Wednesday, July 28, 2010


If he could have become invisible by skrunching himself up at the back of the crate, he would have. We had taken a road trip to a local animal control to rescue as many as we could, as they were having to euthanize for space. We walked through the whole building and saved the intake room till last - it was full to overflowing and more dogs were scheduled to arrive.

I noticed the little guy, a brown, rough coated, pointed ears, black muzzle, scared stiff border terrier/Norwich terrier? mix. I went over to his crate three or four times, and each time he tried to become invisible. There was no growl, no bared teeth - just pure fear. He had no kennel card and no name, which meant that he was scheduled for euthanasia. Shy, timid dogs don't usually find homes, and with such severe overcrowding, his number was rapidly coming up.

After choosing three other dogs, I asked the rescue coordinator if we could go back and see him again. I dropped a slip lead on him, and there was no aggressive behavior. We took him outside, and he obviously had never been on a leash, or hadn't learned how to walk on one. He jumped, tried to run away, tried to chew the leash in two, but never tried to bite. I asked to take him with us. About that time, one of the vet techs came after him, but instead of prepping him for his demise, she gave him his vaccinations and checked him for heartworms, which we sincerely appreciated. She said he was very good during the vetting process - just had some leash issues.

It's wonderful how fast dogs learn. By the time we got him home and took him out of the crate, he was leading as well or better than most. His tail was tucked to his chin, but he walked right along with me. The next day when I took him out to the play yard for exercise, he took off with tail tucked and ears plastered to his head - he looked and ran like a scared rabbit - and since we needed to name him, he was given the name Rabbit.

He needed a lesson on coming when called, and we found out that he had obviously been kicked. For a couple of days, if he was standing next to you and you moved your foot, he would hunker down and try to disappear.

That's all behind him now. He trots down the kennel in front of the other dogs with his head and ears held high. His tail no longer is tucked to his chin and it has developed a happy wag. He's still a little shy around new people, but it doesn't last long. He loves a good back rub, comes when called, and has learned "sit". He's excellent on a leash. We will get him neutered and post him for potential adoption - someone will get a very nice companion.

A new owner will probably change his name, but everytime I think of him, all I will see is that scared little brown rabbit trying to make himself invisible, and then smile as I think of how far he has come in such a short time!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Time for a Road Trip

It was a week ago today when an animal control called to say they had taken in 11 dogs that day, had 14 more coming the next day, and the day after that they were receiving 24 more, and that's just what they knew for sure was coming. The 11 year old daughter of some friends had just told me she wanted a job like mine, so I asked her parents permission to haul her along on our road trip to animal control. She might as well see first hand about rescue and the choices and decisions that have to be made, particularly when there is limited space and money available.

We looked at all the dogs and started a mental list of the ones that we thought we might be able to place in new homes in fairly short order. There was Sally, a golden retriever mix, only a year old, had been to a hospital meet and greet, needed some manners, and had a great personality. There was a beagle mix female, 8 months old, cute and personable - we call her Claire. There was a wirehair mix male, about one year old, easy going and friendly. There were a few puppies, but their cages were right next to a pup that had some diarrhea, so we passed on all of them just in case it was of the contagious variety. There were a few others that we looked at, including a little guy that I now call Rabbit. We loaded Sally, Claire, Dusty, and Rabbit and headed home. These dogs would fill up all the empty spaces.

When we got home, there was our guest - a former student from our days as adjunct faculty at Kirkwood Community College in the equine program. There was a friend and her daughter with my yearling miniature horse. My husband was asked to do a DVD specifically for miniature horse owners, and I bought a dun colt whose sire was of the Little King bloodline and whose mother is named Dust Bunny. I have named the colt Swiffer. The breeder sent along another colt, Eclipse, for company. She also sent along a calico kitten with tabby stripes - is that a tabico? She's adorable, probably only 6 weeks old, and loves my big 91 pound lab/rott mix female.

The friend and daughter who delivered the minis picked out a yearling colt from the foundation quarter horse stock, so we have only 2 more quarter horses to place. Both are colts, both are yearlings, both are still available.

At the end of the day, I asked the 11 year old what she thought of the job. In spite of the hot and humid weather, all the kennel cleaning, dish washing, laundry, she said she loved it. I explained to her that it is impossible to save every dog, and to keep from becoming a hoarder, she will need to set up some guidelines and rules for herself and follow them in order to do the best job she can do. Then we both laughed at me, because I broke a rule of my own. We brought Rabbit home - that will be the next blog.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pay It Forward

"Maggie, I think he hurt his leg again!" My friend called to tell me she was on her way to the emergency vet clinic because her senior dog had come up on three legs. Last fall he broke the leg and it took quite awhile for it to heal. It would be an hours drive, so she carefully loaded him up and started off. About halfway there, he jumped to the back seat to look out the window, and the leg seemed better. By the time they got to the clinic, he was limping, but using the leg. As they sat in the waiting area, he kept moving around with continued improvement in the leg, so she decided to forego the vet visit, save the money, and take him home.

As she was getting ready to leave, she noticed a lady crying at the front desk. She observed for a few minutes and then asked the receptionist if she could offer comfort, thinking that the woman was having to decide on euthanasia for her pet. The receptionist looked at her like it was none of her business. She asked if it was a case of putting the pet down, and the receptionist again gave her a "don't ask me" look. Finally she asked if it was a financial problem or should she butt out, as she knew the clinic had a fund for people in this situation - and they could tap that. The receptionist said that they were trying to work that out, but that collateral would have to be put up and there was a limit on the amount available. With that, my friend addressed the woman directly. Her husband had lost his job, was on unemployment, and there was no extra to cover these expenses. My friend pulled out her credit card and had the clinic charge the expenses to treat the dog for heat stroke. She said the receptionist looked at her with disbelief. She said that at that moment she couldn't believe what she was saying either. Then she told the receptionist that her senior dog who was on three legs and now was walking and jumping around on all four, would not need to be seen - at least not at that time!

The woman with the dog suffering from heat stroke thanked her many many times. No names were exchanged. My friend simply told her to "pay it forward", which she vowed to do.

My friend said she won't tell her family or relatives because they think she gives too much away, but her father told her "if what you give away makes the difference for someone else, it will be worth whatever sacrifices you have made", and she realizes more and more how true those words are.

It was part of a plan - the dog limped, and ended up saving another animal in distress. As for me, I needed this uplifting story and had just asked for something with positive energy.