Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I mentioned previously that when I took in the two black labs I got a 10x10 kennel, canopy, doghouse, and platform along with them.  I had been contemplating how to use the materials and finally did so today.  One of the 10x20 kennels became an L-shaped kennel, 10x20 in both directions.  I also incorporated the doghouse, which sits outside the kennel (accessed through  holes in one of panels), and one half section of the platform.  I'm pretty pleased with it.  Today was the perfect day to do it--the weather was a little cooler and definitely less humid, and Clay was working from home today so I had some help.  I still have somethings to secure, but it's pretty much done and all the heavy lifting part is done.  I've hung fans in the kennels except for the big one.  I need another fan or two, some bungie cords, and probably some more rope light now too. 

The plan is NOT to take in more dogs, but just to provide more space and better accomodations for the number of fosters I have.  I've got too many fosters in the dog yard at the moment.  There's plenty of space for them, but our own dogs, Molly especially, aren't so crazy about associating with some of the fosters (Schatze).  Teddy is due to move this weekend, and that will leave only Gypsy Jr., Odie, and little Tessa in the big, and newly expanded, triple kennel complex.  I want to move the black labs in there at least. 

The labs, Luke, and to a lesser extent Schatze and Ryland, have all picked up the kennel cough or whatever it was that Romeo had.  Poor Maddie, the female lab, seems to have it the worst.  I haven't mixed any of them with the dogs in the other kennels, and although Romeo comes into the house at night, none of the household dogs have picked it up, at least not yet.  Romeo seems to be over it and I could move him to another foster home if I can get him in for a cat test.  There's someone in Charlottesville that might be good for him but we haven't met yet.  I also still need to do a home visit down in Buckingham.  I'm off on Friday as well as Monday so I have a 4 day weekend for my birthday, but the things to do are piling up. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Movement, mostly in the right direction

Today I drove down to my regular meeting point at Natural Bridge.  But instead of meeting my regular contact who brings me dogs from southwest Virginia, I was meeting Koa's adopters.  Koa is the drop-dead gorgeous sable boy from Orange County who came along with Ranger.  I had a lot of inquiries about him a few weeks ago but selected a couple who live in Roanoke.  They were going on vacation and I needed to move this dog, any dog, but I did think they were the best home for Koa.  So I've been warehousing him here for the last couple weeks or so.  He's easy enough to keep and the delay will be a mere blip in the timeline of his life, so he just hung out here in the rowdy kennel for the past few weeks. 
I met the folks today and I'm convinced it was the right thing to do.  They seem to be serious dog people and they had said all the right things and asked good questions.  Still, until you meet face to face it's always hard to say.  They took to Koa immediately and he responded to them as well.  It was raining when we arrived, but he was excited to be out, meeting people, and doing something new.  He's had playmates here but he hasn't had a lot of new things to see, learn, and do.  He's young and he needs that.  They are young, active people, and I think it will be a good match. 

Tenley went home with another foster last Sunday but she didn't stay there for long. She moved into a prospective adopter's home already and so far, so good. Keeping paws crossed for this one. It is a definite lifestyle improvement for the dog.

I'm planning to meet Teddy's prospective adopters on Saturday at some location yet to be determined off of I-95. I can't imagine that they won't love him.

Rescue is never entirely forward progress it seems, and I did have one dog returned this week--a small female shepherd named Tessa.  I hadn't had her very long when she was adopted and I can't even remember her back story right now.  It appears that she's insecure, fear-aggressive, overly protective, and a bit of a bitch.  Sounds like a pretty typical female shepherd problem.  She was a bit wary of me when she came back, but we haven't had any problems and she will come up to me and let me handle her without problems.  I'll watch her, integrate her with the other fosters, and see what she's like.  She's small and cute, which will help, but we will see.  Tessa's relapse was unfortunate because I have too many dogs right now and still have a few on a waiting list, but I'm going to expand my kennels this weekend with a kennel and dog house that came along with the labs, so that should ease the crunch a bit.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday pictures

Gypsy Jr.

Taken at Gainesville today

Ryland has a nice smile


Tinley was wonderful


Saturday, June 25, 2011

I love New York

Last night the New York state legislature passed a law authorizing same sex marriage.  The governor signed it almost immediately and it takes affect in 30 days.  My favorite quote is from Roy McDonald, one of four cross-over Republican Senators who voted for the bill:  "Fuck it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing."

The kicker is that New York apparently doesn't have any residency requirements for marriage.  My brother-in-law is gay and lives in New York City.  He called last night, ecstatic about the news, and offered to throw us a wedding.  He was heading down to the West Village to the Stonewall Inn, ground zero for all gay celebrations.  For anyone who doesn't know, the Stonewall was the site of riots back in 1969 when gay patrons of the bar began fighting back against the facist pigs who routinely raided the place because it was a gay hangout. 

I love this picture and, fundamental fairness aside, it is probably the best argument for gay marriage.  We've been buying wedding gifts for straight folks for years.  Payback's a bitch and you can bet that gay couples won't be registering at low end department stores. 

We go to NYC about once a year as it is.  Clay's brother lives there and we love the city.  We generally see all the Broadway and Off-Broadway shows we can pack into the time we are there.  And we hit the museums, both art and history, and generally take a tour of some sort.  It's a great city to walk in.  Since we left the D.C. area, it's also pretty much the only time we get to gay bars any more.  There is something extremely liberating and relaxing about being in a crowd of gay people.  Walls come down, defenses drop, it's like being with family (family that you like).  So we make the homosexual hajj to New York City annually for spiritual renewal.  It's a culture shock to be in redneck rural Virginia in the morning and then be walking hand in hand down a city street later in the day.  No one cares, no one even notices.  It's New York City for heaven's sake, there are a lot more interesting and outrageous things to be seen than two middle-aged gay men holding hands.  Still, for us, to be able to do that is euphoric.

So, we will have to address the question of marriage.  We already have the rings.  We bought them on our first trip together to New York probably 14 or 15 years ago.  Purchased from a middle eastern jeweler in the Diamond District.  He didn't even bat an eye and congratulated us both even back then.  The rings didn't make the marriage and if we come back from the city with a piece of paper stamped by the State of New York, that won't change or strengthen our relationship in the least.  When it comes to official and legal paperwork, I have always believed that a joint mortgage is a stronger bond than a marriage certificate anyway.  It lasts longer than most marriages and it's tougher to break. 

As far as I'm concerned, I made the commitment in my heart to Clay almost 15 years ago this summer, sitting in the audience at Wolf Trap listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter sing "Why walk when you can fly." She performed our wedding that night, although she didn't know it at the time.  There's really nothing that New York can add, or that Virginia can take away.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Some pictures for the weekend

Clay has been out of town this week, which gives me a break from cooking and feeling guilty about all the dog hair.  I think I've finally shaken the cold that hit me right after vacation.  I haven't finished my work for the week, but I'm not behind going into Friday, so I can split Friday's work between Friday and Saturday and sort of coast into the weekend.  Here's some pics to enjoy.

St. Rocky doing his therapy gig out in Utah.  All those little kids, I don't know how he stands it. 

This is Samson and his hiking buddy, Gus, on one of their weekly adventure hikes

This is the Appalachian Wanderer, a/k/a Zeus, after a bath and brushing. 
He is now called Bentley and I think today is the day they get the yellow lab, Barnum, back to be Bentley's brother. 

This is a lovely young girl, an owner surrender from over in the Valley. 
She isn't coming to my place because another volunteer took her in.
I'm very happy about that for everyone concerned.

I caved

I got through the bulk of my work by early afternoon and headed into town.  I dropped off Romeo's prescription at the Walmart pharmacy on the way into town and dropped off the recycling stuff at the McIntire Road recycling center, which is just up the street from where I needed to pick up Zachary's raw food and place an order for more.  I was also in the neighborhood where the auto repair shop with the dog is located, and that's just a block away from the vet's office. 

I stopped at the vet's office and asked if they could work in a new dog for vaccines and heartworm test.  They said "sure" so I went to pick up the dog. 

I guess I should back up and say that I had sent out an email to the shepherd group and someone had offered to take her in.  That "someone" is probably the one person in VGSR who is as big a sucker as I am. 

Anyway, I took the new girl to the vet and gave her at least a temporary name instead of "Tie Rod".  I called her Tinley, in honor of the new baby girl just born to my vet this week.  Apparently it's an Irish name meaning something, I don't know what.  Tinley was great at the vet.  She hopped right into my car, rode nicely, walked nicely, was good for the vaccines, exam, and blood draw.  She tested negative for everything, which is nothing short of miraculous.

My plan had been to get the dog vetted and take her back to the shop and then pick her up on way up to Gainesville on Sunday.  But I caved.  I couldn't take her back there. This is why I don't like to even meet dogs when I'm not in a position to take them.  I'll end up taking them anyway, and sure enough, I brought her home with me.  It's just until Sunday.  I'll take her to Gainesville and she will go home with another foster home.  She's such a nice dog, but then they all are, that's what makes this so difficult. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Two shepherds, same story

On the left is a male shepherd named Coco.  He lived in New Haven, Connecticut until his owner died.  Before that he had been the man's companion and I'm sure he provided a lot of comfort, love, and a sense of purpose and security for the ailing man. 

The man died.  His relatives just left the dog there.  They finally called his ex-wife, although they had been divorced since 1989.  She got someone to drive to Connecticut and bring the dog to Virginia.  He was said to be five years old, but I think he's a bit older than that.  Coco is great in most respects but isn't too keen on cats and she has several.  One of them seems to be making an effort to get acquainted with Coco, however, and I saw them together today.  I'm sure he would give chase if the cat ran and that seems to be the issue with the others. 

Anyway, she contacted the organization about re-homing him and I finally went over today to meet the dog after putting it off for several weeks.  Nice dog, settled in comfortably where he is, but he's isolated from the cat-friendly portion of the household and she would like to find him a home.  He's going to stay where he is for now because he's got better accomodations than I can offer and I really can't take another one right now.  I sent out a plea for a foster home.  We will see. 

The shepherd in the pics on the right is being called Tie Rod.  She is living in an auto repair shop in Charlottesville.  Her owner had cancer, lost his home to foreclosure, and the dog was abandoned.  The owner of this shop took her in, but doesn't want to crate her, doesn't want her following him around all the time, doesn't want to leave her on a tie out, etc.  I think the dog could probably settle into life as a shop dog and it wouldn't be all bad--people around all day, a safe and secure place to be at night. 

This dog's biggest obstacle to adoption is her age, probably 9 years or so.  And again, I can not take her in right now and she's not bad off where she is.  In fact, it's probably a better life than she has had for many years. 

(Is it just me or is "Coco" a bad name for a male dog and "Tie Rod" an equally bad name for a female dog?  If the dogs had homes it wouldn't matter what their names are, but if they come into the rescue they are going to come in as nameless dogs.)

Name issues aside, these two similar stories point out the need for all of us to consider our dogs and our own mortality.  I have too many dogs for Clay to be responsible for if something were to happen to me.  It's something that all responsible pet owners need to think about, and plan for.  Some people have stronger support networks among family and friends than others.  There are certain people out there for whom I will always be their doggie backup and they know it, and I will always take back my fosters, of course, but I can't be a retirement home for all of them or the rescue operation would come to an end.  At some point, operating a canine retirement home might be an option, and a way to get out of the more intensive and higher volume rescue work. It's definitely a void that needs to be filled in the world of rescue.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Romeo's second vet visit

Romeo was neutered and vaccinated at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA on Monday.  He's doing fine, but he has some patches of missing hair so I knew he would need to see our regular vet as well.  Furthermore, although CASPCA did perform a heartworm test on him, they don't do the three way combination test that screens for Lyme and Erlichia in addition to heartworms.

I had a follow up appointment with our Zachary today for his second Lyme vaccine so I made an appointment for Romeo at about the same time.  Although the news wasn't great (positive for Lyme), I'm glad I took him in because it's better to know about it so I could get him started on the four week course of doxycycline.
His skin shows what has probably been a chronic yeast infection, which was also affecting his ears.  I can't bathe him for 10 days because his neuter incision is held together with a water soluble glue, so I got a prescription for an anti-fungal oral medication that I'll need to get filled at a pharmacy.  Of course, that necessitated doing some basic blood work as well. 

It wasn't a fun day for either of us.  The dog I had who looked great and seemed readily adoptable now needs a month of medication and will need someone willing to manage a chronic yeast infection, which is probably due to a food allergy because he's a German Shepherd.  It does confirm my belief that I did the right thing by turning away a potential adopter for the dog last weekend.  The woman loved his personality, but she had neither the inclination nor the wherewithal to take on a dog who might need something more than cheap dog food and maybe an annual vaccination. 

With it being so hot outside, he's loving life up in my office.  Max, the male black lab, is up here too because he was neutered yesterday as well.  His sister, Maddie, isn't too happy about the separation from Max.  I'm going to try to adopt them together, although I do think they'd both be fine going their separate ways.  The word from the Animal Connections vet about Bo the rottie is that his xrays looked fine, but the EKG showed an unusual heart rhythm, so he is going to ask a veterinary cardiologist to take a look at the EKG. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sleeping it off

Monday morning, four dogs into town: 

1.  Romeo to CASPCA for neuter, vaccinations, and heartworm test;
2.  Max to CASPCA for neuter, vaccinations, and heartworm test;
3.  Maddie to Animal Connections vet for vaccinations and heartworm test;
4.  Bo to Animal Connections vet for exam and beginning of heartworm treatment.

The drop off at CASPCA went smoothly, no problems, so I went on the next stop.  The vet came out and right away didn't want to treat Bo today.  He wanted to do two more weeks of doxy (he's already had two weeks of it), and do xrays of his chest.  Fine, I left them and came back home.  This is not a vet that I've done heartworm treatment with before and I swear, none of them do it the same way.  It appears that this is going to be a three month process, at a minimum with this vet.

Late afternoon I go back to town and pick up from the vet first.  Maddie was fine, heartworm negative (whew!) and she's now vaccinated a ready to go.  Bo was fine, we got more doxy; they did the xrays and an EKG and I haven't yet talked to the vet about the results of all that. 

Poor Bo is just scared of everything.  He had probably never been to town before, never been to a vet, never walked on a tile floor.  He's a sweet, sweet boy, he just has no worldly life experience.  I've been keeping him by himself because he's going to have to be that way for some time after the treatment whenever we finally get it done.  But he's a nice guy and like most rotties, he really responds to loving.  Unfortunately, it seems that most of the human contact directed towards him in the past has been hostile; the dog definitely show signs of being abused.  But he's friendly and wants friendly human contact.  To the assholes in Fluvanna County who once owned this dog, I can only say "fuck you, eat shit and die you lowlife bastards."   

Max, after surgery

Max, the male black lab also tested negative for heartworm (again, whew!) and he got vaccinated and seems to have had an uneventful neuter.  The same was true for Romeo.  I tried showing Romeo some cats while we were at the SPCA but he was still too groggy to care one way or the other.  He will need a trip to the regular VGSR vet anyway because he has some patches of hair loss that need to be looked at.  We will try to meet cats on that trip, probably later this week. 

This evening Max and Romeo are in crates up in my office sleeping it off. 

Romeo, settled into a crate for the night

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Gypsy Jr.

Teddy and Odie

Something strange has happened and I'm not sure what to make of it.  I've been getting Father's Day wishes, from strangers.  I have received happy Father's Day wishes from dog people on behalf of my foster dogs and that's great.  I can totally self-identify as a doggie daddy, no problem.  What has me concerned are casual Father's Day wishes from people who don't know me but just assume that I must be someone's father.  It happened twice yesterday.  One from from the clerk at a Tractor Supply store who wished me a happy Father's Day as if she was wishing someone a merry christmas.  I thought she must have seen me drive up in the minivan and made the logical leap.  I couldn't fault her for that, it's not even much of a leap really from "minivan driver" to "dad."  I forget now who the second one was, but I don't think the van was part of that equation.  It was more of an assumption based common characteristics of "men of a certain age."  I don't recall this happening before this year.  Obviously I've crossed over some line.  Clearly, I need a jeep, and an exercise program.  I have a birthday coming up and remaking my soon-to-be 53 year old body to sync up with my delusional 33 year old self image isn't going to be easy. 



Anyway, happy Father's Day to you human dads and doggie dads out there.  I drove 5 dogs to an adoption event in Front Royal today.  It was Romeo's first public event and he absolutely lived up to his name.  They were all good and enjoyed it, although I don't know that we developed any real adoption prospects today. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

All who wander are not lost

The Appalachian Wanderer has found a home and wanders no more.  His new family are a young couple, recently married.  They both come from dog people.  She has raised puppies for a guidedog organization out of New York.  The last one didn't make the cut due to a physical problem, which has since been repaired.  He is coming back home to them as their personal dog so Zeus will have a companion. 

His calmness, manners, and general demeanor continue to impress.  He wasn't sure about me leaving without him but he happily followed them back into their house.  He wanted to be home again and he is. 

It was a long, hot day and we have another one on tap for tomorrow.  I moved the two labs into the dog yard when I got back home without Zeus this afternoon.  They loved the space, the other dogs, and the water tank. 

 Sunday I drive to Front Royal with Odie, Teddy, Schatze, Romeo, and Gypsy Jr.  Wish us luck. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New pics, new plan



One problem with having so many fosters is that there is so much to do that I don't have time to do the things that need to be done to get them adopted.  That's been my problem this week.  I have to work and do the most pressing things first, and there's been no time for secondary things this week.  I still have a few dogs who aren't on the web and I am getting more inquiries and applications daily for Zeus.   

Tuesday I had a trip to the vet with Ranger and Teddy and then delivered Ranger back to his prospective home.  Wednesday, I went with some folks back to the home that the labs came from to collect the kennel, 10x10 wooden platform, canopy, and two dog houses that the dog dumpers donated.  I didn't have an immediate need for it, but it was good stuff and I didn't want to turn it down.  On Thursday I got Zeus back to the vet to have his neuter suturers removed. I've made neuter appointments for the male lab, Max, and the newest shepherd, Romeo, at CASPCA for Monday.  Also on Monday morning I'm going to drop off the female lab, Maddie, at the vet for vaccines and heartworm test, as well as Bo, the rottie, for an exam and hopefully the beginning of his heartworm treatment.  I'm saying all this mostly so it will be written down somewhere so I won't forget. 



On Friday I'm going to try to cat-test Romeo.  He is such a laid back guy that I'm thinking he may be cat-friendly, in which case I have a potential foster home for him. 

I've had so many dogs that I haven't had a chance to interact one-on-one with Zeus very much, but I did so on our trip to the vet today.  What a cool dog!  He sat nicely between my legs in the reception area as if we were best friends.  Some kids came in and he wanted to meet them, and their dog, but it was clearly a happy, friendly greeting.  After I let him do so, he was back laying down next to me.  With Karin's help we narrowed the field of applicants and I really am going to make the effort to get him moved this weekend.  Such a nice dog.

I have developed a strategy this week for balancing work, dogs, and home.  In the mornings I'll knock off one-third of my work and spend some time doing yard work and outdoor stuff.  In the afternoons I'll do another third of my work day, plus dog business (vet trips or whatever).  In the evenings I'll finish up my work day and make dinner.  Good plan, eh?  We'll see how long it lasts. 



The pics here were taken by Pam last weekend at VGSR's adoption event in Gainesville.  This weekend I'm driving up to Front Royal for another one on Sunday.