Riley was born deep in the Ozarks on a cold November night, along with 7 siblings, who were all abandoned along with their mother. A kind soul found them and brought them to the nearest no-kill shelter, over 100 miles away. Our family adopted Riley from this litter at 8 weeks old and he quickly settled in and found love and safety within our family. He even quickly made great friends with the cat! Riley turned 10 on November 30 2023, and he is just as sweet, gentle and spoiled as ever. We could not
imagine life without Riley.
Tippy (calico cat pictured): When Riley's "brother" Leo the cat passed away in
2017, Riley seemed a bit down. We decided it was time to find him a new feline sibling. We heard about a litter of cats in El Paso that needed to be homed. We adopted the small calico with the big personality and named her Tippy. From day one, Tippy has been the queen of our castle, the bold and the bossy, and ever so affectionate. She loves her fur siblings and is pampered as any queen should be.
Suki (black tux cat pictured): In our neighborhood, we sometimes see stray cats. A neighbor and friend up the street found a small, stray black tuxedo cat frolicking regularly in her yard. She temporarily adopted her but needed to find her a furever home. We saw her picture and suddenly felt that she needed to be part of our family. "Suki", is a petite, sleek and craft cat. She is smart and savvy, super affectionate, and adores her big canine brother Riley, and follows him around. Suki has endless energy and adds spark, love and joy to our family.
In September 2008, Ramiro & Hortencia Puentes adopted Nuggles, a 1 ½-year-old Shih Tzu/Lhasa Apso mix and in March 2009, they adopted Lefty, a 1 ½ -year-old Maltese/Terrier mix. Then in March 2013, they adopted their third fur baby, Bandit, a 1-year-old Lhasa Apso/Poodle mix. This is the story the Puentes family shared with us:
"We were so happy with our three 4-legged babies, but unfortunately Lefty and Nuggles became ill years after we adopted them. We lost Lefty at the age of 14.5 years in January 2022 due to worsening liver issues and we lost Nuggles at the age of 15.5 years in June 2022 due to worsening kidney issues.
At first, we had no intentions of adopting more. However, Bandit was becoming depressed, confused, and lonely with both his brothers gone. We knew we needed to find Bandit a companion, so we decided to visit Action Programs for Animals (APA) after seeing a posted picture of a beautiful 2 ½-year-old Shih Tzu mix named Rain. She was full of energy! When Bandit met her, it was love at first sight. They hit it off immediately. We were apprehensive at first because of the age difference, but Bandit was having a blast chasing her and being chased by her, wrestling and all, and keeping up with her. She is such a wonderful pup. We felt so blessed when APA selected us to be her new family. We changed her name to Raina when she came home with us in July 2022. It’s been a year now, and we love seeing how she and Bandit get along so well. She's brought so much joy to our home after our losses. We know she was meant to join our family. Because our pets and their health mean so much to us, we support Animal Companions of Las Cruces."
Elizabeth and Wayne Grinnell shared this story of their two rescued heelers with us:
Both our animals needed emergency care. KP was thankfully rescued from a traumatic situation and came to us from a shelter. She was covered in poultry fleas and was under nourished. Socorro arrived with Parvo and was treated at the El Paso Animal Emergency hospital, where the staff were very supportive. Socorro came home 7 days later having gone from 6.5 pounds to 5.5 pounds. She has recovered and is very energetic now. KP was bitten by a rattlesnake. It is what happens when you are the second dog through the gate. Fortunately, the Las Cruces emergency care location on Wyatt was still open and Dr. Lopez was amazing. KP even gave her a grateful “doggie hug” during a follow up visit. Our regular vet, Dr. Carla Thompson, has guided us through follow-up care on snake bites and parvo, not to mention CCL surgery for KP. Without her quality follow-up care in dealing with behavioral and emergency situations, it would have been very hard. KP is about to turn 11. She has been a wonderful big sister to Socorro, who is only 2 years old. They are great friends. KP is very good at telling time - time for breakfast, dinner, goodies, treat, Kong, and walk. KP is 50 pounds of “lovely.” Socorro is awesome with her words. Her vocabulary includes - ball, chicken, snack, treat, goodie, walk, laundry, sit, stay, come, special, find Froggie, bring it here, drop, plus she can find several humans and her big sister by name.
So why do we support Animal Companions of Las Cruces? We support Animal Companions of Las Cruces because driving 60 minutes to get emergency care is unacceptable. We support Animal Companions of Las Cruces because our vets, who are amazing, need more resources. We support Animal Companions of Las Cruces because we need more vets. Thank you for this opportunity to share our story and for all of your hard work.
John F. and his wife, Catherine, are supporters of Animal Companions of Las Cruces. They share this story with us:
We have three dogs, all rescues. One of our dogs came into our lives in an unusual way.
About five years ago, we attended a funeral service in El Paso for a friend. As we were leaving, we decided to go shopping (turning left) instead of returning straight home (turning right). As we approached a traffic light at a busy intersection, I noticed to my right that there was a little dog running free toward us. Concerned about the traffic, my wife opened her door and the dog was right there. She scooped her up and we pulled over. She had a collar but no tag or chip. We called the El Paso animal shelter, but since it was Sunday, they told us to keep her and call in the morning.
The next day, we called again, gave all the details, and sent a picture. No one claimed her, so she became a member of our family. She’s a little Affenpinscher who we named “Dancer” because of her bouncy personality. She’s a hit at the dog park whenever we take our canine family there. We are so lucky to have her in our lives.
Kiki is a 7-year-old teacup Yorkie. Renee & Dan Goodwin, and Renee’s dad, Jay Algire, rescued her a year ago. Kiki’s human Mom passed away and her human Dad was no longer able to care for her. At the time, she needed 11 teeth pulled. Since her initial veterinary needs, she no longer has special needs. She is well adjusted, with a “skip-a-dee-do-da” in her step! Renee describes her as the most grateful furry friend with love for all. Kiki is the most loving, funny, vocal, smart furry friend that brings so much love, joy, happiness & harmony to her forever family. They are forever grateful to have her quirkiness and all.
Kiki loves her furry rescue siblings. She has Rider, her rescued brother that is part Schnauzer and part Yorkie and she “owns” three grown cats! She has a “fancy pants“ prance throughout the home and in front of all as if to say, “look at me, I’m the princess and I rule our royal family.” She eats on a special “Princess plate” and everyone must watch her as she gobbles down her nuggets with only a few teeth left in her tiny mouth. She is very vocal and expects everyone to understand her. When her tummy is full, she adjusts herself under a baby blanket in between her “Pop’s” legs, then sleeps without being disturbed.
Though we are grateful to live in an area that has emergency veterinary care available, we fullysupport the very special cause of Animal Companions of Las Cruces, which was founded by Renee’s sister and Jay’s daughter, Dawn Duncan. Renee recalls about her sister, “Since we were little girls, she has always had a passion for all animals that walk our earth.”
Dawn and Dennis Duncan moved to Las Cruces in 2019 with their two beloved dogs, furry Fergus, whom we have previously featured, and sleek Barney Rubble. Barney, a Redbone Hound/Basenji mix, was rescued from the hills of Kentucky and ill with several parasites when they adopted him in Minnesota. They worked to restore his health and to help him get over his fear of stairs and of men with beards or in baseball caps. He loves stuffed toys, which he dismantles, shakes, and then takes to treating the remaining fur or cloth like his precious baby. He hides them, and you know he trusts you if he hides his baby under your leg. Highly active, he loves to go for walks, whirls like a dervish at meal time, and often does zoomies in the yard and house. When he wants Dawn’s attention if she is working or just because he wants more petting, he paws her and holds her arm. He loves blankets and likes to be covered up in the morning for a bit while his humans get ready for the day. Barney is a gentle soul, very attentive to Dawn, especially after she fought to save him from a double loose dog attack that sent them both to the hospital not long after they moved to New Mexico. Fortunately, at the time, she was able to get him into Animal Hospital of Las Cruces for emergency surgery (ears and head) right away. But a year later such services were no longer available in her city or the whole of Southern New Mexico, which led her to take immediate action to make a change in her community and state, founding Animal Companions of Las Cruces. Barney is grateful to Dr. Tucker and the Jornada Vet staff for taking care of his allergies and any other needs. If he meets you, he will talk, trying to tell you to please pet him. Barney’s birthday is January 21st, and he is turning 5 years old this year.
Meet Ms. Cookie, a 3-year-old Chiweenie. At first, they thought they had just a Chihuahua until Cookie started growing long. This sweet dog has been with her owners, Deborah and Timothy since she was born. Her pet parents call her "Cookie Monster" because she’s smart as a cookie. They also call her "Snoop Dog" because she is definitely one curious dog. When Deborah is working in the garden, Cookie will be right there trying to help with digging. She is a very smart dog with a lot of personality, who likes to follow Deborah around. Cookie is Deborah's best friend. She's such a smart, obedient, happy dog who always knows when it's time for her walks. She will even tilt her head trying to figure out what Deborah is saying. When it was time for Cookie’s checkups, COVID did make it hard to get appointments. Deborah supports Animal Companions because of the way we care for the animals here in Las Cruces as we try to make a 24/7 animal hospital available so pet owners have comfort in knowing there is help for their forever friend.
These sweet dogs are Gilbert (the black) and Sullivan (spotted). Gilbert is eleven years old and Sullivan is fourteen months. They are Portuguese Water Dogs. Linda Mandel, their human, moved to Las Cruces two years ago. She supports Animal Companions because for her entire life everywhere she has lived a 24/7 animal hospital was always provided. Both dogs have been with Linda Mandel since they were born. Gilbert was ten years old when Sullivan joined the family; and it was as if he had brought Gilbert back to life, making him young again. When Gilbert was one year old, they were in the car and had stopped to talk to a friend. Gilbert suddenly jumped out of the window and onto the sidewalk. Luckily their friends grabbed him and he was fine. Linda’s dogs are playful, athletic, energetic, as well as hypoallergenic, which make them overall a great match for Linda.
Turbo is a two-and-a-half-year-old domestic long-hair cat with black markings. He is the sweetest, most gentle cat, one with only two toes on each of his front paws, which means his balance is slightly off when jumping. He was adopted in October 2020 from the Action Program for Animals. Candis Stern had to wait 6 months after adopting Turbo before she could take him home because he had ringworm. After having him for about 18 months, Turbo suddenly couldn't bear weight on one of his hind legs and was meowing loudly. The situation meant that on Labor Day weekend in 2021, Candis was trying to get Turbo seen at her veterinarian’s clinic because Turbo was in pain. However, the staff told her they were not able to see him, that she should drive to the emergency clinic in El Paso. Instead, Candis took Turbo to Calista Animal Hospital where they said they could see him if she was willing to wait. Four hours later, Turbo got an x-ray that showed the head of the femur on his left back leg was fractured. Turbo stayed at Calista Animal Hospital for four days, on pain meds, until he could have surgery. When he went home, he had to be kept where he couldn’t jump for at least 4 months. Today, he can jump again, just not as high as he used to. Candis supports the mission of Animal Companions because she believes it is critical to have a 24/7 animal hospital here in Las Cruces. She believes no animal guardian should have to risk losing their companion(s) driving to El Paso to receive emergency care. Her experience with Turbo turned out well, and though she was fortunate, had it been another day or time, she understood the situation might have had a very different and less happy outcome.
Sparky is a 10-year-old beagle mix and is a rescue. Jeff and Cherri Hudson-Brown originally named her Sparkles because it was near the 4th of July. When she turned out to be too sparky, they changed her name to suit her personality. Sparky was attacked by another dog on a Sunday afternoon last year when Cherri’s husband was walking her in a new neighborhood. Cherri called their normal veterinarian and got an answering machine message which ended with, “If this is a medical emergency, take your pet to one of the animal hospitals in El Paso.” Cherri’s husband called the closest animal hospital in El Paso and was told there was a five hour wait and it could be longer if there were other pets that needed care. It takes about an hour to drive to El Paso and Sparky is not happy in a car for even a 20-minute drive.
When Sparky is around people she knows, she’s fine; but with strangers, she’s very defensive. She also has anxiety issues. Years ago, Cherri and Jeff took their cats to Dr. Schumacher (the current Dr. Schumacher’s father). Cherri knew that a friend who was a client of the current Dr. Schumacher had taken her dog there in an emergency, so Cherri called Dr. Schumacher’s office and left a message. Within a few minutes, she heard back from someone and was given advice on keeping the wounds clean, etc. Sparky was acting normal, although she was dripping some blood. She didn't like it when Cherri tried to keep her wounds clean, even though Cherri is her favorite person in the household. That night, Cherri and her husband stayed up with Sparky. Sparky slept, but they didn’t. Early the next morning, they took Sparky to Dr. Schumacher’s where Sparky received stitches. It took several months and vet visits, but Sparky finally healed.
Cherri had read in The Bulletin a few months before about Animal Companions of Las Cruces, but it took this trauma for her to contact the non-profit organization to volunteer and help the group. They are fortunate to have Dr. Schumacher who takes her clients after hours. It has been wonderful for them, but there are too many pets out there who need care and not enough veterinarians in Las Cruces. They want the community to have emergency care 24 hours a day. It’s traumatic enough without an hour’s drive to El Paso and five hours or more hours waiting time. Cherri is really glad there is VetTriage now that can help in many cases because it didn’t exist when Sparky was attacked. All our vets are trying to do the best they can and we must support them.
Tula(Talullah) a lab mix, made herself known to me on the Taos Highway on a very hot August 3rd 2008 at 9:00 am. Driving back from purchasing paint for a bathroom project, I saw her on the side of Taos highway 68. What to do? I raced home and drove back with a pail of water. She was now lying on the grass median. Oh no! I parked and walked over to her. She raised her head and struggled to walk over to the shade of the car. Friends joined me with some treats and helped me get her in the back seat. The next day, I drove her to the vets where I learned she was pregnant and was too thin, but all else seemed fine. That was the beginning of a 13 year love fest between the two of us.
A week later on a follow up and to get her shots, I learned that 6-7 puppies would soon be born! 3 days later, 7 puppies were delivered in the plastic swimming pool a friend loaned me. What an experience the next 8 weeks were! All the puppies were adopted by friends and through the Española Humane Society and Tula and I began a friendship that lasted until March 21, 2021. She was the sweetest, most gentle and best companion joining me in training activities, dessert hikes, trips and she had a special spot in the middle of the bed twixt my husband and me. Forever loved, forever missed.
I joined the effort to bring a 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital to Las Cruces because Tula suffered either a stroke or a heart attack at 11:30 PM on a Saturday night and it took me over one hour to get to the El Paso emergency clinic. Sadly, Tula died as we pulled into the parking lot.
Dennis and Dawn Duncan’s Fergus is a schnauzer/beagle cross and is 8 years old. He was rescued from a small yard that had 21 dogs in it. An elderly woman had two female beagles, and her adult son moved back in with his male schnauzer. None of the dogs were fixed, so each female had 9 puppies within a week. The original owner was disabled and could not care for all the dogs. Dawn and Dennis adopted Fergus and helped with finding homes for all the others. Fergus is very funny; they think he is the smartest dog they have ever had. He is often too clever for them. Fergus is a sneak thief; he looks for anything paper or laundry items, grabs them and goes trotting through the house, grinning. He wants a trade for a treat. He is also very affectionate; he likes to lie full body on their chests and give kisses. He is a very friendly guy. The Duncan family moved to Las Cruces in 2019. In June 2021 Fergus had cancer surgery. They brought him home on a Friday, but they discovered early Saturday morning that Fergus was bleeding out. Dawn called Animal Hospital and found out from the answering machine message that emergency care was not available in Las Cruces at the time; they quickly loaded him into the car and headed to the emergency hospital in El Paso. They spent the entire day at the hospital. A few hours after their arrival, the staff took Fergus to the back and started an IV. He was saved, but it was quite scary and very touch-and-go. This event was what caused Dawn to found Animal Companions of Las Cruces. She, and all in the organization, are determined to establish and sustain 24/7 emergency care in Las Cruces for the sake of our pets and their people.