It is 3 p.m. and the break room at the Wag Hotel is filled with a motley crew of dogs waiting to make their television debut on KOFY TV 20’s Companion Dog Adoptions show, which airs Fridays at 10 p.m. and Saturdays at 7 p.m. on cable channel 13. Today the featured dogs come from Rocket Dog Rescue, and several volunteers, along with founder Pali Boucher, are appearing on camera to do the talking. Each has a unique story – classic cases of owner irresponsibility; some defining the words cold and cruel; others, as Pali explains, where the owner didn’t want to give up their pet but had no choice. Such is the case with a sweet little mix named Jasmine and her Lhasa apso friend, Princess. “This woman loves her dogs,” Pali explains, “but she is gravely ill and can no longer care for them.”
PrincessA handsome 8-year-old brindle and white pit bull with a brown patch over one eye just like Jazzy is a few feet away. His name is Buster – he has degenerative eye disease and cataracts and is totally blind. “He gets around just fine once he learns a room,” his foster mom says. “And you have to see what he can do,” Pali adds. She picks up a treat and stands in front of Buster. “Sit pretty, Buster,” she says. With the grace and balance of a circus tiger, big Buster sits perfectly upright on his haunches, front paws dangling daintily in front of his chest. His foster mom smiles proudly, “He also understands ‘no,’ ‘jump up’ and ‘outta the kitchen,’ and he’s a total cuddle bug.”
BusterThen there’s Sparky, a one-year-old Pekinese mix picked up by Animal Care and Control as a stray. Remarkably, Sparky was born with no eyes, yet he managed to survive the streets. Sparky is amazingly confident and full of life, snuggling anyone near him and trying to engage the other dogs in some playful roughhousing.
Perhaps the saddest case is also one of the most beautiful dogs in the room – a snow-white 2-year-old pit bull with light golden eyes, a candy pink nose and a slender but muscular physique. “Bear is a true American hero,” Pali says, stroking him as he lies quietly on the floor. “He is partially deaf in one ear because he was grazed by a bullet. An armed robber stopped his family in the street and shot at them, and Bear jumped in the line of fire to save them.”
Poli and CooperDespite the fact he saved their lives, the family still decided to dump him at the shelter because after the incident he developed separation anxiety. “Bear just needs the right person to love him and cuddle him and be his forever person,” Pali says. “That’s all he wants.”
One by one, the Rocket Dogs head out to the makeshift studio in the Wag Hotel’s playroom to shoot their segment on a sofa beside hostess Celeste Perry.
The KOFY staff is gracious and helpful, even when Pali brings more deserving dogs than they expect in hopes of getting them featured on the show. It’s obvious that co-host Brendan Moran, like Perry, truly cares about the dogs and wants to see them adopted; he makes sure that every dog gets on the air, and Pali is ecstatic.
BearAfter the shoot, Pali invites me to Animal Care and Control, which is nearby. There are several dogs she wants to check on, among them, Maggie, the frightened blue pit bull found in a basement that she has been patiently coaxing out of her shell. “And Cooper,” she mutters, half to herself, “I have to get Cooper out of there …”
Pali put a hold on Cooper two months ago, and since then several foster homes have fallen through. “He’s not doing well in here,” she says as we head down the all too familiar rows of kennels. “He’s been stuck in here without a walk or much attention and he’s starting to go crazy.”
We stop at Cooper’s cage, and I am struck by how beautiful he is – a tall, auburn pit bull mix with white markings, a pink nose and soulful eyes. He weighs in at around 90 pounds – too big for a red-nose Staffordshire terrier. He may be mixed with Rhodesian ridgeback or Great Dane, a kennel worker tells me. Whatever his bloodline, he’s stunning.
“Hi baby,” Pali says softly, kneeling down and opening the door just enough so that Cooper is able to give her a tender kiss. “I have someone coming tomorrow who is looking for a big pit bull,” she says hopefully. “She’s been to see Cooper once before.”
SparkyI find it hard to walk away from Cooper; it’s evident he is full of pent-up energy and longing for affection – and freedom. As we head down the hall, he lets out a heartbreaking, desperate howl, his huge red head pressed against the cage.
Maggie, as she was last visit, is glued to the back corner of her kennel, trembling amidst the din of barking and misery; but when she sees Pali, her demeanor changes – she comes forward and tentatively licks Pali’s hand through the chain link. “She has to get out of here,” Pali says, “but all of my foster homes are full.”
Since I first met Maggie while writing last month’s Jazzy’s Tails, she’s been on my mind. I find myself thinking about her often, especially at night while I’m snuggled with my own very lucky rescue dog.
“If she gets along with Jasmine Blue, I will foster her …” The words come pouring from my mouth involuntarily – Pali looks up with a huge smile, and I know there’s no turning back. “Can you bring Jazzy by here tomorrow at 3:30?” she asks. I nod, and she breathes a huge sigh of relief. “I am meeting the woman who is interested in Cooper then, so we can do the introduction afterward, in the yard here …”
As Pali and I make plans, Maggie, whose life up to now has been one of neglect, fear and despair, has no idea that things may be getting a whole lot better very soon.
Now more than ever, foster homes are needed for dogs of all breeds and sizes. To inquire about fostering a dog, or about volunteering, adopting or donating, please contact Rocket Dog Rescue at 415-756-8188 or visit their Web site at www.rocketdogrescue.org.
If you are looking for a pet, please consider adoption through a rescue group like Rocket Dog or a shelter like San Francisco Animal Care and Control, located at 1200 15th Street (at Alabama), 415-554-6364. To view adoptable pets online, visit www.sfgov.org/site/acc, or www.PetFinder.com.
For more information on KOFY TV 20’s Companion Dog Adoptions show, visit www.kofytv.com/the-dogs/companionshow/.
Monthly Adoption Days
1st Sunday of each month:
4040 24th Street
(Between Noe and Castro)
12 noon to 4 p.m.
2nd Sunday of each month:
SF Stonestown Galleria Pet Food Express
3160 20th Avenue
Noon to 4 p.m
3rd Sunday of each month:
Bank of America
501 Castro Street
(Between 18th & Castro)
12 noon to 4 p.m.