Thursday, March 31, 2011

Short timers

This girl blew in here today just ahead of the rain and will probably be out of here with the next passing line of showers.  (We are having a rainy week.)

Well, she didn't exactly blow in, but I only had to drive over to Fishersville to meet her.  She came from Tennessee.  Fortunately, she travels well.

This is the long-awaited Ladybug, or Lady.  She was surrendered due to unfortunate circumstances in her home, not of her own making.  She is a wonderful dog, has lived indoors with children, and even cats.  She is spayed and vaccinated, although I don't yet have the vet records.  Apparently there were second thoughts about surrendering the dog as late as this morning, but she is here in my office with Maggie Mae and Molly tonight. 

Her stay here will be brief.  She's moving to a truely stellar foster home this weekend.  It's a home that I've adopted two dogs to, (all without a home visit---sssssssshh), and it's a home any dog would be lucky to share.  I believe there is an adoptive home already in mind for this dog, but in any event, she will be an easy placement.  If she hits the web there will be too many potential adopters wanting her. 

She has to be wondering what is going on, but she's not anxious and is handling it all very well.  I expect that she will transition smoothly to a new home.  I promised the former owner I'd find her a great, great home, and that will be an easy promise to keep.

It's nice to take them in and move them out so quickly.  I had a call this evening from my SW VA doggie dealer.  She has another Dane for me, and another Pyr mix too. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sometimes I get it right

It's a cold, wet, dreary day, which is always rather depressing for me, so it was nice to hear some good news today.  I've made plenty of mistakes in adopting dogs, but these are three instances where I got it right. 

Smokey's (Rita) new family wrote and said: 

She is doing fine. Still wants to jump up on us but very seldom. Loves her toys and her bed. Our bed too, however, we do not encourage it. She has gained weight. Her eye is the same but does not bother her. We play ball almost every night. The kids love her to death and play with her as well. She has started to sleep through the night which helps. She loves treats and ice. We have learned to sing together.

This is a girl whose only fault, like many of them, was loving too much.  She has trouble containing her excitement and affection.  But that's not such a bad thing, considering all the other problems she could have. 
These folks are previous adopters from me.  Their last shepherd, Beau, had died a couple months ago.  Rita was right for them, I think.  She was old enough to be past the puppy stage, but also still young enough and exuberant enough to really fill up the house with life.  They fell for her right away. 
I've written previously about a Golden Retriever named Abby.  I had adopted her out orginally to a couple up near Culpeper.  The husband died in a tragic accident and the wife returned Abby to me out of concern that she couldn't handle two dogs.  I put her back on the web and had an inquiry, application, and very enthusiastic email from a woman in Delaware.  She was out of state, making a home visit difficult, and the distance concerned me in the event of a return. 
But she sent a very detailed application, and a home visit report from another rescue, pictures of her home, current and previous dogs, etc.  She gave me everything I could ask for without even asking for it.  She was persistent without being pushy.  She wanted this dog.  She and her husband drove down from Delaware and met me at Gainesville, arriving before I did.  They were obviously nice people and I sent the dog home with them on the spot.  The woman got her certified as a therapy dog and has done a variety of therapy work with her. 
She wrote this morning to tell me that Abby had now received her Masters Certification from PAWS for People, passing the test with flying colors.  The dog will soon have more degrees that I do, and she is certainly better with people.  I can claim no credit for any of the great things they have done, except that I made the right decision in placing that dog.  And I'm pretty proud of that. 
And this, this says it all.  This is Flirt (left) and her new sister, Kota (right).  This inquiry came during a week that I had WAY too much going on already, and I didn't think at first that it was likely to amount to much.  I got Flirt to meet some small dogs for one potential home, and when that didn't pan out, I followed up on this application, which actually came from the sister of a man who would be the adopter.  I blew off most of a work day to make it happen (making it up on the weekend), but it was worth it.  Flirty needed this.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Luck of the Irish

The phrase "luck of the Irish" is generally mis-used to refer to good luck, but it seems that the phrase actually referred to their epic bad luck, which accounts for much depressing Irish literature.  I'm not sure the Irish have generally been such a lucky people but dogs with Irish names may fare better.  We gave Maggie her name because she came to us on St. Patrick's Day, and her luck took a decided turn for the better. 

Our current Irish named dog is Maggie Mae.  She is one of the whorder's dogs and her life has been anything but lucky so far.  She had surgery last week to remove her reproductive apparatus and a very large mammary tumor.  The vet wasn't very encouraging about her longterm prospects based on the size of the tumor.  However, she called today with the test results, which classified it as only "pre-cancerous."  The report also showed that the tumor had good margins, which means that the surgeon did a great job and got it all.  Much like a woman who has had a lump removed, it means that she's at increased risk to have another, but it's a situation to be monitored, not a time to make funeral plans.  The vet also thought she was only about 5 years old too, which augurs well for her longevity. 
Now we need to get to work on Maggie Mae's other problem, her ears.  Chronic ear infection in shepherds generally seems to be associated with allergies, so I'm going to put her on a new food and see if we can get her into adoptable condition.  They do not seem to be bothering her like they were when she first arrived, but it's still tough to get the medication in them. 

She's good indoors, great in a crate, and really seems to like it.  I don't think she will have a problem fitting into a home.

So, good news from the vet today.  Also, Bremo's bloodwork showed that his thyroid level was back up to normal, so hopefully his skin and coat will improve. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Idle weekend

I didn't do squat this weekend, but still some good things happened.  The new girl, Harley, went home to northern VA with a new VGSR foster.  Well, she's not exacly new, she's been around the dog world in Charlottesville for a long time and has fostered a lot for Animal Connections.  She had Big Boy for a few days before he moved to another foster home, and now she has Harley. 

She's perfect for Harley too, because the dog has no worldly experience and was rather shy with strangers.  I think she will be getting a lot of what she needs now if these pictures recently posted on the new foster's Facebook page are any indication. 

The yellow lab/golden that I got from the Fluvanna shelter was called Bubba, we renamed him Seamus but only had him a couple days, and his adopters have been calling him Bailey.  Whatever you call him, he's a great dog.  We met them in Charlottesville yesterday and completed the adoption contract on his guy. 

What these folks realized, and I wish more people realized, is that "great" does not mean "perfect."  He is a great dog, calm, cool, and collected, but he's not perfect. 

Also in the not perfect category, is Sunny (now Sofie), but her new owner loves her and is already working with a trainer on the less than perfect parts of her. 

Continuing in the same vein, Lilly's adopters called today, not to return her, but to seek some help in dealing with some persistent diarrhea.  All of the whorder's shepherds had some major digestive upset and it has taken a while to get their guts cleaned out and settled down to where they are working smoothly.  Lilly (Hope) is still scared of the husband and daughter too, but they are working on it, not giving up. 

I just received this pic from Romeo/Bear's adopters.  He's far from perfect, but he's getting better with his house manners, the cat, everything.  This is a dog who knew nothing but a filthy pen his whole life, so I think it's pretty amazing that he's done as well as he has already.  He's now learning to be a lap dog.

Last week's surgery cases are recovering well.  Dugan the boxer is acting like nothing happened.  He just needs to gain some weight.  He's eating three times a day now. 

Maggie Mae is feeling good again too, she's having a much faster recovery than I expected from all the surgery she had.  She is still in a crate in my office mostly, but she's wanting to get out and run more than she should yet.  Dugan is inside too, and with Harley moved out, I've brought Trooper and Jeremy back in as well.  It's a full house, but everyone is really good in their crates. 

The final pic is Samson the Wonder Dog, shown here with his baby brother.  Samson has apparently assumed the role of big brother and babysitter.  This is just a great picture. 

Rest in peace, Tasha, we miss you girl. 

A good girl departs

All the rotties in doggie heaven will have to move over a bit and make room on the cosmic sofa for one more, because Tasha left us yesterday afternoon. 

She was a rottie that I had taken in years ago who was returned to me late in life.  When Tasha came back to the rescue she had a mast cell tumor on her side that we removed, but we all knew that she may not have too long.  Still, we hoped for the best and Tasha was taken in by the folks who adopted Sable and Rowdy (Bernie) from me, and a lab (Murphy) from another rescue.  They had the 4 dogs divided between two homes in northern VA, rotating between locations so the dogs had the best of care. 


Tasha was a sweet, wonderful girl, from the first time I pulled her out of the Louisa County shelter, right up to the end.  She rolled with the punches, adapted to changes that happened to her. 

She was a good girl and she had a life full of love. 

I can't say enough good things about her, or about the folks who took her in when her need was greatest, her options were few, and her time was short. People like that sustain my sometimes feeble hope for humanity. 

Have you hugged your dog today?

Friday, March 25, 2011

A pleasant surprise

It was one of those phone calls that I dread.  An 85 year old woman, local, had a 7-8 year old German Shepherd she was looking to "get rid" of because she had taken to digging out of the fence.  In my experience, that usually translates into an 8-10 year old mixed breed, poorly-socialized dog who has never been indoors and had been living in a too small kennel her entire life. 

Happily, I was wrong and was pleasantly surprised when I went there this morning to bring home "Harley." 

She was indoors with the woman and was obviously well housetrained.  She was only 5 years old, turning 6 at the end of May.  She was spayed, vaccinated, on heartworm preventative.  She was a bit shy and suspicious of me, but I've seen worse.  And to top it off, she has a history of living with a cat! The dog was obviously devoted to her and all she really needed was to keep the dog mostly indoors and have a bit of work done on her fence.  But I don't think she was interested in having a mostly inside dog and had already made up her mind to give the dog away.  So I brought Harley home, walked her a bit to get these pictures, and brought her in to a crate in my office, next to Maggie Mae and Molly. 

She is shy, particularly with men, and she didn't seem to know stairs, but she made it up ok and she has allowed me to handle her.  She's not fear-aggressive at all.  She had never been crated but she went in and is laying quietly.  I'm going to try to keep her indoors and move her to another foster home this weekend if possible.  All she needs is a heartworm test and kennel cough vaccine.  She will be a great dog for someone, IF they will give her time to settle in and get comfortable with them.  Shepherds are not Labs and they are not Golden Retrievers.  Those breeds are popular for a reason, and deservedly so.  Some shepherds are outgoing and friendly to everyone, but it's not really characteristic of the breed.

Maggie Mae was full of moans and groans yesterday evening after her surgery.  She was in pain; obviously uncomfortable.  She wouldn't eat the chicken and rice I cooked for her and Dugan, but Clay put the pain pill down her throat and about an hour later she did eat.  This morning she is surprisingly perky and ate with much enthusiasm.  I put Dugan out this morning into a kennel by himself.  He seems fine, but I will probably bring him in again tonight.  Trooper and Jeremy spent the night in the shed to make room indoors for the Maggie Mae, Dugan, and now Harley.  They don't really mind, it's quite warm and comfortable in there, so I think I'll let them camp out there for another night or two. 

p.s. The woman who gave up the dog was on my answering machine when I got home, wanting my address to send a donation.  Apparently this is "Surprise Brent Day."  I wish we had these days more often. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bremo's 10th Birthday

Bremo is the only one of our dogs that we have an actual birthdate for, the reason being that he was born here, 10 years ago today. We called him Fuzzy Bear when he was a pup because he had a mixture of long and short hair, which gave him a fuzzy and rather funny appearance.  That was probably the reason  he was the last chosen by potential adopters, so we kept him.  ("Bring me your tired, poor, and funny looking, yearning to run free...")

All the poor guy got for his birthday was a trip to the vet and some blood work.  I actually didn't even remember that today was his birthday until we were at the vet's office.  His thyroid was very low and his coat is dull, dry, and his skin is flakey as a result.  He's been on the thyroid supplement for 30 days now, which is too soon for a marked improvement in his coat, but hopefully the bloodwork we did today will show that we are moving in the right direction.  We also cleaned and medicated his ears, which were kind of gunky.

Birthdays aren't such celebratory events when you are older.  But we love him every day and he's a sweet, kind, gentle dog.  He's showing his age some, but really he's been remarkably healthy, with no real problems except the occasional ear infection for all these years.  At about 100 pounds, 10 years makes him a pretty old dog. 

Like most rotties he's always been very food-focused and food-motivated.  He collects the other dogs' empty food dishes and arranges them in a line or a semi-circle around where he is laying.  If they happen to become full again, they will all be his. 

Bremo isn't a pure rottie of course.  His mother Maggie looks like a rottie/lab mix.  Given Bremo's height, long legs, and brindle coloring, we've always guessed that perhaps his father was a brindle Great Dane, like Flirt, at least in part.  He's a wonderful dog, very much a home body, who has no real interest in the world beyond our fence.  This is his world and he's happy here. 

Bremo's vet appointment was at 4:30 on Thursday afternoon, timed so that I could bring home Maggie Mae and Dugan, the boxer, who went into the vet for surgery this morning.  They are both upstairs in crates in my office this evening.  Dugan seems fine already, he ate dinner and acts like he wants to go out to play.  Maggie Mae had much more extensive surgery and is sleeping it off yet tonight.  She was spayed and had that mammary tumor removed, two surgeries at once.  Both operations were pretty extensive apparently, because she was still partly in heat, and because the tumor was rather large.  It will probably be 10 days or more before we have the biopsy results. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What a difference a home makes

When I wrote the piece about Lilly, yesterday, I had only the orginal pictures that I had taken of her, after her first bath.  Her adopter sent me these new pics today, and you can really see the difference. 

She has had another bath and some good food, but the biggest difference is the look on her face.

She has a bright look in her eye, a look of Hope, which is actually her new name.  I think it fits her well. 

She's becoming much more comfortable with the adopter and she bounces around the house stealing socks.  She enjoys their long walks together and also enjoys lounging around with the resident beagles in the backyard. 

Here also is a picture of Romeo (now Bear), in his new home.  His house manners are improving along with his attitude toward the cats.  I love this pic.  He's either trying to claim both of the beds for himself or decide which one he likes best. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Road to Wellville

"The Road to Wellville" was a rather odd movie from 1994 about a rather odd person.  I'm not sure why I saw it, and I don't particularly recommend it, although I've seen worse.  I liked the title and I'm borrowing it here to announce Lilly's adoption, which we finalized today. 

It's fitting for Lilly because she's not entirely well, yet.  Like Irene (now Serena), she was rather withdrawn and hesitant about human contact because she had never had much of it. Lilly took to indoor living pretty quickly, however, and is slowly adjusting to a better life.  Although she is still rather solitary much of the time, she apparently likes human contact on her own terms.  When she wants something, like being let out, she seeks out her person and makes her wants known.  They go for walks and Lilly is very attentive and sticks close. 

Fortunately, and wisely I think, her new owner is letting her go at her own pace.  She has made a lot of progress and already and she has a family that loves her and wants to help her, so I have to believe that she will come around. 

The sixth and final of the surrendered shepherds is Molly and she came to our house today.  I didn't take her initially because the whorder had said that she was dog-aggressive, which is a big problem around here.  We had taken Jeremy to meet her and she was fine with him, so she's not completely dog-aggressive anyway. Then I thought another rescue group was going to take her, but that didn't happen, so she came here.  She's in a kennel by herself tonight, adjacent to another kennel with three other dogs.  I'll give her a couple days to decompress before trying her out with the others. 

Molly, at least, is friendly and outgoing, not withdrawn like some of them have been.  That's a tribute to the kennel staff at the Fluvanna SPCA in large part because they interact with these dogs all day long and have shown them that people aren't all bad. 

Molly is an older girl, 7-8 years old, and it's sad to think that she has lived her entire life with that slut bitch whore Jennifer Brooks.  This is one of those times when we remind ourselves that dogs live in the present and don't dwell on the past.  We are going to find her a great home for the rest of her life, regardless of how long it is.  Our Gypsy is 13 now, so Molly could be just past middle-aged.  And she's not ready for a rocking chair, she has a lot of living to catch up on. 

This makes 10 new dogs from the shelter over the past couple of weeks, 6 shepherds and 4 non-shepherds.  Two of the non-shepherds have been adopted already, and 3 of the shepherds.  One of the shepherds, Big Boy, is in another foster home, so I really only have 4 new dogs here--Maggie Mae, Molly, Ry, and Dugan. Spring is the best time for dog adoptions, I think.  Flirt, Shadow, Rita, and Sunny have moved out since the Fluvanna dogs started coming in, and that has helped tremendously.  I always tell people that when they adopt a dog, they not only save that dog, they have also saved the next dog who moves in to take that open space. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Tales/Tails

Baron and me from a few years ago

Baron now, with his new sister, Crystal

Well, Baron has a happy tale even without a tail.  Baron is a GSD I got from the Culpeper shelter quite a while back.  He's been in his current home for four years now and I probably had him a year or more before I found him a home.  It shouldn't have taken that long to place Baron, he's a great dog.  He has a strong prey drive and we had to constantly be on the lookout for approaching small dogs at adoption events.  But it was what Baron didn't have that explains why he was with me for so long.  He didn't have a tail.  When I pulled him from the shelter his tail was injured, hairless, broken, and bleeding, and obviously causing him great distress.  The vet recommended removing it, and did so.  Baron always looked a bit unbalanced from front to rear because of it, (just aesthetically, not functionally) but he was just glad to be free of the pain and discomfort it had caused him. 

His new dad says:  "It's hard to believe it's been four years now since Baron came to live with us, time sure does fly, but things have been great. He really is a part of this family and I wouldn't have it any other way. Crystal and Baron really get along very well. They do everything together."

 These pics are of shy little Rowdy, now called Bernie.  The action pic is him being chased around the yard by his playmate, Murphy.  It's difficult to capture Bernie on camera because he usually shows up as just a blur. 

He's still never going to be overly socialable with strangers, but he's fine at home with Murphy, Tasha, and Sable (left). 

Tasha (right), is an old girl and is having some problems these days, including some seizures that were probably strokes, but she still mixes it up with the young boys when she feels like it. 

This is Sunny, now being called Sophie.  She is now testing her new owner's resolve and challenging the other dogs in the home.  She can learn to get along, but she wants to be top dog.  She's a smart, smart dog.  Let's hope she is smart enough to realize that she's got a good thing going and makes a little effort to fit in.


These last pics practically bring tears to my eyes.  This is Irene, now known as Serena, which I think is beautiful.  This is one of the whorder's dogs, the most shy and scared of the first five that we took in. She's the one that we had to literally dump out of a doghouse in order to get a leash on her for trips to the vet, dog wash, and adoption event.  This dog had lived her entire life in a shit-filled pen until a couple weeks ago.  Is decent dog care too much to ask for? too much to demand?  No, it isn't.  Anything less is simply unacceptable.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring has sprung

Forsythia in corner of the front yard

Cherry tree

Spring started officially late this afternoon, I believe, but it felt like it all weekend. 

The Tulip tree managed to miss the frost this year.

Tulip tree in the center of our driveway. 

These 3 or 4 weeks in the early spring is the best time in Virginia. There's about another 3 or 4 weeks in the fall that are nice too, but I'm not sure why we stay here the rest of the time.

Daffodils along the road in front of our fence

Dog adoption seems to have picked up for the spring too.  It's the time of year people think it would be nice to have a dog.  The Fluvanna shelter called on Saturday and said that someone was interested in meeting the yellow lab I had pulled from there on Thursday.  I hopped into the van with the dog like I had done with Dickens a couple days before.  They were a nice young couple and I sent him home with them.  He's being neutered tomorrow and I hope we'll get the adoption finalized next weekend.

On Sunday I met up with Romeo's adopters and finalized that adoption (left).  They had previously adopted the white shepherd, Anastasia, from me (right).  She is exactly what Romeo (now called Bear) needs.  She is experienced in the ways of the world, at least around there, and she is confident.  He is comfortable there, follows her lead, and will gain confidence as he matures.  He may have had a miserable existence for the first year of his life, but he is making up for it fast.