Our Family. Meet the Family Dogs Staff.
You know those little girls who try to bring home every stray, help every wounded bird, the ones who wanna grow up to be a veterinarian? Well that was me. Except when I grew up I didn’t grow out of wanting to help every stray dog and wounded bird. I did however change my mind about becoming a veterinarian . In November of 1999, when I was 19, I started volunteering for a small SE Portland rescue called Family Dogs NW and from then on I knew that my real passion was working with homeless dogs; helping reduce the number of dogs being euthanized in this country every day. So volunteer turned into staff member, then into shelter manager, and finally shelter director when In 2004, myself and a few close friends, were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start up Family Dogs New Life Shelter. My childhood fantasy became reality. A real dream come true.
Running a dog shelter is hard work, emotionally and physically, but it sure doesn’t feel like a job. I love what I do, everyday I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given. But believe me, around here there is not much prestige that comes with being the ‘boss’- yes, my job duties do include picking up poop!
Since 1999 I have ended up with more then my fare share of pets, foster dogs turned forever dogs and plenty of shelter dogs I just couldn’t resist making my own. My husband Justin G, he’s part of the FDNL family too, so our house is filled with a double dose of rescue pets. In 2017 we purchased a 7 acre farm outside of Portland so that we could expand our love and care to beyond just dogs. Right now our crew includes 4 Pit Bull Terriers, 2 American Bullys, 2 French Mastiffs, and a 20 pound Pug mix. Four cows, 3 goats and 2 adorable pigs.
I feel so strongly that all dogs deserve a second chance, so I am sucker for the troubled and special needs kids. The big, the drooly, the over-protective, the under-socialized, the hard to handle. I have had several troubled dogs who have proven to me that difficult dogs can become the most treasured pets.
I must say ‘Pit Bull’ Terriers and French Mastiffs are my favorite breeds, but I’m not bias- any breed can steel my heart.
There has got to be more to Tasha then just dogs, right? Well sure, I love to travel to far and away places with Justin, I enjoy working around our 7 acre farm, I sew ( although I must admit I am not very good at it! ) and I can bake a mean pie … but the pooches really are my passion.
“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.”- Earl Nightingale
Tasha is pictured with 2 of her & Justin’s rescue dogs; Bertie a 4 year old Pit Bull Terrier and Beauregard a 9 year old Pit Bull + Basset Hound Mix.
If you had told the past me that the future me would be helping run a dog shelter I may not have believed you. You see, this all kind of fell into my lap when “Tasha’s finance” was hired on 16 years ago to help clean kennels at a rescue we used to work at. A lot has changed since then…
Along the way I have learned a lot about dogs, maintaining a shelter and running a business and am grateful for all my experiences. I have learned everything from laying linoleum to wiring in lights to pouring concrete and building awnings- I have also had the pleasure of learning how to train dogs, recognize different breeds and their unique behaviors and how to best manage a pack of 20 dogs running loose together; lest I forget the beauty of a good all purpose disinfectant and best methods for scrubbing poo off of any surface. But most of all, I enjoy getting to know each and every one of the dogs that comes into our care and I think that watching them communicate with one another is fascinating. The subtleties of a tail twitch or an ear prick up are gold to me, and I love trying to understand them the best that I can. I take joy in just watching a pack of dogs… from the three romping and playing, the two sleeping in the shade, the one off on their own sniffing the air, to the huddle around the water dishes.
At home I have what the average person would probably call “a lot of dogs”. They are made up of the outcasts and misfits, each with their own individual quirks. I find them all to be very endearing- even with their flaws, they remind me that life, and people, are not all perfect and I wouldn’t want them to be. I think that the unrealistic expectations we have set for our dogs is oftentimes why they end up in shelters in the first place. The journey with your pet through the best of times, and the worst, is what you will remember when they are gone. Which brings me to Zero, the love of my life (aside from Tasha ;) ) who had a ‘bite’ of an issue with strangers. Zero taught me how to live with, and love, a dog with protective aggression issues. It took a lot of work, management and responsibility to keep her safe but I wouldn’t trade the 11 years I had with her for anything. She showed me the true meaning of companionship. And I miss her dearly. I am proud that everyday I am able to help dogs like Zero find their second chance.
Its been a winding road and I am thankful to everyone who has shown us support for helping us keep this unlikely dream alive.
Justin is pictured with 1 of he & Tasha’s rescue dogs: Georgie his 8 year old American Bully.
For my senior year of high school I was required to do a final project– something based around my career interests. I decided that I wanted to volunteer my time at a dog shelter. Family Dogs New Life happened to be close to home so I went in, asked if they needed any help and it just so happened they did. I started helping out that very next Saturday, and volunteered every weekend for over a year. It only took a month or so and I had already realized that I found something I was truly passionate about. The organization itself was amazing but the people of Family Dogs, and of course all of the dogs that passed through, had touched my heart. Even after graduation, I planned on staying and volunteering with this amazing organization, and help this ‘unlikely dream’ continue, any way I could. Family Dogs must have seen something in me too, after a year of volunteering they had asked me if I would like stay on as a permanent staff member… And of course I said yes. I’ve been here ever since, going on six years.
They were stuck with me the moment I walked in the door! The FDNLS family kind of adopted me, and I couldn’t be happier
Tiana is pictured with her 3 rescue dogs: Gypsy, Leo and Dino.
As a young girl dogs used to terrify me. In pre-school I hid under a bench while a gentleman brought his dog along to pick up one of my schoolmates. When I was about 5 years old we dropped my sister off at her friend’s house, her friend’s dog came up behind me and sniffed my backside; I was so terrified that I ran home as fast as I could, which was a block away from where I lived. This isn’t a Lifetime movie of how I met the “right” dog that helped me get over my fear… I was just a very competitive child and when I met my childhood best friend, she wasn’t scared of dogs and therefore I was no longer going to be scared of dogs either! It is a series of events, however, that lead to my love for dogs.
My love for dogs started after we got our first family dog, when I was 8 years old. His name was Buddy and he was a whopping 150lbs! Buddy was a 5 year old, Newfoundland mix. After we brought him in as part of the family, I researched as much as I possibly could about dogs in general. My friends and I would stay in from recess and any spare time we had, we would research, study and learn as much as we could about dogs. I never missed an episode of the shows; “Dogs 101” or “It’s Me or the Dog”. And often times my school projects would be centered around dogs.
Three years later, my teenage sister became very sick. Buddy knew she was sick and he became very bonded to her. If she was at the hospital for an extended period of time or if she was away during her treatments, Buddy showed signs of depression. He always greeted everyone with a friendly tail wag when they would come through the door, but when my sister would be gone you would be lucky if he even raised his head to acknowledge that someone had come over. At one point, my sister had been in the hospital well over a month and Buddy would sit outside her bedroom door for hours at a time and some days he would spend the whole day there.
When she was finally able to come home, she had to be in a wheelchair. All she wanted was to see Buddy. When she showed up at the house I opened the front door, but Buddy stayed laying in front of her room. My sister called for him after we got her out of the car and into her wheelchair, Buddy immediately perked up and sprinted down the stairs to greet her. They were both so happy and Buddy just trotted alongside her wheelchair as she came into the house. The bond those two shared, is the reason that I will always have dogs in my life. The loyalty a dog has for their person is incomparable to any other kind of bond. There are no words that can fully capture that kind of love. You have to experience it for yourself to truly understand the love dogs have to give.
And know I get to experience the love that dogs have to give over and over, each day that I work here at FDNLS!
Chase was my first dog that I adopted when I was 14 years old and Artie is my most recent addition who I adopted from FDNLS when I was 21 years old. Chase is a deaf Husky/Lab mix and he really helped me after my sister passed. Artie is some kind of large breed mutt and my little protector who helps his deaf doggy brother out. These boys are my babies and I couldn’t imagine my life without them!
Kelly is pictured with her 3 rescue dogs: Artie, Chase and Mark.
I grew up with dogs since before I could walk. My very first stuffed animal as a little girl, was a Bulldog. I named him “Bow Wow”. He was my best friend.
Bow Wow was much bigger than me but I took him everywhere I went and even slept on him. You better believe that I still have him! It’s true! After 44 years I managed to literally take him everywhere with me.
As a teenager, my friends came up with a nickname for me and until this day, they still call me “ShanDog”
When I turned 21 I finally got my own dog, Pearly. Pearly was a shorthair Dachshund whom was my best friend for 17 years. I took her everywhere with me, all through my 20’s & most of my 30’s. Since then, my husband and I currently have 4 dogs of all breeds & sizes.
Growing up with dogs I knew that I always wanted to work with dogs. My ultimate dream job was to work in rescue.
I started volunteering for Family Dogs New Life Shelter in 2012. At the time, they were not aware that my goal was to become a staff member and eventually join their family. Through my time volunteering and seeing all the dogs being rescued & adopted, I just knew that I wanted to be a part of such a wonderful, loving non-profit organization.
In 2016 I decided to up and leave my career in restaurant management of 17 years to pursue my goal in working with dogs. I had no idea what that would look like, as I was willing to take the leap of faith and put myself out there in the rescue world, in hopes that I would land an official job. Wish me luck folks!
Whelp! I am living proof that dreams do come true! It wasn’t long until the day came when Family Dogs New Life Shelter called me up and offered me to come work with them. Can you imagine how excited I was?!? I was bursting with joy and overwhelmed with gratitude.
Working with dogs is not a “job” to me, it is my passion and fulfills me every day in every aspect. I am “Livin the Dream” as they say!
Shannon is pictured with her 5 rescue dogs: Yogi, Kodie, Buffy, Sayler and Pablo.
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Ghandi
Compassion is a construct of human evolution. As a human society we have grown to become arbiters of those left defenseless in the duality of our advancement, and subsequent destruction of this planet. As we walk ever forward on this human journey our wake is one of unintended consequences. It is those that have no say in this journey, yet find themselves passengers, that pull at my heartstrings. Dogs find themselves in their personal predicaments by the hand of humans. A humanity that molded them from the great wild wolf of history, to the abandoned beings we find on our city streets.
I have always found a connectedness to animals. From the little boy with a subscription to National Geographic to the man today that contributes to this selfless organization that is Family Dogs New Life Shelter. This is the most rewarding opportunity I have ever been granted in my life, and truly feel lucky to be apart of. Going to “work” and feeling the greatest sense of accomplishment every day. Providing care for creatures that have been maligned by our great human society, contributing to their wellbeing or rehabilitating these lost souls to appreciate love again is a greater dividend than any monetary accomplishment.
It is through this work that I found my best friend Hank. Six years ago he slated to be executed as a four month old puppy for being too “aggressive”. No doubt an excuse to rid the world of another “dangerous pitbull”. At four months old he was not to be given a chance because of what he was at birth. I would not have know the happiness of having the sweetest creature I’ve ever met in my life be part of my world. He would have died never knowing what love truly was. It’s only through the existence of our wonderful organization that we met and never looked back. After two days at the shelter, trying to fight the cuteness of his puppy face and lying to myself that I didn’t need a dog, our fates were forever intertwined. This is a happiness I hope more can experience, and knowing that I get to contribute my part to making it happen makes me feel a greatness on which I can be judged.
Random is pictured with his rescue dog Hank.