Terry Casillas knows a thing or two about dog rescue and fostering a dog. She has two full-time jobs and one of them is dog rescue. Terry founded Tired Dog Rescue five years ago and never looked back. Well, maybe once or twice: To check on a Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer, or any other small breed dog in need.
Heroes don’t always come cloaked in a red cape, with the letter ‘S’ scrawled across their chest, nor do they leap buildings in a single bound. Heroes in the dog world save pets, foster them, get them their forever homes, and start all over again. Meet Terry Casillas, one of the 2012 Fidose of Reality “Paw-er” Women.
As a full-time medical biller/pre-certification specialist, Terry considers Tired Dog Rescue her other full-time job and for good reason. At any given time, Terry and her husband have 16 or so dogs in their care. Tired Dog Rescue subsists on donations.
“Don’t expect rescue to pay for itself. My husband jokes that is a ‘for loss’ business, but that is not necessarily true,” Casillas says. “The true payment is the love of the dogs and the satisfaction of seeing the transformation from shelter dog to loving pet.”
The reality, she reports, is that rescue tends to be a negative profit so definitely make sure you are in a good financial situation before you start. For Terry and her husband, they have a plan for Terry to go full-time in a few years when everything is in order.
“The other big issue is burn-out. Have a good support system in place. You must be prepared with rescue to see a lot of terrible things and to deal with a lot of bad people/situations. You must expect to work hard for no appreciation and no pay. It can take a toll on your mental health. “
Case in point: The satisfaction of developing trust from a dog that could not trust is more satisfying than any possible compensation. “We received a red Cocker Spaniel who was people aggressive. At first we were wary of him. We assumed he was just mean,” Casillas remembers. “After we carefully removed all his matts, we discovered cigarette burns from his brow to his tail along his back. This poor boys was fear aggressive. What we learned soon was he attacked only our hands. He refused to sleep in our house. We would find him on the couch with his eyes open. After love and attention he now loves on us regularly and sleeps curled up with me. My husband and I relish whenever we get an “Angus” kiss.”
Ironically, Terry never had a dog growing up; her first pooch entered her life at age 26 and she fell in love.
“I had no idea about rescue, puppy-mills, or backyard breeders. That didn’t come until later when we bought (yes bought) Stanley. Stanley was the last cocker in a litter. He stole my husband’s heart and he had to have him. In the quest for information on cockers we went online. Here we discovered the rescue threads,” she says. “Once we started to read the rescue threads and became more informed on what really goes on with puppy-mills and dog stores, we felt we had to become part of the solution. We started with just transport for other rescues, but as we did and learned more we became more involved. Now I pull, groom, train, do home visits, adoptions, and photograph the dogs. Now working with dogs is a lifetime dream.”
Folks can get involved with Tired Dog Rescue and help with any donations, assisting in foster, and in spreading the word. Fidose of Reality shares two new dogs every week on our magazine-style dog blog, so please take a peek. Mollie’s story is one that all dog lovers will want to read.
I asked Terry what was the most “fun” part of this rescue labor of love she calls her life.
Her answer is steadfast. “Seeing the transformations of the dogs. When you get a dog in that has just given up or is in terrible medical condition and watch them blossom is amazing. We get a lot of dogs in that don’t know how to play with toys or other dogs. It is so sad but then little by little they will learn how fun it is and once they do watching them run around barking and playing is just amazing. Also getting the updates/pictures from the adopters is so heartwarming and it makes you forget all the bad parts of rescue,” Casillas says.
Rock on, Terry, we raise our sparkling water dish to you, “Paw-er” Woman!
Did you miss part one of our Paw-er Women series? Dr. Jean Dodds: Paw-er Woman