Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

Adoptapet.com -
The number of emails that flow through our group on a monthly basis is astonishing listing all the dogs and cats that need so much help.    Our group has been pretty swamped lately with animals looking for homes.   Some of our fosters have also needed to limit numbers due to a variety of reasons, so we're stretched especially thin right now.   Add on top of that,  we've had a rash of returns lately.    Suffice it to say, we really have zero room right now.

When people complain that they don't hear from a group member about accepting an owner surrender or pulling a certain dog out of a shelter, etc, they don't realize this isn't the only dog we see.    I don't know how our director does it.   I know she's always overwhelmed with emails and phone calls imploring her to take every last dog that needs a home on a daily basis.   The problem is, we just can't.   We don't have the volunteers to house the dogs and even if we had 100 more volunteers,  we wouldn't have the money to cover all the vet bills.    So when these emails go out, especially right now, they're pretty tough to look at because if I don't have space at my house and I know our group doesn't have space ... I can feel utterly helpless.
I am lucky in that I am only exposed to a small percentage of the emails.    Some that come across my inbox are sent to the group at large and some that are sent individually between us.    It is so disheartening to see these emails and to know the number of animals that need a chance.   Knowing it's not even a drop in the bucket when you get an email listing 30-40 dogs and cats.   To say it's overwhelming is just to sugarcoat the feeling it brings up in me.

Tonight I got such an email and I decided to go ahead and went through looking at the photos of the available cats.   Since one of my cats had to be put to sleep a few months ago, (Quincy the best cat that ever lived)  I'm always looking for his resurrected spirit.   I know, sounds crazy, but I think I've figured out that's what I'm doing.    There were 17 cats on this email that I received tonight and I couldn't even look at the pictures of half of them.   Almost every cat I looked at was under 4 months old.   The picture that stopped me dead in my tracks tonight was a picture of three 5 week old kittens.   They have these beautiful  eyes and they look so scared in the cage they're  in.    Take a look at the kittens.    I went to a seminar on pet adoption in August and one of the frightening statistics was that more cats than dogs are neutered and spayed, but there are more cats than dogs euthanized in shelters every year.      Looking at the pictures of these sweet adorable kittens, I know they have a very small chance of making it out of that shelter alive.    I *really* know that - it's not some offhand mental awareness - but I know it deep inside my soul.  And because of that,  I have a limit of how many pictures I can look at.   Their faces and their eyes kind of get stuck in my brain and then I'll be no use to anyone.    Some people in our group have to pull themselves off the group email for a while just to take a break from seeing the pictures and seeing how great the need is day in and day out.

Again, what can we do but what we are doing?   I have my fosters and I'm showing them love and giving them a home until they find a  place of their own.   I had a very promising call about Saburo today.    He will be missed - he's so full of life and just a joy to have around.     Can you imagine that Saburo was abandoned in a yard?   He was left behind like a bike that was rusty and didn't work anymore.    It's shocking because I've seen what a warm and loving and loyal dog he is.     If we didn't have room for him, who knows if he would have made it out.   But you know what?   He did make it out and he's brought a smile to the face of every person he's met.   And do you know why Saburo made it out?   Because Becky sent me and some others in our group an email letting us know he needed a second chance.   That's why we can't give up and that's why these emails have to keep being sent around.   Here's a look at Saburo "behind bars."    Who would have ever known by that picture what an amazing boy he is?        

Monday, August 30, 2010


JTK likes to call TRex his "Parrot" :)
That is the nickname for my son, Joey.     I can't seem to stop calling him Joey, even though he's preferred JOE for years.   It's actually funny why he started going by Joe instead of Joey;  he started dropping unnecessary letters from everything when he had to start writing them out.     Joey became Joe and Mommy quickly became Mom.    ::sigh::     I digress ...  in our early days of fostering we had a cute little fox terrier foster named Joey for a while.   Whenever I had to communicate with the group via email, I would always differentiate with "Joey the dog" and "Joey the kid."   Well, Joey the kid stuck even after Joey the dog got adopted and it has now been shorted to JTK.    He loves having a nickname.    I remember when I was younger I was always jealous that I didn't have a nickname.   I'm glad he got one so early in life ...   and it's definitely not self explanatory! 

Well last night JTK was quite sick - he had a sore throat and this nasty rash on his check/nest/chest.   I'm a pretty laid back Mom when it comes to illnesses, probably because I grew up in a family of hypochondriacs.     My Grandmother's favorite saying was "I have to get better to die."   Niiiiice  So, maybe you can see why I've lost my trauma switch reaction to various illnesses, for the most part.   However, last night, I was really worried about my little guy.    If he had been overly dramatic I wouldn't have been worried, but he kept saying stuff like he felt "odd" and "weird" and that he didn't have a headache, but he had an "aura" in his head.    YIKES    I made the ultimate mistake of googling the following symptoms:   swollen lymph nodes, rash, sore throat.   Seems those all match  Measles, Mono, German Measles and SCARLET FEVER.   OMG  I was about to have a fit.   Luckily, I was able to reach out to my brother who is on Facebook and asked him some questions.   He's been a paramedic for over 20 years so I pretty much trust his opinion.   And he totally nailed it ... sinus infection.   Thanks bro!!   I was still stressed, but that reassured me enough to remain calm.    Craig's reassurance and Joe's lack of fever prevented me from running out to the ER.

JTK had to sleep on the couch last night - he had a really hard time falling asleep.   Suzie and Tina were NOT happy with the interruption in their routine.    Tina loves sleeping with Joey.   So much so, none of the other dogs can get on the bed with him when she's being cuddled by him.    What a spoiled brat ... JTK gets really tickled that she doesn't want to share him at all.   But Suzie and Tina kept going from my room to the couch and our little Tubby Tina can not get herself hoisted on a couch or bed so I had to follow her back and forth as she changed her mind about where to sleep.   

Joey is such a good kid.   He not only helps me tremendously with our fosters, but he's always on call at the adoption events helping people   do various things.   He never complains and readily jumps up to help when asked - well except when I'm the one doing the asking.   :)   More than once I had to wait in line to receive help from my son at an adoption event ... geesh Mr. Popularity!   For the past 7 years or so, I can not take a "normal" picture of Joey if he's really aware I'm taking a picture.    My photos are filled with goofy faces and general acting up.    Why do I get the feeling when he's about 25 these will be my favorite photos?  :) 

I do get worried that I'm scarring Joey for life with having to say goodbye to the various fosters that he gets attached to.     I do keep checking in with him and making sure that he's OK with what we're doing and seeing if he wants to quit.   There have been a couple of times I've been ready to throw in the towel, and this young man has given me a few pep talks about why to keep doing it!   I've also started a new routine when we have an application on a foster that JTK is particularly close to.   Once I get the application and I think they're good, then I let Joe read it over and meet the people.     I then let Joe know, it's his decision.   I'm OK with them, but he has a voice in the process as well.   He's a great judge of character and it's the one way I've found that makes it easier for him to let go.    And, quite honestly, it makes me feel better about everything.    Recently, one of his favorite foster, Prince Tater Tot was adopted and he LOVED the couple who adopted him.   It was a no brainer and after meeting them Joey even said he'd let them adopt one of our own perma dogs!   Then with another applicant, they were intersted in Suzie and Tina and they said they were going to change their names.   NO WAY said JTK ... and he was right.    Suzie and Tina *really* know their names and if you're going to change a dog's name that really knows it it can work if it has the same sounds.   For example, I suggested Lucy and Gina but I got the feeling that was not an option.    Luckily she backed out and I didn't have to do anything else.
Joey and his perma dog, Cooper

I believe with fostering and working with our group,  Joey is learning so many intangible things that will help guide him in life - to be compassionate, to be loving toward animals, and to know you can volunteer your time and energy even if you don't have a lot of money to donate.     I can't believe my boy is 12 ... it probably would have helped if I didn't lose out on being called Mommy once he hit kindergarten.  ;)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lucky Dog

Saburo doesn't understand  how to
just LICK ice cream
Saburo was the lucky dog today because he got to go Lucky Dog in Webster Groves.   It's such a great store and they have the most beautiful collars and leashes in the area (but I'm probably biased) and they have all sorts of wonderful and unique doggie necessities.   Today they held a yard sale where a lot of their merchandise was on clearance.   That's one of the cool things about this store, they have a back yard and you can let your dog run around after you're done shopping.    It's a great benefit for a dog boutique.   I have to admit, I couldn't resist and bought a couple of great dog blankets and some cute, cute, cute accessories.    In addition to the yard sale, they were holding  an ice cream social to benefit Bi-State Pet Food Pantry.    The was ice cream AND toppings for humans and dogs alike.   Saburo got his treat and ate it in basically one bite.   It was hilarious - he ate it so quickly nobody could event get a good picture of him enjoying his goodies.

Bi-State Pet Food Pantry is a great cause.    People in our group have seen people have to give up their beloved pets due to the horrible economic times.    More dogs than I can count lost their homes because their people were foreclosed upon and homeless themselves.   Some people are literally homeless, others have to go into apartments where they can't afford the pet deposit or they don't accept pets and some people have to move in with relatives who won't accept the furry family members.   Things are really hard right now and some people can't afford dog or cat food or kitty litter.    When people are surviving on 25% of what they used to make by being on unemployment, a $20 bag of dog food can be completely out of reach for them.    I'm lucky that I volunteer with this group and since I've lost my job, my friends in the group have made sure I receive donated food for both my fosters and my personal dogs.    I've even received kitty litter and canned cat food - it's an enormous help.   Not only is it a help, but it's a huge weight taken off my shoulders knowing I don't have to worry about finding the money to feed my dogs and cats.   

I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with some folks from the Bi-State Food Pantry and they are really great people, and they're working very hard.   It was wonderful to see all the donations coming in from quite a few people.   One little boy made sure to bring in a couple of other necessities - a dog bed and a great loud pig toy.  :)   In this day and age, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the anger and negativity in the world.    But then, to be able to see a community come together to help animals and their owners .... well let's just see it reminds me not to give up on the human race just yet!

Saburo had a great time with an Italian Greyhound named Luigi.     They just played and played and played - they were so cute together.  He  was also able to visit with Becky's female dachshunds, Piper and Isabelle.    Oh my goodness, Saburo loves girl doxies!!    Piper is the dachshund he was found abandoned with in a yard in Jefferson County.    We're not sure if they "belonged" together but they spent their days bonding while they were in the clank together. 

Saburo loves his new blanket!
Lucky Dog is going to keep their clearance items available for another week.  You can see one of the great blankets I got as well as the cute mardi gras "clown collar" being modeled by  Saburo.   There was so much more I wanted to buy, but I thought it was only fair to let some other people get in on the action.   :) 

One of my favorite things about Lucky Dog is the owner, Beth and her resident dachshund expert, Boomer.   Both ladies are unbelievably friendly and know all of their customers by first name.    They're very kind and generous people and they're always trying to help local rescue groups and other animal causes.    Since they do so much to help us, make sure to frequent their establishment and let them know you support all the good work they do.

Saburro with a lady on each arm ... what a LUCKY DOG  :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Road Trip!

This afternoon after I picked Joey up from school we headed to Columbia, MO to pick up a former foster dog for our group.     This is a 15 year old sheltie who had been adopted out 6 years ago.   Her name is Duchess and she's a beautiful girl.    She came from a puppy mill so was a little stressed.     She started her morning in Omaha, NE and finally ended up in St. Louis, MO.    Transporting dogs is an integral part of the rescue community.   People volunteer for various legs of a journey to get a dog from one place to another and our group does whatever we have to in order to get one of our fosters back.      Joey is lucky he lives in an urban area because the kid falls asleep virtually any time he's in a car for more than 30 minutes.    It's due to his baby days when the little dude would only fall asleep after car rides.    I'm a pretty good Mom, but I have to admit we let Joey sleep the whole night in his car seat.  :)   Here is today on the way to Columbia, and is he ever going to have a fit if he knows I posted this.   But, hey, what are Moms for??

Duchess on her way from Columbia to St. Louis
It's very important for us that people return a dog of ours if they can't keep the dog.   People sign a contract stating that the dog will be kept current on vaccinations, will not be given away to someone else, will not be turned into a shelter, will be an inside dog, and most importantly will be returned to us no matter how much time has passed.      Some times the reasons a dog comes back to us sound completely bogus.   We've had more than one dog returned after 5 years or more because they didn't "bond" with the dog.     After more than 5 years?  That sounds ridiculous.   We also get dogs back because of divorce or because someone is moving.   The most heartbreaking reason, though, is when the owner is ill or has passed away.     That's the case with Duchess, her human Dad passed away a short time ago and now her human Mom is very ill.    The condition this dog was in, it is absolutely certain she was a very loved member of the family.   She was returned with a crate, some treats, a little lunchbox with her vitamins, and her favorite pillow.

Duchess did really well in the back seat.  I had a crate, but the leg from Kansas City to Columbia told me she did fine uncrated.    She looked out the window a little while and finally laid down on her pillow.    It was a very rewarding day, but also very tiring.   It's surprising how much energy it takes to drive a 4 hour round trip!    I did the driving, but there is so much work being done in the background while we're on the road.   People calling in to report their leg, people calling to see who will keep Duchess for the night, etc.   Some groups that are on the national level, like Dachshund Rescue of North America, even arrange flights for their fosters!   They have some dedicated volunteers who will drive them to whichever airport they need to, and other volunteers who are licensed pilots.

The woman who originally fostered her 6 years ago, took her back into her home.   She doesn't really foster for us but I believe this dog really wormed her way into Billie's heart.    Even though she was still a little nervous, we could just tell that Duchess felt more relaxed and safe in Billie's presence.    Billie also seemed so happy to have her back in her life.     Duchess will be with Billie for the rest of her life.    I think they're both very happy with their prospective future together.
Billie and Duchess Reunited
A lot of people want to help out with rescue groups and there are so many other ways to help besides fostering an animal.   We had a meeting last night for fundraising and that's a way a couple of people are helping out the group without bringing dogs into their home.   There's always transports needed like we helped out in today and all the local shelters always need dog walkers.  

National Dog Day

Can you believe there's such a thing as National Dog Day?   That's what today is - August 26th.  That's fantastic - much better than some of these other things that get their own days.       There's been lots of talk on Facebook and different sites about what people are doing to spoil their dogs for the big day.   I pretty much did the usual with mine.    They got food, they got love, they got exercise and they got play time.  

It's always interesting to have new fosters because it's kind of like detective work.   Part of our job is  figuring out how a dog likes to play and interact and what his doggie sounds really mean.    Saburo was playing like a nut with me on my bed tonight.    I was taking the cover and covering him up and then wrestling with him a little bit - he was making the craziest noises.   I've never heard those come out of him!    He was having a blast and so was I - it's so fun to have a rambunctious "teenager" dog in the house.  Teenage in dog years, that is.   Saburo really needs a home with a dog that loves to play.  I can tell he just wants to break free and be a big old goof, but I have too many members of the "fun police" here.   Isn't it odd how some dogs just are little party poopers?     While I was goofing around with Saburo, though, I wouldn't let any of the other dogs end his fun.   I think that's why he got a little more excitable tonight.

I think one of the reasons I will miss Saburo so much when he gets adopted is because he is sooooo photogenic!   He is so easy to take pictures of and always available.    I was trying to take some pictures of TRex the other day and I get the feeling he's been watching a little too much National Geographic because he was definitely acting like the camera was trying to steal his soul.  : )

I hope you had a great day with your dog friends and even if you didn't have a chance to do anything out of the ordinary, I bet they're happy they have you to love them and that they're a part of your family and home.

If you know of anyone who would like to give Saburo a home, please pass his information on.    I will have him with me at Lucky Dog this weekend in Webster Groves.   It's a fantastic dog boutique located at  38 N. Gore Ave.      They're having a great event raising funds for Bi-State Pet Food Pantry from 12-4.    You can come by with your pooch and enjoy some ice cream for yourself and your 4 legged friend, with proceeds benefiting
Bi-State Pet Food Pantry.   With these rough economic times, it's so wonderful people are stepping up to the plate and helping families keep their animals while their financial situation is in turmoil.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saburo LOVES Suzie

If only Saburo's love was returned ... he wouldn't have to try soooo hard to get Suzie's attention and be at his cutest 100% of the time.   The poor dog needs a rest! :)    Joey and I joke why Saburo annoys Suzie so much since she usually loves the younger dachshund boys.   (Suzie can be quite the cougar! ha)  She reacted this way to only one other male dachshund, and he was a mixed bred as well.    Since she's been listening to me while reading the Harry Potter books out loud,  we think she's decided dachshund MUDBLOODS are beneath her.   She's only interested in puerbred dachshunds.    Even though Tina is a lot more mellow than Suzie, I think they could have been named Bellatrix (Suzie) and Narcissa (Tina) ;)

I'm convinced Saburo actually might be growing on her because she was actually licking his fur today!   My elation was a little tempered when I discovered some pasta sauce had been accidentally spilled on him.    But still!!! I have to think it's some improvement if she was interacting with him and not trying to use one of the unforgivable curses on him.

Not even ONE goodnight kiss?
Saburo just keeps trying to get Suzie's attention and even when she snarls at him or snaps at him, he only  slinks away with sadness in his eyes.   He doesn't respond with anger or aggression, even though he's twice her size.   

Suzie is doing quite well.    Her breathing seems to be improving every day.   If it were science project time for Joey, I think it would be interesting for him to track how "normal" her breathing is in comparison to the air quality of the day.   Today was a beautiful day and the air quality was defined as moderate, so I don't think it's just a coincidence that her breathing looked almost normal.

Monday, August 23, 2010

How I Ended up Fostering TRex

Will His Eyes Always Hold A Little Sadness?
When we're at adoption events and we're talking to other volunteers about their fosters, we always ask each other "What's their story?"    For some reason it seems so important to us to understand how these dogs came to us.   I don't know if we need to hear the reminders of why we're doing this, or to be reassured by the hopefulness in what we do.    TRex came to me in March, 2009.    I attended a "puppy mill" auction with another volunteer to pull some dogs out of the puppy mill system.   It's a very controversial topic - are we helping the dogs or are we helping these breeders by lining their pockets?    I personally feel very satisfied  when we pull an older dog from a puppy mill.    They're the ones that literally have no chance of making it out alive if a rescue doesn't take them.    If they're in the 6+ age range, they're probably not as profitable as they used to be.   And there's absolutely zero chance they can be sold to the public at a profit.

I really don't know what happens to dogs that are brought to an auction and aren't bought by anyone.    We all pretty much have a good idea that they're euthanized ... either humanely or not.     This is especially true if there's what's called a "breeder sell out" which means that puppy mill is getting rid of their entire stock - for whatever reason.     The dogs that came with them to an auction, are definitely not going home with them.    If nobody wants them ... what else could possibly happen to them?

The one and only auction I attended was in Cabool, MO.    What's really sad, is this was what  is considered a "good" auction.    It was a very difficult situation for me because the culture and attitude toward animals at an auction is completely foreign to what I feel and believe about dogs and cats.       Before the auction starts, there's a viewing room and you go through a room and just see dozens and dozens of dogs in cages.    A lot of these cages are stacked on top of each other.       When the auction starts  the dogs are brought out and set up on a table while the bidding starts.   Each dog has a  number tied around their neck with a piece of twine or something similar so you know who you're bidding on.    Pregnant dogs are the most sought after - imagine how much they're worth to a puppy miller!   Big deals are made if a dog was "tied" to another one or was in heat recently, etc.    One thing that I really have a hard time understanding is the people who bring the dogs to the table are all teenagers.   It's both girls and boys and none of them seem to have any affection or empathy for the animals.     They're holding them like they would any other livestock, showing no emotion.   One of the most offensive things I heard at that auction was when a dog was being bid on, the auctioneer bragged that she was a virgin and that apparently made her more desirable.   It felt like a rape was being planned for this dog.  I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but that's really what it felt like to me.

TRex Putting on his "cute" face
For some reason, I was drawn to TRex in the viewing room and he even let me rub his belly.    Now that I know him, I can't believe he trusted me enough to allow that upon our first meeting.  :)    It so happened that when TRex came up for auction, the person I was with had gone to the restroom.    NOBODY bid on TRex ... and they were even getting ready to take him back to the viewing room.    I couldn't take a chance on what might happen, so I grabbed my friend's bid number and raised it in the air.     He was $25, which is the minimum bid a dog must get at this auction.   Well when I broke the news to my friend, she didn't say much but I definitely was not supposed to have done that.    Having bid on a dog that we had no plans of getting, I knew it was going to be my responsibility to foster him.   And foster him I do.

TRex still shows mental scars from his days in the puppy mill.    He's missing a number of teeth and his remaining teeth look as though they've been filed down.     After seeing how upset and stressed he gets in a crate or an XPen, it's pretty clear he spent his entire 6  years trying to chew his way out of his cage.    He doesn't trust all men - even male children.   My nephew will come to spend the night and TRex will bark up a storm.    Then, they make friends and everything is ok.   But when we wake up the next day, it starts all over.    I've noticed at adoption events he reacts very negatively to men with hats, beards and grey hair.      My ex husband happens to have a beard and TRex will still act like he'd like to chew his foot off rather than look at him when he sees him.   I can't even bring myself to think of the life TRex must have faced to still be holding on to this baggage.

Even though he still has issues, he's doing so much better than he was when I first got him.   He is a different dog than he used to be.   He's much calmer at adoption events and he's even started playing with some of my other fosters at home.    He's started showing affection to some other dogs in our house,  which is to lick their eyes.   As usual, everything is UNusual in TRex's world.     I think he's decided my dog Jingle is his Mama.   He is always cuddling up to her, even putting his arm around her.    It's very sweet and I feel relieved knowing I got one dog out that might not have made it otherwise.

TRex is an example of why so much work was done this spring to get  the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act on the November ballot, otherwise known as Proposition B.    The breeders of Missouri have fought tooth and nail to keep it off the ballot.    Thousands of signatures had to be gathered and notarized to get it on the ballot.    While the signature gathering was going on, various breeders in Missouri would find out where meetings were going to be held and call ahead and "cancel" their reserved spaces.     Once the signatures were collected and turned in,  there was an attempt to have special legislation passed in the Missouri congress  to prevent it from being on the ballot.     Then, when the signatures were ratified and approved a suit was filed stating the wording was unfair so should be kept off the ballot.    When you read the proposal,   it's hard to understand why anyone would fight it.    It's asking for basic, humane care for all dogs in Missouri  breeding facilities.   It's asking for sufficient food, clean water, regular vet care, daily exercise, clean cages which are big enough for them to move around in, shelter from the elements, and rest between breeding cycles.    What person would ever oppose dogs being treated in such basic, humane ways?  

This is NO Life

To learn more about this proposition - please visit this web site.

Missourians For The Protection of Dogs

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Sleepless Night

One of Suzie's Favorite Puppy Victims
Last night Suzie had me completely worried.    All evening she acted more tired than usual and chose to sleep in a community dog bed on the floor instead of her favorite one in the window behind the couch.   Then, after we went to bed she let Saburo rest his head on her body.    She does not like Saburo in the slightest.   His presence is always greeted with a terrifying snarl (just imagine if she were bigger than 9 lbs!) and if he dares to come too close, she makes a move to get a good nip in on him.    Suzie treats him like a puppy, and she HATES puppies.    I've never quite seen anything like it in any other dog.   I've had dogs that get annoyed by the antics of puppies and they need to put them in their place, I've had dogs ignore puppies, and I've even had a dog that was comforted by the presence of puppies.   But Suzie really hates puppies.   One of my friends in the group likes to say Suzie's motto is "We don't need no stinkin' puppies."  ha ha    One weekend at an adoption event, the puppies were moved from one exercise pen (X Pen) into the one she was in.   Before I could get over to her and relocate her, she had nipped every puppy tail and ear within striking distance.   All the puppies were pitifully whining and couldn't understand why she was soooo mean to them??  Even after I pulled her out, she stuck her long doxie nose into the xpen and continued her reign of terror.     Saburo is estimated to be about 2 years old, but he's fun loving and happy so in Suzie's mind that equals PUPPY WHICH MUST BE TORMENTED.    Saburo is twice her size and he sheepishly puts up with her antisocial behavior.    With this background on Suzie, maybe it makes a lot more sense why the mere presence of  Saburo's head on Suzie got me into super concerned mode.  :)

Shortly after I noticed this, I heard a loud breathing sound coming from Suzie.    It sounded like a snore, but didn't seem to originate in the same place as a snore.  My Mom used to tell me stories when I was younger about how when someone takes their last breath it's called a "death rattle" because of the sound.   Thanks Mom, that one is still freaking me out 30 years later!  I was frantically emailing people at 12-1 in the morning and researching COPD online.    I'm not even quite sure if that' what she's diagnosed with because right now she never even coughs.    I couldn't find any good information online, but I did get a couple of emails back from people reminding me that if she was sleeping soundly and eating good she must be comfortable.    I kept trying to go to sleep and putting my head on her side to listen to her breathing and putting my hand on her chest to feel the strength of her heartbeat.   After a while, her breathing sounded just fine.    Even though every indication was that she was fine, I was unable to sleep very well.   I woke up every 45-60 minutes and then couldn't fall asleep for 30 or more.    ugh  I kept telling myself that she had eaten great and that's such an indication of a dog's health.    Whenever a dog won't eat or drink, that's the time to get a little extra worried.

During the night, Suzie had moved from near my head to the foot of the bed.    And this morning, suddenly bounding up the bed for a big 'ol kiss and immediately getting into belly rub position was the Suzie I know and love.   She's also let Saburo know in no uncertain times this morning that she really doesn't like him and he'd better not forget it.   :)    Other than last night, Suzie has been acting great.   She's been happy, perky, hungrier than ever and just participating in life like she always has.    Maybe she was just really tired last night?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Can We Keep Saburo? :)

More often than not, I want to keep the dogs we foster.   Saburo is just like a ray of light, and it's hard not to want to keep him.     Last week we stayed home from the adoption event so that meant another guaranteed week with the little guy, though that's not why we stayed home.    One of the hardest things for me with fostering is saying goodbye to these little fur babies.    The thing we know undoubtedly is that when one gets adopted, that makes room for one more for us to be able to save.   Knowing the important work we're doing really makes saying goodbye a little easier.   Plus, seeing the happy  pictures of previous fosters who are now permanent family members help us keep pushing on.    Here is a great picture of Frankie.    Frankie's Mom, Amy, just loves this dog to pieces.   He's a bit of a handful but they make a perfect team.    She recently entered this photo in a contest and won a $100 gift card.   YAY Frankie and Amy.  Maybe she'll put the money to good use and buy a skiing outfit?  :)

Last night while I was sleeping, I snuggled up to Suzie a little bit.   Then, I felt a cold nose on my arm and I thought "Aw, Suzie is showing me how much she loves me."   Not two seconds later, I was lavished with Saburo kisses and realized he had just completed a classic "Saburo Nose Wedge."  It's funny since I was just talking about that and he snuck up on me and did it.  I had to laugh even though I was half asleep.

Then, this morning while I was brushing my teeth I knew 3 dogs had come into the bathroom with me.   I could only see two and didn't understand if I was losing my mind or what.    THEN, I saw Saburo just sitting in the bathtub.    What is up with that crazy kid?    That's why I love having him around - he's a barrel of laughs and we can all use a little extra laughter in our lives.

Friday nights can be a little hard because this might be our last night with a foster.    Here's one of my favorite pictures I ever took - it's also quite poignant.    This is one of our foster dogs, Snoopy.   Boy did we ever love this scamp.   We fostered him for about 6 months and he was such a tough guy to big dogs, nobody would dare adopt him.    Then an absolute saint called me about adopting him.   She had    previously adopted a dachshund from our group and  I knew she would be perfect for him, so we were able to let him go.     I literally cried for two weeks from missing this guy.     We knew he was going to be adopted that Saturday and this is a picture of Joey and Snoopy sleeping soundly that Friday night in November before he went to his new home. 

Snoopy is a perfect example of how we keep doing what we do.   Had Snoopy never been adopted, we wouldn't  have had room for all the fosters that came after him.    Including Saburo,  and we would never have had the chance to fall in love with him  well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Natsumi Keeps Blossoming

Cooper and Saburo Joining in Exploring with Natsumi
Natsumi is doing better and better and acting like a happy dog, along with all the other dogs in the house.     Today she had a breakthrough - she was actually PLAYING with Saburo.    It was so cute, she was crouching down and then stomping both her big 'ol front paws down on the ground egging him on.    It was amazing to see.   It was completely unexpected, for both Saburo and I.  :)   Saburo looked a little confused at first, but he went along and joined in the fun.   She seemed so happy and carefree - it was really a beautiful moment.  Even our resident "Fun Police"
T Rex joined in the games.   Now that is absolute proof of what a magical few minutes it was.    I wish I could have caught it on camera, but it's a moment I missed.

Today Natsumi also stole one of the mini loofa toys that all my dogs seem to love - they're these great, long toys that have good squeakers inside them.   They're some of my favorite toys to buy because they always have different ones to match the season!  You can find them basically anywhere.     Back to Natsumi - I couldn't believe it, she picked it up off the living room floor and just trotted off to her area in my bedroom.    Natsumi has her own little corner in my room, and that's where she spends the majority of her time.   She's made herself a little nest with lots of empty cans dog food and other treasures she's found around the house.      It's pretty common for breeder or puppy mill dogs to need their own "safe place."   She does need her solitary, quiet time but she will come out and visit during the day or evening.    Last night when I went to sleep, I made a point to pick her up and rub her tummy for quite a while.    These dogs don't understand they can ask for this attention a lot of times, so we have to just give it them and they'll start to understand it's a normal part of daily life.    She just absorbs love and attention like a sponge.    When ever she's being pet and loved, she turns into a little statue - like she doesn't want to move and end this bliss.     That's pretty common too, my own dog Jingle is like that.    She's a puppy mill survivor and though she's come leaps and bounds, she still has a lot of behaviors that show she spent a lot of time not being a pet.

Enjoying the Sun
With one of Her favorite empty cans in the background
Natsumi has also been exploring in my back yard and even sunning herself the last week or so.   It's so great to see a dog like this participate in basic, normal dog behaviors.    Up until recently she would stay outside for only the smallest amount of time necessary.   But one day I discovered she was just enjoying sitting in the sun and then a couple of days later, I found her exploring the back yard and even finding something that got the attention of some of the other dogs.

Hmmmm, I wonder what's over here?
Natsumi would do best in a home that does not have a high noise level.   I've noticed if we have our TV or game too loud, it seems to throw her off and make her nervous.   It makes sense - with her limited vision her hearing is that much more sensitive.   She'd also do well in a home as an only dog or with a dog that is tolerant of her bumping into them.    I really hope Natsumi finds a home soon.   She's a sweet girl, and she will require patience.   She's doing really well on the housebreaking but still hasn't figured out how to let me know she needs to go outside.   

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Silly Saburo

Mutsumi Saburo
Everyone asks me where we come up with these crazy names, and it's usually from Joey's anime passion.    Saburo is pronounces SOB ER OH and he's a character out of Joey's favorite anime, Keroro.   It's about a group of alien frogs who are trying to invade earth and when the invasion is aborted, a single platoon is left behind.  These Keronians fall in love with humans and their habits and generally get sidetracked from their invasion planning.     It's actually pretty funny and I enjoy watching it with him.    This is the character that Saburo is named after, a very "cute", very cool anime male character.     Joey wanted to use his first name - Mutsumi - but that's way too close to Natsumi for me.   I get corrected a couple of times a day on how I pronounce it.   Remember that scene from Harry Potter with Hermione "It's not leviosa, it's leviosAH."   That's what it feels like for me.  :)

Saburo (the dog) is just an attention monger - the dog seriously can not get enough in the way of belly rubs, kisses, and general adoration.    No matter what position he's in, he will ALWAYS end up in a position for a belly rub.   He looks undeniably cute and we can hardly ever resist him.     In fact, if we try to resist him - we are showered with thousands of Saburo kisses.    EVEN in the middle of the night.   Last night I was at the point I even tried to get under the cover, but he was not to be denied his belly rubs.    He's also a professional "nose wedger" which dachshunds seem to be the best at.   No matter who is sitting on our lap or getting attention, Saburo will slowly slink toward us until his nose is within striking distance!  Then, in just a matter of moments he has used his nose to wedge between one of us and the dog he was pushing aside.    He is then able to get long term belly rubs and pass on a few kisses .... mission accomplished, the Saburo nose wedge strikes again!

Crazy Sleeping Pose
Saburo also seems to think when I'm making the bed then it's really just a perfect time, with plenty of room for his belly rub maneuvers!    Tonight I was putting on new sheets(uh, yeah, Saburo puked on me again last night - he had obviously eaten grass)    When I was making the bed I literally put him on the floor 4-5 times, but he didn't care - he jumped right back up and proceeded to offer his belly up for rubs and tickles.    I tried "NO", "OFF", "DOWN", "GO", etc.    He generally understands no, so it's clear that he believes belly rubs are of such importance that any rule can be broken.    Such a scamp!

Saburo says "GRRR" in his Sleep
Saburo is a great foster.   I've already had a couple of calls on him and at adoption events people have been interested in him.   He's house broken, he's sweet, he's cute - he's just a fantastic dog.     I'll have him with me at PetCo in Kirkwood this Saturday from 11-3.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nighty Night ... Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

Goodnight Kiss From Tina
Bedtime is my favorite time I think.  I get to read to Joey and I'm usually choosing books I want to read too!  One of those sneaky parenting things I can do all for his "benefit" hehe   He's an unbelievably smart kid and I tell people time and time again it's because he's been read to virtually every night of his life.   Even when I was pregnant, I read to him.   I can't imagine the day where we don't get to share this special time together.   Right now we're finishing up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and I can barely put the book down.   I think it's especially exciting because it's the only Harry Potter book we've read without seeing the movie first.    The movies are great, but these books are beyond fantastic.    They're really spectacular pieces of fiction.

Goodnight Kiss From Saburo
When it's bedtime, there's a place for all fosters and permas in Joe's room.  Tina, is always snuggled right up to Joey next to his pillow.   She expects ... well actually demands to be hugged by him all night long.    Suzie has her own special dog bed at the end of Joey's bed.   TRex was recently given his own bed in Joey's room and the only place left was bed on the floor which he seems to be supremely happy with.   And, Saburo ... well  Saburo can be found in the middle of the space of  whichever dog is getting the most attention at that moment. 

"MINE, they're all MINE" :)
Here's Suzie so happy to be in her bed tonight ... she's a very diplomatic dog and divides her time between Joe and I on the nights he's not at his Dad's house.   She generally shows up in my room around 2-3 in the morning.    She wakes me up every night with her crazy little whine/bark and I get up and put  her in the bed.    These are two of her favorite toys with her and we had to save them while she was in the hospital.   What is it about dogs when they know a toy is another dog's favorite - they HAVE to have it?    Both toys had been stolen out of her bed, so we put them up high and presented them back to her tonight.    Was she ever happy.   By the time I left Joey's room, she had covered herself up with her toys.    The bird I have no idea where that came from, but we got the pink poodle at a great pet store in Hannibal, MO when we were there for Tom Sawyer Days.

Happiness is using toys as a blanket ...
The bed that Joey gave to Suzie as her own is way too big for just her.   Two other dogs could comfortably fit in there with her, but this is Suzie's bed - filled with Suzie's toys.    Nobody better even LOOK in her direction and act like they're going to join her.   If they brave the ferocious snarl of this 9 lb dachshund, she will have a little diva fit and jump out of the bed acting all horrified.   It's at that point, Joey or I will remove the offending dog party and allow her back into her little bed that serves as her night time throne. 

TRex is a LONG TERM foster.   We've had him since March, 2009.   He came from a puppy mill - that's a story I'll definitely have to pass on later.    He's a very sweet and unique boy, but he's never really gotten much attention at adoption events.    From what I hear, he has the epitome of a min pin personality ... he just doesn't look like a lot of other min pins.   :)   One of my favorite things about him is that he has this hilarious ritual for getting his sleeping spot comfortable.   I got some of it on video tonight, I missed the part where he rares and dances like a deer which is probably the funniest part, but you can still see the seriousness with which TRex takes his zzzzzzs.     Make sure to turn the sound down - Joey's fan was on and it sounds crazy! :)

And to all a good night ...

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Not Optimistic"

I just brought Suzie home and unfortunately was not sent on my way with a warm & fuzzy feeling.    The vet is a very nice man ...  I just think I'm a little out of his realm of comprehension.     He explained that the director of our group gave him background medical history on Suzie that he didn't know ... well that's not true I was very clear that she had respiratory issues before when I brought her in on Thursday.     He now seems to think she had pneumonia TWICE, but she only had it once and it was her sister that had it so bad she was hospitalized.  

The vet actually told me he is NOT OPTIMISTIC about Suzie's future.   Ok, what exactly does that mean?   I was not given any clear indication exactly what it meant ... I tried to get a direct answer but just got the response "some hard decisions are going to have to end up being made."   So of course I started crying.    The vet was completely surprised and asked "Are you crying about her?"   For goodness sake - of course I am!   This sweet little dog has been in my house for 9 months - she's become a part of our family and our daily routine.   NOT OPTIMISTIC???    WHEN are these hard decisions going to have to be made?     I hate this part of fostering and life so much.    Right now I plan on never fostering a dog over 2 again!   

You can see in Suzie's picture, she did not like being in a crate for four days.    She rubbed her little nose raw ... I'm so glad she's home with us now.    

I also now get to be even more paranoid than ever about the health of my animals.  I can't tell you how frequently in the middle of the night I'll place my hand on the various chests of dogs to make sure they're still breathing.   More than once I've been convinced they've stopped and scared the bejeesus out of them by shaking them out of a deep sleep.   I'm lucky I haven't caused a heart attack in one my dogs or fosters yet.

Suzie was so happy to see me and gave a thousand kisses when she was handed to me and on the way home.   She and Tina were thrilled to see each other - I wish I had a video camera rolling.     I've decided I'm going to give Suzie the best last week, month, year or whatever she' got left.    The funny thing, I'm not really going to change that much about her lifestyle - she just might get boiled chicken more frequently.  :)

The vet told me I need to treat Suzie like an old human lady who has to wheel an oxygen tank with her,  can't get around, can't go outdoors, and can't get overly excited.   WHAT?   She's a dachshund.    She loves going outside and sunning and she loves getting overly excited.   At what point to save a life do you make the life unrewarding?    If she wants to go outside - she should be able to go outside and hang with her sister.   If she wants to complain at one of the other dogs in the house because she loves to be bossy, she should do it.      It sounds like she hasn't got a lot of time left, why make that time boring and very non Suzie like?   I've always said she's the "enforcer" of the two sisters.    She keeps things in order ...       I would love to keep her in a bubble and safe forever, but I just don't think that's realistic.    

She's lying on a dog bed on the futon behind me.   She is really having a hard time breathing.   If I turn around to check on her, in pure Suzie fashion, she immediately rearranges her body so as to make it super easy for a belly rub.    How could I not love this silly girl?

I am having a hard time making the tears stop - but I've always been one that has expressed every emotion possible through tears.   So give me an emotion where tears are appropriate and I can't stop crying.    My Dad was a trucker when I was younger and he gave me the CB Handle of "Rollin' Tears."   It used to annoy the heck out of me, but every time I'm in a situation like this I think back on it somewhat fondly.

I love Suzie so much and now I've got the added stress of having to tell Joey what's going on with her.   His first day of school was today and from what I've heard, it was super chaotic and not at all a good start.    The school has suffered a great number of cutbacks which has resulted in a lot of changes for the students.   If there's one thing that Joey does not do well that's called "transition" which is just a fancy way to say he hates change.    He's with his Dad tonight so I might just save this news for tomorrow - it gives me a day to get myself a little under control.  

Say a few extra prayers for Suzie tonight.   Her heart is fine, it's her lungs that are scarred and damaged.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dog Day of Summer

Today was a local vaccination event held by Operation Spot in Tower Grove Park called Hope For The Animals Day.      They provided low cost vaccinations and micro chipping.   It was unbelievable how reasonable it was!   We had to stand in line for a couple of hours, but it was pretty pleasant.   We were surrounded by dog lovers and if we paid attention,  we were in the shade more often than not.   They also provided a blessing for the animals, but I missed out due to the lines.  
The turnout was huge - from what I've heard, this is the largest they've ever seen.    We were able to get Cooper and Hopper both micro chipped for $10/each.    Cooper and Cynthia received their bordatella and distemper for a total of $25 each and Cynthia got her rabies for $10.      Had I gone the usual route, I would have paid around that just for basic vaccinations for one dog - no micro chipping!    It was really perfect timing.   With recently being laid off, it was scary to figure out where I was going to come up with the money to vaccinate Cynthia and Cooper.    Jingle and Hopper had already been done for the year, thank goodness.    Fostering dogs, though, it would be extremely dangerous to not make sure my own dogs were kept up on vaccinations.   Cooper was actually due a few weeks ago, right around the time I lost my job.    Luckily I found out about this event and waited for August 15th to roll around.

We also got to visit with a couple of people in our group who are also foster families.   It was nice seeing them at such a big event, but we had all known each other was going and coordinated a time via facebook just this morning.   Isn't the digital age beyond amazing?
As I shared with you yesterday, my dogs act like a bath is deadly and awful and atrocious.   Now take that knowledge and imagine what they were like getting vaccinations and microchips ...  Yes, both Hopper and Cooper made a scene and acted like someone was trying to kill them.   Hopper was probably the most hilarious right before he got his microchip.     Just when the vet tech was getting him in position, and hadn't even shown him the needle and he began screaming and howling in pain.    I was so proud ... my dramatic ways have been passed down to my canine family members.  :)   Cynthia is my crazy girl who came from a hoarder and still has a few screws loose ... pretty but crazy ... and she was the best behaved.   Geesh, did she ever make Hopper and Cooper look like the nutty duo. 


I would not have gotten so much accomplished today without Joey's help.     The event lasted from 2-4 and at 3:15, I realized I was not going to be through the vaccination line.   I asked a volunteer what would happen at 4 and she said as long as we were in the line at 4, we would receive the item.   I had Joe and Hopper go over to the Avid microchip line while I stayed in the vaccination line with Cynthia and Cooper.   Of course, Drama Dog Cooper had to cry and whine as Joey and Hopper walked away.  He hates seeing his boy go somewhere without him, especially if Hopper gets to go!  At one point while we were in line, I could hear Hopper's bark and whine because Cooper would respond.    They were hollering at each other across the park.    It was kind of funny but a little nutty - those two have terribly high pitched crazy making yips!     
Joe Getting in A Manga Break With Cooper by His Side

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dog Wash Day

Cooper, Joey and Hopper
We decided not to attend the adoption event today.    We usually go to an event every Saturday from 11-3 but today we had some things we needed to take care of.   Joey is starting 7th grade on Monday - YIKES - where did the time go?    I figured a low key weekend would be the best for all of us.    While just hanging out at home, though, with Joey listening to his Japanese pop I decided to bathe all but 2 of the dogs.    Two of our perma dogs are Schnoodles, Hopper and Cooper.   They are so dramatic after taking a bath - they run through the house rubbing their bodies on any type of soft material they can find.    One would think they had acid on them that they're trying to wipe off.    Any moment they happen to pause and look up, I am told in no uncertain terms in their doggy eyes that I am indeed a traitor.  :)  After all the drama and work, though, I have some very clean, pretty and nice smelling dogs.    After I give them a bath I refuse to let them into the yard until they're completely dry.   If not they'll find a dead worm to roll around in or one will talk the other one into pooping so they have a fresh pile to roll in.   "Hey Coopuh, if you could uh Poopuh right there I'll give you my treat later."   I know ... eeeewwww ... but that's what dogs like to do.     They give a whole new meaning to the terms "Stop, Drop and Roll." ;)

I got the disappointing news that Suzie needs to stay at the vet through Monday.    Now this is getting really scary for me.    The vet said she's not out of the woods yet and that she would do better in a quiet environment.   She's eating well but her breathing is still somewhat labored.  

Usually if I have a foster in the hospital I go visit them every day, but this vet's office isn't set up like that.    We haven't seen Suzie since Thursday and I asked the vet if she seemed sad and he told me that's not what I needed to worry about.   Sorry, but I think that should be included in my concerns about her!    I get annoyed at vets very easily ... vet techs ... receptionists ... anyone who treats me or the dog like this is just a run of the mill ordinary situation for a run of the mill ordinary animal.     I think vets who are the most appealing are the ones who don't lose their compassion and realize how huge this event might be to the person who is caring for this pet even though they may have seen it dozens of times.

Dr. Kee
There is a vet that practices at Webster Groves Animal Hospital (this is not where Suzie is) and her name is Dr. Kee.   She is the most amazing vet in the world.   A few months ago I had to put my beloved cat, Quincy, to sleep.    She could not have been more loving and understanding with both myself and Quincy.    She later sent me a sympathy card.   I will never, ever forget the kindness she showed us.   I wish more people understood how something so simple  can have a profound impact on someone and be a part of their consciousness for the rest of their lives.    I need to send Dr. Kee a note and let her know how important she was.   I've told many people about her, but I should share it with her.   Maybe it would have a profound impact on her!