five kittens sitting on a couch

The Wanderlust Litter

The Wanderlust Litter – Krakow, Vienna, Frankfurt, Tallinn, and Zurich were welcomed into Ruff Start on May 23rd, 2021, from one of our South Dakota Reservation partners. They were young and tiny – weighing in at half a pound each and just shy of 4 weeks old. Shortly after arriving, their foster mom realized something was wrong.

They were immediately seen by Ruff Start’s vetting staff, where they, unfortunately, tested positive for feline panleukopenia (also referred to as panleuk). Panleuk is a highly contagious and fatal viral disease that primarily impacts young, unvaccinated kittens – and it wreaks havoc on their little bodies. There isn’t a cure for panleuk. Instead, we give animals as much supportive care and fluids as possible to help them fight through it.

The American Veterinary Medical Association shares that “Virtually all kittens and cats are exposed to the virus at some point in their lives. The first visible signs an owner might notice include generalized depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge, and dehydration. Sick cats may sit for long periods of time in front of their water bowls but not drink much water.”

What was supposed to be an easy litter of kittens that could be adopted as soon as they were old enough turned into a months-long, white knuckled battle to keep these kittens alive.

While we did everything we possibly could, we lost Tallinn and Zurich to this horrible disease.

three kittens sitting on a chair

Vienna, Frankfurt, and Krakow spent two months recovering, gaining weight, and getting back to the playful, monstrous kittens that they should be.

Where are they now?

Vienna at 4 weeks and 10 weeks old


Vienna was adopted by her foster family – they just could not let her go!

Her foster mom says, “As a veteran puppy foster, I never thought I would “foster fail” on a kitten. Little Vienna snuck into our hearts. There was no way we could see her go. Vivi gets along seamlessly with all of our resident animals and even tolerates the foster puppies! She brings us so much joy, and we are so so so thankful Ruff Start gave us the tools and resources to help her and her brothers survive panleukopenia.” 

Frankfurt at 4 weeks and 10 weeks old


Krakow at 4 weeks and 10 weeks old


Frankfurt and Krakow went to one of our adoption centers, where we asked for them to be adopted together. They were so bonded their foster family could not separate them!

Their adopter says, “My boys are the absolute best-tempered kitties I’ve ever had. Every night they curl up next to me in bed and seriously purr all night. They do everything together ALWAYS. They are so loved and will never want for anything.”

Vienna celebrating her 'gotcha day'

Animal rescue work never gets easier, but when we can see these incredible animals complete families and live wonderful lives after what they’ve been through, it makes all the hard days a little easier.

As for feline panleukopenia, prevention is the best medicine. We highly encourage cats and kittens of any living environment to be vaccinated for this deadly illness on a regimen recommended by your pet’s veterinarian. Left untreated, 90% of cats and kittens will die, and emergency medical care can decimate your wallet.

chad laying on the ground with Rocco

In memory of Chad: a friend of animals

Have you ever met someone who had an undeniable, unspoken bond with animals? If not, you’re about to.

Ever since Chad was a child, he had this precious view of all living things. He loved birds, fish, cats, dogs – any animal you can think of. Chad had the rare gift of being able to see life through an animal’s eyes. Chad’s family believes this connection began with Chad’s childhood cat, Mandy. One of his first memories with Mandy is bringing the young kitten to his kindergarten’s show-and-tell to show off his devoted companion.

Chad and his kitten Mandy

Mandy was happiest curled up next to Chad throughout his childhood until she passed when Chad was in college. Chad could truly feel what an animal felt, so much so that years later, you could find his wife, Sharon, gently holding him back from rescuing a fish from a Seagull.

Sharon, also an animal lover, had a dog named Rocco. A little West Highland Terrier that thoroughly vetted every single person in Sharon’s life. As you might imagine, Rocco didn’t think anyone was good enough for his mom.

Can you tell where this story is going?

Rocco was loyal, spunky, and had a fierce dedication to his mom. At 9-weeks-old, Sharon’s vet told her that Rocco was indeed sassy and true to his terrier breed. She also warned her to, “be careful, he’ll steal the keys to your car and take it for a joy ride.” Sharon was in for a wild ride with both Rocco and Chad.

rocco sitting on a bar stool with chad

Not many would have the patience to coax an animal to like them, especially when you first start dating. And not many animals are too keen on sharing their humans. But Rocco saw something different with Chad.

Chad had this electric energy about him, magnetic to both humans and animals. It didn’t take long for Rocco to (lovingly) kick Sharon to the side and become Chad’s baby. We’re not kidding. Chad and Rocco became best friends. Chad could even give Rocco his diabetes medication!

When the loves of your life are taken too soon.

chad and rocco sitting on the floor

An unthinkable thing happened on June 23, 2019. Chad passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident at only 49 years old. Three weeks later, Rocco passed away.

Sharon found herself absent of the two greatest loves of her life. A pain no one wants to know.

Rocco was my little sentinel.  A big dog in a little dog’s body. But also so patient and gentle. We used to live in a condo above Trader Joe’s in St. Louis Park. Little kids would love to come up to Rocco on the street.  My dog would wag his tail and reach up on his hindquarters to give the kids kisses. He also proudly walked in the St. Louis Park Parktacular Parade one year and was a hit!  People were drawn to the cute little white dog full of spunk, personality, and energy.

One of Sharon’s favorite memories of her boys is a few weeks before she and Chad got married. They were vacationing near the Cornucopia/South Shore area.

While Sharon was making some last-minute adjustments to their wedding day, off in the distance Chad and Rocco were lounging on the beach like a couple of beach bums – not a care in the world.

They soaked up the sun while enjoying each other’s presence and the bond they shared with their love of Sharon.

I miss both Chad and Rocco so.  But I know they are together and happy. -Sharon

Chad is many things, but one of his most special qualities is that he is a friend of animals.

chad and rocco on the beach

We are humbled and honored by Sharon’s gift to sponsor a Ruff Start transport on August 28th and October 23rd that will save the lives of many at-risk dogs and puppies from Texas.

She hopes this transport sponsorship in Chad’s memory will inspire others to do one thing: be kind to all creatures.

Ruff Start will post updates during these transports on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

Not on social media? No problem! Sign up for our e-newsletter for email updates on these transports and all things Ruff Start Rescue. Be sure to follow along to be a part of these life-saving transports!

Ruff Start's transport van
Debunking Animal Rescue Myths

Debunking Rescue Animal Myths

While adopting an animal from a rescue or shelter is becoming a common trend, especially for those transitioning from plants to pets, some age-old rumors prevent families from adding a rescue pet to their homes. Rescue animals come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, completing families and bringing an abundance of joy to our lives. Pesky myths shouldn’t be the reason an animal lives or dies. Check out the following most common rescue myths we hear and why we’re debunking them.

Myth 1: Rescue dogs and cats are untrainable. Especially adults and seniors.

Here at Ruff Start Rescue, we strive to set up rescue animals and adopters for success in their new homes. This involves having conversations and setting the expectation that patience and routine are key when bringing a new animal into the home. No home or animal is the same, so there’s bound to be an adjustment period when adding a new addition to your family. With a little consistency, patience, and grace, any animal of any age can learn and be trained.

Consider the 3-3-3 rule for how a new pet will act in your home:

3 Days

Your pet may:

  • Feel overwhelmed
  • Be scared and unsure
  • Be uncomfortable and not “themself”
  • Not want to eat or drink
  • Be shutdown and want to hide
  • Test new boundaries

3 Weeks

Your pet may:

  • Start to settle in
  • Feel more comfortable
  • Realize this might be their “forever home”
  • Figure out their new environment
  • Let their guard down
  • Start showing their true personality, including behavioral quirks

3 Months

Your pet may:

  • Finally feel completely comfortable
  • Have built trust and a true bond with new family members
  • Have gained a complete sense of security in their forever home
  • Be set in a routine unique to your family

Myth 2. Rescues have health issues and are sick.

Reputable animal welfare organizations like Ruff Start Rescue ensure that each animal is fully vetted before being adopted. This includes spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccines, dewormer, preventatives, and anything else they may need to live healthy lives in their new homes. And that’s all included in their adoption fee! Some animals do come into the Rescue in rough shape, but they quickly receive the care they need.

Puppy playing with man outside

Myth 3. There are no purebreds or designer dogs in rescue and getting animals from breeders is safer because the breeders know the animal’s bloodline and family history.

There are lots of purebred animals in rescues. There are even breed-specific rescue organizations. The biggest thing to think about is WHY you want a purebred animal. Is it because you want a certain “look”? A certain deposition? We obviously don’t encourage humans to interbreed, so why would we want our companion animals to be restricted to a limited gene pool? Mixed breed animals are significantly less at-risk for genetic disorders and medical ailments that come from over-breeding. For example, around 60% of purebred Golden Retrievers die from cancer.

Ditch the need for papers and take a chance on a mixed-breed rescue animal. And if you’re still set on finding a specific breed, check out our website or and search for which breed you’re looking for. And don’t forget to browse all of the other available animals. You never know; you might find exactly what you’re looking for in a mixed-breed animal.

Myth 4. All rescues were abused and will have issues because of their past.

Companion animals often find themselves in the care of rescues and shelters to no fault of their own, and it is usually due to a change in their owner’s circumstances. These animals need a place to stay until they find a new home, and that’s what we’re here for. A small percentage of animals enter animal welfare organizations due to abuse or neglect.

Most rescue animals are just fine and need a little time to adjust to their new homes. While in foster care, fosters can observe for more problematic behaviors that rarely occur. If an adopted rescue animal does need training help, Ruff Start provides those necessary resources.

Rescue dogs, cats, and critters have SUCH appreciation for their new loving and caring home. And that appreciation really shows. Once they know they are safe and loved, you can just tell how much they appreciate you and their new family. It’s a very rewarding experience.

Puppies in a red wagon

No rescue animal is perfect, but they deserve a loving home just like any other animal.

We hope debunking these myths brought a little insight into why we’re so passionate about saving these animals that need us most. There’s nothing inherently wrong with rescue animals. They often just need a place to stay due to unforeseen circumstances. Take a chance on a rescue animal today! You can view all of Ruff Start’s available animals for adoption at

Watch Ruff Start executive director and founder, Azure Davis, talk about rescue myths on WCCO.

Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety in pets

If you’ve added a few extra paws to your family over the past year, you may be wondering what steps you can take to set your new pet up for success as your routine begins to change. Despite your pup’s adorable face and desperate pleas to break the rules, it is imperative to start implementing a routine with your pet right away to avoid separation anxiety. Plenty of resources are out there, but where do you start? Read below for what you need to know about separation anxiety and how to prevent it.

What is separation anxiety?

Pets can experience anxiety and panic just like humans do, and for those of us that know this feeling, it can be pretty scary. Here is the general list of behaviors associated with separation anxiety in pets:

  • Pacing
  • Whimpering
  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive barking
  • Urinating/defecating
  • Destructive behavior that can harm the pet or damage property

These behaviors will vary with each pet experiencing separation anxiety. Something to consider is that our pets view time differently than we do, which is why they can be so excited seeing us after only being outside for 30 seconds. So if a pet is in an anxious state for four hours, they’re not going to think, “huh, I’ve been anxious for over four hours now. Maybe I should take a break.” Animals with unaddressed anxiety will exhaust themselves after being in an anxious state for hours – this is not healthy.

Take baby steps and find which set up works best for your pet.

Since each animal handles separation anxiety differently, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. And that’s okay! We’ll show you a couple different options to try. And remember to give you and your pets a little patience and grace during this transition period. Pets communicate through body language and will likely pick up your stress and frustrations during this process. Keep an open mind and find out which positive reinforcement system works best for your pet, whether it’s treats, pats, or telling them they’re a good pup. Time apart from your pet will make your time together even more special. You very well could get to the point where your dog will push you out of the door to get a little R&R.

When you’re not working on training, reward your pet while they’re in a relaxed state when you’re at home. For example, they could be calmly looking out the window, relaxing on their pet bed, or casually walking around the house. If you give them a reward during emotional distress, they won’t make that positive connection.

Whichever method you decide, start with a few minutes away at a time and build up to longer intervals. Keep your emotions neutral when exiting and entering your home. We know this part is hard because it is so fun when your pet is excited to see you, but by keeping your emotions neutral at least a few minutes before and after you leave and return home, you’ll be helping your pet stay relaxed during this change.

Step 1: Finding a place for your pet to stay

Wherever you plan to have your pet stay while you’re away, you want to make sure that it is safe. Some options are crating your pet, dedicating a room or space set up with baby gates, or letting them free-roam the house. Whichever option you choose, we recommend making sure there’s nothing they could get into that could cause harm, such as toxic plants or obstacles they could get caught on.

Note: If you plan to crate your pet, they ideally should get a break every 4-5 hours. This may be a good opportunity to hire a pet sitter, dog walker, or have a relative/friend let them out to relieve themselves and take a stretch break.

Step 2: Meeting your pets needs

Now that you’ve decided where your pet will stay while you’re away, you’ll want to look at the space through your pet’s senses. Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • What will my pet see?

For example, if your dog has a stressful reaction to seeing the mail carrier every day, it would be best not to give them access to a window. On the other hand, if your dog is totally fine watching the world through the window without having a stressful reaction, then you might want to set up a bird feeder outside of the window to encourage this more relaxed behavior. You could also leave the TV on at a lower volume for your pet to watch.

  • What will my pet hear?

Will these noises stress them out or relax them? Consider playing soft music to fill the space. Any noises that overstimulate their senses could perpetuate an anxious state.

  • What will my pet smell?

Consider using a low concentration of lavender, Adaptil, or Feliway, to help calm your pet through their sense of smell. Any scent that’s too strong is comparable to smelling unpleasant perfume or cologne, which is definitely not relaxing for your pet.

  • What will my pet feel?

You’ll want your pet to have a comfortable surface to relax on throughout the day. You’ll also want to avoid any surface they are uncomfortable with, such as tile floor.

Step 3: Keeping your pets entertained

Now that your pet is in a safe and comfortable space, what will they do while you’re gone? A nap sounds ideal, but not all pets can sleep the day away. Boredom can equal destruction. Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Hide a few of your pet’s favorite toys and treats in the space they’re staying in. They’ll put their nose to work when a nap won’t do.
  • Stuff a Kong with peanut butter or your pet’s preferred filling and let it freeze for about an hour. When you give this to your pet before you leave, it’ll keep them busy for much longer than a regularly filled Kong.
  • Put your pet’s mind to work with purchased or DIY puzzle toys.
  • If you don’t mind a little clean-up, leave around welcome destructible items like a cardboard box or paper bag – as long as they don’t ingest the items.

Note: Purchasing a pet cam might be a worthy investment for those looking to monitor their pets. These often connect through WiFi and an app on your phone.

What if my pet needs to work on other training?

All pets of any age or breed can work on training! Check out Ruff Start’s top picks for pet training basics here.


When you prepare your pets for changes in the routine, you’re actively setting them up for success that will keep you and your pets stress levels down. It’s important to remember that there will be an adjustment period for you both. Take things slowly. Give each other a little grace. Changing routines takes time.

2021 Fostering FAQs with Ruff Start Rescue

Fostering at Ruff Start Rescue

Ruff Start Rescue is a foster-based animal rescue located in central Minnesota. Because Ruff Start doesn’t have a shelter to house animals, they rely on generous folks to open up their homes to foster them. In a foster home, animals get one-on-one care, and some often experience what it’s like to live in a home for the very first time. Fosters intimately learn their foster animal’s personality and what type of home they would thrive in once adopted. Thanks to this generosity, Ruff Start Rescue has saved thousands of animals since 2010.

Think you’re not qualified to be a foster? Think again! No foster home is the same, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all foster. 

Girl reading a book with her foster dog

What to Expect When you Sign up to Foster

You’ll complete a virtual training session to learn the ins and outs of the program.

You’ll join our online community of fosters, staff, and volunteers to share successes, ask questions, and support each other.

You’ll keep an eye out on available animals to foster until you see one that you’re comfortable fostering.

Once you pick an animal to foster, you’ll visit a supply house or stop by the rescue office in Princeton, MN, to pick up any supplies needed for your foster.

You’ll help your foster learn what it means to be loved and cared for and take them to and from vetting appointments.

If you don’t fall in love and adopt your foster animal, you’ll help them find their forever family.

Once your foster is off to their new home, you can take a break or find another animal to foster!

Over time, some fosters find their niche.

After you’ve tried fostering a variety of animals, you may realize you have the most rewarding experience fostering a certain type of animal. These could be rez puppies, Texas transplants, owner surrenders, bottle babies, international rescues, critters, bully breeds, sassy small dogs, the list goes on. If this does happen, staff or volunteers may reach out to you directly to foster animals that fit your preference.

Over time, some fosters find their niche.

Daschund foster

“Fostering for me was a perfect option because while I want a second dog, my boyfriend and I just aren’t ready for that kind of commitment. Fostering gives you all the best parts of having a dog without the financial and time constraints that owning a dog does. You get to choose what animals will work for your family and lifestyle, and after a short period of time, they head off to their forever homes, which as a foster you get to choose and decide if they’re a good fit. You’re never required to take an animal and can take as many breaks as you need. Plus you get the added bonus of knowing you saved a life and can feel good knowing you are a part of something bigger than yourself, and making the world a little bit better place. ❤ Plus you get first dibs on adoption if you find one you absolutely can’t live without.”

RSR Foster & Volunteer

Common Questions About Fostering at RSR

Do I get to pick which animals I foster?

Yes! You always get to choose which animal you foster. Only you can know what type of animal would fit best in your home and schedule.

Do I need companion animal experience to foster?

Nope! Some animals require more experienced fosters, but there are A LOT of animals out there that would do just fine in a first-time foster home. Plus, Ruff Start is with you every step of the way, providing guidance and resources as you need them.

Foster dad holding his two dogs

Do I have to be located near the Rescue to foster?

Nope! Ruff Start happily accepts foster homes throughout Minnesota and has supply homes across the state to accommodate them. One thing to keep in mind is that some travel is required to get your foster animals to and from vetting appointments and to their forever families.

Kitten on her foster mom's shoulder

Do I need to have a specific type of home to foster?

Nope! Your living situation shouldn’t prevent you from fostering an animal, but it may impact which kind of animal you can take in. If you don’t have a fence, an escape artist dog likely isn’t the best choice. If you have resident cats, then a dog with a high prey drive isn’t a good fit. Don’t worry, you don’t have to make this choice on your own! Ruff Start staff and volunteers can help you find the right foster animal for your home.

Do I need to pay for supplies or vetting?

Nope! All supplies and vetting for fosters are covered by Ruff Start Rescue.

Can I foster with kids and a full schedule?

Absolutely. Fostering is a great learning experience for kids, and they can be very helpful, whether it’s cleaning up, socializing, and tiring out your foster animals. It’s also important to remember that these animals will be going into forever homes that likely have busy schedules as well. As long as you’re able to provide for your foster’s basic needs while they stay with you, that’s all we ask.

How long do foster animals typically stay in foster homes?

It depends on the animal, but the average length of stay is around one month.

Can I foster if I have resident animals?

Of course! All we ask is that you take proper precautions and do slow introductions when you bring a new foster home. We have lots of resources on how to do these safely and effectively.

Can I pick the adopter?

100%. You know your foster animal better than anybody and will be able to select the applicant that fits best. Some adopters send regular updates to their fosters in case you miss your foster animal. Ruff Start staff and volunteers are always available for guidance on which home is best as well.

Children and their foster puppies
Puppy in the grass

“Who wouldn’t want a puppy to snuggle and then hand off to their new family? Kind of like babies that aren’t yours, puppy fostering is awesome for us as our resident dogs are picky with their friends, and we can safely and easily separate them. Fostering teaches our kids responsibility, compassion, and the importance of helping animals in need – and it is fun for us all!”

Kelly B.
RSR Foster & Volunteer

What kind of animals are available for fostering?

If it’s a companion animal, it’s likely available for fostering! Dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, rabbits, and guinea pigs are the most common animals Ruff Start rescues.

Where does Ruff Start rescue animals from?

Ruff Start takes in animals from local impounds, reservations, owner surrenders, internationally, and southern states with pet overpopulation.

What if I’m not ready to fully commit to fostering?

We totally get it! It can be a big commitment. We are always looking for short-term fosters that can watch fosters over a set date like a weekend.

Foster holding a bunny rabbit

“I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to give them up and that they would all be staying but I’m 130+ in and only 3 stayed! It’s so much easier than people think it is and knowing that you helped complete a family while saving a life is the best feeling ever.”

RSR Foster & Volunteer

Can I foster more than one animal at a time?

You sure can! Litters of puppies and kittens, pregnant moms, and bonded pairs frequent the rescue as much as individual animals. If you have space and capacity, you can foster more than one animal as long as you can successfully care for them. Over time it gets easier to foster, so lots of veteran RSR fosters take multiple foster animals.

If I did foster-to-adopt (FTA) with an animal, can I foster other animals?

YES! If you have gone through the FTA process within the last year, you are approved to foster any incoming animals with Ruff Start. A refresher course is available if needed.

Won’t I want to keep every animal I foster?

You might! But it gets easier over time, especially when you see families get completed first-hand. And we won’t be mad if you adopt your foster! It saves a step.

Puppy sitting on foster mom's back

Who do I talk to if I have questions?

Various staff and volunteers are available for any questions or concerns during your fostering process. You can always email for any questions you may have before signing up.

2021 Heartworm Prevention Tips

Heartworm Prevention

What is heartworm disease? 

Heartworm is a parasitic worm carried by an infected mosquito. Once a dog is bitten, the heartworm larva makes their way to the dog’s heart and eventually grows into large, spaghetti-like worms. Heartworm disease is a severe condition that can result in heart failure, organ failure, and death in pets if left untreated. Other pets and people can’t catch heartworm from their heartworm-infected pets.

The risk of infection is a threat to every unprotected dog across the United States, particularly in southern states with warmer climates where mosquitoes thrive.

Photo provided by the FDA.

How is heartworm diagnosed? 

Heartworm infection is diagnosed with a heartworm antigen test. Heartworm proteins can be detected in a dog’s bloodstream about 5-6 months after bitten by an infected mosquito. The severity of the disease is related to how many worms are living inside the dog’s heart. 

Sleeping dog

What are the symptoms of heartworm?  

Symptoms of the disease may not be obvious in dogs that have a low worm count or are not very active. Dogs with a heavy worm count or who have been infected for a long time often show apparent symptoms of heartworm disease. These include a persistent cough, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, and a swollen belly as the disease progresses. Since these symptoms may not appear right away, it’s important to have your dog tested once per year by a licensed veterinarian.

We can’t stress this enough: If left untreated, heartworm will progress and cause damage to the dog’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, eventually causing death. 

How is heartworm treated?

Treatment of heartworm-positive dogs includes 30 days of antibiotics and a series of three deep muscle injections given 30 days apart. These injections can be painful. Following treatment, dogs are placed on activity restrictions while the worms die for 6-8 weeks. Ruff Start’s vetting team ensures each animal going through heartworm treatment is kept as comfortable as possible. After heartworm treatment is complete, dogs must remain on heartworm preventatives for the remainder of their life. 

Prevention is the best medicine. 

There are multiple products to prevent heartworm disease, and most are given monthly. Giving your pet preventatives year-round is best and offers great peace of mind. Talk to your dog’s veterinarian to decide which preventative and schedule will work for you. There are generic versions of heartworm preventatives to help be more cost-effective. 

Dog taking medicine

Each of these dogs got a second chance when Ruff Start said YES to rescuing them despite their heartworm diagnosis.

How is Ruff Start helping animals infected with heartworm? 

Not every animal welfare organization can help heartworm infected animals. Thankfully, Minnesota allows us to bring animals in need over state lines so we can save them from euthanasia, treat their disease, and help them find loving homes.



“Would a cardboard box protect this dog from the frozen ground?”

“Maybe some old blankets?”

“Here’s a little food to get her through another day.”

Brighton’s been around for a while, roaming the familiar landscape of the reservation. Ribs stick out from her thin body while mange and secondary infections ravage her skin. Winters are brutal, and life expectancy is low for many there.

While Brighton was an accomplished survivor, one winter day was too harsh for the 30-pound Shepherd mix. Realizing that Brighton needed help, a kind person made the call to our partner, LightShine Canine: A Rez Dog Rescue. Brighton then entered Ruff Start Rescue, grateful to not spend another night outside with the chance of not waking up.

Brighton rescued
Brighton relaxing

With frost-bitten paws and visible wounds, likely from a pellet gun or bite, Brighton stayed in a home for the very first time last night. Like other grateful reservation animals, Brighton is a perfect house guest. She’s all snuggled up in a blanket and on the road to recovery. She’ll never have to survive day-to-day again.

After one week in the Rescue, and Brighton already checked off a lot of boxes.

Brighton's bathtime
Bath? Check.
Brighton countersurfing
Counter surfing? Check.
Brighton in pajamas
Wearing cute PJs? Check.
Brighton snuggling in blankets
Snuggling in blankets? Check.
Brighton sunbathing
Soaking in the sunshine? Check.
Brighton's carride
Going on car rides? Check.
Brighton at the vet
Vetting? Check.
Brighton chewing on a bone
Playing with toys? Double-check.
Brighton cuddling
Recovering? In progress.

We asked our social media followers what Brighton should add to her foster bucket list before being adopted. Suggestions included a photoshoot, meeting new friends, going on a walk, and getting a pup cup. Safe to say, Brighton’s foster delivered!

With your support, we can help more reservation animals in need like Brighton.

Here’s how you can help:

Donate. You can help cover Brighton’s care and other animals like her by donating to our animal care fund.

Sign up to foster. We can only save as many animals as we have foster homes.

Raise awareness by sharing, commenting, and liking our posts.

Kitten nursing on a bottle

Kitten Pack Sponsorships

Kitten season is quickly approaching! We have a handful of pregnant cats in the Rescue while orphaned kittens are started to enter through our doors. We can never seem to keep kitten supplies on the shelf and could really use your help to make sure our kittens have what they need to thrive, and the easiest way to help is by sponsoring a kitten pack!

Kitten packs include everything a growing kitten needs: wet and dry kitten food, non-clumping litter, milk replacement, and toys. You can sponsor a kitten pack for $50 and know that your donation will ensure one kitten will have everything they need!

You can also order kitten items from our Amazon or Chewy wish lists. The highest priority needs are wet and dry kitten food.

Thank you for helping the youngest of our cuties start their lives off on the right paw!
Chocolate lab puppy

Resources for Newly Adopted Pets

If you’ve added a few extra paws to your family recently, you may be wondering what steps you can take to set your new pet up for success in your home. Despite their adorable face and desperate pleas to break the rules, it is imperative to start implementing a routine with your pet right away. Plenty of resources are out there, but where do you start? Check out Ruff Start’s top picks listed below. If you have additional questions, please email us at

Basket of puppies

Reasons to become a puppy foster

Help save puppies!

At Ruff Start Rescue, puppy season is in full swing! We take in puppies that land in overcrowded shelters in the south, puppies born in challenging conditions on reservations, and unplanned litters close to home. Please help us help them by signing up to foster! We can only save as many puppies as we have foster homes. We guarantee puppy kisses and, of course, the wonderful feeling of helping animals in need.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out what our puppy fosters have to say!

Santa fostering testimonial

I took two little 5-week-old puppies. I didn’t know what to expect plus I was very nervous because I’ve never done that before. But within that first day, I fell in love with those little faces. I was also surprised how easy it was with two. They helped each other. The puppy kisses were the best. Watching them grow and changing each day was the most rewarding. I would say everyone should experience this at least just once.

–Sandra, RSR Foster

Dani fostering testimonial

Although my husband and I have only been with Ruff Start for about 3.5 months, we have already fostered 3 puppies and loved the experience every time. Nothing beats saving dogs and getting puppy snuggles and kisses while doing it!

–Dani, RSR Foster

Kelly B fostering testimonial

Who wouldn’t want a puppy to snuggle and then hand off to their new family? Kind of like babies that aren’t yours, Puppy fostering is awesome for us as our resident dogs are picky with their friends, and we can safely and easily separate them. Fostering teaches our kids responsibility, compassion, and the importance of helping animals in need – and it is fun for us all!

–Kelly B., RSR Foster

Patti fostering testimonial

Our first fostering experience was a very pregnant Rez dog; she arrived on a Saturday and delivered her four puppies the following Tuesday. We didn’t really know what we were in for, but we were armed with scissors, dental floss, and iodine, all of which we never had to use; we just witnessed miracle after miracle being born. Watching those and the next and the next babies grow, eyes opening, then creeping around, then running and learning to bark has been our greatest honor! We are constantly laughing, doing laundry, washing the floor; the weeks fly by and they suddenly leave for their forever homes. We have met the most wonderful adopters; we feel grateful and satisfied in those we have chosen to love “our babies” for their whole lives. It’s been such an enriching experience we have brought in moms and pups over and over again – loving and cherishing them all. So far we have had 37 canines of all ages, and one bunny, come through our home in 17 months … and look forward to continuing this path and welcoming many more!

–Patti, RSR Foster

Leanne fostering testimonial

I fostered a shy girl from the Rez, who ‘might be pregnant. I decided to roll the dice. Luckily I was working from home at that point or I probably would have had to find her a new foster when they confirmed she was going to be a mama! I dove in headfirst, using whatever resources I could get my hands on. It was a beautiful experience and I learned so much – not the least of which was how amazing these mamas are. Mama was only 55lbs but the puppies were HUGE – and as they outgrew their puppy pens and needed space to run, I recruited helpers to come over and puppy wrangle while I cleaned pens. It’s amazing how willing people are to come to play with puppies! Puppies are an amazing weight loss plan – my Fitbit step count increased dramatically as they got older – you never stop moving! The puppies all found simply amazing adopters who still send me updates. And best of all, mama landed in the most loving, patient, and perfect home of all. She deserved it. I’m trying some other fostering experiences now, but I know I’ll go back to puppies someday and I can’t wait.

–Leanne, RSR foster

Kristi fostering testimonial

“Sometimes things don’t go as planned” is how I would explain our first puppy fostering experience. It’s pushed me to do things I didn’t think I could do. However, the support we received from others within RSR has been strong. Things are not always rainbows and sunshine in rescue, but I am so thankful for the experience and support we received as we worked through understanding Parvo and nursing our crew back to good health. Although we lost one sibling we gained two very spunky and fun pups. Whom are now healthy and happy pooping machines. We normally do kittens/young cats, but we would be happy to continue as a landing spot for Parvo recovery pups or if/when we clear the quarantine period another set of pups. The experience is 100% worth it because none of them would have stood a chance had they been left in the conditions they were rescued from.

–Kristi, RSR Foster

Brenda fostering testimonial

“Crazy Cat Lady” here with my first foster puppies. They are busy!!! Lots of  ? while working on this potty training thing. Way too many puppy kisses…most unexpectedly. But who’s complaining. Lol ?? It’s awesome to see their individual personalities emerge as they adjust in their new surroundings. I’ve met so many wonderful people while fostering and within the Rescue.

–Brenda, RSR Foster, and Self-Proclaimed Crazy Cat Lady

Taya fostering testimonial

My first RSR foster puppy was an 8 week old FTA. My most recent puppies were 1.5-week old bottle baby brothers. What I love about fostering puppies is having little babies in the house. It is hard work, but it’s hard work with a purpose. We are setting these little ones up for the rest of their lives and it is so rewarding. It is also a great family experience. My school-age daughter has learned so much about handling mouthy puppies, teaching commands, and bodily functions. My resident dogs (one of whom is “selective” about dog friends) really help show our fosters the way. ? Charles Schulz was so right when he said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.

–Taya, RSR Foster

Crystal fostering testimonial

We haven’t had puppies in a while, we are hoping to get into that again because I miss it. Watching them get their personalities and play with each other is the best, along with their discoveries. This is one of my favorite pics with puppies. It was my son’s Junior Prom, and I was like ‘we gotta bring puppies to the photoshoot’ I mean who can’t say no to puppies with teenagers all dressed up? Puppies are a great prop!

–Crystal, RSR Foster

Jodi fostering testimonial

I fostered a car hit Rez pup with a broken hip that healed up nicely and he had resource guarding issues. Had him 2 1/2 months before he found his perfect home this past October. I so wanted to keep him but with two of my own at home, I could not add a third! Still miss him!

–Jodi, RSR Foster

Tasha fostering testimonial

We’ve fostered 51 young puppies over the years and it’s always hectic and messy and every single time I do it again because it’s so rewarding to see them grow and change and develop little personalities and find their forever families!

–Tasha, RSR Foster

Lauren fostering testimonial

Bovie was our first and only puppy foster, but he certainly won’t be the last! He was handsome, smart, and kept us all on our toes (including our resident dog, Ridge!) He was such a joy to have with us for a few weeks, and he was adopted by the perfect family. They have continued to send updates and it has been so fun watching him grow and learn with them! On his recent trip to the vet, the tech said he was the best-mannered pup she has seen. His forever family adores him and so do we.

–Lauren, RSR Foster and Volunteer

Laura fostering testimonial

We do not have any foster puppies in the house right now because we had a puppy with parvo. We are missing all the cuddles, laughs, chaos, and cuddles! Fostering puppies has been such a blessing for our entire family! Seeing them thrive and go to amazing homes make all the work worth it.

–Laura, RSR Foster

Jenni fostering testimonial

We love taking puppies – especially with medical needs.

–Jenni, RSR Foster and Volunteer

Kelly E fostering testimonial

I never thought I could be a puppy foster, but the joy it brings to my fearful resident dog is so heartwarming.

–Kelly E., RSR Foster

Have we convinced you to give fostering puppies a try?

When you foster with Ruff Start Rescue, you are surrounded by a community of animal lovers to help you every step of the way. All the supplies you need are provided by the Rescue. All we ask is that you love your fosters, help them get to their vetting appointments, and prepare them for their future families. And, hey, if you decide to adopt your foster, that’s always a win in our book.

Have questions? Email us at We can’t wait to welcome you to the team!
Two cute puppies

Can’t foster? Donate a puppy pack!

Puppy packs include everything a growing pup needs: wet and dry puppy food, puppy pads, milk replacement, and toys. You can sponsor a puppy pack for $50 and know that your donation will ensure one puppy will have everything they need!

You can also order puppy items from our Amazon or Chewy wishlists. The highest priority needs are wet and dry puppy food.

Thank you for helping the youngest of our cuties start their lives off on the right paw!
Ruff Start Rescue