Saturday, December 29, 2012

That can't be comfortable!

Poor Big Momma!  You KNOW she must be SOOOOOOOOO uncomfortable!
Still on baby watch, waiting for puppies!Even

Even KodaBear is on baby watch... But she's managed to find a few toys that just delight her to no end... In this case, it is a Chuck-It ball that she will chase and chase until finally tired, will bring back and keep close by... 

Mine... mine... mine!

Who says these big dogs and other dogs can't get along together?  In the foreground is Devon, my 3.5 pound dog and aside of him is Sylvester, a rescue dog at the shop currently...

We found newborn ticks on both KodaBear and LemonCello, so into the bathing sinks they went for baths.  KodaBear HATED the whole event.  But LemonCello stood just fine for it (after it took two male volunteers to lift her into the bathing sink!!)... LOL... Love her look after the full spa treatment!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 3 - Still no puppies....

Still no puppies, but these two are lovin' life here with the TLC volunteers... They are getting SO many kisses, hugs, pets, massages, walks, treats and attention!

We introduced them to some of our smaller dogs and so far, unless the small dog has been snarfy with momma, no response or aggression.  When we are doing things that have the other dogs out in the back, we put up one of those baby gates to partition off some of the hallway... I just had to snap these photos!

Look at that face... How can you help but fall in love with her??!!  

LemonCello really does not like looking directly at the camera and will intentionally turn her head or avert her eyes to avoid the flash.

We are having just FAR too much fun with these two, ya know?

Everyone gets her to sit, then 'Shake', 'Shake again' as she switches legs and hands you the other one!  She's a bit picky and won't eat just kibble, but will turn her nose up at it unless it's got some of that 'wet good stuff' mixed in!  LOL... 

Yep, yep... We are having FAR too much fun with these guys!  Every volunteer that comes through has to stop and give at least one hug or pet to them before going back to whatever they were doing. 

I wish this picture was more in focus, but it is a bit blurry (sorry!) 

BTW, Koda is already adopted as soon as she's been spayed, microchipped, etc.!  Great young couple (wife is a police officer, husband is in the Navy)...  We'll miss 'BabyBear' but there will be more a'comin as soon as LemonCello decides the time is right to birth this litter! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Update on Momma and Daughter, Koda

No babies yet, but LemonCello and Koda were waiting for me bright and early this morning when I arrived at the rescue shop... LemonCello was a good girl but Koda wasn't as good... OMG... We're geared up to small dog breeds under 15 pounds... We don't have snow shovel pooper picker upppers here!

I took LemonCello out right away, and still thought I had enough poop bags in my pocket... WRONG!  Four poop bags was just not enough at all, but I scrapped up about 90% of it... Momma's bigger than daughter, but even so - OMG!... LemonCello is such a good, sweet girl... She reminds me a lot of another dog we had for a bit named Mars... Except 3 times bigger than Mars was... 

LemonCello has taken a liking to me and started following me around the rescue shop... We don't have a lot of room in the back, so I have to be careful when I turn around 'cause LemonCello is right there behind me... Carrying a full laundry basket can prove to be hazardous to your health now!

And my office is really the old broom closet, so you have an idea just about how much room there is in here... 6'x8' with a desk, three file cabinets and an office chair does not leave a lot of room to move around in... 

LemonCello insists on following me into the office when I sit down and I don't have the heart to let her lay down on the tile floor so I put down a large fluffy and thick comforter... Even so, there isn't a lot of room for her to sprawl out very well in here, but she still insists in being in here if I am... 

Koda crawls inside the soft-sided kennel underneath my desk that my two Chihuahuas normally hang out when they come to the shop with me each day... It is a tight fit but if she squeezes herself small, she can fit... LemonCello tried it once yesterday evening, but couldn't turn around and had to back herself out... LOL... 

Just not enough room in here to turn around, let alone stretch out... They both have nice accommodations elsewhere, but insist on being in here... And LemonCello is as uncomfortable as can be right now... Poor thing!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Baby Watch #3

We are on 'baby watch #3' here... Thanks to the doggie guardian angel B.J. and her hubby who made the long drive to Delano from Simi Valley today, both momma (LemonCello) and her daughter (Koda) are now safe and sound.

We suspect LemonCello will go any time now.  Her daughter is a bit spooky, but with time and learning we are trustworthy folks, Koda will come around quick enough.  LemonCello is so, SO sweet and friendly.  Someone must have loved her to have socialized her so well.  She also knows basic dog obedience and how to do some tricks (like Shake 1 & 2).  Sad to see such a great dog end up in a shelter, ya know?

The animal control officers were sad to see these two go and yet?  Were so happy to know both were rescued today!

LemonCello gives great kisses and is very well mannered.  Koda, on the other hand, immediately went to snoop in the pile of dog dishes stacked up on the floor to be washed!  What a goober she is!  (smile)

We hope LemonCello delivers soon for we feel SO bad for how preggers she is... Poor thing!   This is all babies and she is so gosh darned uncomfortable!


Monday, December 24, 2012

And sweet Trisha!  She's also very preggers as well!

This is a big girl normally, but so beautifully marked, huh?  Manchester Terrier mix of some form?  She's not sporting any tan in the crossover between creme and black...

"It's hard to sit comfortably now!"

VERY sweet girl as well... We're guessing any day but no more than a week at most.  What do you think?  Want to guess how many pups she's going to have? 

On baby watch - #1

Let me introduce you to Molly... or the 'Unsinkable Molly Brown' as we have been calling her.
Oh... my poor belly is stretched out SOOOOO far!
She's obviously VERY pregnant and we are on baby watch here at the rescue shop.  A Good Sam saved her life and thanks to her kindness, Molly is here with us now to await the delivery of her pups and nursing them through the time they are old enough to be weaned, spayed or neutered then put up for adoption.

The poor thing!!!  Oh my goodness!  When Molly walks, her belly nearly touches the floor!  She's waddling now - not walking.

This dog couldn't be any sweeter either.  She's got kisses for anyone she meets.

How many pups do you think she is going to have?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why so much?

Once again on Friday, we went through that old conversation with an elderly lady... "If you gave these dogs away, there wouldn't be so many homeless dogs!!!"

I would like to take the time here to address this issue once and for all (and finally for the last time).  People are giving away dogs all the time on CraigsList - that doesn't stop the dogs from becoming homeless, ending up in a shelter somewhere and if not adopted, killed for lack of space, behavioral issues, etc.

We are not a shelter - we are a rescue.  If we were to give away the dogs we rescue from death, we wouldn't have the funds to pay the bailout fees, buy the vaccines, get them spayed or neutered, buy and insert microchips, etc.  All of this is paid for ahead of time by the rescue, and because we are No-Kill, we continue to feed, house and vet care for the dogs in our care until they find their furever home.

We do at least 16-18 loads of laundry a day and go through a bottle of HE detergent every 2 days along with fabric softener, bleach, fabric sheets, etc.   Our weekly food bill runs an average of $250.  Some puppies require special food, other dogs require reduced diet foods to lower their overweight physique and I can't begin to quantify the amount of toys, low-calorie treats, collars, etc. that we go through constantly.  Our electric bill averages over $1,000 a month.

Exactly HOW would we keep open the doors... the lights, A/C & heat on... and care for these dogs if we simply gave them away?

And on a side note?  And this view expressed by me personally and not the rescue... More than one we have given a dog away to a great home to help them get adopted due to special needs, etc.  I can cite numerous examples of how not having a financial investment in the dog, these folks later just 'threw away' the dog because it didn't cost them anything.  I won't embarrass these folks here in public by citing names, but this mindset with people bothers us more than anything else.  
  • Recently we were asked to take in a dog from a family that owns a $3.5 million dollar home - with that kind of income, they couldn't seem to find a solution to a small behavior problem the dog was having... bottom line?  The dog was too inconvenient for them to take care of.
  • A dog we adopted this year is now kept in a cage all day long because she has developed a biting issue (and she never had one prior to adoption as my foster and with another foster mom - in fact, this dog took on an orphaned pup and raised this pup as her own).  The dog needs a dental as well and I begged the owner to return this dog to us - which she refused to do because she's put out a nonrefundable adoption donation and a small amount in vet bills.   If we are willing to pay her $500 AND give her ANOTHER dog to ruin, they would be happy.... they say they can't afford a dental for the dog, but even that won't change this new behavior of selective biting the dog has supposedly developed.... grrrrrrrrrrrr.
  • Great dog adopted for free to a good home - later, the folks bought a new home and didn't want to take the chance of any accidents on their new carpet because the dog was 'incontinent'.  She was returned to us, and although she had not been at my home for over a year, she immediately went out through the doggie door and did her business.  She went to the vet for a check the next to see if she had a bladder infection just in case (she didn't), and months later, this dog has yet to have an accident in my home.
I get it... times are tough and economics are tight.  But just like every one else, times are just as hard --- if not harder --- for rescues as well.  Donations are few and far between as people's extra monies are gone with the economy.  The current condition of the economy does not stop dogs from being thrown away - as a matter of fact, the inbound numbers of dogs into kill shelters has greatly increased!   Do we turn our backs and say we can't afford to save their lives?  Do we turn down pregnant moms or nursing moms because it is a long term foster and expensive to speuter a litter, do three sets of puppy shots, and provide quality nutrition for mom and her pups through the 8-12 weeks they are with us?

Or do we just go ahead and kill the dogs ruined by someone in the general public?  Reed is a small little female we recently agreed to take in.  She is more apt to growl, raise the lip and give you bite signs before she's willing to take the treat you are offering her.

Do we turn our backs on this dog, despite knowing we can save her life and rehabilitate her?   Somewhere along her young life, she's learned that she can't trust humans and if she wants to be left alone, appearing to be ready to bite will cause that human to go away.  Beautiful dog, huh?  Young - very young - and yet so damned sad.  So we take in this dog, we feed and house her through the rehabilitation process, and then bring her up to our adoptable standards.    No, someone already gave this dog away to a shelter to die.... So just 'giving dogs away' is not the answer to the vast amount of homeless dogs our communities are dealing with.

Maybe we can just 'give away' the humans that destroy these dogs by poor dog ownership practices.  After doing rescue for over 30 years now, I am probably pretty jaded by the human nature that just HAS to have that cute little doggie in the window, but is not there for the rest of that dog's lifetime.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Georgie Boy found his furever home!

Just in time for Christmas, Georgie Boy found his new furever home!  Don't he and his new mom look happy together?


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Why rescue folks do what we do...

This has been posted on CraigsList and FaceBook.  I myself have seen the barrels of the carcasses at our own county shelter here in Ventura... their paws reaching up to the sky because the barrels are too full and without a lid... I can only assume they are pushed and shoved down so a lid can be put on prior to pick-up by the truck that takes them to the rendering plant.

This is a 'hard read' but one that EVERYONE should read, whether they own a pet or not.
The shelter manager's letter:

"I am posting this (and it is long) because I think our society needs a huge wake-up call.  As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all - a view from the inside, if you will.  Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don't even know - that puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore.

How would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at - purebred or not!
About 50% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays" that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.

No shortage of excuses
The most common excuses I hear are:
We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat).
     Really? Where are you moving to that doesn't allow pets?
The dog got bigger than we thought it would.
     How big did you think a German Shepherd would get?
We don't have time for her.
     Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs!
She's tearing up our yard.
     How about bringing her inside, making her a part of your family?

They always tell me: We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she'll get adopted - she's a good dog. Odds are your pet won't get adopted, and how stressful do you think being in a shelter is?   Well, let me tell you. Dead pet walking!  Your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off, sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy.  If it sniffles, it dies.

Your pet will be confined to a small run / kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it.
If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers that day to take him / her for a walk. If I don't, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.

If your dog is big, black or any of the "bully" breeds (pit bull, rottweiler, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don't get adopted.

If your dog doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed.

If the shelter isn't full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed, it may get a stay of execution, though not for long. Most pets get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment.

If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.

The grim reaper
Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down".

First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk - happy, wagging their tails. That is, until they get to "The Room".

Every one of them freaks out and puts on the breaks when we get to the door. It must smell like death, or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there. It's strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs (depending on their size and how freaked out they are). A euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff". Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk it's leg. I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood, and been deafened by the yelps and screams.

They all don't just "go to sleep" - sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.  When it all ends, your pet's corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back, with all of the other animals that were killed, waiting to be picked up like garbage.

What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You'll never know, and it probably won't even cross your mind. It was just an animal, and you can always buy another one, right?

Liberty, freedom and justice for all
I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head. I do everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists and I hate that it will always be there unless people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter.

Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.
My point to all of this is DON'T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE!

Hate me if you want to - the truth hurts and reality is what it is.  I just hope I maybe changed one person's mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say "I saw this thing on Craigslist and it made me want to adopt".

That would make it all worth it."

Author unknown

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Update on BlueBelle....

BlueBelle has had her surgery  (see previous blog on her surgery - It is the season of miracles, right?) and is recuperating in a lovely foster home right now... She is being spoiled and sleeping on the foster's bed at night... (UTOH)...

The foster mom is also part of our "Bathing Brigade" and brought BlueBelle in with her to the rescue shop today so she could keep a close eye on her... I wanted everyone to see the extensive surgery that needed to be done with BlueBelle...

This is where your financial donations go to... Getting extensive surgeries for dogs that have long ago left the 'cute puppy and highly adoptable stage'... Dogs we saved and became responsible for until they themselves find their furever home in someone's loving arms... 

BlueBelle's incision 4 days later

The red area to the left of the staples is where they took the biopsy to see where the next step for BlueBelle will be... And we are still keeping our paws crossed that she is not fighting cancer.


The eyes have it....

Dogs read our body language much better than we do theirs... But even more so, they look to us for help in making decisions when unsure or fearful...

Sparky at ease in a volunteer's arms
When exposed to new situations, they look to us for clues as to their need of being worried about this new thing or situation faced with... We see this happen a lot at the rescue shop when someone is doing a 'meet & greet' with their dogs and one of ours... I personally prefer to take both dogs on lead and AWAY from the owner, for dogs will look to their owner and/or can fail a 'meet & greet' test if the owner is apprehensive about how the two dogs will get along...

We humans like to be needed and wanted... For many of us, our dogs supply this feeling of self-gratification... And yes, I've seen people 'emotionally cripple' their dogs through repeated reinforcement of this need in them... To the point, that when a dog cowers and seeks shelter from meeting a new dog, the owner will reinforce this behavior... "Oh, does that other dog scare you?  I'm sorry... come here to mommie" and cuddles follow...

Or the dog approaches a strange dog with tail between their legs, ears back and a 'sad sack' attitude... Tough to make new friends this way, especially when I believe humans want their dogs to get along with other new dogs...

Sparky looking for direction from another volunteer
after the flash of the camera startled him.
There was a study done this year at the University of Michigan that involved 'social referencing' (link).  When I read it, I was reminded of 'homework' I've handed out to folks regarding training their dogs to accept strangers easier... Ask some acquaintances to meet you at a park one morning, bring your dog and spouse, have your spouse hold the dog on lead and when meeting each acquaintance, make a show to the dog of much joy and intimate contact (such as hugging) of this new stranger (to the dog)... Seem (and feel) happy to your dog and with repeated conditioning, your dog will quickly learn that meeting strangers while out on a walk is not a reason to charge them...

Same process applies to teaching a dog that new dogs are a good thing and not a bad thing... Especially if you have a few dogs that already know this behavior... At the rescue shop, we periodically pair up dogs that are suffereing from shelter shock with dogs we call 'stabilizers' - dogs that regardless of the situation faced with, will remain loving and friendly towards new humans... It doesn't take long for these shelter shocked dogs to realize that his roomie buddy looks forward to people and their interactions...

Remember, your dog looks to you for direction... If you are apprehensive about an oncoming stranger and/or their dog, your dog picks up on it right away!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday time and your pets.......

Holiday time is tough on our pets... We haul in items that have been stored somewhere throughout the year, the items have a much different odor than our pets are used to and then we fuss at our dogs when they want to explore these new scents... As dogs 'see' with their noses first, I'm sure dogs get frustrated with us!

I personally absolutely DREAD going into stores this time of the year... I'm not one to stand and wait in line for an hour to check out... At my stage in life, if I can't order it online, I am not a happy person... So shopping for Christmas gifts (to me) is almost like doing to the dentist!... As much as I know myself, I am sure my dogs know me just as well...

I have a set routine with my alpha, Peanut... Every night when I put on my PJs and crawl into bed, Peanut jumps up and immediately settles into the curve of my belly... She rolls over and presents her belly for belly rubs... 

Now I have to tell you... Peanut has a coat like mink... It is just as enjoyable to me to give her belly rubs and a nose to tail massage as it must be to her... She stretches out and from her behavior, you can tell she's loving life when we do this nightly habit... Peanut is now 14 and in good health, but I have been doing this for years - and year round... I do my ABSOLUTE best to not change my routines at this time of the year no matter how stressed of a day I have had, how tired I am or any other reason... She counts on me being there each night for this 20 minutes of one-on-one bonding... 

Pepper asleep in his bed at the rescue shop
People come into the rescue shop and tell us, "I don't know what's going on with my dog.  All of a sudden for no reason at all, he's started going potty inside on my rug instead of going outside."  And inside my head, my first thought is what have they changed about their life or routine to give direction to this house-trained dog to change their habits?

Dogs are extremely situational, but three things are pretty static (eating, sleeping and pottying) unless something has changed about their environment or person... Maybe the owner is in a hurry and anxious for the dog to go poop in the morning because they're late to work?... Dogs - just like kids - thrive in routine and consistency... And they read our body language far better than we read theirs (or other humans for the most part)... Anxious for this to be done and over with, I'm sure the message goes to the dog that their person is anxious... And with that, maybe they shouldn't be pooping at all?   Ever tried to hurry up yourself?  It ain't easy!

Another thing that seems to crop up only at Christmas is a dog's behavior to strangers... "My dog LOVES everyone and now he's barking at people who come over to visit"... Think about it - do you normally have this many folks coming and going at your house normally the rest of the year?  Or long periods like this when you are gone, then come home very tired?  Maybe too tired of that long walk you two normally enjoy each night?  Aunt Martha comes in from Omaha for a two week visit with all kinds of new smells and we wonder why our dog barks at her for 'no reason at all'?... Your dog doesn't have to interact with Aunt Martha and her smells the rest of the year, and to him, this is a new member of the pack... He's trying to figure out where she belongs in the dynamics of what his life is the rest of the year...  Once he figures it out, Aunt Martha leaves and then he's got to figure out what happened...

No wonder our dogs change so much during the Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The season of miracles

As director of a large rescue devoted to saving lives of small dogs 15 pounds and under, each day is filled with tough decisions, very hard physical work and emotional roller coasters.... I am not what I would term 'religious' as a person, but I do consider myself a spiritual person... 

Each day --- at a minimum --- I have to say 'no' to at least 10 dogs or more... We have limited space, but even moreso, we constantly battle the war of limited funds... Just like everyone else, I make decisions based upon what we have in the bank... Because we are a No-Kill rescue, when I say yes to taking in a dog, it is from the moment they arrive until they find their furever home... 

In between this time, we take care of their food, boarding, vet bills - you name it... I am amazed at how many collars we go through - between those being chewed, others wearing out, etc. this is a small but costly item that we consistently are replacing... We go through a large bottle of HE detergent every two days because of all of the laundry we do that provides clean blankets for the dogs, cleaning towels and rags, etc.  Our food bill alone is about $250 a week - we don't feed junk dog food, but not even close to the best available.

Everything is based upon how much money we have and it is seldom even close to being enough to maintain everything... 

Just like pet owners, we get faced with what becomes life and death situations based upon money as well... In February of 2011, we pulled a dog out of a high kill shelter that we felt would easily be adopted... 

BlueBelle was much larger than any Chihuahua I've ever seen, and she's a Blue - not a common coat coloring... I don't even believe she has any Chi blood in her but because most dogs with pointed ears and a curled tail are classified as Chihuahuas at the shelters, that is how they labeled her... 

And she's been one of our 'stabilizer' dogs... A dog we could put in with another new rescue suffering from shelter shock - scared, unbalanced, off track, with or without good canine manners... She has been my foster at times and with another foster mom as well... Nothing wrong with her - just hasn't been a choice when potential adopters looked at her... And because she's 7 years old, most people just passed her on by, considering her 'too old' to adopt (although she is a midlife dog)...

A couple weeks ago we noticed one of her mammary glands was bothering her and I think she chewed at it, opening it up and needing vet attention... At the time, we were also hit with three other dogs needing very expensive surgery, but with BlueBelle, we knew if it didn't get medical attention right away, the condition would get worse rapidly... 

Even with a rescue discount, a radical mastectomy estimate ran over $600... Faced with the other surgeries as well, all of a sudden we as a rescue were faced with $2,500 of vet bills that HAD to be done... And none could really wait, so we had to juggle... 

This is the tough part of what I do - making life and death decisions day in and day out... Which dogs do we save, how do we find the money to do these expensive surgeries and cover extensive vet bills, can we afford to take on any more 'hard cases' or another dog or mom with a litter?

And with BlueBelle - what if it is cancer we are dealing with?  Do we take the risk and do the mastectomy, hope we caught it in time and she regains her health?  Or would I have spent a lot of our very few dollars on a dog that will not regain good health again?  These decisions are what has given me so many gray hairs and at times, wears down the very spiritual fibers of my soul.

We took the risk and set up BlueBelle's surgery for yesterday morning... One of our TLC volunteers offered to foster BlueBelle temporarily so that she could recover in a home environment with lots of extra TLC and attention... 

Kathryn brought BlueBelle to the rescue shop yesterday morning and then I made the second leg to Caring Hands... Worried about what the end results of everything would be, I started to pull out of the Simi Town Center mall parking lot and was faced with a HUGE rainbow displayed across a very dark and angry looking sky... 

The sky looked like my mood and worried state... When I saw the rainbow, it's base at the earth in the direction of Caring Hands in Thousand Oaks, it lifted my spirits... I took it as a sign BlueBelle's results will come back that the tumor is not cancerous... Keeping our fingers crossed here for the next week to ten days that we get positive results back from the biopsy done... 

After all, it is the season of miracles, right???