Monday, August 30, 2010

A new twist on an old scam

We've all received the emails from the widow in Nigeria whose husband died leaving a forture in a U.S. bank that she needs help in accessing. There are a lot of variations on that theme, but the email below is the latest incarnation of that scam to arrive in my inbox:

I am Pastor Mark Collys, on a missionary journey in Europe, I came with my
yorkie puppy, unfortunately, after a while I noticed the weather here is not good
for the puppy's health. I have not been able to take proper care of her, like I
used to before my missionary work. I have now decided to give the puppy out on
adoption to someone that can give her a good home and take very good care of
her. The puppy is very loving and adorable puppy, She will be a good companion to any home. If you know you can take very good care of her do get back to me through my email address so i can provide you with the pictures and other details once i receive response from you. Counting heavily on your prompt response. Take care and God bless. Pastor Mark Collys
The scam artists are getting a bit more sophisticated with targeting their audience, and they must have found someone with at least a passing familiarity with the English language because this one has fewer glaring grammar errors than most. Apparently they think that the combination of religion and dog love makes for a soft-hearted and soft-headed mark, an easy touch. They may be right. I don't fall for the "I'm a good christian, you can trust me" shtick, in fact it immediately sets off my bullshit detector, but I am a sucker for a dog with a hard luck story.

I don't often give money to homeless people, but I must admit that I sometimes do if they have a dog with them. They know it works too, and I have the feeling that dogs are used for that purpose on more than one occasion. We were in London a couple years ago walking down a street one night after leaving a bar. We passed a homeless woman with a dog, sitting on the street collecting money, and doing pretty well too. I had been dogless for a week and had had a few drinks, so I was an easy touch. I've seen a young man in Charlottesville working the same routine lately. His dog sits patiently, bored, but happy to be with him. I once picked up a guy who was hitchhiking with a dog, again, because of the dog. I gave them a ride and gave the dog some Frontline.

I didn't do any adoption events this past weekend, but am happy to report that Daphne is working out in her new home with Stonewall.  She is very attached to and protective of her new person, and she is more than capable of holding her own with Stoney.  She just growls him off when he gets too much in her face and he is smart enough to back off.  The two of them have a huge backyard to play in and are sharing things indoors as well.  I will try to get some photos of the two of them together, but my camera is only working when it feels like it these days.

Other good rottweiler news:  Do you remember the scared and shy little rottie mix pup, Rowdy?  His name is now Bernie and we are about to make his adoption official.  He is growing up, went through an obedience class, and although he may never be the most sociable dog, he's much, much better than he was with me and he's found a home at suits his temperament well.   The pictures here are of Bernie.  He is a very lucky dog and it's so nice to see that smile on him. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

The foster child becomes the foster parent

This is Griff, formerly Nick, formerly Buddy, formerly unknown and homeless, our Thanksgiving Rottweiler from a couple years ago. 

He lives in the country with many animals and works at an animal shelter.  He has previously fostered wildlife with the help of his new mom. 

When I first saw this, I thought of one of those pictures you see that circulate on the internet and always wonder if they are real or faked.  I know the source of this one, and I know the dog, so I know it's real.

Here's the backstory: 
Her mother was killed on a logging job. The baby was brought to me at a day old. She is now two months old. Griff adopts any wild animal that shows up. I'll have to get pics of them licking each other it is a riot. She cleans him, his ears, and he stands or sits patiently while she does it. He is also her body guard.

And what better body guard could a fawn, a fox, or a person ask for? 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A very doggie day

This morning started off early, taking care of the dogs (14 total here now if I count correctly), and getting some work in before taking the two new shepherds, Sugar and Kane, to the vet for their speuter surgeries.  I also stopped to pick up a weedeater part, drop off recycling, and to buy groceries before returning home.  I was greeted with two phone messages from the vet, never a good sign.  Seems that Kane tested positive for heartworms and Sugar needed part of her tail amputated.  I knew that Sugar's tail was injured so I wasn't surprised about that.  At least she will still have most of it.  We xrayed Kane's hips, only mild dysplasia in one, and so decided to proceed with the surgery, to be followed by heartworm treatment in a couple weeks.  He is also extremely thin so we may have a digestion issue to deal with down the road unless he starts to put on some pounds.

I got some more work in before loading up Daphne and Boomer for another trip.  Daphne went to a prospective home out in Crozet.  She has another rottie from me and the two dogs had met at my house one day last week.  The two dogs are similar in size but very different in personality. Rottweilers have very strong and very definite personalities and no two are alike.  Daphne is very calm, quiet, maybe a little lazy even for her age.  Stoney is older, but very animated and vocal.  They could each been a good influence on the other if this works out.  Daphne couldn't ask for a better home, so I really hope it does.

Boomer had an appointment with the vet to talk about his lack of weight gain.  Recent blood work done by the prior owner's vet had been unremarkable.  I left with a big bag of limited ingredient (duck and potato) dog food, in an effort to rule out a food allergy.  He's a big dog but weighed only 68 pounds today.  The former owner called this evening to check on him and I learned that the weight loss is a relatively recent occurence; he had weighed about 90 pounds at one time, which would be about right for this dog.  His legs and hips seemed fine when the vet manipulated them, which is always a relief.  Although it's not a scientific approach, I think I'll start the pancreatic enzyme supplement as well as the new food and see if we can put some weight on him. 

I left the vet's office with Boomer, Kane, and Sugar as well as the dog food, a skin/coat food supplement, meds for both shepherds, a new bottle of tramadol for our Gypsy, and copies of the paperwork for all three of the shepherds seen there today.  Kane and Sugar came up to crates in my office, displacing Trooper to the outdoor kennel with Boomer, Buster, and Teddy.  Greta should be going home tomorrow, which will open up an office space again for Trooper. 

As if I didn't already have enough dogs, I stopped at the Fluvanna SPCA on the way home.  There is a nice female shepherd/lab mix that I'd like to pull from there as soon as I can.  They are full and need the space.  I'm transporting two on Friday and bringing home one new shepherd with the unfortunate name of Bubba. 

I decided that everyone should fast this evening, I'll feed in the morning.  I still have more work to do. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday shit

I took Belle, Teddy, Boomer, and Buster to the adoption event at CASPCA on Saturday.  Buster and Boomer had a good time and I might have made an indirect contact with someone who might be interested in Belle.  Boomer played ball and Buster did a television spot with the director of the shelter (I didn't see it and I'm not even sure which station it was on).  A lot of the staff remembered Buster and were glad to see him doing well and being happy, which he is. 

His only problem seems to be when he's surprised by someone or by something that he doesn't know.  So he needs exposure and socialization, but I don't think he's going to be a difficult or problematic dog.  He's certainly an easy foster.  He loves other dogs and loves to play. 

On Sunday I loaded up Belle and Boomer for the trip to Gainesville to VGSR's adoption event.  Boomer was great and met someone who is very interested in him.  I'm going to take him to the vet this week because he just doesn't seem to be putting on any weight and I'd like someone else's opinion on the alopecia (hair loss) on his belly.  The prior owner said something about unspecified "allergies."

Sunday was a hot, humid, miserable day.  I arrived about 11:00 a.m. and was planning to leave at 1:00 p.m., but really was ready to leave by noon.  I had to hang around, though, because someone was bringing me two new foster shepherds, Kane (left) and Sugar (right).  They are nice dogs, victims of neglect rather than abuse, and they are lucky to be getting a shot at a better home.  They came from Maryland and spent just enough time at Gaineville for these pictures to be taken before being loaded into my van for the trip home. 

I stopped for something cold to drink just outside Gainesville and when I returned to the van it was filled with the unmistakeable odor of dog shit.  One of both of them shit and barfed and they proceeded to wallow in it all the way home.  There was no way to stop and clean it up without risking losing the dogs, so I just opened a window and turned the AC up on high. 

They are settled into a kennel with Teddy for tonight.  They've been wormed, fed, and have new collars and tags.  I pulled the crates and mat out of the van and hosed everything down.  I came in, had a shower, and am about to fix a drink and go to bed. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pasture romp

We've had a couple inches of rain over the past couple days and we really needed it.  We also have had a break in the temperature, in fact today was pretty close to pleasant.  I needed pictures of Buster and Boomer for the web, so we had plenty of reasons to go out to the pasture for a romp.  I've been keeping Boomer, Trooper, and Buster together during the day, mostly in the dog yard, sometimes in the kennel depending on who else needs yard time.  That leaves the big kennel free for Belle (female shar pei pup) and little Teddy. 

So it was the three big boys, Trooper (in back), Buster (all over Trooper), and Boomer (with ball), who got out to the pasture today.  Trooper had been out there before and he immediately took off to explore the interesting places.  Buster wasn't sure what to do but he loved having room to really stretch his legs and run.  He looks like a greyhound when he runs. 

I got some great pics of Boomer and need to get him on the VGSR website.  He doesn't seem to be gaining weight, however, and he's been on the grain free food since I brought him in, almost two weeks ago.  I'm thinking he may need to go to the vet for some bloodwork.  Apparently he's always been thin, but that's what you would expect from a dog who has always had an enzyme deficiency that hasn't been addressed. 

Boomer loves to play ball.  Buster tries to play with him, but Boomer is all about the ball.  Fortunately, Trooper will play with Boomer and little Teddy does too when they are in the kennel together.  I usually crop my pictures to focus on just the dog, but I left some of these uncropped to give a sense of the space.  The pasture is fully fenced with heavy 48" horse-quality, anti-climb wire fence.  In addition there is a 6" wide oak board across the top.  It's not impossible for a serious jumper to get out, but very few have even tried.  Mostly they run, sniff, explore.  I wish more of it was wooded, it would be more interesting for the dogs and would be less to mow. 

The way to start a day

Lexi was a shepherd I took in from someone experiencing financial problems. I'm not actually sure if the finanical problem was the reason or the fact that she had gotten one of their pet ferrets. She was basically well cared for and well treated. She had been spayed and had lived mostly indoors. But her vaccines were all expired and she tested positive for heartworms, so its a good thing that they gave her up so she could get the care and treatment she needed.

I kept her for a couple weeks past the heartworm treatment to make sure she was all right and then moved her to another foster home. (See Outsourcing, July 7, 2010). She was needing more attention than I could give but was otherwise an easy dog, although she does have a strong fear of thunderstorms.

Here is an email I received from the second foster home when I signed on the computer this morning. He found her an adopter.

I got home from Chicago yesterday, and one of the first things I
did was to call Lexi's adopter to follow up on the adoption and make sure all
was going as well as I was sure it would. Normally after only a week with
a new adopter, I'm hoping to hear that nothing negative has happened in their
new home. Since Lexi's original adoption commitment had fallen through at
the last minute before we left town, Molly had very little time to get ready for
Lexi, but her enthusiasm gave me a "warm fuzzy". Well, Molly was so happy
that she kept me on the phone for over an hour, telling me how great her
first week with Lexi has been. She swears, and knowing Lexi I don't doubt
it, that they bonded the first day. There were many qualities Molly was
looking for in a dog that I couldn't guarantee, like being "snugly". Well
it turns out that Lexi is "snugly", and these two ladies are a match made in
heaven. Molly said that Lexi fell right into her routine and after only a
week, she can't remember what it was like being alone in her place.

So the next time your house is full of dogs and you're hip deep in dog
crap,and you have one more that needs a trip to the vet, and one that needs
to be picked up, and you're wondering if it's worth all the effort... just
remember Molly and Lexi and all of the other "connections" you have
I love getting email like this and reading this early in the morning seems to give the whole day a boost. I'd like to think that I'd be doing this even if I never heard back from anyone. I use my best judgment to find an adopter I trust, kiss the dog goodbye, and hope for the best while moving on to the next one. In most cases I don't hear much from them after a while and that's ok. It makes it really extra special when I do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gretel, a tough act to follow

The woman who brings me dogs from her local shelter way down in southwest Virginia will often describe one of her picks as being "a quality dog."  I've come to understand her meaning, referring to a dog of excellent temperament and composition, although not necessarily a pure bred.  The gist of it being that it's a dog who is particularly well suited to living in human society. 

Gretel was such a dog.  She was given up to me by a woman who had been a breeder of shepherds.  As her age advanced and her health declined she had gradually reduced her household pack.  Kaiser (on left in the pic below) and Gretel (on the right) were two of the last that she re-homed, only when she was facing her own mortality.  The dogs went separate ways, but both to excellent homes.  Regrettably, Kaiser lasted only a few months before being claimed by an aggressive cancer.  He made a lasting impression on his adopters, however, who adopted again and even became VGSR volunteers. 

Gretel went to a home down near Roanoke.  A beautiful, idyllic spot in the country, where she wanted for nothing.  Her owners gave her everything a dog could want, but I know they would say that they received from her even more than they gave.  Gretel was a "quality dog" as my friend would put it.  She was gorgeous, had excellent training and manners, but mostly she was a dog who was perfectly adapted to life with humans.  She fit in.  They could take her anywhere, meet anyone, but she was also perfectly happy in her home surrounded by the two people she was devoted to. 

Their devotion matched hers and continued right up to the end, which came yesterday, at an age of more than 13 years.  She was not a young dog when they adopted her back in August, 2006, and many people would have passed her over as being too old.  They had her just shy of four years, but I know they wouldn't have traded her for any other dog on any day of those four years.  I hope that they will adopt another senior dog someday, but Gretel will be a tough act to follow.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday morning

I haven't had a lot of inspiration for a blog post lately, but there is some good news to share. 

The Beast charmed his way into a new home in South Carolina on Saturday.  He has a new name, Tofu, and two new daddies.  He will need to learn to share living quarters with a small dog and a ferret, so they have some challenges ahead of them, I'm sure. 

I tried without success to get some new pics of the two shar peis running around the dog yard.  They were constantly in motion and the light was getting low, so mostly I got very blurry shots. 

Thor seems to be working out in his new home.  He's a young dog with a lot of learn, but he's coming along. 

I didn't do an adoption event this weekend.  We mowed nearly half the pasture on Saturday, Clay worked on Sunday and I did a shopping trip to Short Pump.  Belle still has stitches, Boomer is still too skinny, and Trooper is not interested.  I'm doing the Cat Splash Fever adoption event at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA next Saturday.  I plan to take Belle, Buster (he is still their dog), Boomer, and Teddy.  VGSR is probably having something next Sunday as well, which I may or may not attend. 

Speaking of VGSR, they are sponsoring a golf tournament on October 1.  It's the third year in a row for this event and it is our single biggest fundraiser.  As is so often the case, there is one woman who is the driving force behind this event.    She started it and found sponsors, golfers, volunteeers, and all the things it takes to pull off something like this.  There is the tournament itself, of course, but also a dinner and fundraising auction afterwards.  There are also a lot of German Shepherds there, on the golf course and at the clubhouse. 

There is more information, news, and pics from past tournaments on the tourament's blog.  I think there is a Facebook page too, but I can't locate it at the moment.  They are looking for sponsors, golfers, or any items to donate for the auction. 

Finally, here is my favorite pic of Rocky and Shayna, still stuck in Utah, from her blog

Well, I didn't have a lot to say, but it has taken me nearly an hour to say it, so I guess I should get to work. That reminds me, I need to call the vet for an appointment for Daphne, who is still limping after a couple days of rest and Rimadyl. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Full house

The usual seating plan at our house is Gypsy, Cabell, and Bremo downstairs, Zachary and Molly upstairs.  The two upstairs are usually in my office during the day and they come into the bedroom at night.  The separation from the downstairs dogs is necessary because Gypsy hates Molly (and all other females), and she's not too fond of Zachary either. 

There are three crates set up in my office at all times.  There are dog beds in them and Molly and/or Zach use them or the big bolster bed that is near my work computer.  Trooper and Daphne have been currently occupying two of the crates, leaving one for Molly because I still crate Molly if I leave because she's a trash picker and once, years ago, she jumped out of the second floor window.  Plus, she's scared of storms, so she likes to hunker down in a crate if there is even the least threat of rain.

Greta (German Shepherd) has come to board with us for a couple of weeks.  She doesn't really need a crate but I've been using one for her just to get her into the household routine.  Yesterday three of my fosters had surgery, so Boomer came indoors along with Beastie Boy.  Last night Molly and Zach came to the bedroom, leaving Boomer, Daphne, and Greta in the three big crates.  I set up a fourth, slightly smaller crate for the Beastie Boy (who learned to go up stairs for the first time in his life).  Trooper took the big bolster bed in the office, making 5 dogs in here last night.  More of a doggie dorm than an office at that point. 

There would have been a sixth dog stashed somewhere, but the female shar pei, Belle, spent the night at the vet's after her surgery, for which I was grateful.  She was not only spayed, she also had entropic surgery to correct a congenital condition affecting her eyelids.  She can have Beastie Boy's crate when she comes home tonight. 

During the day today, or at least for this morning, I'm trying to keep Boomer, Daphne, Trooper, and Zachary outside in the dog yard. The Beast went back to his kennel and I think he's fine there.  I'm lucky that our own five dogs don't want or need that much outdoor time right now.

[Pictures, from top left:  Boomer and Trooper; Daphne (smiling at last); Boomer (with ball); Trooper (looking handsome and goofy all at once); Daphne (classic rottie look); and Boomer (again, with ball, he's crazy about a ball). 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Thor was up to 68 pounds last weekend. He looked a lot better and everyone noticed and commented. A woman and her college-age daughter came down to meet him for the second time yesterday and they returned this morning to adopt him.

He will have two senior female dogs to teach him the ways of a civilized canine, and two cats that he will learn to respect, but he will also have several fenced acres to play on where he can just be a dog. That's a good thing, because he is young, goofy, energetic, and has more enthusiasm than brains.  He needs both physical and mental exercise to grow into a proper German Shepherd Dog.

It's a good home, with three generations of dog people, who will continue him on the diet that seems to be working for him and who will give him the lifetime of love that every dog needs. He's not even home yet as I'm posting this so it may be premature, but I have a good feeling about it. And I've already agreed to take in a lab to fill his space, so I sure hope it works.

Boomer and the two shar-pei pups are at the SPCA today for vaccines, heartworm tests, and spay/neuter. It's going to cozy upstairs tonight with the three post-surgery dogs in addition to Daphne, Trooper, and Greta (boarder). Molly and Zachary may have to camp out in the bedroom instead of the office.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Sunday

Sunday was a pretty good day. Former foster Colby, a dutch shepherd mix, got adopted. She had gone to another foster home when I went to New York but was due to come back home with me yesterday. Instead she went to her new adoptive home, which I think will be a good one. She has two boys who are a good age and size to play with, and a fenced yard in Falls Church in which to play.

Former foster Sadie was also at yesterday's adoption event. She's doing well in her current foster home, even with two cats.

Apparently she picked out my van when walking through the parking lot yesterday. She's a very smart dog and will do well wherever she goes. She reminds me a lot of our late Emmylou.

Another former foster, Lexie, was there yesterday too. She has now finished the heartworm treatment and is going to her new adoptive home on Tuesday. This is Lexie on the left, with the resident dog from her foster home, Buddy, on the right. Buddy was once one of my fosters too. He was adopted by one of our volunteers who has been fostering Lexie. Buddy prefers female fosters, so I'll find him another one after Lexie goes to her new home.

Everyone noticed that Thor had gained weight and he is beginning to look much better. I left Trooper home yesterday (he didn't want to go anyway), and took along Buster instead.

Buster had demonstrated some occasional growliness at the shelter so I wasn't sure what to expect. I always like to hold a new dog myself the first time out, which was another reason for leaving Trooper at home. He turned out to be very good, however, we saw no problems and certainly no growls. He finally just laid down and stretched out on the sidewalk, but would let anyone come up to him and touch him.

Everyone liked him and he seemed to feel the same way. There was much speculation about his genetic make up. He has a black saddle style marking that is vaguely reminiscent of a shepherd, but that's about all that is. He's built more like a greyhound, his legs are incredibly long. The shelter he came from has him down as a redbone coonhound mix and that seems probable. He seems to have a hound's good temperament and he has a very hound-like coat, ears, face/smile, etc. He's a great dog. I suspect he was just scared at the shelter.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chinese wrinkle dogs

I met my doggie dealer again yesterday and brought home two, 8 month old, shar-pei pups--Belle, the black female, and Beast, a very wrinkly brown male. When I told a friend last night that I had two new shar-peis, he said "Chinese wrinkle dogs?" That's exactly what they are and a great description for them.

Belle is a bit more reserved and not as quick to trust strangers, I think, but she's fine with me, not really shy or scared. The Beast is a big, wrinkly, love bug.

They were "leftovers" from a breeder, the last two to be sold, and they went to someone who really wasn't in a position to handle or maintain two pups. He gave them up to my southwest Virginia friend, who held them until I could take them. Belle went into heat for the first time so she had to separate them for a couple weeks. I will get them speutered next week.

It's my first experience with this breed. They are small, probably not more than 40 pounds yet, if that, but they aren't full grown yet either. I guess I need to get them some puppy food.