Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Suicidal Whippet, Part 1

If she couldn't find a rescue that would take him, she was going to euthanize him --- a show bred brindle and white whippet male, only 18 months old. He was a show dog till his ears started to stand up straight at one year old, and he was noted to be a wirey, unruly puppy. He was rehomed and, in spite of obedience classes, the dog park five days a week, and walks twice daily, his behavior became more odd and extreme. He counter surfed, food obsessed, gorged himself with water, destroyed items in the house if left alone, couldn't be crated without whining, drooling, and trying to escape, and lunged and snapped if someone was carrying food. He was rehomed again and taken to a behaviorist, who put him on medication, and a personal trainer who recommended a program to help resolve the problems. It was suggested that his behavior was genetic in origin, and someone labeled him as autistic.

I had worked with racing greyhounds and show dogs and horses, and had some idea of the demands of the job of being a show dog, so I told the owner to come out and meet me, look the place over, and see if she would be willing to let me try to help. She brought the whippet with her - a true basket case - drooling, whining, shaking like a leaf in a crate in the car. I gave her a tour, and when we were done, she agreed to leave him with me. At that point I told her to say her goodbyes because I would put him in an area where he was safe and he would stay there till he calmed down. She asked me if I wanted his blankets, toys, leashes, bowls, bed, and doggie coat. I told her to take them all home because we were starting all over as of that moment. We put him in the "safe" area, and he ran and jumped off the walls, whining, drooling, non-stop. As she left, I could tell she was having second thoughts about my tough love program.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Daisy May's Story, Part 5

No one had ever even given Daisy May a second look before. Not one person had ever asked anything about her, but this woman fell in love with her on the spot. We introduced them to each other, and it was a match made in heaven. She called her husband and boss and asked if she could take the dog home that night in the company van. The boss agreed.

So, Daisy May, the dumpster diva, the redneck beagle/hound mix with the Roman nose, found her forever home that night --- and I got offered a sales job with a door-to-door vacuum cleaner company.

Daisy May's Story, Part 4

We moved to Indiana to become caretakers and remodel what used to be a hog confinement into a kennel for rescue dogs. One evening, after a particularly long hard day, while washing dog dishes, my husband answered the door and came to get me saying a lady needed to talk to me. I had helped haul heavy steel hog crate material all day, plus take care of 30 dogs at the rescue at the time, and wasn't in the mood to deal with door-to-door salespeople. While I growled at him, I went to the door and the woman said she was selling vacuum cleaners and wanted to do a free demonstration. I turned her down, and she came back with the statement that her boss required that she do 3 demonstrations per day to collect a check, and, of course, told me she had two small children. I told her to come in, forget the demonstration because I wasn't buying a vacuum cleaner, but I would listen to her presentation and answer her questionnaire so she could get paid. Her husband unloaded the vacuum cleaner, and her boss and husband drove off to try to sell someone else a vacuum.

She presented her product, and we went to the questionnaire. She said the boss would grill her about my answers, so when she got to the question about "How would the features of this vacuum benefit you?" I told her the vacuum would come in handy for grooming dogs. This led to the inevitable "how many dogs do you have". It was cold, raining, but she wanted to see the dogs. All I really wanted was a hot shower, a hot meal, and a nap before bedtime in the recliner, but we went to the kennels.

Daisy May's Story, Part 3

I took her home with me. We lived in a very small house and there was a small 8x8 foot room that was perfect for her "den". I made sure she had food and water and let her settle for the night. After the lights were out, I heard her run full boar across the room, run over the top of me, and curl up between my body and the wall for the night. I took her back to the warehouse on Monday as I was informed that she wasn't my dog.

The next weekend came and still no one would commit to giving her a home. She went home with me, and I refused to return her.

I would take her out for exercise with my other dogs, but noticed that she would occasionally try to crawl up the fence and escape the yard. One day she crawled out of the fenced yard and took off. I couldn't find her, she wouldn't come when called. I called all the stores in town and the sheriff's department and let them know what had happened and to call me if she was spotted. With tears in my eyes I went to work not knowing what had happened to her. They had changed my schedule to second shift - it was a long day.

That night when I got home it was after 11 P.M. I left the porch light on, but there was no dog on the porch, no notes taped to the door. I sat in the car and tried to decide whether to drive around, go inside and check for phone messages, or maybe head for the barn to see if she was near the greyhounds' kennel. I opened the door to get out, and next thing I knew there was a brown and black Roman nosed beagle sitting in the middle of my lap licking my face. As I hugged her and wiped the tears from my eyes, my comment to her was "So what makes you think I want you back?"

That was the night she got the name Daisy May in honor of her redneck ways.

Daisy May's Story, Part 2

At the time I was opening up the warehouse at 3:30 A.M. It was my job to take the dog out to potty, unlock all the doors, turn on all the lights and computers and make coffee before the shift started. It was a big building and parts were an old dance hall with wooden floors. Since the building had flooded, there were holes drilled in the floors to drain the flood waters if and when it happened again. Sometimes a skunk, possum, rat, mouse, snake, toad, or other creature would manage to get into the buiding. Since I had to take the dog out anyway, I would take her with me to turn on lights with the comment to her that if we saw a set of eyes taller than her, we were taking evasive action. It was actually comforting to have her with me, and it became an enjoyable part of our day.

There were several people who claimed to want to take her home - all of them good potential homes. However, along came a really hot, humid weekend with no scheduled shift at the warehouse. Someone needed to take care of the dog, but no one wanted to take her home - they all had plans, their current dog wouldn't get along with her, or their spouse said forget it. The warehouse manager asked if I would come by and check on her when I did my grocery shopping over the weekend. I already had a key, so no problem. On Friday night there was a monsoon like storm that flooded the garage and part of the warehouse. The next morning when I went to check on her, she was sitting in a huge puddle of water, on a chain, and in the water was a box fan which was plugged in to an extension cord and running full blast. By the grace of God neither one of us was electrocuted.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Daisy May's Story Part 1

All day other employees had asked me if I had seen her. A small brown and black dog, really thin, obviously had puppies recently, that no one could get close to. She was hanging around a strip mall and rapidly becoming a dumpster diva extraordinaire. The employees of the stores in the mall had been chasing her out of their trash for several days. The police had had no luck in catching her. Animal control couldn't get near her. A veterinarian had tried a tranquilizer gun and a hot dog laced with tranquilizer -both with the same result - she made it to the corn field at dusk. She wouldn't go near a live trap.

At the time I was working as an order picker, and coffee break gossip revealed that not only did I have dogs, but had been a paddock judge at a greyhound track. They asked for advice about catching her. They were putting food out for her but she wouldn't come within 50 feet of anyone. I was opening the warehouse at 3:30 AM so I would buy a package of hot dogs or bologna and take it with me just in case I spotted her. Sure enough she was running in the parking lot across the street from the warehouse. I parked the Jeep and watched and when she wasn't looking at me, I threw the package of meat as far as I could and then went inside the warehouse and watched what she did. She was very wary, but finally made a dash, grabbed the food, and hauled it to her den-which was a drainage culvert. Every morning I threw food and she got used to the program, I threw it closer and closer to me. I put wormer and vitamins in the food to help her regain her weight, and she began to look better. She even got so she ran out to the jeep when she heard it coming-not the best thing she could do, but we were establishing a relationship. Finally she would come right to the door, and would let me scratch her chin. Other people were feeding her and working on touching her as well, and one day they got a collar on her. The warehouse manager told everyone she could stay in the garage until they found her a home so they put her on a chain and she stayed in the garage, except when some one would take her out to potty.

Rounder Finds a Home

How was I ever going to find him a home? God smiled and sent us a visit from a local rescue group that needed foster homes. They put our dogs on their site, and one day we got a call from a family that specifically wanted to meet Rounder. They lived on a farm, had three small children, and wanted a dog to be a companion and keep an eye on things while the father was away at work. They pulled in and spotted him immediately. We went out to the hay field and showed them that he could be turned loose and would stay close by. Rounder loved the kids, was gentle with them, and he liked the mom and dad. They wanted him. I told them straight up his story - cop car and all - and they still wanted him. Then I got that gut feeling that says to me "let him go". The family keeps in touch and claims that he is amazing.

Rounder Part 3

Twelve hours of travel, three horses, five dogs, and my husband and me later, we landed in the dark with a cold misty rain. There were no fences on 48 acres, and all the outbuildings had housed hogs. Security for these animals was the issue, and we were going to have to commute from the city for three months till we could occupy the house. Rounder was the big problem - we knew he was good at escape, and wouldn't have a clue where "home" was. Each day I took the dogs out on lead around the perimeter of the property. Their reward at the end of the long walk was food. Rounder had a special kennel because of his abilities - he had to learn to jump over a 3 foot wooden fence to get into the kennel, and then stay there while we put down the lid and secured it. Kind of like the hatchback in a car. The first two days, I ended up bodily chunking him up and over, but by the third day, the food and the command to get into the kennel did the job. After a couple of weeks, as the other dogs were already walking off lead, I put him on a 50 foot rope to work on recall, and after a week of that, I started to let the rope drag on the way back to his kennel, hoping that the routine and his food reward would take him home. It did, and after that, I could let him run with the others. He would keep visual contact with me and come every time I called him.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rounder Part 2

The trip to the truck was like dancing with a grizzly. He lunged, sat back, jumped all around, and grabbed the leash in his teeth and tangled his body in it - if you're going to be dumb, you had better be tough - I thought this to myself, as much for him as me. I had to bodily put him in the truck, and he immediately grabbed the door panel with his teeth. Good thing it was only 20 miles home. It didn't take long to realize he was an escape artist and a noisy one. We rented, packed to move, so couldn't just turn him loose in the house. I put him in a huge plastic crate, and he chewed his way out, so I got him a metal crate. He tried to claw, chew, barked, but couldn't get out, but we had to stop this behavior immediately, or it was going to be a long night. I turned on the TV to a movie, grabbed a chair and put it right next to the crate in case he got into trouble, and sat there without looking at him or talking to him. For 45 minutes he pitched a fit, and then it was over. Once he was quiet and calm, I let him out. That night he went into the crate, which I covered with a blanket for warmth, and he was quiet all night. It was time to move to a new state and new challenges, so we gave him a new name. It's hard to find a home for a rescue dog with a name that hints at bad behavior - Rebel didn't cut it. My husband picked Rounder because of his loose cannon attitude - it was better than Rebel - and certainly fit him.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rounder Part 1

"Do you know of anyone who would want a nice dog?" That's how it started. I had taken my dog to the vet for surgery, and the vet and his staff were trying to find a home for a black lab/hound mix before his time expired and they were forced to euthanize him. They took me back to see him - they called him Rebel. He was obviously nervous and desperately needed to get out of the crate but showed no sign of aggression. We were within a week of moving to a new job in a new state and not really in the market for another dog, but we were going to be working on remodeling a hog confinement into kennels for rescue dogs, so I told the vet that I would see what I could do. I calledthe boss and presented Rebel's case. The vet had said he would give him all his vaccinations and neuter him for $75, plus get his health papers in order to cross state lines. The boss agreed, so I called the vet's office and confirmed that we had a home for him, and to go ahead and neuter and vaccinate. He had to stay there two extra days because he wouldn't leave his surgical site alone - not much time to get to know each other before the move. When I picked him up, they handed me the leash and then dropped the bombs. They give dogs a report card on their behavior while boarded. He was listed as a barker, liked to "dance" on a leash, afraid of water, and their parting shot was that he was picked up as a stray by the local police. The cop put him in the back of his squad car and decided he needed a cup of coffee and a donut. When he came back to the car, the dog had shredded the entire back seat and seat back, not to mention the door panels - some $700 worth of damage for the city. The cop was going to shoot him, literally, but the police chief told him otherwise. My parting comment was that I would take the dog, but there was no way I was paying for the damages.