Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life is good

After Abigail's adoption Saturday morning, I stopped at the Bass Pro Shop in Ashland, just north of Richmond for a little shopping but still made it home before 1:00 p.m. I stopped for a six pack and a bag of ice, loaded up the cooler and my canoe and did a lazy float trip down the Rivanna Saturday afternoon. The trip that took me about 1.5 hours earlier in the spring was at least 3 hours yesterday. The current was slower and water level much lower, but there was still enough to float the canoe in most places and the water was crystal clear.

I could see fish swimming all over, mostly small ones, but a lot of them. This little blue heron was have a field day wading in the shallow water and picking off some of the slower fish.

I passed a fisherman standing in the river who was surprised by a water snake that came right up near his feet, grabbed a fish, and then swam off. I saw several ducks as well but didn't manage to get a decent picture. It was a hot, but pretty, day.

Lexi had her heartworm treatment Thursday and Friday. The vet's office had no power after Thursday's storm, so Clay brought her home Friday morning when his office closed, also without power. She was in a lot of pain initially, but some tramadol took the edge off and she's been resting pretty comfortably since then. I have another foster home lined up for her in another week or so. She will be pampered, get lots of rest and love, and a good advocate for finding her a great home when she's ready.

Today I took Thor, Trooper, and Sadie to an adoption event in Gainesville. Thor was great with the crowd, and Trooper was mostly pretty good with volunteers. I didn't let strangers near him except other VGSR volunteers. He was better generally, everyone gave him treats. He just needs to learn that there are ways to deal with unknown people other than barking at them.

The best news of the day is that another volunteer, a two-time former adopter, took Sadie home to foster. I haven't really gotten any good pics of Sadie yet, but she's the first dog I took in after Montana. She's middle aged, one messed up ear, and she may not be the first dog adopted, but she's a good dog and deserves a chance. She's actually the kind I'd keep myself if I wasn't already over my allowed quota of female dogs in the house. She's devoted, loyal, smart, and not too bitchy. If she will leave the cats alone in this foster home, she will have it made.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Facebook adoption

A while back, a blog reader suggested that I post links to my blog on my Facebook page. She also explained how to do so. Clay had been a Facebook user, and I had a page but hadn't done anything with it in months. Posting the link was easy, however, and a lot more people saw my blog.

And now Facebook is responsible for Abigail's adoption. Someone saw her on my blog via Facebook and sent the link to someone else who contacted me about adopting her. I never did get her on Petfinder, which is just as well because I would have gotten a flood of inquiries from all across the country.

Her new home is a great one. They have a young, male, French Bulldog for her to play with and it sounds like they are having a great time. Abigail and I drove about halfway to her new home. They live in southern Maryland, about 3 hours from me. We met at the Carmel Church exit off of I-95, just about an hour and a half for each of us. I almost always do a face to face meeting with the other dog in a prospective adoption, but I just didn't have any doubts about Abigail's ability to get along with other dogs. Their Frenchie sounded the same way, so I just sent her home.

They seem to be getting along well, as we both expected. This is a great little girl, I know they will love her.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dogs and McDonalds

I eat far more fast food than I should. It's quick, cheap, and easy. Fast food restaurants also make handy meeting places since they are at highway exits and are easy to spot and are marked from the road. Fast food is obviously a big part of our culture, too big, so it's hardly surprising that our dogs become familiar with it as well. From the dog's point of view, it must seem like a miracle. You are driving along, pull over, roll down the window, and a stranger hands you food. I guess their view of it is pretty much like ours. It's great.

Clay and I went to pick up three shepherds one time several years back. They were neglect cases and were three of the skinniest dogs I've ever seen. Husband and wife got divorced. Wife left. Dogs stayed with husband who would only occasionally put out some food. The local ACO (animal control officer) got wind of it, and he told the guy to either surrender the dogs or face charges. So we got an adult male and female and a pup. To compound the lack of food problem, the males had a digestive problem which prevented them from processing the little bit of cheap dog food they were being fed. They were starving.

Anyway, we drove down I-81 to get the dogs from whatever county they were in. On the way back we got hungry and pulled into a McDonalds. We didn't want to leave the dogs alone in the car so we did the drive through. We got our food, got back on the highway, and started eating. Suddenly we realized that we were eating hamburgers in front of three starving German Shepherd Dogs that we did not know. It was stupid. By all rights the dogs should have lunged at us, stolen and devoured our food. They did not. They were loose in the back of the vehicle, but they all just sat nicely, quietly and politely, while we stuffed our faces with too much fat and sodium. That spoke volumes about those three dogs. They were all very well mannered.

The female, Strika, was adopted locally to a really great home. The male, Riker, took a while longer because we had to solve his digestive problem (a combination of raw food and grain-free dry food did the trick), and then find him a home that was willing to cope with it. He also landed in a great home. And of course, we kept the puppy who became Clay's dog, Zachary.

I thought about all this again this morning as I drove Lexi to the vet to begin her heartworm treatment. I pulled into a McDonald's drive through and she became very animated and excited. She had obviously been to McDonalds before and knew what it was all about. I wish her prior owners had given her Heartgard instead of hamburgers.

Pictures: At top left, Rowdy and Abigail in the car on the way to Rowdy's neuter appointment on Monday. He was back home and playing like a wild man with Abigail on Tuesday. On Wednesday he went back to his foster home and other playmates. On the right, from top moving down, Zachary, Strika, and Riker, and then Zachary all grown up, filled out, and in his prime. Below: Lexi in the car, excited about the prospect of fast food.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rocky to the rescue

If you ever met Rocky, you know that he is a kind, gentle soul. Rocky was in terrible pain for a very long time because of his ears but he always maintained the sweetest disposition. I don't know how he did it. I'm not half as nice even when I feel good.

Shayna thought that he would be good at therapy work, and I'm sure he will be. He will sit for attention and petting and he isn't too particular about how he gets it. He has an extremely high tolerance for pain or anything unpleasant and even then he has never had a bad reaction to the people who are causing it. All the vets who examined and treated him when his ears were at their worst were amazed how easy and cooperative he was with them.

The other good thing I would think about Rocky and therapy work is that he has his own handicap and tales of pain, suffering, and medical procedures that could hold their own with most anyone he's likely to encounter. A good way to distract people from their own problems is to get them to focus on someone else's. The fact that Rocky's story is one of success and triumph over adversity has an inspirational element as well.

I don't know that Shayna had all that in mind, but she did take Rocky for certification testing with the Delta Society, a nationwide service and animal therapy organization. He didn't pass, but only because of the "stay" and I love the reason that he failed. Apparently he had to stay in a square box marked on the floor while she walked to the other side of the room. He didn't stay, but he didn't wander off either. All he wanted to do was follow Shayna wherever she went. I just can't fault a dog for that.

He passed all the other tests with flying colors, everyone loved him, and they really encouraged her to bring him back again for re-testing after they work on the stay. Once he passes it, I doubt he will ever need it again, but a good solid stay is always a good thing to have (none of my dogs have it).

You can read Shayna's blog post about the certification first hand.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice. I always think this is a great event, although I don't relish the idea that the days will begin getting shorter from here on out. It felt like Summer Solstice when I was in Montana last month. We were far enough west in the mountain time zone that it was light until very late even then. Here it's dark already by 9:00 p.m., but it was the longest day of the year and that is something to celebrate. I sat on the front porch with a cocktail and watched hummingbirds and the swallows as it got dark.

I think that mankind ruined religion when we invented a deity with human-like qualities. For one thing, it has enabled fearmongering charlatans to conger up a god with human emotions like hate and use it for self-enrichment and political purposes.

Attempting to define a deity and to speak authoritatively on what it believes has led us down a rat hole. That kind of thinking attempted to stifle Galileo and Copernicus. It's the same kind of thinking that allows single men who wear dresses and purport to be celibate to speak about sexual issues, marriage, and procreation. It has also ruined the wonder and mystery that is properly celebrated as religious.

The quest for and acquisition of knowledge is not and never has been the enemy of anything other than fear and ignorance. Unfortunately, that does seem to me to be the basis for modern religious beliefs.

Summer Solstice is probably about the height of the beauty of my container garden. The hot, dry days will begin to take their toll. Here are some garden pictures taken tonight for no reason other than to celebrate the season.

Not much dog in this post, but Rowdy got neutered today and is doing great.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One down

Well, I'm down one shepherd this evening. Axle got adopted today from the VGSR adoption event at Petco in Front Royal. I took Axle, skinny Thor, and Trooper. Axle and Thor were great, Trooper was ok. He would take treats from people, but still bark and/or jump if they surprised him or tried too soon to touch him. He needs to be fed and ignored until he has a chance to check out a new person, then he's ok. He wasn't great, but it wasn't bad for a first event for him.

Thor was sweet and friendly. And he pooped out on the grass under observation and he's now producing solid stool again. Everyone is back on solid dog food now, although I'm going to continue the Metronidazole for another day or two anyway.

Axle was wonderful. He worked the crowd, and particularly worked on the young man who had come to meet him. I like a dog who does his part at an adoption event and Axle really did. He comes across as sweet and friendly, which he is. He nuzzles up to someone as if to convince them of his sincerity and gives them his "take me home with you" look. It's as if he knew why we were there.

His adopter is the son of a prior adopter and the whole family comes highly recommended so I'm very happy for everyone involved. I'm not sure which of them looks happier.

There's one less shepherd here now, but no less dogs. The rottie pup, Rowdy, came back from his foster home, but only because he has a neuter appointment here on Monday. He should be going back on Wednesday. He rode home well with Trooper and Axle, but now he's upstairs in my office with Molly, Lexi, Sadie, and Abigail, where he will be tonight and after his surgery tomorrow. He's definitely better socialized already, I can tell the difference and see the progress he has made since he's been gone. I need to check Sadie with cats, if she's ok I may have another foster home for her.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A shitload of shepherds

With all the shepherds I've taken in recently, and with Trooper coming back instead of getting adopted, I've reached a magic threshold of foster shepherds. I can now answer authoritatively the question "how many shepherds in a shitload?" The answer is five. First came Thor (right). The second one I took in upon my return hasn't yet made an appearance here. Her name is Sadie (in water tank, left). She came from the same home that dumped Duke in the Greene County shelter a while back. I had her in with Sparky and they got into a fight (his fault), so she is now up in my office, along with Lexi (heartworms), and the little boxer girl Abigail. Molly has had to give up her crate to the fosters so she now has Emmylou's old bed in the office, which isn't a hardship by any means. Along with Thor and Teddy (beagle) in the outdoor kennel, is Axel and now Trooper. Fortunately the boys all get along and more surprisingly, the girls do too. I put all five foster shepherds together in the dogyard today, along with Abigail, for a photo op.

I'm talking to a prosective home for Abigail the boxer and I hope we can make that happen next weekend. I'm going to an adoption event in Front Royal tomorrow with the shepherd group. There is no point in taking Lexi yet because she needs heartworm treatment. Sadie still has a wound on one leg courtesy of Sparky, so I guess that leaves Trooper, Thor, and Axel.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


It's been one of those "why do I do this?" kind of days.

I had a late morning vet appointment with Lexi and Axle. Got the vaccines done for both. Both have hook worms, and Lexi has heartworms. That's my first case of heartworm in quite a while. We have a week of pre-treatment meds and then she will go in for the immiticide treatments next Wednesday. She is now a 2+ month foster at least.

I get home and have a phone message, Trooper is being returned. Not because of a problem with the owner, not because of a problem with Starr--the two dogs are playing together, getting along great--but because a chickenshit housesitter is scared of the dog. Now, to be fair, Trooper did do the big in-your-face bark at her, but she apparently has flatly refused to try or ever housesit again if Trooper is adopted. My thoughts on this are really not suitable for print.

So Trooper comes back. My alternative dog for this adopter, Thor, is friendly enough, and she's interested, but Thor currently has a nasty case of diarrhea and really isn't suitable for placement at the moment.

I go to the computer the check email before getting back to work, and find that one of my possible placements for Axle has backed out--not a good time for them apparently.

To top it off, Bremo shits all over the floor downstairs, apparently suffering from the same bug that Thor has. This means everyone has it or will have it, so no one is getting any food today or tomorrow.

Now, if none of these dogs are ready now and if all my prospective homes crap out, so be it. I don't want them going anywhere until everything is right for a permanent placement. But damnit, I need to see some progress. I am talking to someone about Abigail, the dog I'd least like to adopt out, and I have another prospect for Axle. Got to keep looking for that bright side on days like this.

I'm off to cook chicken and rice, dose dogs with metronidazole and strongid, and buy canned pumpkin.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Birds, not dogs

There is a pair of swallows that nests in the corner of our front porch every year. They build a mud nest and raise a brood, sometimes two, every year.
I was outside yesterday and saw the young ones darting around. God knows there's plenty of insects to eat in Virginia in the summertime. They hang around the next for a while after they've learned to fly and feed on their own, then I guess they go on their way. Mom and Dad will be back, I'm sure.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More new faces

The first dog I took in after returning from Montana was Thor. I was expecting several dogs but Thor wasn't even on the radar screen, he came out of the blue. I got back on Monday and Tuesday had a call about him from the owner. They had taken him in from someone else just a few weeks before because the dog was running at large and in danger of being hit on the road. Thor's new home had a large, well-fenced yard, but it as immediately adjacent to a pasture full of horses. Not knowing what else to do, Thor would spend all his time running the fence line and barking at the horses, so the new owners were looking for a better placement for him. They called Caring for Creatures, who told them to call me upon learning that it was a shepherd. I went right over and picked him up. The Charlottesville SPCA accomodated me with a neuter appointment for him on Friday.

All this dog needs is a home, some basic training, and social skills. He's less than a year old and he retains his puppy-like sweetness and is very friendly to people and other dogs. Thor is very thin because one of the other dogs in his former home was preventing him from accessing the food source. But he seems happy and healthy and he has a good appetite. He is going to be a really good looking shepherd when he puts on a few pounds. Look at that head in profile; he's handsome. He reminds me of another scrawny little guy we took in years ago who got overlooked because he was skinny. We kept him and he became our Zachary.

Thor spent a couple days indoors in a crate after his neuter surgery and was fine with it, but I don't think he has ever lived indoors. He didn't know how to climb or descend stairs, but he learned quickly. I suspect he will learn anything quickly, but he will need to be taught. Shepherds' bodies develop faster than their brains. When he got feeling better, he wanted more action and I moved him back outside where he is currently sharing a kennel with Teddy, Axle, and a new girl I brought home today, a female shepherd named Lexis.

Lexis is another owner surrender. Seems she killed a ferret. Well, duh. They are rodents. She's a sweet girl. Came with me readily, hopped right in the car. She moved right in with Teddy and the two male shepherd boys, Axle and Thor, without any problem. She's a pretty girl, about 4 years old, she will make someone a really great, loyal companion.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trooper has a sleep over

I've been sitting on Trooper for a while now. He's a great dog. Cute, sweet, devoted, and doesn't have much use for strangers, everything I like in a dog. He is scared of strangers so he tries to scare them off with a big in-your-face bark. Anyone with shepherd sense can easily spot him as phony, however. Once he realizes his scare tactics don't work, he backs off. He's actually easy to win over too. A handful of treats and a short walk on a leash, and he quickly takes his preferred and rightful place as "dog" in the dog/human dyad.

Trooper's prospective adopter is a former adopter as well. She still has the last dog she adopted from me, Starr, who can be a bit of a bitch. Trooper is pretty submissive to other dogs so I think he stands a very good chance of working out a relationship with Starr. They've had two prior meetings, one here and one on Starr's home turf, with no problems between them. I took him back over there this afternoon to spend a night or two and hopefully for the rest of his life. The dogs have a huge, wooded, fenced dog yard, with access to the house and air conditioning any time they want through a doggie door.

Starr needs a canine companion whether she knows it or not, and I think he's the best match for her that I've had in quite a while. It's a great, great home, I just hope it works out well for everyone involved.

A trucker's dog

Here's the other dog I brought home yesterday along with the boxer, Abigail. Axle belonged to a trucker who used to take him on the road with him. He's probably 2-3 years old now and I guess he didn't want to take him anymore. Leaving him at home with his wife didn't work because she had a new baby and didn't have time for or interest in the husband's dog. Their loss is Axle's gain.

I don't know much about him yet, but he's a nice, friendly dog with a classic shepherd look. He rode nicely in the car without a crate--wasn't in my face and no car sickness--one benefit of having been a trucker's dog, I guess.

I shouldn't have him for long. He had been sharing a pen with Abigail at Linda's place after being pulled from the shelter while waiting for me to be ready to take them. I brought him home yesterday and moved him in with Teddy and another new shepherd, Thor. He seems to get along well with everyone. He needs a bath, mostly to remove a lot of old dead hair in his coat. It's hot as hell again today, so a bath outside will feel pretty good for both of us.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A quality dog

Linda, my southwest VA doggie dealer, has always brought me great dogs. I'll take dogs from her, but only her, sight unseen. However, I actually had pictures of this dog in advance. The pictures didn't do her justice. She looked much larger than she is, not that that's a bad thing, but she also looked a bit like a mixed breed in one of the pictures. In her description of the dog to me, Linda said that she was a "quality dog." I think I know what Linda meant. To me anyway, that said that she was a solid boxer, both in confirmation and temperament. She was exactly right.

Abigail is a small boxer, but nicely proportioned and most importantly, she's as sweet as can be. Her paperwork had three different spellings of her name on it, so I just did a quick search to confirm what I took to be the correct spelling. The search results included a Wikipedia entry saying that Abigail is Hebrew for "her father's joy" or "fountain of joy." I think that's nice, and it certainly seems to fit this sweet little girl.

She was owned by a young man who apparently took her everywhere so she's well socialized and she rides very nicely in the car. He grew up, his interests shifted (probably to meth), and he moved away leaving the dog with his father who took her to a shelter. Linda snagged her and held her for me until I was back from Montana. We met today at our usual spot. She brought me a shepherd as well, and a small dog that I transported for someone else with Animal Connections.

If I take her an adoption event, I can guarantee that some idiot will come up to me and say "she can't be a pure bred boxer because she has a long tail." I will look at the person with stunned disbelief, awed by their stupidity, and wonder, does this human-like life form standing before me really not know that boxers have short tails only if they had been docked? Does this person really think that breed is determined by whether or not the tail was docked? Or do they think that boxers, by law, must have a docked tail such that an undocked tails means that it can not be a boxer? I've had this conversation with people before, but I always cut it short by walking away. I don't really want to plumb the depths of a stupid person's mind. It's scary in there. Sarah Palin is likely to pop out.

Abigail is a joy. I immediately decided it was too hot outside for a boxer today so she came right up to my office. She knew how to do stairs, and she went right into the crate. She met the other household dogs, except Gypsy, and was fine.

Someone is going to be very lucky to have her. When the time comes that I can no longer have shepherds or rotties, I'm going to have a little boxer. They are quality dogs.