Animal Rescue of the Week: Episode 61 – Wags and Wiggles Rescue

Wags and Wiggles Rescue

Wags and Wiggles Rescue

Wags and Wiggles Rescue is a nonprofit organization that promotes animal advocacy through community education and involvement. They have recently opened their very first adoption center and they hope this will double the amount of lives that they save annually. They rescue dogs locally and from the south.



“Welcome to the Animal Rescues of the Week podcast, where we feature outstanding organizations from around the country that are helping animals and the people who rescue them. This podcast is probably sponsored by Doobert connects animal shelters with volunteers to do animal transport and fostering. Learn more and sign up for free at Let’s meet this week’s featured Animal Rescue!

 Wax and Wiggles Rescue is a nonprofit organization that promotes animal advocacy through community education and involvement. Their mission is to find loving forever homes for strays and mistreated dogs, as well as promoting awareness and animal welfare and prevent cruelty, while also educating the public about humane treatment of animals and encourage vet care and spay/neutering. They have recently opened their very first adoption center and hope this will double the amount of lives they will save annually. 

Hi, Christiane. Welcome to the show today. Hi there..So you are the President and Event Coordinator over at Wags and Wiggles Rescue in New Hampshire, is that right? Correct. Awesome. So can you just tell us a little bit about your organization and a little bit about your guys’ purpose over there? We are a local nonprofit rescue in New Hampshire and we pull dogs from the south and we also pull dogs locally, as well. Say, somebody is having a hard time and can no longer afford the care or are able to take care of their pets, we’re able to take the dog, most of the time. So that is something that we really look for when we’re looking at local animals to really help our community first and foremost. And also develop the southern communities because, as you know, the population for dogs tends to be a lot higher because of spaying/ neutering concerns. Where up here spaying and neutering is something that happens all the time. So the purpose of our organization, we are a dog only rescue, and we really want to educate the community while advocating for animals, while they don’t have a voice, we need to be their voice. And how do we do that? The best thing to do is open up an adoption center, have the general public come in and really teach them about what dogs are like. And how do you take care of a dog and what is general husbandry? And how do you train a dog and is training a puppy at six months of age just as important as training a six year old? Absolutely. So those are things that we really try to do within the community and reach out to other organizations to help them etcetera.

 What is the community like in your area? Because I know that you mentioned that you guys pull dogs from the South because they have a tendency to have a little bit more of an overpopulation problem, due to lack of spay/neuter, as opposed to where you are. Can you just kind of share with us a little bit about your community and what it’s like for the dogs over there. Where we are in New Hampshire, we would be considered more of a rural platform. So with the places in the South, the tentacle from either more of an urban setting or some country rural settings as well, depending on where the shelter itself is located that we’re pulling from. Within New England, our encroachment area is pretty rural, but the expectation for many is that when you get a dog, you bring it to the vet and take care of the vaccinations, spaying and neutering, dental care, long term care, heartworm prevention. All of those things that are expected and would have the financial needs to do so. And so those are some things that we look for when we’re getting people to adopt one of our dogs. With that said, this house is a little bit different. They definitely care. But the overpopulation is so great that, you know, we try to pull as many dogs as we possibly can, just to obviously help them out. And also New England, everybody loves dogs there.. So we really strive to make sure that we adopt out to the states that are close to us and make sure that the dogs have a loving home. Yeah. And this is a great thing to do.

 So do you guys have partner organizations, within the South, that you work with, to kind of help hold those dogs? Or is it something that you just kind of get a call about something and you guys go and get them? What does that look like? There are a few organizations that we pull from on a regular basis, primarily in Kentucky. We find that our experience thus far is that the dogs come in, in really good condition. They just need a home, and so that has been really helpful for us. We’ve also pulled from Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, and those are the states we try to really focus on, when we’re pulling dogs. That’s great that you guys were kind of that sense of relief for them to kind of pull the dogs in and make sure that they’re going to a loving home and getting the care and everything that they need. So that’s awesome that you guys were able to kind of work together towards the bigger picture here. Yeah, it’s a common goal. It’s animal advocacy, and I can’t imagine the work that the people that we work within the shelter do on a regular basis. Whether it’s a small rural shelter or a high kill metro shelter, whichever it may be, their work is incredible and they deserve a lot of respect. And so, working with them and talking to them, they do a lot of work to get the dogs up here because they know they’ll be safe.

 Do you guys have like a facility, I’m assuming, that you bring the animals back too? Correct. So in March 2020, so this year, we opened our very first Wags and Wiggles Rescue Adoption Center. So it’s a very setting time for our rescue. Previously, it was out of a private home and the dogs would come through for quarantine purposes. And then will go out to foster care. And if anyone has ever fostered, it’s a rewarding experience. But it can be exhausting, months and months at a time. So by opening this adoption center, the animals are flown there instead. And once they pass their New Hampshire health certificates, they can go to foster care, if we’re waiting to match them with a forever family. So it’s a really good, good way to get a larger amount of dogs up because we can double the capacity of dogs that are brought into the shelter space and then they can go out to foster until the family is ready. But still, we’re hoping this year our goal is to double the number of dogs. Last year we rescued 178 and this year we’re hoping to rescue 400, which is a big undertaking, but it’s definitely a goal worth achieving. You did say it’s a huge thing for you guys and it’s kind of the timing, with the whole COVID outbreak. It’s kind of like, Well, darn, you know? But that’s a huge thing. So congratulations for getting that up and going. Thank you. And you know, we wanted it to be a sanctuary for our dogs, as well as community members. And we have an amazing group of volunteers and our volunteer coordinator, and they’re often here, at the shelter, off shift, just spending time with the dogs in the space and giving them extra attention. And it just goes back to giving back to our community and providing support. It’s essential for our growth, the more dogs we save, the more families we can complete.

 I mean, it sounds like you definitely have a great supportive community surrounding you guys and for your organization. Do you guys put on maybe some events or any special programs that you guys do to kind of further involve the people of your community with your organization? Sure, we have many future events planned, and ideas are always going, but unfortunately those will have to wait. Safety at this time is our priority. But you know, we have a few projects that are on hold for now, but we plan on developing our own Paws to Read program. And so children coming in, that are age-appropriate, for the rescue and being able to sit down and read to some of our dogs. Especially children who are really struggling with reading, just sitting down and reading to a dog, that has zero judgment, is an amazing thing to see. You can see a child reading to a dog with a stutter, and that stutter reduces when they’re relaxed and they’re reading to a dog. So I think that’s a program, that when schools are back up and running and things are a little bit different, that’s something that we would like to see. We are looking forward to assisting with the dog food pantry. We know that a lot of people really struggle, especially now, feeding their dogs etcetera. So if we could even provide 30lbs of food, that way, for the next couple of weeks, that’s one thing off someone’s plate and their dog gets to stay in their homes and is happy. I would love to do that. So I think that’s something that we have on our plate moving forward.

 And also funding for our spay/neuter program up here. I think it would be phenomenal to have a veterinarian come in on Saturday. They neuter a bunch of dogs and that are, well, maybe somebody who just needed the help financially and could apply and come in and have their dog spayed or neutered. And I think that would be a huge community piece. I love that you guys are so in tune with what the needs of the pet parents, in your community, because you said it right, you know, sometimes some people just can’t afford one month worth of dog food or even just a week, and sometimes that can be hectic. And the first thing, unfortunately, that people think of is I need to take my dog and I can’t care for them. So I love that you guys, have it on your radar to kind of go that extra mile to help them and everything like that. That’s awesome to be that support for them. Absolutely. And the Paws to Read, I mean, I hear more and more organizations doing that. I really find it awesome that you just kind of think, Okay, they’re just coming in to read to the dog, you know? But you don’t think about, like you mentioned, that if they stutter a little bit, they’re more comfortable reading to a dog, as opposed to possibly reading to, you know, a person. I think that that’s kind of great that you guys are gonna be able to offer that. I think it’s a good program. Yes, I think eventually it will be phenomenal. And, you know, we have a lot of dogs coming in that are little puppies, all the way through 18 years. We try to rescue them all. So it would be fantastic for a local school to be able to come in and provide those services. And we could reap the benefits as well. The dog would be socialized and the children have really helped out with reading. Yeah. 

So you mentioned that you guys are gonna be going through the school to do that? So we would not be able to bring one of our dogs to a school because they would have to be a certified therapy dog and we wouldn’t be doing that. But the hope would be that we could coordinate perhaps, the smaller elementary school in a group of students and kind of pilot a program and see how it goes. Where we could pick a book or the school could pick a book, and then they could come in and read to the dog. And I think that’s something that would be beneficial. We already utilized high school students, to get their graduate requirement, and so they’ll come in and they will do community service. And then we let the school know that they are walking dogs, taking care of them etcetera, and then they, in turn, will get their graduation requirements done for volunteering. So I think it’s just another piece of the puzzle of how we can work with the community. That’s great that you guys were kind of getting the youth involved in animal welfare because, let’s face it, the youth is our future. If we can mold them a little bit and let them know the importance, that could change an animal’s future, just future animals to come exponentially. So I love that. And also some children can’t have dogs in their homes, for various reasons. But if they want to come and spend some time, that’s perfect. 

OK and what is the age requirement in New Hampshire, for somebody to volunteer? For our rescue, specifically 18 and younger, must have an adult present with them, at all times. 18 and older, we would consider them adults, and they would be able to come. As far as children, unless it was a Paws to Read program, specifically, we don’t allow children under the age of 10 to be within the rescue space, just because for safety reasons, we want to make sure that you know they’re not getting the dog faces. It’s a very new thing for a dog to be in the shelter and to come from the South and be brought to a rescue space and have that waiting and all new people and all new staff and different smells. So it could be really, really stressful for them. And so we want to make sure that the people handling them are cognizant of that until we feel that none of the above is appropriate. Right. That’s a very good, valid point.

 So you have all these great programs and you know, you’ve got that very supportive community. I’m curious as to what are some of the challenges that you guys have as an organization? COVID is here. I mean, we can certainly talk about that, you know, it’s a blessing and a curse, really, if you think about it. Because people are home, people want to adopt, they want to foster. For years we have been looking for more foster homes. COVID happens and there is a plethora of people who want to. It’s something that is a blessing for us because it gives our current families a break, and it also gives new families that time to say fostering is great or fostering is it for me. And so it’s the balance of those two things. And also we want to make sure that people who are adopting, especially right now, we don’t want them just running out to get a dog because you think it’s a good time. This could last for months, if not longer. So yes, you’re working from homeless bs you been let that puppy out, etcetera. But when you go back to work, after the state decides when we can work out of the home for nonessential then, now we’re looking at, how long is your dog actually gonna be home alone? 10-12 hours a day. That’s not the best thing for them, unless you have plans in place and so at this point, we also worry about separation anxiety, for those who currently have pets. So if you’re around your dog 24/7 and then suddenly leave, what behaviors will be exhibited because of that separation anxiety?

 So something’s coming up that we really are mindful of. One we’re adopting. We are an essential service at this point. So we are adopting out. But we have guidelines in place and protocols in place to keep everybody safe. But we still ask those questions of, How long are you going to be gone? Is this a good time? Is this a good time financially, for you, to be able to provide care for a pet? And if you can’t answer yes to all of those things, perhaps fostering is a better idea for you, at this time. I would also say the general misconception is that rescue workers are available 24/7. We are unpaid volunteers. We’re a board of five amazing women, who work our butts off. But we also have full-time jobs. So you know, we all share a common goal of animal advocacy and we all have our own strengths that we bring to the table. And I think that’s why our rescue has been so successful. And so I think you know, just the general public being mindful of that. And if you apply for a dog that morning, please don’t call, text, email, send a pigeon at like 2 o’clock in the afternoon because, honestly, we’re not ignoring you, there is just 75 other people who have applied for the same dog because everybody is home. Just really being mindful of that. And we are people too. So I think, you know, that’s something that is a good reminder for everybody.

 But I think the idea of a rescue dog being ready to go as soon as they are adopted is a challenging trend that we’re seeing all too often. A puppy, you would enrich and train with the expectation that a one-year-old dog or five-year-old dog, should come perfect, sets all parties involved up for failure. I think acclamation to a new environment, people, other animals that takes some serious time. And the expectation that everyone has to meet and get along right away, is how great dogs get returned. And we don’t really see their personality. And that will come with time, sometimes even months. And so saying, for those looking for rescue pets, they want a grand story of how this dog maybe has been abused and has gone through this, and this and has now come out and we don’t always have those stories. We have this, a six-month-old chocolate lab looking, sort of puppy. It needs a home and it’s neutered. That’s what we have for you. Yeah, you know, I think everyone wants to connect with the dog, but also connect with a story. And so just being mindful of, it is your responsibility to find a trainer. It is your responsibility to train your dog. So that way, when you adopt a three month or puppy from us, we’re not getting it back at nine months as a bratty, unruly, untrained teenager. Because they go through that stage, where at three months old, oh puppy you’re so cute at the time. But as an adult, you aren’t anymore. It hurts now. Bigger teeth. He’s a lot bigger and you know they’re biting at your friends and people who come over, and new, when they’re not getting attention. And so if the time would have been taken, when they were younger and continuing to enrich that bond, with training, that is how successful pet owners succeed. And the more that we can educate the public about that, specifically, the less likelihood of dogs being returned. 

Yes, I love how you perceive things and how you look at things because it’s definitely different than I feel like the average mind looks at things. You know, just about the adoption. And okay, maybe this isn’t good. So maybe fostering is a good idea and that now the training, looking at it like an enrichment program between you and your dog, I find those things amazing. I think the two can go hand in hand. It’s just kind of looking at the glass half full and half empty. Correct. And I think training is definitely a huge, huge part of it. But let’s be honest, you’re training the human exactly. If you want a dog to be off-leash, you can’t just let it go, right. So taking a 30-foot training line, finding something, either a toy or some disgusting smelling treat that is a higher value. And have your dog constantly come back to you. Come back to you. Come back. You let them go for 30 feet. Come back to you. Higher value, higher value until instilling those things, it’s exercise for your dog. It’s enrichment, and maybe we’ll be off-leash, at some point. So I think setting expectations for your dogs and actually meeting them are two very, very different things. You know,  people always say I don’t have time for training. If you have time to be on social media during the day and you can tell by your iPhones or whatever phone you have, you come along. You want perhaps, let’s be honest, you can look and say, Well, I was on there for 40 minutes today. So if you set a timer for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night and consistently train on a daily basis. It will become easier, your pet will be enriched and it will be trained, and it’s literally 20 minutes a couple of times a day. You set a timer, it’s that easy. 

My goodness Christine, are you like a trainer? Because you sound like you’ve got lots of good points there. I think it’s because I’ve seen dog returns and some dogs euthanized in shelters because they counter, take the bread off of the counter. Oh, my goodness, if you think of it that way, yeah, you would be an advocate for training because that’s just stupid. It’s one of those things where you look at it and you say the dog is returned within 24 hours because it didn’t meet everybody’s expectations, within the household. So you have to look at that return and say, What could we have done differently? And how could we have educated the person who adopted this dog differently, in order to have a better outcome? I love everything you’re saying. I think they’re valid points, and I can tell just by talking to you, that you go that extra mile to kind of figure out what’s going on and ensure that these rescue dogs are going to homes that are going to kind of just be aware. You’re not gonna know every dog’s story, but you can try and do the best you can to ensure that their future is bright and you know they don’t experience being put back into a rescue or shelter environment again. And I think that it’s great that you are knowledgeable and you take that extra time to be attentive towards what they need. 

So I would say you’re doing awesome and it kind of just leads me down this path of what makes you so passionate about working in this industry? I basically, I’ve always been an animal lover, especially dogs for as long as I can remember. And I think the devotion, healing and enjoyment that people have always just got from animals is why I love to do this work. I began volunteering with Wags and Wiggles Rescue simply because I had found out of board members like the Great Pyrenees breed and was known for adopting them out. And I had no idea what a Great Pyrenees was and their giant polar bears, there so loveable. They are very loyal. They’re very protective. So that’s really what started me, especially with Wags and Wiggles Rescue and I reached out to them and then the rest is history. But I think that it’s not just one person that needs to be passionate. I have the ability to work with five amazing people and everybody brings their own style and their own knowledge about what they believe is good pet care and what they believe is good animal advocacy. And so I think the five of us cover the state of New Hampshire, and it’s really up to us to match the dog appropriately, with an appropriate owner. Would I give a seven-year-old person a yellow lab puppy? No, I wouldn’t because that is a super high energy, chewing machine that is going to need a lot of enrichment, a lot of direction. I love labs. I’m a huge lab advocate, however, they do require a certain personality. But that doesn’t mean to say that I wouldn’t match another dog with somebody who is 70 because it’s a great fit, maybe someone a dog who is a little bit more mellow, who really doesn’t need a lot of people around and would prefer a more quiet space and just want to go out for walks. Then, by all means, that would be a phenomenal match. So I think really, just understanding the animals that we have. And looking at the applications that we receive and really making the best fit possible.

 You know, I think that that’s what’s most important. And I think honestly, for me, just from talking to you, I think that’s what makes you and your organization and the people that you work with so unique and so special in this industry is literally you take the time to assess every situation, every person or family that wants to adopt these animals and just ensuring, to your best capabilities, that it’s going to be the perfect fit. And I think that that is very special. And I think that that is something that you, which I’m sure you already are. But you should be very proud of for your organization because you’re not just working towards, All right, let’s get this animal and let’s get him out as quickly as we can, so we can make room for another one. And I think part of that is what you see in larger settings that are more of a humane society based. where they have a larger sense of animals, that they’re trying to get in and get out. And so, for our process is a little bit different and a little bit more intimate where we would have someone doing an interview previously. You know, after filling out the paperwork, we would offer an interview, conduct that interview and really have a transparent and open conversation of our expectations for the adopter as well as the expectations of the dog, that we’re presenting and what we have seen and what we have been told and then calling reference checks. Whether the personal, professional, as well as veterinary. And also we provide home visits. So right now we’re doing virtual home tours for safety. But we’re still conducting those home tours, and we’re just looking at the space to make sure that it is safe for one of our animals. And would they be able to reside there? And so that’s something that we do. So our adoption process in our application process does take a little bit longer than just being able to go in on a Saturday, pay a certain amount and leave with a dog the same day, as you would in a larger place. So we think that’s a good education piece or somebody who is looking to go from a rescue versus a Humane Society setting.

 I think that’s the luxury that rescues have in general, right? You don’t have that constant need to get an animal and get him out as quickly as possible. You know, you have that luxury to take the time to actually ensure that that animal is not gonna be brought back, for any specific purpose. Absolutely and humane societies do phenomenal work. I couldn’t imagine doing the job that they do, day in and day out, and sometimes the decisions that they have to make that may not be as popular to the general public because they just don’t understand. And so I think that the shelters that we work with, especially in the South, have a really hard job. And so I think it’s our job to make it a little bit easier knowing that they can contact us and say, Hey, can you take the dog for us? It’s a really good dog. It may be on the euthanasia list, ex cetera. Do you think you can have room? It’s really hard for us to say no. And most of the time we don’t. You’re like, We have room. We promised. It’s okay. We can always make room. and we’ll be transparent if for some reason, we can’t. But we always look ahead and see who’s being adopted out and what space we will have. And so we have an amazing intake coordinator who takes care of all of that. So her job is to check the space that we have, who’s going home, and see who can come in and look at emergencies and intakes and see if we’re able to accommodate those.

 Well, good. I’m so grateful that you were able to join us today and kind of just share with us the great work that you guys are doing over there. I really love it. If you could share just a little bit about your organization. So if somebody wants to get in contact with you, whether they want to be a foster or volunteer, or just adopt in general, how can one go about getting in contact with you? Absolutely. So right now our rescue space is closed to the general public for safety, so we are conducting adoptions outside, but we wouldn’t have anybody walk our building at this time, with that said, if someone is looking to adopt, they can go to our website at or they could follow us on Facebook because, well, we’re very active on Facebook and also just giving us a call at 603863Love and those are some ways to get a hold of us. And you know, we have a great group of volunteers who will answer the phones in their presence, and we also have an email that you’ll have access to. So we’re able to connect with the general public and any inquiries that may come in. Awesome.

 So do you have anything else that you would like to share with us before we wrap things up today? I think that just remember, rescue is just as in court for people as it is for the dogs. I think that animals rescue people just as much as people rescue dogs. And so I think that remembering that shelter pets aren’t broken, and I think that’s a huge thing to remember when you’re looking at a shelter and remembering that they can go to a trainer, they need time. They need patience just like people do. And I think that remembering things is how you will be successful in adopting a rescue dog. Yes, I love that. Well, Christiane, thank you so much for joining us today. And we look forward to touching base with you in the future. And hopefully this whole COVID thing will settle down, sooner rather than later. And you guys can get to that full operation capacity with your new adoption center. Which congrats again. So exciting. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. 

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