CFC News

Extreme sleepover picture


Got a day, a week, a month or more?

Caring For Creatures offers the following foster and foster-related programs:


Our Extreme Sleepover is a short term fostering program developed for dogs during extreme weather conditions. It gives them the opportunity of being in a home environment in addition to freeing up much-needed indoor space at the sanctuary. Depending on the weather and availability of the foster parent, it can be anywhere from 1 night to 1 week, or more.

 Long Term Fostering is primarily used to assist those dogs or cats with special needs whether physical or behavioral in nature.  Animals that must go through a long-term recovery period from a medical condition (such as heartworm treatment, fractured bone, etc.) benefit from a more home-like environment and individualized TLC.

Animals who are shy or under socialized also benefit from receiving the more one-on-one interactions a foster home can provide. This helps to socialize and prepare our animals for adoption into a forever home.  Foster homes also provide senior animals or animals who have lived in a home setting prior to coming to the sanctuary with an alternative living experience.  The time that an animal spends in a foster home can vary, depending on the situation and needs of the animal/foster person.  We’ve had people make a commitment to the animal until he/she is adopted but this doesn’t have to be the case.

Two of our volunteers are currently fostering our pets; one has helped to socialize Helen and Joanie who were trapped from a nearby cat colony and the other has taken in one of our dogs, Scotch, who had never lived in a home before.  Thanks to the efforts of these volunteers, all are now adoption ready.

Day Tripper refers to volunteers who commit to taking one or more of the sanctuary dogs out for daytime explorations and they return to the sanctuary that same day!  This may include a car ride to a park or similar area for a long walk that provides lots of new smells.  It could mean a trip into Palmyra or Charlottesville to an animal-friendly store to buy a special treat and then head home again.  It could mean a visit to the volunteer’s home for a couple of hours to learn about being inside a house and hearing house sounds (TV, phones, etc.).  It could be a walk on the downtown mall just for the fun of it.   The dogs love doing fun and different things and the activities always help round out their personalities and adoption resumes!  Individuals interested in becoming a Day Tripper are required to attend our dog volunteer orientation and work with CFC to select compatible dogs for their off-site explorations!

What are we looking for in fosters:   Prior experience with animals, a home environment that is suitable for our animal’s needs and a commitment to the animal are all qualities we look for in a potential foster parent.

How do people qualify for fostering:  Prospective foster parents will be asked to fill out a questionnaire so that we can match the animal to their home environment. Are there other pets? Children? What form of exercise will be provided? Is there a fenced yard?  How much time will the animal spend alone?  – All of this plus more is taken into consideration when matching an animal with a family.  CFC may require a home visit prior to foster placement.

What are the expectations of fosters:

CFC expects our fosters:

  • to provide a safe and loving home environment for our animals;
  • to follow any medical and feeding instructions provided by CFC;
  • to report any medical or behavioral issues to CFC immediately;
  • to provide regular updates on how our animal is doing – this information is very helpful for potential adopters;
  • to be flexible/available to transport animal to an adoption event and/or make time available for a prospective adopter to meet fostered dog/cat.

CFC will provide contact information – there will always be someone to contact with any questions or concerns. We also provide medical records, ensure the animal is current on all their shots and inform the foster parent of any behavior/medical issues.  Caring For Creatures will provide food, treats, a leash, harness, crate/condo and medical care, if required.

The best way for people to get more information:  Interested individuals should call or email for more information on the above programs.  Phone:  434-842-2404; Email:

Don't worry, Winston, you'll be back soon!

Don’t worry, Winston, you’ll be back soon!

Our new Day  Tripper program has gotten off to a great start!

Pleasant Grove Park has been really hopping lately with CFC canines thanks to our new Day Tripper Program.  Volunteers have been grabbing our dogs left and right and heading over to the park for a fun-filled day of swimming and hiking.

Every time one of our dogs goes on a day trip, they are one step closer to adoption. It may be their first time riding in a car, or putting their toes in the water. They get to meet new people and make new friends, and we get to learn a lot about them and how we can help them find their forever homes.

Don’t miss out on all the action – become a Day Tripper today!

What exactly is a Day Tripper?  

Day Tripper refers to volunteers who commit to taking one or more of the sanctuary dogs out for daytime explorations and they return to the sanctuary that same day!  This may include a car ride to a park or similar area for a long walk that provides lots of new smells.  It could mean a trip into Palmyra or Charlottesville to an animal-friendly store to buy a special treat and then head home again.  It could mean a visit to the volunteer’s home for a couple of hours to learn about being inside a house and hearing house sounds (TV, phones, etc.).  It could be a walk on the downtown mall just for the fun of it.   The dogs love doing fun and different things and the activities always help round out their personalities and adoption resumes!  Individuals interested in becoming a Day Tripper are required to attend our dog volunteer orientation and work with CFC to select compatible dogs for their off-site explorations!

To become a Day Tripper, please call our office at 434-842-2404 or email us at

Rock volunteer spotlight 3 Dogwalk.jpg800x600Rayn and Doug Rock have been tireless volunteers at Caring for Creatures since 2002! Anyone who has ever attended a CFC event can appreciate the hard work that Rayn and Doug contribute to each and every event that they plan and manage, everything from putting up tents to working with all of the volunteers, from creating props to cleaning up when the event is over.  It’s impossible to list all of the work that goes into an event, but Rayn and Doug have stepped up to take charge of numerous events, especially the wonderful CFC Dog Walk that they helped manage for many years.

In addition to helping with major events for Caring for Creatures, the Rocks have filled just about every other volunteer role.  They’ve walked dogs, given tours, fed animals, adopted from CFC, and assisted with rescues.  The very first project they worked on was building and repairing porch roofs on several of the dogs’ houses.

Their many volunteer experiences include the Columbia rescue in 2005, where CFC assisted with the care of more than 100 animals left in extreme stress when the owner died suddenly.  It presented an incredible challenge, but Rayn and Doug were an important part of its success.

The Rocks chose to volunteer at Caring for Creatures because of how they were treated as customers.  They were looking for a no-kill shelter for a “not very nice” dog who had appeared on their property and wouldn’t leave, and most places were not interested nor equipped to help them.  CFC wasn’t well equipped either, but asked lots of question.  When Rayn and Doug said that the dog would have a home for life if he were well behaved, the support was strong and lasting and included what was for them a very important introduction to animal communication.

Rayn and Doug have a very special relationship with Caring for Creatures.  They have experienced the essence of CFC and everyone at CFC (humans and animals) can see them living CFC’s motto when you watch them in action.  That motto is “Each animal in trouble matters.  Every one counts.  Caring for Creatures is helping, one animal, one person at a time”.

Rayn’s favorite volunteer activity is providing tours to first time visitors. In her words, “To share the sights, sounds and feelings of the CFC motto brought to life with visitors is a joy”. Doug’s favorite volunteer activity is walking and spending time with Stephie. She is full of energy and appreciates so much the walks, hugs, and kisses she receives from Doug and other volunteers!  Stephie is their favorite CFC animal because she is such a love bug.

Doug was born and raised in Virginia, from Chesterfield to Richmond to Goochland.  Rayn was born in New York.  As part of a military family, she moved every two years to multiple states in the U.S. and she lived in England.  She made her way to Virginia for the 7th grade and hasn’t left.  They live with two horses (Pocket Change Charlie who is boarded with them and Zipper Jeanne, who fulfills Rayn’s childhood dream of having a horse of her own), one cat (Baby Jesus), and three dogs (Steve, Buster, and Chester).

Come visit Caring for Creatures!  If you’re lucky, maybe Doug will be there and will introduce you to Stephie and/or Rayn will be there and will give you a tour!

Marie S with Aaron3_july2015 (3).jpg resizedMarie Sokolovic has been a very special volunteer at Caring For Creatures for almost 15 years!  She is a wonderful role model for all of us. She is still walking dogs regularly at age 88.  She loves coming to this wonderful no kill sanctuary and walking a few dogs.  They love her and we love seeing her.

Before moving to Lake Monticello, Marie lived for 23 years in Babylon, Long Island, New York.  In addition to her volunteer activities at Caring For Creatures, Marie enjoys playing mahjong, and she is active in her church.

When asked about a favorite CFC animal, Marie mentions Aaron and Kia as current favorites because, in her words, “they are old and not pullers, just like me”.   Aaron is a hound mix and Kia, a black and white Labrador/hound mix, was recently adopted.

So, come on out to Caring For Creatures and meet Aaron.  Hopefully, you can meet wonderful Marie also!

You can also check out the dogs and cats at

Judy Shell resizedWe are celebrating Judy Shell’s 15th year as a dedicated volunteer at Caring for Creatures.  During her many years of service, Judy has worn many different hats, including walking dogs and providing fun outings for them as she transported them to adoption events. At these same events, she also provided baked goods available for purchase, watched over the dogs, and/or worked at the sales table.  She’s also known for her hot dog grilling at Open Houses held at Caring for Creatures.  Judy is a wonderful dog walker because she is so calm.  The dogs love being around her.

In addition to her volunteer activities at Caring for Creatures, Judy and her husband have adopted two dogs from CFC.  In 2002 they adopted Trapper, who passed over the Rainbow in 2014. In 2005, they adopted Rusty who is a very happy member of the Shell family.  Rusty is a medium sized hound mix who gets very excited about going for walks in the neighborhood and at the dog park.

Judy Shell was born on Long Island and lived there until 1976.  She and her husband Forney found their way to Lake Monticello via California in 2000, and soon after they found Caring for Creatures.  In addition to her volunteer activities, Judy enjoys line dancing and ballroom dancing with Forney.  She plays Mahjong, enjoys reading mysteries, and does oil painting.  Forney works at Monticello and is a travel agent.  They also enjoy cruising and visiting children and grandchildren in Kentucky and Nevada.

When asked if she has a favorite CFC dog, Judy talks about Nova.  In her words, “She is a very sweet and loving girl.  She gets all happy and wiggly when I go to her pen to walk her.  She is a nice walker on her leash.” Nova, a 50 pound hound mix, is 9 years old.  She was born at the Sanctuary, adopted, and then returned in 2013 when her owner could no longer take care of her.

You can meet Nova at Caring for Creatures, or you can check her out at  If you head out to CFC, you might see Judy too!

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Page and Tye

Page Gifford has been a very active volunteer at Caring for Creatures since 2002, when she adopted Holly. Holly was a very shy dog and difficult to train, but with Cheryl Faulkenburry’s help and her own persistence, Page learned to work with Holly and they became best friends.  As a result of this experience, Page has continued to help train dogs at Caring for Creatures, including difficult dogs.  “They are the most challenging and the most rewarding,” Page said.  The training that Page does is so important in helping the dogs to be ready for adoption.

In addition to the training that Page does, she also walks dogs, participates at adoption events, washes dishes, and works with staff and volunteers.  The friends she has made at Caring for Creatures (human and canine), keep her coming back year after year.

Born in New York City, Page lived in New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire before moving to Virginia in 2001.  Soon after, she was volunteering at CFC as well as becoming active in the local community.  This very talented lady is a writer for the Fluvanna Review, has been in or directed several plays with the Persimmon Tree Players, has had her artwork displayed in the County and led art workshops.  Page is a member of the Board of the Fluvanna County Arts Council and Vice-President of the Fluvanna Art Association and chair of the Wildlife Committee at Lake Monticello.

Page shares a house at Lake Monticello with her brother John Campbell (Cam), Tye, a fox hound-collie mix, and Benton, a beagle-coon hound.  Holly, who started Page on her role as trainer, passed away in 2010.

When asked about a favorite dog at the Sanctuary, Page mentions Scotch and Rudy.  In her own words, “Rudy is excited every time he sees me, because he knows we are going for a long walk and he loves it and he’s a great trail walker.  He’s good with humans and bonds easily.  Scotch is smart and has learned his training well.  Scotch, unlike some of the others, always showed his need for love, and it was touching.  Just looking into his eyes I could always see it. I am glad he finally found the ideal companion for himself. It’s great when they get adopted and find their new best friend for life.”

Come meet Page and Rudy at CFC.   You can also check out Rudy and all the dogs and cats at

Connie with Grover (800x600)Connie Seyller has been a terrific volunteer at Caring for Creatures since 2006.  She is one of those special volunteers at CFC who is happy to do whatever is needed, including walking dogs, bathing dogs, doing dishes, and helping with fundraising events.  She also “sanctuary sits”, which entails staying at the Sanctuary when Mary Birkholz is away, caring for Mary’s animals and being one of the overnight guardians of the CFC animals.  She has even provided some lovely embroidered towels that are sold at the fundraising events.  In addition, Connie and her husband adopted Grover from the Sanctuary in 2007.  Connie said it was love at first sight.

In 2006, Connie was looking for a volunteer opportunity that could combine her love of animals with her love of walking/hiking.  Sue Scott, her friend and neighbor, told Connie about Caring for Creatures and invited her to come out with her.  Connie was hooked from the beginning.  In her words, “I enjoy every moment I spend with the animals.  Also, I have met so many great people while volunteering there, other volunteers as well as staff. I really think I get as much enjoyment out of it as the animals do.”

Connie was born in Washington, D.C. and has lived in Virginia since her marriage, more than 41 years ago.  She and her husband Phil moved to Lake Monticello after they both retired from working with the Defense Department.  They share their home with their four legged son Grover, who keeps the home fires burning while Connie is walking, shopping, and spending time at CFC, and Phil is golfing.  Connie calls herself a “golf widow”, but doesn’t mind because she has Caring for Creatures and her four legged friends to keep her busy. Connie and Phil also love to travel and have travelled far and wide, including Tanzania, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Europe, Peru, and Ecuador.

When asked about her favorite dog and/or cat at the Sanctuary, Connie says that she has a soft spot for Maria because she was Grover’s pen mate when he was at CFC.  She is also very fond of Scotch and Cosmo, those furry dogs in black.  She adds that all of these canines would be loving and loyal companions!

Come visit Caring for Creatures and you can meet Maria, Scotch, and Cosmo!  You might even see Connie walking or washing dogs, doing dishes, or helping in any way needed.  Before you come out, you can always check out the creatures at

Susan and Scotch at Hump Back Park

Susan and Scotch at Hump Back Park

Susan Blakeney has been a tireless volunteer at Caring for Creatures since 2007.   You’ll see her at CFC running/walking dogs at a rate that is hard to keep up with, and behind the camera taking photos of dogs.  She is involved with the (new and exciting) Sanctuary web page, providing many of the photos that are included with the pet bios available to potential adopters, as well as other behind the scenes work.

Susan has played an invaluable role at CFC by fostering pets for Caring for Creatures.  These have included a mom with newborn kittens, kittens who need to be bottle fed, kittens who are extremely shy and almost feral, and special needs dogs.  Fostering makes such a difference in getting these pets adoption ready!

Susan has a very active role with numerous very special animals, working with Caring for Creatures and rescue organizations in New England to save these dogs and cats from euthanasia at high kill shelters.

Lucky for Caring for Creatures, Susan and her husband David relocated to this area in 2007 from South Carolina.  She stumbled upon CFC and our very persuasive Sue Scott trained Susan to be a dog walker and (in Susan’s words), “did a great job luring me in for the long haul.  Thank you Sue!”

For Susan, the best part about volunteering at CFC is the pets.  In her own words, “We are all in it for the pets, and each and every one in their own special way, is SO grateful and loving and appreciative.  It is frankly an honor to be around all of these wonderful, kind hearted souls.  I am humbled by them.”

Susan has two favorite dogs, but they both think they are the one, so please don’t tell them that there is another one.  Susan has been fostering Scotch, age 7, since January.  Scotch was a very energetic fellow, but almost immediately upon coming into Susan’s home, he became a well behaved, gracious pet.  He is ready to be adopted and will bring someone great joy!  Paulie is Susan’s other favorite.  He can be bossy and ill-behaved but Susan and other CFC staff and volunteers are working very hard to change Paulie.  He also would make a great companion for someone who could guide and understand him.

Susan spends her limited free time running with Scotch on trails in state parks and, during the winter, snowboarding.  In addition to David (human) and Scotch (foster dog), Susan also lives with three cats, Mikey (CFC alum, adopted in April) and Isabelle (adopted from CFC), and Ruthie (adopted from the shelter in South Carolina).

Come out to CFC and meet Susan and Scotch and Paulie, or you can check them out at


Sue Scott has been a dedicated volunteer at Caring for Creatures since 2005.  She is a faithful and tireless dog walker, volunteers at adoption events and craft fairs, and is well known for the Holiday Gift Bags she creates and sells every holiday season on behalf of Caring for Creatures.

For Sue, walking dogs entails much more than just a walk.  She also provides socialization, plays with the animals, and bathes them. The pooches all know they can count on Sue for regular walks and lots of love!

Sue’s work at adoption events and craft fairs has many goals, including spreading the word about the Sanctuary, seeking donations, sharing her knowledge about the dogs up for adoption, and selling hand crafted items made by other volunteers.

Sue heads up the popular Holiday Gift Bag fundraiser. The $5-donation dog bags include a bandana and either a rope toy or a tennis ball, along with snacks.  The cat gift bag includes homemade catnip pouches with fresh catnip, toys and snacks.  The bags are available at pet shops, veterinarian offices, and many local businesses in Fluvanna and Charlottesville.   This is a great fundraiser for Caring for Creatures.  With the help of other hardworking volunteers, Sue raises a minimum of $5,000 through this campaign every year!

It was back in 2005, that Sue saw a notice seeking volunteers for an animal sanctuary.  As described, it combined her lifelong interest in volunteer work with her love of animals so she decided to give it a try.  She has loved every minute and has convinced many of her friends to join her at the Sanctuary.  What Sue loves most is seeing a frightened, abandoned animal learn to trust and enjoy a safe and happy life while residing at the Sanctuary.

Sue Scott was born in the Bronx, lived in New York for her first 29 years, in Connecticut after that, and has been in Virginia for 13 years and counting.    She lives with her husband, Bob, who is also a CFC volunteer.  They have been married for 47 years and share their Lake Monticello home with Macey, the third dog she has adopted from Caring for Creatures.  In addition to her volunteer work, Sue and Bob enjoy traveling and visiting National and State Parks with their grandsons!

Asked who her current favorite CFC dog and/or cat is, Sue talks about Kia, a 15 year old dog who has been at the Sanctuary since a very large emergency rescue undertaken by Caring for Creature in 2005.  She describes Kia as “a bit shy, but full of love, tail wags and belly rub cravings.  She is polite and a good leash walker who has waited all these years for a home of her own and that special person to love.” Come meet Sue at Caring for Creatures, and you can meet Kia, too.  They’ll be glad to see you!

MCRUDERS_with cats_aug2014 (1024x815) (800x637) CCraig and Cheryl McGruder love the 150 cats and kittens who reside at Caring for Creatures. They have been enthusiastic volunteers for 10 years.  In the beginning, they volunteered the first Monday of each month, cleaning one of the rooms at the Scratching Post.  They helped the staff as they got to know and love the cats.  Eventually once a month was not enough and they started coming every Monday.

It is almost impossible to name the number and variety of tasks and projects that Craig and Cheryl have undertaken for CFC.  They do laundry (and put up a clothes line to help with this task) and dishes (no small task with 150 felines).  They have replaced the countertop surfaces in each cat room.  They built cat steps and benches and patio tables.  They had a Memory Garden constructed in honor of their parents, which provides a wonderful place for everyone to enjoy the peaceful Sanctuary that is Caring for Creatures.

The McGruders clean the leukemia positive room, which contains, in their words, “some of the most awesome cats at CFC. Watching them play and zip around the room is so rewarding and even if we have them for only a short time we know they are safe, warm, well fed, and loved without limits.”

Craig McGruder was born in Richmond and grew up in Henrico County.  Cheryl moved to Henrico County when she was very young.  They met in high school and married in 1969.  They have lived in Goochland County since 1977. They got to know Caring for Creatures initially when they were volunteering with a small cat rescue group in Richmond.  They had a FIV+ kitty named Mr. T and CFC agreed to accept him.  They were so impressed with the Sanctuary and its mission that they promised themselves that they would volunteer at CFC when they retired (a promised they kept!).

When asked about their favorite part of volunteering at Caring for Creatures, Cheryl responds, “The feeling I have at the end of the day that we have helped in some small way.  Mary is such an amazing woman that you just want to help in any way you can.”  Craig adds, “Interacting with all the different kitty personalities.  We mourn when one passes and we celebrate when they go to their forever loving homes.”  They both love watching a shy, scared and sometimes terrified cat realize that everything is going to be OK.  Seeing that stark fear leave their eyes to be replaced by trust and love is so rewarding.  They also have met some very special humans at CFC.

When they are not at the Sanctuary, Craig and Cheryl live with 9 very spoiled kitties ranging in age from 4 to 15.  They also foster a very petite 4 year old FIV+ kitty from CFC named Porsche as she recovers from dental surgery.  Five of their cats were adopted from CFC and four were rescues from Richmond.  Sitting in their sun room reading the Sunday paper surrounded by these wonderful creatures is one of their favorite activities.

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