Joy Lee, co-owner of Rover Oaks Pet Resort in Katy, Texas, recently published a book entitled Rover’s Rescues. In it, Lee relays true stories of 25 shelter dogs (from Citizens for Animal Protection in Houston) that she was able to help give a new lease on life. Over the past few years Lee has worked with CAP to help foster and train shelter dogs, in turn helping them find forever homes.
If you’re an animal lover or someone who has ever adopted a dog, Rover’s Rescues is a must read. A portion of all book sales will be donated to CAP so purchase your copy today by visiting Joyleebooks.com.
Below is my interview with the author, Joy Lee, via e-mail.
Bobbi Leder (BL): Why did you decide to write a book about your experiences with shelter dogs?
Joy Lee (JL): There were a number of reasons; primarily due to the fact that I am personally passionate about rescue and believe that there are no “lost causes.” We had a number of successful adoptions with some difficult dogs, and my hope is that in sharing these stories more people may be inclined to consider shelter adoptions. Also, I am always looking for ways to help CAP raise money, and I thought donating a portion of the proceeds from the book might help.
BL: Did Rover Oaks take in CAP dogs free of charge and care for them while they were waiting for homes? Or were these dogs fostered by you personally?
JL: A little of both; most of them stayed at Rover Oaks for at least a portion of their time…several I fostered personally, and a couple of others were fostered by other employees in their homes as well (and some ended up being adopted by our employees). The home fosters were primarily those undergoing medical treatment.
BL: How many dogs did Rover Oaks take in at once?
JL: We originally committed to keeping two enclosures open for CAP dogs; most of the time we have anywhere from five to seven staying with us.
BL: Who handled the cost of care for these dogs?
JL: The boarding/training/feeding costs were covered by Rover Oaks; I personally sponsored many of the medical treatment costs (primarily heartworms, but also occasionally spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, other minor illnesses or injuries).
BL: Can you share some of the behavioral and/or health problems many of these dogs had?
JL: Behavior problems tend to be mostly lack of manners, such as jumping, mouthing, pulling, dominance behavior, etc. There have been a few who needed more specific training to deal with things like other dog aggression, attacking feet (herding breeds), etc. A lot of times the dogs we take in have been at the shelter for a long time and are deteriorating in terms of behavior just from being cooped up for so long. So, they are not very appealing to prospective adopters if they are lunging and barking in their crates.
At Rover Oaks, they have more opportunity to exercise and more room to move around, which tends to make them less stressed and more appealing. Medical issues primarily tend to be heartworms and heartworm treatment, but we’ve also had one poor little guy with a broken jaw (due to previous owner neglect), another who broke his toe, one who developed mysterious lumps on her sides.
BL: Do you know if these dogs were previously owned and abandoned, or found on the street?
JL: A mixture of both; many were originally strays but also a fair number were owned and turned in.
BL: How did you decide to co-own Rover Oaks in Katy?
JL: I started working at the Rover Oaks facility in Houston near the medical center in 2005 “just for fun”…as a customer service representative, then in kennel management, and as Director of Operations. My previous career had been as an executive in marketing, management and corporate strategy in the healthcare industry. Steve Smith (the owner of Rover Oaks in Houston and my partner in Katy) and I began talking about how my background might be used to better advantage. When he decided to build a second facility in Katy, one thing led to another and we became partners in the new facility which opened in September 2006.
BL: Are there photos of all 25 dogs in the book?
JL: Unfortunately, no…there are photos of as many as I could find, but at one point we changed out our server and our computers and lost a lot of the pictures we had taken of the “early” dogs.
BL: Were all of the 25 dogs adopted? If so, did you communicate with their new owners to obtain updated information on how they are doing?
JL: Yes, all 25 of the featured dogs (plus a short chapter on a number of others) have been adopted. I tried to contact all of the families (and many of them we still see on a regular basis) to get updates; I included updates on how they are doing for any of them whose owners responded.
BL: Where did you take classes on animal behavior and training?
JL: The majority of my background in animal behavior and training came through the two years I spent as a full-time volunteer at the Humane Society of Missouri (in St. Louis), where they offered classes for volunteers and one-on-one work with a behaviorist to learn the basics. I also read a lot and worked with some behavior specialists with a couple of my own rescues who had some serious problems.
BL: How many dogs do you currently own?
BL: Is Rover Oaks still fostering for CAP?
JL: Yes, we currently have five CAP dogs looking for homes (four are there for training and one is being fostered through heartworm treatment), and we also take two CAP dogs from the shelter each week and bring them out for grooming so that they look and feel better for potential adopters.
Of our fosters who are there for training, two of them have been with us for over a year. We love them dearly, but they need very special homes due to their quirks…Teddy is a seven year old shar-pei mix who has a high prey drive and needs to be an only pet (but he loves people and would be a great couch potato companion), and Clay is a three year old cattle dog mix who is very active and needs a family (no kids or cats) who understands working breed dogs and has a lot of time to help him get the exercise and activity he needs.
BL: Did you have help in writing the book?
JL: No, not with the actual writing. Of course, I had lots of help from Rover Oaks staff in doing the training and pet care.
*To read more of Bobbi Leder’s articles on Associated Content, click here.