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.
Sweet 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 While her puppies thrived in their new environment, Sweet Tea was initially very shy and withdrawn but she gradually learned to trust people.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 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.
In 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.
After 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.”