Monday, November 24, 2008

I hate holidays

Holidays are a pain in the ass. I've got 14 or so dogs to deal with, most by boarding. Aside from the cost, it means spending the day before we leave hauling dogs around to 2 or 3 different locations. Another day is lost on the other end of the trip getting them back. Plus there are meds and special foods to deal with, personality clashes dictating who can go where, instructions to give to various caregivers, all for a 4 or 5 day trip, most of which is spent on the road.

Anyone who thinks dogs love holidays is crazy. They either get boarded, left home alone, or at best, have their normal routines upset while strange humans invade their home and gorge themselves on food, little of which is shared. Household dogs get shoved outside, or to the basement, because some crazy relative is scared of dogs or is allergic. Holidays are hell on shelter dogs too. Many shelters euthanize everything possible to make it easy on their staff who must still come in to feed and clean. What a way to celebrate the apocryphal story about a fundamentalist christian cult who came to America and shared a meal with the indigenous populace before beginning their systematic genocide of those people.

And don't get me started on christmas. As the duck, Ferdinand, said in the movie "Babe": "Christmas means carnage." More dogs are euthanized for the xmas season than at any other time of year. I've even gotten calls about people wanting to dump their dogs because they don't want to board them when going out of town. I once spent a christmas home alone with the dogs. We went for a hike in a state forest. They ate dog food. I ate at 7-11. I'm sure it was the best christmas they ever had.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gainesville Adoption Event

Today was the bi-weekly VGSR adoption event at the Gainesville Petsmart. Because of the cold weather we were inside today. The dogs prefer it outside, it's not so crowded or stressful, and most of the volunteers prefer it as well. Inside the store with a group of German Shepherds, people, and shopping carts, things can get a little hectic. That is particularly stressful on Lyka (left), who doesn't handle stress or change particularly well. That is one thing she and I have in common. Lyka doesn't "show" very well at adoption events, but she is really a pretty good dog. She needs an active person (she's a car chaser if given half a chance), so she needs an outlet for that energy. She is smart, learns quickly, and will be a great dog for the right person.

Amy didn't last very long at the event today before she had to go back to the car. She's a grumpy old girl and she really likes to stay at home. Amy is a CASPCA foster (Amisha is her official name) and she is one that I'll probably have a long time. It is very tough to find an adopter for a senior dog. She'd make a great dog for an older person, however, or a couch potato of any age. She will roll over for a belly rub for absolutely anyone. That red coat and white socks are really pretty too. Amy has learned to get along with the other foster dogs here at home, but out in public she uses her "I'm-an-old-lady-stay-away-don't-bother-me" bark at every dog she meets.

Score and Max don't look like shepherds, I know. Score (right) is half shepherd, however, and is a VGSR dog. Max (left) is a chocolate lab I've got through Animal Connections. I often take one or more Animal Connections dogs to VGSR adoption events. The people looking at shepherds are at least looking for a large breed dog and occasionally some of them realize that a shepherd isn't really what they want or need. I can tell you that many shepherd adopters should be considering something, anything, other than a German Shepherd. So, I'm usually there with a lab, rottweiler, golden, or just a big mutt, in case they come to their senses. Shepherds are great dogs, but they are not for everybody. You must be smarter than the dog to own a German Shepherd. That eliminates a lot of potential applicants. Those people are better suited for labs.
Max and Score are close in age and IQ. They are buddies at home, but they were inseparable at the adoption event today. If either was out of site, they would be looking for each other and barking so that they were at least in audio contact. Often my fosters are like that with me at outings. Today, however, I could have been anywhere, they were only concerned about each other. No great prospects at today's event for any of my dogs, but it was good exposure for the chocolate lab and he did get some interest, so who knows? Maybe something good will come of it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


In addition to Hamlet, see post below, these five dogs were all adopted out in the past week. That is something of a record around here.

The Great Dane, Flirt, took quite a while to adopt because she wasn't terribly good with other dogs. In fact, she was a complete bitch. She would reach out with that long neck and take a bite at another dog if she got the chance. However, over the course of the months that she was here, she learned to accept other dogs and even to enjoy them.

The yellow lab mix, Sadie, was a short termer, she was here less than a week. Very nice, well behaved girl, went to a great home, as they all did.

Gummy Bear was a foster from the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, one of five I took in late this summer to make space when they were re-doing their floors. Her actual name was Gumdrop. Sweet girl, but what she really had going for her was the fact that she looked like a dog that so many people had at some point in their life.

The two long-haired shepherd boys were best friends when they were here. Hercules (on the right) loved to play ball and Victor (left) loved to chase Herc.

Hamlet's Sailing Day

Hamlet came to us several months ago from a shelter in southwest VA. This is redneck territory; it voted pretty solidly for Grampy McCain.

Hamlet arrived with a severe case of intestinal worms and with about twice as many years on him as had been represented to me. Pretty typical rottie--sweet, affectionate, always hungry. He got along well with the other fosters and was a pretty easy keeper.

Today I took him to his new home. A very cozy, dog-friendly place, a single woman who wants a buddy. There are two canine companions, a nice big fenced yard, and about 6 cats. Hamlet had been pretty good with cats we met at the SPCA last week, but living with them moving about the home is a different situation. He met several of them today, was interested, curious, but did not display any aggression. I suggested the use of a spay bottle, with lemon juice, to discourage any signs of interest beyond mere curiousity. It will be a fantastic home if it works out, but I always hold my breath for a while when there are cats involved.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Samson, a GSD with pneumonia

I've been planning to start this blog for a while, and had planned to start out with something heartwarming and cheery, but that's not the way the rescue world works, is it? Yes, there are bright moments, but they are too few and far between. Mostly, it's about dealing with sick, injured, neglected, or abandoned dogs.

Samson, the German Shepherd Dog shown here, was dumped in a shelter at about 1.5 years of age by an owner who "didn't have time" for the dog (this is a classic excuse, we will get to them all in later posts). People convince themselves that they are doing their dog a favor by taking him from the only home he's ever known and dumping him in a strange and scary environment in the hope that he will find a new home. In Samson's case, the owner had probably paid a good sum of money for the dog and had had him since he was a pup. When he was dumped at the shelter Samson shut down, withdrew, stressed out, and got sick. This was not a bad shelter, but some dogs just don't do well even in very good shelters. When I got him to a vet a couple days out of the shelter he weighed only 63 pounds (down from over 80 a few months ago), was running a fever, and had a case of pneumonia.

And yet, Samson was a lucky one. The shelter staff tried to help and they tried to get him out. Because of his breed, his age, his looks, he got out of the shelter and into a foster home. When the pneumonia is cleared up and he gains some weight, he will be a handsome and highly adoptable dog. I'll be fending off requests from marginally qualified people while looking for the perfect home for him. You'll see Samson again when he's looking and feeling better.