Our nuggets are making waves on the front page! Check out this amazing article in today's Union Tribune. We'd like to say a special thank you to Karla Peterson & the Union Tribune for this beautiful write-up about our organization and its quirky, old, spirited animals. We couldn't be happier that senior and special needs animals are finally getting the recognition and love they deserve. Please share this story far and wide... & if you have a moment, shoot Karla an email and let her know how much you appreciate her kindness, support (& wicked writing skills). What she did on behalf of our animals (& animals everywhere) is so kind and we are so incredibly grateful. ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
TLC for special needs animals
Did you hear the one about Shonda Rhymes, the 15-year-old deaf and blind Chihuahua? It’s not as depressing as you’d think. And Old Man Red, the aging miniature pinscher-Chihuahua with one tooth and many health problems? Or Buttercup, the unadoptable black pit bull? So not tragic.
In the extended furry family that is Animal Synergy - a San Diego-based rescue, rehab and sanctuary organization - hard cases are transformed into happy stories. And in the glass-half-full world of Synergy director Carla Naden, the burden of caring for a special-needs pet becomes the wet-nosed gift that refuses to stop giving.
“It’s not sad,” Naden, 35, said during an interview at the Grape Street Dog Park, where she shared a picnic table with the aforementioned Shonda. “These animals are so funny, and they are so inspiring. It’s a privilege to be around them. They never give up on me, and I never give up on them.”
A longtime animal lover and volunteer with the Animal Balance global welfare group, Naden started Animal Synergy in 2013 with one broken-down dog and a half-formed dream. The dog was Nugget, an old, skinny, opossum-looking mutt she met while touring a local animal shelter. Nugget was one day away from being euthanized, and Naden was one snap decision away from an epiphany.
“Something told me that he just couldn’t go out like that,” said Naden, an artist who lives in Vista. “No being should be without love when they leave this planet. You should have good smells and good vibes around you. I thought that was the least I could do for him.”
She decided to take Nugget home and make the best of the time he had left. With the proper medical care and extra helpings of attention, the dog that wasn’t supposed to last more than a week or two was with Naden for seven months. His legacy is the engine that keeps Naden and her shoestring nonprofit running.
After seeing how much time and energy she was putting into Nugget, Animal Balance founder Emma Clifford suggested Naden take on Animal Synergy, a Bend, Ore.-based animal-hospice organization that was about to close up shop. Two years after Naden relocated the group to San Diego and expanded its mission, Animal Synergy has rescued and rehabilitated 50 animals, mostly aging and/or sick dogs.
“I had been working with Carla since 2005, and I knew right away that she had a very, very different energy,” said Clifford, who is now on the board of Animal Synergy. “She is a really good director because she has an ability to bring people in and organize them. She has this wonderful way of being kind to people and being funny. She is so enthusiastic, you can’t say, ‘No.’”
Naden’s rescue animals usually come from shelters or through referrals from the San Diego Department of Animal Services. Through her network of sympathetic veterinarians, animal therapists and groomers, she gets them the care and medication they need. She finds them foster homes or takes them in herself, and then she gets the optimism ball rolling."