Never Forget

“On the anniversary of 9/11 it seems appropriate to reflect upon the role of animals at the World Trade Center tragedy, and the part that pets play in our daily lives to support us.  The painting above, by noted artist Ron Burns, depicts Sirius, a 4 ½ year old yellow Labrador Retriever, an explosives detection dog whose life was lost when Tower II collapsed.

Siruis’s partner was Port Authority Officer David Lim.  Together, they were responsible for searching all vehicles that entered the World Trade Center as well as unattended packages & vehicles.  Sirius was found in the rubble of the  tower. The Port Authority has listed 37 of its police officers as missing or dead as a result of the attack. Lim believes that number should be 38.  “I grieve for those I knew. I grieve for those I never knew. But I grieve the most for the best partner a cop ever had. Sirius is still waiting for me,” said Lim.

Dogs played  many official roles during the crisis and after the tragedy.  Michael Hingson’s guide dog Roselle “led myself along with the others on our floor, down the darkened stairwell (that consisted of 1,463 steps) to safety moments before the building collapsed. She remained poised and calm through the entire day.”

In the aftermath, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners worked the scenes in New York City and Washington DC to help discover human remains. Skyraider was a black lab who helped search the Pentagon. His handler, Bob Sessions said, “If these dogs only knew what a difference they make. Certainly, there’s nothing that can replace precision of a dog’s nose – and absolutely nothing that can replace a dog’s heart.”

Annie –  a Cavalier King Charles pet therapy dog –  made over 20 visits to the site.  “Some dogs retrieve tennis balls, Annie retrieves trust; some dogs herd sheep, Annie herds hope” said her handler, Liz Teal.  Annie, and so many other therapy dogs generously share love for those needing a way to escape tragedy.

In times of duress whether on the unfathomably enormous scale of 9/11, or at the end of a tough day at work, our pets are there for us through thick and thin.  They patiently listen to our tales of woe, absorb our grief and offer playful distraction.  So today, a time for reverence and reflection, let us also remember and be grateful for the working and companion animals in our lives.” – Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM

Painting of Sirius by Ron Burns courtesy of A Tribute to the Dogs of 9/11.  Please visit for more stories on the Dogs of 9/11.

Feline Focus: How to Train Your Cat to ‘Sit’

Bacardi sitting

Training isn’t just for the dogs! When you teach your cat a “trick,” you are teaching her/him good manners and self-control, as well as providing ever-important mental stimulation. There is no end to what a cat can learn, but for now we’ll start with the basics. And don’t worry—teaching a cat to sit on command is easier than you’d think!

Step 1: Pick a Location
You want your cat to be focused on you, so make sure you’re in a room where there are no distractions. If you have more than one cat, separate them and work with one cat at a time. It’s often helpful to place the cat on a table where he/she is at a more accessible level.

Step 2: Pick a Treat
Make sure you’re using a food reward that your cat enjoys. Pick the one thing she can’t resist, such as commercial treats or small pieces of cooked, unseasoned meat. If your cat is extremely food motivated, you may be able to simply use pieces of dry food. Be sure to adjust your cat’s mealtime proportions if you are feeding lots of treats during training.

Step 3: The Training
Once you have your location and your food reward set, get your cat’s attention by showing him (but not giving him!) the treat. Then raise the treat just above and behind his nose, so that he must sit in order to reach it. If you’re having trouble, make sure your cat’s focus is on the treat, and then slowly arch your hand over his head until it’s about 90 degrees to the ground. As soon as he is in a full sit position, say “sit” and present him with the treat.

Tips & Tricks

  • If your cat succeeds, repeat this about 4–6 times until your cat has the hang of it. Stop before your cat gets bored, in order to keep the training fun and something she wants to keep doing!
  • If your cat isn’t getting it, don’t worry! Some cats take longer to train than others. Be patient and keep your training sessions to no more than 10 minutes, and your cat should eventually pick it up.
  • If you have multiple cats, train each one separately. Then, when each cat is proficient, try both together. Ask them to “sit,” and once both are fully seated, reward both with a treat.

What Next?
Now it’s time to impress your friends and guests! Have your feline show off her skills, and encourage others to try the “sit” command with your cat.

You can also have your cat sit for his breakfast and/or dinner, sit before being given a toy, or whenever you need his focus!

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Be sure to check out our entire Feline Focus series:

Update: Marigold

On August 17th, an extremely matted dog was found by our Law Enforcement Department. A 3-year-old female Bichon Frise was taken in and examined by our shelter veterinarian at the League’s Boston headquarters. She received medical attention and was lovingly named Marigold.

After spending 3 weeks in our shelter, Marigold is finally available for adoption and begins her search for a forever home. With her sweet nature, she may get along well in a home with other friendly dogs.

If you are interested in Marigold, stop by during our Boston shelter hours, Tuesday through Thursday 1- 7pm & Friday through Sunday 1-4pm

Thank you to our new Neighbors, Webster First Federal Credit Union

Thank you to Webster First Federal Credit Union for your generous donation. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Dr. Smith-Blackmore, Marigold, and Webster First Federal Credit Union Executives during the check presentation.

Yesterday afternoon, Webster First Federal Credit Union held a neighborhood Meet & Greet at their location on Tremont Street in the South End and presented the Animal Rescue League of Boston with a generous donation. We brought one of our adorable, adoptable shelter dogs, Marigold, who stole the show!

Little Marigold

Adoption Spotlight: Meet Whitey

At only 16 months old, American Bulldog Mix Whitey still has the spirit of a puppy. He arrived at our Cape branch back in early May and is still looking for his forever home.

Whitey is a very happy dog who loves to be around people. He has incredible spunk and would love a fenced in yard to let it all out. Balls are Whitey’s favorite toys to play with and he can’t get enough of them. He adores being the center of attention and would do best as an only pup.

Whitey is a big dog offering his forever home a lot of love.

You can meet Whitey at our Brewster Adoption Center.

Arli Update: September

Arli being towel dried by Hannah, one of our amazing shelter staff agents, after her weekly bath.

A number of you have been asking about Arli, (the sweet 8 year old dog who came to us back in mid-August covered with fleas and red ants and missing most of her fur). We are happy to report that she is making excellent progress. Here are a few things she’s been up to.

Arli has been receiving weekly baths from our dedicated staff members and is still receiving medical treatment for her skin and fur. Speaking of her fur, it is growing back rather quickly! Her back is almost fully covered, but her tail still needs a little time! Arli attends playgroup and goes on walks with volunteers and staff members. Yesterday she received a new teddy bear pictured below and seemed quite happy after her bath. Thank you all for your support and interest in Arli’s progress.

Arli, enjoying a treat and snuggling with her new teddy bear.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL BLUES: 5 Steps to Keep Fido and Friends Happy

Photo courtesy of

Fall can be a stressful time for dogs and other pets alike. After a few months of fun, family vacations and extra playtime with the kids, back-to-school means more alone time for your pet.

People are sometimes surprised and frustrated by their dog’s destructive behavior, but we have to remember that our pets are very attached to us and it’s difficult for them to spend 8+ hours alone, especially after those lazy dog days of summer. Pets can become anxious or bored when left alone all day and may express that in different ways.

So, as you prepare your children’s back-to-school checklist, why not create one for your pet? We’ve put together a few items to help get that list started.

1. Microchip your pet.   

In the event that Fido escapes from the yard or the park, a microchip could help you be reunited with him. A microchip is an electronic device placed under the skin of an animal. The chips are about the size of a grain of rice and emit a low-frequency radio wave when detected by a special scanner. Pet microchips aren’t a tracking or GPS device but simply a way of storing a pet owner’s address and phone number if the pet is lost. For more information about pet microchips contact your vet, local animal shelter or Animal Control Officer.

2. Schedule a visit to the vet.

While you’re scheduling physical exams for your kids during the first weeks of school don’t forget that Fido and friends need vet checkups too.  ARL Boston‘s very own Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM says “a checkup with your veterinarian can help you determine how healthy your dog is…. even healthy looking dogs can have hidden problems.” Take your pets to the vet once a year to make sure that they’re healthy.

3. Keep regular feeding times.

Most of us like to follow a certain schedule and so our pets, it gives them a feeling of certainty. For most pets feeding time is an important and exciting part of their day, so it’s key to keep breakfast and dinner time at the same time every day. Vetstreet’s Gina Spadafori suggests giving “your dog his most substantial meal (and probably a walk) before he’s about to spend his biggest chunk of time alone. Dogs often nap after they eat, so he may snooze away much of his time alone.”

4. Exercise.

It’s good for you and for Fido. Exercise is essential to burning off extra energy. Start the day off by taking Fido for a walk or by setting aside 15 minutes to play with your cat or other pet.  When you get home from work, why not get in the pattern of going to your local dog park, so that your dog can have time to run around and socialize? If you’re a runner you can start taking your dog with you on your runs. “Start your dog out slowly, just like you would if you were new to running. If you gradually increase the miles, your dog will become more fit and their pads will toughen up and make him or her less susceptible to injury” says ARL‘s Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM. “Three times per week, 15 to 20 minutes at a moderate pace is a good place to start.  If your pet is overweight or a couch potato, start with walks.”Your pet will most likely be happier (and healthier) if he is getting the proper amount of exercise.

5. Keep your pet busy.

Engage and challenge your dog, cat or other pet, by leaving food puzzles for them. There are a variety of food puzzles and toys to choose from or, if you’re crafty cat lover, you can create a food puzzle for your cat by using this guide from one of our ARL volunteers. You can even fill an empty marrow bone with some peanut butter and throw it in freezer. Leave the frozen treat for your dog when you leave the house.

Whisker Patrol Numbers Are In!

Labor Day weekend wrapped up our Whisker Patrol reduced adoption fees for all cats over one year old! A grand total of 53 cats were adopted through this initiative, including Whiskers, the inspiration for our campaign!!! Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen and to all of those who opened their hearts to our amazing cats.

Whiskers 13 yo

Princess 7 yo

Daisy Mae 9yo






Whisker Patrol might be over, but we still have plenty of fabulous felines at our shelter. We  encourage anyone who is thinking about adopting a cat to think older, there are plenty of benefits in adopting an adult cat.

Feline Focus: Meet Jordan and Barkley

If you’re looking for a pair of young cats who’re just out of their kitten phase, then Jordan and Barkley might be the duo for you.  These neutered male cats are a little over a year old and were brought to the shelter, because their owners had too many cats. These two share a very close bond and most often we find them snuggling together.

Here are some fast facts about Jordan & Barkley:

  • Shy, but warm up with slow and gentle affection.
  • Playful and curious.
  • Jordan, the tuxedo cat, loves belly rubs and asks for them by rolling over.
  • Barkley, all white cat, loves gentle strokes on his cheeks.

Barkley (L) & Jordan (R) Sitting back-to-back and looking cute as ever!

These sweet boys need a quiet, loving home. If you’d like to meet this beautiful pair visit our Boston adoption center and ask to see Jordan and Barkley. (They’re not out on the adoption floor.) Once you spend some time with these two young boys you’ll see that they’re the perfect feline pair. Since they’re over a year old, their ADOPTION FEE IS REDUCED until Sunday! Spread the word!