This Dog is Loved

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Archive for the tag “Adoption”

And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief.

Elsa is fine and happy. And someone wanted her. Maybe not right away, but someone did. Someone wants ALL shelter pets and quite frankly I have my panties in a bunch here.

I admin a FB for shelter dogs, high lighting the dogs in danger at the shelter in my city I volunteer for. My city shelter who filed paperwork with the Department of Agriculture stating they received 1,960 dogs in 2012. 400 shelter dogs were euthanized, 464 owner requested (which is sometimes slang for “Owner surrender, no legal hold period, killed immediately”), 198 transferred to rescue, 387 adopted. Weird, I went to public school and all but I have a decent grasp on simple math and that leaves 511 dogs unaccounted for. Are we to believe those 511 dogs were strays that were reclaimed? Found magic carpets and rode out of the joint to dog land?

My city shelter, who did a mass slaughter on Monday before Christmas without any warning or pleas for the animals on the euth board. They were not full, just swept through and preemptively killed “a bunch” (kennel staff’s words, not mine) of animals. They did find time to post videos on Facebook of themselves as Christmas elves, so PHEW thankfully they got that covered rather than advertising the several dogs (and uncountable amount of cats) they killed.

The reason my panties are so bunched is beyond just that. It’s the crap every one willingly swallows. This crap is drudged up after I announced this mass euth on said FB page, including a lovely little gal named Salt (who was maybe a year old) that I had personally promised I would not let die. Someone had donated $100 towards her adoption fee (and she was already marked at $25 off, so a total of $125 off $142 regular adoption fee she was.. a $17 dog.) and I let them know she, and another dog they pledged on, had be euthanized. The response?

“That’s unfortunate, however they do have to make room for more dogs that are more likely to be adopted. And from what I understand both Salt and Butters had issues with dog aggression.”

No. No, no, no, no, no. Nope. NO. AHHHHH I don’t even know where to BEGIN with how much that enrages me. First, Salt was barely a year old if that and she was out with a volunteer while I was taking another dog’s photo and I let them meet. They played all over each other. She regressed with other dogs as time went on because surprise, it sucks to be in a tiny box all day while other dogs bark constantly.  I was not aware of Butters’ status with other dogs but HEY GUESS WHAT. They could have lived happily as only dogs! And sometimes, like people, dogs don’t get along with each other. I don’t even know why I am offering any sort of justification here but I’m angry on and on a roll. Are we really so desperate?

Second, to address a big pet peeve of mine, no dog is any more adoptable than any other dog. Rescue, especially in my area, has become this giant shitty ball of choosing to only save “the most adoptable” which means if you are a Pit Bull, a large black dog, elderly, older, not flashy coated, too hyper, whateverwhateverwhatever you are less adoptable than the Shipoo puppies. Since when did “who gets adopted the fastest” equal “better” ? Rescue has become this really creepy business where every one willingly discounts a life because it’s not young, or small, or pretty, or purebred, or because they get the rescue notoriety because BAWW THEY SAVED THAT DOG NO ONE ELSE WOULD SAVE! We tell people to REALLY think before bringing a dog home, then we cap any dog that sits in a shelter for more than a month. Your mileage may vary, but my local shelter never updates their Petfinder or FB. Two dogs on the euth board (but they killed at least 10?) and not a single plea sent out to save them. The internet is an incredibly powerful thing, but nothing? We’ve taken months worth of photos for PetFinder only to see them never go up. It’s a really foreign concept to me that it’s acceptable to kill a dog then pat the shelter employees on the back and say “They’re doing the best they can.” Look, I’m not saying any thing new here, but when I don’t even see minimal effort from a place that has a live release rate in the 50% I’m gonna go ahead and gamble and say that is not the best one could do.

This last week I have, however, had two good rescue experience. The thing that is (and excuse my language) fucking appalling is that I get excited when I actually deal with a rescue that knows what is up and is interested in saving lives. My city is over saturated, if you will, with rescue and somehow we euthanize “400” (I doubt that is the solid number) a year, and even if it was correct that’s 400 too many. The city shelter also only lists 198 dogs as transferred to other facilities which is pretty appalling considering there were 5 rescues in the immediate area. A friend of mine that does every thing she can to rescue dogs offered a local rescue A THOUSAND DOLLARS to take a slightly mangey, blind Pomeranian and they took that money and surprise, the dog was placed nearly immediately. Then she gets in contact with Midwest Small Breed Rescue (donate to those named, if you can) regarding a Chihuahua tucked away in quarantine at animal control with a large growth on his shoulder. By large I mean like.. HEY:

TUMAH

He was not advertised in any manner and quarantine is off limits to the public. He had one week to be reclaimed (if he had an owner and who would know he was there?) then he would die. My friend gets a hold of MSBR and offers the same amount of money for them to save him. They not only say yes, but they refuse her money, especially at that amount, because they don’t want to rip someone off on a surgery not yet performed. I drove little tumor man (now named Merrick) to the rescue founder and she immediately wanted to give us gas money for bringing him to her. All this rescue cared about was that he was safe and treated those of us who were involved along the way with respect. The second rescue is Hairy Houdini Siberian Husky Rescue, who immediately jumped to the plate when three Huskies in mushing collars (a Sibe and two Alaskans) landed in our animal control. They busted ass to find placement and to get crates to me to transport. I’m picking the girls up tomorrow (one of them was reclaimed) and taking them to their foster home. The rescue asked for nothing from me. These things make me feel better about rescue, but they also make me wonder. Why is there such a stark difference between rescue to rescue or shelter to shelter?

I don’t know guys. Blowing off steam here. I just feel like it’s time for someone else to cry in their car in the shelter parking lot, but not because they couldn’t save some dogs.

As an aside, An Act of Dog will be painting the beautiful Butters and adding her to the 5500 memorial. An Act of Dog is  a visual representative of 5,500 “portraits of injustice” of dogs who lost their lives in shelters. Shelter is not a synonym for death.

82709-Butters

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This is the first day of your life.

Lolly Doo and another dog named Jacobi were scheduled to be euthanized the same day in mid-November. Jacobi received her sentence for.. growling at her kennel sometimes. At this point it’s probably important to mention no such temperament tests were done at the rescue, and there was no one on staff or otherwise that was educated or capable. No the one signing the death warrants, and not the ones pulling dogs from shelters. The rules of the SPCA of SW Mich are “We only take the most adoptable dogs” with no real constraints on what adoptable means and to who, but if you didn’t fill those arbitrary requirements you were toast. And so it goes for Lolly Doo and Jacobi.

Except not this time. The only time in my year and a half at the rescue were dogs due to die allowed to be saved. The only time.

If you take a gander at their website http://spcaswmich.org/ they really love the tagline “Rescue, Rehabilitation, and adoption of abandoned pets.” So much so if you click on any link that tagline remains the header. So surely they would not want these two dogs to be euthanized and would allow employees to rehabilitate them, right?

Not really. A coworker and I asked the manager Katie Meskil if we could foster these two dogs and were met with a resounding no. These dogs would NEVER be adoptable. However, we could legally adopt them and sign waivers then we were on our own, or we could accept they were going to die. I think at this point it’s important to mention I had been an employee for less than 3 months and no one knew me from Adam, but I was given the option of adopting a “feral” heartworm positive unaltered dog with no assistance from these masters of rehabilitation in the future.

So I did. Our house has four floors, one of which was an entire apartment attached to the house that we didn’t have any real use for and was separate from the normal day to day with our own personal dogs. I had the space, the means, and the resources so I signed that waiver:

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That hand written waiver with my name misspelled, a mention of a vet with no notes or signature from them (and I would hope a veterinarian professional would not note that heartworm positive dogs are contagious) and that “feral” dog was mine. November 17th, 2011 shortly after 7 PM I placed a large crate just inside her kennel door and gently guided her in, loaded her into the car, and brought her to the first day of the rest of her life.

And for the first few weeks of the rest of her life she sat 10 feet away staring at me just like this:

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An interruption in your regularly scheduled programming.

Not that we’re on a regular schedule or any thing, this is only the third entry and all. I’ve just been sad and aimless the last few days, so I thought I’d tell you about my dogs. I just like them is all, and you should too. You know the roots of Smalls:

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And there’s a face to the name. She’ll be 7 in November and she’s your quintessential good dog. Never met a stranger human or animal but she won’t take any of your shit. If dogs are a reflection of their owners, she’s my mirror counter part. She was the tipping point of this whole dog thing for me so technically if we’re going to point fingers they should lead to the stumpy black dog eating sticks in the backyard.

This handsome old fellow is District Attorney Jack McCoy, though Jack will do just fine:

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He’s been with us a bit over 5 years now and we figure he’s around 9 or 10. He’s a Norwegian Elkhound and we found him in a rural rescue that has quite a lengthy history of bad reports. If you’re rescuing, it’s just as important to research where you rescue as it is what breeder you buy from. There was nothing exceedingly disturbing going on when we adopted Jack, but the rescue workers interactions with the dogs were mechanical and erring on the side of unkind, and most of dogs were kept outside. The winters of Michigan aren’t much to an Elkhound, but I wondered about the other dogs. I took photos when we were touring that accidentally reflected how much poop was every where.

Anyhow, we took Jack home. It was a “you have the cash, you get the dog” exchange and we knew nothing of his temperament other than he was quite content to ignore us and was stoic with other dogs. Lucky pull- because he’s a wonderful dog. Except, you know.. the barking.

And then there was Jonas:

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Or Pootie. Or Poots. Or Squeeps. Or.. oh, you get the idea. Man has a lot of names. Nearly 8 year old Miniature Dachshund and our problem child. Previously, anyway, he leads a quiet, cushy life these days. He’s wedged between my butt and the sofa as we speak. Jonas was adopted shortly after Jack from the same rescue. This experience was less enjoyable than the previous. He was a shut down mill surrender adopted to us unaltered and never once checked in on after we adopted him. For all that rescue knows we bred him left and right after we left. I didn’t, by the way, he was subsequently neutered but there was no reason for him to be adopted out before. Especially not a small desirable purebred even if he’s a little rough around the edges aesthetically speaking. This was our last venture to that rescue. Jonas has had a long road, if not longer than Elsa, and when he emerged from being shut down he was fear aggressive and not exactly a delight to live with. At one point in our relationship I caused a nasty bite to my face and I wonder what would have become of him had we not gotten there to adopt him first. Maybe some dingus that may not have pushed him to bite to begin with, but maybe someone who would have punished him. Either way, 5 years later and we’ve had much happier days together.

Oh sorry. I don’t think you realized quite how full our house is. Onward.

Now this gal. Oh man, this gal. Magpie is the crème de la crèm of dogs:

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Likes include: Hugging, being hugged, and hugging more.

I use that photo because that’s really how Magpie spends her time. One minute you have no idea where she is, the next she is smashing her wrinkly head into your chest, wagging her tail hard enough her entire body and the couch are swaying. She’s a roughly 10 year old squishy mutt that I spied on an online community riddled with mange, secondary infections, and nails so long she couldn’t walk. She was transported to me from southern Illinois and was our first foster failure. After an adoption gone awry. She was adopted by a woman who checked out on paper and in person, and we received updates on her. Even dog sat her for a weekend at one point. Then I received an e-mail from her adopter stating she was pregnant and did not think she could care for a dog- Could I come pick her up? I told her I would be there ASAP, but she said she panicked and did not want to give her up. It’s not always a mistake to trust in other people, but sometimes it is. I let her keep her and offered assistance in whatever way I could at any time. Then a few days later I found Magpie at the local animal control where she had been turned in as a stray. Her adopter denied it was her, but after I picked her up and confronted her with the obvious I never heard from her again. Magpie obviously didn’t deserve this, so she stayed. Throw in the new behavior of aggression towards children while previously in our care she was exposed to children regularly with no issues, it just made the most sense to keep her. And look at that face.

I swear this is the last dog I have.

Shamyams

 

Shambles. Aptly named. Another foster failure who came to us from Ohio as a wee baby. See:

Weebabyyams

 

Obviously he didn’t stay wee for long. Sham is my first foray outside of rescue in a way. He came from an oops litter with a long story that I’m much too lazy to tell this far into this long post. I fostered him for a few short months with little interest (and interest I didn’t approve) and I guess I was a bit guarded in the whole fostering deal because the last run had been awful. Only daddy is unknown, but he comes from working Alaskan Huskies and as I quickly learned that is a lot of dog to take on. Especially when daddy apparently contributed giant genes. Toss in some fairly bad resource guarding and you had a giant, hot mess. So he stayed, and he’ll be 3 this coming November. He’s a giant stubborn mook that loves long hikes, swimming, body slamming, and wanton destruction. Elsa was his best pal in the world. I have to admit he’s frustrating and I love him immensely. You will hear of him frequently because I think without him Elsa would not become the dog she did. His brother Squash’s ma also keeps a blog if you’d like to venture to Mushbaby.com and read about his adventures.

That’s the family. Oh there is this guy too:

Kitty

 

No, I don’t have a cat. Well I kind of have a cat. I guess he’s a foster now but I haven’t been able to place him with a rescue yet. I worked at a now closed dog sanctuary and this fellow came yowling out of the woods at me. Lots of coyotes in the area, so I loaded him up and he’s been residing here for the last month or so. He’s the friendliest, most lovey cat I ever met and I never so much got a single phone call about him. I guess no one was out there missing him, so hopefully I can find him a new home. Much easier said than done, even with the sweetest cats.

Start from the beginning.

In the summer of 2011 I was working in a hair salon and just kind of.. dinking around, as it were. I thought I always wanted to do hair, and so I went to school and did hair. I adopted my first dog, Smalls, from a municipal shelter in November of 2006 and subsequently got more and more into dogs. Not like, living in a camper trailer with 50 Toy Poodles eating wet dog food to survive, but pretty into dogs, specially rescue dogs. My experience in adopting Smalls was really not a great one.  I found her on PetFinder.com as a wee baby and it was love at first. My then roommate and I drove a ~8 hour round trip to a tiny rural shelter after I had put my name on her a few days previous to spare her from euthanasia should space become limited. The shelter checked in to make sure I was still coming to get her a day before I did, and all was sound. Until it wasn’t. When I showed up we waited a long time before a woman informed me she had Parvovirus and would very likely die. I was a bit perplexed since she was reported fine the day before and after she reported it was determined that morning I asked to see my dog anyway, because at that point she was my dog.

A janitor (yes, a janitor) took us back to her kennel. In it was a very lively puppy, which is not synonymous with Parvo, but the surrounding kennel walls, blanket, and puppy herself was covered in blood. I picked her up to take a look and found what I later learned at the vet to be a severely prolapsed rectum. All I knew at the time that this wasn’t parvo. I don’t recall much of what the janitor said, but he remarked that he really liked that puppy and he hoped I would take her so she would have a chance. Of course I would. I already saw her face.

I paid a $15 adoption fee for her, the desk lady told me if she died over the weekend they’d refund my money, and we were off back home. My memories are a bit fuzzy, but I have a distinct memory of the smell and.. projectiles. I tried my best to hold her without causing further injury, but any pressure on her belly would release a liquid spray- directly onto my roommate’s jacket. It took me roughly a year or two to admit to him why I was laughing so hard that long car ride home.

She went to the vet and required an expensive surgery to correct a prolapsed rectum and ruptured small intestine. She was given basically zero chance of survival with those injuries at being estimated as merely 5 weeks old. I received this word while I was working in a local grocery store. I didn’t know how I’d pay for that surgery up front, but I did know zero chance and doing something is better than zero chance and doing nothing. Now this is where I remember the times I wish I treated my human counter parts better, but I remember my roommates offering to kick in money to get this little gal surgery. To make a long story a little bit shorter, she did in fact survive her surgery and we’ve been together nearly 7 years now. The vet filed some paperwork and we learned that this wasn’t something that happened in the morning, she had been like that likely long before I even put my name on her. There was gangrene present in her intestines, so she lost a fair amount of them during the surgery, and she was extremely emaciated. At no point did she receive medical care or was euthanized at the shelter, at no point was I informed of her condition, and I never claimed that $15.

That was my first experience in rescue. My next experiences adopting and volunteering were roughly on the same plain. Then I started working for the abomination that is the SPCA of Southwest Michigan in the summer of 2011, which is where this story and Elsa’s starts. So, as this blog goes along, you might be wondering..What the hell did you get into?

Well, I’ll get to that.

 

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