Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Aspen's home away from home.......

When volunteering at the rescue pet shop, Aspen has her own "monster Xpen" to call her home away from home.  This morning we purchased an ortho bed for her, concerned about the 'bed sores' from laying on hard surfaces for so very long.

She is well mannered and immediately went in and tried out her new bed this morning when she arrived at the shop.  Aspen has 'neighbors across the way' - Sugar and Ray - two 'chunky monkey' Chihuahuas TLC took in a few weeks ago after their owner passed away from a terminal illness.  Aspen wags her tail at them, and then in turn, do the same from their own special spot to hang out during the day.  

So far we have not seen any bad behavior at all from Ms. Aspen - she does not alert on the small dogs at the shop in an aggressive way.  She looks around, is interested but does not engage in barking or fussing back at them.

Once we got our normal shop chores done this morning, we started trying to figure out how we were going to get Ms. Aspen into the tub at the grooming station for a bath.  This was no mean feat to achieve... Ms. Aspen probably weighs in around 70-80 pounds and our grooming tub is usually accommodating the smaller dog breeds.

Thankfully today Desiree had off and was filling in at the shop as a volunteer, but we tapped into her being here AND a groomer.  

Desiree got all of her grooming stuff ready and Ms. Aspen was lifted into the tub somehow.  I'm not so sure Aspen has had a bath anytime recently, and it probably was not one of her favorite things to do, but she tolerated it well. 

Ms. Apen got the full 'spa treatment' this morning... compliments of Desiree and Big Joe, complete with nice, warm towels from the dryer to be rubbed down afterwards!  By this point, Aspen was lovin' life and enjoying all of the massages, extra attention and cuddles!

We then warmed up a nice fluffy blankee for Aspen to cuddle up in.  Aspen laid down on her bed, I wrapped the blankee over her and she promptly got ready for a morning nap!  It was a busy morning already, but she must be feeling better just being cleaned and pampered!

Aspen's arrival

Aspen arrived at the shop last night in the company of her next 'guardian angels' - Paul, Big Joe and Joseph.  She'll hand out kisses, but they are not slobbery, wet or frequent. We all had to walk out and greet her - how beautiful she is!

Calm demeanor, Aspen has some gorgeous lemon yellow eyes that look at you in a solid stare... if you know her back story, it cannot help but pain your soul... 

Her feet are in bad shape from the blood draw scarring and it is just so, so sad to know what she was used for and now to be physically marked like this.... it makes you wonder what people were thinking of when they allowed this damage to be done... and how much more of this is going on that we are not even aware of in other veterinary and research facilities, ya know?

Last night, Aspen fit into her new foster's home very easily.  She wanted to play with the other dogs and even is cat-friendly apparently.  She ate her dinner, got lots of hugs and cuddles then spent last night sleeping at the foot of Big Joe's bed, sprawled out and comfy.

Aspen's New Journey

Part of being an animal advocate is to speak up for the animals who do not have a voice - legally or otherwise.  Society is built of what we consider stabilizers - things we can count on to be right, balanced, doing the right thing every time, etc.  We tend to just assume these stabilizers are functioning -- but what do you do when they are not?

Such is the case with Aspen (formerly known as Huera and Koda), a white German Shepherd mix that was abandoned at a veterinary hospital.   Kept and used as a blood donor, Aspen was kenneled and well fed (too well fed as a matter of fact!) as she served her 'purpose'.  Once she no longer served this purpose, the decision was made to put her down.

At this time, we don't know all the details but when the word went out the rescue community about what was going on, it pulled at my heart strings.  TLC is really geared up for the smaller dog breeds under 15 pounds and taking on a 70+ pound dog was out of our comfort zone.  I felt for sure the big dog rescues would respond to Aspen's situation and we went onto the next 'gotta save today' dog.

A week later, I found out that no other rescue had stepped up for Aspen and as I stared at my computer screen and her photos in the email, I heard my late mother's voice in the back of my head - something that has guided me numerous times in my life.

"If not you, Linda, then who?"... something I heard any time I complained about getting a chore done or something I really did not want to do.  No, I'm not crazy and hearing voices, but my mother did leave me with guidelines and principles as to how one should live their life, treat others and give back to your family, community and others.  So I knew I had to somehow figure this out and logistically make this work.

TLC has two amazing volunteers who work exceptionally well with big dogs and small - Big Joe and his son, Joseph.  I spoke with both of them and shared the email and photos of Aspen.  After a bit of deliberation, they agreed to foster Aspen and we reconfigued the TLC rescue pet shop to carve out a day-time spot for Aspen.  When these two volunteer at the shop, Aspen would be with them and we could work on her weight, reverse the mental conditioning she'd undergone and bring her back to what a dog should be, both physically, mentally and emotionally.

When not volunteering, Aspen would be with Big Joe and Joseph in their home, loved as a dog for themselves - not as a blood donor to be discarded when no longer of value.  This is what true animal advocacy is about - making it work, finding solutions and in the end, doing what is best for the animal regardless of the sweat equity and sacrifice one must do to right the wrongs previously done.

Stay tuned for more updates on the TLC blog!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Have we offended you?

On occasion, potential adopters have been offended by the TLC policy of requiring an adoption application to be filled out.  We use this application as a mechanism to best match up a rescue with the lifestyle of someone.  We know some dogs will not do well being left alone all day long while someone is at work, if a specific dog is not friendly with children, etc.

And especially with the wee little ones, we are always concerned about their safety.  Most people want a SMALL Chihuahua, having been convinced these 'teacup' Chihuahuas (which is not a breed nor size) is the way to go when they are adopting.  Three pound Chihuahuas and children are simply not a good match and we have learned this the hard way - hence why we do not adopt this size into families with toddlers and small children.

But what do you when people deliberately set out to circumvent our system and efforts?  Such is the sad tale of E.T.

E.T. was rescued from the owner by their neighbor after being observing him being abused.  When E.T. arrived into our hands, he was highly aggressive and would make a great show of trying to bite... after all, it was his only defense mechanism.  He also had a broken tail which crooked to one side and we didn't even want to think how he got that trauma!

Weeks into rehabilitation, E.T. blossomed into a loving little munchkin of a bit over three pounds.  Once he realized humans were not going to harm him, but that everything good in life came from humans (especially those yummy treats!), he became a neck warmer, intensely devoted to cuddling and loving up on everyone he came into contact with.

Eventually E.T. went up for adoption at the TLC rescue pet shop.  Because of his small size, we would not approve adoption applications from people who had small children in their home - it is just too easy for a child or toddler accidentally fall on one of these little ones, breaking a leg or doing even worse harm.  Turned down on Saturday because of this, an adopter came back the next day without her children and put in another application on E.T., leaving out the critical information about have children at home.

The lady seemed nice enough and E.T. was adopted.

Ten days later, E.T. was brought back to us in a shoebox, unable to raise his head.  Frankly, I did not even recognize him when I first saw E.T. --- for E.T. was FULL of life and lively!

We immediately called our vet and rushed E.T. there, where he stayed in intensive care for two days on I.V. fluids and with medical care.

The woman had told us that she "just didn't have time to make sure he ate with her work schedule" and the vet's diagnosis?  E.T. had not been given water for at least 2-3 days and at that time, the rest of his body and organs starting shutting down due to dehydration, so of course he stopped wanting to eat.  Dehydration also caused the one eye to become ulcerated as his dry lid was dragged over his eye without enough fluid inside the eye sockets.

Once discharged from E.R., TLC volunteers took turns providing round-the-clock care for E.T.  A week later, not happy with his progress, E.T. was back at the vet's for more I.V. fluids and injectibles --- in the hope that it would give him enough of a boost to start feeling better --- or at least to be a bit interested in eating again!

Three weeks later, we continue the struggle for E.T. to regain his health.  At times, he has to be forced to eat and take fluids... he has bed warmers to help hold in core heat.  The vet bills are over $700 already - far exceeding the $200 adoption donation the rescue received.  

Do we give up?  No... not as long as E.T. is willing to live, we do not give up.  Having gone from over 3 pounds to 2 pounds, 2 ounces in those 10 days while adopted, E.T. struggles to gain back weight, ounce by ounce, so we have a long road ahead of us here.

E.T.'s story is highly demonstrative of why rescues ask as many questions as we do... Why we turn down some folks when they insist on a particular dog... Why the volunteers work so very hard at this passion of ours...  Why these kinds of incidences are so demoralizing to our volunteers (and deadly to our rescues)... 

Documented in the hopes it causes at least one person to better understand what we do and why..........