Friday, August 21, 2009

Everybody loves Brady

Brady is a dog's dog. Everyone loves him, he's every dog's best friend. He's big enough to play with Sparky and any shepherd, but small enough to play nicely with Teddy and even little Pi.
He's never been intimidated by a dog of any size and seems to enjoy mixing it up with the big boys like Chance (adopted).
Brady is the first dog that most new fosters get to meet at our place and he shows them around and gives a pretty good introduction. It seems to put them at ease to see how happy he is.

I'm not sure I've ever met a human equivalent to Brady. If such a person exists, he or she gets along with everyone, enjoys many different activities and styles of play, and loves everyone but is looking for one special person to bond with.

Brady will sit and pose for the camera, looking directly at you without the least bit of self consciousness. So why is he still here with me instead of being in a home of his own? Obviously I'm doing something wrong.

He's great at adoption events. He works the crowd well, is cute, sweet, and loving. He's been in two different homes, neither of which worked out. He was too rowdy, hard-headed, and wild for the first. In the second home, he had matured a bit and a lot of those problems were gone. However, he developed such an attachment on one person in the home that he didn't want anyone else around. That could be handled in right (child-free) home, but we haven't found it yet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The revolving door

I have started doing intake work for VGSR for dogs from most of the state except northern Virginia and Tidewater areas. My house has been a revolving door since it started. A week ago today I drove down to Natural Bridge to bring back the little girl shepherd I just called JaneDoe.

JaneDoe is now being called Anastasia; she was spayed on Monday and is doing well (shown here coming out of her crate, still a little groggy, the day of her surgery). She will be going to a VGSR foster home in Maryland on Saturday. Until then, she's learning to deal with being crated and is doing pretty well with it after one day of whining about it. She needs it after her surgery anyway and being around the house dogs helps her social skills as well.

On Monday, Nina arrived from Bath County, Virginia, courtesy of another rescue group. She's a beauty, and she's a goat killer. People are not too smart. They left Nina outdoors when they were gone with a goat that was tied up. Apparently they had lived together for a while, along with other farm animals, but the owners returned home one day to find a dead goat and German Shepherd Dog who was extremely proud of herself for providing dinner.

She obviously needs to go to a goat-free home in the city or suburbs. A third rescue group in also involved because they were planning to take her in but didn't have a foster home available. They do have an interested adopter, however, so I'm still waiting to see if she will be making the trasport trip with me on Saturday to another foster home.

Also on Monday the two male hound puppies went back to the SPCA. The were to have neuter surgery that day and then go up for adoption. They've grown back their hair and are as cute as they will ever be, so it is time for them to find homes. The two males were the noisiest of the pups, so things were already much quieter around here Monday evening.

The only people happier about this than me are Clay, and probably our neighbors. I've sworn the no-more-hounds pledge.

On Tuesday, the two female hounds and Pi went back to the SPCA. The two girls were to be spayed that day and they are all staying there now for adoption. I do miss Pi, sort of, but he was picking up on the hound pups' vocalization habits. After taking three pups back to the SPCA in the morning, I drove over to Richmond in the afternoon to pick up Max.

Max is a long haired German Shepherd and I'm not entirely clear why he was given up. He's very well cared for and very well behaved. He had been the husband's dog originally, but ended up with the wife and child after their divorce. Ex-wife and child are allergic. I suspect there is more to the story, but he's a great dog, so who cares? I just hope I don't get one of those "you've got my dog and I want him back" calls from the ex-husband when he finds out.

He as been fine here in the kennels, but still has a confused look on his face. He will be making the trip on Saturday to his new VGSR foster home, also in Maryland.

The last one in this week will also be the first one out. Lexi was a VGSR dog when she was a pup and has been returned by her owner who had fallen on some very hard times recently. We all say that we'd never give up our dogs, but there are situations where people really don't have any choice and giving up the dog is truely the best thing for the dog. It sounds like this was one of those situations, so I'm glad that the person did the right thing for the dog.

Lexi is going to be fostered by an excellent VGSR foster home over in the valley and will be picked up later this afternoon by her new foster mom. She's a little shell shocked, but will be ok.

I have a few more incoming dogs in the works, but they will have to wait until the first week of September when I'm back from Kansas. I think I'll end up with Nina as a foster, but that's fine.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Success and failure

We had a visitor at our house last week. His name is Stonewall, or Stoney for short. He stays with us whenever his mom goes out of town. He hangs out in the office with Molly, Emmylou, and me, generally on a bed placed under the desk and up against the wall.

Stoney is a real character. He's spoiled rotten and has managed to get pretty much anything he wants whenever he wants. He stamps his feet, snorts, and shakes his head when he wants to eat, play, or go outside. He is very expressive and there is never any doubt about what Stoney wants.

Like all rotties, Stoney has a big smile. He was given up a few years ago by a young woman who had been through a divorce, worked long hours, didn't have time, etc.

Shortly after I got him, I heard from our vet that a client of theirs had lost her rottie to old age and might be interested in another. She reads my blog and I'm not going to embarass her by extolling her virtues at great length, but suffice it to say that she is exactly the type of adopter I adore.

She was a great match for Stoney and I always consider them one of my best matches in rescue work. Every adoption is a great success for the dog, but every once in a while it happens that the needs of the dog and person are so closely matched, so perfectly complementary, that it is impossible to say who benefits more from the relationship. Stoney's adoption is one of those.

I don't take any credit for the success of Stoney's adoption. He and his mom are the ones who made it work. I do make plenty of mistakes in this business though, and Jake was one. He was a terrified little dog I saw huddled in the corner of his run at the Fluvanna SPCA one day when I went in to meet another dog. He was extremely fearful to the extent of being fear aggressive. He was about to be euthanized so I brought him home to see if he would come around once he was out of the shelter environment.

I kept Jake a couple months or more and never made a bit of progress. I never managed to touch the dog all the time he was here. He got along with the other dogs, was happy and playful, but when I'd come in to feed, he would run from me and bark aggressively. Before our trip to New York, I had to catch him to take him the boarding kennel. When we finally cornered him, he growled and snapped, and I thought that the chances of a bite were pretty high. I was able to drop a slip lead over his head but had to drag him out of the kennel. He fought the leash so hard, choking himself until he finally collapsed in exhaustion. I managed to get him into a crate and eventually into a run at the kennel, but I knew what had to be done when we returned.

Jake was not a bad dog. I have no idea what sort of life he must have led to make him that fearful of people, but I knew that I couldn't help him and that he was a danger.

I had decided long ago that it didn't make sense to jeopardize an entire rescue operation to save one dog. If I had unlimited time and resources, and if there were no other dogs needing help, I could have kept Jake and worked on him, or just kept him until the end of his days.

I doped him up on acepromazine and got him to a vet for euthanization. I held him and kissed him until he was finally at peace. Jake got a raw deal in this world; I hope he will have better luck in another life, another world, or whatever. I don't dwell on the failures, but I do remember them. Jake deserves to be remembered but not as a failure. He was a fine dog who was failed by humanity.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The good life

Samson is a big, sweet, goofy shepherd. He's living the good life in Richmond with an owner that makes him the center of her world. She's a nurse and sometimes works long shifts, but has found an "adventure walker" for him on those days. This guy takes Samson and his other clients on a good long hike, a swim, and then washes them off before returning them home.

It sounds like fun, and a great business idea too. I'm thinking about it, as I'm still unemployed, although I may be getting some fairly steady work from LexisNexis again starting in September.

Email from Tippy's new home brought news that she had passed her Canine Good Citizen test. They are now going to do something called "Delta Dog" and she says: "She is just as sweet and I thought she would be, I love her and want to share her sweet temperament with other folks that can’t have dogs. "

Samantha went home from last Sunday's adoption event in Gainesville. It is a really great home and she has a doberman playmate. Her new owner writes:

"She has been great--very agreeable & nice & even-tempered. She & the Doberman are good buddies already & we take lots of walks around the woods & yard. I have kept Terra on a leash when we go for frequent walks & she has been fine with that. She is eating & drinking just fine. She goes into her crate when I ask her to & she likes getting a biscuit when I close the door. She enjoys the squeaky & plush toys. I think we are all going to get along great. She is a real sweetie."

I had a phone call last night from Sassy's new home. She is extremely attached to the father who is retired and home with her all the time. They are setting limits so her attachment doesn't become an obsession. In addition to a boatload of physical ailments, German Shepherds are poster children for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Excessive attachment can lead to aggression if the dog decides that he or she wants no one else near that person. That was the problem with Hercules and quite a few other shepherds who weren't as lucky as Herc. Let's hope that Sassy and her new owners can get a handle on it before it gets out of control. A very big thing they've got going for them is a beautiful home in the country with lots of walking, running, and swimming. A good amount of physical exercise should keep the dog busy and tired so that she doesn't have time or energy to devote to obsessive behavior.

Sable is a rescue rottweiler who has taken up therapy work at a retirement home. Sable has a persistent recurring problem with perianal fistulas, but is lucky to have a home where she is both loved and extremely well cared for. Rotties are wonderful therapists because they will sit, lean, and let anyone pet them, in any manner, for hours. When she's not working, Sable likes to sing along when her dad plays the piano. Our Jack was also a singer. When he heard something high pitched like a harmonica, he would sit, throw back his head, and sing unabashedly.

Vick is back

Michael Vick is back in the NFL. The only good thing about him playing football again is the remote chance that he will be seriously or fatally injured. Let him ask the dogs he killed for forgiveness, he's not getting any from me.

Thursday's transport

I drove down I-81 to the Natural Bridge exit again today to meet a woman who brought me three dogs. The two little ones, a Schnauzer and a Corgi, are Animal Connections dogs and are going to someone else. I'm not a small dog person, but they are cute. The Schnauzer will be adopted quickly, in spite of having a snippy attitude towards other dogs. The Corgi is a little shy, but a very nice dog. I've always thought of Corgis as large dogs with short legs.

The reason I was making the trip was for a German Shepherd, of course. She was a stray and has no name. She's thin and has a dull coat, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with some wormer, good food, and a bath. I'm trying to find a foster home for her with VGSR, and I think I have one, if she proves to be good with other dogs. She spent yesterday and last night in a kennel by herself, which I always like to do for new dogs on their first day here. This place can be a little overwhelming if I bring home a new dog and immediately put them in with the others. Some dogs can handle it just fine, but most benefit from a day or two of privacy where they can observe, talk to the other fosters, and get accustomed to the new surroundings.

The new shepherd girl, I'm calling her Jane Doe for now, was fine in the kennel adjacent to Sparky, Brady, and Birdie. I'll try her with them later today. She's a good looking dog and seems very nice, hopped right into the crate in my van for the trip home and she didn't whine and cry all night.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A family of dog lovers

Several months ago I had a dog named Jerry, shown with me here at an adoption event. Jerry is a great dog and he was adopted by a very nice man, his wife, and their son. By all accounts, he's been a wonderful family dog.

They live in the Maryland suburbs of D.C., but have property in Nelson County south of Charlottesville. The husband has family in that area as well, including a brother who lives with their father.

Father and brother have three dogs already, but became interested in a VGSR dog named Sassy. She wasn't one of my fosters, but I brought her back with me from last Sunday's adoption event in Gainesville.

She had already bonded tightly with her foster dad and wasn't too sure about coming home with me. She didn't bark or carry on, and she did eat for me, but she spent quite a bit of time pacing the perimeter of her kennel, clearly not too happy and very uncertain about where she was.

Sassy spent one night here and we went to meet her new home Monday evening. She loves the water, as you can see from the picture, and the first thing she did was to wade into the pond at her new place. She cooled off and had a nice long drink. She was fine with the other dogs in the home and seemed to take to both men as well. It's a beautiful home in the woods with plenty of property to walk on and a wonderful pond very near the house. I hope she recognized it as a one-in-a-million dog home and behaves accordingly.

There are two more siblings in the area, I believe, and they all have dogs. I hope that this will not be the last dog I place with this family.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rocky's progress

As you can see from the pictures, the dog passing himself off as Rocky at my house is an entirely different dog from the wretched creature I brought home a few weeks ago.

He's mostly deaf but can hear very loud sounds at close range indoors. The lacerations on both sides of his face are better, but he still has some staples in his face and the infection in the ears is still draining out through his face, although at a slower pace. He's still on 2 or 3 different meds and will be for another month at least, but he's definitely doing better.

He was losing muscle tone from too much time in the crate so I'm giving him more outdoor time now with other foster dogs.

What we don't know yet is what his long term prognosis holds. When the infection in the ears is finally cleared and he goes off the antibiotics, the real test will be whether it returns. If it does, he may need surgery to remove the fused ear canals. That is not a prospect I'm looking forward to, particularly as it would require a specialist. With any luck, we will be able to keep the infection at bay and find him a home that will be willing and able to deal with any future problems that could crop up.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sweet Samantha

Samantha went home with an adopter today from the VGSR adoption event in Gainesville. The woman had emailed me about her last week. Apparently Samantha's picture had captured her interest and won her over even before they met.

The woman did not have an application processed, but she filled one out on the spot and we talked at length. I learned all that I needed to know to be convinced that the dog would have a good home. Any further inquiry might have led me to something not to like, so I thought it best to stop while I was ahead. A home visit convinced me that this is one of those adoptions where the dog will have a higher standard of living than my own, so I'm a little bit envious but mostly am just happy for her. Of course there are many things that could go wrong, given that I don't know how Samantha will be with horses and a small dog, and I don't really know that she has any house manners.

But there is another dog in the home about her size and age so she will have a playmate and someone to show her the ropes. That other dog has a kidney problem that results in the occasional uncontrollable urinary accident and the woman just copes with it, so I don't think she will be returned for a frivolous reason.

Samantha went home with a matching leash, collar, and harness, a new bed, toys, a big bag of food, and assorted doggie paraphernalia. She will want for nothing. Let's hope she does her part by acting as sweet as she looks.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Puppies at play

I promised happy and cheerful, and it doesn't get any more so than watching puppies at play. The four mangy hound pups from the SPCA are growing their hair back and beginning to look like dogs at last. They certainly sound like hounds, full grown ones; it's just amazing how much noise can come out of a small dog.
I've put Teddy and Pi in with them, so there are six pups all about the same size playing together. Giving them the dog yard in the day time keeps them quieter at night, although I've had to close them in the shed at night to keep them from starting up playtime at 4:00 a.m.

The hounds had demodex and possibly ringworm. Their latest ringworm test was negative, but a couple of them still feel and smell like they've had a yeast infection on their skin, so I'm continuing the medicated and baths, dips, and anti-fungal medication.

Pi (chocolate lab) tested negative for ringworm again and could have gone back to the SPCA for adoption, but he's still battling demodex so he's back with me for another couple weeks after a visit to the vet clinic yesterday.

Teddy is the big boy in this group as opposed to his usual role of being the smallest dog around a bunch of rotties and shepherds. It's time he found a home. I'm hoping that tomorrow will be his day at last.
The four hounds and Pi will all be going back to CASPCA in a couple of weeks. They should be well by then, and still cute enough to get adopted quickly. Those hounds should come with a warning label. The noise they can make must be heard to be believed.

Silence is golden?

I love the internet. You can find answers to anything. I was outside mowing this evening, writing in my head as I often do, thinking that I need to explain the lack of a single blog post since returning from vacation. The title, "silence is golden" came to me, and my mind immediately wandered down the rabbit hole of word and phrase origins. I know there was a song by that name, but I assumed, correctly as it turns out, that the phrase predates that 1967 sickly sweet song by the Tremeloes.

The internet search provided this tidy and apt meaning of the phrase: A proverbial saying, often used in circumstances where it is thought that saying nothing is preferable to speaking.

That pretty much sums up my absence from the blogosphere for the last couple of weeks. Due to the combination of being busy, angry, and depressed, I've thought it preferable to keep my mouth shut because anything I wrote would read like a dark and ugly Irish play.

The post that follows this one is happy and cheerful, and hopefully marks my return to more frequent postings.