Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Puppy poop

Puppy poop is a unique smell.  It seems to be the same regardless of breed and even regardless of what they eat.  I haven't had puppies around for quite a while, until today.  The smell hit me immediately and brought back a lot of puppy smell memories. 

I picked up Ginger (left) and five puppies today. 

Ginger is great.  Linda (my doggie dealer from SW VA), pulled her and the pups from a shelter, where they had been surrendered.  Ginger got out of her pen the first night but didn't go anywhere; she just wanted in.  So she's been living indoors with Linda and her dogs, and cats, and is said to have perfect house manners and is cat-friendly.  She's also young and very pretty, so she should be fairly easy to place. 

Actually I think I have a foster home lined up for her in northern VA, where she will be indoors and get plenty of attention.  She's had a rabies vaccine and just needs to be spayed prior to adoption. 

The pups are cute but sure don't look like shepherds.  There are four that look like these two, blond and fluffy, the fifth one is solid black.  The former owner said that the father was a large yellow lab, but who knows? 

I mixed up a batch of puppy gruel in the blender:  dry puppy food, half a can of canned food, a little milk, and hot water.  They were born about mid-September, making them 9-10 weeks old.  I'm not opposed to adopting them out for Christmas, but you can be sure I'll do my best to make sure they are going to serious homes who won't return them in a few weeks or months.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My old Kentucky home, part II

This is Britt, she's a senior boxer
This is Mojo (front) and my mother.
Mojo was in a lot of pics because
he's always in your face.
We returned home from Kentucky on Saturday, in time to retrieve Zachary, Molly, and Trooper from one kennel just before dark.  They all had baths that night.  We got the rest of them home on Sunday and Bremo, Cabell, and Willy the boxer (all the indoor dogs) also had baths. 

Sarge is a community dog but stays mostly with Kate & Kim. 
He sleeps inside with the others and has his own food dish.
His actual owners are white trash who do nothing for him.
He always comes back to where he's cared for.
Britt and Louie, sharing a bed.
I'm getting some new dogs this week, but first I thought I'd post some more pics from our trip to Kentucky.  Clay's mother went with us and his brother flew in from New York.  My mother flew from Kansas.  Clay and I are fortunate in that not only do our families get along, they actually enjoy getting together.

Jack, a/k/a LowJack
Part husky, part bassett? 
Looks like he was put together with spare parts
Sweet dog all around
The front of Federal Hill
The title of this post is, of course, borrowed from the title of the Stephen Foster song, "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night."  I knew that it was the state song of Kentucky, but I didn't know until this trip that "good night" was part of the song's title.  I picked up that little tidbit of information on our visit to Bardstown, Kentucky, where the house that allegedly inspired the song actually exists.  I would have assumed that the house was Stephen Foster's childhood home and that it was an old log cabin in the woods somewhere.  I so was very wrong about this, like so many other things.  The house is actually a beautiful Federal style mansion called Federal Hill that belonged to Foster's cousins, a family of a prominent attorney, judge, and politcian from Bardstown.  What is unusual about this house is that it retains over 70% of the original furnishings, due to the fact that it remained in the family until being transferred to the state as a museum.

Jack is cute.  He's very independent
but he wants love about once a day.
Aggie is a Jack Russell Terrier
She wandered in many years ago and stayed.
Actually, now that I've read the Wikipedia entry about the song, it seems that I might have been closer to being correct than I thought.  That source discounts the claim that Federal Hill inspired the song and instead theorizes that it drew upon Harriett Beecher Stowe's 1851 bestseller Uncle Tom's Cabin. If you read the lyrics of the song, I'm more inclined to believe the latter.  It was an interesting tour anyway.

Clay (left) and his younger brother, Hugh (right, holding Aggie)
Louie, a red beagle, moved in sometime in the past year.
We were smack in the middle of boubon country, so we also took in a couple of distilleries that I hadn't been to before, Woodford Reserve and Heaven Hill.  We also stopped in at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, and the old sad ruins of the Old Taylor distillery.  Bourbon distilling figures very heavily in the history of the area.

Kate & Kim's back yard

Jack, running up the lane

It's a great place to be a dog.

Sarge (rear) and Britt (front), and that's a cat (1 of 3) on the chair at the back.

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's a dog

Trace (right) was adopted out on the Sunday right before we left.  His new owners sent a Thanksgiving email with pictures of all three of their dogs, and this one of Trace with his new red ball.  I am very happy for Trace.  He's a very good dog, just not good with screaming children.  That's not an issue in his new home and he's settling in there very well. 

Hunter (left) is a 19 month old male who will be coming to us when we return from Kentucky.  He was an improvident purchase by a young woman who then left the dogs with her parents, who weren't really dog people and weren't really looking for a high maintenance pain in the ass that is a young male shepherd. 

Hunter was thought to be dog-aggressive, but it seems that he really just lacks some social skills and experience with other dogs.  He met three dogs at an adoption event without a problem.  I have several dogs at home, of course, so he will get a crash course in dog etiquette.  He needs to be neutered of course, but a good looking, young, male shepherd should get a lot of interest from potential adopters.  I really would like to find an experienced owner in a kid and cat-free household for him.  He hasn't had much training or attention and he's going to need some work. 

The little girl on the left is a female shepherd who came into a shelter that my doggie dealer pulls from.  She's a pretty young thing, there was no reason I wouldn't say "yes" when asked to take her.  However, she didn't come into the shelter alone, she was dumped along with her 7 pups.  Two of them are shown here (right) although they sure don't look like shepherd pups.  Apparently the litter is very diverse, ranging from these light fluffy pups to a couple who are nearly solid black.  This is certainly a case of multiple fathers.  When people ask me, and they will, "what is it?", I will simply say:  "It's a dog."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  I appreciate all your support, comments, and the stories that you share, here and on Facebook. 

Speaking of Facebook, this picture has been making the rounds this week.  I don't know who deserves attribution for it, but I just stole it.  It seems particularly appropriate for all my vegan friends. 

I am thankful and happy to have so many animal loving friends. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My old Kentucky home

We made it to my sister's house in Kentucky on Tuesday.  We didn't bring along any dogs of our own, but as you can see in the picture below, there is no shortage of them here.

Left to right, we have: Aggie, a Jack Russell, on the bench at the rear, eating a treat; Mojo, Plott hound, looking expectantly; Louie, a 13" red beagle, low and in front, tail a blurr; Britt, boxer (this is where I first got to know the boxer breed, very sweet); Sarge, a white German Shepherd, he technically belongs to someone else in the neighborhood, but has moved in here; and Jack (lower right), a very unique combination of dog parts that defies breed analysis. 

That's my sister Kate on the right and her partner Kim on the left.  We are having a good time, visiting both the Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve distilleries today. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dogs, friends, and memories

Luke, always with a smile on his face
I dare not venture very far down the path of speculation into the mind and memory of a dog.  There are some things, however, that can be observed pretty objectively.  It seems very clear that dogs remember certain people.  I went to an adoption event in Front Royal on Sunday.  Luke was there and he clearly remembered me and greeted me with much enthusiasm.  Luke is with another foster home now, a better one in terms of care, attention, and adoption prospects, but he still remembers me.  He also remembered a woman who had fostered him for about a month while we were on vacation, giving her a lot of love.

I took Thora along as well.  The last of her puppies has been adopted, but she still remembers the woman who pulled her and the pups from the pound.

She was there today with a new foster, this 4 month old black female shepherd pup.  I picked her up for some cuddle time, which satisified my need for a puppy fix for a few more weeks. 

Thora always remembers the woman who saved her and greets her like a long lost friend, exressing her appreciation in a very obvious way. 
Mercedes (front), and Trace (rear)

Dogs also have and remember their dog friends, of course.  Mercedes and Trace had been joined that the hip around here for the last two or three weeks.  Mercedes followed him constantly and harassed him into play relentlessly.  Trace was adopted today, and I'm very glad about that, but I always wonder what the dogs think when one of their friends leaves with someone else from an adoption event, or goes off in the van with me in the morning and doesn't return later in the day. 

Dusty and Clue
Dogs have friends, I don't doubt that.  Some dogs love all others and are happy to play with anyone.  Some are a bit more selective in their friends, preferring a few special ones among many acquaintances.  That was the case with these two, Dusty the shepherd on the left, and Clue, a Saluki, on the right.  Dusty is a former foster of mine, adopted out over four years ago.  Clue was a friend of hers who unfortunately died recently, very suddenly.  From Dusty's point of view, it must be as if he just ceased to appear where they used to meet.  I wonder what, if anything, dogs think about about.  They seem to know when a friend is growing old, becoming ill, and is nearing death.  But sometimes dog/dog friendship is severed suddenly and for no apparent reason from their standpoint, either a sudden death or due to human intervention, a move or change in routine.

It's remarkable, and a testament to their adaptability, that dogs take so many changes in stride, not regretting the past or what they've lost, but just looking forward to what is now and next. 

Dedicated to the memory of Clue, and Huck's dad, Randy Michie, both lost this week, both loved, missed, and not forgotten.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pre-holiday stress

My pre-holiday, pre-travel stress out began this week.  Wednesday it peaked with bad stomach pain, very little sleep, and a deteriorating disposition.  So I haven't posted anything this week, anything I wrote would have been dark and ugly so I figure it's best to keep that to myself.  There have been a few good things this week anyway.

Hobby (left) seems to be working out in his new home.  I heard from him after day two and all was well at that point and no new since then, which is probably good news.  This was the initial report I received:

By the end of the 1st night he was following me around wherever I would go and laying next to me while I worked. He is attached at the hip now and letting me approach him to pet him, play with him or whatever. Once he habituated to all the new "city noises" (cars, people, sirens, etc.) he's taken to his new home very nicely. He was eating the 1st night and I've had absolutely no problems with him at all (except that he loves his toys so much that he destroys them pretty quickly!, haha). He's doing better than I had even anticipated. Also, I'm so surprised that he was such a barker before. Honestly, he hasn't made a peep and seems to be quite comfortable in his new home!
I expected Hobby to be a pretty easy dog and although he's wary of strangers at first, I knew he would warm up quickly to the only person around.  He is a German Shepherd Dog after all. 

Trace (left) is being adopted on Sunday from the adoption event in Front Royal.  I need to work Sunday if we are to leave on Tuesday, but it was a good time and place to meet for Trace's adoption and who knows, maybe I'll have some luck with someone else as well.  I'll take Thora, Mercedes, and someone else in addition to Trace. 

Cole (right) is doing well in his new home too, and they are going to make it official as soon as I get the paperwork in the mail, which I must do. 

I didn't get the boxer neutered, didn't get Mercedes spayed, I really didn't accomplish squat in terms of the dogs.  It seems that I really didn't do much except work this week.  Some weeks are like that, I guess. I've had a number of requests to take dogs that I've had to turn down this week too, and that always bums me out.  At this point in the season I don't want to replace fosters who get adopted.  I'd really like to get my numbers down for the winter so I can get everyone into one of the two sheds at night at least. 

This picture is Rocky.  Rocky is really a medical miracle.  He's the one who came to us in such terrible shape.  His ear canals were fused shut and had to be surgically removed.  He was at the vet hospital at Virginia Tech for two weeks.  I'm not going to re-post all the gory details of his past, but you can read about them here, and here, and here and in many other posts on this blog.

Rocky recovered, was adopted, and moved to Utah where he became certified as a therapy dog.  He has recently moved to Texas due to his person's job change and he just had his first therapy gig at a nursing home down there.  This is Shayna's account of their day (lifted from her Facebook update):

Rocky did good at the nursing home. Now he has two schnauzer girl friends. I was surprised he was so nice to them, he's usually rough on little dogs but they were respectful of his space so that made a difference.
One man had his hand gnarled in a fist (stroke maybe?) and was petting his head and face with a closed fist. When I gave him treats so he would lean in closer I noticed the man's hand was flat open petting Rocky's back. Amazing what petting a dog will do!

Even bad weeks have their bright spots.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hobby's new home

 On October 22nd, I received an email from the director of the Orange County shelter.  Hobby had come in as an owner surrender.  The owners had paid $1,500 for the dog six year ago.  They didn't have any interest in him anymore and had moved him to an outside kennel.  The husband was about to shoot the dog for barking too much, but apparently the wife got him to dump the dog at the shelter instead.

He was very barky here the first night too; he was clearly unhappy being outdoors in a kennel, having been a house dog his entire life until recently.  After a lot of drugs failed to quiet him, I just brought him inside to my office.  He immediately took to a crate and was content, and quiet for then on.

I got him neutered and his scrotum swelled up to the size of a large orange or small grapefruit after the surgery.  He spent more time indoors, on antibiotics and Rimadyl for the swelling.  He fell into the household routine and was an easy foster.  I found him a home but the adopter's circumstances were such that I had Hobby for another two weeks before he could take him.  That was fine.  He continued to be an easy foster, the swelling finally began to subside, and I even moved him back outside to the dog yard during the day and to the shed with two or three other dogs at night. 

Late this afternoon I took Hobby to his new home.  He was a bit nervous.  Hobby doesn't take to new people immediately.  He's certainly better about it than Trooper, but he needs a little time to get acquainted before he's going to give his complete trust. 

But the adopter knows this and when they are alone, one-on-one, I don't think it will take Hobby long to become glued to him.  I loaned him a crate and he had bought hobby a nice bed and new toys.  Hobby took one of the toys right away and retreated to safe spot in the living room and sat quietly with his new toy. 

He will need a little time to adjust to his new home, but he will.  He's a great dog with a lot to offer.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dogs after dark

Thora, on the tall platform in her kennel.
She can see most of the pasture from up there.
These pics were taken Saturday evening after I finished doing some mowing.  I had Cabell, Bremo, and Zachary out for a good long romp, then put them back in the house and let Hobby, Trace, Mercedes, Ryland, and Willy out to the pasture.  Willy (the boxer) didn't last long because he was majorly aggressive towards the mower.  I've never had a dog go after a riding mower the way he did, biting the tires, etc.  It clearly wasn't safe to have him around the mower.  He was so worked up I had to put him into a crate in the shed to get him to give up the chase.
Ryland, returning from his romp in the pasture.
Everyone else had a good run.  Ryland went off on his own, but the three shepherds stuck pretty close together (since they all share one brain). 

Sunday was the VGSR quarterly meeting.  It was blessedly brief and free of conflct.  Elections were held and I got a director's position on the board, two year term.  If I had been smart I would have gone for the one year position instead. 

I came back with a car load of dog food, treats, toys, and other things that people brought and donated.  I had put out a request for dog food and people in the rescue are always very generous when I ask for help.

That trip ate up most of the day and I didn't move any dogs this weekend, but Hobby is being adopted on Monday and Trace is going next weekend.  I don't have much else to say, so here are a few more pictures I took Saturday evening out in the pasture.

Hobby (front), Mercedes (rear), and Trace (right)

Front to back: Mercedes, Trace, Hobby

Trace (left) and Mercedes (right)
Mercedes (front) and Hobby (rear)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


So I did this home visit today for some folks interested in a shepherd, not one of mine, although I can think of two of mine who would probably work there.  They are nice folks with a nice home in the country, a big piece of the property is enclosed with an underground electric fence.  They have a shepherd now, male, very nice and well socialized.  And he is intact. 

Nero, out in the pasture, looking conflicted. 
He wants to come to me but he is a little scared of the mower, appropriately so. 

Nero through the tall grass.
I've been all over both sides of this issue, whether or not to adopt to someone who has an unspayed female or unneutered male dog.  Any dog the rescue would adopt to them will be altered, so there is no chance that we, or our dog, will be contributing to the problem.  A home is a home, and nobody wants to miss the opportunity to place a homeless dog into a good home. 

Nero came a few weeks ago with a bad skin condition.
That's improving, but then he got beat up in a fight.
His wounded ear is nearly healed.
On the other hand, those of us in rescue feel really strongly that dogs and cats should be spayed and neutered.  We get calls and emails and see dogs online that for exceed our rescue resources.  We know that some of those dogs get put down, and frankly it pisses me off.  I'm not mad at the shelters.  Some of them could do a better job, sure, but the problem is that the supply of available dogs exceeds the demand of potential adopters.  That won't change until people stop letting their pets breed.  Both male and female dogs are equal parts of the problem. 

There is a crazy school of thought being promulgated by Nathan Winograd that holds that there is no pet overpopulation.  He even objects to spaying pregnant female dogs, but like I said, he's just gone crazy.  The fact of the matter is, we have more dogs knocking at our door than potential adopters.  We could simply pass out dogs to anyone and everyone regardless of qualification, but I think that's nearly as irresponsible as irresponsible breeding. 

We feel strongly about the pet population problem and consequently we feel that spaying/neutering is the very basic level of responsible dog care.  If a person hasn't done even that, I can't help but question whether it's a home where we should place another dog.

That decision might well be different for a shelter dealing with a higher volume of animals and the need to either move them out or euthanize.  It's a little different for a rescue.  We have a little more leeway in holding out for a better home.

So I'm not sure where I stand on this issue generally or on this particular application.  This one is not really my decision to make unless they get approved and then want one of my fosters.

Actually, I'm pretty sure I'm coming down on the side of rejecting applications like this.  If people choose to be blind to the consequences of unintended breeding and refuse to take responsibility for their part in it, we can at least visit some consequences on them by telling them, "no thanks, we can do better."

I'm a bit conflicted about Nero as well.  He's a velcro dog, wants to be with me always.
He has a sharp, painful bark, which he uses when he wants attention, which is always.
He assaults me with that shrill, ear-piercing bark whenever I go outside.
He will be great dog for someone when he's adopted, but he's a pain in the ass foster because of it.

Friday, November 11, 2011


A varied cast of characters. 
Katie, the biggest, was adopted yesterday while I was there.
Thank Dog it's Friday.  I've got a crockpot full of soup going, but that may just be food for the weekend.  I'm feeling the need to get out of the house tonight.  I've done pretty good at sticking to the work schedule this week, albeit with some irregular hours.  I don't know how anyone does the daily 9 to 5 routine.  I'm very spoiled by this telecommuting job with flexible hours. 

The houndy guy on the left was all smiles with everyone,
just a big goofy guy happy to be outside and playing like a dog.
Thursday afternoon I went back to CASPCA for day 2 of the play group training.  Like I said, I do that here all the time, but I only add one new dog at a time.  Doing it in a shelter setting with a changing cast of characters would certainly be more challenging.  The benefits to the dogs are obvious though.  They get out of their individual, or shared, runs and get to play outdoors with others.  I walked one dog back to the kennels and walked past several who had already been out and gone back.  They were sacked out, tired and contented, de-stressed, much more "normal" dogs.  So many dogs who were thought to be dog-aggressive because of how they act in the kennels were actually good with others once they were out.  I have found the same here.  Dogs who "fence fight" often just want to play and we misinterpret their behavior when they are kenneled.  Our Molly, who is good with everyone, loves to "fence fight" with any dog in the kennel adjacent to the dog yard.  To her it's a game, and apparently a fun one.  It is the only time I hear Molly bark. 

Some dogs, like some people, just have really good social skills, can make everyone like them, and they throughly enjoy social interaction. 

We are going to complete Cole's adoption paperwork via mail.

I haven't heard from the woman I thought was interested in Thora.

Hobby will be going to his new home next Monday. 

It's another week yet before the folks who are interested in Trace are back at home, if they are still interested. 

I haven't got the boxer neutered yet or Mercedes spayed, so they aren't going anywhere, although I have received a couple applications for the boxer, Willy.  There are no adoption events this weekend because Sunday is the VGSR quarterly meeting (rescheduled).  I'm doing a home visit on Saturday but they aren't interested in any of my dogs and I have my doubts about them as adopters anyway, so that may be a waste of time.  Thanksgiving is fast approaching. 

We've had beautiful weather this week, however, and it's good dog weather, at least during the day.  I discovered today that Mercedes is a freak about the water hose. 

Re-filling the water tank was a highlight of the day for Mercedes.