Texas Hero Lays Out Welcome Mat for Rescued Poodles


Written by Arienne de Vassal of Texas

I have volunteered with a local animal rescue shelter for about five years and fostered dogs for four. Although I foster different breeds, there is a soft spot in my heart for poodles. I grew up with one and have had one or more almost my entire adult life. I went into the shelter one day with my son, who also volunteers there. We were bringing in one of my fosters who was supposed to be adopted out that morning. Much to my surprise, when I walked into the Education Room of the shelter, the long table was lined with crates of poodles!

There was a woman in Mississippi who was turned in by her sister for hoarding poodles. They have different regulations and laws in that state, so the woman, who was rumored to have about 30 poodles living in an apartment, turned over nine. A plea for help went out and Citizens for Animal Protection stepped up to the plate and made the nine hour trek there and back to pick up these poor, matted and miserable dogs.

He Didn’t Know How to Walk on a Leash

In a good home for the first time.

I try to limit the number of fosters I bring home, as we have several dogs of our own. I am careful to pick and choose the ones I feel will fit into our pack. This is for both the new foster and our own dogs’ sakes, since I must be able to maintain a balance in the pack. One very sweet and soft apricot poodle caught my eye as one of the staff was trying to walk him outside. He did not know how to walk on a leash and he just sat there, not knowing what to do. I had never fostered a hoarder dog, but knew that I needed to give it a try. I named him Jacques and I brought him home with me that day.

As soon as I brought him into the house, my husband proceeded to groom him. A family friend who was a grooming expert had shown my husband some tricks of the trade a few years ago and my husband is a quick learner. Jacques had the softest, buttery-est fur I had ever felt!  He was anxious at first — our house is loud between dogs and kids, but he soon became my shadow.

I Couldn’t Stop Thinking About the Old Poodle Shivering in His Crate

The rest of the week, all I could think about was an even more scared and matted little guy who had come in with the same group of poodles, shivering in the back of his crate. He was older and his eyes were showing the beginning signs of cataracts. I knew from my volunteering that an older dog with cataracts would be difficult to place in a home. He reminded me of my sweet Monet, who had passed away two years before from cancer. I decided to go to the shelter and pick up this angel too. My anniversary was the next day and I told my husband this would be my gift. He could not say ‘no,’ so I picked him up, brought him home and named him Marcel.

My two boys together

Every day these two angels became more used to life in a home. They had their first dog toy. They had freedom to roam about the house. They would sometimes sleep in bed with us. I loved them so much! How on earth would I be able to part with them? Finally, 9 months later, I knew I must post Jacque’s information on the CAP and Petfinder sites.

A few days later, I got the nicest email from a woman who had lost her beloved poodle a few months before. She was just starting her search when she saw Jacques and had a good feeling. I brought him to her home to meet their other dog, who was also missing his old friend. They fell in love immediately!

My heart and stomach sank. How could I live without Jacques? How could he live without me? I knew that I must love him enough to give him an opportunity to be one of two loved dogs, instead of one of six. When I met the family at the shelter the next day, we both looked at each other and cried. I knew that I could not pick a better family to adopt my Jacques. We still keep in touch, she gives me updates and now calls him Jack.

I Loved Them and They Loved Me Back

Saying goodbye to sweet Marcel.

Marcel would stay with me for three more months. When we were on vacation, he stopped eating and my neighbor, who was dog sitting, took him to our vet. I was able to bring him home for one day and he laid in our bed, snuggling up next to my husband all night. I took him back the next day for the awful diagnosis: Pancreatitis. I was hopeful that he could be saved, but there was nothing they could do. He passed away on a Friday evening. Our vet called us right after to give us the terrible news. My husband and I went up to his office to say our final good-byes to Marcel. We all cried. My heart was and still is broken. I did not sleep for days, asking “what ifs.” What if we didn’t go on vacation? What if he was diagnosed sooner? I will miss my sweet, dear Marcel for as long as I live. We were blessed to have him in our lives for 11 amazing months. That is what matters, I try to tell myself.

I could not bear to bury him in the cold ground, so we had him cremated and he’s in a beautiful wooden box next to our other beloved poodle. Dwell on the good times you have with the pets you love, the things you have done. I made a difference by taking a chance on two scared hoarder dogs. I was lucky to see how they experienced things in life for the first time. I loved them and they loved me back. In the end, I would do it all again.

Would You Like to Inspire Others With Your Rescue Story?

Do you have a rescue story to share?  Please visit The Great Animal Rescue Chase today and tell us about your experience and share the photos if you have them.  Each day we feature an everyday hero right here on Care2.  It’s free, it’s fun and best of all, it’s a wonderful opportunity to spark similar rescues.

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William C
William Cabout a year ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Patty L.
Patty L1 years ago

I feel enormous empathy and end you my love! Marcel will be with you on the other side! Never hesitate to talk with your beloved as he is always with you! Nameste'!

Amy L.
Amy L3 years ago

This a really sweet story - it's so full of love - I'm tearing up!

Debbie Tate
Debra Tate3 years ago

Sad tears and happy tears all at once! May Marcel RIP. and may this woman's heart heal. Rescue another poodle in his honor. That is what I did. He had been shot with a pellet gun, he has always been blind in that eye. He is 14 now with Bladder stones, getting on in age and I know that his day will also come to cross the Rainbow Bridge. I know that when my time ends on this earth I will see all my babies who crossed before me. They will be happy and young again with no more pain. That is what helps me in times like this. And I go get another rescue baby to give my love to and to close that hole in my heart.

Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago

Many thanks

Winnie Greaney

What a beautiful person you are. Thanks for sharing...

Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Z5 years ago

Thanks for the sweet story !

Arienne d.
Arienne d5 years ago

I cannot thank you all enough for your wonderful comments! I wept as I read them! I shared the link with Jack's new (well, maybe not so new after nearly a year!) mom and she sent me some wonderful new photos and gave me the update. He's doing amazing and is so smart! He is an important part of their family. Please consider opening your hearts and homes for fostering dogs and cats (and other critters) in need! Thank you for your time reading my story and all the other wonderful stories Care2 shares with its readers. And thank you for the love and support. It's not always an easy road, but it's filled with love, compassion and the saving of lives! xoxo

Carrie Anne Brown

great story thanks for sharing :)