If you have ever been the guardian of a pit bull, you know how quickly and seamlessly they become the "baby" of the family. Mocha, Rescue Chocolate’s mascot and source of inspiration, came into my life 11 years ago. She was my insta- and perma-companion, best friend, and 45-pound “baby.” When my boyfriend (now husband) came into our lives a few months after her adoption, Mocha’s position as spoiled and adored child was cemented.
Through the years we watched as she ignored, or worse, growled at young children. We were confident in our ability to keep neighborhood children separate from our Mocha, but less sure, ten years down the line, how she might react to our own soon-to-arrive baby.
We bought books (“Good Dog, Happy Baby”), scheduled a pack of dog trainer sessions, and blindly hoped that with Mocha spending much of the day and night right by my side she could sense the baby growing. Mocha would cuddle me so close that she should have felt some of the baby’s movements.
During Mocha’s training sessions, the trainer instantly earned Mocha’s trust and started teaching her to heel, sit, and stay like a champ. Mocha learned that “Place!” meant she had to go to her doggie bed and wait patiently for the next command. Mocha was smart enough to catch on quickly, and she could perform almost perfectly during the training sessions. But it all went out the window in real life.
When I was 9 months pregnant, a friend and her small child came over for a visit. Mocha was practically rabid as she tried to break free from her crate and pounce on the tiny invader.
After all those weeks of sessions, the trainer cautioned that we would never be able to fully trust our dog with children. We all agreed that it wouldn’t be safe to let Mocha anywhere near the baby, and our hearts sank.
Coming home from the maternity ward, I had Mocha on the mind. I wanted this introduction to be perfect. If only Mocha could smell this tiny human and understand that he came from her two favorite humans, mom and dad, all could work out.
I knew foremost that we needed to "go slow” with the introduction. But in my impatient mind, I could only see "go slow" as a directive for one to two hours, or at most a couple of days, and then a couple of weeks. In reality, after a month went by in which I was consumed by care of my human child during all hours of the day and night, and seeing that there was no break in the Mocha situation, I began to desperately consider Mocha’s options. Keeping her crated or tethered to the stair bannister at all hours was no way to live.
A lot of people, with the best of intentions, urged us to re-home our dog. What if we slipped just once and Mocha managed to get loose? And what would happen once the baby became mobile and crawled into Mocha’s space, or picked up Mocha’s toys?
We contemplated sending Mocha to live with various family members, who were all out of state. But none of them were equipped to add a challenging (aka not good with every human and creature that crossed her path) canine to their households. And we couldn’t possibly send her off to strangers, or worse: back to the kill shelter from which she had been rescued.
With no better choices at hand, we took no action. We waited. Then, somehow, a change did in fact occur.
One day, Mocha was leashed to an immovable object and sitting on the couch while I sat with the baby a few feet away. Mocha ignored us, or pretended to. I have a feeling she was gathering all of the information she could through sniffing the air. And observing our every move, out of the corner of her eye. She was showing that she was ready to stay with this family, being calm and appropriately disinterested in this wiggly new tiny human.
We gradually tried new scenarios. Perhaps Mocha would be sitting on one end of the couch, next to my husband who kept a hand on her collar, next to me, and the baby was attached to me on my other side. I’d be ready to run for the hills at the first sound of a growl. But that never happened.
As the baby’s motor skills have grown and he’s been given some control over his meals, Mocha has been all too pleased to sit directly beneath his feet at meal times. This little human now shares her glee as she runs around vacuuming up all the food morsels that he tosses out down to her.
As the days tick on, Mocha is getting slower and the baby is getting quicker, therefore we will always keep the two under supervision. However, I am so glad we gave Mocha the time to show she could be trusted. She deserves, and we are so grateful, to have her live out her golden years with her adoring adoptive family.
Devotees of Shark Tank are familiar with the question quivering entrepreneurs are often asked: what makes your product so special and unique that somebody else couldn’t just copy it and offer it for a few cents less, putting you out of business?
In our heads, we shout back the answer in Rescue Chocolate’s case. Try it! Because that would mean even more money in the pockets of animal rescue organizations, which is our dream. (Besides, we don’t think anyone else could quite duplicate our scrumptious flavors, so we’re not going anywhere.)
Over the years, we’ve seen the rise of companies replicating our model. We LOVE that their missions include a donation component for the animals. Here are some of our favorites:
The Little Pine Restaurant in Silver Lake, California is a 100% organic vegan bistro, created by the musician Moby. It offers brunch, dinner, and afternoon tea, with all proceeds going to animal welfare organizations.
Sew Craftie is an ultra-creative little operation based in Flint, Texas. Proceeds from the sale of their quilts, dresses, Easter baskets, microwave mitts, kitchen towels, and other handmade items are donated to the SPCA of East Texas.
The Tree Kisser shop and blog are run by designer Jessica Schlueter. She donates 10% of her sales to the Love Infinitely Project Animal Fund, which in turn disperses money to animal rescue or advocacy organizations. Patrons can pick up tees, tanks, sweatshirts, totes, gift cards, and more.
Top naming honors go to Grounds & Hounds Coffee Company, where “every pound saves a hound.” The coffee is, of course, fair-trade and organic. The company’s donations are earmarked for no-kill rescue organizations which provide safe havens for pups between homes.
Hendrick & Company has partnered with more than 600 shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries across America to help animals in need. The donations come from sales of the company’s jewelry, apparel, accessories, and pet products. Founded by David Hendrickson, the business is based in Orange County, California.
Organic Wine Lounge (OWL) began as a vegan-friendly wine brand, but it has now morphed into a fashion brand as well. A portion of the proceeds from every sale go to animal rescue groups.
Sticking with wine, there’s the Cru Vin Dogs Wine Group. A dollar from each bottle sold online goes to one of the company’s Loyal Companion animal shelter or rescue group partners. Just a few of the organizations on the list include Freedom Service Dogs, Guardians of Rescue, Western Border Collie Rescue, and Adopt a Lab.
For non-alcoholic liquid refreshment, check out Margo’s Bark. This company makes an all-natural cane sugar-based root beer, and all profits go toward helping shelter dogs. There are tee shirts and hoodies too.
Greener Pup makes eco-friendly dog and cat beds whose fillings are made out of 100% recycled plastic. Profits are donated to the Ace of Hearts Foundation which is dedicated to rescuing dogs the day they are scheduled to be euthanized and finding them permanent, loving homes.
In keeping with the animal-products-for-animal-donations theme, there’s WoofTags. The company offers colorful and differently shaped ID tags that won’t wear out as quickly as the more common vending-machine variety. All of the company’s profits are devoted to helping homeless dogs and cats.
Finally, getting super close to home, we’d like to mention Safe Harbor Confections which donates all profits to animal welfare organizations, just like we do. And, just like us, they purvey handcrafted dark chocolate made in small batches. However, they differ from Rescue Chocolate in that they do offer non-vegan products as well.
If you know of any other companies in the animal rescue category that haven’t made our list, please let us know about them so that we can be sure to support them all. This is one area where we definitely don’t want to crush the competition!
As most animal rescuers know, love at first sight is real. There’s no way to prove it scientifically, but we’ve all experienced it.
Of course all the pooches and kitties pull at your heartstrings as they press their noses through the wire cages at the shelter. But there’s that one, the little one (or the big one) in the corner, with the white (or black, or brown) fur, and the sweetest hazel (or black or brown) eyes, and the floppy (or straight) ears…. That’s the ONE who grabs your heart, paralyzes your legs, constricts your lungs, scrambles your brain--and suddenly you’re hopelessly in love.
We want every visitor to the shelter to get that feeling, and act on it. The adoption form is filled out in a flash, the forever home is prepared, and we rejoice.
But what happens when that certain furry someone attracts more than a single suitor? What if there are two or three or more adoptive families vying for the same animal? Unfortunately, we’ve all seen a lot of this phenomenon too. One animal and adopter is the winner, and the human losers slink off, perhaps never to cross the threshold of the shelter ever again.
It’s a shame, because all the animals who didn’t manage to catch an adopter’s eye are still there and still so worthy of finding good, loving homes.
So it’s high time to publicize the existence of other unscientific but completely real forces in the universe: “Love at Second Sight.” And “Love at Third Sight.” Even “Love at 47th Sight.” Or however many sightings it takes!
The truth is that love doesn’t always arrive in a blinding flash. Sometimes it takes a few get-to-know-you visits, taking place over a series of days or weeks or months. Sometimes the spark of attraction doesn’t ignite for awhile. But when it finally does leap into flames, it is just as passionate and blissful as spontaneous combustion, or even more so.
We wish we could tell everyone shopping at shelters: If your first love has already gone… yay! You now have an opportunity to fall in love all over again, and save another life. Give ‘em all another look.
Any one of those animals can be the best, most lovable companion ever.
Rescue is always right, right? Not necessarily. We have learned that sometimes a group will call itself an animal rescue when in fact it is a backyard breeding operation, pure and simple. And dog- and cat-breeding is the last thing we would ever want to support!
For the first several years of Rescue Chocolate’s existence, we prided ourselves on supporting any rescue group that came to our attention. If the group wished to partner with us on fundraising, we were happy to oblige. We offered $1 back for each product purchased by their members on our website. We also sold our products in bulk to them at below-wholesale rates for Girl Scout cookie-type drives. We didn’t ask for proof of 5013(c) status—the Internal Revenue Service’s benchmark for a non-profit organization. Instead, we trusted that animal rescuers were good-hearted souls, with or without the legal paperwork.
But we changed our policy when we learned how easy it is for conniving people to christen themselves with a cute animal-oriented moniker and then sell to the unsuspecting public their “rescued” kittens and puppies—animals which they purposely bred in often inhumane conditions, á la puppy mills. This deviousness runs counter to everything we believe!
Now we are careful to insure that the groups we support are legitimate rescues. The 501c(3) status is helpful. We also investigate how long the group has been around, what its website looks like, how active it is on social media, and the strength of its track record in placing truly homeless animals. We still want to be able to assist small, grassroots groups. But we know our customers want the assurance that we are only donating to animal heroes, not animal exploiters.
We hope that when you are ready to adopt, you will do your homework as well. Make sure the group from which you are acquiring your new best friend is in fact the rescue that it purports to be. If there is a ragtag bunch of puppies in crates on a street corner, and a rough “Cutie’s Rescue” sign tacked up somewhere nearby, be suspicious. When the clues are not quite that obvious, it is important to do due diligence.
The quickest way to put unscrupulous breeders out of business is not to patronize them. That’s one more strategy in our arsenal for achieving no-kill status nationwide!
We love finding the names of rescue groups in the Note field of our online orders, because that means we have the opportunity to send out special donations.
For those who don’t know, one of the ways we partner with animal rescue groups for fundraising is our write-in program. The groups urge their members, supporters, co-workers, friends, and family to purchase Rescue Chocolate online, typing in the name of the group with which they are affiliated. We count up the products in those orders and donate $1 per product to the group at the end of every month.
We value each group that participates. But, here are a few we’d especially like to highlight:
If you’ve got a favorite animal rescue organization with plenty of busy social networkers and chocolate-eaters, let us add it to our roster of fundraising partners!