This Dog is Loved

"You were sick, but now you're well again, and there's work to do."

Archive for the category “Set backs”

I knew you’d never forgive me.

but I was wrong, and I’m so, so sorry. 

As previously mentioned, my Elsa dog was returned to me this last Saturday. Obviously a lot of feelings were born as a result, relief being the most prominent. I think I was doing the right thing by wanting her to live a rotation free life. For her, and I can admit it was easier for us. I think I was doing the right thing and trying to be selfless because the reason I was so relieved was because I really love and missed this dog. For all intents and purposes, she was my dog and I should have accepted that while different it doesn’t mean our living situation isn’t ideal. If every one is happy, why isn’t it ideal? I digress.

I cannot confirm or deny any thing as I was not physically there, but the circumstances behind her return involved an attack on the adopter’s other dog. I am going to stick the the “facts” as closely as I can, because I will never actually have clear answers, be it what really happened or an answer in which I am satisfied with. The attack resulted in surgery, but the extent of the injuries I am still unclear on- just what they apparently cost in veterinary bills. My initial reaction was that I was very, very sad this happened. Very sad for the injured dog, and very sad for Elsa. The way I know her, something had to REALLY be wrong for her to react aggressively. I know exactly what went wrong with her and Jack McCoy because I made a mistake, but I don’t know what happened here. The story was that while the adopter was out of the country a house sitter was feeding Elsa inside with her, the other dog was outside and eating. I’m supposed to believe that out of no where Elsa suddenly burst out of a dog door she was too frightened to use previously and just attacked. I say that I am supposed to believe this because it’s passed to me third hand and the only witness is not someone I know or will ever speak to, and I’m unaware of their knowledge of dogs. I would consider myself to be above average in regards to understand what I’ve seen when a dog fight happens, but I know that in the heat of things it can be frightening and confusing. It was hypothesized that it was resource guarding, but RGing is a completely foreign thing to old Elsa and the situation itself regarding RGing doesn’t add up. Issues, even ones not previously known, can manifest out of stress. I could only theorize that perhaps her combated barrier issues were reborn under duress of the move and being with a stranger and perhaps seeing/hearing something outside triggered it. I can theorize a lot of things, but I wasn’t there and this is not as I’ve known my dog. I consulted with friends that I trust, and especially trust with dog related things. There was some back and forth over this before I was told a behaviorist would be coming out to observe and then less than a day later the conclusion she just could not be trusted and needed to be sent back.

I reserved some of my issues with this until she was literally in my arms. They begin with the fact that after she was adopted a handful of photos were posted, a question regarding how to teach her to fetch, and that every thing was happy and well. I never heard any thing else about her. In rescue I try to not be an overbearing foster but I was chomping at the bit having received no personal updates about how things were going, and led to believe they were going just swimmingly- until the news of this attack. At that point it still seemed every thing was fine until it wasn’t. This is where the roller coaster truly began. As concisely as possible:

  1. In her very first day, doped up and fresh off the plane, Elsa was given immediately free run of the house and introduced to the resident dog. This gave me a nervous feeling in my gut. 2 months later on the report of the attack I was told she had bitten the resident dog the first week and left a deep puncture wound. I did not hear of this at the time, otherwise I would have likely intervened earlier.
  2. When I raised questions that were not liked, I was told Elsa had been a problem the entire time. She was supposedly a big time resource guarder, leash reactive, and a bully to other animals. That the adopter would have not adopted had she been informed of these things before, and that supposedly (supposedly being a magic word here) a behaviorist had been working with them the whole time. Setting aside the fact that these are not things we experienced and have not experienced since her return, that at no point until it had allgoneverybadwrong I heard nothing of this, nor did any mutual friends to my knowledge, AND such language to imply I withheld any pertinent information, I was extremely relieved she had been returned because if all these things were true and so much so a professional had to get involved I truly question and consider it common sense that you would not leave the country and leave a new, problematic dog with a house sitter and your other dog- a supposed target in some of these issues that had previously been bitten. If any of that is true. If it was I figured I would have been aware from the beginning, or the dozens of other people who have followed Elsa’s life closely over the years.
  3. Elsa was returned to me in a condition I consider unacceptable. I can’t definitively draw conclusions on whether or not it was intentional, but the fact of the matter is she left us at 44 lbs and returned at 37. 7 lbs weight lose, for an already fairly small dog, is drastic. Her coat was so dull she looked chalky. Dandruff and fur fell out with every touch. When I observed her gnawing the life out of her own hip I discovered she was covered in fleas and scabs from subsequent flea bites/scratching herself. I removed a improperly fitted collar to discover her throat bald and a broken, coarse ring of hair around her neck. I could have just chalked this up to a lot of questions that were not going to be answered or proven, until I picked her up in this condition. For reference, the first link has seven pictures: http://imgur.com/1A6GSBa,ULHzI7s,nZnRPEH,TVmwsqN,G8xK0TS,Wg0CHJZ,IOexq7A#0
    http://imgur.com/uoOmTZx
    http://imgur.com/0lLus94
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=879539969799&set=vb.210800172&type=2&theater

For further reference, this is our beautiful gal the day before she left us: https://www.facebook.com/GreenandGrowing/media_set?set=a.853498033049.1073741828.210800172&type=3

Hence why I was not pleased. She also seems to have a urinary tract infection. Willful or otherwise, and regardless of the fact she obviously wasn’t emaciated on death’s door, I do not find any thing about the way she came back to me to be acceptable.

I am openly sharing this because I am willing to admit some sort of fault here. I can’t decide what my fault was, but I do know that I miserably failed this girl. This girl that I saved from death from the “rescue” that miserably failed her before, and however many people were responsible for and subsequently miserably failed her before she landed at the rescue we would meet at. My thought process in just adopting her may still not be right, but I know I can protect her here and not fail her again. I can’t protect her from ALL the things, I’m not a god of sorts, but I hope I can protect her enough that she has a happy ending. I have this tremendous amount of guilt and she’s just laying on a ridiculously giant bed covered in toys and chews.

The worst part, though, is that she just keeps looking at me. Every thing seems the same but something I can’t quite put my finger on is off. I have to chalk this up to adjustment period because it doesn’t feel like before and I hope she can feel right here again. A lot of people (in the spirit of good nature and moving forward) have suggested just that- to brush it off and move forward. In the beginning someone said something that resonated with me: “It’s not any different because the dog is Elsa.”

Yes, it is different because it is Elsa.

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How to become a pariah in one blog post!

It’s interesting to me that there are so many posts, memes, whatever out there maligning every person who ever takes a dog to the shelter. Not absolving those that truly are jerks, but what’s with all the “You would bring your dog to a shelter to die!?” when often times people really aren’t left with a whole lot of choice? Yes, if you bring your dog to a shelter your dog has a risk of dying. How big that risk is depends on the particular shelter, but let’s entertain for a moment when you’re faced with a dog you have no idea what to do with. Let’s entertain that because of the aforementioned dog I have here right now. Also, let’s not entertain it with the idea that I’m going to bring this dog to a shelter- I don’t do that nor is it the point of this post.

Saturday night I picked up these two dogs. Buster the Golden and Chelsea the Boxer/Pit mix. I’ve admittedly been kind of lost since Elsa was adopted, so when I got a message regarding helping them before the woman holding them took them to the local kill shelter I got involved. I like to help dogs, but generally where I make my first mistake is that silly part where I trust people to tell me a dog is what it is and they’re going to do what they say they’ll do. I was contacted at some point earlier in the week and so I started cross posting and asking for placement for these dogs. Offered transport and any help I could and that was supposed to be that. Needless to say a young Golden Retriever, despite being intact with no medical work up otherwise, was snapped up immediately. I STILL have rescues calling me today to take him. What do you think the odds are placing an older Boxer/Pit mix despite the fact she is spayed, an easy dog, and I’m offering to vaccinate and microchip? APPARENTLY NONE. I firmly stated to the friend of the now deported owner that I had no intentions of taking a dog without rescue backing or a place to go right now and she said if transport could be arranged she would love to take her. The red light is flashing repeatedly in my doofus face but god help me I like dogs and now I was involved. I did not want a 9 year old Pit mix ending up at our animal control, that had posted a week before that they were full to the brim and pleading for rescues to pull dogs with the same old “we will HAVE to euthanize some nice dogs and we don’t want to do that now do we?” so, I said I would hold her until a transport could be arranged. 2-3 weeks tops!

Until of course that woman stopped responding to me after I repeatedly asked for her information so I could put in the transport request. I requested her information 5 times and got bits and pieces before she ultimately decided she didn’t really want this dog and the best course of action was to ignore me now that the dog was here and my problem.

Don’t worry, I am an idiot and paying handsomely. No good deed certainly doesn’t go unpunished. Now I have this dog in my house driving me up the wall with no end in sight. I’m sitting in Elsa’s apartment with her because we have to rotate lest three of my dogs murder her in cold blood. The folks involved insisted she is a very calm older dog that doesn’t do much of any thing. That may be true if every one who happened to spend any time around this dog was blind, deaf, and confined to a small room without the dog. I am accounting for stress of being in a new environment, but she never stops doing stuff. Ever. Shambles is a busy dog, but this dog is a BUSY DOG. She spends every waking moment either bringing me a ball, snuffling every thing, or destroying the ball when I won’t throw it. As a result, we are rotating because that sort of behavior stresses three of mine out and it will result in some shit being thrown down. This dog is clearly not used to the routine of being rotated, so I get to feel bad for confining her every two hours and then feel ultra bad confining my dogs every two hours after that. She’s actually a very lovely dog. Does well with all dogs that are fine with her love of tennis balls and running them urgently through out the house, has nice manners, walks decently enough on a leash, and if we had no other dogs she’d be pretty welcome here and we could figure this stuff out, but I am a stupid ass. We’ll find out, but I’m suspecting that she has Cushing’s as well.

We are not having enjoyable times around here, which leads me back to opening statement. What exactly are folks supposed to do should they find themselves in these situations, with say even their own dogs? A dog that doesn’t fit with no where to go but apparently impending death? I don’t like death. I especially don’t like it for our canine friends, but I can definitely identify with having a dog in your house that turns every thing upside down. By this time tonight I have left messages with 40 different rescues in a three-four hour radius explaining my plight, Some of those messages the same ones that have room for the Golden but I guess he was worth it and this gal ain’t. I’m just musing here, but we really offer little alternative for these sort of situations except drop the dog off and hope for the best or pull all your hair out in the mean time. I do know that I need to make smarter choices on when to get involved and when not to and not every dog in the world is my responsibility, but that just feels yucky too.

I don’t know. All of this just leaves a gross taste in my mouth. I suppose I’ll stay up late with my beer and try to figure out how to be a smarter, better person.

Every thing is quiet since you’re not around.

I’ve been meaning to stay on a roll with this blog. Update at least once if not twice a day. I have so much to say and tell that the first immediate entries weren’t a problem, but I haven’t even made it any where of substance (assuming I’m gonna write any thing of substance, I’m very lazy) and I already hit a wall. Reliving all these memories, some of which I had even forgotten about, started out really exciting and sometimes nostalgia feels good. Well, it always starts off feeling good and then realization that those times are over now sets in and it’s suddenly hollow. Like when some jerk plays a song on the radio that brings you back to a distinct moment in your life and you go through the same wave of emotions. “Hey! This song!” followed by a smile then followed by the sinking feeling.

It’s no secret to most following this blog that Elsa was adopted. A week ago yesterday, in fact, so the enormous loss is still really fresh. I want to keep this blog in order and hopefully by the time I get to telling you about her adoption it won’t be as fresh. That was the end goal, and it’s always the end goal with fosters obviously, but this time it really, really sucks. We spent nearly two years of our lives with that sweet gal and how much she was apart of our lives didn’t creep up on me, it leaped out into my face the first morning I woke up after she left and I sincerely thought I heard her making her weird bird noises. Our routine was so solid I am still having brief moments of panic when we’ve been out for a few hours thinking I have to get home and let her out. No one steals my coffee any more. My chest is getting super tight writing about it already. More so than the angry, tight feeling it still gets when I think about how she was going to be killed.

We love her, a lot of people who never met her love her, and her new family loves her. This dog is loved.

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I promise you I will learn from my mistakes.

Unfortunately for Elsa, we did not have the good fortune of moving slowly forever. Barring a single bordatella vaccination and a heartworm test (seriously, I should have picked up some handling skills from the SPCA if they were able to give an intranasal vaccine to AND draw blood from feral dog.. snrk.) she had no medical work up and was heart worm positive. She was just coming out of a heat when I brought her home as well. It was imperative we start treatment, but so soon? How? Well, good thing by about a month in this was happening:

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Well, that happened shortly after she ate the room she was in. The apartment attached to our house is a wide open basement space, then a living room/kitchen area that has a single bedroom and bathroom. Initially I put her in the bedroom, assuming she would remain weary of me for a long time. Not the case. About a month of hanging out together and we were having some positive, albeit awkward at times, interactions. Like the time she climbed into my lap and immediately regretted it.

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I call that one “Oh god, what have I done?”

She started hollering from the bedroom in the mornings, so we started to prepare the rest of the apartment for her to have free run in but she decided she would choose when she got run of things. We had some repair men over to work on our heater and after a short time one of them came to us and said “Your dog? Is eating the door?” and sure enough she was. We found her with her head and shoulder peeking out through the bottom of a half demolished door.

Now or never, so I went ahead and sent her spay and heartworm treatment appointments. I opted to spay and then treat with Immiticide, I honestly could not tell you if I made the right call here or not. Most familiar with heartworm treatment know your general options are the “fast kill” that is Immiticide, or the “slow kill” that is generally monthly HW preventative and rounds of antibiotics. The latter typically begin regarded as the kinder, gentler treatment. When I brought Elsa home I was determined to do the slow kill method since I figured she would be with us for quite a while, but then it dawned on me that physical treatment would limit her recovery otherwise. Maybe it was better to get her physically well first. Oh, I must have yapped about this and annoyed my internet dog friends to bits over what to do for weeks, so I’ll spare you the same anal thought processing I had then.

Her spay was uneventful. Getting there was interesting. She had never been on lead at this point and completely balked at the idea. She was a gal who liked to know where the exits were and not a fan of being restrained, even by a leash or a kennel. She was surprisingly unmoved by the idea of wearing the cushy fleece lined harness. Every day preceding her appointment she’d wear the harness for a few minutes while being showered with hot dogs. It was so easy, surely nothing could go wrong. And this is how common mistakes are born.

I never tried uh.. practicing with a leash on the harness.

Spay day comes and I suit her up, clip the leash on, and we step outside. We walk around the side of the house and every thing is fine. She stops to pee and then a car pulls onto our street. She turns to run back into the house and the minute she hits the end of the lead panic ensues. I’m not free? I can’t run for safety? Oh shit. I better chew through this tether preventing me from sweet freedom.

Don’t worry. What I lack in common sense I make up for in reflexes. I immediately grabbed the harness loop where the lead was attached and threw the extra slip leads I had around her neck. We sat and chilled out on the ground for a minute before I just opted to carry her to the car- which I should have just done from the beginning instead of trying to cram tons of counter conditioning into a few days AND while forgetting the whole point of the damn thing- successfully taking her to and from the car on the leash. And duh, cars exist, a person could have walked by, a Pterodactyl could have swooped down upon us. Point being, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you write stuff down. What point A is, what you want point B to be, and absolutely every thing that could happen in between. In this incident I end up looking like a dingus- even more so when I tell you I put her on Smalls’ specialty leash that cost a decent chunk of change and she nearly severed it in two points- when in reality she could have gotten away from me and been lost again where the odds of recovering her were extremely slim. Or worse, she could have gotten away from me and been killed.

If you HAVE to move a fearful dog, get that dog in a crate. Even if they don’t love said crate, there is no smarter or safer option. Too often I see transport team stories where dogs are lost in the same manner. In wanting Elsa to be as comfortable as possible I just bypassed a simple safety system. If you have a dog that is OK to be on leash, you might still encounter a Pterodactyl. Double leashes. I also like split ones that connect to two points, preferably one point being a harness and the other point being a martingale, but two slip leads will do just as well. Thankfully she made it to and from her spay appointment without further issue and the journey for her heartworm treatment went much safer and smoother.

My motto is to be prepared as possible, but if you mess up, you mess up. Do your damage control, dwell on it for a while, and don’t ever do it again.

Some won, some lost.

It’s been nearly two years now since my early days at the SPCA, and I can’t remember too much of note from the first few months other than Zelda’s death. A Pit named Jay was euthanized in the first couple weeks but I hadn’t worked long enough to believe any thing nefarious had happened. I wasn’t “in” yet so the worst of the worst was unknown to me. Zelda I remember though.

There were a few Chihuahua like dogs brought in from an apparent hoarding situation. 70 some dogs in a house apparently. I only distinctly remember Poe, Link, and Zelda. Poe went into foster shortly after, Link was terrified and uninterested in any thing but his dog friends, and Zelda was completely shut down and terrified out of her mind. I’ve actually never encountered a dog more frightened than she was. She trembled in her kennel and it was advised not to open it because the moment she got opportunity she would run for her life. Her apparent foster home was the same fellow fired over the Parvo deal, and she was reported to be living under the home rather than in it and being rehabilitated. She then went into another foster where running for her life would ultimately end it.

Every day shelter employees at the bottom of the pole are faced with things they can’t do any thing about. You’re placed in these situations that are ultimately out of your hands that sometimes have catastrophic consequences. Zelda was one of those. A foster with young children showed up and I was asked what would be the best situation for a fearful dog. It was not that situation, but when you clean shit you have no decision making power. I stated it would be a bad situation, a very basic run down of LEAVE THE DOG ALONE and to put her in an area that was as far away from any exits as possible. There was another foster family I quite liked interested in taking her and I had talked with them at length about how to help her. I really liked those folks, but they subsequently stopped volunteering. Another good resource run off.

I think it was the very next day it was reported a door was opened, Zelda ran out, and she was hit by a car and killed. There is zero joy in “I told you so” when it costs a dog their life.

What happened to Zelda was (and still is) perplexing to me. Ultimately they failed that dog, but at least a foster was tried? Meanwhile, the scruffy shut down Pitty mix remained over in quarantine while she was no where near on the same scale of fearful as Zelda. She laid passively on her bed, went directly in and outside when her kennel was opened, and didn’t cause trouble for any one. I didn’t often work in the quarantine kennel but as the 5 months she was there went on she was allowing employees to scratch her through the bars. I was interested in this dog, who was known as “mama” and “Lolly doo” (what a stinking awful name) and made a few passing comments to my boyfriend about fostering her. As summer became fall I heard she would be going to a sanctuary and a volunteer was footing the bill for it. It was passed around that she was feral and it was her only option, where Zelda was.. not and OK for foster.

So you can understand why I was really confused when it was announced she was to be euthanized.

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