Animal Rescue of Fresno: How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

by Wendy Hunter

Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month. You can learn more about them on their website.

The only reason a great many American families don't own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments. —Mad Magazine

Greetings and salutations to my fellow telecommuters, essential workers, and exhausted medical professionals. This article is brought to you by the fine makers of Netflix and boxed wine, just a couple of things that still make sense in this crazy mixed up world. This wacky pandemic epidemic has made us all nervous wrecks and forced many overwhelmed parents into becoming virtual teachers overnight. Without any formal training, they must wear the many hats of those brave few who teach their youngsters. On Wednesdays, dad channels his inner Van Gogh, trying to inspire future painters during art class. If he’s really lucky, most kids will channel their inner Picasso, and they won’t have to worry about coloring inside the lines. Mom may prefer running the cafeteria, so she throws on an apron, a hair net, and serves up some delicious microwaved pizza for her starving students. Don’t forget, tomorrow is fish stick Friday! Hey, no booing. Boy, it’s rough being a lunch lady. And whether you’re wondering if frog dissection day is going to make stomachs churn in science class, or whether Dodge Ball is such a great idea with a bunch of cooped up kids, a little legwork can make a big difference in the outcome. From barf bags to personalized headbands, Google’s got you covered. Now go forth, and search…

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Research can be a huge game changer, from looking for a new microwave, a bigger TV, or that diamond encrusted phone case your tween Tiffany keeps begging for (um, no). When thinking about adding a fuzzy friend to your household, ARF likes to stress that a bit of education can save you lots of money and headaches in the future. You might think that getting a small dog, perhaps a Jack Russell Terrier, would be a fantastic idea for your one bedroom apartment. But did you know that the JRT was originally bred as a working dog, has a tremendous amount of energy, and never seems to tire? Many socialized dogs of this breed are cool with kids, but they will not tolerate abuse under any circumstances. No Timmy, I don’t want your grubby little hands in my eyes. On the other hand, you might not think that a Greyhound would be the perfect choice as an apartment dweller. You’ve undoubtedly seen them on the racetrack, speeding along as if the Devil himself were chasing them down. In real life, Greyhounds are docile, lazy, easy-going, and calm. Their owners call them “45-per-hour” couch potatoes, and they can sleep up to eighteen hours a day. Actually, I think I was a Greyhound in another life. Zzz...

Bucky and Erika
Even if you’re the most experienced ball player, you’re eventually going to face some hotshot rookie pitcher with a killer fastball. But instead of striking out, you crack that ball into the big blue sky and round the bases. And even if you’re the most experienced dog handler, you will inevitably face off with a canine who tries to bust your chops at every given turn. Sometimes, even with all the planning and preparation in the world, we just don’t see the storm coming. I would like to introduce you to “Bucky,” a gorgeous Great Pyrenees/Husky mix, with amazing eyes of blue and brown. He was recently adopted by Erika, one of ARF’s volunteers, who has a fondness for the larger dogs. Now Erika has been with ARF for over fifteen years, so this isn’t her first rodeo. She knows what it takes to be a good dog owner, including the costs of feeding, grooming, and vet care. Most people are aware of these basic expenditures, and are usually prepared to care for their new pet. However, I don’t think Erika truly anticipated forking out almost $700 in just under a month for Bucky. I’m sure you’re curious how that big chunk of change came about because I know I was; $700 in just three weeks? Geez, what kind of dog food is she feeding that hound?

Bucky's mess
Now if you’re interested in getting a dog in the near future, particularly a large one, you might want to pay close attention. Adopting a dog and providing it with love, affection, and a forever home is an amazing experience. Just remember that sometimes it may feel as if you’re a walking ATM machine, throwing $20 dollar bills around like Kanye West at the Cheesecake Factory. Here are just a few items that Erika spent on Bucky in the first week: $100 for grooming, $145 on training classes, $200 for accessories/toys/treats/food/proper-sized bed, $60 for a Bucky-sized kennel, $50 on a dog park membership, $80 for flea and tick treatments, plus an optional vaccine for the dog park. Is your calculator still running? That amount of money might sound scary, but not as scary as what Erika discovered in that first week with Bucky. It turns out that he has SEVERE separation anxiety and when left alone, is highly destructive. Erika works at night, and that first evening Bucky broke out of his kennel and destroyed her bedroom, tearing down blackout curtains, shredding up bedding and clothing, a comforter, carpeting, and completely chewing up the door into giant splinters. After that disaster, I’m surprised Erika didn’t change Bucky’s name to “Cujo.”

After spending $80 on new curtains, almost $100 for a new door, and replacing her comforter and clothing to the tune of $175, Erika knew she had her work cut out for her. After consulting with her trainer, Erika is now using Bailey’s CBD products in the evening to help calm Bucky down ( The CBD works on and off, and Erika says, “It can go away with time, but for the most part, his level of anxiety will be a lifelong thing. I made a commitment to him when I signed his adoption papers, and so committed I am.” Bucky must have known that because he ended up breaking out of his kennel two more times, causing just as much damage. The third time Bucky busted out, he broke one of his top canine teeth horizontally, requiring a $50 vet visit. Luckily, it was a clean break, so it won’t require removal, unless it becomes sensitive later on down the road. Whew, that’s a load off the old shoulders. Since Bucky was behaving like Steve McQueen in the Great Escape, Erika decided to purchase a larger, plastic kennel with thicker sides, and it’s been working well so far; fingers crossed.

But spending a big chunk of change for new kennels and vet bills isn’t the only way that Erika’s bank account is being drained. Did I mention that Bucky has a LOT of hair? Do you know what you get when you cross a large fuzzy dog with 100+ degree weather? Erika knows the answer, “Because he’s a Nordic breed mix, he runs hot ALL THE TIME, and because of his anxiety, he travels with me to most places I go. This means I’m pumping my car's AC at full blast for his fluffy butt, so yes, my gas usage has also gone up considerably. I was spending about $40 every two weeks and now it’s about $60.” Yowza. As you can see, owning a dog requires a lot of love, time, and emotional support. However, it also involves financial responsibility for a lifetime. I leave you with some final thoughts from Erika...

“Getting a dog requires an insane commitment, and I knew it was going to change my lifestyle. Which is why research is so important, as well as understanding the financial aspect of caring for another life form. Though some days he drives me crazy, and I wonder why the heck I even wanted another dog, those brief moments of frustration are outshined by the obvious love he has for me, and the bond we’ve built in such a short time of knowing each other. He has become my little shadow, and I have become the most important thing in his life. Unless there’s a cat, then it’s game on, and I forget why mom’s yelling at me...

 Animal Rescue of Fresno is located at 4545 E Dakota in Fresno, CA.

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section on Kings River Life, and the Pets section here on KRL News & Reviews. Check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. Learn more about ARF on their website.

Wendy Hunter has been volunteering with ARF for four years. She grew up in Fresno and recently became an Office Assistant with Fresno County. She has been writing all of her life, though never professionally, and currently writes personalized poetry for birthdays, weddings, pet remembrances, etc.