How a Little Rescue Dog Changed My Life and Helped Animals

“I gave $2,000 to Motley Zoo Animal Rescue in 2015 to help save animals”

I never thought I would be saying that.

I never had that much money at my disposal and, honestly, was more likely to give to environmental and humanitarian groups.

My Heart Dog Gretel

In 2012, I was a frustrated woman disillusioned with her job. I had fiercely pursued a job managing and protecting the environment but the dream didn’t turn out the way I planned.

I found myself “escaping” at lunch by searching for a second dog.

Note: The original article about how my rescue Dachshund Gretel changed my life first appeared in the Mar/April 2016 edition of Pet Connection Magazine. This version contains minor edits.

How Fate Brought the Perfect Rescue Dog Into My Life

When I saw Gretel, it was love at first sight.

Her sad but bright eyes, and precious dappled face, compelled me to instantly message the rescue that had her – Motley Zoo Animal Rescue in Redmond, WA – and fill out an application.

Our story is one of fate.

After sorting through over 100 adoption applications, Motley Zoo Animal Rescue chose me as the perfect new “Mom” for Gretel.

They chose us because they said that our living situation was perfect for this little Dachshund rescue.

  • We had a securely fenced yard
  • My hubby and I worked opposite schedules so someone was almost always home
  • We had an older, calm, and happy Dachshund that would help her settle down and teach her to behave

I then got cold feet due to my self-doubt about being able to care properly for a second dog.

The second act of fate was that, despite there being a lengthy waiting list for Gretel, Motley Zoo did something they almost never do – they waited almost 4 days for me to come around.

Eventually I did.

This is the 10-lb rescue dog that changed my life

Discovering She Had Been the Victim of a Dog Flipper

I learned later that Gretel’s path to me was even more twisted than I had imagined, both literally and figuratively.

She was surrendered to Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, in large part, because she was the victim of a dog flipper.

Her life before the dog flipper is unknown but it’s safe to say that she had at least four “homes” before she came to live with me.

The dog flipper got her from another home and then sold her to an unwitting couple.

The couple eventually learned they had bought a dog under false pretenses and found that their beautiful little pup was anxious, aggressive, and possibly sick.

Eventually, they had no choice but to surrender her to a rescue, where she lived in a foster home for a couple of months.

She found her forever home the day she came home with us.

How My life completely Changed After Adopting My Rescue Dog

During her first hike – the day after we brought Gretel home – I decided to start that blog about hiking with my dogs.

You Did What With Your Wiener? – an outdoor and travel lifestyle blog that focuses on being active with your small dog – was born.

Through my blog, I became connected with the animal community.

I realized that, although I have a very inquisitive mind, my science job was not where I was meant to be.

My true gift is being able to communicate and make personal connections with people. I also longed to spend more time at home with my dogs and help other people improve their relationship with their Dachshunds.

Two years later, when my Grandmother died unexpectedly, I took the leap to start my own business.

Today, I’ve build my own blogging “empire”.

I run this blog as well as a second Dachshund blog (

I coach other bloggers to turn theirs into a business through

I also run a 1,000+ member Dachshund club – The Adventureweiner Club – which I expanded from Washington State only to all of North America in 2020.

March Adventureweiner Club Walk

Prize Money Went to the Dogs

You Did What With Your Wiener? has continued to grow and has won several awards.

In 2015, I won three prestigious awards.

This blog won “Best Active Living Blog” in the DogTime Media Petties. My blog also won “Best Pet Blog Design” and “Best Dog Blog” (twice) from BlogPaws.

Prizes for these three awards included $2,000 that I could donate to my favorite pet rescue.

I donated the entire amount to Motley Zoo Animal Rescue because none of this would have been possible without them.

Living the Dream of a Stay at Home Dog Mom

After adopting and bonding so closely with Gretel, I decided I just wanted to be a stay at home Dog Mom.

Today, I am living the dream.

I am able to spend more quality time with my dogs and focus on the things that matter most to me in life.

While I still have to work hard, running my own online business lets me decide when and where I do it.

I can work hard over the weekend and take my dogs for a 3-day camping trip during the week.

I can take them for a hike in the morning and then work in the afternoon and evening.

I can take a 3-hour “lunch break” to work on training my dogs.

I feel very fortunate and hope that I am able to do this forever.

Final Thoughts

Eight years ago, I didn’t understand what a “heart dog” was. I loved every pet I had owned completely and equally. Gretel is different than the rest.

Perhaps it’s the fateful circumstances that brought us together; maybe it is the way we had to learn to trust each other to work through her severe anxiety; maybe it’s the way she promoted me to make changes in my life that made me a happier person; or maybe it’s the way she gazes lovingly into my eyes.

I am not sure I am Gretel’s hero or she is mine but my life wouldn’t be so overwhelmingly perfect if we hadn’t found each other.

I certainly wouldn’t have been giving $2,000 to animal rescue.

Her story is literally one of rags to riches and beyond.

Read more about Gretel’s tumultuous beginning in my article Gretel, Hookers and Blow.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a Dachshund sitter, President of the largest social Dachshund club in Washington State, a dog trainer in training, and I’ve been a Dachshund owner for 20 years. I have over 150,000 hours of experience with the breed. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. this is a great story and i enjoy reading it again 🙂 we’re so glad fate brought everyone together for the betterment of so many animals and people!

    1. Thanks Sarah. I’m definitely tend to sweep accomplishments under the rug but I really have accomplished a lot with her help.

  2. Jessica, your story about Gretel and how you found and took her under your wing, is very moving. You are definitely doing the right thing with your life. We are so glad to know you!

  3. like me and my dog sorta.. we think he was abused by a man before cause he hates men. id die for my dog and i am very protective over him. he loves me and i love him hes a dog never to be replaced

  4. Dear Jessica,

    I really did enjoy reading about how you and Gretal became a famiy. I am happy that you found your purpose in life. I am jelous of that. I have been seeking a new career path myself for several years now. I am a proud dog mom to manyof my own. I network the dog’s on the shelter E-List daily to get them freed. My true passion is puppies. I am a Hotel operater and have been for 30 years now. I would love to find a career working with dogs and make enough to provide for my family. My husband is not able to work any longer so it’s just me. Keep doing what you are doing!

    1. Hi Victoria. I was looking for an opportunity for years too before I decided to start my own business. I know I was fortunate that I was able to do so though. I was able to go back to school and spend a few years building my business while my husband worked fill time. Hopefully a great opportunity will come along with you. Nowadays, there are some companies that let you work remotely from home.

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