Friday, March 27, 2009

Bear, Herc, Holiday, Flirt, Ellie

I had a busy week with the new job. No new dogs here, of course, but there is some good news.

Bear is doing well in his new home. He's already been to see and meet his new vet. He's getting along well with the other dog in his home, once he made it clear that his food dish is off limits. Like most rotties, Bear is very protective of his food. He makes a huge, fierce sounding growl if another dog approaches his food and he will back up the growl with action. Fortunately, the two dogs settled things between them and they came to an understanding about Bear's food. Now they are best friends. Amazingly, Bear is well behaved indoors, no accidents, and he goes to the door when he wants out. This is a dog who was living outdoors on a chain in West Virginia. It just confirms what I've always known, rotties are smart. I've never met a stupid one. They only fight to protect what is theirs, and they know how to handle people.

A comment about Hercules showed up on my Facebook page, saying that they can't keep him out of the hot tub. Herc liked the water when he was here too. He'd run like crazy playing ball in the pasture and then dive into the water tank getting his long coat completely soaked. It cooled him off. Apparently he still loves the water. Fortunately they also have a pool for the summer. Herc will love it.

Holiday continues to thrive in her new home. Apparently she is either learning new commands or finally acknowledging that she already knew them. She is also showing that she has some prey drive, but they must be managing it pretty well.

Does anyone remember Flirt? She's pretty hard to forget, being the tallest dog I've ever had and the only Great Dane. She is doing well, walking off leash now (in the country), and getting along well with other dogs. Flirt is still very thin, she just won't gain weight, but there are worse problems to have with weight, believe me.

And finally there was email and pics from the folks who adopted Ellie from me. Poor Ellie was bounced around to a couple homes before we found the right one for her, but she hit the jackpot at last. Below is a picture of Ellie at Dewey Beach.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Odds and ends

This post has no real theme. They aren't all gems, folks. Just some odds and ends.

I started a new job on Monday. It's still a temporary thing (through the end of May), and it has no health insurance, but the pay is better than my last temp job, although still about half of my last "real" job. It feels nice to be on someone's payroll again, and I think this job might be interesting at least. It gives me some breathing room anyway as I continue to look for another job.

It's a good time to have less foster dogs too. I'm getting home with enough daylight remaining to get Emmylou and Molly out for a fast hike on the Heritage Trail, followed by a romp in the pasture with Cabell, Bremo, and Zachary, which everyone enjoys.

Here's a pic of Athena, now called Greta. She was adopted by a couple who also have a young male GSD puppy. Apparently she has assumed the role of nanny, which will be good for both of them. Female shepherds need a job, and male shepherds, especially puppies, need a female to tell them what to do.

I haven't heard anything from Bear's new home, but I'm not really expecting any trouble there. Rotties are smart enough to know when they've got a good thing going. Shepherds, on the other hand, sometimes seem to go out of their way to wreck a good opportunity.

Teddy and Bella are having a great time together. Bella got spayed on Monday and didn't slow down a bit.

I had email from Samson's new home the other day. That would be the earlier shepherd named Samson that I had, not to be confused with the crazy one that I have now. This is one of my favorite pics of him, looking expectantly out the window. And finally, a very nice picture of Samson's footprints in the snow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bye Bye Bear

Saturday was a day for mileage. I took Bear over to Richmond this morning to meet his new home. I had been corresponding with this guy for the past couple of days. He was obviously young, but he could write a complete sentence and he willingly and quickly submitted our online application instead of just saying "call me", which is guaranteed to annoy the hell out of me.

He's recently out of college, but has a good job and shares a rented house with a roommate who has a 6 month old, male, bulldog/boxer mix. Nice big fenced backyard in a neighborhood where everyone seems to have a dog. The house looked like two young guys live there, rather sparsely furnished except for the essentials, a TV and pool table. A very dog friendly house, the world will not come to an end if he has a house training accident. He had some experience with dominant breed dogs and understands that he will never be able to rent an apartment with a rottweiler. He also has a girlfriend who likes large dogs and who was OK with the fact that Bear didn't seem to know much about women. I assured her that generous amounts of food and treats could win him over.

Bear was great, extremely tolerant of the 6 month old pup, and he demonstrated the rottie need for actively expressed affection and physical contact. The backyard was stocked with at least two footballs, a soccer ball, and a basketball, so Bear had plenty of toys. He hadn't played football before and he seemed to enjoy that very much, the perfect size for the rottweiler mouth.

Bear was well behaved indoors, never lifted his leg as he walked around to investigate the place. He spotted a sofa or two that he will probably make his own. I felt good about it and we did the adoption on the spot. Bear was the easiest dog to foster. He quickly learned the ropes and did his part in training the crazy shepherds. He will be missed, but I really hope this works out for him.

Next I hit the Home Depot in Shortpump and waited there for two shepherds to arrive on a transport from Tidewater. I brought them to my place for the afternoon, and then took them over to Wayesboro where they went to two separate foster homes. There I also picked up a third shepherd in transit, this one who came from Tennessee. She will spend the night here and I'll drive her up to Culpeper tomorrow to meet someone from northern VA who will foster. So, three dogs passed through my hands and none stayed! Plus Bear got adopted. That puts us down to 4 fosters (Chance, Brady, Samson, and Teddy), plus Bella, the temporary medical foster. I expect her to go back to her owner next weekend.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Emmylou goes to the park

I've become one of those people who do things just to entertain their dogs. That probably doesn't come as a surprise to most people who know me, but today we crossed over a line that I've approached, but have rarely crossed before. I took Emmylou to the park simply because she wanted to go.

Generally our outings are mutually beneficial. We go hiking and we both get exercise. Or I take her along on some errand I'm doing because I know she'd like to get out and go. But today we went some place just for her. I've had a cold of sorts for the past week and it's been holding on and I've been using it as an excuse to be lazy. We haven't been for a walk and I know she's missing it. I have been giving her pasture time each day so she's getting exercise, but Emmy likes to get out in public where there is at least a chance of meeting people. So today we went to a dog park in Charlottesville. We have more land at home to run on, and more than enough dogs for her to play with, but the dog park has people and Emmy likes people.

She was good with all the other dogs, large and small. She'd sniff them all, say hello, and even run with them for a while, but really she was there to meet and greet the dog owners. She went up to every one of a dozen or so people, wagging her entire body and smiling. Her intent was unmistakeable, even to the small dog people, and she made many dogs jealous by getting more attention from their people than they were.

I don't generally photograph strangers, it seems creepy, so most of my pictures are just of Emmy, but believe me, she met every single person at that park today and would probably greet them all as life-long friends tomorrow. We could not be more different.

Spring comes again

The vernal equinox is one of the high holy days of my non-religion. The first full day of spring is something to be celebrated, whether you dance around naked, raise a glass, take a walk with your dog on a sunny day, or all of the above.

It is also the date of my first partner's death some 15(?) years ago today, making it a bittersweet day in my world, but the two events are both transitions of sorts so they are not entirely incongruous. March 20th marks a whole new beginning. A new year, new life, another chance to grow, to flower, both botantically and personally.

My spring plans are always ambitious in the lawn and garden world. My summer follow through never quite lives up to the plans, but I'd hate for the year to come when I don't have dreams and ambitions that exceed my actual abilities to realize them. Being realistic is overrated in the spring. It is the time for boundless optimism.

It's the time to believe that this

can turn into this


This first day of spring is also a new beginning for Athena. As I write this, she is on her way to her new home, which promises to be a very good one. I didn't get many good pics of Athena when she was here because she wasn't too happy about being here, although she did bond with me very quickly. She now has two people who work out of the house and a 9 week old shepherd puppy to play with, all of which should keep her entertained.

(Here's another sure sign of spring, I found my first tick crawling on my leg today.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

You don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect dog

This is being re-printed without permission, but I don’t think she will mind.  It was written by one of the best rescue people I’ve ever met.  The story concerns a senior dog that came along with two shepherds that VGSR took in.  One of them was my Jerry, but this is about Kobe, a senior mutt who was abandoned along with the shepherds.  I’m ashamed to say that I declined to take in as a foster myself because I wasn’t at all sure we’d be able to place him.  Once again, I am very happy to be so very wrong. 

koby1-1This pic makes him look pretty small, but Kobe is actually a pretty big dog.  His fur was so matted when he arrived that he had to be shaved down close. 

Here’s the email (with some editing to remove names):

Several months ago we took in three dogs from SC who had been abandoned by their owner  - Princess (who was pregnant and gave birth to 12 puppies two days after she arrived, her mate and presumed proud papa of the puppies, Jerry, who now lives with a wonderful family in MD, and last but not least, Kobe, the old collie mix who we declared to be an honorary GSD. 

The manager at a retirement home in Reston adopted Kobe and he is the resident dog at the facility.  

I have terrific news - today I was driving through Reston and decided to stop to visit with Kobe. As I walked in through the front doors, I could see a big circle of chairs and wheelchairs to the left of the big open room, and guess who was smack dab in the middle of the circle, working the crowd - our sweet Kobe. He would go from resident to resident, putting his head in their lap and letting them love on him. He was the hit of the party, the absolute center of attention. When someone new rolled up to join in on the fun, he would gently greet them.

Everyone who lives there, and works there, is thrilled with him. He has been declared to be THE PERFECT dog. The manager who arranged things gives him the option of either spending the night at the facility, or going home with her, and he usually chooses to stay at the senior center. She said that when she gets there the next morning, she almost always finds him down with the folks in the Alzheimer's ward down on the first floor.

I left that place with tears running down my face - what a wonderful happy ending for a terrific dog. He is SO happy.  I just wanted to share this little story since it touched my heart so much, I thought that you all would enjoy hearing about it too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Finally, a sunny day

The ground is still soggy and my house is a mess with mud and dirt, but at least the sun was out today. All six of our dogs got a good amount of time out in the pasture to romp, hunt, and bark at the neighbors' dog across the road. This afternoon, I got Teddy and his kennel mate, Bella, out to the dog yard for some serious exercise.

Teddy (a/k/a Pup Pup) is the little pup from CASPCA that I had transferred to Animal Connections so I could find him a home myself. He's turning into a little beagle mix of some sort. I still don't think he will be very big; he's got short little legs. His hair has grown in pretty well now, he was a little sparse for quite a while due to scabies and/or some sort of skin infection. He's looking pretty good now, although the hair on his feet and ears is still a little thin. In spite of being small, he's a pretty scrappy little guy and can hold his own with Bella. When she gets too rough, he just yelps and she will back off.

Bella is several months older and 2 or 3 times his size. She's a shepherd mix with an allergy problem of some sort. She was adopted out as a young pup (not one of my fosters), but the owner was unable to deal with the allergy problem, which apparently got to be quite severe at one time. I volunteered to take her in to see if we could take care of the problem so the owner could keep the dog. She's been on a limited ingredient diet (rabbit and potatoes), and an antihistamine for the past 2 weeks or so. I don't know what she is allergic to, but this seems to have it under control because she isn't scratching and the rash she was developing when I first got her has cleared up.

I'm thinking we will need to do another vet visit, but I hope she can go back to her owner soon, although it has been good for Teddy to have her around. Teddy is rather shy, while Bella is very outgoing. It has helped him to have her around so I'm not going to object to having her for 2 or 3 more weeks anyway.

I also had Bear out for some play time today. He is without a play buddy at the moment since Jeep got adopted. He will play with Brady, but he got into a fight with Chance the last time they were together so I'm reluctant to leave all three together unsupervised.

Bear and Chance are an interesting dynamic. I've seen Chance get the better of Bear, and Chance is more likely to be the aggressor, but the last time they tangled Bear got a piece of Chance's ear. It was more of an accident than an intentional injury, but if you've ever seen a dog's ear bleed, you know it makes for bloody mess. I got an application on Bear today. I haven't checked it out thorougly, but I'm not jumping for joy just yet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lyka adopted?

It was a week ago last Sunday that Lyka went home with someone from the Gainesville adoption event. I've been afraid to say it out loud and far too scared to email or call the guy and ask how it is going. I asked his caseworker, another VGSR volunteer, to contact him and it sounds like things are going pretty well. As expected, she is good indoors as long as he doesn't try to crate her when he leaves. And her devotion level borders on obsession, but it sounds like they are getting along.

I make no secret of the fact that Lyka was not my favorite foster. She was cursed with the most ear piercing, painful, yelping bark I've ever heard come out of a German Shepherd. Her obsessive need to be with her person made her miserable outside in the kennel and dog yard, and it made me miserable whenever I was with her. I hope that she will back off a bit, and I hope that the adopter is looking for an extremely attentive dog and thinks that is normal. It is normal with a shepherd, to an extent, but Lyka's behavior was beyond the pale.

I wish them all the best. The thing that made her a miserable foster will hopefully make her a wonderful companion. He was wanting and needing a companion dog. He got one. I just hope it wasn't more than he bargained for.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rescue Anniversary

I am terrible about dates. Other than the date of my high school graduation, from which I can deduce the dates of my college and law school graduations, I can't tell you when anything happened in my life. My partner Clay knows more of the salient dates in my life than I do, even those that pre-date our relationship. He can tell you how old he was and in what year various events occurred in his own life. My brain has never worked like that. But, I do remember that it was on St. Patrick's Day that we began rescue work.

The year, I believe, was 2001. We had adopted Cabell from Animal Connections as a pet for Gypsy. He is still the only dog she cares for. Cabell is a St. Bernard mix with an absolutely wonderful disposition. After meeting the folks with Animal Connections I decided it was something I'd like to get involved with. We got word that there was a pregnant female rottweiler at the Louisa County shelter. I headed to Southern States to buy a kennel to attach to our of our sheds, while Clay and his mother headed to the little town of Mineral to look for the shelter and bring home the dog.

Since it was St. Patrick's Day, we called her Maggie. Like all dogs in that shelter, Maggie came with a stench that required an open window drive home. Maggie is a rottweiler and I was interested in saving her because of our own rottie, Jack. Maggie was young, a first time mother with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, and she was badly malnourished herself. Maggie was everything you could ask for in a rottweiler. She was friendly, playful, and so very happy to be out of the shelter.

She knew nothing about being a mother and we knew nothing about whelping puppies. In spite of our collective ignorance, nature took its course and Maggie delivered 10 puppies less than a week later. The birth took her by surprise and the first one dropped when she was outside. I thought it had died, but later found him lodged in the kennel fencing trying to get to his mom. When reunited with her inside the shed, he warmed, suckled, and survived.

Maggie wasn't interested in being a mother. She thought her part in the process was done and she just wanted to be my dog. Clay and I took turns staying with them so she would stay with the puppies and let them nurse. Only six survived, but given our experience level, I think that was a minor miracle. We found homes for the puppies and eventually found the best home for Maggie with a physical therapist I had been seeing for my back and her boyfriend, now husband. She now lives in upstate New York where she enjoys a very active life with very active outdoor people and is doted on and spoiled by her grandparents whenever they get the chance to dog sit. They send a christmas card and photo every year. Maggie is now graying and showing some signs of arthritis, which makes me realize how long we've been on this road.

We would have kept Maggie, but Gypsy positively vetoed that, and it's probably a good thing that it happened that way. Giving up your first foster is always the hardest, but it is necessary if you want to continue in rescue. I can't tell you how many dogs have passed through here since Maggie, but they number in the hundreds.

We keep Maggie in our hearts, of course, and we kept a little piece of her corporeally as well because we adopted the last of her pups, Fuzzy Bear, whom we now call Bremo (right).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jeep has found a new home

Jeep is the last of my CASPCA fosters from last summer. He is a very shy but handsome hound. I don't normally fall for hounds, but Jeep won me over and I kept him long past the time that he could have been returned to the shelter. In fact, he surely would have been adopted sooner if I had returned him to the shelter, but I wanted to know where he went and to have a hand in placing him. The shelter wasn't ever short of dogs, hounds in particular, so they were fine with him staying here as a long term foster.

Jeep liked it here. He loved playing with the other fosters; he loved running in the pasture; he loved hooting at the neighbors across the road.

When I finally started taking him to adoption events, I wasn't sure that he would have a lot of good prospects. Although he's a good looking dog, he didn't show well because he would try to hide behind a chair, people's legs, or even in a clump of tall grass. Mr. Sociable he is not.

Still, Jeep's shyness was endearing and as I said somewhere on an earlier blog posting, I could definitely relate to it and sympathize with him when he was thrust into social situations not of his own choosing.

As often happens in rescue work, one dog's misfortune turns into another dog's opportunity. A couple years ago I had adopted a chocolate lab pup to a wonderful home. They adopted a senior hound from the Charlottesville SPCA and both dogs lived a great life. It was particularly fortunate for the hound because he had been the SPCA for a long time and was proving to be difficult to place. That hound died recently and the lab was lost without him. The owners were devastated by the loss, but realized that the lab needed another friend. They met Jeep on Saturday and took him home. The two dogs took to each other immediately. Jeep had probably never been in a house before, but he followed her lead and relied on her for security. His shyness all but disappeared. The first cat he met hissed at him and he wanted nothing further to do with any of them. He has a big yard to run and play in and as long as he continues to do what the lab says, all should be good.

People always ask me if I'm sad to see them go. But when I see them so happy, how can I be sad?