The Story of Dino

We’ve got you from here, Dino.

In late September, a heart-wrenching discovery unfolded behind a city YMCA – 6-year-old Dino, tied to a tree, a mere 26 pounds of survival. The marks of malnutrition etched into his frail frame spoke of a past kept in a small kennel, with splayed and urine-scalded feet bearing witness to the hardship he endured.

In the care of a compassionate foster family and Ruff Start’s dedicated veterinary team, Dino’s journey from the shadows of despair to the light of hope has been nothing short of miraculous. Mirroring his resilience, he now stands 30 pounds heavier, a living testament to the transformative power of rescue.

Imagine a dog, once bound to a tree in, terrified and not knowing what would come next; now warm, safe and fed thanks to the incredible supporters who have impacted his life. Dino’s recovery, fueled by the generosity of supporters like you, has included complete veterinary care – vaccinations, neutering, a microchip, and a heartworm test, which mercifully came back negative.

Throughout this process, Dino has never lost his lively and friendly nature. He’s proof that love and kindness can work wonders, even in the face of adversity. As he continues to grow and learn, Dino eagerly anticipates the joys of a real home, ready to become a loyal and loving companion.

This week, we are celebrating early-giving for Give to the Max Day. We invite you to be a part of Dino’s story by making a donation, no matter the size. Your donation has the power to create a ripple effect, not just for him but for others who, like him, will rely on our support in the coming year. Witness the transformation, feel the impact, and join us in giving hope to those who need it most. Because of you, Dino has a chance to shine with renewed health and happiness. Proving that with your support, the sky’s the limit for second chances and new beginnings. ❤️

Dino is patiently awaiting for the day to come when he gets adopted by a loving home. Apply today: View Pet – Ruff Start Rescue

Tesha is now healthy and happy.

An Update on Old Lady

By: Mary Christine Kane

An update on a favorite Saint Bernard, Old Lady

Do you remember the story of Old Lady, the senior Saint Bernard? She became Internet-famous when lost in the woods for weeks during the frigid Minnesota January of 2019. We have an update for you and it’s a good one.

Old Lady had been living a tough life as a breeder in a puppy mill. She lived in a barn with little human contact where she produced litter upon litter until she was rescued by Ruff Start. But on her way to her new foster home, she got frightened by one of many unfamiliar noises and ran for her life. That’s how she ended up alone in the woods, for 17 days, cold lonely days. Because she had been shaved at the puppy mill, she had little fur to warm her.

“When I first saw that sad picture in the woods it broke my heart. She was so afraid. She didn’t know then her life was going to get better,” said Carolyn, Old Lady’s adoptive mom. “I knew right then I wanted to adopt her.”

Carolyn was part of the rescue group, The Retrievers, who worked for weeks with Ruff Start, tracking Old Lady, finally bringing her to safety. It was her second rescue, the first was from the puppy mill. Old Lady then came to Carolyn’s where she was fostered and later adopted.

Old Lady is now named Tesha and is part of a big, fun, loving family. She has a human family, a two-legged Chow sister named Rizzo, a pot-bellied pig brother named Hamilton and the latest addition, a Saint Bernard sister named Alice. She is loved, safe and happy. But it was, understandably, a rocky start.

“At first, she didn’t want anything to do with people,” said Carolyn. “She also didn’t know how to do simple dog things, like play.” But Carolyn is experienced with dogs having traumatic histories and had four other dogs in her home to help. Tesha’s progress was slow at first.

Physically Tesha was also in rough shape. She weighs a healthy 100 pounds now but at the time was closer to 80. In foster care with Ruff Start, she required multiple surgeries totaling more than $1,000, including removing a mammary tumor, pulling nine rotten teeth, eyelid surgery and finally, a spay.

For the first two weeks, Tesha hid in Carolyn’s dining room afraid to move, and then spent another two weeks in the entry way. “She finally started inching closer to where we were, then started peeking her head around the corner to see what we were up to,” said Carolyn. “Finally, one day she came into the room with us. Ever since she has been ‘all in.’” “All in” looks like Tesha following her mom around like a big furry shadow. Tesha wants to be with Carolyn constantly, even jumping the fence several times when hearing Carolyn’s voice nearby.

Tesha’s new dog friends taught her to be a dog. Carolyn reported that Tesha was confused at first but eventually got the hang of it. She also likes to play alone. She is obsessed with socks and shoes and is known for the occasionally zoomie.

Tesha has also never learned to give big sloppy dog kisses either. Instead, she mashes her nose against Carolyn’s face, a sign of her love. “She is an awesome dog. She loves people and she loves dogs,” said Carolyn. “And we love her.”

Tesha means “survivor” in Hindi. That she truly is.

Help Ruff Start continue our life-saving work by making a donation in honor of Tesha.

An Update on Chesty and Murph

Do you remember Chesty and Murph? These boys joined us around Veteran’s Day last year. Chesty was named after Chesty Puller, a Marine Corps Lieutenant General, and Murph, after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy. Their journey from a rough start to a happy ending is all thanks to the incredible support of our community.

Last year in November, our Executive Director Azure received a phone call from a vet clinic that had been in touch with someone who needed help. After connecting with the caller, Azure learned that the good samaritan had witnessed someone dumping two emaciated puppies on a gravel road in Cambridge, MN. When the car drove away, they were quick to rescue the pups and bring them to safety.

Azure took the puppies home that evening, and the next day, they were with our veterinary team. It was discovered that they were incredibly malnourished, emaciated, had worms, were anemic, covered in fleas, and had stunted growth. Based on their small body size, they looked like 4-month-old puppies, but they were actually 8 months old. They were covered in scars and had extremely long nails, the evidence of rough beginnings.

Despite their neglected past, they were in good spirits, and their tails didn’t stop wagging. They were quickly placed with Ruff Start fosters and began to thrive in their temporary homes.

Read original article.

So, whatever happened to Chesty and Murph? They are both living their best lives in their adoptive homes, and we couldn’t be happier for them.

Murph, the ball of energy, found a loving family. He’s hyper, excited, and loves a good snuggle. His attempts to befriend the resident cats might be falling a bit flat, but he’s the star of his family’s show.

Then there’s Chesty, now known as Biggie. Sweet, sassy, and overcoming a bout of elbow dysplasia like a champ. Surgery at the University of Minnesota set him on the path to a pain-free life. Biggie aced obedience classes, dabbled in nose work classes, and became the ultimate family dog. His new mom, a first-time dog owner, swears she hit the jackpot.

The jaw-dropping transformation of Chesty and Murph is all thanks to Ruff Start supporters like you. As Give to the Max Day rolls around, consider donating in their honor. Your generosity keeps these incredible stories of redemption going, proving that every bit of kindness adds up to a brighter future for animals who need it.

Donate today and double your impact thanks to $40,000 in matching funds for #GTMD23 early giving.





A hot pursuit with four chihuahuas on the run.

A hot pursuit with four chihuahuas on the run.

It sounds like a blockbuster, but this, in fact, was (almost) how this little Chihuahua family made their way to a local impound and, ultimately, Ruff Start Rescue.

The family was found locally in a parked, empty vehicle that had been reported stolen. The police department was alerted to an abandoned car that needed to be towed. When they arrived, some of the bandits were still inside! Presumably, the Chihuahuas belonged to the car thief, who didn’t come to claim them at the impound. (Alas, they would have been turning themselves in for the crime.) The investigation is still ongoing, and Ruff Start fosters were quick to scoop up these little outlaws. They’re now safely in loving foster homes.

1-year-old Whiskey, 3-year-old Bar Maid, 3-year-old Betty Lou Who, and 5-year-old Biggie Smalls have been in foster for a few days and have started to settle in. They are all sweet, curious, and friendly, and Bar Maid is known for shaking up one heck of a margarita.

But our story doesn’t end there. One of these little cuties is heavily pregnant! Betty Lou Who is expected to give birth any day, and we hope you’ll follow along on their journey as we prepare for Give to the Max Day.

These little ones and their future offspring will receive the royal treatment while with us. They’ll all be spayed/neutered and receive top-notch care from Ruff Start’s own veterinary team. The cost of care for this family is expected to be around $1,400 plus $350 each for any little babes on their way! Please consider donating today, while donations are being matched up to $40,000, to give these Chis the best chance at new lives.

Stay tuned for a birth announcement!

The Story of Cider

It was a typical day at the Ruff Start office in late September when a good Samaritan came through our doors with 4-month-old Cider.

Cider’s condition was just heart-wrenching – she had a broken leg with an open wound, and she was so weak. But our vet team didn’t waste a second and jumped into action. They knew they had to amputate her leg to stop the bleeding and save her life.

Cider went on to have some bladder issues after amputation, and we honestly weren’t sure if she was going to make it. But we never gave up on Cider. Today, she is thriving.

Cider has been healing and recovering from her amputation and anemia for the past month in her foster home and is now a happy, healthy little tripod kitten who is ready to go to her adoptive home. She is a sweetheart who loves to sit in your lap for hours. She will take breaks from snuggling to run around and play with her toys for a bit but always comes right back to your lap for more pets and snuggles. She starts purring the second she sees you and doesn’t stop until she falls asleep.

At Ruff Start, we count ourselves fortunate to have a dedicated veterinary team on-site, capable of providing the lifesaving care that Cider and countless other animals require. Such a feat is made possible through the generosity of donors like you, individuals who understand the value of compassion and commitment. As we approach Give to the Max Day, our mission is clear: to secure $175,000 for our animal care fund, ensuring that every animal that crosses our threshold receives the same level of professional care that saved Cider.

Early giving has begun, and thanks to generous donors, all donations up to $40,000 will be matched. Donate today, double your impact, and help us save lives.

Donate Now

DOUBLE Your Impact Today!

Unleash the Power of Giving – Double your Donation Today!

The Minnesota giving holiday – Give to the Max, is coming up on November 16.

We have a life-changing goal this year—$ 175,000. Our incredible community of supporters has come together this year to DOUBLE all donations up to $40,000 starting November 1.

The animals at Ruff Start depend on us. But here’s the fantastic part: you don’t have to wait until November 16. Early giving is open now, and every donation made from today until GTMD will be counted toward our goal.

These funds will directly impact the number of animals we can save, how many community programs we can provide, and how many families and their pets we can help in 2024. Please consider making a donation today that will forever change the life of a companion animal.

Donate Now

Want to help more lives of people and pets this Give to the Max Day?

Please help us spread the word about the spectacular work we’re doing together!

Make your own fundraiser. Encouraging your friends and family to support Ruff Start is one of the most effective ways to make a difference on GTMD. Sharing the organizations you support on social media has historically been a very successful way our supporters fundraise!

Get step-by-step instructions on how to set up a social fundraiser and other ideas about what to share on our GTMD resources page.

Please donate today and help us fulfill our mission of Connecting People and Pets!

Help RSR Kick Start the Giving Season

Give to the Max Day is right around the corner; on Thursday, November 16!

Give to the Max Day (GTMD) is Minnesota’s largest fundraising giving holiday – supporting Minnesota nonprofits and schools, including Ruff Start Rescue. In fact, this is our largest fundraiser of the year, and instead of just celebrating it on one day, we want to rally the entire month of November to see what impact we can make for our mission.

These local companies have chosen to support Ruff Start Rescue leading up to this incredible day by hosting celebrations all over Minnesota and Wisconsin. So, whether you are looking to meet adoptables at a local brewery, or support animals in need by attending a workout class, the options are endless!

View all Events

This year, we are celebrating the giant milestone of rescuing 24,000 animals and continuing to add more resources for the community to help people and their pets – and there’s no slowing down! Our mission to help people and pets is due to your lifesaving work and support. So, from the entire Ruff Start Rescue team, THANK YOU for being part of these efforts!

GTMD Events Flyer

The story of the Yorkies


These two older Yorkies, likely brothers, were surrendered to us this afternoon and need fosters immediately. They are approximately 8-9 years old and have spent the majority of their lives in a small kennel together. Despite this, they are friendly and sweet to both humans and other dogs.

They met with our vetting team today for preventatives and an examination. While in foster care, they will require treatment for severe dental issues. Both of them have already been neutered. Initially arriving with fleas, they have received treatment, and the fleas are no longer a concern. Their fur is heavily matted, so they will need grooming and a generous amount of tender loving care.

If you can foster one or both, please sign up here:

Donations are being accepted for this duo to cover the cost of their extended medical needs while with Ruff Start. ❤️

The Story of Opie

Opie needs your help! ❤️‍🩹

Opie is currently at Granite City in St. Cloud, awaiting blood test results. He was experiencing concerning symptoms in his foster home – vomiting and tummy troubles – which led us to believe he may have eaten part of a cat toy. No foreign object was detected at the vet, but he does have very thickened intestines. Now, we are awaiting results to determine our next course of action.

3-year-old Opie came to Ruff Start last week as a stray after he was found in Foley. He has been nothing but a gentleman in his foster home.

Opie’s veterinary visit today comes with a hefty, estimated cost of $700, and there’s a possibility that it could climb higher as we gain more insight into his condition. Please donate today to contribute towards getting Opie healthy so he can be on his way to his new home.

The Story of LaLa and her puppies

LaLa was found in a local field with two canine companions in late September. Covered in scars and bearing the heavy burden of pregnancy, her past had evidently been a difficult one to endure.

On October 13th, a compassionate Ruff Start foster stepped in, whisking LaLa away from a local shelter to give her a safe haven to birth her puppies. Just two days later, LaLa welcomed nine precious pups into the world: Givenchy, Versace, Valentino, Balenciaga, Prada, Hermes, Fendi, Gucci, and Armani.

Motherhood was a challenge LaLa hadn’t prepared for, and she found herself struggling to embrace her new responsibility. Her lack of care prompted three dedicated Ruff Start fosters to unite in a mission to bottle-feed and nurture these newborns. Remarkably, all the puppies are thriving and celebrated their one-week milestone on Sunday.

LaLa remains separated from her puppies, enjoying the comforts of life as a beloved pet. Her physical condition suggests a history of being subjected to less-than-ideal treatment. Despite the scars of her past, LaLa’s spirit remains undaunted. She adores people and is calm, submissive, loving, and obedient. She has basic training and could spend all day with her stuffies and giving her people kisses. LaLa is now seeking a new foster home where she can continue to heal, flourish, and embrace her journey to recovery.

We invite you to contribute and make a difference in the lives of these ten newcomers to the Ruff Start family. Like all Ruff Start dogs, they will receive the highest standard of veterinary care before they join their new families, with an estimated cost of $350 per dog. Your generous donation paves the way for brighter futures for LaLa and her puppies, and we are deeply grateful for your support.
Ruff Start Rescue