Wednesday, September 29, 2010

News: good, bad, and otherwise

Boomer is settling in very nicely in his new home. He's well trained, no household problems, and he's slowly putting on some weight.

Sugar is doing fine, but the cat still hasn't come around.  If they are looking for a dog that the cat will like, they will never have a dog.  Sugar is doing her part, but cats take some time to adjust to changes.  This is still a wait and see and I'd consider it 50/50 at best.

Sunny, unfortunately, was returned last weekend. Too much energy for the household, she needs older kids and a younger dog to play with, needs training, etc.

Bubba went to the home of the people who met him at the Vegetarian Festival. So far, so good.

Buddy (half of the Buddy/Holly pair of shepherds), went home with the vet who neutered him on Monday. The phone message I received yesterday said that he's doing well so far, they are slowly introducing him to the rest of the household.

Jeremey got neutered on Tuesday. He was infested with fleas and has a skin infection to boot. He came up to a crate in my office last night though, and he was good indoors, could handle stairs, and was fine in the crate all night. He's up here again today and seems pretty content. 

I had an email from someone who met Belle on Saturday. I answered it but haven't heard anything further. I had another email from someone who met Buster on Saturday. She loved Buster but has two senior dogs at home right now and just isn't ready. We will stay in touch.  No immediate prospects for either of them. 

The pics here are of Luke and Tasha, a gsd and rottweiler, respectively, who were returned to me today after several years. No problem with the dogs, just that their owner moved and the dogs no longer fit his lifestyle. They were adopted back in 2004. At this point in their life, their adoption prospects are not so great, although both are nice dogs and are in good shape. 

Foster count:  11, and that's assuming that Sugar, Bubba, and Buddy don't come back.  No more dogs until after Thanksgiving (except one I've already committed to).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Viral email

We've all received one of them at some time or another--an email from a familiar name with a somewhat suspicious but plausible subject line, such as "Re:  Hi".  You open it and it's immediately obvious that it did not originate from the ostensible sender.  Mine are usually something like "Click here to see the amazing prices from this Canadian pharmacy."  It's safe to assume that your friend's computer has a virus, not that they have taken up pimping for a north of the border drug company.  I received such an email the other day and recogized the name of the sender as Tucson's adopter.

The email was followed by one that was actually from her, confirming that the email was viral.  She also sent this picture of Tucson (left) and his buddy Percy (right).  Tucson was adopted back at the end of 2005.  His owner had left Arizona with all his possessions, including Tucson, loaded into a rather small car.  He was en route to his mother's place in Florida but was stopping over here to spend a few days with his sister who lives at a commune in Louisa County.  Lousia County, just to our north, is as unlikely a place for a commune as Buckingham County, just to our south, is for an ashram, but there they are. 

Anyway, this guy was going to stay at the commune for 4-5 days to visit his sister, but outside dogs were not welcome there.  He had somehow gotten in touch with Caring for Creatures, who thoughtfully gave him my number, or they gave me his, (Thanks, Jan.)  I agreed to keep his little dog, a shepherd mix named Tucson, while he stayed at the commune.  The week passed and he never called or came back.  I finally called his mother's house in Florida and soon thereafter got a call from him.  The call confirmed what I suspected, that the dog had been dumped on me. 

He was adopted by a nice young couple who had an SPCA beagle named Percy.  They sent me the picture on the right not long after the adoption.  They had some rough times at the beginning as I recall, but they worked through them.  It was a happy outcome for Tucson, who found himself in the unfortunate position of being no longer convenient for his owner's lifestyle.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vegetables and bulls

Today was the annual Vegetarian Festival in Charlottesville.  Part of the event is an adoption fair with a number of local shelters and rescue organizations.  It is an event that attracts an animal-friendly crowd and is generally good for a placement or two, sometimes of tough to adopt dogs.  Hairy found his new home there years ago.  I loaded up Buster, Teddy, Bubba, and Belle and went with Animal Connections. 

I'm not a vegetarian and it's difficult to get away from my spot when I'm watching four dogs to get something to eat, so I loaded up on food at Burger King on the way in and brought along a cooler full of iced coffee and iced tea. 

I think we have a good lead on a possible home for Bubba. It's a good enough prospect that I cancelled my plans to take him to Gainesville on Sunday and am doing a home visit tomorrow late afternoon instead. No real good prospects for the other dogs, except I'd love to place Teddy with Wendy, the organizer of the adoption fair, who has a fondness for shy hounds.

It was a nice day, slightly cooler than yesterday but it still felt more like summer than fall.  I saw several friends and met several Facebook friends for the first time. One of my former fosters, Della, now called Mabel, came by to visit.  We were never sure what she was but she has an irresistible face.  From the neck back she looks like a golden.  Seeing her today, I realized that she has the exact same snout as Belle, the Shar-pei.  She also has the wrinkly forehead and purple spotted tongue.  The adopters had come to the same conclusion some time ago.  My camera wasn't working again, so I stole the pic above from a friend's FB album.  The pic at right is of Mabel from her time in foster care.  She was adopted from the Vegetarian Festival two years ago. 

This evening Clay and I went to the PBR bull riding event in Charlottesville at the John Paul Jones arena at UVA.  JPP arena has been open for a couple years, I guess, but the first event we had attended there was Lady Gaga just two weeks ago.  Tonight's PBR crowd was a bit different and I suspect we may be among what is only a small group of people to attend both events.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


On Wednesday I picked up two new shepherds, a 1-2 year old male and a 3-4 year old female, that I named Buddy and Holly, respectively.  They are both good looking dogs.  She has Lyme disease, they both had whip worms.  Oh, and she's in heat.  Someone else pulled them from a shelter and transported them to a vet, who was supposed to vaccinate them, do the heartworm and fecal tests, and hold them until I could get over to the Valley to pick them up.  It was not a vet that I have ever used and it's not one that I'll ever use again. 

The shelter had given both dogs the kennel cough and parvo/distemper vaccines, so all these two really needed was a rabies vaccine. The vet there was a pleasant young woman who proceeded to explain to me that they couldn't give the rabies vaccine because the dogs had recently had the two other vaccines.  WTF?  I've never heard of such a thing.  She even conceded that they could have had all three vaccines at the same time, but said that because they had two at one time, the dogs' immune system could not now mount an appropriate response to the rabies vaccine.  I've run this scenario by some other people, who had the same WTF? reaction that I did. 

I can only assume that she's still got student loans from vet school to pay off and wants these dogs back for repeat office visits.  They won't be going.  Even if it's true that it would be ideal to wait, these dogs do not inhabit an ideal world.  She left me with two unvaccinated dogs, that I now have to haul to a real vet on another day for a rabies vaccine. If they were to bite someone in the meantime, I can't even show compliance with the law.  It's stupid, it's irresponsible, and what pisses me off most is that it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of reality.

Fortunately, the dogs are nice, although they are a bit fearful and undersocialized.  Buddy (left) has a neuter appointment for next week.   Holly (right) will be spayed a week later.  They bark at me out of fear but I can enter their kennel and they will approach me when invited.  They should be fine.  They went into the kennel next to Sparky that has been vacant all summer.  I had to cut down weeds in there and I'm going to put up a canopy for shade because it was 95 degrees here on the first full day of Fall. 

Today I took Bubba and Trooper on a trip to the SPCA in Charlottesville. Bubba is my most adoptable dog and I really want to move him this weekend.  He's incredibly sweet, crawls into a lap or climbs up your body for kisses.  He's not spooked by anything; he even rode the elevator with very little fear.  I wanted him to meet cats in order to maximize his adoption prospects.  The cats we met were rather aggressive towards him, but he was cool and I think would be fine with even a moderately dog savvy cat. 

After the cat test, I brought Trooper out to meet three of SPCA's bravest (or most foolhardy?) staff.  Trooper still has a problem with fear aggression towards strangers.  I had him muzzled at first so no one was in danger.  When he calmed down a bit, I took it off and let him interact.  He's good if no one looks directly at him.  If he can approach a stranger on his own, sniff, etc., he seems to be ok.  He's still not adoptable as he is, but he does seem to be better.  Once he settled down and realized they weren't going away, he was ok, but mostly he just wanted to go home.  Trooper likes it here and he's getting really comfortable.  He's even doing the alert bark, which my fosters generally leave to the resident dogs.

Friday, dog wash, in preparation for the Vegetarian Festival on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's my birthday

Tevya is two years old.   Actually he's more than that, but he just had his second rescue birthday.  Being a rescue dog is apparently the only way that one can be "born again" without turning into right-wing religious nut. 

Tevya's folks describe him as "equal parts couch potato and energizer bunny. (i.e., his is either sleeping or sprinting, you will rarely finding him just sitting around.)"  That sounds very much like our Molly, who has only two settings:  off, or full speed ahead.

Tevya is smart. He can work the electric car windows and has a wide vocabulary.  He knows the names of individual toys and he has particular places he likes each of them to be. 

He spent his birthday at his grandparents' place, running in the woods, eating steak, and collecting a batch of new toys as well as this monster rawhide bone. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reunion 2010, part 3 of 3

I get to see Buddy fairly often.  He was adopted by one of our volunteers who often brings Buddy along to adoption events together with his current foster.  Buddy will not let Steve out of his sight and he will not go anywhere without Steve.  I tried to take Buddy's leash to get my picture taken with him on Sunday, but Buddy wouldn't walk with me even two steps away from Steve.  He pulled me back and climbed into Steve's lap, which would have been a better picture anyway.  I never had Buddy for long, I'm not sure he spent more than a night at my house, if that.  When he came in, I contacted Steve, drove him up there and they've been joined at the hip ever since.  Buddy prefers to share his home with female fosters and that's fine.  There are not a lot of other limitations on the type of dog they will accept as a foster and Steve always asks me first when he's ready to take on a new one.  He has gotten the idea in his head that I get great dogs, and Buddy is a big part of that.  These are pics taken of Buddy when he and Steve came down to my house to pick up a female foster, Lexi. 

Colby is just cute.  We think she's a dutch shepherd mix of some sort, but no one really knows, or cares.  She's a great little dog.  She has worked out very well in her new home where she has two kids of her own for entertainment and for shepherding.  They are a great age and size for her too, big enough and old enough to enjoy having a dog and young enough that they will be around for a while for her.  I was glad to see that they had an Easy Walk harness on her at the reunion on Sunday.

Justin (left) is another one of my fosters that was adopted to another VGSR foster home/volunteer.  Justin's home had adopted a senior dog from me named Malcolm (right).  In the hierarchy of things that impress me, adopting a senior dog ranks above walking on water.  So, when Malcolm passed away and their Loki was needing a new companion, the next great, cat-friendly shepherd I came across went to these folks. Justin is great, he has one lazy ear, but even it can be held erect and pointed when he is sufficiently interested in something.  It's probably a good way to judge the dog's reaction.  Justin was at the reunion on Sunday but he wasn't happy being there until they went for a walk, then he settled down.  As far as he's concerned, if he gets hauled somewhere in the car there had better be walk involved.  Justin and Loki and a couple of cats now share their beautiful home with a foster dog most of the time too, most recently it was my girl Sadie. 

I got to see Sadie again on Sunday and I got to meet the two young guys who adopted her.  They said that she's adjusted very well to city life, but they also take her hiking a lot.  They live near Meridian Hill Park in DC and there's Rock Creek Park, Roosevelt Island, and other places around the city to interest a dog.  It hadn't been that long since I had her, so I'm sure she remembered me, but it was clear that her loyalty now belonged to those two guys and that's how it should be.  They are first-time dog owners, so they dote on her, which is something I'm sure she's never had, and may not even understand.  She will get used to it and will love it.  I couldn't be happier about where she ended up.  Pics:  at left, the tough to photograph Sadie at an adoption event; at right, Sadie meets her new family.

Sunday was a beautiful day for the reunion and I really enjoyed it.  I pondered over which dog to take along myself.  Gypsy was adopted from VGSR's predecessor organization, but Gypsy is not a party dog.  She doesn't like crowds of people and dogs that she can't control.  Plus, the old girl is just not getting around very well anymore.  Zachary is sociable enough and certainly fit enough to come, and is a German Shepherd Dog for sure, but he doesn't like anyone but Clay.  Last year I took Emmylou, who dearly loved that sort of thing, and I shed a few tears on the drive home thinking about her.  I decided to take Cabell, who likes people almost as much as Emmylou did and is good with other dogs so I wouldn't have worry about him meeting the former fosters.  He's not a shepherd at all, but I like being a non-conformist. 

Here's the group photo from the reunion, over 100 German Shepherds and assorted other dogs.  (Double click on the photo below, or any photo, and you'll see it full sized.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reunion 2010, part 2 of 3

Max is a long haired shepherd that I took in and then moved on to another foster home.  That foster ended up adopting him.  Max had Lyme disease, I believe, and some other health problems as well, but they've been worked through to the point of being resolved or at least to the point of being manageable.  Max is a great big, fluffy, friendly boy.  [At left, chewing on wood in former owner's yard the day I picked him up, and at right, at yesterday's reunion.]

Max's adopter is a VGSR volunteer and she also happens to have been the foster home for our Gypsy (previously known as Jag), that we adopted from VGSR's predecessor organization probably 10-12 years ago.  She was one of the first shepherd people we met when she and Lea Spickler came out to our house in Catharpin with the year old Jag.  She was also instrumental in the adoption of this guy, Jeff, because she had done the home visit for the couple who became his new adoptive home.  Jeff is probably as much Malinois as shepherd (as is Betty - see prior post).  Jeff wasn't one of my fosters originally, but he was returned to VGSR and needed a new foster home so I took him in.  The first adopters were nice folks, but they seriously misinterpreted this dog's energetic jumping as aggression.  Jeff is a sweet boy, not aggressive at all, and was re-adopted quickly.  Although he had some housetraining problems initially, the new adopters got that all worked out.  His adoption dates back to 2007 or early 2008.  Jeff came to us with a very crooked right front leg, the result of a bad break that had never been treated and had badly healed.  He doesn't bear much weight on that leg, but it doesn't seem to bother him or slow him down much either.  He was a very happy boy when we met at the reunion yesterday.

Another former foster who wasn't originally mine is Score.  He was born into foster care, and although his mother was a GSD, his father clearly was not.  Score was adopted out as a pup and was returned at about a year of age.  I don't remember the circumstances, but the return wasn't his fault and for some reason his original foster home couldn't take him back, so he came to me.  When Score was returned he was a very swollen elbow joint.  Living outdoors at my place wasn't ideal for that, but we wrapped it and he was sleeping on a nice deep bed of straw and it improved significantly.  When he got adopted and moved indoors to the easy life, it completely went away and has not recurred. Score was adopted by a very nice young couple who brought him to the reunion yesterday.  I got no new pics of Score, but he was obviously happy and they were just as happy with him.  Both Score's and Betty's adopters had met and liked Jeep and asked about him yesterday.  I was happy to be able to report that Jeep had a great new home where he wasn't shy at all.

Huck was at the reunion, I was at the reunion, but somehow didn't see each other.  Huck was originally called Nemo and came to the rescue with a brother named Hannibal.  They came into rescue as a result of a prior adopter who found them living in bad circumstances and made an effort to get them out.  Both are beautiful young dogs and both went to really great homes.  At left is Huck prior to adoption.  His adopters are now VGSR volunteers too.  Huck went through an obedience course and passed, and on Sunday at the reunion he passed his Canine Good Citizenship test as well.  Huck shares his home with a golden retriever, as shown in the post-adoption pics at right.  He's a great dog and his adopters are great assets to the rescue. 

Reunion 2010, part 1 of 3

Virginia German Shepherd Rescue has a reunion each year. It's held up in Reston and is about a 2.5 hour drive for me, but it was well worth the trip yesterday. I lost track of number of my former fosters who were there, but when I got home and counted them up, I came up with 11. Then I had a message on Facebook from someone who was there but I hadn't seen, bringing the total to 12. This morning I looked at the pics on my camera and realized there was one more I hadn't included in the count, making it a baker's dozen. Top row, Kate, on left, from her time in foster care back in 2007, and on right, from yesterday's reunion. She is now called Dusty and she is beautiful.

My camera did not cooperate. I got a few pics, and had some friends take a few more for me. In some cases I'm using my old pics of the dogs from their time in foster care, at least until I get some new ones. Second row of pics, Malachi, from his time in foster care on left, and on right, from yesterday. He was a good boy yesterday and his dad was very pleased and proud of him. He's now just called Kai. He was very skinny as a foster and has filled out perfectly.

Third row, left, Betty as a foster, and at right, Betty at yesterday's reunion.  Betty seems to have a problem with seizures, but hasn't had one in a while now so they are hoping that the low dose of medication and some other changes have got them under control.  She's in very good hands.

The first former foster I saw yesterday was the one I forgot until I saw his picture on my camera this morning.  This is Bruno as a foster at left, and from yesterday at right.  He blew out his thick Swiss Mountain Dog coat for the summer so he looks much sleeker now, but I bet he will grow it back for winter.

Duke is a really handsome boy.  I adopted him to a family with two young children, including a new born, which I would normally never do, but these are dog people and they made it all work.  Duke has been great with the kids and seemed very happy. None of my Duke pictures from yesterday came out.  These are from Duke's time in foster care (left), and just after his adoption, playing with his new dad (right).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fabulous Friday

Actually the day didn't start out so great.  Our air conditioner went out yesterday late afternoon.  It wasn't too bad last night, but you could definitely feel the humidity in the house, although how it can be humid in this desert-like summer is beyond me.  But the day picked up pretty quickly.  I got W.E. Brown, Inc., on the phone and they had someone out  here about 10:00 a.m. and he had it fixed in about 10 minutes.  The temp was going up to 90 again today and that's the forecast for the foreseeable future, so I was glad to have the air back on. 

Even before the air was back on, I found myself with three new foster puppies.  Their foster mom got called out of town on a family emergency so they needed a place to go.  My puppy kennel just happened to be empty, Sugar was its last occupant, so now I have three beagle mix puppies for a while.  Puppies are fun to have when the weather is good enough to permit them to be outdoors.  I pulled out some clean toys, but they didn't stay that way for long.  They love the burrow under the platform in that kennel.  It's a very cozy den.  I expect that most of the toys are down in there now. 

This is my new foster, a 7 year old shepherd mix named Jeremy, pulled from the Fluvanna County shelter today.  Jeremey seems like a nice guy who has had a few bad hands dealt to him, including a case of heartworms.  He's been treated and now we will see what we can do about turning his life around for a better future. 

I got an email from Sunny's new home.  It's been almost a week and they have decided to make it permanent.  The subject line of the email read:  "Sunny - SOLD!", so it knew at a glance that it was going to be good news.  They said:  "She’s a keeper. Sunny’s super smart, really sweet, and a quick learner. She’s picked up fetch, and loves spending time chasing balls and frisbees in the backyard with us. I think she’s had a positive effect on our couch potato [Dexter] too!  . . . we start training classes on Sunday. I know she’ll take right to it. All in all, I think a great fit."  That made my day, but it just kept getting better.

A woman from northern Virginia who had met Boomer a few weeks ago drove down here late this afternoon.  Boomer now seems to be gaining weight, so she took him home, along with his favorite ball.  Boomer will be very happy to be back in a home again with a person of his own, and she may even be wanting a second dog sometime in the future.  It will be a great home and I think Boomer will do his part to fit right in.  I'll be keeping fingers crossed on this one, as we still are for Sugar, who went to her new home Wednesday evening. 

Sunday is VGSR's annual reunion.  It's a long drive but it's always nice to see a lot of my former fosters so I'll be going, although I'm not sure which, if any, of the dogs I'll be taking.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fingers crossed

Saturday morning I drove over east of Richmond to the home of a former foster, Truman.  These folks adopted Truman from me many years ago, maybe 2003?, and have since had three children.  Truman is now Dexter and he has been a wonderful dog for them.  He is now a little gray and a little heavy, but he's doing well.   I took Sunny to meet Dexter and the rest of the family and have left her there to see how everyone gets along.  They have a huge, fully fenced back yard, which Sunny had a great time exploring.  The initial report, and pictures, were very good.  She was great with the kids and with Dexter.

Sunday I took Trooper, Buster, and Bubba up to a VGSR adoption event in Gainesville.  Bubba was the star of the day.  Right from the start he greeted every stranger like a longtime friend.  This really amazed me because he came from a rural area and had probably never been to a busy, suburban shopping center full of cars, people, and dogs.  Nothing phased him.  He worked the crowd like a politician, moving from person to person, comfortable with everyone, kissing babies right and left. As soon as he's neutered I think he will be easy to place.  Because I expect him to be a short-termer, I'm leaving the name as is.  Whoever adopts him can change the name, or not, but I didn't see any need to throw too many new names at him in a short period of time.

Late in the afternoon on Saturday a local couple had come over to meet Sugar. I'm generally pretty skeptical of products of the local gene pool, but these people were not natives. They liked Sugar and I liked them. After I got back from Gainesville on Sunday, I loaded up Sugar and went to meet them a second time, and to meet their current dog. They have a standard poodle who is 12 years old but sure doesn't act it.  They also have a beautiful home and fenced yard.  They both work, but one is taking off Thursday and the other one is taking Friday off so I can take the dog over Wednesday evening, giving the dog four full days to settle in before being left alone.  Sugar was a bit unsure, but she was interested in them and I think will be very comfortable there after a day or two.  The timing is perfect too, because Kane will go in for heartworm treatment on Tuesday and will need to come inside to a crate when he returns on Wednesday. 

Think good thoughts for Sunny and Sugar this week.  They are both great dogs and both have great potential homes.