dog rescue, dog rescued from snow, Tahoe
Images used from Tahoe PAWS & TLC 4 Furry Friends' Facebook, with permission

Pitbull found four months after being given up for lost.

For nonprofit animal rescue organization Tahoe PAWS and TLC 4 Furry Friends, reuniting lost pets with their owners is all in a day’s work. However, one recent rescue has gone viral, after the team successfully found a pitbull who had been missing for nearly four months.

Poor little Russ, a 3-year-old pitbull pup, had gotten spooked one night during a camping trip with his owner, Ricardo Rodriguez, in late August.

Rodriguez had done his best to find Russ: getting the help of friends, calling local shelters, posting fliers. To no avail.

And then, the Caldor Fire hit. As it destroyed several homes and businesses along a stretch of 200,000 acres, the flames forced an emergency evacuation for Rodriguez. From there, things began to turn bleak.

"After months of not hearing back from anyone, I assumed he was in good hands with a different owner," Rodriguez told CNN.

Luckily, Rodriguez and Russ’ story was far from over.


Russ curled up and cold next to a tree.

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On December 16 (four months later), a skier noticed a dog, curled up in the snow next to a tree. That’s when Tahoe PAWS was notified.

Two volunteers, Leona Allen and Elsa Guale, gladly took on the mission, which would not be easy in the frigid temperatures.

Allen, who had volunteered with PAWS for three years, told CNN "We didn't even hesitate.This was a one-shot deal, we either got him or he didn't survive the night."

Trekking up a steep incline, Guale and Allen waded through the snow, guided only by Russ’ tracks. When they reached the tree, all Allen could see was a “dark mass.” No movement was detected, no signs of life.

And then … Russ opened his eyes. They had found him. And he was alive.

But the venture had only just begun. Gaule and Allen would need to safely get a very scared Russ down the hill. Despite his fearful growls, Graule won his trust with treats and patience. Without it, rescue would have been impossible, Allen told the San Francisco Chronicle, according to the Stamford Advocate.

When Russ finally allowed his head to rest on Gaule’s hand, the women wrapped him up in a blanket, placed him on a sled (given by El Dorado County Animal Services Officer Kyle Shumaker) and slowly brought him to the bottom of the hill. The whole endeavor took several hours.

Russ in his rescue sled.

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Russ might have been lost in the most extreme of elements for four months, but the vet deemed the pup completely healthy. Wendy Jones, founder and executive director for Tahoe PAWS, attributes this to his “survival mode” kicking in.

This is more than a turn of phrase. Survival mode, or feral mode, is a very real phenomena that happens when a dog is separated from its owner. As stress starts to deplete serotonin levels, a panicked pup will undergo a drastic (although usually temporary) personality change as primal instincts take over. When this happens, even the most well-trained dog can not recognize their own name.

That is why Tahoe PAWS strongly advises that if your own furry friend goes missing, the first thing you should do (yes, even before searching yourself) is to contact local Animal Services.

When Rodriguez received the good news, the dog owner was “ecstatic,” according to CNN. And only one day after Christmas, the two were reunited. This was thanks not only to the wonderful collective efforts of multiple organizations, but also due to the fact that Russ had been microchipped. Though Russ’ chip had either “not been registered or possibly not updated,” according to Jones, it was no match for the team’s investigative work.

“This is a great reminder that microchipping your pet and maintaining the registration in your name is important,” Tahoe PAWS & TLC 4 Furry Friends wrote in its Facebook post.

dogs, pit bulls

A very happy, healthy and thawed-out Russ.

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Russ is now back where he belongs, thanks to the diligence and commitment of the amazing team at Tahoe PAWS and El Dorado County Animal Services.

Allen shared with the Chronicle (as reported by SFist.com) how grateful she was to help.

"As a rescue organization . . . this is what we're supposed to do…I've worked some pretty gnarly rescues, this probably being the top. I keep reliving the moment when he opened his eyes and lifted his head, and just the joy and elation inside of me was overwhelming. It's one more life that gets to live happy and warm and safe."

As a nonprofit, Tahoe PAWS relies on volunteer services and outside contributions to help supply necessary equipment for these amazing rescues. If you’d like to donate to its cause, you can do so here.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

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