A New Leash on Life...

posted Feb 13, 2014, 7:23 AM by Samantha Carter   [ updated Feb 13, 2014, 1:58 PM by Unknown user ]

Casita had the great pleasure of working with the Brown family of Citrus County again.  Back in 2012, we helped to place Scout (a 3 time shelter dog) with Maryellen & Ken Brown with great success thanks to the perseverance of this wonderful couple.  Last week, the Brown's son and daughter-in-law reached out to us in distress at the prospect of behavior issues they were experiencing with one of their two dogs, Layla.  The couple is expecting their 2nd child and felt uneasy about the situation with Layla.  Once again, the Brown family demonstrated their commitment and loyalty to their beloved pets and after a day of Rafael working with the whole family (all dogs included) - everyone has an understanding and appreciation for what it will take to keep the family happy and together.

Here is a message we just received from Amy Brown:

I honestly cannot begin to express my gratitude for Rafael and Casita Big Dog Rescue. With a new baby on the way and an aggressive dog, unfortunately my family was at the point of looking into rehoming our Belgian Malanois-mix, Layla. The constant barking, jumping, scratching and most importantly fear and aggression toward anyone who entered our home was becoming unbearable. We called Rafael, really to see if he had advice on finding her a new home. He asked if we had time to meet and he came to the rescue the next day. Her reaction to him walking in made me think, “This is it, she’s got to go…”. The two of them went on a walk, and I swear when she came back she was already on her way to becoming a different dog. Rafael spent the next six hours with us teaching us how to be better parents. We know we have a commitment ahead of us to maintain Layla’s new level of awesomeness, but now we have the tools to ensure that we are all getting what we’ve always needed. In less than a week, Layla now sits and stays before entering a door, walks like an angel on her leash, leaves my son’s food alone even when it is being shoved in her face, leaves other animals alone while we’re walking, and most importantly is a much happier, more confident dog.

I know it sounds silly, but Rafael honestly changed our lives. The stress of a dog that we loved, but that we knew wasn’t working was overwhelming. Our daily walks are now some of the highlights of our day, whether we do them alone (love that quiet bonding time!) or as a family (love that loud bonding time!). We are really enjoying working together to accomplish this goal, and being able to walk into our home without being pounced on. Thank you so much Rafael, you really are a life changer, and Layla is pretty appreciative too! 

Casita would like to thank the Browns for giving us the opportunity to work with them and get to know their amazing family.  Its an honor to help people who show such commitment to family - which include the precious creatures they adopt.  We will always be there for you!

Here is a picture of Maryellen & Ken - at Scout's favorite watering hole ;)

A Wet Nose & A Warm Heart

posted Feb 4, 2014, 8:58 AM by Samantha Carter   [ updated Feb 4, 2014, 9:28 PM by Unknown user ]

- by Susan Bridenstine

The chances of Raquel, a Black Mouth Cur, being adopted were about as slim as winning the lottery. Despite the odds, she hit the jackpot with her new owner, Jackie Frierman of Tampa.

Jackie, a soft-spoken artist, recently recognized that she had room in her heart and her home that needed to be filled and began her quest for a dog. After pursuing a few dead-end leads, she ran across and decided to drive the hour and a half to Inverness to see a dog. Unfortunately, the dog wasn't compatible with her cat. Volunteers, James and Laci, at Citrus County Animal Services helped Jackie and directed her to Jeremy Burns, a kennel tech. They told her about a young dog that was desperately in need of love and a home.

It's possible Raquel may have been used as a "bait dog," and was so timid that she crawled on the floor. Despite her wounds and scars, Jackie saw Raquel's pure soul and realized that scars, like beauty, are only skin deep. The connection was immediate and mutual. The paperwork was completed for the adoption and arrangements made for Raquel to be spayed. Jackie would return one long week later to take her home.

Because of Raquel's special needs, Jeremy realized that Jackie may need some help with the transition from shelter to home. He suggested she contact, Rafael Cabrera, Dog Behavior Specialist, with Casita Big Dog Rescue. Rafael, well-known as "the dog whisperer of Citrus County," has hundreds of success stories helping people understand and modify their dog's behavior, making them enjoyable, long-term members of the family.

He met Jackie at the shelter when she returned and explained that Raquel may never have been adopted because of her appearance and fearful demeanor. She wasn't an outgoing, tail-wagging puppy that rushed out to lick people and probably would have been overlooked in the multitude of other available dogs. Rafael advised Jackie on many subjects concerning Raquel's needs and care and answered her questions. He assured her that he would be a phone call away if she needed help.

When Jackie placed the matching pink collar and leash on Raquel, she immediately transformed into a happy dog. Outside they walked tall and they both appeared to smile. Jackie hugged Raquel and said, "I feel like I was sent here to find you." Raquel sat up proudly and licked Jackie gratefully.

For more photos and a video of Raquel licking her new pal, Homer, the cats see: and for photos of Jackie's artwork see:  

Raquel living the good life with Jackie!

Post adoption picture: Here is Raquel living the good life with Jackie!  She looks pretty darn happy!

Who Rescued Who?

posted Feb 2, 2014, 10:42 AM by Samantha Carter   [ updated Feb 4, 2014, 9:27 PM by Unknown user ]

- by Susan Bridenstine, Adopter of Blaze - formerly of Casita Big Dog Rescue

Just four months ago, I decided that I wanted and needed a dog. As a writer, my activity level seemed at an all-time low. I needed a personal trainer to make me exercise and decided a dog was the perfect solution to get myself back on track. Today I have a loyal friend for life who has me in training and demands that I walk with her every day. We both benefit and love the company, but there's more to the story.

By a wonderful stroke of luck, my husband and I ran into Rafael Cabrera and Bill Rock of Casita Big Dog Rescue at the Bass Tournament last September in Inverness. We both liked a dog Bill had there named Rocky. Bill did us a big favor and explained that Rocky was a high energy dog and probably would not be a good match for us. He suggested we to talk to Rafael about a dog he had that day named Mindy. Rafael explained that Mindy was an American Dingo also known as a Carolina Singer and that her energy level was better suited to our life-style. Mindy met all of the criteria I wanted in the right dog for us. Plus Rafael and Bill had spent hours working with her so she walked well on a leash, didn't jump up on people, was house broken and non-destructive, she was crate-trained, and very well behaved and extremely intelligent.  

We liked Mindy, but didn't want to jump into anything that required so much commitment, responsibility and life-style change so we went home and did our homework on the breed and their characteristics. Mindy checked out. In fact, we were fascinated by the amazing history of the American Dingo. I couldn't wait until Tuesday to call Rafael and see if Mindy was still available for adoption.

She was. We all agreed that Rafael would bring her to our house for a couple of visits to see how well we all got along together. E Harmony couldn't have made a better match. Rafael explained the initial transition and how to relate to Mindy. He spent hours educating us about crating, pack mentality, discipline and much more. He immediately taught Mindy to stay out of my tiny kitchen and to follow commands and parameters to make the transition as smooth as possible. We had no idea there was so much that we didn't know about living with a dog and developing a mutually respectful relationship.

Helping Wounded Warriors

posted Jan 28, 2014, 9:06 AM by Samantha Carter   [ updated Feb 4, 2014, 9:25 PM by Unknown user ]

Samantha Carter, Sales & Marketing Executive and Rafael Cabrera, Dog Behavior Specialist, in conjunction with Casita Big Dog Rescue and Value Pet Supplies, recently received plaques in recognition of their sponsorship and support of the Marine Corps Detachment #1139 Second Annual Golf Outing.

The golf tournament, held at Lakeside Golf Course in Inverness benefited 
all branches of service of Injured Warriors of Florida. The presentations were made by Joe Spoto, Judge Advocate of MCL #1139 and Chairman of the golf tournament. Also in attendance were, Bill Rock of Casita Big Dog Rescue and the amazing volunteers from the county shelter who helped the day of the event, Rebecca Johnson, Christina Heady DeLisle and Mary Napolitano.  Also pictured, front and center, is Smokey - a former shelter dog - now a beloved service dog!


posted Jan 22, 2014, 12:45 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 4, 2014, 9:25 PM ]

With lineage of a Saint Bernard and a Husky, Juneau is a very impressive five year old. 
He's a sweet boy with a big heart a whole lot of love to give.
If you're a sucker for big brown eyes or beautiful blue eyes, he's got one of each.
Juneau is seeking a second chance and needs a forever home with an assertive, patient companion.
Ideally, his new companion will be an experienced dog owner with an understanding of Saint Bernards and Huskies. 
**He should be the only pet in a home with no small children.** 

A small adoption fee of $30. will allow the right person to take this wonderful dog home. 
Included in the fee are: microchip, worming, neutering, vaccinations, flea pill, and a blood test. 
Don't wait. See how special Juneau is at Citrus County Animal Services, 4030 South Airport Road in Inverness FL.
Please contact Rafael at 352-217-9727 if you are interested in knowing more about Juneau – his background. 
Rafael would be available to help integrate Juneau into the right home.

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