The last rescue stop on the Adventure Of A Lifetime was important to us. We had many to choose from in the Northern California area for our #48 rescue visit, because there are so many people making a difference for the animals here. However, Soft Paws Rescue in Santa Rosa touched our hearts personally, and we were privileged to end our “48 states, 48 rescues” Adventure Of A Lifetime tour with this wonderful rescue. We started off our visit with filming the final episode of “Stop Hounding Me”. Thank you to Mersadies, Laura and Victoria for being pecked so much. We don’t thank Digby for his contributions to this filming.
Maybe you have a favorite rescue or shelter. Why do you feel that way? Is it because you know of an animal that they saved…maybe your furkid? Maybe you are like one of our fans, Silke and Greg Smith of Sebastopol, California who will forever be grateful to their favorite rescue, Soft Paws.
No one else may know about a small rescue or shelter outside of a specific, geographic area. For Soft Paws Rescue, although they are a small, foster based rescue, they realize that every single life that they save matters…every single one.
But we know that every rescue matters in the big picture of ending animal homelessness. For us, knowing a dog personally that they saved reinforced our decision to pick them for our last stop. Why? We felt that the journey we have been on for over a year came down to one thing. Every. Life. Matters. But we had to find out why this rescue and its founder go so far for the animals under her care.
But first, who IS Soft Paws Rescue in Santa Rosa, California?
According to their website, “Soft Paws Rescue focuses on connecting homeless, stray, and abused pets with their perfect forever home. We take in dogs from kill lists at shelters as well as from owners who can no longer care for their pet. Our goal is to fit each pet with the perfect foster home until they find their permanent home. “
Now. Let’s meet Shadow.
Shadow came from dire circumstances out of a hoarding situation. Shadow had not had much, if any interaction at all with persons. She was afraid, timid and fearful. Shadow needed guidance after being rescued and she needed to build her self esteem. After just a few minutes into our rescue visit, we could see a direct correlation between Shadow’s beginning to that of Mersadies McDowell, the devoted founder of Soft Paws.
Mersadies didn’t always know her calling in life. Getting involved in the wrong crowd when she was younger, she had a choice. She could either continue to go down the wrong path, or she could find a new path. She chose the latter. Having always had a love for animals, she saw a need to get involved and find acceptance and belonging in a positive way.
But just like Shadow had to make a decision to trust again and build confidence, Mersadies had to do the same.
Can anyone know all of what Mersadies went thru to lead her to making a conscious decision to embrace life and start anew? Can anyone know what made Shadow decide to trust again and embrace a new life, even after all she had been thru? Most definitely it took an inner strength. And now, they are examples that will make a difference in other people and furkids’ lives. But this story goes a little deeper.
Meet my good friend Laura Ryan in Sonoma County.
Laura lost her beloved furkid Shultz a few years prior.
Having a huge heart for animals, Laura knew that she wanted to have a more direct involvement in animal rescue, but it took a bit of time before she could make a commitment to love again. She decided to foster for Soft Paws after having saw an urgent plea for help on Facebook. Shadow was her first foster…but it wasn’t all fun and games. Many rescues would not have taken the time to work with Shadow, but Soft Paws was confident that they could help her. Laura and her husband spent many days working with Shadow. She would growl, she would hide in fear. She wasn’t ready to love again. But yet she was. Just no one understood what she was trying to tell them. Yet.
Shadow ended up being adopted by someone who could not handle her recovery journey. So Shadow was returned to Soft Paws. But the person who was missing her was waiting. Laura immediately filled out the adoption papers, became a foster failure, and we knew by watching them that Shadow had picked her as her person from the start. She flourished in Laura’s care and blossomed into what she was meant to be. Just like Mersadies blossomed into what she was meant to be…and Laura too. Three lives that had come together each had a story. How many rescues or shelters out there have many stories making up the whole picture? They all do.
But Mersadies cannot save these animals without help. When Mersadies realized she needed help, Victoria Melling, already a dedicated volunteer, stepped up!
Now officially a vital part of this rescue, Victoria spends countless hours bottle feeding rescues. This is certainly a job that requires sleepless nights, heartbreak and dedication. Soft Paws Rescue could not function without her. Soft Paws not only does the hard work of bottle feeding, but rehabilitates special needs animals and those with behavioral issues. As Mercedies told us, they “always have room for one more”. And it was wonderful to see people in this community all coming together for the betterment, not only of the animals, but people as well. Why?
You see, as we have learned on this Adventure Of A Lifetime, the way that people treat other people are a direct indication of how they treat animals. You cannot help animals without helping people. It all goes hand in hand and paw in paw. We all have been through things in our lives that could have been a turning point for us…good or bad. How did we face that turning point? Can we change our path now? And whose path will you change too when you go down the right one?
This Adventure Of A Lifetime taught us many things that we will be discussing in future articles, podcasts and videos.
But ending our tour here was bittersweet. From the thousands of animals we met this year, to the 48 rescues taking care of them, we know that we were changed and we hope you were too.
Every rescue or shelter we visited changed us. The persons like Mersadies and Victoria who decide to save lives are not appreciated enough, and we want to thank them. Even if Soft Paws Rescue had only ever saved Shadow, this would be a huge accomplishment. Why?
Every life matters because every life touches another. Our motivation for starting this tour? Someone saved Brickle and Digby. And look how many lives they have changed along the way because they did that..and they probably do not even know. When YOU decide to save a life, you are saving others in the process!
Thank you to everyone at Soft Paws for showing us that with determination, work and love, a real difference can be made for animals..and people too.
-Nathan Johnson, Co-Owner, 2 Traveling Dogs
Soft Paws Rescue is a 501c3 organization, and all donations are tax deductible. Visiting hours are by appointment only.
Soft Paw’s Rescue
Mail donations to PO Box 422 Larkfield Center #303 Santa Rosa, CA 95403