 70
8 The Mighty Wonder Dog Marvin Bill Volpi 76
9 Pia's Passion Miss Molly Pia Grønning 84
10 The Goldens Rule Chris and Cody Jayni Chevy Chase 90
11 Opening Hearts and Homes Pistache Natalie Garcia 98
12 Say Hey Kid Willie Mays Bob Einstein 106
13 Getting His Seal of Approval Buddy Travis Mayfield 114
14 The Answer to a Prayer Abby Sarah Jang 122
15 The Karmic Journey Lola, Lucky, and Lucy Natasha Hofmekler 130
16 Always Room for One More Teddybear, Darby, Maizie, and Lovey Laurie Peter Marshall 138
17 Bringing Smiles to Everyone Rémy Martin M. Michele Martin 148
18 Angels Who Walk Among Us Otis, Donni, Breaker, and Lulu Michelle Neufeld Montak 154
19 The Little Dog with the Big Name Houston Logan Holzman 160
20 Loved Hounds and Heroes Tamar Geller 168
21 On Board to Forever Priscilla and the Puppies Lisa Blodgett 172
22 Laughter Heals the Broken Heart Bart Tyra Golter 182
23 Prisoners of Profit Finn Amanda Hearst 188
24 Spinning Wheels Got to Go Round Jax Caryn Rosenthal 194
25 The Courageous Ones Phoebe and Belle Basia Christ 202
26 The Buzz on Biggie Biggie Coppy Holzman 210
27 The Chance of a Lifetime Chance Dan Shaw 218
28 The Next One Will Find You Mixer Loretta Mosher 226
29 Living Life to the Max Max Rene Dell'Acqua 234
30 Four Plus One Equals Fun Rootsie Tootsie, Nicole, Sparky, and Kissy Ruta Lee 240
31 Riding Shotgun Buddy Lisa Sickler Watts 246
32 The Right Place at the Right Time Cherie, Tilly, Jacqueline, Toots, and Lillian Kaye Ballard 254
33 The Conqueror of Hearts Constantine David Carrie Evans 260
34 The Underdog That Realized His Dream Rudy David Evans 268
35 Dog's Best Friend Hana and King Shirley Jones 276
36 The Good, the Bad, and the Bean Bean Jamie-Lynn Sigler 282
37 From Mexico with Love Little Bear Adrienne Barbeau 288
38 They Could No Longer Run Bronco, Desilu, Gabe, and Emmy Erin George Pennacchio 296
39 Princess Fiona Fiona Chris Michele Gentry 302
40 Package of Joy Olive Lisa Arturo 310
41 Against the Odds Tess Lynn Kincaid 316
42 Rescued at Sea Lucky Lady John Michele Lissberger 324
43 The Pet Rescue Center Christine Madruga 332
44 Hairy Houdini Belle Andrea Greeven Douzet 338
45 Sometimes a Hug Is All We Need Madison Christina Kirk 346
46 My Greatest Gift Spencer Laura Chamberlin 352
47 Never Too Old to Fall in Love Shasta, Echo, Graham, and Marina Heather Schmidt 358
48 Healing the Brokenhearted Emma and Arthur Ellen Chuck Scarborough 364
49 The Miracle Dog Kody Peter Anthony 372
50 "The Person" Named Harry Harry Charisse Keck 384
About the Contributors 391
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is magical -- and I hope the magic will spread far and wide for more dogs to have happy homes. The photography is so heartwarming, and each story I read gives me more hope for the people rescuing dogs and the dogs rescuing people. Who rescues who? This is a perfect gift for your Christmas or Holiday gift, because I pick it up and read a story at a time when it sits on my coffee table -- and each day it brings me inspiration and love. Some of the stories are so amazing, I find myself thinking about them weeks later. It is a beautiful work and this book will be enjoyed by so many people to share it with. Yea!!
I have a rescue dog that is the love of my life. I was moved to tears reading these beautiful stories. The pictures are amazing also. This book made my holiday shopping very easy...everyone on my list is getting one.
I bought Miracle Dogs because of the cover. My dog might have looked like that when she was a puppy and I wanted it for my coffee table. I never expected the stories to be so poignent and all of the other photos to be so amazing. Do yourself a favor and go out and get this wonderful book.
Looks mind blowing
What a fabulous book! Such heart warming stories and photos. I can't stop looking at it!
This book is the best I have seen ! The photography and stories are great. I have ordered several for Christmas gifts. Great job Liz Stavrinides
There has been so much distressing news in the media of late that the discovery of this book while visiting my Barnes and Noble store in Arlington, Virginia really lifted my spirits. Perusing the book, I was immediately enchanted by the loving stories of famous personalities and their rescued canine companions. I have been mulling over the idea of adopting a dog for my two young boys for some time, and have now been inspired to do so after purchasing this book and then reading the many heartwarming stories that fill the pages; beautiful photographs of the pets and their owners complement each story.
If you have adopted rescue dogs, as I have, this is one of the most uplifting books I have ever reviewed on the subject. The beautifully written vignettes of celebrities and their "miracle dogs" will inspire and put a smile on your face. This book is the perfect gift to warm any family member or friend's heart this holiday season.t
I love this book! The stories are so touching and the photography is beautiful, and what a great mix of people. Some of the celebrities included brought back memories of my childhood. Great read!
Miracle Dogs is a heartwarming and beautiful book that I could not put down. each story brought me to tears and the pictures captured it all. Thank you Liz Stavrinides for caring so deeply. Love this book so much!!!!!!It truly touched my heart.
This book is a remarkable selection of stories and photos that I couldn't put down. Have a box of tissue near when reading these touching stories. The photographs beautifully depict a special bond and unconditional love between these amazing animals and their lucky owners. It is a perfect gift.
I just finished reading Miracle Dogs and was totally unprepared for how emotional and moving the stories are. The photography is beautiful also. What a great piece of work. Bravo!!
This is a beautiful and heartwarming book! Every story will make you want to rescue a dog. I received this as a gift and now want to share this lovely book with all of animal loving friends.
I have a concern about the validity of a story in this book. This story, 'Angels Who Walk Among Us' found on page 87 in particular which creates a credibility problem for this book, the author and the publisher. It is a shame that a book that if focused on something so important contains a story based in fiction. I would love to recommend this book but I am forced to question the validity of all of the stories given the lack of fact checking done on this one.
While I applaud the idea and this wonderful exposure that the author is giving to a very worthy subject I do not agree that the author and publisher did not do fact checking and have allocated one chapter to misinformation (Chapter 18). This calls into question the credibility of the author and publisher. I cannot buy this book in good conscious and allow the blood, sweat and tears of the actual person and group that accomplished these wonderful acts to be swept aside and claimed by another.