Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Are there Deer Running on Ocean Beaches Across the Rainbow Bridge?

Are there deer and ocean beaches across the Rainbow Bridge?

It was late June of 2007 when I received a call from a phone number that I recognized as a Houston, TX area code (I grew up in Houston and Spring, and still have family there, so I know the area codes there).  Rather than a family member, it was someone vacationing on the North Carolina shore, all the way from Texas. They called me because they had watched a dog roaming free for days, very friendly, but obviously hungry and homeless. They were preparing to drive back to Raleigh to catch the flight home from RDU to Texas, and wanted to bring this dog to a rescue. They had found us through PetFinder and the recommendations of a local vet.  

They described a tricolor hound, male, adult but young, and quite friendly.  They wanted to bring him to Raleigh and drop him with our rescue on their way to the airport. At the time, well at most times, we were quite full, and did not really have a place to put him for foster. They were disappointed, but they were also ready with a response. They offered to make a sizable donation to our rescue if we were willing to take him in - that is how much they liked this dog! I relented, and we agreed on a place, date, and time.

So, on July 1, 2007, I met these kind folks from Houston in a parking lot in Apex, NC, and met Max for the first time. Yep, he was young, friendly, and a little malnourished. Pretty obviously a Treeing Walker Coonhound. Looking at his teeth, we guessed that he was about two years old.

At the time, we did not have a hound-lover foster home, and hounds can be notoriously challenging to adopt out.  So, Max went to a foster home where he could get some socialization with several other foster dogs, and we put his profile on our web site.

It was not long before the foster was telling us what a horrible dog Max was. Ill-behaved. Loud, Obnoxious. Disruptive. A Pain in the Ass.  The foster really disliked him, and doubted he would ever be adoptable. So, I was rather hesitant when Caroline, a coworker I admired, asked me about Max in November. She had two young kids, a cat, a nice house, and no fenced yard. It did not seem like a likely match, but Caroline wanted to try.

So, Max and I headed out for his meet and greet with his best leash and collar. He was a hit right away. It was so heartwarming to see the light in the smiles and the eyes of the kids, and Max just ate it up.  He did not seem to care much about the cat (although the cat was, of course, purrturbed), but he certainly did want the cat food and those special kitty treats they leave in the litter box. After everyone met and some walking around, Caroline and her family decided that Max was one of them. They adopted Max on November 15 and made Max a part of the family.

I was worried, as were others in the Rescue, that Max would proved to be too difficult. Indeed, Max started having tummy problems right away, but Caroline stuck with him, and worked with the vet to get his tummy settled down. It was quite surprising how quickly he settled into his new family, his new home. It seemed like he just knew he was where he belonged. I heard occasional stories from Caroline about Max hijinks - wanting to join them in bed, the play times, the goofiness, the walks and runs, and trying like anything to get to the cat goodies. The pictures were adorable, and he was clearly adored.

I still remember the day that Caroline told me about Max and the SUV. She would pack up the kids and take them to school, and Max got to go. One day, Max slipped out the side door to the garage, and there was panic. But, Max jumped right up into the SUV and assumed his position - he was ready to go! From that day on, he was a champion car rider.

Caroline walked and ran with Max just about every day. They live in an area with lots and lots of natural area nearby, literally across the street, and Max just loved to take short jaunts into the woods, chase a few deer, then happily trot back to mom. Caroline told me about one time when they were in a nearby field when a neighbor rode up on her quarterhorse. Max immediately took position next to the horse and assumed the stance you would expect of a hound ready for the hunt. He was ready to go!

Over the years, Caroline shared lots of pictures of Max. In costumes, with the kids, with the family, and on the beach. The beach pictures really touched my heart, because that is where he came from to find this special family half way across the state. He had found heaven on earth.

My heart sunk when Caroline messaged me a little while ago to tell me that they had received a diagnosis of untreatable stomach cancer for Max. He was being kept as comfortable  and pain free as possible. Yesterday morning Caroline told me that Max had passed quietly and peacefully in his sleep. Our best guess is that he had lived ten years - and eight of those in the most loving place any hound could hope for.

I grieve for Caroline and her family, and hope that they regularly visit their memories, pictures, and videos to remember what a great, goofy, lovable boy they rescued and loved, and to know that they made all the difference in the world to Max.

I hope that there are plenty of playful deer running on ocean beaches across the Rainbow Bridge, Max. You deserve that.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

An Angel's Heart

An Angel's Heart

Almost every day that we share our homes with our companion dogs, and with rescued foster dogs, we learn something new. One major lesson happened in 2005. And, as is frequently the case, the lesson giver was a combination of our dogs and our good friend Molly Stone. At that time we had our dominant girl, Kiko, who was our first Husky - woolly, black and white, with blue eyes and a fun, mischievous personality , we had Nutmeg, a young crazy red and white Husky (OK, crazy and red&white is redundant), we had Saki, our sweet loving lazy black lab, we had Carolina, our sweet giant black and white Husky girl, and we had Lily, a headstrong GSD/Husky/Something mix. Kiko and Lily were starting to get into fights, and the fights were getting worse, and both Aida and I had been to the doctor at least once each to get sewn back together for unwisely sticking our hands in the middle of it. We asked Molly for help, and she came over to share her wisdom and some of our wine and steak (we got the better bargain). After just a short while, Molly said "That's a girl right? And that one? And that one? And this one too? Actually all of them?" We shrugged and said "Yep". Molly replied "Well, you might have a little too much estrogen here, you might want to balance this out some. Oh, and probably separate Lily and Kiko since they are way past the kiss and makeup stage." We said "You mean, get a male dog?" She said "Yep."

So, as fate would have it, our friend Dawn at the Siberian rescue, had a cute young all white blue-eyed male Sibe in need of fostering. We took Molly's advice and brought a male into the mix. He was our foster. And then quickly our failed foster (that means we kept him).

Enter Gabriel.

He was not very big, he was only a pup, but then again for his age he was big. He was sweet, and a little shy. I cannot be certain, but I think I am the one who suggested Gabriel because he was like a shiny white angel. The crazy thing was that the girls settled down almost instantly. It's not like Gabe exuded maleness - he certainly did not seem to. But just being the male there settled everyone down. He quickly fit it and found his place with the Girls.

Gabriel was always… different. Male Siberians are (according to the AKC) supposed to top out at about 55 pounds. Gabe stopped growing at about 85 pounds. He was big, and had a huge chest. All white, with blue eyes - you could not miss him. His first snow - you would have thought that Happiness Himself was reincarnated in Gabriel. He loved that snow. His howl was different, too. When the other Sibes started a howlfest, Meg would lead the way with her sonorous tone, Carolina would bring in that mellow Alto on the low end, Kiko would ring through with her gorgeous wailing Soprano… and then Gabe offered what I can only describe as counterpoint. Sometimes bass, sometimes tenor, always off beat, not a bark, not a howl, but always the buffoon. It was hysterical to watch and listen, and he seemed to truly enjoy it when I joined in.

Gabe's tail was always wound too tight. The standard Sibe has a gorgeous crescent curl, tip up high. Gabe had a corkscrew that went just past a full turn. Thick and luxurious, but would a little too tight. 

Gabe smiled. A lot.

His spot was our master bed. When the time came he let us know. If we were sleeping in on a weekend, he stood at the foot and whined in his unique way until we cleared a runway for his immense frame. He would leap up, turn once, stretch - that is a LOOOOOONG stretch, and settle into his throne. I do know that he went outside to play and eliminate, but any other time you'd find Gabe on the bed. Large and in Charge. He would NOT, however, sleep on the bed if humans were on the bed. His bed or their bed, but not at the same time. BUT, if there was not a no-slip rug on the floor at the foot of the bed, he would not jump up. He needed that runway with the secure launch pad at the end. Getting down was the same, but he'd give in eventually if the rug was not in the right spot.

Gabe never did like Sit. He would do it, if you asked more than once, but he took his time and did not stay there long. He was also a master of the frog style of laying down, with four limbs akimbo. 

Gabriel had a sweet spot on his chest where I could skritch and always get the hind leg going AND the neck stretch for a bonus.

He LOVED to play slap the bed with me. If he was on the bed - scratch that, when he was on the bed and I approach, he would often mewl at me, lift his paw up in the air, and smack the bed. I would rush up and smack the bed near his paws, and he would smack some more. Sometimes he would get me, sometimes I would get him. This always ended with lots of fur rubbing, skritching, hugs, and kisses. Oh, and he gave copious sloppy kisses!

Gabe was a shy one. If he was on the bed when someone new arrived in the house, he would usually howl/whine/barkish from the bed. If he was outside, he would poke his head in, or come just into the breakfast nook, to see who had arrived. He would almost never approach a new or unknown person right away, he'd let the girls to the greeting. Instead he would typically employ the Ewok Maneuver. This is shifting the weight back and forth from side to side, making comically fierce (or in Gabe's case, whining) noises for a short while, then calmly observing, and finally sauntering around behind the new arrival, getting a good sniff, and then rubbing on you to leave large amounts of beautiful white fur on your clothing to let you know that you have been accepted. If he REALLY liked you, he would come up from behind you, push his head between your thighs, and then look up at you lovingly with the back of his head pressed back against your crotch. Given Gabe's height, this may or may not have been comfortable. But he also smiled at you from that awkward position.

Gabriel was the first dog I ever knew without a doubt to be gay. Spanky was his partner. They hung out on the bed together and were practically inseparable. As much as losing Gabe has crushed Aida and me and left holes in our hearts, it has really hit Spanky hard. Spanky is extremely, painfully, shy of humans, and Gabe gave him confidence. Now Spanky won't let us near him, again, and it doubles the pain to see him scared again.

We teased about Gabriel being gay, for a number of reasons that sprung from his personality, but he clenched it one day. We had just admitted a couple into the house to meet a cute pitty pup they wanted to adopt. This was a gay male couple, obviously in love with each other, and as friendly as you could ask for. While I was in the process of explaining that the giant white Sibe in the other room would likely ignore them but would later check them out (see Ewok Maneuver above), Gabe jumped off of the bed, ran directly up to them, quickly got behind them, pushed his way between them, and lifted his head up lovingly, claiming eternal friendship. We all laughed. Gabriel did that a lot - made us laugh. No doubt, Gabriel was gay and proud.

When he was younger, we used to worry if Gabe would be man enough for the pack. He just did not seem to have the masculinity we had convinced ourselves was needed to be The Dude in the pack. This was especially true when we brought Killer (not his real name) into the house as a foster. Killer was a solid, mature, large, dominant, confident, linbacker hulk of a red and white male husky. He made it clear from the start that he was going to be boss. He was a handful, and once even challenged Aida directly. He is the only dog she's ever known that put his mouth on her with the intent to do harm, or at least dominate. He was a Tough Dude. I happened to be in the back yard one day when Killer was making dominance moves on the Husky girls, and Gabe was acting rather distressed. At this point Gabe was barely a year old, full grown but lanky and not filled in to his frame yet. At one point Gabe moved in between Killer and Nutmeg, and Killer showed all the signs that It Was On - stance, teeth, low growl. I was rather worried. Gabe cowered, dropping his head down, bending a knee, leaning away from Killer. Oh Great, I thought. Our new male is a wuss. Killer, naturally, brought his two front legs up off the ground and lunged at Gabe - and MISSED! It was a feint! Gabe had bluffed Killer, lured him in, jumped up and toward Killer, and came down full force on Killer's head and shoulders. Gabe rolled him and then pinned him, showing him substantial pearly white teeth and a very puffed up main. Killer peed himself, and never messed with Gabe's Girls again. By the way, Killer got a Siberian Husky's dream home in Connecticut shortly after that, and is about the happiest dog on the planet. But Gabe was The Man from that point on.

Gabe took his job seriously. He counted puppies when we brought them into the back yard, like it was his responsibility. Of course, once we got past four or five he was lost, and you could see the confusion, or frustration, in his eyes. But he tried dammit. He kept watch on the youngins.

One of Gabe's favorite things to do was to clean. Auntie Gabe we called him. His BFF Emma, the blue pit, would climb up in bed next to him and he would clean her, especially on the chest. For a long time, she had rashes, and we think he helped - alleviating the itching, and doing the medicinal magic that is part of the canine kiss. But Emma was not why he was famous for cleaning, or why we called him Auntie Gabe. Gabriel loved puppies. LOVED puppies. Well, until they started jumping on him and chewing on him while he was sleeping. But when they were smaller than that, he LOVED cleaning puppies. We've whelped more than a dozen litters in this house, and Gabe loved few things more than taking a spot on the couch and cleaning babies. We would carry one to him, and he would happily clean the pup, stimulating it to eliminate, and clean up the pup like the world's best momma dog. Oh, and the cleaning wasn't just magical for the pups. Many times I've seen him in the backyard after a rain, with North Carolina's trademark Red Mud up to his armpits, and think oh damn, I am going to have to cover the couch and get the mop out. But five minutes later I would see a shiny white Sibe laying calmly on the bed looking at like "Wha?" I still don't know how he did that.

Gabe had a huge chest, much much larger than a typical Sibe. Dogs with huge chests tend to live shorter lives than those with smaller chests, proportionally. We think that maybe that is why Gabe's heart gave out on him. It was an exciting trip - he and the girls were in the truck heading for a photo shoot. Maybe it was the excitement that put too much strain on his heart. Me, I think it was something else. You see, there are about a hundred or more puppies out there that have part of Gabriel's heart, along with their clean butt. Between all the humans he met, and Spanky, and a hundred or more pups that he has given parts of his heart to, there just was not enough of his own heart left to keep up with that giant angel of a dog.

If you have adopted a puppy from Pawfect Match Rescue and Rehabilitation, there is a very good chance that you too have part of Gabriel's heart. Keep it well, and remember our giant white angel. We miss you more than words can say, sweet Gabriel. Namaste' and play well on the other side of that Rainbow Bridge.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A little raised tail

"Funny, something as little as a raised tail could make us all so happy."

Aida said that about Maui's happy tail being raised above her body in that characteristic half moon curve. The sign of a happy husky.

I noticed the same thing in another husky just the other day. Little Perseus had raised his little bottle-brush of a fluffy husky tail, a sign of happiness, but more importantly, a sign of having found his inner Siberian Husky.

As does many of our stories, this one starts with an email. An animal shelter we have worked with in the past contacted us about pulling two Siberian Huskies that they received as strays. One was a red and white pup that they had seen before, and was not in good shape - malnourished, losing his hair. The other was a black and white boy, older, maybe 2 or 3 years old - healthy. Both boys were long haired, what we call 'woollies'. We responded that we were full at the moment, but wanted to be kept informed.

Well, only two days later, they told us that the pup had had a major 'blow out', bad diarrhea and vomiting, and that he tested strongly positive for parvo (canine parvovirus type 2, very deadly for puppies). The shelter was going to put him down. Worse, they were going to euthanize the older guy too, just because he was exposed. Even though adults almost NEVER succumb to parvo.

Aida did not hesitate. After securing my agreement, she told them we would take both dogs. It was not good timing for me, as my day was planned from opening to close with meetings and calls. But we got transport arranged, and I found the time to meet Heather to take them on to our vet. The big guy was easy, even if he had that awful shelter stink. The pup, though, was pitiful. I had seen this before, and I really did not know if he would even make it to the vet.

He did make it to the vet. I handed him over, limp and full of mange and worms, thinking I would never see him again. I do that - prepare for the worst - so when the bad news comea the impact is lessened.

Later that day the vet confirmed that it was parvo, and they had him hooked up. Fluids, antibacterials, anti-emetics, anti-diarrheals, supplemental nutrition. I gritted my teeth. and expected the worse.

Next morning, I called, and held my breath. He was still with us. Really? Wow, I did not expect that, and I was elated. Cautiously. Later that day the vet told us that his white blood cell count was 124. Normal is 8,000 or so. WBC of 124 pretty much means no immune system. Any bacteria could take hold and it would be over, fast and ugly.

But the next morning he was still with us. And the next. And the next. Aida decided his name was Perseus. He was certainly heroic, and proving to be invincible. Perseus spent 8 days with the vet before convincing us he was ready for his foster home.

What a horribly unattractive mess he was. And stinky too. Aida must have given him four baths in his first two days home, and cut almost all of his matted fur off. Well, what was left of it - he was eaten up with mange (the non-contagious version). His face and butt and parts of his back, belly, and legs were pink and scabby, even bleeding in some places. He looked like a baboon, actually.

He walked with a hunched back, tail down, head down. He was clearly not happy, and did not eat well. He was still vomiting. We took him back the vet a few times, got his belly shaved for ultrasounds, and finally got him eating again. Another vet got him started with ivermectin for the mange, and antibiotics for his skin infections.

We've been here before, we know it takes months to get the hair back, and get the nutrition back. Perseus was growly - heck, I would be too if I felt that bad. Still, he only growled at the other dogs - he loved his humans. He showered us with kisses and love. It was clear that he had zero social skills. He was going to have to learn how to be a member of the pack. Probably the hard way too.

Day by day, Perseus got a little more engaged. First following tentatively, then engaging some of the other boys, and Mika the young female sibe, in single play. After a few more days, he joined in the group play, if just a little, and for short bursts.

Then I saw it. It was time for the 9:00 AM runfest. Every morning the sibe pack runs back and forth in the back yard, around the trees, and back and forth some more. Punctuated with periodic play tussles. And I did see it. A little red and white baboon-looking siberian pup, running with the pack. With his tail up! That foxlike bottlebrush red and white tail was up in the air, telling everyone who could see it that he had found his inner husky.

The stink is still there, and it will be until the mange and infections are all healed. A light coat of fuzz is now covering most of the angry pink, so he looks less like a baboon, and more like, well, just pitiful. But the Husky is out - he has the prance, the proud walk, the curiosity, the playfulness, the periodic bursts of full out running and leaping, and yes, the little raised tail. He even joins in the daily howlfests! Perseus is one happy, happy siberian husky.

Welcome to huskyhood, Perseus!

A bittersweet Passing

It was about two years ago when we received the kind of call that fills us with excitement, and with dread. The call was asking us to join our friend and collaborator Dawne from Southern Siberian Rescue (SSR) to help with dozens of Siberian Huskies being seized from a neglect case in Greenville, SC. Excitement, because it is a challenge to rise to, and lots of lives to save. Dread, because you cannot know how many of the dogs will be more challenge than you can handle.

We took several pups, as this is normally the arrangement with SSR - they take the adults, we take the pups and preggers. But after a couple of days, Dawne asked if we could take on one more. She had a girl that was just terrified, and needed special attention, and she just did not have the environment to help this poor girl.

Enter Maui.

Maui was as pretty as they come. Not that that moment, mind you, she took some cleaning up. But white, off-white, and a sprinkling of tan and black down her back. Beautiful, deep brown eyes. Eyes that showed terror and fear from who knows what, but clearly years of improper handling and neglect. No one knew her age, but by her teeth and physiology, we guessed 5-8 years.

Maui hid. That is what she did. She was terrified of people, and particularly of men. Of course, we tried to give her every comfort, and encouraged her to socialize with our pack. We were patient.

It took almost four months for Maui to walk up to Aida, on her own volition, and ask for some lovin'. Of course, it was happily given, and you could even detect a bit of tail wagging. She ducked for cover as soon as I was within sight, but every day got a little better. Aida and I agreed that Mau-Mau would likely never be adopted, and that was OK. And, no, Mau-Mau has nothing to do with the Kenyan uprising, it is a habit I have with all of our fosters (Blue Blue, Stan Stan, and so on).

Maui tested positive for heartworms, and that is so hard on huskies. When they start feeling better from the treatments, they want to run. And exercise while undergoing hearworm treatment can kill a dog. Try keeping a husky still. Well, Maui cooperated. Unfortunately, it in part because she had persistent lung congestion and infection. When wee took her for X-rays of the lungs, we also discovered that she had most of the contents of a shotgun shell in her legs, shoulder, and chest. We cried for her past, and smiled hoping for her happy, healthier, future.

It was about the time that Maui would not run away every time I cam into a room that Beau and Jerry came over to meet Maui. They had adopted a Sibe from us earlier, one that was similar, but a little darker, in appearance. Keena was definitely not shy, though, like Maui. The one thing I remember most is that Maui did not react to Jerry, and especially to Beau, the way she had initially to us, and especially me. They fell in love, and decided to make Maui a member of their family. We were elated for Maui!

Beau and Jerry set her up like a queen, with the Cadillac of crates, special beds, and all of the love any dog could ask for. They continued with her pneumonia treatments. She went through the same cycle with them, eventually warming up to Jerry and tolerating Beau's presence. They installed a doggy door so she could 'escape' from the humans and romp happily with her pack mates. Something Aida said struck a chord with me, commenting on how Maui played with her canine brothers and sisters: "Funny, something as little as a raised tail could make us all so happy." She was a happy, healthy, girl.

Except that she wasn't entirely healthy. The labored breathing remained a problem, and she was in and out of the vet with congested lungs, taking stronger and stronger antibiotics and even steroids. Finally, on day, the vet decided to dig further, and took a biopsy, since she was just not responding and staying clear. Everyone's worst nightmare came back with those results. Cancer. Lung Cancer and it was not operable.

We cried a lot. It was not fair.

Jerry and Beau gave Maui every luxury, the treatments and meds, and more love than any dog could ever hope for. She had bad days, and she had good days.

A couple of days ago, Maui crawled under the house, and would not come out. When they did get her out, she was clearly distressed. Of course, it was the weekend, after hours. They took Maui to Banfield, where they knew some of the staff. Her temperature was 107, and she was vomiting and pooping black - which means lost of blood. It was very likely that the cancer has eaten through into her abdomen, and that she was now septic, with infection in the blood. There was nothing that could be done other than make her comfortable. One and a half liters of sub-Q fluids and lots of antibiotics, anti-emetics, and intestinal coating meds later, covered with ice packs, they took her home.

Jerry slept with Maui on their big comfy chair, Maui laying on ice packs, and covered in them, to keep the fever down. Maui cried once, and settled back down. In the morning, I helped Jerry take Maui to the vet that had helped her from the beginning. She was calm, although breathing was difficult. She was getting all the love that three people could pour out through petting, talking, and swelling hearts.

Monday morning Maui Hodge passed calmly into sleep, and crossed the Rainbow Bridge. We will forever bear scars on our hearts from her pain and her passing, and will forever be uplifted by the memories of her playing with the pack, and showing with beaming eyes that finally got it - dem hoomins ain't so bad.

Thank you, Jerry and Beau, for giving Maui the best fourteen months any dog could hope for. Thank you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


There are many, many reasons to sit and watch a litter of puppies. Or sit AMONG a pile of puppies. Watching them change, sometimes daily, is a treasure. And, it is a different treasure with each litter. I've mentioned before that I believe every child, of every age from 5 to 85, should observe a litter being born. Even help, if possible. It changes you. For the better.

At Pawfect Match Rescue we do not adopt our puppies out until at least 7 weeks of age, but we strongly prefer 8 weeks of age. There is some play/bite learning that puppies learn with each other during that time that is very important for their development. If the pups do not learn that lesson, they tend to not have enough inhibition when they play-bite other animals or people. This is more often a failure of humans - of fosters - than of the pups.

However, it becomes VERY difficult to properly manage an entire litter of pups once they get past about five weeks. They are weaned by then, and at least half-way through the "wading in the mush" stage of feeding. And the POOP. Oh. My. Goodness. The poop and pee everywhere. Momma is no longer eating the puppy's poopies, because you're separating her from the pups to wean them and dry up her milk. So, we typically dole the litter out in 2s and 3s to our foster homes. Two or three pups are more manageable, and they still have each other to play with, learn from/with, and chew on.

This morning, the litter of 8 pups at my house (Olive's crew) turn six weeks old. They started screaming for their food and water before Aida and I were ready to face the day. Fair enough - they get their morning treatment at 5:30 during weekdays, and their tummy alarms do not change for the weekend. And today is Sunday.

After getting two bowls of kibble and two bowls of fresh water down for them, I cleaned up the pee pads and the poop that was not on the pads, replaced the pads, and sat down to share some love. It is very warming, and cool (ironically), to have a swarm of living things running up to you, and all over you, full of love and givings kisses. Until they start chewing on anything they can get hold of. The robe, not so much a problem. The soft flesh of my thigh near the knee - yeah, that hurts. But still, I can keep most of the 8 focused on my hands and face, savoring the wafting puppy breath.

What struck me this morning, though, happened after I climbed out of the pen. One or two of the maniacs had decided that one of the pee pads needed to be moved, then shredded. Others joined in. Then one of them, doing their best DeNiro "You talkin ta me?" in response to a growl, jumped on another with ferocity and vigor. Well, as much as playful pups muster, anyway. What ensued was a free-for-all puppy rumble! One or two sat off to the side watching, maybe chewing on something else or drinking a little, but they usually found an opening and reason to jump in.

To my uncanine eyes, I could not make out any sides. It was like each pup was on its own, and alliances formed and evaporated almost instantaneously. After a couple of minutes, momma and two of my foster huskies were sitting next to me, watching the debacle. Momma, I am sure, wanted to intervene, and the huskies, I am more sure, wanted to join in. I can't blame them, there were some fancy moves going in there. I know I saw at least two Death From Above (r) maneuvers - and I would have sworn in court that these puppies are incapable of flight. Some of the rearing and charging made me imagine them with tiny steeds, plate mail armor, a lance, and a maiden's favor involved. Yes, I have an overactive imagination....

They sure seemed to be having a glorious time of it! After a few more minutes, the rumble finally petered out, and most went about other diversions. Two pairs of pups continued to chew on each other, but more prone than airborne. The best proof that they had a good time? No more than eight minutes after the fracas started, eight out of eight pups are sleeping on the various dog beds, and as usual, one pile of four, one pile of three, and one sleeping by himself near the food. THAT is a happy, sated, pile of pups.

Until their tummies wake them, to pee, poop, and eat and drink again. An play. Play, play, play. Are you ready to RUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

They're just dogs, right?

We're about to travel for the holidays, a short trip flying within the USA. Which has me thinking about the TSA scanning/patdown issue. If you watch any news at all you cannot have avoided this - the anecdotes, the hyperbole, the lies, the statements of policy, and I am sure there's some truth in there somewhere.

What strikes me the most is the incredible amount of energy and resources being spent, and by some arguments the rights that we are giving up (see Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution), for absolutely no positive outcome beyond the Theater of Security. TSA's measures have been responses, not proaction, to various failed attempts to harm American travelers and aircraft. Shoes, then pat downs, now full body scans. As one comedian said recently, they tried to assassinate a Saudi ambassador by putting an explosive device in nether regions - so, body cavity searches next? Fortunately the would be assassin died, and the ambassador was only slightly injured. The sad truth is that NONE of the new measures in place today would have stopped the 9/11 attacks. Not one. Did you know that the personnel who service the plane - food, gas, cleaning, supplies, etc - do NOT got through those security procedures?

So why rant about this in a dog rescue blog? Well, because of the energy that is put into a completely ineffective and highly obtrusive program. Contrast that to the years-long effort, that has been thwarted every year, to strengthen the laws in NC that deal with animal cruelty, with preventing puppy mills, that deal with hording and neglect, that push for spay/neuter and responsible breeding laws, and that beg for humane euthanization of companion animals in our shelters. The opponents are loud and effective - they decry the gubment intruding in their bidness. Two powerful men continually thwart these effort every year, by lying to pig farmers that any such legislation will affect them (because animal welfare, including companion animals, is an affair of the Department of Agriculture), and by playing the TwoFace card with no embarrassment (the man in charge of the Ag Dept area of animal welfare sells gas-based euthanization equipment and makes bank on teaching shelters how to use them - Conflict of Interest anyone?).

We spend billions as a nation putting Security Theater into play, intruding on our rights with searches without probable cause, and most security experts agree that it provides practically no additional protection. However, we cannot muster the humanity to pass legislation that will stop the problems that lead to thousands of dogs having to be rescued from cruel neglect and puppy mill slave status, and that lead to millions of dogs and cats being euthanized - gassed to death - in shelters every year. Every year. Millions.

They're just dogs, right?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This one I just don't get... greed, maybe?

One of the ladies who used to volunteer with PMR called us earlier this week about 6 German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) about six months old that were coming into a shelter with what was almost certainly canine parvovirus, or "parvo". Parvo is deadly to puppies, especially if they have not been getting their immune system booster vaccinations, or DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza). Typically, puppies are fully vaccinated by four months of age, and out of danger from parvo.

Seeing pups with parvo in shelters is, unfortunately, not too uncommon. What makes this one just baffling is that the owner of these pups claims to have whelped them from AKC registered parents. When they got sick, he decided he could not or would not pay for their veterinary care, which for six pups could be in the low thousands depending on the vet.

Our former volunteer wanted to know if we would take them in and try to save their lives. Well, our president is a huge fan of GSDs, and we did not hesitate, we said yes. We made arrangements with a GSD breed-specific rescue in the area to take two of the pups, and we picked them up and started the fluids (it was after normal business hours, so we put them on fluids until the vet could take them in the morning). We got them to the vet, who put them on IV fluids, broad spectrum antibiotics, and minor nutritional supplements. Sadly, one of the pups passed that afternoon.

So far, the others are hanging on. A couple of them are still in a very fragile state, with an almost negligible white blood cell count. Prayer is what may be keeping them with us at this point.

What I cannot fathom is why someone would breed AKC registered GSDs and choose to not vaccinate the pups. It is maybe a couple of hundred dollars for all six. Other than a level of ignorance that is hard to accept, the only explanation that makes sense to us is greed. And now one gorgeous pup is dead, two are barely hanging on, the three more are still in danger.

PMR will do what it takes to keep these pups alive, and find them new happy forever homes. It will be expensive. If you have the wiggle room, or know others who do, please consider contributing to their fund. Their pictures are on our website,