Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bad idea of the day

Today is the deadline for self-nominations for open positions with Virginia German Shepherd Rescue.  Against common sense, past experience, and Clay's wishes, I've decided to run for the board.  Here is the candidate's statement I just submitted to the rescue:  (The pics are some I just took out in the dog yard.)

Trooper climbing up to his post
Fellow VGSR Volunteers:

Although it's at the 11th hour, I have decided to throw my hat into the ring for a two year board position with VGSR. I apologize for the late entry, but like many of us, I just hadn't focused yet on the upcoming election.

I don't have a good memory for dates or numbers, so I don't know how many years I've been involved with VGSR. Most of you know me as a very active foster home. I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow all the rules. I think that "guidelines" rather than rules is what we need for most matters.

Trooper, atop his viewing platform.
He can survey much of the property from up here.
He keeps us safe from burglars, Jehovah's Witnesses, and birds
I think that any dog who passes through our organization should be spayed/neutered and every dog should go to a good, caring home, but aside from those two things, we have a lot of room for differing opinions on many things. I think that whether an adoption should happen is 99% the decision of the foster home, because that person knows the dog the best and has the dog's best interest at heart. I know that I would never foster for an organization that tried to require me to adopt to a home I didn't approve of or kept me from adopting to what I considered to be a good home. I think we need to extend that same courtesy to all foster homes, even if it means that we don't have hard and fast, objective, universal criteria for adoption.

Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for whatever task they assume. Speaking from the perspective of a foster home, that means taking responsibility for any dog in my care, treating it as one of my own, and representing the dog's best interest when it comes to vet care and adoption. That includes getting the dog vetted, getting the paperwork in order, completing the contract, and taking the dog back if the adoption decision turns out to be a bad one for whatever reason. I don't think that anything else matters much in this organization.
Luke with his favorite ball, (thanks, Judith!)
Zachary flying by.

Ryland, I love this dog.
Rescue involves very tough decisions. Every day I am asked to take some dog and I have to say no with the knowledge that I was probably that dog's last chance. But we don't have an unlimited supply of anything in this organization, whether it be money, vet care, or foster homes. My basic philosophy towards intake criteria is "adoptability, with exceptions." I also believe in euthanization for health or behavioral reasons, including both liability and financial concerns for the rescue. No one dog is worth jeopardizing our larger mission.

It's no secret that being on the board of directors for a non-profit organization as diverse as this one is a thankless task. I don't think we can ever hope to satisfy everyone, and maybe not anyone, but we need to keep the organization afloat because it supports important work being done by our volunteers. I'm not particularly interested in growing the organization as much as solidifying what we already have. We need to support and maintain our foster homes because that is how we operate. We don't save every shepherd in Virginia and we probably never will, but we need to save as many dogs as we can. We don't have to agree on very many things, we don't all have to like each other, but I think we can get along if we keep our focus on saving and adopting dogs.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to work

This is Fritz, the long-haired GSD from Nelson County several weeks ago.
Fritz was emaciated under the long crud-encrusted hair, which was all shaved off.
He was adopted, continues to gain weight, and his coat is growing again.
Starting back to work after being off for three weeks has been tough!  I get used to not working very quickly and easily.  The transition back to work is a much slower journey.  I guess the rainy weather has been helpful in one way, I haven't been tempted to be outside, so that has helped me trudge through the first few days being back at work. 

Here's some updates in pictures.

This is former foster Sophie, sticking her head through a screen that she tore up,
hoping that someone will either let her in, or preferably, come out and play.

This is Samson, with one of his baby brothers.
This one isn't being returned because of a new baby, he's a part of the family.
Teddy is still quite shy, but the earthquake actually caused him to seek solace from his new human.
Teddy and Cooper are visiting this week while their mom is in NYC.  He barks more than I remember.

Cooper loves life and everything in it. 
Fortunately, Teddy loves Cooper and that makes all things possible.

Thora was spayed on Monday and is doing very well indoors and in her crate.
She seems to have very good house manners.  I'm corresponding with someone about her now.

Timber was neutered the same day that Thora was spayed.
He's doing fine, but was bored with the crate.
I believe he has a home, if he proves to be at least tolerant of cats.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No adoptions, but great pics

I didn't place any dogs today in Gainesville, and Luke came back from his vacation home, but we got some great pictures of Timber, Thora, and Luke. 

It was Timber's first outing (left, right, and below) and only Thora's second, I think, and they both did very well.  Timber is a sweetheart, and Thora knows some commands.  I held Gypsy Jr. much of the time, we did some bonding. 

Thora was briefly reunited with two of her pups.  She recognized them, certainly, but wasn't upset when we left without them.  She was most excited when she saw the woman who rescued her and her pups from the shelter.  She remembered her and seemed to understand what she had done for her, and she showed her appreciation.   That was nice to see.

Thora and Timber have paired up at my place and they seem to be compatible and good for each other. They are both having surgery tomorrow, something else they can share.


Luke is back home with us.  He has gained some weight, which he needed, and looks good.  Ryland was very glad to see him, even wagged his tail.  That's a very emotional response for Ry. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday pictures

Sable (former foster) came along today when Ryland came back from his vacation home.
Sable was happy enough to see me but made it clear that she wasn't staying.

Bo being petted, Ryland on the other side of the fence

Bo, in a nice stance.
He's hard to photograph up close but is more confident from a distance.

Bo, looking very rottweilery

Cooper, a former foster, at the Vegetarian Festival today.
Cooper loves a social occasion.
Cooper and Teddy are coming to stay with us next week.

Gypsy Jr. at the Veg Fest today.
She had a good time.
Ryland marked every bush in Lee Park this afternoon.
He's rather indifferent to crowds of people and dogs.
His basic attitude is "piss on it." 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Carrying on

I took Thursday and Friday off this week assuming that I'd need that much time to get myself together again after vacation.  I'm glad I did.  Thursday was all about Gypsy, my sleep schedule isn't back to normal yet, and today (Friday), was a dreary rainy day.  To add to the gloom, our power went out and stayed out, long enough to get me out of the house.  I went grocery shopping in Charlottesville, picked up Gypsy's cremains, and then headed down to Nelson County to bring home this guy.  I'm calling him Timber. 

He is young, not much over a year, and big, close to 90 pounds.  He came from the Nelson County shelter, but was pulled by the Almost Home group down there to avoid euthanization.  They were full too, of course, but boarded him at a vet's office for a few days until I got home.  He tested negative for heartworm but positive for Lyme, or maybe it was erlichia, same doxycycline regimen in any event.   He seems like a nice guy, very friendly.  Thora is the only dog he's met so far, but he was fine with her.  He's not neutered yet and she's not spayed, but that will be taken care of on Monday.  I have a spay/neuter appointments for Thora and Bo on Monday at CASPCA, but I may slip in Timber in place of Bo and get him done later next week. 

Ryland and Luke will be coming back from their temporary foster homes this weekend, and I'm dog sitting two former fosters (Teddy and Cooper) next week, so things will be filling up again around here. Saturday is the Vegetarian Festival in Charlottesville, which has often been a good adoption event.  I'm hoping the rain will be moved out of here so it will be a nice, dry day.  I'm planning to take Ryland (who has been renamed "Pete"), and Gypsy Jr. and would love to place either or both of them.  Sunday will be a VGSR event in Gainesville, with Thora, Timber (maybe) and Luke, and maybe one other. 

Even with 5 dogs in the house still, Gypsy's absence is keenly felt.  Much of our patten and routine around here was based on her.  The other dogs aren't sure if they are now free to move about the house at will or if they should still keep to their established zones.  I expect it will take a while for everyone to adjust.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gypsy, Queen of the Universe

An old Vito with a very young Gypsy
We got Gypsy when she was about a year old from German Shepherd Rescue of Maryland.  Her name was Jag at the time.  Before coming into the rescue and being adopted, she had spent the first year or so of her life sharing an outdoor pen with a rottweiler and she wasn't particularly oriented towards humans.  She ruled around here for the next 12 years or so. 

I always referred to her as the queen bitch, a crown and title that she claimed and wore proudly.  She had the German work ethic and pretty much wrote her own job description.  She saw a need for a security system and crowd control around here and she stepped up to the job and filled it well for many years.  She had at least three distinct alarm signals: one for strange people; another for general, non-specific alerts; and a very distinctive one for "dogs out of place."  Gypsy understood fostering and knew that the outdoor dogs weren't really part of her pack, but they belonged here in their proper place in the kennels.  The foster dogs sometimes escape from their kennels, but they never escaped Gypsy's notice and she would summon me with the most insistent and annoying sound that she could produce, in the sure and certain knowledge that I would come to deal with it in order to shut her up.  Gypsy always let me know when Molly jumped the fence out of the dog yard.
Gypsy was a classic beauty with a luxurious coat. 
She was only 1 of 6 dogs in our house, but probably accounted for 80% of the dog hair.

Gypsy had no use for other female dogs in her pack and would not tolerate them, period.  Emmylou and Molly were confined upstairs, while Gypsy ruled the roost from the ground floor.  The other girls would not challenge her and took great care to avoid her.  Molly learned to look out the windows to be sure that Gypsy was outside before she would go downstairs.  Even in her final months when she had no power in the rear end, if Gypsy encountered Molly she would latch onto her with a death grip of her jaws that I would have to pry apart.

Gypsy was always "on", alert, intent, large and in charge.
She suffered from what I presume was degenerative myelopathy, a progressive neurological disease that eventually left her unable to stand.  Fortunately, it's not painful, but the arthritis she had in her front leg joints surely was.  Given her age, she may well have had cancer as well, but she was holding her own really well, even with the decreased mobility until lately.  I'm just glad that she held on until I could get her home and take her to the vet myself so I could hold her head and kiss her as she passed on.  She was a formidable dog who took her work seriously, but she was also a daddy's girl and was very bonded to me, as I was to her. 

Although she assumed the role of Queen on her own due to the dearth of female power in our home, I have posthumanously awarded her the crown for her collar acquired on our recent trip to London.  I think I've said before that my own concept of any diety that may exist would most likely take the form of a female German Shepherd Dog, because I can't imagine anything else being in charge.

Gypsy was a very important part of the operation of our household and rescue efforts.  She will be sorely missed, but she is now Queen of the Universe.  All I can say is that the rest of the Universe had better fall in line.

Royal spotting

Today is our last day in London, we fly out early Wednesday morning and arrive back in Charlottesville early in the evening.

Today we did another guided walk, "Hidden London", which went around Covent Garden and over to the Royal Courts of Justice where we found this charming pub that we went back to for lunch.

As we were walking back to the hotel the police had traffic stopped on Aldwych near the front of our hotel. We paused to wait for a moment in front Aldwych House, a motorcycle escort pulled up followed by a black sedan, and Princess Anne stepped out not 20 feet from us and walked into Aldwych House, presumably for some function happening at the London School of Economics.

So our fifth visit to London ends with our first royal spotting. It was a bit of an amusement for us and I've had the feeling that the royals are more of a tourist attraction than anything else. None of the locals we've heard from had anything much nice to say about them.

Monday, September 19, 2011


We don't buy a lot of stuff on vacation. We come for the history and theatre, not for shopping. The one thing I do look for is souvenir keychains--bling for dogs' collars. All of our dogs got something from our trip to Yellowstone this summer and we've picked up more than enough for everyone to have something from London as well. It's a good thing we have big dogs because some of them are now carrying six or more souvenirs in addition to their county license, rabies, and name tags. Needless to say, our dogs can't sneak up on anything. We can locate them outdoors at night just by the sound they make. They humor me and don't seem to mind.

The odd, football shaped thing is a model of one of the pods on the London Eye. I finally worked up the nerve to go up on that thing this time. It wasn't as terrifying as I expected, although I had some anxiety for the ten minutes or so. It moves very slow so there is really no sensation of movement and the view is incredible.

The flat object on the bottom right is a miniature Rosetta stone we picked up at the British Museum. The rest of them were just picked up at various shops and sidewalk vendors around town, chosen mostly for having secure attachment points that hopefully will stand up to the dogs digging, scratching, and biting at their own and each others' collars.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beer and rugby

This is a pub called The George. Clay and I stopped in here for a pint the other day. It was one of the early stops on our self-guided pub crawl up Fleet Street. We rented a WiFi device for this trip that gives us portable Internet access. Using that and a pub finder app on Clay's iPod, we made our way through six historic pubs that afternoon. That day gave us a leg up on my goal of hitting an average of three different pubs each day, a goal we have maintained and perhaps exceeded.

I was back at The George this morning before 7:00 a.m. for beer and rugby. Clay had enough sense to stay in bed this morning although he had joined me for morning beer and rugby in an Aussie bar one day last week. The 2011 Rugby World Cup is on right now but it is being held in New Zealand so the games are being televised here at early morning hours.

We had discovered rugby on trips here in prior years but we've taken in more of it this time. I had a wake up call at 6:30, rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth and made it to the pub by 7:00. England beat Georgia and I had four pints of beer by 9:00 a.m. Drinking beer in the morning while watching sports is as close to being a straight man as I ever care to be.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Busy, busy

Just a quick update while we are waiting for a train back to London. We spent much of yesterday at the British Museum, then hit a couple pubs and went to the theatre in the evening. Today we went out to Hampton Court, home of Henry VIII, and later William & Mary. Beautiful gardens, interesting place, and a perfect day for it all.

Saw a Border Collie today and Clay saw a pair of boxers. We also saw a dog walker with about four different dogs in tow.

It appears that Annie has been adopted in my absence, as I knew she would be. That was in the works with her new foster even before we left. I knew they would get her adopted quickly, and I'm sure she went to a good home.

We are off to see War Horse this evening, hopefully with time for a pub or two before.

The picture is one of the smaller gardens at Hampton Court, but the prettiest.

Monday, September 12, 2011


We went on a tour of Cambridge today, leaving early this morning and returning just in time to get to the theatre this evening. Beautiful, historic, and interesting place. A river runs through it with gondola-like boats you can hire for a pleasant trip under numerous scenic bridges. Issac Newton, Charles Darwin, and more Nobel Prize winners than you can imagine have learned, lived, and taught here.

Imagine my horror as a native Kansan when the guide mentioned the Kansas board of education's flirtation with teaching religious myths in schools just a few years back. Apparently not all Christians have a problem with science. (Who knew?) That particular form of lunacy seems to be unique to the Republican tea-bagger party back home.

This evening we saw Jude Law in Eugene O'Neil's "Anna Christie" at the Dunmar. That was a very sought-after ticket in this town and it was a very good production. The entire run of the show had sold out the first day tickets had gone on sale, but Clay managed to snag two house seats that were released just shortly before our trip.

A very full day, but a good one. Saw a Bernese Mountain Dog and a couple mutts in Cambridge today, a shar-pei and a King Charles Spaniel in a pub and a Rottweiler mix (with a street person) last night.

Hurricane Katia came across the Atlantic and is really kicking up some wind, but fortunately, not much rain.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

London dogs

The photo is for Beth, who once asked someone to send a pic of a London phone booth, hope she sees this.

I know that not everyone is on Facebook, where I've already posted a couple updates, so I thought I should do one here as well.

Having a great time, obviously. The iPad takes pictures but not as easily as the camera, so I will post more pics upon my return.

The first dog we saw in London was a pit bull, very cute and sweet. We saw a yellow lab service dog as well, and several more (mostly mutts) since then. Today we saw a Staffordshire Terrier, and a dachshund (thought about you, Rebecca).

One of the best things about this country is the fact that you can take your dog into your local pub. In the US you can carry a gun into a bar but not your dog. That's just stupid.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

And then there were nine

Duchess (left) and Candy (right)
Big dogs in small packages
As of last night we had only nine dogs, our own six and just three fosters. I realize that seems like a lot of dogs to most people, but it feels practically desserted around here. Four more dogs moved out yesterday to at least temporary foster homes.

Candy went to the home of the adopters of former foster Duchess.  The two dogs are about the same size and both are very cute.  They will need a few days to work out the terms of their new relationship, and Candy has a lot of learn about a lot of things, but I have every reason to believe this will translate into a permanent adoption, not just a temporary foster arrangement.
Ryland after his bath
My boy Ryland went home with folks who have adopted three of their four current dogs from me, so you can safely assume that I think very highly of them.  Ryland's stay with them started out with a bath, which he wasn't crazy about, but it's a small price to pay for a comfy place to stay for the next couple of weeks. 

I'm growing more and more fond of Ryland.  He's the only foster dog that has bedroom privileges in our house.  The fact that I'm getting attached means that he's going to need to go to a really good home.  Amazingly, I had an email inquiring about Ryland this evening.  It sounds good too, so he may have a prospect when he gets back here after our vacation.  The Vegetarian Festival is the Saturday after we return too, and that has sometimes netted some very good animal friendly adopters. 

Riddle went to a foster home, the same one who took that long haired shepherd I pulled from Nelson County a few weeks ago.  She does a lot of home visits and case working for VGSR adopters, so I'm confident that she will find him an adopter.  I didn't ever put Riddle on the website because I knew I didn't have time to handle all the inquiries he would generate. 

He enjoyed a bullystick on the drive home and later just laid down and napped. 

Thora also went to another foster home.  Her foster came to my place and picked her up.  They stopped at a river for a swim on the way home and sent a pic to my cell phone, but I have never figured out how to get a cell phone picture onto the computer.  So, this is a file photo of Thora.  She's looking better and feeling better.  Her skin is back to normal, no longer red and inflamed and she's not itchy.  She is putting on weight nicely.  When I get back from vacation I'll get her spayed and then get to work on finding her an adopter. 

Today and tomorrow are all about making lists and crossing items off the list as we get ready to go.   The dogs are now down to a manageable number and that takes a huge load off my mind.  The housesitter still has enough shepherds and rottweilers around here to keep the deer and rabbits at bay. 

I will trying blogging from England but Facebook may be easier to update, we will see. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Getting it together

I always wonder if all the things that need to be done before going on vacation can possibly get done.  Partly that's because I set vacation time as the deadline for many things that don't really have anything to do with vacation, like cleaning the house (I hate the thought of coming home to a dirty house), going to the dump, cutting the pasture, spaying weeds, etc.  If I had anything to do with planning the vacation itself it would probably never happen, there would always be more things that need to be done first. 

I feel that we made real progress today on several fronts.  I got our trash to the dump, we did some shopping for the trip, but more importantly, we got Schatze adopted. 

We met the adopter just off of I-64 at the Toano exit, between Richmond and Williamsburg.  He had met Schatze before.  She rode quietly in the van as she always does.  There was a lot of activity at the McDonalds where we met, and in true female shepherd form, she took it all in, alert and observing everything, probably planning out in her head how she would handle and organize all the people if given the chance.  She hopped into his Jeep Wrangler (I had Jeep envy), and off they went. 

He wants a companion and so does she.  She really wants a one-on-one relationship with her person.  Her attachment to me as her foster was extraordinary, and I really didn't do anything to encourage it.  Show this dog some care and attention and she will repay it 10 times over with her loyalty and devotion.  I think, I hope, this will be a good thing for both of them. 

Friday, September 2, 2011


This post has no coherent theme, just a string of rather unrelated news and events.  That's pretty much been my day today as well, trying to work, take care of dogs, and getting stuff done before vacation.  So, with no particular order, here's what I've got today.

This is Odie, a nice big bi-color that I adopted out a few weeks ago.  It doesn't show too well in this picture, but that's a cat curled up in his food dish, and it wasn't his dinner. 

So Odie is doing fine with the cat, and he's putting on some weight, which he needed, and is beginning to show his playful side.  He's got a boy to call his own, who is just the right age to have a dog like Odie. 

Yesterday's shameless plea netted me another temporary foster home, for Ryland.  I'm very happy about that because Ry has really taken to being an indoor dog and I think he will fit in well where he's going as a temporary foster.  All of the dogs going to temporary foster homes will benefit from the experience and will be more adoptable as a result of it.

That gets me down to just three foster dogs, Bo, Sparky, and Gypsy Jr., that will stay here along with our dogs to protect the housesitter without overwhelming him.  That's still 9 dogs, mind you, but that's a lot less than I usually have to deal with when going out of town. 

This is a photo and email I was really happy to get.  This is the Tessa who was returned to me reportedly due to aggression problems.   She is vocal, they say, and plays rougher than some dogs, but she hasn't had any problems in her new home, except that her humans can't always figure out when she needs to go outside.  They are still in training.  They call her "Hurricane Tessa."  They have another shepherd as you can see from the photo, (I can't remember is name right now), and I'm sure he's exhausted from playing with her.  She obviously looks very well settled in and comfortable in her new home. 

Tomorrow morning, it's Schatze's turn for a new home.  She now insists upon coming inside, after just a brief time outdoors.  She's happy in her crate up here in the office all day.  She is ready for a home and I think she will be very happy with her new one.

I ran across this today, and thought to myself, "I resemble that remark."