Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap year Lana

Lana coming out of the crate and into Linda's embrace. 
She was uncertain but was perfectly fine meeting me.
Today is leap year day, the extra day added to the month of February every 4 years to keep our calendar in sync with the movement of the planet.  I can't think that I've noticed or thought much about leap year day in the past 20 or 30 years, but it's one of many things that show up on Facebook.

The big smile
I feel like today should be a work-free day, especially because yesterday seemed like an extra 24 hours packed into one day. 

I drove down to Natural Bridge to meet Linda, who brought me Lana from way down in southwest Virginia.  Her grand-daughter had brought Lana to her from North Carolina where she lives.  The grand-daughter has a fenced yard and a boxer of her own.  She went outside one morning and found Lana in her fenced yard.  She had seen the dog around the neighborhood previously and believes that the owner dropped (dumped) her in the yard in the hope that Lana would find a home there. 

That's a slight variation on the method of driving a dog out to the country and dumping it so the person feels that the dog has a chance at that mythical life in the country running free on a big farm.  That cowardly approach allows the person to feel that they did the right thing because they fear the result of taking the dog to the shelter.  Actually they fear the shame they would rightly feel by facing another human and saying I'm here to dump my dog.  The ugly reality of dogs dumped in the country is that most of them starve, are shot, or are killed on the roads, living their last few days or weeks in fear.  But I digress.

Lana was dumped into a good situation.  The unwitting recipient is a boxer owner and lover and she has a grandmother in Virginia who loves all creatures and who knows me.  So that's how Lana came to be in a crate in my office next to Radley last night.  She's a bit domineering with him, but she's been in heat recently so part of that may be the hormones talking.  Linda said she did a bit of posturing with the dogs in her house but was fine, and even laid side by side with one of her cats. 

She will need to get to the vet for vaccines, tests, and to be spayed, of course.  But I really need to work today so it will wait. 
Linda giving Lana the goodbye kiss.  I've done this many times.  You look them in the eye, plant a big kiss on the forehead, and tell them that everything will be all right. Then you trust the next person--a transporter, foster, or eventually an adopter, to make it so.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sunday in the parking lot with dogs

Sunday I took Max, Dixie, Radley, and Gypsy Jr. to VGSR's adoption event in Gainesville.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the wind was calm after blowing up a storm the day before. 

No real prospects to report as a result of the event.  It was Max's first outing and he was a neurotic, high-strung mess, whining and vocalizing constantly, and completely focused on me.  I couldn't take it anymore and finally had to put him back in the van.  I hope to Dog that he gets better at the next event, but I think I'll pre-medicate him with some anti-anxiety drugs.  We may both need them. 

Gypsy Jr.
Dixie was good and Radley was charming as always.  Gypsy Jr. was pretty good too but I didn't let her interact with other dogs very much because I don't quite trust her, but she had a good time.  I've got to start getting her out or she will never get adopted. 

Pam got some great pictures of the dogs for the website and I took a few as well. 

Greeting Roscoe
Roscoe's adopters from two weeks ago brought him by for a visit.  He gave me a hug. 

Tomorrow I'm heading down to Natural Bridge to meet my doggie dealer.  I'm bringing back another boxer, and am transporting three chihuahuas if Karin has a place for them to go. 

Today I wait at home for the refrigerator repairman.  Let's hope the appliance gods smile upon us today because that is not the way I want to spend my tax refund.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


His name is Max (another Max).  I went to meet him today.  He's 8 years old, not ancient by any means, but he's old enough that the age will knock him out of many people's consideration.  He's a good looking dog, and seems quite healthy and happy.  He lives with a smaller dog and small children.  He's protective of his home and family, but he took to me right away when we met outside.

I'm not even going to go into why he's needing a new home.  It's the same old story.  I'm tired of hearing it and tired of repeating it.  Same shit, different day.

He's not in danger and didn't have to move immediately so I'm going to try to find him a foster home where he can live indoors as he always has and not be one of a great many in a world of chaos as he would be here. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Life without internet

Former foster dog, Roscoe, co-existing peaceably with their cat
Thursday morning the internet service started going out.  By noon it was pretty much dead.  I called for service, but it would be the next day.  I struggled with it throughout the day.  Sometimes it would come on, but not for long.  I finally did get my work completed for the day but a dark cloud of fear and foreboding was on the horizon.  It never came back on Thursday evening and it was dead as a doornail Friday morning.

Another former foster, Shadow, looking good
Being without internet isn't quite as bad as being without electricity, but it's bad enough.  I'm addicted to email, Facebook, and general surfing.  And of course I need it for work.  I discovered that there is no local phone company anymore.  You can't call Century Link (formerly Sprint, formerly Embarq...) and talk to a local person.  No matter who you call, you get a call center who can't tell you when an actual live person will call or come.  All they can tell you is that there's an open ticket and someone will come.  That's not reassuring to someone suffering withdrawal symptoms. 

When I hadn't heard from anyone by noon on Friday I began calling.  My third call connected with a guy who actually made an effort behind the scenes to find out what was going on.  He left me on hold for far too long but when he came back he actually had an answer, sort of.  It wasn't too long after that when the service was restored, all without anyone coming out or bothering to call. 

Dixie with her prize in her mouth
Spartan, after losing the prize to Dixie
I was pretty much stuck at home waiting for someone to call or come out so I couldn't get out for a hike on this pretty day.  With nothing to do but sit and wait, I even resorted to a little house cleaning, so you know things were desperate.  After service was restored I really needed to work, and then we had a spring-like thunderstorm followed by increasingly strong winds.  I did get some dogs out to the pasture for a romp late in the afternoon at least. 

Max, Spartan, and Dixie are sharing the big kennel adjacent to Nero.  I took all four of them out to the pasture together.  Nero's initial greeting the Max was a little aggressive but he backs off pretty well when I yell at him.  Basically they all got along fine.  Nero is mostly interested in and protective of his tennis ball, but it wasn't long before Max was trying his best to engage him in play.  Spartan went off by himself and found something dead, gross, and disgusting, which Dixie then appropriated.  I think it was the remains of deer skull but I didn't want to investigate too closely. 

They had a good hard run which was good for all of them.  Max really needs the exercise especially. 

Max and Dixie
Max and Nero

Heading back up to the house

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meet Max

His name is Max.  VGSR gives each dog a numbered tag so he will be Max 1369, which is probably about the number of dogs named Max that we've had.  I'm not sure where the dog was born or initially acquired, but he has lived in England and moved here with his military family, but he eventually got dumped after they had two kids.  This is why I'm always very reluctant to adopt to young straight people.  Contrary to Republican beliefs, the world needs more gays and lesbians.  At least the dog world does. 

Max is about 3.5 years old, already neutered, and he came along with records showing that he's current on vaccines.  I can count on one hand the number of dogs I've taken in that came along with that kind of a vet records, so he was obviously well cared for. 

Max is a mountain.  He is probably 15 pounds overweight, but he will still be a big dog.  They obviously haven't had time to exercise them and that made him more difficult to live with around two babies, I'm sure.  Fortunately, Max is young enough that he's got a good shot at a second life. 

He's a good looking dog and seems very nice.  He's housetrained and he hopped right into the crate in my van and rode home quietly.  I moved him right in with Dixie who should run some weight off him.  We didn't get home until after dark, which is never ideal, but he's with another dog and I can put them inside the shed tonight if necessary. 

He will need to learn some leash manners, or maybe he has them when he's less excited.  I picked up some food and a prong collar donated by a woman today and I'll be using that collar on this dog.  That usually sorts out the leash manners pretty quickly. 

From what I've seen, Max is a nice dog.  He just needs more exercise.  It will help him shed the weight and calm him down so he's easier to live with.  He may still be too much dog in a household with small children, but I'm sure there's a home for him out there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cabell the working dog

Most of the dogs around here pitch in to help the rescue effort in one way or another and Monday it was Cabell's turn. 

Cabell is our most senior dog now.  He's the dog that we adopted from Animal Connections 12 years ago this spring.  He was to be Gypsy's companion and he was the only dog she would play with throughout her life.  While Gypsy only liked Cabell, he liked everyone and still does.  It is that easy going, amiable quality that makes him a good dog to meet, mix with, and test an unknown dog.  Cabell is big enough to handle himself if a fight breaks out, but I can be pretty confident that he will not be the one to start it. 

That brings us to Cadence.  She's a good looking 2-3 year old female shepherd that was taken in by a nice family as part of some program to foster military member's dogs while they are deployed overseas.  To make a long story short, the guy came back but didn't reclaim his dog.  The organization released it to the foster family, but they want to find her a good home.  The problem is that Cadence is a female shepherd.  She's an alpha bitch and rather protective.  They can't walk her in the neighborhood because she intimidates other people and dogs that they encounter on their walks. 

That's a story that I hear pretty often and as is usually the case, the people don't really know if the dog's barking is really aggression or just excitement.  They were understandably relunctant to experiment and find out what she would actually do.  So Cabell and I went to visit.  I went in first, and met the dog in their back yard.  She does have an intimidating bark and looked at me as if she wanted me to leave.  Most people would have left, but I know a shepherd bluff when I see and hear one, or at least I like to think so.  When I didn't scare off easy and didn't make eye contact with her, she came up and checked me out and we were fine.  After that I could look at her, touch her, etc., and she was happy to have me throw the ball for her. 

I brought Cabell into her yard, contrary to traditional wisdom about meeting on neutral ground.  I thought it was more important that they meet off leash without their respective people playing a role.  Cabell isn't intimidated by female shepherds and he just walked on in the yard like he had always been there.  She was fine, no real problems.  She did make some dominance moves on him, but he was cool and didn't take the bait. 

I think Cadence would make someone a fine dog.  She's smart, loyal, protective, devoted.  But she would need the right home, an experienced home, and someone who is both willing and able to work with her and to accomodate her personality.  She would be rather tough to place with the casual family home adopters that typify most of our applicants. 

Cadence has something else going for her, however, and that is a very strong, obsessive actually, ball drive.  That is the single biggest trait that police dog trainers look for in assessing potential working dogs because it shows an intense drive, and it is what they use as a training reward.  That's not the type of placement that I like or that I ever consider for one of my fosters except as a last resort.  However, I don't really want to take her on myself, the owners want to hold her until she's placed, and I don't think she will be easy to place as a pet.  They have contacted some police group and I encouraged them to follow up with them and see if that works out.  In the meantime, we are going to try to help them find her a home as well.  She is a good dog and I think could make a wonderful companion, but she's got some issues and won't be an easy placement. 

Cabell performed his part of the evaluation perfectly.  Since we were in town, we did about an hour's walk on the Rivanna River trail, which we both enjoyed.  He seems to be doing pretty well again.  I think his vomiting last week may have been due to his getting the cat's food on the front porch.  I've now made a cat-friendly, but dog-proof feeder using an old airline crate, so that should be the end of that problem. 

Monday, February 20, 2012


Spartan and Radley
Dixie launching herself at Radley
L to R, back to front:  Spartan, Trooper, Dixie, Radley

Trooper and Dixie (rear), Spartan and Radley (front)

View from the back yard

Birch trees, sparkling in the sun

Morning sun on fresh snow

Dixie going after Radley
Dixie, Trooper, and Radley

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday snow day

Trooper, getting as close to my face as I will allow.
Radley was happy to have a spot at the foot of the bed.
We haven't had a winter storm for the weather people to get worked up about yet this season.  There has been no hoarding of bread, milk, and toilet paper in advance of storms that may or may not happen.  It's been a mild and easy winter so far and I'm fine with that, but they have been predicting doom and gloom for the last couple days.  It kept getting pushed later and later in the predictions, which was causing me to doubt that it would happen at all, but about the middle of Sunday afternoon it started snowing hard around here.  The air temperature is above freezing and the ground is warm, so it's just the sheer volume of it that allowed it to accumulate at all, but it has and we have a couple inches so far. 

I did my outdoor storm prep yesterday and was ready for an indoor day today.  I cooked breakfast and made Bloody Marys.  Clay made a big pot of gumbo and I baked cookies. I watched a couple episodes of Dowton Abbey and even had a short nap, which is rare for me. 

Molly thinks that everyone is after her rubber bone. 
No one else is interested in it in the least, but she keeps it with her just in case.
I'm making arrangements to meet a couple dogs in Charlottesville tomorrow to see if we can help them.  I've sort of committed to a young male shepherd and to a boxer, and there's a female rottie or dobie mix that I'm looking at.  But mostly I've lazed away the day, as shown here.  Trooper loves to lay in bed with me, as close as possible, that dog really wants to share breath or swap spit. Radley is loving the indoor life again and also grabs a spot on the bed whenever possible.

I took everyone out for a romp in the snow late this afternoon.  Molly, Cabell, and Bremo didn't want to stay too long, and Zach didn't want to be away from Clay, but Trooper and Radley had a good play session.  Those two are great playmates--same style, comparable weight and disposition.  The fosters are hunkered down in their respective sheds, cozy in blankets or straw, and it's really not cold anyway. 

Radlely, Trooper, and Bremo

Ollie's menagerie

I was half expecting a rottie to arrive on Saturday but he didn't materialize.  That's ok because it sounds like he's safe and will be going to a responsible home.  And of course there's another one that I may take in his place. 

What did materialize on Saturday afternoon was a young couple from Virginia Beach who adopted Ollie!  I liked them, partly because they took the incentive to actually come here to meet the dog.  They have no other dogs, but they are definitely animal people.  They have cats, ferrets, a snake and lizard, birds, gerbils, and I'm not sure what else.  Ollie's youth and inexperience may work to their advantage because he won't know any of those things and hopefully won't have any pre-formed predatory urges.  We will see. 

I was pretty certain that anyone who met Ollie would fall for him.  He's cute, sweet, and charming.  I was working outside much of Saturday because it was a beautiful day and they were predicting a snow storm for Sunday.  I brought Ollie over to the dog yard to be with Trooper while I was puttering around.  Again, no introduction, I just walked him in and he was fine with Trooper, although he was mostly interested in checking out the yard. 

I pretty much settled on hound/shepherd as Ollie's genetic mix.  That long, lanky frame is very hound-like, and that white tipped tail is the clencher.  I guess I'll never be a dog breed purist.  I can appreciate the look of a classic shepherd or rottie, but mixes are just more interesting and beautiful in their own unique way.  It's what we always tell Cabell, there is only one Cabell dog. 

Nero and I had a pretty active week on the trails.  I got out several times during the week, including a good long hike on Friday, and a shorter but faster one on Saturday, when we actually moved up to trail running. 

I had hoped to do a canoe trip today, in the snow, but it now sounds like the snow, if we get any, won't come until tonight, and this morning is just cloudy, damp, and chilly.  I think I'll make a big breakfast and a Bloody Mary instead, maybe go back to bed and catch up on Downton Abbey.  But first I need to get everyone fed, medicated, and settled for the day.