Category Archives: Dog Updates

Hazel is Home

Hazel BodyHazel arrived to join the Secondhand Mutts family on September 12, 2017 and left for her foster home a week later. She was very lucky to be matched up with a Kathy – a very skilled handler who just happened to have a similar looking dog with similar (high) energy named Zoey. Over the last 3 months Hazel has attended about a half dozen events, we’ve received about 20 inquiries on her and of those just a few private meet and greets were set up. Just last week she got her first hopeful application! Along with that application comes the hardest part for a dedicated foster provider…..saying goodbye.


Kathy has put a lot of work into setting Hazel up for a successful adoption. She has taught her basic obedience she was lacking. She has provided her with structure which she desperately needed. She has provided her with ample exercise (there really isn’t enough time in the day or a yard big enough for Hazel to burn all of her energy). She has provided her with a warm bed at night and a dog sister to bond with.

Kathy recently shared with us “Zoey has struggled with separation anxiety since I got her at 4 weeks old.  Even with my other dog [who passed away this past April] helping raise her when I would leave them home she paces and cries.  I started letting her out of her crate about 1.5 yrs ago I was checking in on her through nanny cams and saw her pacing and she destroyed a 3 ft section of my carpet.  Since being back in the crate she pees once if not twice a day. I wash a lot of towels.  I didn’t realize until Saturday morning when the girls were at day care that I had one set of towels from her crate.  I started thinking back and I have had a significant drop in peed up towels since hazel has been here. My neighbors mentioned yesterday as well that since hazel has been here her crying has dropped too.”

hazel4Fostering is not easy on the heart. Our foster providers give a lot of their time, some of own finances and a ton of emotions to the dogs they take home. The responsibility of being a constant and committed foster seeing the dogs needs all the way to their adoption day is a huge responsibility for setting a dog up for a successful adoption. Kathy learned this while fostering Hazel and along the way she fought those emotions of falling in love.


In the rescue community there is a fine line when a volunteer is fostering and when the line is crossed and a connection is made and the foster provider is clearly falling in love. When this magic happens we have an unspoken responsibility to not only the Secondhand Mutt but to the foster provider to emotionally challenge them and make sure before they hand off the leash to the new adopter they won’t have regrets. We challenged Kathy.

“Just realizing that alone helped me see the girls need each other and guilty they are a joy when they are together. After a lot of thought this past weekend I realize she was brought into Zoey and I life for a reason. Zoey’s separation anxiety has gotten significantly better and she has put smiles on my face. Today she is no longer foster hazel. Officially Hazel is part of the Parma Estates!”

Congrats to Kathy on being a “foster fail” and giving Hazel everything she needed to prove herself to you and to Zoey it’s match for the books! We couldn’t be happier and are even more elated you’ll still make room for future foster dogs.




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Sometimes there are no words.

ExtraMile_logo_squareThe majority of the stories in rescue are positive and have happy endings – most of them are never read or heard about because there are just too many to share. We have lots of positive, happy, stories. On the flip side there are those sad stories, and we’ve had our share to share, that are heartbreaking.

Mable’s story is no exception. We are going The Extra Mile for Mable.

Our rescue takes in all kinds of dogs from puppies to seniors to medical cases and we don’t discriminate. We are an equal opportunity rescue if you will. For the last decade we have helped out the folks at the Richland County Animal Shelter many of times taking in dogs when they were over populated, dogs that were getting ready for the euthanasia list, dogs with heartworm, dogs with tumors (most recently Bob the Bloodhound) and this week we took in a senior toy breed. After reading a post from Lori, one of the volunteers we work closely with at the shelter, and we knew we had to step up and help.

“This little old girl breaks my heart. She was left in the outside cages at the shelter. She was so matted that there was nothing else to do but shave her down. Her legs and feet were the worst I have ever seen. I have never come across toenails as long and curled as hers. There is no way she could even walk. She doesn’t seem to see, either.  Susan sent me a text to see if I was coming to the shelter today, so that I could groom her. I couldn’t even imagine how bad she looked. Rachel helped me get her groomed. We are hoping someone may recognize her ‘before’ picture so that the Dog Warden can talk to her previous owner. Rachel and I decided to name her Mabel. I am taking her home over the weekend to spoil her.”

Mabel is a senior Shih Tzu/Poodle mix. Abandoned at a rural shelter. Blind. Confused. Alone. Neglected. Her skin unable to breathe due to all the matting. Her nails curled (and we mean curled) and curled and curled making it impossible for her to walk.

This was the no name dog left behind in the dark of the night:

mable-belly Maple_beforemabel-nailsMabel-nail








Thank you Richland County Animal Shelter for being there for Mable.

Shame on her owner for not asking for help. We hope you are caught and ‘Goddards Law‘ finds you.

mabel-after2This is our Mable. Maybe your Mable?

Luckily for Mabel we have terrific, fast acting volunteers and within an hour of hearing about her we had a volunteer signed up to drive to Richland the following day and bring her up to Cleveland. Another volunteer from our Foster Provider network stepped up and picked her up that very night so she could stay in a home and have companionship. She went to Gateway Animal Clinic this morning for a check up, vaccines and heartworm test. Mable is now up to date on shots, she is heartworm negative and she will be spayed in the coming weeks. Her teeth are in need of a good cleaning which we will take care of through donations made to The Extra Mile fund. She is unable to produce tears and will remain on eye drops for the rest of her life.

Mable is sweet senior and she is looking for a crash pad to call home. She likes dog beds, dogs and being held or on your lap. If you are looking to give an old gal a fresh start for the remainder of her time (and we hope it’s years!) please apply to adopt her.

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Bo: An Update from Austin, Texas

Hello, Secondhand Mutt Family,

I wanted to send you an update on Bo. He moved with me to Austin, TX in September of 2016 and has been enjoying all the dog friendly parks and places around town. After working for 2 years as a school based therapy dog, he’s had a few months to relax and settle into his new home. He has lots of trails to explore, fields for fetching, and creeks for cooling off.

In February, Bo will join me at a counseling practice to continue working with children, families, and adults. He seems eager to get back to work as he makes an effort to say hello and check in with every person we meet on our walks. Bo has touched so many lives since his adoption, and I cannot thank you enough for pairing him up with me. As a co-therapist he has helped scared and confused kids feel safe, and he can rebuild trust for those who have lost it in ways other interventions cannot. He reminds me everyday what it means to listen without judgment, and shows by example that no matter what has happened to you, life is joyful and loving if you are open to it.

Attached is a picture of Bo taken on Christmas Day during a walk in the park at the end of our street.  He is a happy, wonderful dog and I wanted to let you know how much he means to so many people.

Thank you for the work that you do.


Betsy and Bo

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What about Bob?

ExtraMile_logo_squareIt’s dogs like Bob that we go The Extra Mile for and boy it is going to be a long mile for this heart breaker of a hound dog.

When we received word from our friends at the Richland County Animal Shelter there was a dog in desperate need of medical attention we knew we had to help. Bob, a stray Bloodhound, was picked up in Richland County and brought back to the local shelter and was immediately loved by the staff and volunteers at the shelter. It was obvious that he needed medical attention given the two large protruding tumors coming out of his neck, the cantaloupe sized soft tumor lodged in the side of his neck, his extremely smelly and infected ears and his ever-so-obvious blindness. Bob was happily walking into walls making the rounds at the shelter greeting everyone his Bloodhound nose could sniff out.

bob-carWe put a call out to our volunteer transporters and Monica stepped up and made the near four hour round trip to pick Bob up and bring him back to Cleveland. It was a smelly ride but rewarding nonetheless. He arrived safely and promptly sniffed his way inside where he was greeted by the staff at The Mutt Hutt. Much to his surprise he was getting a much needed bath! We did our best to wash away his odor making sure to be extremely careful around his ears and his exposed tumors and then he was dried off and awaited his next ride from his newly appointed foster dad Doug.

Doug, a volunteer that started fostering for us late last year, is no stranger to large breed dogs. A former owner of the mighty Saint Bernard breed Doug is  a man with a soft touch we had hoped he and Bob could make it work for a week as roommates. Doug met Bob and he was up for the challenge and agreed to take Bob home. We are so grateful to have a place for Bob while we continue to seek a long-term, committed foster home until a forever home is secured.

Bob made himself quite comfortable at Doug’s house:

“I tried to barricade him in the kitchen when I went to work. I set up two layers of barricades which were very solid. I came home to find him sleeping on the couch in the living room. He is big, clumsy and blind. Yet somehow he delicately moved my barricades, walked to the couch and sacked out. Without damaging a thing.”

bob-vetNext up our volunteer Justine offers her assistance to take Bob to see Dr. Liz and Emily at Gateway Animal Clinic for a medical work up. Once again Bob was a big hit with the staff at the clinic impressing everyone with his sit command. And then the work to check Bob over began:

♥ Skin issues and infection throughout his body will be treated with antibiotic spray, medicated baths and medication
♥ Sores cover his legs and underbelly from neglect will be treated with antibiotic spray
♥ Double ear infection leaving one to plug their nose as soon as his 12″ ears are flopped open will be treated with medicated plugs
♥ Eye exam determines severe eye infection and possible blindness will be treated with a two-step eye drop and ointment
♥ Exposed dangling tumors stuns the veterinarian staff of how neglected Bob was by his former owner will be removed at a later date
♥ Blood draw and lab results indicate Bob has a lot of protein in his urine which we will re-test in two weeks now that he’s on a healthier diet routine eating higher quality food.
♥  Heartworm test results are negative (phew!)

Ear Infection
Sores on legs
Sores on his belly
Tumors on his neck

Throughout his exam Bob insisted on being a happy-go-lucky hound dog making sure he’s getting extra treats for being an extra good patient. When he was all done he was transported back to The Mutt Hutt where he patiently waited for his foster dad to pick him up and start spoiling him again.

Bob will require weeks of medical care which we have committed to providing. Dr. Liz recommends we start with the skin, ears and eyes and have him checked out in two weeks to see how things have progressed. From there she will make a determination of the steps to take to surgically remove his visible tumors and the tumor under his neck skin plus neuter him while he’s under anesthetic. Bob will be receiving medicated baths two times a week to help with the itching and skin infection. Good thing he likes the ladies at The Mutt Hutt Grooming Salon!

Doug reported to us quite a bit in the short time he’s had him as a house guest and we wanted to share his report:

“He is housebroken and not destructive. His vision is bad (if existent at all). He bumps into a lot of things but nothing slows him down. He is very curious and loves sniffing around. He is very trusting. He will go wherever you lead him, including up and down stairs. He is very good on a leash. He does not pull or chase things. He bumps into bushes, trees, fences and the like, but he seems to really enjoy going for walks. He met my parents and was very gentle. He likes affection and did not show any aggression whatsoever.

He ate his food immediately when I put it down in front of him. He is a little messy (food falls on the floor and gets stuck in his joules). But he cleans up the floor and sniffs out every piece of food that falls out of the bowl. He drinks a lot of water. I thought my Saint Bernards slobbered after drinking but Bob puts them to shame. His ears go in the bowl and it looks like a pipe burst when he comes up for air. Have towels nearby.

Unbelievably gentle and ridiculously cute.

He sleeps well and seemed to get comfortable pretty quickly. He is pretty big so I felt bad putting him in the crate. I then figured he has had a rough go and could use a little couch time.”

bob_face2We estimate the veterinarian expenses alone to care for Bob will be $1500.

If you would like to help please consider making a donation to The Extra Mile Fund or click here to make a donation through Paypal. You may also send a check directly to us in the mail to:

Secondhand Mutts
c/o Bob the Bloodhound
2603 Scranton Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44113

Welcome to the Secondhand Mutts family Bob. We are happy to have you here and are looking forward to helping you feel better and finding you a wonderful forever home to live out your days on a couch (hopefully).

Stay tuned to our calendar of events to find out when you can meet Bob at Pet People or PetValu during one of our upcoming Meet-Our-Mutts adoption events.


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ADOPTED! August 15, 2015


Read about Kerby’s journey to Secondhand Mutts here.

Kerby is estimated to be 5-7  years old. He is a male, Border Collie/Aussie/St. Bernard mix (best guess!) that arrived from the City of Cleveland Kennel picked up as a stray. Kerby is a gentle soul and has a lot of love to give. He would make any family complete. He know some basic commands and appears to be crate trained. Kerby is able to jump a 4′ fence and he is a bit too obsessed with cats for us to recommend he lives with cats unless they are really good with dogs. Kerby is up to date on shots and microchipped.


He and my older, laid back dog got along fine. I think he may do best around his size or larger breeds, as he seems to think small dogs are cats, too, or need rounding up. He knows commands and hand signals and is doing much better on the leash. We have walked every day during our six weeks. He enjoys modeling our dog, Sam. He is still having a few potty accidents in the house. He really wants to drink a lot of water. He eats fast, also. I think he may still be stockpiling from when he as on the streets. You may need to limit water intake or only offer it with meals so he doesn’t have inside accidents. Sometimes I also think he forgets that he’s outside to potty (in the backyard), as he gets distracted with cars riding by (he gives has in the backyard as I’m on a corner lot), dogs walking by outside our fence, etc. A corner lot is not for him! He will potty and poop on the leash when we walk. 

He’s loving, mindful, eager to please, and submissive. He is still a little hesitant around my boyfriend, but not my son.  If you raise your voice he will cower, but not tremble. Again, he was getting better as the weeks went on. He is trusting and loves to eat and loves to have you throw his Kong frisbee we bought him. He also enjoys retrieving tennis balls. He loves attention and slept on my bed sometimes, and other times slept on the floor next to my bed. No dog aggression issues and when my dog would give him a warning bark about a toy, Kirby would immediately retreat. He respected Sam immensely. 

I think he would make an excellent agility dog. He would love that type of activity. I did not take him to the lake or any dog parks while he was with us. I tried to get him to get into a baby pool of water in our backyard and he wanted no part of it. His hair is growing in nicely and his ribs aren’t as visible, but he could still put on a few pounds in my opinion. Overall, he’s an excellent dog. Not a counter surfer and not a chewer. 


We are not a traditional shelter, we are a cage-free facility. All dogs are temperament tested and must get along with other dogs to stay here. Appointments must be made in advance to meet our Secondhand Mutts. Please call 216-664-9660 or email to set up a time. We are closed on Sundays. We prefer to adopt to local families but will consider long distance adoptions.

Adoption Fee $200

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Stray and Scared to Grateful and Beautiful

Kerby_CACFreedom ride for this “shy” guy we have named Kerby. He was at the City of Cleveland Kennel, picked up as s stray on May 3rd, taken back to the kennel and waited patiently for his owner to claim him. No such luck. “R10”, his cage number, was identified by the kennel staff as:

“severely matted, needs to be groomed, sweet and fearful. Can’t walk on a leash”
A plea was made by  Chief Dog Warden Jaimson and the Director of The Friends of the Cleveland Kennel for a rescue to spend time with him and take him in as the kennel was filling up fast and nearly full. Anthony, a certified dog trainer, one of our volunteers and a senior staff member of The Mutt Hutt, spent some time with him and reported back his assessment. He was fearful of the leash but showed no signs of aggression. The next day Becca Riker, the director of Secondhand Mutts, and Anthony went back to the kennel to try again.

With a little time and positive coaxing and praise Anthony got the lead around his matted neck and then safely coverted the lead into a harness. He was gentle removed from R10 and taken outside to the fresh air and yard.  It seemed Kerby had never been exposed to a leash or was hesitant due to some pain he was having from his matted coat. He was slightly fearful but not aggressive and off we went for a stroll. Shortly thereafter we pulled him from the kennel and Anthony loaded him into his truck and we took him to Secondhand Mutts/The Mutt Hutt. Kerby_beforegroom2

Kerby_jaimie_bathHe’s badly matted and headed right over to The Mutt Hutt Grooming Salon getting pampered by Lead Groomer Greta and the Salon Assistant and Groomer Jaimie.  His double thick coat was severely matted and it was necessary to shave him down completely. Several hours later Kerby was feeling much better and headed over for his required quarantine period to decompress from what he had been going through the last two weeks. Kerby_tailmat2


It takes a village and we are always committed to going The Extra Mile for a dog like Kerby. He is a diamond in a ruff and should find a great home in no time.


Finished and Feeling Fabulous!

Kerby has shown off his skills of sitting and he knows how to give paw. He’s got a great disposition and would make a great pet for any family.


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Logan and Hobble: We are funding for an “Arm and a Leg” and we need your assistance

ExtraMile_logo_squareWe are committed to helping dogs, like Hobble, who otherwise may be euthanized or looked over at rural shelters due to a lack of funding. Logan and Hobble and other dogs  in our program like Reuben, Logan, Kanga and Miracle got the help they need through The Extra Mile fund. If you would like to donate for their medical care please click here to learn more about this rewarding program.

With these two dogs alone we need to raise $3950.
We can do it with your help.

Logan’s Story

LoganSHM_face_webLogan came to us via owner surrender when the owners realized they could not properly care for him and they decided to Respect the Dog. Of course we would take him in: cute, energetic, affectionate puppy…he’d be an easy adoption!

Once Logan was introduced to the public it took no time for him to gain interest and soon enough there was about to be a hand-off for foster to adopt!
And then…our “easy” adoption got a little twisted: literally.

During the course of play at daycare with another Secondhand Mutt, Logan’s leg twisted “just so” and a limp appeared…we gave him a day of rest to see if he could shake it off but since he didn’t, it was off to Gateway Animal Clinic! We started with anti-inflammatory and paid meds but it wasn’t helping so off to Animal Emergency West he went…with a diagnosis of torn ACL.

His foster-to-adopt family had already been caring for him in their home and they were as bummed and concerned as we were over the diagnosis. Luckily he is a young, healthy pup…but getting him “ready” for the surgery (lots of crate training) was no easy task: Logan just wants to be off having fun!

The surgeons were smart to make us wait until the foster family felt confident he could deal with the amount of crate rest he’d need (eight weeks’ worth!) after the surgery and then it was scheduled and the surgery was performed last week (while foster mom was on spring break from her teaching job) and Logan is on the mend…

What we need to mend now is our pocketbook!

The surgery, along with his previous vet visits and meds cost us nearly $3000 and that’s a lot of money!

Hobble’s Story

HobbleSHM_richlandHobble was transferred from the Richland County Animal Shelter to our facility to get the medical care he needed from our organization funded by our generous supporters. Hobble was originally taken to a local cat rescue facility and when turned away he was taken to the Richland County Animal Shelter. It was close to closing time when the “owner” arrived and quickly dropped him off and left. The wonderful staff there immediately noticed something was wrong with his front right leg and quarantined him in a cage until he could get transferred to a rescue that would take care of him. That’s us! One of our dedicated transport volunteers drove from Cleveland to Medina to meet one of the volunteers from Mansfield for the puppy pass on. He was safely delivered to us and taken to our veterinarian.
Hobble_bedHobble  is a 12 week old Shar Pei/Chocolate Lab mixed puppy. He is adorable and soft and we are certain he will find a loving home to move into as soon as he is ready for one (we are in the process of screen applications now). Hobble arrived at the Richland County Animal Shelter with a lame front right leg. Scar tissue and a crooked paw indicated a prior injury and veterinary assistance would be needed to make a plan for his car. Hobble doesn’t seem to mind hobbling along but occasionally he will trip but he gets right up. We took him to see Dr. Liz at Gateway Animal Clinic and she speculated the injury was either an old injury that could have been he was stepped on or got his foot caught somewhere or he could have been born with the defect. Sometimes puppies umbilical cords can be wrapped around their legs while they are growing causing an injury quite like what we are seeing on Hobble. The facts are we have no real facts on his history or what really happened. What we do know is the best thing for Hobble is to have his front leg amputated within the next six weeks.

We have moved Hobble to a temporary foster home and are now busy screening applicants so we can move him into a fostering-to-adopt home. By doing this he will be able to settle in with the family we’ve chosen for him to live out his life, get properly trained and prepared for surgery and then have a home to recover in. Puppies who have legs amputated adjust very well as they are already learning and Hobble will grow up not knowing the difference of having 3 or 4 legs. He will be neutered during surgery.

The cost for his surgery is estimated to be $950.


Combining Logan’s and Hobble’s care our Extra Mile Funding is depleting quickly and we need your support. Please consider donating so that we continue to confidently help dogs through our The Extra Mile fund whenever it’s necessary and whenever we can. Thank you so much for your ongoing support.

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Jumping for Joy: Kanga’s Story

kangaFor those who have followed us for the past few years you are no stranger to a dog named Kanga who entered our program in November 2013. Yes, we said 2013….she’s been with us for two and a half years. Kanga, arrived as a young boxer mix with a leap bigger than namesake: the Kangaroo. She has not only proven to leap fences, leap into bunk beds 5′ off the ground but she has also leaped from foster home to home back to foster home to another home back to foster home and a few stints at boarding long term at our facility and another and today we are happy to announce she has finally landed: At her forever home.

ExtraMile_logo_squareIt’s been a long time and we stuck by Kanga, watching her grow up, get exposed to many dogs, get overwhelmed with too many dogs, get irritated with the constant daycare environment of daycare (it can make a dog a little nuts living here day in and day out).  Along the way she’s made some dog friends and along the way she’s had her struggles. She has always loved people and she has always loved cats. She loves to run and burn off energy and she was placed with a couple over a year ago who started their journey with her volunteering by running her for miles and miles. They did this for about a month and then decided to adopt her. Sadly, a few months later they determined due to some house breaking issues and severe leash re-activity issues when walked in public she wasn’t a fit. Rather than take her back we offered to help by providing training through our Extra Mile fund. But in the end we all determined she was the wrong dog for the situation she was living in and she was returned.

Months later she started going home with a young woman who worked at The Mutt Hutt and at first was doing well there. We knew the best fit for Kanga was one where she could get away from dog daycare life so we had our doubts things would work but we had to give it a try for her sake. It was a short lived attempt and once again, Kanga proved to be “too much dog” and wasn’t playing nice due to some toy guarding issues and we took her back and moved her back into one of her many foster homes.

kanga_sleepkanga_trainKanga has been leaping from home to foster home to home to foster home to daycare and back to foster homes during her two and a half years with us. Last summer we place her in an outside boarding and training facility to give her a break from her unstable routine in hopes of offering her structure. What we learned is she is one of the most obedient, work-smart dogs around. She is eager to please and she is affectionate toward humans like no other. She is loyal, patient and loving. She has trouble meeting dogs on a leash so we knew we had to find her a home either as an only dog or a dog who’s owner could care less about taking her on walks but okay with having friendly dogs over to play. But where will we find that owner?

kanga_smutThree years ago an elderly gentleman by the name of Bill adopted a middle aged dog named Porkchop from our organization. Porkchop was a one of a kind dog that had a troubled past transferred to us from another shelter due to his cage behavior and fear issues. We were close to deeming him non-adoptable, with no interest for months, until Bill came into his/our life and gave Porkchop the security and chance he needed. Porkchop provided Bill with a lifetime of companionship albeit only a few short years. Sadly, Porkchop passed away from natural causes a few weeks ago. Never without a dog Bill promptly looked up dogs on our website and inquired about Kanga. We knew Bill was patient, we knew he was home 24/7, we knew he had a large fenced  yard and we knew he had a way with “special” dogs.

On March third we took Kanga to Bill’s house to meet him and he started fostering. Bill is disabled and has a wonderful family of dog-loving people in his life including a home caretaker, dog caretaker and a huge yard for Kanga to play in. When we arrived at his house with Kanga Bill  had a big overstuffed chair set up for her next to his lift-chair-bed, a dog bed on the floor (if she preferred that) and a basket full of dog toys. A bowl of fresh water, bones by his side and a smile on his face we will never forget.

kanga_yardNeedless to say since night one Kanga choose to sleep on Bill’s chair, with Bill, and that is where she’s been night after night since she got to the house. He let’s her out to play in his large yard and she gets visits from her favorite dog caretaker John daily. She has toys and dog food shipped to the house and she’s made herself at home. She’s welcome to come in for daycare visits thanks to donors who have left us with daycare visits at The Mutt Hutt to donate to adopted dogs who may need visits but their owners may not be able to afford the service.

Thank you to everyone for believing in our mission, believing in Kanga and thank you to the anonymous donors who made it possible for Bill to adopt her sooner than he expected when the fee was covered by two of our supporters. Thank you to the foster families who gave her a break from daycare life and provided her with love, a couch, and a family, to the two families who gave her a chance in their home when she was adopted, to Gateway Animal Clinic for your constant care for her allergies, to Roxanna and Christina at HDPK9, Mel at Paramount Dog Training, Martha at Portraits by Martha, to the staff at The Mutt Hutt and to Bill, his family and John who we know will care for Kanga for her lifetime.

Respect the dog.



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Sweet Tea’s Journey

Many of Cleveland’s stray or discarded dogs start their new lives at the City of Cleveland Kennel. This is where Sweet Tea’s story begins.

SweetTeaSHM_face_webSweet Tea arrived at Cleveland Animal Control as a stray, less than a year old and heavily pregnant. Almost immediately upon arrival, she gave birth to four puppies, two male and two female. Kennel staff tries to find rescues for new mothers as soon as possible, so a Facebook cry for help was sent out, and Secondhand Mutts stepped up to rescue Sweet Tea and her babies. It wasn’t an easy task taking this shy, paralyzed with fear  mama dog out of the kennel but she was safely escorted out with two volunteers.

The puppies (Kettle Corn, Funnel Cake, Hush Puppy, and Cheesy Fry) were just two days old when they were moved out of the kennel and into their new foster home with Secondhand Mutts volunteers Mary Jo and Kip. While her puppies thrived in their new environment, Sweet Tea was initially very shy and withdrawn but she gradually learned to trust people. Once her puppies were all adopted, Sweet Tea accepted and nursed three orphaned puppies that were brought into the foster home.

sweet tea and pups with Mary Jo

Sweet Tea remained timid and was extremely fearful of being outside. Once the second set of puppies was grown, Sweet Tea was moved to another foster home with volunteer Amelia, where she could get more one-on-one socialization.

SweetTeaSHM_foster_bedIn her new foster home, Sweet Tea slowly grew more comfortable under the guidance of her canine foster brother and sister. She learned to enjoy going outside, rolling in the grass and running around with her foster siblings. They taught her that walking on a leash is a fun activity and not something to be feared. Belly rubs became a new favorite! Sweet Tea still had anxiety around new people, and preferred to get attention and treats in one of her “safe” places.

SweetTeaSHM_foster_yardAfter many months in foster, learning how to be a happy dog, Sweet Tea finally was adopted into her forever home. Her new mom, Darlene, has been patient and understanding with “Tea”. When she noticed that Sweet Tea was having some anxiety problems about being left home alone, she was immediately matched with Sandy, a Secondhand Mutts board member who has past experience working with dogs that experience separation anxiety. Sweet Tea’s foster “mama” also provided advice and guidance to help Tea adjust to her new home. According to Darlene, this extra support from volunteers at Secondhand Mutts was the key to her and Tea being a successful match.

Now, Sweet Tea loves to visit and play with her canine cousin, Pepper. They race around the yard together and chase each other. When she is happy and panting, it looks like she’s smiling. Darlene is continuing to work with her to build her confidence around new people. Both of them look forward to their daily walks, and just being with each other.


Sweet Tea’s journey from pregnant stray to happy and loved family member was a long and slow one. Her story provides a great example about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in the rescue world  – how it sometimes takes a village, and the dedication of many volunteers, to “Respect the Dog.”

“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.”

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The ‘Wright’ Brothers: Right at home

WilburOrvilleSHMWilbur and Orville arrived at Secondhand Mutts after months of living in a hoarding situation and four months of living at a kennel in southern Ohio. We are not quite sure what they suffered, but it is obvious that at minimum it was extreme deprivation of proper human attention and any physical or emotional affection.

When they arrived in Cleveland, they were literally paralyzed with fear. Wilbur and Orville spent their first two weeks avoiding humans and human touch at all cost and they would spend hours in the exact same position, most often on top of each other if there was a human around. They would hide and keep their faces buried in corners. The Mutt Hutt staff member and Secondhand Mutt volunteer Leah was their most constant companion, given they were either in or near her office while she worked…it was a given they’d warm up to her first and there was their first human bonded relationship!

Soon after the boys slowly learned to trust staff members at The Mutt Hutt and allowed volunteers to “walk” them. They were terrified of strangers and cars and leaves blowing in the wind. Their “walks” often took them no further than the corner and took 30 minutes just to get there. It would take months before they were comfortable enough with anyone to just.walk.

wilbur_sparkleThe one thing the boys loved was dogs: all dogs! Thankfully we were able to secure a foster for them with two great dogs that are regulars at The Mutt Hutt. Early in November of 2014, the boys made their first adventure to that foster home. It was clear the change scared them but having the resident dogs and a kind and patient foster family (a set of female cousins) helped them transition to being able to show affection and sleep on couches and be more like actual dogs. They learned household behaviors from their foster dog sister, Maizey and would follow her and their foster brother Jack around, observing behavior and then eventually trying things themselves. The boys’ favorite activity was sleeping on top of the dogs or their foster mom Gina. Their potential for a lifelong companion was obvious—it was just a matter of time and trust. Oh, and a house without a lot of closed doors and strangers. The boys engaged in fear barking and fear piddling even after weeks in the safe environment with the same two people. The barking left much to be desired.

WilburSHM_ppThe boys returned to TMH for the holidays. By this point, they were getting better adjusted and were able to go to monthly adoption events at the Pet People in Rocky River. They were frequent guests at Pet People, and did well with the staff and customers. Their big brown eyes and obvious want for attention (even if they didn’t always know how to receive it) pulled people in and they’d receive treats and kisses and pets and ear scratches and learned over time to spend less of their visits huddled under tables and locked behind the legs of the volunteers they knew.

Over the course of the next year or so the boys would move in and out of different foster homes and trials for adoption. They made an escape through a broken fence at a foster home and ended up putting dozens and dozens of volunteers to work searching for Wilbur (Orville was caught right away) in the dead of winter. Good Samaritans found/captured him a week later but Secondhand Mutts volunteers and organizers always had to be on high alert with them…and this was something to manage whenever introducing them to new fosters or fosters to adopt.

WilburSHM_bedIt was Orville that relaxed into being a regular, trusting dog first…but he could be set off whenever Wilbur became anxious or upset (which was still often) and we decided, after much discussion and debate to try and separate them.

It worked for Orville and he spent a lot of his time with the same foster home that he had started off with. Meanwhile, Wilbur spent a lot of his time at The Mutt Hutt. During this time, while much of his behavior (alarm barking and charging) was challenging to the staff, everyone understood that Wilbur was the way he was because of the terrible situation he came from. Staff members worked endless hours with him and along the way, Jessica grew especially fond of him. Jessica and her family opened their home to him for a long-term foster over the summer of 2015, because Wilbur was not relaxing into this stable, quiet home and a regular routine (he continued to come to daycare because he has always loved being around the other dogs!), we consulted with our partners at Gateway Animal Clinic and decided to try medication for him, continues to be on medication to this day.

WilburSHM_grass2Even with all of this, in the end, he just simply remained too fearful and had latched onto Jessica and continued to bark and charge at anyone else in the home and so when she went back to school he came back to The Mutt Hutt.

In late July of 2015 a young couple, Amber and Shawn, arranged to meet SHM’s Wilbur, Orville and Sparkle. They recently moved to the Cleveland area and were excited to be in a position to add dogs to their family.  They immediately fell in love with Wilbur and Orville, and took them home over a weekend for a trial. The couple had high energy and experience with troubled rescued dogs. Orville immediately adjusted to the spacious apartment and lifestyle but Wilbur’s alarm barking and charging was too much for this living situation in the end. Luckily for Orville, the family wanted to give him a chance and see how he did as a single dog. It was a happy surprise for everyone that Orville did great in the apartment. We were glad to give them the time they needed to acclimate to each other and on Labor Day 2015, they signed on the dotted line and made the adoption official. He lives a very active lifestyle with his new family and has a dog sister, Sparkle that the couple also adopted through Secondhand Mutts. Sparkle further helped Orville relax into being a great dog and enjoying the fantastic life he has. Orville now goes by the name Oakley and Sparkle is now known as Sophie!

The pair spends their evenings curled up and spooning each other in the center of the couch. Oakley still struggles with some of his anxieties and fears, particularly with men, but there has been a large improvement with his ability to start trusting and loving Shawn through the help of Sophie and Amber.


Wilbur was still waiting and finally caught the eye of a family of three. The husband, wife and adult daughter had noticed Wilbur on the website and felt he would be a great addition to their family. The couple understood Wilbur’s less-than-ideal character traits and had experienced similar nervous tendencies and anxieties with their beloved dog, Chester who had recently passed away. The family was looking to save another dog and their remaining dog Mason was looking for a new companion as well. So a trial was set and off Wilbur went and we all held our breath (again) waiting to see what would happen. The family started off spending hours working with Wilbur to overcome his anxiety and fear of men, and also give him his space to decompress and explore on his own. Their love for Wilbur and his bond with them became evident after Wilbur (typical behavior) bolted out of their door and was on the run…again! It was a whole new search party but in the end…he went right to Nora (Kevin and Linda’s daughter) once he spotted her. After that it only took a few weeks for the family to make it official.

Wilbur_adoptedThe family has been a great fit for Wilbur. Their patience and understanding of his behavior has been keen. His family knows not to overwhelm him with too many guests, and to allow him to approach and cuddle on his own terms. He has a big backyard to run around in and a tiny brother dog to play with. They are all getting along great. We are so grateful this loving family has opened their doors to Wilbur, understands his needs, and is giving him the love and affection we all wanted for him for so long.

This truly is about our huge network of volunteers and supporters. Everyone from volunteer chaperones and dog walkers, to our vets and the staff at Gateway and the kind staff and visitors at Pet People and our foster families and everyone who shared their pictures or stopped to say hello. To those that walked the streets in the dark, calling for a dog that would never answer (btw: he wears a GPS collar now!) and to the amazing staff at The Mutt Hutt who endured so much alarm barking and charging from two little dogs as they tried to find their place in this world. We know that it’s always worth the wait in the end (for our dogs and their new families) but this never would have happened without the dozens and dozens of people who poured their hearts into this mission…to help these dogs become dogs and to find them loving and deserving homes. We never could have pulled this off without all of you: thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.


Posted in Dog Updates | Comments closed
Our Adoptables Are
  • Socialized in a cage-free dog daycare environment
  • Dog-Friendly
  • Cat Tested (upon request)
  • Fostered in real homes
  • Spayed or Neutered
  • Temperament tested
  • Veterinary Health Checked
  • Fully Vaccinated
  • Distemper Vaccinated
  • Rabies Vaccinated
  • Bordetella Vaccinated
  • Heartworm Tested
  • Microchipped
  • Flea Preventative
  • Heartworm Preventative
  • Groomed prior to adoption

Services provided by
Gateway Animal Clinic

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