Listen to today's episode and first ever interview for Just Add Dogs Podcast! In this first interview, Lindsay talks with Susan Sterritt, the founder of The Misfits Dog Rescue in Colorado Springs, CO about all things rescue.
In addition to being a homemaker and caretaker, Susan is the director of the
Misfits Dog Rescue which she started in 2014 after starting off as a foster mom for a different rescue. Misfits Dog Rescue is a primarily small dog rescue and they are completely foster based--meaning that all of the rescue dogs are lucky enough to start out their new life in a home with a loving family. This family then helps love and prepare him/her for their forever home.
The Misfits Dog Rescue is a foster-based rescue here in Colorado. Their mission is simple but powerful: to find dogs that are in need of rescue and … well...rescue them. Their adoptable Misfits are sweet innocent souls who have found themselves alone, scared, or abandoned on the streets or in a shelter, waiting on death row. They bring these dogs into homes, medically treat them (which can be exorbitant, as you can imagine), and rebuild their confidence. Once they are well, the rescue does it’s best to find them special adoptive parents. They aim to make every Misfit a perfect fit in a new forever home.
Now here is one of their little souls that is up for adoption. Meet 2-year-old, Scotty! He’s a little chihuahua gentleman. He’s a lady’s man so I think he’d prefer his lady all to himself. He came from a home where an elderly couple, one of whom has dementia could not care for him anymore.
This happens a lot.
Some dogs have specific needs just like us humans, but that home for Scotty is out there, I’m sure of it. So if you’re a single lady who is looking for a single little man who won’t hog the remote or all the covers, Scotty’s your man. Oh, and he’s a big cuddler and his house-broken, too! It doesn’t get any better than that, folks! Just look at his picture on their website and I guarantee your heart will melt.
Go to www.misfitsdogrescue.org for more information on Scotty and the other dogs looking for their forever home. And while you’re there see if there is a way that you can support this wonderful organization in changing lives for these homeless misfits.
Transcription: The One About The Misfits Dog Rescue
[Intro] Welcome to Just Add Dogs, a podcast dedicated to telling the heartwarming stories of rescue dogs and the people that saved them. Just Add Dogs, gives hope, smiles, and tail wags to both humans and canines alike while shedding light on the joys of adopting your next best friend.
Lindsay Eland: So welcome to this episode of Just Add Dogs. We're back today to talk about dog rescue and rescue dogs and all the things in between today. I'm interviewing a hero in dog rescue right here in my home state of Colorado. So please join me in welcoming Susan Sterritt. In addition to being a homemaker and a caretaker. Susan is the director of the Misfits dog rescue, which she began in 2014 after starting off as a foster mom. The Misfits dog rescue is a primarily small dog rescue and they're completely foster-based. That means that all of the rescue dogs are lucky enough to start out their new life in a home with a loving family. This family then helps love and prepare that dog for their forever home. But I don't want to tell you too much because I want you to hear it all straight from her. So please welcome to Just Add Dogs, Susan Sterritt. Thank you for coming.
Susan Sterritt: Hello. Hello. Thank you.
Lindsay Eland: So, Susan, you started this rescue in 2014. What has been one of those dogs that you have that has just impacted you and your passion for dog rescue?
Susan Sterritt: Well, my favorite story is the one of Princess who came to us as an owner surrender, they were going to put her down because she had lost the use of her hind legs and she was a little eager, young poodle mix. So, we took her in and adopted her out with a wheelchair, thinking that she would never walk again. And the owner was prepared to deal with all that. And I was in my office on Christmas morning and I got an email and I opened up the email and it was a video of Princess walking. So, it was like our Christmas miracle. It was just awesome.
Lindsay Eland: Oh my gosh. So, did she end up having a surgery? How did she get to...?
Susan Sterritt: She did therapy, a lot of water therapy took her for walks. I don't know. She healed on her own. I mean, she's not completely healed. She walks funny, but she is today walking about and going on hikes and you know, it's amazing.
Lindsay Eland: That is so amazing. I feel like that's just a Testament to what rescue does when we give dogs a chance.
Susan Sterritt: Right? Absolutely. We have another paralyzed dog right now, actually just got adopted and we named it bullet. And that sounds morbid, but he's faster than the speed of lightning with no use of his back legs. This dog was shot in the back with a bullet literally. He's a little seven-pound Chihuahua and his new mom is doing the same thing, teaching him how to walk again. So, it's very exciting, just a couple of steps and we get all excited. It's really neat. It's a very rewarding thing to be involved with.
Lindsay Eland: Oh my gosh. Definitely. Just to be able to see what a little love and patience and kindness can do.
Susan Sterritt: Yeah, absolutely.
Lindsay Eland: I know that the misfit dog rescue deals with a lot of dogs who are either discarded for aggression or were placed on a euthanasia list because of aggression. Of course, I'm all about the stories. So are there any favorite dog transformation stories that you have about a dog who was aggressive, who with just a little bit of love and patience is now leading a, you know, a normal life,
Susan Sterritt: Liberty... Gained her Liberty, but her name was Liberty. And she came from Denver animal shelter and she was beyond feral. I went to pick her up at the humane society. They called me because she was at risk of being euthanized and they couldn't catch her. And we got her into a crate, which was very difficult. They had to lasso her and put the leash through the crate and then pull the leash through the other side of the crate to pull her into it. She couldn't be touched or anything. I got her home. And if you put her in the kennel, she would poop like splatter poop on the walls. If I took her out of the kennel, then she would be aggressive to me and to the other dogs. So, I was in a catch 22, what to do with this dog. So, I literally spent two or three nights where the dog slept with me in a harness and a leash and a muzzle so that I could protect myself, protect the other dogs. And because she would hurt herself in the kennel, she would freak out cloth, scratch claw till her paws would bleed. And eventually she settled down and then she became a happy-go-lucky, but kind of out of control, like an untrained puppy for the longest time. And then she got to the point where we were able to take her to dog adoption events and whatnot. And she kind of became my mascot at Halloween. We painted her ears pink and I dressed up as a clown and we're down in Fremont County. We won a contest of dog look alike,
Lindsay Eland: I love that.
Susan Sterritt: She got adopted by a couple in Denver that has a standard poodle. She's kind of a smaller poodle. So, she has a standard poodle brother and they lived happily ever after.
Lindsay Eland: How long did that take, that transformation...?
Susan Sterritt: I had her for over a year.
Lindsay Eland: Really?
Susan Sterritt: Yeah. It took a long time. It took a long time, but it was worth it.
Lindsay Eland: Do you get updates about Liberty and her little family from time to time?
Susan Sterritt: Yeah. I get pictures every once in a while. I find that usually when I take a dog on a euthanasia list at the shelter for aggression and mind you, I only do small dogs. I can't handle the large breed, aggressive dogs, but the little ones that are like chihuahuas and whatnot. 90% of the time I get them here and there's a 360-degree turnabout almost instantly because when they're at the shelter, they're scared and they're in protective mode. So, if you remove them from that environment, 90% of the time, it's a good turnabout. Sometimes like in the case with Liberty, it takes a long time. I have a dog currently named bandit that was also very feral when we first got him and he still doesn't want to be touched by humans, but he's a good dog. He's a happy dog. He plays well with the others. Again, it's sometimes it takes time, but it's always very rewarding
Lindsay Eland: On your website. I know it says once the dog is in our care, we commit to doing whatever needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, there are some that are not able to save and they pass away, but they pass away in the loving arms and not on a cold cement floor all alone. And I just love that because it sounds like those dogs that if Liberty and Bandit never come around to being that normal dog, they are still going to live out their life in loving arms and not...
Susan Sterritt: In foster care. Right. We did have a dog last year, that was three pounds and it should have been 10. And we didn't know what was going on. We discovered that the dog didn't really have a tongue. And then on further investigation, it turned out that it had cancer of the tongue and the throat. And we don't know what happened initially, if it was trauma to the tongue or something, but it was left untreated. So, by the time we got it and we're doing everything medically, we possibly can for this dog. And of course, we weren't able to save it, but it was very loved and cared for. And we ended up having to do the merciful thing, but yeah, he would have been euthanized at the shelter, which is hard cold cement. Yeah,
Lindsay Eland: Totally. And instead, he got to be loved to the very end. That's so important.
Susan Sterritt: Yeah. And it's sad and that's taxing on our hearts as rescuers. But again, overall, it's just a very rewarding field for me.
Lindsay Eland: With all that heartache that you see taking in these abandoned, forgotten, and often abused misfits. Where do you find the inspiration to keep going? Does your heart get heavy sometimes that you're like, I just, I don't know how I'm going to do it?
Susan Sterritt: Sometimes I feel like it's scary when I have a bunch of dogs that have issues that are not getting adopted, but eventually they do. It turns about on its own. And as far as my inspiration, it's from the heart and soul of the dogs. I mean, I lay down and TV with a gaggle of dogs on my lap at night. And you know, you just sit there and you're like, how fortunate am I?
Lindsay Eland: It's so true. Some people have said, “Oh, you know, you're so selfless to adopt these senior dogs.” Because I adopt a lot of seniors and I'm like, “you know, it's actually pretty selfish. I love it.”
Susan Sterritt: I know and senior dogs are great. I love them too. Yeah.
Lindsay Eland: Yeah. This is a question that I've always had. And you had mentioned this as well. When you first started your rescue, it was hard to find dogs. How do you get the dogs to come into your rescue?
Susan Sterritt: Well, I've gotten to the point now where I'm kind of established so that people find me and people ask me a lot to take in their animals or shelters will, especially since they know I've taken a few aggressive dogs, it's like, they're all like here, take this one, take that one. So, it's not so difficult anymore. But initially it was because people didn't know me and I had to kind of fan-angle my way into meeting new people that could use my services and so it's just sort of gradually happened. But yeah, I did. And I still do take a lot of the ones that have fear aggression.
Lindsay Eland: Because they know that you're not going to give up on them.
Susan Sterritt: Right.
Break: [Music Interlude 10:13-10:18]
Lindsay Eland: So, do you still foster dogs?
Susan Sterritt: Oh yeah.
Lindsay Eland: How do you keep from adopting them all, from like keeping them all?
Susan Sterritt: It's just, what I do. It's just turned into what I do because I feel like every dog that I own is one less that I can rescue. So currently I have one dog that I own. I got her from Breeder Release Adoption Service. She was a puppy mill dog and she's like 16 years old now and she's having seizures. So, I may not have her for very much longer, but I'm pretty much committed to not adopting a single dog. And though I've been very tempted in the past, but not until I decide to retire from doing what I do, which might not be ever.
Lindsay Eland: Well, that's good for all the dogs out there. That's for sure. So, you mentioned when you wrote to accept my invitation to be on the podcast that you were shy, I as well prefer the company of dogs. So how did dogs help you in ways that you never expected?
Susan Sterritt: I mean, it just feeds your ego when you've got a dog that won't let anybody else touch them and it's licking your face to death. It's just, it makes you feel good.
Lindsay Eland: Yeah.
Susan Sterritt: When I get people that adopt dogs from me and two years later, they're writing me Christmas cards and, you know, family photos with dogs and telling me how their life has changed. I mean, it makes you feel good.
Lindsay Eland: Definitely does, to know that you've made an impact both on the dog and the person that adopted the dog.
Susan Sterritt: Absolutely. Yeah.
Lindsay Eland: Because dogs are pretty darn special that's for sure.
Susan Sterritt: Family members 100%. Yeah.
Lindsay Eland: So being in the rescue field and I'm sure you have a lot of owner surrenders. How do you not let yourself get jaded to humanity, to people in general? Or can you kind of compartmentalize?
Susan Sterritt: So as far as owner surrenders go, I want to be a rescue, not an adoption service. And we'd like for people to make the effort to rehome their dogs, if they have to on their own, because we are all volunteer and it's time consuming, it is a job. However, we do take dogs when somebody's really got a hardship, they can't take it on themselves or their husband is going into a nursing home or somebody's passed away, you know, these kinds of scenarios. So, my answer is, yes, it does but no, it doesn't because it's a double-edged sword. You got these animals that are horribly treated by people. And I see all kinds of things, because I'm a dog person, comes up on my Facebook and everything, but I'm also a part of this other group of people that's the opposite that does above and beyond and takes better care of the animals and you know, wants to rescue them and is very compassionate and very good hearted. So, do you get jaded? Yes. But you also are like, wow, this person just restored my faith in humanity because wow, you're doing a great job with that dog.
Lindsay Eland: Oh, I love that perspective. I've actually never heard that before. And I can see that, you know, even when I find myself looking at Instagram or Facebook, you know, you get jaded, but you're right. Then you get so full of hope that you're like, oh my gosh, we can do this.
Susan Sterritt: Yes, we can. Yeah. If you look at the whole thing, so many people, like, I don't know, maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago, people didn't know what a puppy mill was, what rescuing was. Now, it's like, wait you bought a dog at a pet store? So, we're making huge progress, I think. It's a tough world and you know, it's always going to be there, but it's improving. We've made improvements. I do believe that.
Lindsay Eland: I think you're right. So, is there anything else that you want to share about dog rescue and your work with dogs?
Susan Sterritt: Yeah. Be a part of the solution. You know, if you foster or donate, don't shop, adopt.
Lindsay Eland: Yeah.
Susan Sterritt: You know or just help get the word out. You know, I mean, I have people all the time that just watch me on Facebook and share my posts and then the next thing, you know, somebody that you shared a post to is adopting one of the dogs.
Lindsay Eland: So, in the little ways to...
Susan Sterritt: Yeah, be a part of the solution.
Lindsay Eland: For somebody who would like to get their hands dirty and then get involved in a rescue like yours, or maybe one closer to where they live, how do they go about doing that?
Susan Sterritt: You can call me, or contact me, email Sue@misfitsdogrescue.org. And we can see about getting you involved. It's been a little bit difficult lately because I have been taking on difficult dogs. And because of the coronavirus, we're not doing adoption events, but we're hoping that will change and with that change will be getting bigger and inviting more volunteers and fosters into the program. So, it's coming.
Lindsay Eland: Have you noticed a big change with the Corona virus this year in the dogs that you're able to adopt out or dogs you're taking in?
Susan Sterritt: There is just a huge demand for the dogs right now, initially there was this huge demand, but now it's like, even though a lot of people are going back to work, a lot of people are going to stay at home indefinitely. So, there's still a very huge demand for the dogs and I just don't have the dogs to give people right now. I have dogs that need people, but a lot of people want the cute, highly adoptable, fluffy, hypoallergenic, potty trained, and those are hard to come by and when they do, they go very fast. And we appreciate that people are reaching out and wanting to rescue versus shopping for those dogs. But please be patient because you know, there's a big demand right now.
Lindsay Eland: Definitely. And it seems like patience comes a lot with, you know, rescuing a dog because they might not be that cute, fluffy little bundle of potty-trained joy at first but you know, with some time and love and patience, they can be.
Susan Sterritt: Right. Absolutely.
Lindsay Eland: That's about all the time we have for today. Susan, thank you so much for joining me on Just Add Dogs.
Susan Sterritt: You're so welcome. Thanks for having me.
Lindsay Eland: I want to introduce our adoptable dog for the week who comes from da-da-daa, of course, The Misfits Dog Rescue. So, The Misfits Dog Rescue, their mission is simple but powerful to find dogs that are in need of rescue and well rescue them. They're adoptable, misfits or sweet innocent souls who have found themselves alone, scared or abandoned on the streets or in a shelter waiting on death row. They bring these dogs into homes, medically treat them, which can be exorbitant, as you can imagine, and rebuild their confidence. Once they are well, the rescue does its best to find them special adoptive parents. And they aim to make every misfit a perfect fit in a new forever home. So, I want to introduce to you one of the little souls that is up for adoption. So, meet two-year old, Scotty, he's a little Chihuahua gentleman. He's a lady’s man. So, he'd prefer his lady all to himself. He came from a home where an elderly couple, one of whom has dementia could not care for him anymore.
So, some dogs have specific needs in their homes, just like us humans do. But that home for Scotty is out there, I'm sure of it. So, if you're a single lady, who’s looking for a single little man. Who won't hog the remote or all of the covers? Scotty is your man. Oh, and he's a big cuddler and he's housebroken too. So, it doesn't get much better than that. And I want you to go on their website and look at his picture because I can guarantee your heart will melt. He's so cute. So, go to www.misfitsdogrescue.org for more information on Scotty and the other dogs looking for their forever home. And while you're there, see if there's a way that you can support this wonderful organization in changing lives for these homelessness fits, you can also follow them on Facebook. They're very active and on Instagram at, @Misfit Hero. You'll also find the link for The Misfits Dog Rescue as well as the information on Scotty on our show notes at www.justadddogspodcasts.com.
So, in addition to subscribing to this podcast, follow us on Facebook and Instagram and go to www.justadddogspodcast.com to download my free resource guide called the basic guide to adopting your next best friend. And if you have adopted your best friend or maybe two or three or five, and would like to tell your story, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me on Instagram at, @Just Add Dogs Podcast. Also feel free to submit a rescue or a shelter that you love and adore to be featured on the show. Thank you guys so much for tuning in and listening this week. Thank you, Susan, until next week. I'm your host Lindsay.
[Outro] Find us on social media at Just Add Dogs podcast or on our website www.justadddogspodcast.com. Check back weekly for new episodes. Until next time, remember that to make anything better, Just Add Dogs.