A few days before the end of 2012, we got an e-mail from Animal Friends, a fine shelter in Pittsburgh, not so far from us. In it was a link to a video about an old dog named Chance. He was found wandering as a stray, identified as one of their alumni and brought to the shelter. There, they discovered that he had actually been adopted out from the shelter some time earlier. Checking with the original adopter, the people at Animal Friends found that Chance had been given to another family. Checking with the new owners, Animal Friends got the word: Chance was too old and sick and too much trouble. No one would be coming to claim him.

The Animal Friends people did all they could to make Chance comfortable and to find him a family. They succeeded in making him comfortable. They failed to find him a family. When the time came, they sent him on his final journey with love and dignity.

The staff of Animal Friends are good and caring people, and they did all in their power, but the fact is that the average shelter is all noise and activity. It's no place for old, sick dogs with special needs.

And that's why 2013 will see us continuing – accelerating, we hope – our efforts to open Scarlett's House, our planned sanctuary and hospice for old dachshunds.

We've been telling you about Scarlett's House since last September, and you've been generous with your direct financial support, your participation in our eBay raffles and your words of encouragement. Now that the holiday season is over, and we are (almost) recovered, we want you to know that we will be doing our best to keep this project at the front of your minds.

We know that we will never have a huge operation, and that's fine. Our aim is to give some sweet, white-faced dachshunds the chance to be happy in their last days on this earth. And at the same time, we can free up space in shelters and foster homes.

The work of Scarlett's House promises to be both back-breaking and heart-breaking. We know that, and we accept the burden gladly. With the help of our friends, we hope that the work won't be budget-breaking, too.

P.S. Speaking of the holidays, and almost recovering from them, we want to say thanks to all of you who ordered and were willing to deal with our early deadlines for custom-made items. With one key staff member fresh from shoulder surgery, and another whose husband had a heart attack during our holiday rush, we seriously doubted that we could keep up, but when the last shipping day arrived, we got the last order out the door. Thanks for keeping us frazzled. We couldn't do it without you.

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