Dallas, Houston and Rillo

This is a long read but the story is incredible! Please share.


I wrote about Marilyn and her 3 Labs a long time ago, but much has happened since then.

How all of this started was that Marilyn’s son found 3 little lab puppies at the construction site where he was working a couple of years ago. They were in rough shape, he brought them home and Marilyn gave them a lot of TLC. We delivered food to a pit bull that lived right next door to Marilyn and that is how we met her in the first place. She was a very, very nice woman. She was always made up-her hair and make up were always done. She had a purple house and everything in the yard-statues, mail box, etc. was painted purple. Marilyn was quite a character and we liked her immediately. We gave her some puppy food and planted the seed for her to maybe give us the puppies. After a couple of times of checking up on Marilyn and the puppies, Marilyn told us that she couldn’t let any of them go-she was going to keep them all. She was very emotionally attached to these little ones.

I had a pretty firm talk with her about how these were going to be 3 big labs soon. I explained how they needed their shots, de-worming and spayed and neutered.I asked her if she was going to be able to feed 3 big labs when they were grown and she told me that she just couldn’t let any of them go and that she would figure it out. I told her that I wasn’t going to be able to help her anymore. I told her I thought it was a mistake to try and keep all of them and that I thought she’d be overwhelmed.  I told her that she should keep one of them and let me place the other two. I thought she’d be able to handle one dog, but 3 big dogs-I didn’t think so. She just couldn’t do it. We cut her off and told here that we weren’t going to be able to assist her with food. I told her that our program was not set up to feed people’s dogs the rest of their lives. We were here for people going through a hard time, losing their job, illness, etc.  I wished her luck and left.

Almost a year later, I was helping someone down the street when I realized that I was on Marilyn’s street. I could see her purple house down the block. I decided to stop by and see if she still had the 3 dogs or what had happened. Well, she still had them and now they were all about 60 lbs.! Marilyn kept them outside only, but they had a nice fenced in large yard and they had each other. At least they weren’t on chains. There was no feces anywhere-Marilyn was religious about keeping their area clean. There was a hole like a crawlspace that went far back under her house, which you can see in one of the pictures below. Instead of dog houses, we put a whole bunch of hay way under there and that is where they slept together.  She had named the yellow female Latte and the boys were Domino and Spade. I could tell that she loved them and they loved her. They looked pretty good, but none of them had had any vaccinations, no de-worming and were not spayed or neutered! This was exactly what I had been afraid of back then.

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Marilyn told me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She also had diabetes and while we were away from her, she had lost her leg and had a prosthetic leg. She had been through a lot.




I told Marilyn that she could not let these guys mate! I told her that I would pick them all up for spay/neuter, shots and de-worming soon, which I did. Chain of Hope paid for all of the vet care for these guys. Thank you, supporters, this would not have been possible without you! We just could not let these guys have babies in her back yard-no way!



We became involved with Marilyn and her labs again and began helping her with food. At various times, the dogs would look a little thin and Marilyn would tell me what a struggle it was financially to feed them all like she should be. She said, “you tried to tell me and I wouldn’t listen and now I love them all so much, they’re my babies, but I need help.” She really did try hard and took very good care of them.

Marilyn was struggling with her health. We’d drop food off on her porch and give the dogs treats. Sometimes, we’d see her and sometimes she’d be at doctor’s appointments and things.

We stopped by one day and a woman came walking from across the street and down a little bit. It was Marilyn’s sister and we never knew that she lived on the same street! She came over and told us that Marilyn had passed away. We were so sad. She really was an awesome lady.



We were worried about the dogs and told her that Chain of Hope could take these babies. She already knew that Marilyn trusted us and was grateful to us. However, she told me that Marilyn’s daughter and her family were going to move into Marilyn’s house! They said that they were going to keep the dogs. They said that their mom had loved those dogs and that they did too and they would take care of them. We told them that we would continue to help them with the dogs.

Well, things started going down hill. The dogs were getting thin, these people were not picking up the poop, etc. A couple of the volunteers mentioned to them again that if this was too much for them, we could take the dogs and that we would find them good homes. They said no. Things continued to back slide over here and one day I went over to talk to the daughter about giving them up. She said she’d talk to her siblings and see what they wanted to do. She never called.

One day this summer it was a heat index of  100 degrees. A couple of the volunteers went by (we were starting to go by more frequently because these guys were falling through the cracks) and called me from there. They said that there was poop everywhere, so there were flies everywhere. They said you could see the ribs on the males. I asked them if the dogs had water and they said they couldn’t see any, but we weren’t able to see all the way around the house. I told them to get a bucket off the van, try to get it over the fence, try to stand it upright with a stick or something and then pour water in there for them. She called me right back and said that when she did that, all 3 of them stuck their heads in the bucket at the same time and drank forever. These dogs needed to get out of there. Marilyn would’ve been so disappointed in her family for treating her babies this way.

One day when there was so much feces and so many flies all over, we called them into animal control. When I checked the case the next day, it said that they all 3 were impounded! I was so excited to see that animal control had done their job and gotten these babies out of there. Then I found out that instead of receiving citations, the people just signed the dogs over to the city. To avoid getting tickets for these issues, they just told animal control to take the dogs. Marilyn would’ve been mortified.

So, these babies had to be loaded on the animal control truck and taken to Kansas City Pet Project, which is the city shelter. We contacted the shelter and told them that we could pull these 3 dogs and bring them into our program. They were very happy to have the help with 3 large dogs! We picked them up and took them to Chain of Hope.





The yellow lab was in the best shape. We saw why-she was definitely the leader of the pack! She ate first and I’m quite sure had been pushing those boys out of the way. Their last couple of months had been so difficult. We decided, like we always do, that they had to lose their old names along with their old life. We named them Dallas, Houston and Amarillo, but we call her Rillo! Dallas was in the worst shape and Houston wasn’t far behind him.

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DSCF0291The dogs were happy to be here, that’s for sure! We weren’t going to let any more bad things happen to these babies. Dallas had terrible skin from fleas and a secondary skin infection. About a week after they’d left the shelter, they started breaking with kennel cough. Dallas took it very hard and was extremely sick. We really were scared that we were going to lose him. I fostered him at my house, administered subq fluids, his meds and many nebulizer treatments. I had him at the emergency clinic on two different nights that week. This poor boy suffered. He was so debilitated when he came in and then to break with kennel cough was almost more than he could take. But Dallas is a fighter!!! He hung in there and with the help of the wonderful staff at Strothertowne Pet Hospital, plus the emergency care at the Animal Emergency Center up north, this boy made it!





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He was finally able to come back to Chain of Hope and rejoin his siblings. He had a road of recovery in front of him but we would help him through it. At first he had had no appetite. Then I brought him cheeseburgers and he started eating those. Several volunteers made batches of satin balls, which are kind of like nutritious meatballs with lots of good supplements in them to boost their systems and give them some more calories. The dogs loved them! We appreciate all of the volunteers that made the satin balls! You guys are awesome.

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While Dallas was struggling with his health, Rillo and Houston were settling in. Houston had a little bit of a set back with his kennel cough as well and had to do nebulizer treatments. He did not get as sick as Dallas, but he was sick for awhile still.







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We are finally at the point with these guys that all of them are healthy! The boys are putting weight on like crazy. They’ve had medicated baths and their skin is much better. Rillo is the only one that tested positive for heartworms, so she will begin treatment for those soon. This has been a very expensive rescue because of how sick they got and all of the medical care that they required, plus Rillo having heart worms. We would appreciate any donations for Dallas, Houston and Rillo.

Now it is time to finally look for some great foster homes or adoptive homes for these three wonderful dogs. I will say that our goal in the beginning was to start introducing them to other dogs and putting them separately in other play groups. They’ve been together their entire lives, but we know that they are most likely not going to get adopted together, so we wanted to work on their independence from each other. However, when they all broke with kennel cough, they had to be kept together in an isolation room by themselves for a few weeks and could not be introduced to other dogs. So….we are now starting the dog introductions and more socializing. They’ve just had each other and Marilyn for 2 years, so they must all go through a transition. We will happily be working with them in this regard.

Despite this pretty difficult rescue, it has been our privilege to watch these babies thrive! They are so happy here and are feeling great.

Here are the happy kids now:







and Rillo


I know that Marilyn is looking down on all of us and I know she is smiling. No need to worry, Marilyn, your babies are now safe and happy.