Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Leah's Story


A year ago I fostered a Chihuahua named Blondie and her three puppies – Lee, Leo and Leah.  Leah was the only girl, and she was twice the size of the two boys.  She was the fearless leader of the group, always exploring and chewing and getting into trouble.  I adored her.  She was quickly adopted, and went to a good home with a loving owner and two other dogs.  Last week I was sad to learn that Leah was being returned.  The reason isn’t important, although I was disappointed that the family decided to return her.  When she went out, she was a silly fat sassy puppy. 
Puppy Leah
When she came back, she was a terrified, anxious, depressed dog.  She won’t leave her kennel.  She won’t eat, drink, or even move when anyone is around.  She has laid in the same spot, huddled against the back of the kennel, for a week and refused to make eye contact.  This morning we had a bit of progress.  She ate a piece of chicken while I was in the room.  It’s heartbreaking to see how afraid she is, and how much she misses her family. I’m trying Rescue Remedy, DAP collars, and other options to try to help her overcome her depression.  I am hoping she will have a happy ending to her story.  That she will come out of her shell and bond to a new person and hopefully find an owner that will be her forever family.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Search!

When I first brought home Ziggy, I quickly realized he wasn't a "normal" dog.  Sure, he did normal dog things, like barking and chewing and playing with toys.  But he didn't want affection or petting, and the only thing he cared about was food.  He didn't bond with people or other dogs, and didn't want them around unless they were willing to provide the one thing he cared about - food!  We've never really figured out what makes Ziggy the way he is.  With a lot of hard work we've taught Ziggy to accept petting and attention, but he still only tolerates it in hopes of getting rewarded with food.  It's made him basically unadoptable as a pet dog, but it also makes him a very motivated dog when it comes to working.  Recently I've tried to channel that motivation into a new goal - to become a certified Search and Rescue dog! 
 
About five months ago I joined CSARA, a local search and rescue group.  I recently earned my SarTech II certification, and now I've started to focus on training Ziggy to be a cadaver dog.  This is a video of a recent training session: 
 
 

There are three main types of Search and Rescue dogs.  Two of those - Air Scent and Trailing - search for living people.  The third type of dog searches for human remains.  This is an important part of Search and Rescue since it can assist law enforcement in investigations and provide loved ones with closure.  It is also the type that is most appropriate for Ziggy since he is deaf and not that big a fan of living people. 

Becoming certified as an HRD (human remains detection) dog is a long process that involves a lot of training.  We've only started, and have a very long way to go.  Ziggy will have to learn to detect sources that are buried or elevated, and he will have to learn to ignore all distractions along the way.  Although he may never reach the goal of being certified, we are having fun learning together.  Eventually I hope to adopt a dog specifically for Search and Rescue, and the time spent practicing with Ziggy will help me train a future dog.  Ziggy doesn't understand anything about certifications or tests - he just knows that if I give him the sign for Search, it means it is time for a fun game where when he wins, he gets his favorite thing - food! 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What A Foster Home Intake Coordinator Does (aka Why I Love My Job)

Many animal rescue groups are made up of only foster homes.  This means they don't have a shelter, and every time they rescue an animal, they have to find a place for it to stay until it is adopted.  The group I volunteer with, All Paws Rescue, currently has around 30 active foster homes for dogs.  This means that we constantly have dogs coming into our rescue, being fostered, being adopted out, and then new ones coming in.  Coordinating all of the dogs coming in and going out can be a lot of work, but everyone cooperates to make it go smoothly.  A couple of years ago I volunteered to be the Dog Intake Coordinator (there is also a Cat Intake Coordinator who handles all of the cat intakes and cat foster homes).  Like everything else in our rescue, this is a volunteer position - no one in our group gets paid!  We just do this because we love to help animals.  So the way I help as the dog intake coordinator is to make sure our dog foster homes have what they need in the form of paperwork, supplies, and dogs. When a volunteer tells me they are ready to take on a foster dog, I try to match one to them that is a good fit.  Some of our foster homes can only take in hypoallergenic dogs, or small dogs, or female dogs, or other special requirements, so whenever possible I try to match up a dog in need with the available foster home to make sure it works out for everyone.  However often the dogs that need rescue don't come with information like if they are house-trained, or if they get along with small dogs, or if they like cats.  That is why many foster animals come to my house or another experienced volunteer's house for a short time for an evaluation.  Then when another foster home opens up that is a good fit for that dog, the dog goes to that home and that opens up a space for us to take in another dog to evaluate.  The down side is I end up having to give most of the "easy" dogs to other foster homes, and the only ones that stay with me are those with issues.  But the up side is I get to foster a lot of awesome dogs. 
 
For example, tonight after work I am picking up this dog:

 
His name was Prince and then it was recently changed to Baxter, so at the moment I'm calling him Prince Baxter, until I find out which one he answers to.  He looks so adorable, I'm thinking he'll probably be a very short-term foster dog.  But then again, he could turn out to have issues and be stuck with me for awhile!  I can only hope!

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Give Up!

I started this blog as a way to track all of the foster animals coming into my house. I'm happy to announce that I can no longer keep up with the number of animals I have been able to play a small part in saving. Between my job and my volunteer duties with animal rescue, I have been too busy to keep up with this blog, and can no longer share pictures and updates on every single animal that passes through my home. Instead, I've decided to just focus on the stories. Every animal has a story, just like every person, and I'll just pick a few of those to share with you as I have time. I will try to share details of adoptions and new intakes on my Facebook page from now on, so check it out if you'd like.


Today's story is about a dog named Copper, and his best friend Tod.  Copper and Tod started out their lives like the puppies pictured in this video.  They most likely were born here, grew up in this home, and knew nothing beyond life on a chain.



Two years later, the Humane Society of the United States, along with other rescue groups, stepped in and saved these animals.  Copper is in the video, at the 0:22 second mark, and Tod is shown just a few seconds later.  By the time they were saved, they knew only enough to be terrified of everything that was new.  That included people, television, ceiling fans, car rides, and everything that most dogs take for granted.  A soft bed to sleep on was something they'd never had before.  The freedom to run in a straight line instead of a small circle?  Unknown to them.  When being taken outside on leash they would continuously run in circles and panic at the sound of a truck or motorcycle, or the sight of people.  The dogs and cats that were rescued from this home have been adopted out or placed into rescues and shelters where they can find forever homes.  Tod and Copper are two of the most fearful of the group, so they came to All Paws Rescue, and are going to need a lot of work in order to be able to be adopted.

I've had some practice with fearful dogs after fostering Bogey and Bunny.  They've both shown a lot of improvement and were eventually adopted into homes who continued to work with them.  In both cases I've heard from their families recently and they are doing great!  So when I heard that Tod and Copper needed help, I immediately contacted Bogey's mom who has continued to foster for us. She agreed to take Tod, the shyest of the two, and work with him until he can be adopted.
Tod
That left me with Copper, at least for now.  I love working with shy dogs, but due to my work schedule and living so far from civilization, I don't spend as much time with the dogs as I would like.  So I am fostering Copper until he is adopted or until we find a foster home who wants to work with him.
Copper
So far, Copper is making very slow improvement.  He likes to follow me around, as long as he thinks I'm not looking at him. We've started taking walks in the farmland around my house and he seems to enjoy that.  He is getting used to living in a home, and getting used to me.  He is heartworm positive so is starting treatment for that, and he's recently become very interested in the new kitten I brought home.

In a way, Tod and Copper's stories are just beginning.  We've started a Facebook page to track their progress, and I hope that they will both show more and more improvement and eventually find happy forever homes just like Bogey and Bunny!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Few Quick Updates

Trixie is a Boston Terrier mix, possibly mixed with Tasmanian Devil.  She is very playful, and has a lot of energy.  Trixie loves everyone, and thinks that everyone also is very playful and has a lot of energy.  It takes four normal dogs to wear out Trixie, if she plays with them one at a time until they get tired.  I have no idea how many humans it takes to wear out Trixie because it hasn't been done yet.  Trixie does occasionally settle down after wearing out all the dogs and humans in the house, and on those occasions she is happy to cuddle up and go to sleep.  Of course by that time I've been asleep for hours, so I usually miss this exciting event.  By the time I get up in the morning, she is once again ready to play! 

Trixie showing off her cute underbite

Mickey is a Chihuahua mix who was adopted out several months ago and was just returned due to not getting along with the other dog in the home. He does very well with all the dogs at my house, but he can be a bit of a bully (all eight pounds of him) so I can understand why another dog may not have wanted to put up with that. He is very well mannered with people and has been a big hit at adoption events. He is scheduled to go to a foster-to-adopt home on Monday! 

Mickey!


All Paws recently took in five American Eskimo Dogs after their owner passed away, and two of them (Casper and Buddy) came to my house. These were the first Eskies I have ever fostered, and I fell in love with the breed. The dogs are sweet and playful and easy-going. Buddy has moved on to another foster home now, and Casper has been adopted!
American Eskimo Dogs


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Status Updates and Puppy Pictures

Most of my foster dogs with issues have now been adopted!  Gucci, Jet, Blondie and Annie Beagle all found wonderful homes!  Also Leroy was adopted, and Lulu and Gus are both in foster-to-adopt homes.  I also took in these temporary foster dogs:

Josie, Ginger and Sarge came into rescue along with two other dogs from a hoarder/collector situation.  They are friendly and sweet, and within a week they went out to other foster homes.

Josie has a habit of squeaking instead of barking.  She is a very small dog and very sweet and loving.  She might not be the smartest in the bunch, but she is one of the happiest.
Josie
Ginger is only eight months old which might explain why she has so much energy.  She is a very athletic dog and will often climb on your back, your shoulders, or the top of your head.  For the few days she was here I was teaching her to jump into my arms on command, because it was preferable to having her jump on me when I wasn't ready.   Even with all her energy she is very sweet and likes to cuddle and lick your face and your ears, and she is very determined to do so even if you sit curled up in a ball with your hands over your face.  
Ginger
 Sarge is a Beagle/Jack Russell Terrier mix.  He was good with most of the other dogs but thought that he was in charge and tried to scare away all new dogs that came in, so he went to a foster home where there aren't so many new dogs all the time.


Charlie Mac was only here for two days, and that was just long enough to realize that he was a goofy boy that likes everyone and has no concept of personal space.  Since I already have one of those (named Eeyore), Charlie Mac quickly went to another foster home where he was a perfect fit.




 I also took in eight puppies that had nowhere to go.  They are some sort of Hound mix, and they're around ten weeks old now.  They will be moving on to other foster homes as space becomes available, and should be available for adoption within a week or two.

Puppy with Josie

Two more puppies

Happy puppy!

Another happy puppy!  Or maybe the same one!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dog Fights Are Scary

A few days ago I broke up a serious dog fight between two dogs. I was out in the backyard with Pandora (deaf Boxer), Eeyore (deaf American Staffordshire Terrier) and Gus (hearing Basset Hound mix). These dogs have been living together in my house for several weeks now with no problems and we’d been out there for awhile when suddenly a fight started between Gus and Eeyore.

Gus may be vertically challenged, but he refuses to let that slow him down. He’s one of the most stubborn dogs I know, and when he decided Eeyore got too much into his space, he attacked him. Eeyore decided not to back down, and suddenly a full-blown fight was in progress. Although I was standing just a few feet away, I was unable to distract the dogs or break up the fight immediately. I tossed the contents of the outside water bowl on the dogs with no effect, and then turned the hose on them full force which also had no effect. I then grabbed Eeyore by his back legs and picked him up off of the ground. At that point he had a hold of Gus and wasn’t letting go. Most dog breeds will snap erratically at their opponent, biting and releasing repeatedly. But dogs of the terrier breed, including pit bulls, will usually bite and hold. So at this point I’m standing there holding Eeyore upside down completely off the ground and trying to drag him away while he continues holding onto Gus and shaking his head. I was terrified, but Gus apparently wasn’t, because for a second Eeyore let go, and instead of running away, Gus came right back at him and renewed the fight. Did I mention he’s stubborn? This time Eeyore got a good grip on Gus’ front leg and wouldn’t let go. I ran into the house and grabbed a break stick – an emergency tool that I had purchased more than a year ago but never before had to use. I ran back to Eeyore and put the break stick into his mouth and twisted. Instantly Eeyore was biting the break stick and Gus was free. This time Gus got smart and ran into the house as fast as his little legs could carry him. I then held onto Eeyore’s collar and walked him to the door so I could go inside while ensuring that Eeyore could not follow me into the house. Eeyore walked calmly beside me as if nothing was going on, while I was in a panic over what had just happened.

I rushed Gus to the emergency vet clinic, and he had to get stitches in his front leg and chest. The vet tech asked what happened and I said he was in a fight with a pit bull, and she muttered “I’m getting really tired of those dogs.” And I felt horrible that I just contributed to the bad image that pit bulls have, when I know they are wonderful dogs and I know that Gus is the one that started the fight, not Eeyore. So I almost didn’t write this blog post, because the last thing these poor dogs need is more bad press. But there is so much misinformation about pit bulls out there, that I can only hope by sharing my experience I will help someone else who may someday be in the same situation. The truth is, pit bulls are not just like other dogs, at least not when it comes to dog fights. It’s not all in how they’re raised, and it’s also not all in their genes and whether they came from fighting lines. It’s not even how they’re trained or managed 100% of the time. Eeyore is a smart dog who has learned basic obedience commands and loves human attention. He has been around many other dogs and even spent a week at a doggy day care facility without any issues. But any dog of any breed can get in a dog fight, and it’s important that multi-dog households are aware of that. Responsible owners should take measures to prevent such fights, but should also be prepared for the worst.

There is a lot of good information out there on how to break up a dog fight. I would suggest reading it now because if a fight ever happens you’re not going to have time to go read it then. Most importantly, be cautious when trying to break up a fight. Don’t get bit in the process. Don’t grab a dog’s collar or place a leg or arm in between two dogs who are fighting. If you have a pit bull type of dog, buy a break stick, or make your own. Because as scary as it is to witness a dog fight, it’s even more scary to not be able to break them up. Break sticks should not be used on breeds of dogs other than pit bulls, but I can now attest to the fact that it worked great on a pit-bull type dog who was biting and would not let go. I hope I never need to use one again, but if I ever do find myself in a similar situation I will panic a little bit less and feel a lot more prepared to deal with the situation.