No-Kill Column: Third time's the charm for Rambo

May 14, 2013 

notE: Dogs and cats seem to be specifically designed to bring laughter and love to humans. To celebrate this wonder, I offer a new series called "Happy Tails," based on true stories from Manatee County Animal Services and No Kill Manatee County.

First in a series: Rambo Returns

One of the joys of working at Manatee County Animal Services is watching a dog wag his tail on his way out of the door to his forever home. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes several tries before this happens.

Such was the case of Rambo.

Rambo was surrendered to the shelter in February 2011. He was a young, strong and friendly dog.

By April, Rambo had found a new owner and things were looking up.

Times were tough in 2012 for a lot of people and by May, after only 13 months in his new home, Rambo was reluctantly brought back when his owner lost his own home and could not keep him. A young woman who was working at the shelter to fulfill her community service hours fell in love with him this time and adopted Rambo and his kennel neighbor, a beautiful pit mix named Phaedra.

Rambo left us once again with a hopeful heart and a wagging tail. But once again, Rambo was returned when his owner was incarcerated and sadly walked back into a cage for a third time March 13. Phaedra was returned as well.

Despite the many challenges Rambo had faced, he continued to be an upbeat and positive guy and soon won the hearts of the shelter personnel. He was transferred to Manatee County Animal Services' Downtown Bradenton Adoption Center where one lucky day a volunteer dog walker, Whitney Deem, noticed what a happy, easy-going dog he was.

Deem had recently learned of our new in-house foster program, "One to One," a program designed so volunteers could sponsor and spend time with adoptable dogs completely on their own schedule, for a few hours, a day or even over the weekend. After signing up for the program, Whitney eagerly leashed up Rambo, outfitted him in his "Adopt Me" vest, and off they went.

Rambo plopped down in the back seat of her car, his head hanging out the window, ears flopping in the breeze. Over the next few days, Rambo had a blast with his foster family. He played with her 7-year-old Collin, romped with Whitney's pack of four dogs, swam in a pond and proved himself to be a well-be

haved and lovable pet.

Whitney fully embraced the One to One program and created a flyer for Rambo's cage, describing his many attributes and displaying pictures of Rambo cuddling and playing. Thanks to the one-to-one time she spent with him, she was able to personally attest to his many good qualities. Rambo returned to his cage Monday to await adoption.

Meanwhile, David and Cindy Sedgley were patiently searching for a dog to adopt. David, a firefighter in South Manatee County, often is away from home several days in a row. He and his wife already had a 4½-pound Maltese named Pebbles, but wanted a big dog for more security and company. They spent the whole day combing through various shelters and found themselves at the Downtown Bradenton Center in the late afternoon.

David and Cindy walked by Rambo's cage and noticed his flyer. There were five pictures of him and a detailed account of his many good attributes. Cindy bent down to look into his cage and their eyes connected.

"I want Rambo," she told David.

Today Rambo is finally at home. He sleeps in a king-size bed, which he shares with his owners, swims in the backyard pool, rides in the family pickup and plays Frisbee and fetch to his heart's content. Cindy tells us he is a dreamboat, and that even Pebbles has to admit he's a pretty good guy.

This happy tale was made possible by the efforts of dedicated shelter personnel and volunteers. If you have the time and energy to make a difference in the life of a dog, please join us.

The One to One program will give you the joys of being with a dog on your schedule and give a dog the special time and attention he needs to get a forever home.

Stop by either the Bradenton or Palmetto shelter to sign up for this or any other volunteer position, call Stephanie Kelly at 941-962-4090 or email We welcome your help and support! And please, take a moment to look at Phaedra. Like Rambo, she deserves another chance at happiness.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Herald.

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