Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
The dog doesn't have a mean bone in his body, but he's freaking HUGE! He nearly knocked me down standing up on me to lick my face. The only time he gets out of the kennel is when he has escaped. He sits on command for a treat, but he's never been on a leash. His vaccines had expired because she couldn't get him to the vet's office. I'm quite sure she could not control him. I had a hell of a time doing so myself and getting him into the van was a wrestling match. Thankfully, Chance has a wonderful temperament, and he had some basic training at one time, but there has been no exercise or stimulation for this dog for far too long.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Baron is a wonderful dog. He was buddies with Bear (See, A Solstice Miracle, below) when I had them both. Baron came to us from the Culpeper shelter and he had a badly injured tail, which we had removed at the same time he was neutered. So Baron was tail-less, had tipped ears, and a bit of a prey drive, so he took a long time to be adopted. But it often seems that those who take the longest find the best homes. Baron's family writes:
"Just writing to wish you a merry christmas and wishing a happy new year. I hope all is fine and you are doing well, Baron and Crystal also says merry christmas to you, they are doing very well also. Thanks again for such a wonderful boy, we love him very much."
Laredo (formerly known as J.D.), is a beautiful golden retriever. Laredo's family didn't send a digital picture this time, instead, they had this portait made and wrote:
"My family loves me so much that they had this portrait painted of me by students at Very Specials Arts. All the best, J.D. (a.k.a. Laredo)
Here is Samson, the dog with pneumonia featured in my first blog posting. His adopter writes:
"Happy Holidays and peace to you, all the pups, your partner and family! Peace to all from Celia and Dax, who are anxiously awaiting Santa so they can bark at him as he comes down the chimney!"
Thursday, December 25, 2008
What I don't understand is people for whom size is a prohibiting factor. I encounter people who say, "Oh, I can't possibly have a big dog like that in the house." That is very puzzling to me. The biggest dog I've ever had is still far smaller than the average adult. If the dog is too big to be in the house, how can their husbands, children, and friends be allowed in there? What is really behind this prejudicial attitude is the idea that large dog = outside dog, and small dog = lap dog; big dog = mean, scary, and small dog = warm and cuddly. None of this makes any sense to me, or to Jeep, the hound sitting in my lap in the picture above, or to Codi, the shepherd climbing into my lap at left, or to Bremo, the 90+ pound rottie mix sprawled on Clay's lap, (below left), or to Kate, snuggled up against me, (below right).
I think my time and foster space is better used for larger dogs, because there are fewer people willing and able to take them in. Fortunately, they are also what I enjoy having around. When I take in a foster, I plan on having them for as long as it takes for them to be adopted.
When it comes to rescue work, small dogs are much easier to place. There is a bigger pool of potential adopters, although that is based on several common misconceptions, such as the idea that a small dog doesn't need much exercise or that a small dog will be better with children.
I once took a hound mix named Truman to meet a nice family with 3 or 4 little kids. They ran all over the basement chasing the dog, screaming that shrill, ear-piercing noise that only little girls can make. The dog didn't only tolerate it, he loved it. But, the parents thought he was too big for the smallest child to walk. Now, the smallest child was incapable of walking any dog, of any size. They ended up buying a small breed dog. It was a terrier breed, not known for tolerance, and the little dog nipped the kid and ended up being dumped. They should have bought a stuffed dog if all they wanted was a toy. Stupid people.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
A week later, she delivered 10 puppies. She was new at this and so were we; she had no interest in being a mom, but a great interest in being our dog. Only 6 pups survived, but that was all she could handle even with inexpert help from Clay and me. We adopted one of the pups ourselves, known as Fuzzy Bear when he was a pup, and now called Bremo.
I wanted to keep Maggie, and she wanted to stay. She was fiercely loyal, fast, friendly, and playful. There was nothing not to like about Maggie. Gypsy, however, had other ideas. Gypsy is our alpha female, and her picture should be in the dictionary next to the word "bitch." Now, I love Gypsy; she is my girl and I'd do anything for her. She feels the same way about me. The only thing she wouldn't do for me is share my attention with another female. She hated Maggie and made it very clear that there would not be two female dogs in our household. The female shepherd/rottweiler match up was not a fight I wanted to be involved in, so I knew that we had to find a home for Maggie.
I was having some back problems at the time and was seeing a physical therapist named Laura who was engaged to another therapist named Eric. Both were young, active, and tall (long legs are essential for keeping up with Maggie), an ideal home for Maggie. They adopted Maggie and later moved to upstate New York. However, they have sent me christmas card photos of Maggie every year and it is the one thing I truely look forward to at christmas time. Maggie is getting some years on her now, and I realize that her pup, our Bremo, is soon to be 8 years old himself.
We've taken in, fostered, and adopted out hundreds of dogs since Maggie and her litter of pups. All those dogs owe a debt to Maggie, and even to Gypsy, who prevented us from keeping Maggie. I always tell people the story of Maggie and Gypsy when they ask how I can stand to give up a foster dog. Like many people who foster, I didn't want to give up my first foster dog, but I had to. Once I realized that I could take in a dog, love it as my own, and still adopt it out, it made me realize that fostering was a possibility. I couldn't be happier about the home and life that Maggie has had with Laura and Eric, and seeing her smiling face each year, if only in a photo, makes it all worthwhile.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
This miracle child is a rottweiler named Bear, or Care Bear as I like to call him. He came to me over a year ago from the Fluvanna SPCA. He had "shut down" in the shelter and had to get out. It wasn't long before I discovered that Bear had serious issues being handled and restrained by people. We had some wrestling matches in a vet's office with a vet who would have preferred to euthanize rather than treat the dog. However, although Bear would fight restraint, he did so only in an effort to escape, not to harm. If he had been out to hurt me, I would not be here writing this, or anything, today. He's a big, powerful dog, but he just needed training and socialization.
Still, I couldn't risk taking him to outings where every kid in town (and most of their parents) feel that it's appropriate to reach into a cage and touch or pull on any part of any dog they can reach.
Bear settled in at my place, where he loved running in the pasture, playing in the water, and really loved playing long distance fetch with a tennis ball. Bear taught Baron and me how to play "Mower Ball" -- I'd ride on the mower and throw a tennis ball in the recently-mowed pasture; he'd bring it back to me on the next pass. He quickly learned to drop the ball close enough for me to reach it, but not in the path of the mower. This would go on until the pasture was done, or until I ran out of gas.
He came to trust me and learned to take food out of my hand and even to wait patiently until given a signal to go after his food. He was actually rather sensitive to a stern voice and really wanted to please. He also proved to be as smart as only a rottie can be. Still, I was aware that although Bear would listen to me and let me handle him, that would not necessarily translate to other people.
Good rottweiler adopters are few and far between, and those willing to take on a potentially tough dog are virtually non-existent. I'm not sure I had any inquiries about Bear in all the time I had him, until one day a couple weeks ago.
Rick and Donna wrote that they needed a friend for their female Doberman who was missing her companion who had died a while back. I doubted that they, or anyone, would be right for Bear, but I told them his story and they said all the right things and still wanted to meet him.
Rick is serious about security for his home and his dogs, with a very secure fence, barbed wire on top, and an electric wire on the bottom to prevent digging out. Their dogs are housetrained, but also have freedom to run and play in a large, very secure, yard. Bear made a big impression on the first day by demonstrating his ability to open the gate of the kennel. He topped that by opening a car door and jumping in back, and then opened the back door to the house, ran inside, and laid down by the sofa!
When Bear growled at Rick's initial attempt to handle him, Rick's reaction was simply: "Oh, I guess I have to earn the right to do that." It was the perfect reaction and demonstrated an understanding of the dog and a willingness to earn the dog's trust. When I went back a week later to complete the adoption, Bear was as happy as I've ever seen him. He was already desensitized to being handled by Rick and Donna; the two dogs are playing together; and Bear was well on the way to learning house manners.
Bear was not the dog for everyone, but he deserved a new home, and he found it. We should be very happy for Bear. Good night Bear.
p.s. This was written a couple years ago. Bear is still doing well and has been joined in his new home by a new rottie mix named Lady. Unfortunately, Rick recently died. He was a wonderful, fun-loving man, and he is greatly missed. He has the best possible seat in doggie heaven where he has been reunited with his prior canine friends. We can only hope to join him one day.
Friday, December 19, 2008
When a dog comes into the shelter with ringworm, they like to get them out and into foster care. It avoids contamination and spread of the disease to others and it frees up space. Ringworm is entirely curable, but it takes time. Spending 6 or more weeks in isolation in the shelter is rough on the dogs and it takes up valuable space.
I often take in foster dogs with ringworm because I have a facility where they can be kept separated from other dogs. Quite often I get entire litters of puppies with ringworm, or suspected ringworm. This gives me a chance to have puppies every once in a while, which is often enough.
Ringworm is contagious between dogs and even from dogs to people. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about it. First, it's not a worm at all, it's a fungal infection of the skin. It is common on dogs who come out of very unsanitary conditions. Improving the dog's living conditions goes a long way towards addressing the problem. Although it is contagious, it is not to be feared like the plague. I do limit my cuddle time with an infected dog until they've had a couple of treatments. I've never picked up the infection myself, however, nor have any of my other dogs. A dog (or person) that is clean, dry, and basically in good health shouldn't have much to worry about.
Julie had a pretty bad case of ringworm and you can see the patches of hair loss, although they are beginning to grow back in. The treatment is a lyme/sulphur dip that smells terrible, but it sure works.
I'm always glad to have more than one ringworm dog at a time so they have some company. Philly is particularly playful and would be miserable if she didn't have Julie to chew on, play with, and cuddle next to at night. These girls have had three treatments so far and I'm hoping they are clear of the disease so they can move on soon to a permanent home.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
He certainly looks happy and content, and that is what this is all about.
Destiny is also doing well. She is a constant companion to her new owner and she is getting the love, care, and treatment that she needs. She has a grooming service that comes to her and she is getting a medicated bath every other week as well as an aloe treatment for her skin. She greets strangers with a big wag of the tail. She didn't make a sound for the first several days, but once she settled in she decided that the printer ejecting paper needed to be barked at. Destiny has a home in the country as well, which she reportedly enjoyed last weekend.All dogs deserve great homes, but after what this dog has gone through, she deserves the very best, and she has it.
Diego is now called Tevya. His owners take him to the dog park almost every day because he enjoys it. (I love people who cater to their dogs' desires.) This was not an easy dog in the beginning. He tore up a number of things, including a nice, new, big bed that his owner had got for him. But they hung in there, he has settled down, and has turned into a wonderful dog. He prefers sleeping with a pillow. He has the happiest, goofiest, smile on his face at all times.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Yesterday was a wintry, rainy, muddy day. I'm not sure how many inches we got, but my fire pit is full of water and the dog yards are a muddy mess. If it had been cold enough to fall as snow, it would have been a big one.
Everyone hunkers down in the rain. The inside dogs stay indoors and get bored. The outside dogs stay mostly in the outbuildings, venturing out only to do their business or for a quick romp when the rain lightens up. Consequently, on the day after rain, everyone is full of pent up energy and ready to run. Most dogs aren't bothered by mud, and it shows, on them, on me, in the house, in the kennels. If it's winter, it must be mud.
So I'm off to buy more straw. It's the best thing I've found for turning a mud pit into an inhabitable environment. The dogs love it too. They love to roll in it, play in it, and on a sunny day it's the nicest place to stretch out and enjoy an afternoon nap.