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Mission Accomplished

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

A wonderful ending to SchwingState's 2020 #MissionFromDog Project in a unexpectedly difficult year that sucked ... (and in some ways, thankfully didn't).

Dave and I have been pet-less for long time. We adore animals, but it was important to us that any new member of our family find us.

And in 2020, he did. This laugh-out-loud funny, one-year-old, golden-yellow Lab mix waltzed right into our homes and hearts (and campsite) just before Thanksgiving. You may have seen him on Instagram in the past few weeks?

We know little about his background, only that he was abandoned at a shelter in Texas after a couple divorced, and that his name was Leo or Louie.

In the shelter Louie was petrified, soiled himself leaving or entering an area, and was extremely afraid, of men in particular. Louie's shelter guardians were worried he would go to an adopter who may not be willing or able to work with his fears. A few adoption applications came in for Louie, but knowing how scared he was the shelter was determined to get him into the hands of a reliable rescue organization where this scared dog could get the specialized care he so obviously needed.

That's when Kristine Ray and Brooke Grey at Mile High Lab Mission stepped in. Brooke and Kristine saw something special in this terrified pup's eyes. Kristine and Brooke agreed to accept Louie into MHLM's program, and found a home in Texas to take him in temporarily. A kind volunteer named Jill welcomed this trembling dog inside her Houston home, gave him a place to relax for a few weeks, and provided Louie much-needed time to decompress.

MHLM then arranged for transport from Houston to Denver and looked for a foster in Colorado. Kristine and Brooke knew whoever it was must be extremely patient and understand what they might be getting into.

Louie's foster? Ended up being us.

I had been volunteering for MHLM helping with adoption efforts with Mission from Dog promotions and fundraising for awhile, but Dave and I had never fostered before.

2020 was rough, and a year that called for creating more bright spots in it. So we decided to give fostering a try.

Kristine cautioned us that Louie might be difficult, especially for first-timers. After a long consultation and conversation, MHLM agreed to entrust him in our care.

I drove to Foothills Animal Shelter on a unusually warm November morning to pick Louie up. After a 22-hour overnight drive along with 12 other dogs, he arrived. Louie was the last dog to be unloaded. His transporter was a nice young man who gently carried Louie out of the van, setting his four quivering paws onto Colorado soil for the first time.

Louie was shaking like a leaf, and as advertised, peeing a river.

His transporter and I gave Louie a few minutes to collect himself. After a short while the two of us managed to carefully lift him into the back of my car. There Louie rolled into a tight ball, tucked his snout between his paws, and tried his best to become invisible.

I drove as slowly as I could to Edgewater, then opened the back hatch to welcome him into his Colorado foster home. Louie peered out shaking and wouldn't budge. He was scared, he was exhausted, and he was absolutely done with this day.

So, Louie and I decided to stay in the car with the hatch up and just sit in the sun. I passed the time making work calls. At some point Louie started to breathe calmly. After a few hours had passed, Dave came home from work to meet Louie for the first time.

DAVE. BROUGHT. TREATS. Tons of them!

Dave decided to persuade Louie out of the car by dotting a long line of nibbles and chews from the tailgate right through our back gate.

No dice. No way. Louie was not moving, no matter how scrumptious a pathway was laid out for him.

By the time the winter sun was just about to set, Louie finally felt safe enough to make a slow two-foot slide out of the car onto the ground. He then cautiously stepped into a welcoming backyard changing his life, and ours.

Louie came to Colorado with a mountain of fear, but was a sweet dog eager to learn. The chemistry worked. As freshly-minted foster parents we were patient and teachable, too. After a few days gaining Louie's trust and getting him comfortable in our Edgewater home, Dave and I decided to stretch his limits a bit and take him to visit our other home, the camper.

Surprisingly, the trip went brilliantly.

Louie came alive in the desert, instantly became his joyful dog self. Darting around like a greyhound, leaping to greet motorcycles returning from rides, enthusiastically playing with new friends of the human, canine, and even feline kind! Pictured above are his camping pals, Bishop, Whistler, and Driggs the Camping Cat.

Louie was clearly HOME in the great outdoors and loved learning how to be a dog with all his brave new friends.

After our very first trip together Dave and I decided to adopt Louie, and "foster-failed" in record time. We decided to honor the newest member of our family with the name of his birthplace of sorts, Cisco Utah.

As I sign off writing this blog post, Cisco is under my desk snoring. He's sleeping off a raucous play-date with his city neighbor, Mae. Mae is an adorable, feisty black Lab a few months younger than Cisco, with paws twice his size. Mae and Cisco became fast friends. Mae quietly steals all of Cisco's Kong toys when he's not looking and Cisco doesn't seem to mind a bit.

They all seem to get replaced ... somehow.



Cisco's Canine Care Package FREE with any $20.21 donation (or more!) to MHLM

Cisco wants to encourage everyone to help MHLM save more dogs, so he's hosting his 1st Annual Mile High Lab-a-thon. Donate $20.21 or more to Mile High Lab Mission and get:

ONE sporty pair of SCHWINGSOX to rock on all your adventures,

EARLY-BIRD SUPER BONUS: Be one of the first 10 people to donate and get a delightful pawprint mask hand-sewn by renowned Denver textile artist Jill Mustoffa.

That's easily a $65 value for just $20 to ring in 2021 safely, stylishly best of all, helping dogs who need a second chance. To claim yours before they're all gone, email a copy of your donation receipt to and include your mailing address. Cisco and I will set you up with all the goods faster than he can chase down a motorcycle. (That's REALLY, REALLY FAST.) Cisco and MHLM appreciate your support, and ask you to follow Mile High Lab Mission on Instagram where you can get to know adorable, adoptable dogs all year long. (While you're there, catch all Cisco's great outdoor adventures using the hashtag #CiscoDog!)

Michelle Schwinghammer is a REALTOR®, Certified Negotiation Expert® and Pricing Strategy Advisor® who helps people buy and sell in all price ranges across the greater Denver metropolitan area.



Schwingstate, LLC, 5440 Ward Rd #110, Arvada, CO 80002

(303) 638-8711,

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