Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bremo!

It was 11 years ago last weekend that we took in the very pregnant Maggie, and it was 11 years ago today that she delivered Bremo, and nine others. 

Bremo has lived here his entire life and he has led a very sheltered life.  He hasn't traveled or seen much of the world.  He's always been very much a homebody.  No one has ever been mean to him and it would never occur to him to be mean to anyone else, human or canine.  To Bremo, strangers are simply new people who could pet him and/or feed him. 

We never taught him anything.  He learned from the other dogs around here and followed his own instincts, which all seem to be good.  Eleven years old for a dog his size is pretty old, but Bremo has always been very healthy.  When he was a pup he got attacked by bees or wasps and we had to rush him to the vet because his leg was swollen up to the point he couldn't walk on it, but I think that's the only non-routine vet visit we've ever had with him.   He is taking a thyroid supplement now, but a good genetic mix, good food, plenty of exercise, and good routine care has made for a remarkably healthy dog.

In a household that has included several high maintenance, pain-in-the-ass dogs, Bremo has always been a rock solid, steady, easy-going guy.  An "easy keeper" if ever there was one, and believe me, I appreciate that. 

Happy birthday Bremo.  Our little pup has grown up. 

We head to New Orleans on Sunday.  This week has been frantic with getting ready to go and I'm not ready yet.  Blogging has been slow this week because of that and may be even less frequent next week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring begins

Cherry tree in our front yard

The first day of spring, March 20th.  It was 18 years ago today that my first partner died of AIDS.  I am staggered by that number.  I've mentioned before that I'm not good with time frames, but I can't believe that 18 years have passed.  I can remember the day like it was yesterday, but I can't remember much of yesterday. 

Jack's pear tree.  Our rottie, Jack, loved eating pears off this tree.
Cabell and Bremo took it up last year as well.
When Bert died, neither his family nor I were in any shape to endure a funeral.  We had a memorial cookout instead, at our place up in Catharpin, with family and friends.  It was far more appropriate, far more fun, altogether a better sendoff than a formal funeral.  Planning that event got me through the first week after his death.  I wanted flowers but wanted to do them myself, so we went to a florist and ordered flowers in bulk, which I then turned into many amateur arrangments, combined with some things that we had blooming in the yard at the time.  It was spring and I like to go to nurseries and buy plants, so one of the things that we did was purchase trees for everyone to take home to plant in their own yard as a memorial.  At least some of those trees must have survived and are probably rather spectacular specimens today. 

Here's a few flowering tree pics from our yard today, in honor of spring and in memory of Bert.

Redbuds along our front fence that Clay and I planted when we moved here.

All dogs I moved last weekend are still where I moved them, as of today anyway.  We are going to New Orleans next week so I'm not taking any more right now.  Six fosters and four of our own is enough for the housesitter to deal with. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Many miles

The van and I were as one this weekend. 
Friday morning I drove Jack up to Culpeper to meet someone who transported him to a new foster home.  He will be happier being back in a home, but Jack doesn't adjust all that quickly and there are two female dogs that he needs to adapt to.  I think he will be ok there, but time will tell.

On Saturday I drove over to Stafford and adopted out Radley.  He is such a sweet boy.  Nice folks and they were all very excited to have him.  No word from them yet, so we'll just continue to hope for the best.
Max, checking out the new kitchen
Sunday was a day of even more driving.  First I went to Front Royal to deliver Max to a new foster home.  It's the home of my former foster Buddy and two other dogs, including a small one.  Max was good with them all though and I think he will fit in well and be happy there. 

Then I drove into Fairfax County to attend the Pet Expo.  It's a big commercial event, lots of vendors, rescue groups, etc., all animal related.  VGSR has a big booth there every year.  I had Dixie with me, and she really enjoyed it.  Everyone who would tolerate it at all got covered in kisses.

Dixie, in a therapeutic hug
One of my former fosters, Rikku, was there, greatly changed from the time that I had her, all for the better. 

Dixie, dishing out the love
I was really happy to see Dixie so well behaved and friendly.  I think she will get adopted soon, possibly to a young couple we met there today.  It was a good weekend, but I'm tired of driving.  This next week needs to be all about mowing. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Maggie's Day, 2012

This is the day we started down the rescue road, back in 2001.  It's the day we took in our first foster dog, Maggie. 

This past christmas is the first year that we didn't receive a card from Maggie's new home, and I suspect the reason is because Maggie is no longer with us.  I lost one of my own lately and I've heard from a few former fosters who may be in their last days.  That's mostly a function of how long we've been at this and the number of dogs we've placed.  I can't say "happy," but I'm always gratified in a way to hear that a former foster has passed on after a good life in a new home, for however long it was.  Often people need to share their grief with others to unburden a bit of it from themselves.  I can understand that and I'm honored to be included in any part of a dog's life, even the end. 

I've got a lot going on this weekend but probably won't have time to write much until Sunday night or Monday, but I can't let St. Patrick's/Maggie's day go without marking the occasion.  Here's a link to the post I wrote about Maggie last year:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Some better news

Almost anything would have to be better than my last news, even taking in a new dog as I did today.

This is Max, I wrote about him a while back, his family is moving.  I picked him up today and we went directly to the vet to update his vaccines.   He seems like a good dog, a little spooked by the move, as they always are.  The best thing about Max is that I have another foster home in mind for him and hope to take him there on Sunday.

Jack, the return I took in on Monday, is moving to a new foster home tomorrow.  I'm driving him up to Culpeper in the morning to meet someone who will take him on to his new foster home.  The interesting thing about this is that the new foster home is the permanent home of one of Jack's littermates from six years ago.  Jack will be much happier to be back in a home, and particularly a home without small children.
On Saturday I'm taking Radley to meet a potential adopter who met him in Gainesville last Sunday.  I'm very hopeful about that one. 

I have someone interested in Dixie, but they live in New Jersey.  I'm not sure it's necessary to pursue an out of state adoption for her with it's complications--home visit, transport, and difficulty of a possible return.  Still, it's nice to have some interest.

Sophie (formerly Sunny) celebrated her one year adoption birthday this week, today, I believe.

I had an email from Hannah's adopter this week.  He is absolutely besotted with her, thinks that she's the best thing ever.  I have a strong feeling that she thinks the same about him.  They were a good match.
Teddy (front) and Cooper

I had an email from Teddy and Cooper's adopter.  Teddy now accompanies them to the dog park and really enjoys himself, with the other dogs.  He won't have anything to do with the people, but that's ok.  He comes when Cooper comes.  Cooper has opened up Teddy's world.

Robin, more powerful than Batman
In the same vein, I heard from the woman who adopted Buck (now Robin), from Service Dogs of Virginia.  Robin has opened up a new world for her autistic son and made many things possible.  The woman is a therapist herself and also uses Robin in her professional life to help other clients.  To say that Robin is worth his weigh in gold would be to seriously underestimate that dog's value. 

That's it for now.  I guess I'm feeling a bit better.  I found Molly's original adoption paperwork that said she was 5 years old when we adopted her in 2006, making her more senior than I realized.  I am still kicking myself for misreading the situation with her that night and I probably always will, but that's just something I'll have to live with and deal with as time goes on.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The sound of Molly

Molly never made a lot of noise. She had a nice singing voice and would always join in the group howl, but she wasn't a big barker. She did like to stand on the front porch of the shed and bark at the dogs inside in the morning in order to get them stirred up and barking back at her. She would do the same with dogs in the kennel adjacent to the dog yard. That drove me crazy, but there was no dissuading Molly from doing whatever she wanted.

This collar let me know where she was. She would stand over me on the bed in the mornings when it was time to get up, wagging her tail, her butt, and pretty much her whole body, the tags on her collar serving as the alarm clock to let me know that we were burning daylight and it was time to get up. These tags were the sound of Molly.

[Molly died Friday night/Saturday morning from bloat, due to a bowel obstruction that was undoubtedly something she ate out of a blown over garbage barrel on Friday. Not many people know of this yet because I still can't bring myself to speak of it.]

Molly ran like any dog, but faster than most. She loved to race our boys from the dog yard gate, through the pasture, out to the front fence where they would all bark at the neighbors' dogs across the road. What Molly could do that most dogs can't, is fly. She was originally given up because she couldn't be contained and we soon discovered how true that was. Molly never saw obstacles, only hurdles, and she never met one that she couldn't overcome. Sadly, it was her ability to jump fences at a single bound that led to her demise, because she would leave the safety of the dog yard and/or pasture and get into stuff or go places that she shouldn't,. Perhaps we were fortunate to have kept her from harm as long as we did.

Molly was a foster dog at first, and was one of the best kennel managers that we ever had. She would teach incoming fosters the way things worked around here and give them the reassurance they needed. She could defuse tensions and break up fights before they even started. But her ability and inclination to jump and climb, combined with her utter fear of being indoors made her pretty much unadoptable.

Molly had no interest in being adopted either. She was ok at adoption events, but mostly she was scared, didn't interact much, and just wanted to go home. Molly had enough rottweiler in her to be smart enough to figure out what she wanted and how to get it. When she returned after an unsuccessful adoption attempt she would no longer stay in the kennels with the foster dogs at all. I'm convinced that she had figured out that she needed to live in the house with the other permanent residents if she wanted to stay with us. And that is what happened.


She was Emmylou's companion until two years ago, also about this time, when Emmylou died. Molly has been within arm's reach of my desk ever since. Aside from a morning romp, an afternoon quickie, and a sometimes forced late night bathroom break, she's had no interest in being anywhere other than the big dog bed in my office that she inherited from Emmylou. I loved that girl. I still do.

I'll recognize the sound of those tags when I meet her at the Bridge. I will hear her before I see her and she will come bounding over some fence, gate, bushes, or whatever stands between us.

I can only imagine that the Great German Shepherd Dog in charge of the place will be happy and relieved that finally someone has come that she might listen to.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Black beauties

Jack in front of Dixie
Front to back, Jack, Nero, Dixie
Spartan's departure on Sunday left just Nero and Dixie in the big kennel complex.  They were joined there today by Jack.  He was adopted out as a puppy about six years ago I think.  He was one of a litter of pups that I took in along with their father, a smallish bi-color named Buck. 

Adopter has two babies, travels, and Jack doesn't like the kids.  He brought him back a couple months ago, but returned for him about five minutes later determined to try again.  Nice try, but he was out of the country again, the dog snapped at the kids I guess, and the marriage was on the line.  Whatever happened, Jack is back with me. 

He's over weight and under developed, probably because he's been confined to his crate most of the time.  Being here should help, and it's not a bad time of year to be roughing it as a semi-outdoor dog for a little while.  He seems nice enough, but he's spooked by the move, has no idea what has happened.  He should come around in a few days. 

Dixie, Nero, Jack

Monday afternoon I took the three of them out to the pasture for a romp.  Only Nero is actually a black shepherd.  Dixie and Jack are bi-colors.  It's obvious on Dixie, but Jack's legs are pretty close to black so from a distance he appears pretty much solid black. 

The three of them seem to get along very well.
That's our house in the background.
Dixie took charge of Jack. 
Nero is only interested in his tennis balls.
Lana is doing much better now, pretty much back to normal.  I kept her indoors again today but will probably let her spend some time with Augie and Radley in the dog yard tomorrow.  The initial reports on Spartan in his new home seem to be good.  They like him at least.  We are getting them set up with a vet in their area to pursue treatment for his skin condition. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012


The last couple days have been bad so I needed some therapy today.  I took Radley, Augie, Spartan, and Dixie to a VGSR adoption event in Gainesville. 

It was Spartan's first time out, but he was pretty much done with his antibiotics and didn't seem to be scratching anymore.  I wanted to see how he would be out in public around strange people and new dogs because he is so shy here at home, to the point of being a submissive urinater.
Augie and Radley
I thought Dixie would have a lot of interest and a shot at adoption even though the folks who had contacted me about her weren't going to be able to make it to the adoption event.  She is spayed now, just finished three days of Panacure, and was ready to go.

Augie and Radley worked the crowd like old time politicians, shaking hands and kissing babies, hustling food instead of votes.  They always generate a lot of looks and interest and today was no exception.  I passed out a few cards to three or four people who seemed particularly interested, so we will see. 

Dixie was good but had no takers today, but that's fine.  She needs to put on a few pounds to look her best anyway and I have no doubt that her time will come. 

A nice surprise was seeing Anthony with his new adopter.  He was the second most senior of the hoarder shepherds.  When he first came into the shelter I had my doubts that he would ever be leaving there because he was rather aggressive towards strangers.  That was fear based and he got over it.  He's in a great home and they love him.  That was so nice to see today.

Spartan, amid a crowd of people
I love this pic of Radley.
He's the most photogenic dog.
The really nice surprise is that I came home without Spartan!  A nice young family met him and liked him.  Their little girl was quite taken by him and he seemed very comfortable with them.  She's a nurse and wasn't put off by the medical stuff and they can afford to keep him on a good quality food.  It's a week long trial, but I think it stands a good chance of working out.  They do have a small dog, and a cat, but I don't see the least bit of prey drive or aggression in this guy. 

A good day was had by all. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Standing like a stone wall

Stonewall Jackson got his nickname at the first battle of Manassas, when another Confederate general pointed him out to his own men and exclaimed: "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall." The name "Stonewall" stuck and came to be associated with any immovable object or irresistible force. Thus understood, it is an entirely appropriate name for a rottweiler. Rotties use their mass to their advantage. When they want something to move or open, they lower their head into position like a battering ram and apply force to whatever stands in their way until it yields to them. When they don't want to move or do something, they become inert dead weight, defying you to move them. "Stonewall" is the quintessential rottweiler name.

I met Stonewall the rottweiler (or Stoney as he was mostly known) about 8 years ago when he was given up by a tearful young woman who had gone through a divorce and just really couldn't give him the time and attention he needed. I was still fairly new to rescue and rottweilers myself. We had Jack, and had fostered Maggie and her pups (including our Bremo), but I don't think we had placed too many rotties at that point. Stoney came with a pedigree, a full vet history, and a therapy dog certification. This was a well-loved and well-cared for dog. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I think someone at the vet's office contacted a client of theirs who had recently lost her last rottie.  We first met at an Animal Connections adoption event outside Harris Teeter in Charlottesville. She had a rottweiler sized hole in her heart, a hole that could only be filled by another rottie.

It was one of the best human/canine matches I've been a part of, where the person's needs and the dog's needs were just a perfect fit with what the other had to offer. Because they were so well matched, they were able to communicate at a deep level. Rotties can always make their wishes known, and Stoney was particularly expressive, using a combination of eye contact, vocalization, and foot stomping that never failed to get his point across. When all else failed and you simply refused to understand, he would apply the old rottweiler standby, passive resistence, and just refuse to budge until you figured it out. Stoney was also very empathetic and could read Mary Jane like a book.

Stoney stayed at our place several times over the eight years since he was adopted, on the rare occasions that Mary Jane had to leave town without him. He seemed to understand that he was visiting and forgave our inability to fix his food just right, knowing that it would just be for a couple days. We brought a female rottie into his life a while back and he was fine with that. She gave him a reason to stay active, which I think is a big part of staying healthy and well in a dog's senior years. Clay and I stopped to visit Stoney, Daphne, and Mary Jane last Sunday. His mobility had been declining and at 13 years of age, we knew that we could be near the end. He greeted us as enthusiastically as ever. Looking at him, I didn't see an old dog in declining health, I saw a happy dog who had lived a good long life. I saw a lucky dog who, although he had come from a damned Amish puppy mill, had been well cared for and well loved in not one, but two homes. I saw a dog who had reformed many people's opinions and prejudices concerning rottweilers over the course of his life. I saw a dog who had no regrets.

After a bad night on Monday night, Stoney was in pain on Tuesday and an xray revealed a tumor on his spleen and internal bleeding. It was time to let him go. He went peacefully, wrapped in the arms of the woman he loved. May we all be so lucky.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Boxers and bullies

Here's a batch of play pics taken over the past several days.  Lana is not feeling well today after the surgery yesterday.  She is laying low, hunkered down in the office with me and Molly.  Dixie is feeling much better but we are making her take it easy too.  Women's health matters, even if limp dicked republican men want to pretend that it doesn't.  These dogs were not spayed so they can have sex without consequences.  They had a necessary medical procedure because it was the responsible thing to do.  What kind of sick, twisted mind equates birth control with pornography?  The drug addicted Rush Limbaugh, that's who, the heart and soul (if they had one) of the republican party.  Will they never tire of being on the wrong side of history on every single social issue in this country since slavery?  Probably not.  The GOPigs make me sick, Governor Vaginal Probe and all the rest.  Have a nice day.

(The dog with the brown cow spots is Radley, the brindle dog is Lana, and the fawn colored boxer is Augie.  The sheperd in the final picture is Trooper, of course.)