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, www.pawfectmatch.org.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poor Boy... Happy Boy!

The story goes that there were something like twelve pups running loose, and no one could catch them. Well, Animal Control caught one of them, because he had an injured foreleg, but we never saw the rest again.

Vaughn was a cute little beige hound mix, extremely loving, very playful. But his front right paw did not work. He could not extend it at all. The vets said that he was likely hit by a car, and the nerves that control paw flexion were pull away from the spinal cord. Sometimes they heal on their own, a millimeter a month. We decided to give him three months to see if his nerves reconnected.

That was a daily chore. Changing gauze bandages and wrapping with stretch wrap, and putting a booty on it to protect it and keep it dry. Sometimes he would chew the wrappings off, but most often they just came off from his incessant playing. All it took was some playing on the patio concrete for 20 minutes and he had a new hole worn into his numb paw. It got bad one night, and required some repair and stitches. We worked extra hard after that to keep the paw protected.

He did use that leg, and even the paw to some extend. He just could not extend the paw, and seemed to have no feeling in it at all.

So, last week, we took Gimpy in - yes, we call him Gimpy now - for his neuter. We all decided that the nerves were not coming back, so we agreed to get that useless paw out of the way while he was under. Dr. Monce did a great job, and the wounds have healed nicely.

Practically everyone who sees him says "Awww, poor boy!" But I will tell you, he is one VERY happy dog. He chases Randi the Australian Cattle Dog mix around the back yard with NO problems. He can dig a hole, a deep hole, about as fast as any dog I've ever seen dig a hole. He shoots right up the steps and down again. He even climbs onto Aida's desk with not fear.

You will be very hard pressed to find a happier, more loving dog, than Vaughn the Gimp. No Poor Boy about it, he is one Happy Boy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's time for Dogtoberfest again!!

Yes, it's that time again. Great weather, beautiful surroundings, lots of wonderful vendors, rescues, demonstrations, and lovely neighbors and dogs. Irritating dog-themed music. Yummy baked goods, hotdogs, and drinks. It's the Fifth Annual Dogtoberfest!

Come on out to Harris Lake County Park from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM for the fun, and bring your furkids too! We will have a microchip clinic, a raffle, costume contest, lots of other contests like owner-dog look-alike, best trick, and others. Show off your rescue dog in the Parade of Rescues!

It should be a wonderful time, and the forecast could not be better. Come on out and enjoy Dogtoberfest with us!

Sponsored by Purina's Rally to Rescue program and Wake County.

Friday, August 13, 2010


One of the true joys of working with dog rescue is coming up with names. Names for new pups and dogs, and names for new breeds... uh, mutts.

We have had dogs named after scientists, beers, TV show characters, Peanuts(r) characters, literary characters, everyone-in-the-group-name-starts-with-the-same-letter, and - I kid you not - one litter that was so flea infested when we got them that they and their mother received the name 'flea' but each one in a different language. Siberian Husky litters often get Inuit, Native American, or Japanese names. We even use a Book of Baby Names and a Book of Dog Names when we're stumped.

But the mix breeds, that can be fun. First, what the heck is it? Sometimes we know, sometimes it is easy to guess. Sometimes we're just "what the ...?" Of course, everyone knows the popular ones: puggle, maltipoo, labraddodle, goldendoodle, and so on. My favorite current special blend is Fermi, our 'Chug". That is Chihuahua/Pug, cuz Pahua just did not feel right...

But we're getting some new ones that just beg for a new name. Momma was a Siberian Husky, dad was a Great Dane.

So what ARE these pups? Sane Duskies? Great Siberians? Siberian Danes? Griberian Hanes? Bolshoi Danes? Gruskies? Marmadookskis? Scooby Dooskis?

For now, we've settled, I think, on SiberDanes.

Wha, you got somethin better? Bring it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Know your breed

You may or may not be keeping track of the Bear-Bear tragedy (just search for Bear-Bear, you'll find it), but in a nutshell, an off-duty officer shot and killed a Siberian Husky in a dog park, claiming that Bear-Bear was attacking his dog. Witnesses say differently, and subsequent evaluation showed no evidence that either he or his dog were hurt in any way, not even a scratch. The Anne Arundel police department has re-opened the case, so perhaps justice will be found for Bear-Bear's family.

What this got me thinking about was how this horrible tragedy even happened. Leaving aside whether the officer should have ever drawn, much less fired, his weapon, the main thought that came to me was that he misunderstood the play, based on breed. Witnesses say that Bear-Bear was just playing with the officer's German Shepherd, in a way that is typical of Huskies. Aye, therein lies the rub...

Siberian Huskies are very active and noisy when they play. To the casual observer, with no history with Sibes or behavior evaluation, you'd think they were shredding each other. They love to jump on and over each other, lots of teeth showing, and all kinds of WOOs and YIPs. If you watch carefully, there is actually little contact, and no harm - no biting, no blood. But to the casual observer, Hell's Fury hath come to earth in the form of an insane devil-eyed wolf-looking demon dog.

But you know what? The same can be true, in different ways for other breeds. Bully breeds have powerful jaws and high tolerance to pain. Aussies and Border Collies love to nip at the legs. And on and on.

You might be doing the best favor ever for your dog, and others, to learn about the play style and general interaction characteristics of your dog's breed, or breeds. Unfortunately, Bear-Bear was being watched over by his owner's brother, and even he did not have even a few seconds to react before Bear-Bear was murdered. Be aware. Be knowledgeable.

And keep Bear-Bear's family in your thoughts.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Call and The Calling

It had been a long week, both at work and at the rescue. I was heading back home at the end of Friday, and I had already fielded two calls from work on my cell phone (at least the bluetooth in my car makes that safe and easy). The phone rang again - I did not really want to handle another call but I answered anyway.

"Hello, is this Dave?"
"This is Joe [name changed for privacy]. We adopted Sally [also name changed] a while back, and I called you a few weeks ago about her problems."

My heart sank. I remembered the call. I was dreading THIS call. Joe had called one evening very angry, telling me that this insane puppy just had to go. She was irritating their older dog, She was biting him and his wife. She was eating her own poop. She was out of control, and had to go. We talked for a while - at least he was willing to listen. I gave our 'standard' approach, reminded him that they agreed in the contract to work with us to resolve the problems. I promised to have one of our trainers call him and discuss what was going on. He kept insisting that it was just not going to work, and my wife was getting exasperated just listening to my side of the call. I finally said Fine, bring her to us tomorrow.

Joe called back a couple of hours later, apologized, said they love Sally, but at just at wits end. They were willing to work with us. I told him I would line up help right away. I had our favorite Animal Behaviorist call them.

The Behaviorist called back a couple of days later and said that while the call was short (bad timing, Joe was busy) she thought that they would be able to work things out.

That was a few weeks ago, and I had not heard any more from Joe.

Until this call. Sigh. Here we go...

"Yes, Joe, I do remember you and Sally. So how..."
"I just wanted to call you and tell you how much we LOVE Sally and how grateful we are that you had the patience to work with us. She is a totally different dog now - she and her 'brother' play all the time, they are inseparable and love each other. My wife and I cannot tell you how happy we are with her, we cannot imagine our life without her. She is Daddy's Girl - she goes everywhere I go."

I was speechless. Mostly because I was grinning from ear to ear. "Joe, that makes me so happy to hear! Wow!"

"Dave, I also want to apologize - I was such a jerk when I called..."

"No apology necessary! You did the right thing! Now everyone is happy!"

And so the call went for a good ten minutes. Joe told me that the one thing I had said to him that really stopped him in his tracks and made him think. Apparently I had told him that 90% of the time puppies are out of control it is the owners' fault - because the humans are not in charge, not doing their job, not spending enough time with the pup, not actively managing. He and his wife thought about it, prayed about it, listed to the Behaviorist, did their research, and set out to make their life with Sally work.

They succeeded.

THAT call is one of the reasons we do this. Joe thanked us for being thorough. For asking questions. For making the Home Check. For being there after the adoption to help them to succeed. For being patient when he lost his cool.

If anyone was looking into that silver Genesis Coupe on my way home, I am sure they were wondering why that guy was grinning like such a fool.

Good way to end a long week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Puppy belly futures

There are few things in this world that create the level of despair and gnawing emptiness inside than a 2 week old, too weak puppy that just will not eat. No bottle, no syringe, no mush. You know they come to you compromised. Worms. Malnutrition. Viruses and bacteria. But you have to try.

Of this new batch of four at my house, the little fluffy brown girl just would not eat. She was too big to tube feed, and we had already lost one of her siblings a few nights ago. I was getting that sinking feeling - she would not eat, and she was losing what little weight she had. Each night was a gamble, would she be with us in the morning?


There are few things in this world that create the level of elation and exuberant optimism inside me than a fading puppy that screams at five o'clock in the morning FEED ME!!! NOW!!! Aida had put her in her own little carrier next to the bed, and we had dewormed her and started her on Clavimox to fight the 104 degree fever. We both leapt up when she started screaming for food a half hour before the alarm would sound. HOORAY! She is hungry! And oh my did she suck down some formula!

There are few things in this world that make me smile and bring as much contentment as a big round puppy belly full of mush/goats milk/karo syrup/yogurt.

They're almost three weeks old. Stay tuned - it looks like they're on the way to long healthy lives, and should be on the site in about 3 weeks. Unless Aida gets trigger happy and posts their cute pics sooner.

Love me some fat puppy bellies.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Sad Milestone

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step"... or in our case, the saving of eight hundred dogs (so far) begins with a single pup.

At the end of February 2006, Aida had completed the paperwork and preparation to launch Pawfect Match Rescue. We had the tax number, articles, letters, logos - all we needed was a dog. Spot became PMR #001.

One look at this pup and it was clear that his name had to be Spot. He was eager, he was happy, and he had no real reason to be. He was suffering from sarcoptic mange, and itched like crazy, and he was on death row.

Well, PMR took him in, and took him on. It took quite a while for us to conquer his mange. We constantly stopped him from scratching so that he could heal, and not get skin infections. He would low-crawl through the grass to scratch his belly without really scratching, and we would laugh out loud.

What a face! He was so happy, so playful. Especially once the mange was gone, the skin was healthy and the hair grew back.

Spot watched as dog after dog, and pup after pup, got adopted, while he waited for his forever home. Of course, Aida was picky - not just anyone was going to get to have this sweet special boy!

But someone special did come along. A wonderful family passed our tests and convinced us they were the right home. He had a huge yard to run in, and lots of kids to play with. We were sad to see him go, but thrilled that he had a new home.

We got a few pictures over the years, and we happy to know he was healthy and happy.

But a few days ago we received an email that broke our hearts. Spot had hurt himself doing his favorite thing - chasing a squirrel. He ruptured a disc in his spine, and was paralyzed. The emergency vet was certain that even with surgery he would be in pain, if he even ever walked again. The family, with very heavy heart, decided to end his pain.

Four years old. Not long enough to share all the love he had, but he loved with all he had every day. Spot, PMR #001, is chasing squirrels on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. Play well, little Spot. We miss you.