Love, Dog is for everyone who wants to be their dog's best friend . . . We're a trusted resource to help you make the best choices for your dog's wellbeing . . . NEW PODCAST EPISODE #13: TARA BRACH - Homecoming: Being Present With Our Dogs . . . Listen on your favorite podcast app or click on the podcast button in the menu. . . . We say THANK YOU to season 1's podcast sponsors - Fig & Tyler, Wonder Walker No-Pull Harnesses, Colorado Citizens for Canine Welfare (3CW), and, Jope Hip & Joint Chews.
Love, Dog is for everyone who wants to be their dog's best friend . . . We're a trusted resource to help you make the best choices for your dog's wellbeing . . . NEW PODCAST EPISODE #13: TARA BRACH - Homecoming: Being Present With Our Dogs . . . Listen on your favorite podcast app or click on the podcast button in the menu. . . . We say THANK YOU to season 1's podcast sponsors - Fig & Tyler, Wonder Walker No-Pull Harnesses, Colorado Citizens for Canine Welfare (3CW), and, Jope Hip & Joint Chews.
Howls From The Founder
Tara Brach talks often of her affection for all animals, and she often describes her sunrise walks along the Potomac River with her dog. Her walks have an exquisite quality to them . . .  they always resonate with a sense of freshness as they experience the simple riches and luxury of nature.

Marlena Piacenza knew something was missing in her life. She packed-up her belongings in New Jersey, and without a specific destination in mind drove west, arriving in Santa Barbara where her passion, determination, and her huge heart have saved many dogs' lives . . . while improving the lives of many others. It's a beautiful story, written and told by Marlena, about finding life's purpose.

I left my old life behind to save shelter dogs, I remember the day like it was yesterday. The day I made the decision to leave behind everything I knew and start a new life dedicated to helping shelter dogs in need. It was a decision that was not made lightly, but one that I knew in my heart was the right thing to do

For years, I had been working a mundane job that provided me with financial stability but left me feeling unfulfilled. I would come home from work every day feeling like something was missing in my life. That was when I started volunteering at a local animal shelter in my free time. It was there that I discovered my true passion for helping animals, specifically shelter dogs.

Marlena at a shelter working on basic obedience, mouthiness, etc, with a dog named Diesel

I packed up my belongings from my home in Newark, NJ, said goodbye to my friends and family, and set out on a journey to make a difference in the lives of these furry companions. As I drove away from my old life, I felt a sense of freedom and purpose wash over me. I was filled with a newfound determination to help those who couldn’t help themselves.

As I drove away from my old life, I felt a sense of freedom and purpose wash over me. I was filled with a newfound determination to help those who couldn’t help themselves.

The sun was setting as I drove across the states, the colors of the sky painting a beautiful backdrop as I made my way from one animal shelter to the next. With no plan in mind and no clear destination, I was on a mission to find a place where I could make a difference in the lives of animals in need.

After weeks on the road, I finally reached the sunny shores of California. I was immediately struck by a fresh and vibrant energy, and I felt a palpable sense of community surround me almost immediately. It was here that I came across a local animal shelter that seemed to be bursting with life and enthusiasm, and I knew that I had found the place where I belonged.

I was offered a job at the shelter, and I gratefully accepted, eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work helping the animals who so desperately needed love and care. As I spent more time at the shelter, I began to realize the harsh reality that many of these dogs faced. They were abandoned, abused, or neglected, and they had nowhere else to turn. I saw the fear and sadness in their eyes—I could feel it in their rigid, terrified bodies—and I knew that I had to do something to help them.

Marlena working in a shelter, bending over to assist a dog in a crate

Marlena working with a dog currently up for adoption at Santa Barbara County Services. He was on the urgent list for euthanasia. She worked with him on creating a positive association to people and the leash. She also worked with him on touch and sensitivity issues. They worked on basic obedience and confidence building, and in the end, Marlena was able to get him removed from the euthanasia list

In the weeks and months that followed, I poured my heart and soul into my new work at the shelter. I started by walking the dogs, spending time with each one, and getting to know their personalities and quirks. I saw the joy in their eyes as they ran and played, grateful for the attention and love they were getting and deserved. I bathed them, fed them, and comforted them when they were scared or anxious. I made sure they knew they were safe and loved. As I watched the animals find loving homes and saw the joy and gratitude in their eyes, I knew that I had found my calling. The uncertain road that had led me to Santa Barbara had unfolded in the most beautiful and unexpected way, and I was grateful for every twist and turn that had brought me to this moment. I worked tirelessly to find forever homes for these dogs, and with each successful adoption, my passion for saving shelter dogs only grew stronger with each passing day.

Throughout my journey, I have dedicated countless hours to educating myself about shelter dogs and their behavior. I have immersed myself in a variety of educational programs, including attending school, participating in webinars, seminars, conferences, and more. My goal is to gather as much knowledge as possible in order to make a difference in their lives, which has resulted in my earning over seven certifications in dog behavior.

It was a commitment to making the world a better place, one dog at a time. And as I looked back on the life I had left behind, I knew I had made the right choice. I had found my true passion, and I would never look back.

I constantly seek out new information and stay up-to-date on the latest research and techniques in the field of dog behavior. This commitment to continued education enables me to provide the most effective and compassionate care for shelter dogs. By using my expertise and knowledge, I am able to save dogs’ lives and make a positive impact on their wellbeing, and I hope to make a lasting impact in the world of animal welfare.

As the days turned into weeks and months, I witnessed the transformation of many of the shelter dogs I personally cared for. They went from being timid and withdrawn to confident and happy. Some were adopted into loving homes, while others stayed at the shelter, where they continued to receive care and attention.

Marlena Piacenza kneeling down in front of a full grown black and white mixed breed

Marlena is seen here working with a dog named Dolly who is at the Santa Barbara Animal Services shelter.  Dolly has an owner. She was hit by a car, and the shelter decided to help Dolly and her owner. They provided medical care, and Marlena worked with her closely. She got better and was all healed up!

Through it all, I knew I had found my calling. I had left my old life behind with the dream of saving as many shelter dogs as possible, and it was the best decision I had ever made. The smiles and wagging tails of the dogs I had helped were all the reward I needed. I had found my purpose, and I would continue to fight for these animals for as long as it took. 

In the end, saving shelter dogs wasn’t just a job or a hobby – it was a way of life. It was a commitment to making the world a better place, one dog at a time. And as I looked back on the life I had left behind, I knew I had made the right choice. I had found my true passion, and I would never look back.

My social media/instagram that shows all the work I do with dogs on euthanasia lists and more:

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