Alternative House: Empowering All Survivors to Self-Sufficiency



Jan., 2024

On Sunday New Years Eve Day, Kane went for a woods walk with a group of resident shelter dogs and volunteers from the Lowell Humane Society.

In his group was Tillie being walked by her amazing foster care dad and mom Brian and Isabel Surprenant and King being walked by his BFF most excellent volunteer dog walker Douglas Steven’s Jr. Both dogs, like Kane, were thrilled to be out in the fresh air smelling all the smells in the woods.

“Animal shelters around the U.S. are bursting at the seams amid the rising cost of living, according to a December 2023 article in the Associated Press written by Michael Hill. The number of animals entering shelters began to climb in 2021.

Kane learned that it has been particularly hard to place larger dogs, adoptions are much slower than the influx of dogs that come to the shelter. Shelter Animals Count, a national database of shelter statistics, estimates that the U.S. shelter population grew by nearly a quarter-million animals in 2023, according to the Associated Press.

Kane learned that one of the main reasons for the shelter crisis is the economy. Many families experience food and home insecurity creating an increase in homeless for families and pets as well as the high cost of food and vet care.

Both Tillie and King were stray pets without a home. Many of Kane’s friends at the Humane Society are bigger dogs that were in the shelter much longer as the number of adopters are less and the number of homeless animals have increased. Recently the Lowell Humane Society and other local shelters and rescues have been looking for foster care families so resident dogs may experience a warm home as well as making room in the shelter for other dogs. Many shelters currently have waiting lists.

Kane had the opportunity to interview Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Ingraham at the Lowell Humane Society about the benefits of homeless pets being fostered. Jennifer said, “While the staff and volunteers at the Lowell Humane Society do their very best to give love and care to the animals we have, it is no substitute for being in someone’s home. Fosters provide a crucial service to us.

By opening their home to an animal, they help reduce stress, can closely monitor health and behavior concerns, and most importantly, give the animal the attention they deserve until they get to their forever home. If you are interested in becoming a foster family to a dog, cat, or smaller homeless pet, please reach out to us at”

Lowell Humane Society Foster Care Parent Brian Surprenant explained to Kane, “I want to help, and helping homeless pets in the community you live in feels very rewarding. I want to give back to my community.”

After Tillie finds a forever home, Brian and his wife Isabel plan to foster other dogs in need. Brian and Isabel don’t care which dog, they know that fostering is truly saving a dog in need. It’s for a great cause and I’m giving back to my community, said Brian. Kane found talking to Brian and Isabel inspiring. Fosters are so needed, and Tillie is so lucky to have them.

So, let’s meet Tillie.

Kane can’t believe Tillie is still at the shelter. She came in as a stray in August and struck gold when she landed an amazing foster home with Brian and Isabel. Tillie told Kane that although she loves everyone at the shelter, she has so much energy it was hard for her. Brian and Isabel take her on 5-mile walks daily so she can be the best girl possible. Kane thought that’s great for Tillie but personally he would complain if his humans wanted him to walk that far.

This is what the staff at the Lowell Humane Society have to say, “Tillie has the pointiest ears in town, and would love to use them to listen to you tell her how beautiful a girl she is! Tillie is about 3 years old and came to the shelter as a stray. Although we don’t know her past, it has been a pleasure to be part of her present. Tillie is packed full of energy and would love a human that may take her on hikes or long walks. When she is tuckered out, she’s a snuggle bug! She leans against you and appreciates love and attention. The best of both worlds!

To become the best girl we know she can be, we are requiring a training deposit for Tillie. She needs guidance on how to be polite on a leash, and how to be a proper lady. Tillie would do best as the only animal in her home. We are looking for families with teens+, preferably dog-savvy. Have you fallen in love with this sweet face?

Tillie explained to Kane that she and her foster care family love football. She doesn’t mind wearing a hat or even a shirt to show her support. Tillie’s foster care mom Isabel explained to Kane that she lost her family dog recently and fostering Tillie has helped her heal.’ The love she gives you is amazing.” said Isabel.

Brian explained that their household is unique in that someone is home every day. Brian explained to Kane that Tillie would do best in a household that loves exercise. With enough movement Tillie is able to settle and snuggle. Brian told Kane that he and Isabel will foster Tillie until she finds a forever home, even if that takes forever. Kane thought Tillie was a very lucky girl to have placement with Brian and Isabel.

Introducing King:

So, Kane knows King. He has come over to his house and sat on all his chairs until he settled in the most comfortable chair to watch tv. Being a good host Kane let him have his favorite spot for the visit. King is a 4-year-old Majestic American Pitbull Mix!

The staff at the Lowell Humane Society asks, “Are you ready to welcome royalty into your home? Look no further – King is here to steal your heart and become the reigning monarch of your affections!
King is the epitome of charm and intelligence bundled into a cuddly canine package. He’s as smart as they come and has a heart as vast as his love for cuddles. King is the ideal companion for someone seeking a loyal and affectionate furry friend.

Since King prefers the spotlight and is looking for a home where he can be the sole ruler of your heart. He enjoys the company of older, sturdy kids who can match his energy and appreciate his playful spirit. While King adores people, he prefers to be the only pet in the kingdom to bask in all the attention.

King is an adventurer at heart. He has hiked the grand Mount Wachusett, showcasing his love for the great outdoors. Whether it’s a brisk walk in the park or a cozy movie night at home, King is up for any royal decree that involves quality time with his human companions.

This clever canine is not just a pretty face – King has a high prey drive and loves engaging in games that stimulate his intelligence. He’s mastered basic commands and is eager to learn more to impress his loyal subjects. King thrives in a calm environment with older children who understand and respect his majestic nature.

An experienced owner who appreciates his intelligence and cuddle-worthy personality will find themselves with a true royal companion.
King was missing some fur when he arrived to us, but he has received treatment and it is growing in beautifully. He is in excellent health, fully vaccinated, neutered, and ready to embark on new adventures with his forever family.

If you’re ready to crown your home with the love and companionship of King, fill out an adoption application today. Prepare for a life filled with royal snuggles, loyalty beyond measure, and the joy of sharing your castle with a truly majestic canine.

So, if you would like to meet Tillie or King, the Lowell Humane Society is open every day from 12-4, closed on Mondays. If you are interested in meeting Tillie or King, please call us at 978-452-7781, email the shelter; it is open every day from 12-4, closed on Mondays. If you are interested in a pet, please call us at 978-452-7781, email, or stop by the shelter to request an adoption application.

So how can you help during this homeless pet crisis, please consider volunteering, fostering, adopting, or donating to a local shelter. As for Tillie and King, well I will keep you posted about when they get adopted.

Kane, Columnist Valley Patriot
Woof ◊