This Dog is Loved

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

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Every thing I love is on the table.

Well, I HAVE been looking for a way to bring this blog back for a while. Like, over a year a while. I suppose drastic life changes usually kick start old habits.

A couple days ago I was posed with a question. If I were dying- and only had time to say one thing- and that thing was what I’d want people to know about my life. It’s old hat enough that those who know me best know that I said my dogs. Maybe not old hat to know why they (and specifically Elsa here) are the most important thing I’ve ever done. It’s all very self serving, and I don’t know what it says about me or really where this dog “thing” came from, but there is something about taking something that is unwell and making it so again. And when I really think about it, I gain nothing in return other than I just enjoy these dogs. Dog lovers are interesting to me because we do these things to give a creature a life, no matter how difficult it makes ours, because we.. like dogs?

I can’t appropriately sort out any one’s motivation, but I think I vaguely understand mine, and it might help people understand me. I am completely inept when it comes to human interaction. I am awkward, skittish, impulsive, and terrified. I always say the wrong things. I am constantly working towards healthy relationships with people, but I never quite get ahead. Humans are weird, way too complex, and capable of a wide range of terrible things, sometimes for reasons we can’t even begin to understand. I am aware I have a reputation for being cold and shut off, but I’m definitely not. I have a very small group of friends, some made quite quickly, that have earned my trust and I am comfortable with. Most importantly, comfortable with fucking up with. I don’t need to have an out to purposefully fuck up, but these people get me, love me, and can continue a relationship without letting mistakes upheave the whole thing because the friendship outweighs whatever happened. This is the rad thing about dogs. The relationship is truly unconditional.

I fucked up with Jonas years ago right after I brought him home. He bit me in the face. The physical scar is life long, but the emotional damage was over and done with quickly. He doesn’t understand that I’m sorry, and he can’t tell me he’s sorry. There is no room to dwell on it. When I came home from the hospital he hid under the couch until the next day and we started over. Something about the lack of being able to communicate verbally, for me, takes away a lot of the challenge. We didn’t have some long drawn out discussion about where I went wrong, why he did what he did, and how we can fix it. I could trust it wouldn’t happen again because I wouldn’t make the same mistake again, and we could easily move forward. 7 years on now and the fear aggressive guy is gone.

Then I get dogs like Elsa and Magpie, where someone did the fucking up for me, and they can still come back. This isn’t to say that all dogs can magically come back from whatever happened to them (and same goes for us of the people variety) but if you get it the feeling is indescribable. Magpie came to me withdrawn and only came out of her shell to bite in response to.. most things. Elsa would scream and climb a wall if I came within 10 feet of her. Neither had very high chances of functioning as what we consider “normal” dogs, but now they are and I did that. There is something good about me that is capable of patience, love, and understanding that comes easy. These dogs trust that I am good and will not hurt them, and vice versa. In turn we do fun things together and are happy. This is not easily transferrable to people, so I would imagine this is where this weird dog love was born. Also, Shambles can do stuff like open the baby gate when I need to carry my laundry downstairs, and who doesn’t think that’s cool?

The reason I’m writing this is because I am losing two of my dogs. Not LOSING them, but due to the end of a relationship with shared dogs I will be moving out next month and Jack and Magpie will not be coming with me. It was always said that this would be the order of things, but it was just that. Saying. Now it’s reality and it fucking sucks. Realistically I likely cannot afford all of them on my own and I will still see them when we work out scheduling, but I can’t even look at my Jack and Magpie right now. In less than a month there will not be so many daily things. Random lung crushing hugs from Magpie. Jack moving about the house, guarding each door way for a little while while I sleep. Snarly bear noises from Magpie while she attempts to play with Shambles, and that ear piercing Elkhound yap as he fun polices the whole thing. Their smelly, old dog problems that are nothing but endearing to me. These dogs that I need every day.

There are too many questions. Will their affection lessen towards me when they’re not with me every day? What do dogs actually think when you don’t came back every day? What will the dogs do when they don’t see each other on a daily basis? They’re both elderly, what if they’re not with me when they pass?

Overwhelming.

I laughed now that I wrote all this because these little soul suckers are opting to ask to go in/out one by one in various intervals instead of all just going out at one time, forcing me to get up and walk back and forth 50 times. Dogs.

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Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.

I thought I’d update you in a big of a picture heavy deal. I should probably name this blog “selfies in cars with dogs” since Elsa has strayed off from the main focus. I completely credit every thing I do to her. I didn’t realize the gravity of how much our shelter dogs need someone until I met her. Social media is also AMAZING. The lives that have been saved via a facebook post is insane. 

The ball got rolling with a fellow at our shelter named Meiko. His family had been victims of unfortunate circumstances when they left him with family during a move, and he got dumped at the shelter. He was microchipped, which led back to them, but that was all they were left with. I saw the family post on FB that they would like to get him back and need help, so I messaged his owner. Shortly there after he was pulled with the aide of a rescue friend and we were on the road. Another friend of mine I met via the internet met us in Ohio and deliver Meiko back to his family. Thus began the “freedom ride” selfies with dogs: 

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Around the same time as Meiko, we photographed a sweet little Chi named Buddy. Over the next few weeks Buddy rapidly declined. He got sick and began starving himself. He also started snapping at strangers from his kennel. I sent out a plea for him on social media and again friends stepped forward. He was pulled and fostered by my friend and awesome stylist, Jen. He got his very own photo in her car, because he’s just so handsome: 

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Buddy gained weight, got healthy, and got happy. He was adopted by another friend of mine, who also owns a very special to me shelter dog, saved from the same “rescue” Elsa was. 

And of course, right after that, I met Camo. He was just a baby and so scared of the environment it took me 10 minutes to coax him out of his kennel. Then we pranced down the hall and he exploded every time I came in. I put the plea out, again, on social media and a friend came forward to adopt him. He also looks very similar to ANOTHER dog saved from the “rescue” Elsa was, baby Carl. Camo is now Zeke and loves his new family. 

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Right after Camo a friend and fellow volunteer discovered Elmo in quarantine at the shelter. He had a massive growth on his chest. She put the word out and an seriously awesome rescue stepped forward and took him into foster. We had the pleasure of transporting him to the founder/his foster mom who renamed him John Merrick. Unfortunately John’s mass came back as cancerous, and a month after the removal his cancer reoccurred and he passed away. In a home and loved, free of that mass to move around.

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Then the Husky gals. They were apparently owner surrenders, but their mushing collars caught my eye. Who in the community gave up these trained runners? Their collars also caught the eye of my e-friend Jess, who put the word out to mushing rescues. One stepped forward right away and thus the girls were sprang. They were a joy to ride with and were very interested in my coffee: 

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And of course, I can’t necessarily resist the kitties. Gully was on the euth list and was obviously sick with a bloody nose, so I knew his time would be shorter. I adopted him directly rather than scrambling to find a rescue to pull him and took him home. He loves to bite my ankles, harass the dogs, and generally be a shit stirrer. He sure is cute though: 

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We took the photo of a handsome spotty nosed man named Grover. Another social media winner. A friend of mine adopted him and reports at home he is wonderfully mannered, house trained, and we already knew he was a peach with other dogs and children from an adoption event. He’s still Grover, and still my dude:

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The next two guys are directly thanks to The Urgent List- Michigan. A page I admin on FB for my city shelter. We have nearly 3,000 fans and pleas are circulated like wild fire. First I threw up Can-am, who had been at the shelter 73 days. Chippewa shelter, a lovely no kill shelter up north of us, jumped on him. An awesome lady and her husband met us half way in the ~6 hour difference and he went immediately into a foster to adopter situation. He liked to sit in my lap. The.. entire ride.

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The next day we transported Lefty to another rescue up north of us. The Northwoods Animal Coalition offered to take him in and have since renamed him Benny. We don’t know where Lefty came from, but where ever it was they were not kind to him. His ears are completely butchered. He is missing nearly all of one, and a giant section of another. He’s head and body are also riddled with scars. He was so scared and shy but over weeks he came out of his shell. When we took him to go to rescue he leaped out of his kennel and pranced the whole way to the car, where he also spent the drive curled in my lap. 

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Dale was up next on the urgent list, and adopted by a man who saw his post. His name is Bernie now and his cute teddy bear self is doing well:

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We’re going to cap off this Thursday by grabbing up Lily the Saint Bernard and delivering her to Saint Bernard Rescue Inc in Ohio. My friend who aided in Meiko’s transport will aide us again to take Lily home. I am in love with her and am very happy to get her to her new beginning: 

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I have a rescue willing to pull a really lovely German Shepherd boy, so I am hoping if he isn’t adopted this week then we’ll just spring him and deliver him that way. I’m anxiously working on a couple Pit ladies but had an interested adopter message me about adopting a Pit. I’m working with an awesome lady I met at my years at the rescue who shall not be named (like Voldemort, but actually sinister) to start a non-profit to pay pull fees and fund programs to save our shelter dogs. Wish us luck!

I’m not afraid of you. I’m just a victim of your fear.

You cower in your tower praying that I’ll disappear.

Where did I leave off? Where ever it was last time I was here it resulted in my volunteer status being threatened for being “negative” about animals being killed at the shelter. I know when I go to my happy place it involves dead kittens, but I digress. I don’t really know what to say other than “someone” pointed “someone” in direction of my blog and it was read as unsavory. I stated my case, which I obviously feel is a very good one and… never heard any thing back. I’ve always lived in this weird world where if I’m faced with a confrontation, I confront it. Especially if I started said confrontation. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms my blog is being watched now and I don’t really have any thing to say to that except maybe I’m a thug and I ain’t going back to jail? 

I think most no kill proponents can agree with me in what a yucky feeling it is to be treated like you’re a whimsical, naive kid who can’t possibly understand what things are like. I’ve been on the inside of a “no kill” shelter and rescue for a decade now, so I’m not fresh off the starry eyed dreamer boat. It’s even more frustrating when even with limited access you have done so much to save animals. Our methods that totally work.. don’t work? I’m not even talking about the difficult to place dogs, like the fellow with the tumor we pulled and transported to rescue. I find it more peculiar the sanctuary I worked at took a human aggressive dog with no hope of home placement from the shelter when asked, but we can’t do every thing to place the adoptable dogs. 

The term adoptable is something else I want to address. Obviously my view is skewed as the sheer lump some of resource guarders, dog selective, fear aggressive messes I’ve taken in. I don’t think I’m brilliant with dogs and I don’t necessarily think John Q. Public could handle some of the cases that definitely need work. It’s incredibly difficult to be subjective when you’ve got a lovely dog sitting on your lap, even if said dog wants to maul the faces of other dogs. The very basic definition of “adoptable” when it comes to shelter pets is any dog that is treatable and not dangerous. Pretty broad. What it doesn’t include is breed, age, disability, or disfigurement. Treatable means any dog that is not adoptable but could be with reasonable efforts. According to Hayden’s Law: “Sick, traumatized, infant or unsocialized dogs need appropriate medical treatment, behavior modification and/or foster care to turn them into healthy animals ready for placement.” 

Hayden’s law has taken a lot of hits for being too broad, but I really think we think too critically about this. We also assume people are always too stupid to handle a variety of issues in dogs. There are plenty of dogs that do not do well with other dogs that can be safely placed. I have handled a handful of seriously DA dogs that would not fall into this category, but many others that just do not prefer the company of dogs that are perfectly safe to walk and handle. Reactive dogs != aggressive, either, and I live with one previously SERIOUSLY reactive dog. Human aggressive dogs are obviously not candidates to be placed in an adoptive home unless there are very specific, experienced circumstance. Heartworm positive dogs are not untreatable. Blind, deaf, missing limbs, whatever. There are homes for them. Distance is also not an issue as transport is readily available. Not EVEN going to get into how a lot of things like reactivity and frustration aggression are borne of environment. I’ve seen dogs do serious 180’s once they’ve left the shelter system. The most important thing I want to get past here is that when you have a lovely Pit, they are not less adoptable because they are a Pit. Or because they have one eye. Or because they’ve been in the system for two months. There are plenty of nutjobs like me out there that are OK with being called a nutjob just so long as we can do our best to get a dog where they need to go. No animal with a place to go should be euthanized. I willingly embrace any one willing to help me place a dog and I’ll volunteer myself for beheading to make things better.

Undeniably in a lot of areas of my life I am the villain but I refuse to accept I am here. I don’t even necessarily want to villainize others. I get the pleasure of volunteer with some lovely kennel staff that want to see these pets find homes. I just wanna save some animals, yo. I am asking for nothing more than being allowed to do that. Nobody puts baby in a corner. 

One of the shelter dogs also stopped short at the door and it took me way too long to realize he was urinating all over my leg. Kind of how my life is rolling lately. And I’m doing the best that I can. 

We found love in a hopeless place.

I didn’t make the midnight mark in time! November 17th marks two years since we brought Elsa home. The two months we’re not going to count any more because it’s just fields and fields ahead of us now. 

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It feels cold where ever I go.

 

 

 

 

So it seems this blog only faces a flurry of activity when things are extremely positive, or extremely negative. I guess I wouldn’t say negative, but at least difficult. Elsa is back in pretty decent condition and things are like before, except it seems my lady much preferred her life free of a rotation because now she just screams and destroys her apartment. Some days not at all, some days constantly. I want to say we’re just struggling to get back into the swing of things and adjust, but if you heard her cry and it didn’t break your heart I don’t know. It’s also extremely frustrating because I’m a people and I get frustrated. She has a great life here so the SA like activity (she does not have SA, but the behavior is a mirror) frustrates me. 

 

It’s ironic that I took this chance adopting her out so she wouldn’t have to live with a rotation, only to find before she was pretty fine with every thing and I’ve gone ahead and fucked her up. I know I didn’t actually fuck my dog up, but it’s almost 3 AM and I’m riddled with guilt and anxiety so let me have this blog at least. If I hadn’t sent her to asshole land she would be just the same as before and we could have had two months of summer where we had a blast instead of whatever happened in her life during that time.

 

I also can’t figure out if I’m making the right decision immediately declaring I will not adopt her out again. Our gal Magpie had an adoption that went really wrong and we kept her. It just feels different when a dog is returned versus a dog having an adoption that goes bad. They get returned, you brush it off and find the right home for them, but they come back in bad shape or you find them in the pound and now your need to protect them kicks into over drive. I am scared if I adopt her out again it will go wrong somehow and she’ll just be bounced from place to place. Is that more or less fair than having a rotation system? There are people in rescue that think people who rotate are the root of all evil, which is really helpful. 

Then I wonder, say I am faced with a situation that can’t go wrong. Like.. single family, no other pets, right near me. Or they have pets but I can supervise a million introductions to make sure the way I know her is true and not what was claimed by her adopter. Would I let her go THEN? I should think I could make a good choice, but let go this dog that paws at my hands while I lay on my stomach and type on my lap top? Rescue is probably a lot easier for the people who don’t really give a shit which is probably why it is frivolous to run into people from the SPCA and say “Look! This is that dog I took! Living all awesome!” People who don’t give a shit don’t worry where they end up. I probably obsess over it.

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I loved you then and I love you now.

I loved you then and I love you now.

No matter how much time elapses, or what happens in the interim, I think there are some bonds that just can’t be broken.

You belong somewhere close to me.

This time I fell out on the blog because my Elsa dog has come back to me. The details of such I’ve told so many times now I’m not going to relive them in this entry, but my lady is back with me since yesterday afternoon. I’ve never been so relieved by any thing in my life. 

And though the declaration may seem short sighted after one failed adoption, Elsa will not be adopted out again and is officially ours. I believe a lot of things. I believe she was meant to be in our lives. I believe dogs should not be bounced around from home to home. I believe when you take responsibility for a dog you see it through to the very end, even if it’s hard or not ideal. We’ll go back to our gate and rotate system from before but we’ll make it better and we’ll live with it. I believe it’s hard to trust any one else. I believe my place is to protect the dogs I can. 

I hope every one finds something in life they love as much as I love dogs. 

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Oh.. Hey guys.

I’m as terrible at keeping this blog as I thought I would be. It’s not like I have any thing going on in my life preventing me from updating, I just don’t want to. Not that I’ve been doing much of any thing, but this blog has become the last thing I want to do. I had a lot of suggestions to start and maintain the blog, tell the story from the beginning, but the longer this goes on the less story I feel there is to tell. Dog spared from euthanasia, dog has happy ending with new family. To me, that just seems like some shit any one would do. Part of the reason Elsa stayed with me for so long is because I loved her so much. I love every dog I take care of. The concept of not bonding with dogs or some dogs not being worth time and effort to save is foreign to me. The fact that if I had not worked at the shit show that is the SPCA of Southwest Michigan Elsa would have just been euthanized and no one would have said nothing is something I still can’t wrap my mind around. So maybe that might clear up why, from my perspective, I’m struggling to maintain telling the story. It just doesn’t seem that spectacular to me to step in when someone else fails. Especially not for dogs because dogs are neat. 

Anyway, in the spirit of things, here is a video from after her heartworm treatment. She really did a 180 after the treatment and her 30 day quarantine was complete because dogs don’t act themselves when they’re sick. Imagine that. I made the mistake of going upstairs to get some food and left a magazine on the floor next to my lap top and she competely destroyed then scattered the remains of said magazine EVERY WHERE. I gave her quite a talking to about it, and regarding the fact she was refusing to eat kibble at the time. She in fact refused to eat kibble ever until I got her a Kong Wobbler. For the next year and a half all she ate from was that damn Wobbler. 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=676827931349&set=vb.210800172&type=3&theater

I’ll look after you.

Hello folks. It has been a month since Elsa left so I’ve been bummed. More so than normal, as it seems I’m just bummed a lot. I’m particularly bummed about the things I see and hear every day, which should explain why this blog has dropped off some. I don’t want to disappoint all like.. 4 of you, so. 

If you’re a pet owner, you know there are a lot of grey areas. When/how often to vaccinate, when/if you should alter, training methods, food, etc. If you’ve done the research, I think you’re free to make your own choices and bicker about it on the internet if you like. If you have not done your research, then I recommend following the advice of your veterinary professional. It may not be what I would agree with personally but they’re not going to steer you horribly wrong. The rules are a bit different for rescue, as I do not personally believe that any animal should be adopted out unaltered. They should be healthy, but any medical issues that are known should be disclosed (that goes for behavioral as well) and vaccinations should be current. There are however things for owners that are not up for debate. 

Flea/tick preventative. Use it. Whether or not these things are an issue depends on your area, but if they ARE an issue then treat your animals. Your dogs go outside. Winter does not kill fleas that are already active in your home. No animal should be subjected to digging themselves bloody because they’re not protected. I don’t think it should be news to any one that ticks carry disease. 

Heartworm preventative. Another area subjective thing, another absolutely necessary where necessary thing. Annually a blood test to determine the status is done, some bi-annually in high risk areas. Elsa was unfortunate enough to be heartworm positive and treatment is not a fun experience. If you research any thing, I highly suggest researching the risk in your area, what heartworm is and what it does to your animal. Not protecting your pets from this disease brings out a special rage in me,

If your dog needs medical attention, GO TO THE VET. Do not ask the internet, do not assume they will be fine. I am not personally one to rush to the event in the event someone pukes once or has diarrhea, but I have heard of dogs puking for days and losing weight not going in and even dogs being hit by cars and people taking the wait and see approach. I can’t wrap my mind around this. It’s as if people are unaware that their pets can in fact die and without medical attention they just might do that. 

Cut their nails. I am not such a huge stickler that every animal has to have perfectly manicured nails or lose it if I hear any nail clicks on the floor, but they should not be impeding your animals every day movement, or worse, growing into their paw pays or crossing their toes. Magpie lived for who knows how long without a nail trim and now she pays the consequences of arthritis in her toe joints and permanently gnarled nails that resemble Fritos even at their shortest. If you can’t do it yourself, you take them to the vet or a grooming salon. 

If you have a puppy, vaccinate your puppy. The full series, whatever it is you follow. Same goes for an adult with an unknown history. I personally follow the Dodd’s schedule of vaccinations for puppies AND adults, but rabies is required by law and that depends on your local laws. They still need to be done and do not pull that Jenny McCarthy shit on me here. Science and I hate you. 

I’m not sure how to touch on s/n without going into long rambling details about my own views so just.. fix your pets. 

I am aware there are financial issues that people face. I’m not rich either, but I don’t have any qualms in saying that you need to find a way to take care of your pets. Unfortunately I’m aware of way more situations where someone would rather buy an Iphone or keep the cable on than take care of their animals, so that’s the direction of my rage, not those doing what they can to make sure their pets stay comfortable and healthy. If necessary, right now I can look around me and directly see 4 things I could give up if came to my dogs vs. my things. I can see a whole lot of stuff I could sell and live without. You chose to own the animal, not the other way around.

Oh, and if you do/don’t do the appropriate things here, for the love of god do not get more animals. 

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Where did I leave off? I’ve had a blank entry with the title saved for like a week now. I’ve just been straight bummed out for weeks. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it to blog followers, but I worked for a true no kill sanctuary training/rehabilitating dogs for a glorious, albeit short, time after I left the SPCA. Too good to be true, nothing gold can stay, all good things come to an end and all that, but the place is in the final stages of shutting down and shipping the dogs out to another sanctuary and the very Friday before Elsa left my job ended. Essentially, I lost a whole bunch of dogs in that weekend. In the last two years I’ve become accustomed to having the figurative shit kicked out of me by being involved in working in shelters, but that’s a lot of suck all at once. No Elsa and no work (or luck at finding work) has left me sad and bored. I think I pretty much just hike with the dogs these days. Speaking of which, here are two lovely photos from such hikes (Magpie excluded. Gal can’t cover any kind of distance any more) 

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Tomorrow I swear I will continue the story. Just thought there was some merit to explaining my absence, even to myself. 

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