Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Send an e-card to feed hungry animals

I love the idea behind Freekibble. Just by answer a daily multiple choice trivia question on the site and 10 pieces of kibble will be donated to one of 14 shelters around the country. The Bow Wow Trivia question feeds dogs and Meow Trivia feeds cats; you can (and should) answer them both.

And now you can help spread the word about this great program with Freekibble's Happy New Year e-card. Or send a Happy Birthday card or one to just say Hi.

All the cards are free & all the dogs and cats are grateful.

Hero dog of the day: Esperanza

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that Esperanza, a badly injured stray shepherd mix, was found in Alberta, Canada, nursing four puppies --and a kitten named Jacob! WFP quoted Criss Gerwin, who heads up an animal rescue: "I cried because she was in such bad condition with her leg, but she was obviously nursing her puppies and this kitten."

Esperanza ("hope" in Spanish) had been hit by a car and vets at the Edmonton Humane Society feared they'd have to amputate one of her legs. But hero vet Dr. Milton Ness volunteered to operate and was able to save it.

From the WFP: "The devoted mother is recovering well. She and her pups will go into foster care after the holidays until permanent homes can be found for them. But the humane society ideally would like Esperanza and Jacob to be adopted together."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What can't dogs do?

A beautiful border collie named Chaser knows two thousand words--one thousand at the time of this video from 2009. She's also beautiful and sweet--and clearly loved much loved by her guardian.

Disregard everything I've said

You know how I said it's easy (ish) to let a foster dog go? I was wrong.

Ellie Mae went back to her regular foster last night and I miss her terribly. I held her little soft leg while her mom swapped out collars and I kissed her little head over and over. I am such a softie.

Folded up the crate and vacuumed. Put the toys in the bin, and they stayed there. My shoes stayed by the door, and nothing on the table was pulled by eager puppy teeth to the floor for examination.

Bella and I stretched out on the couch. Too quiet.

And Bella, who wagged her tail a total of ONCE in E Mae's direction, was bereft. Seriously, Bella? You couldn't at least make this easier by jumping for joy at all the S-P-A-C-E you have with no pesky puppy underfoot?

I got up off the couch and walked around. "Let's sleep on it," I told her, while she lay motionless on the couch looking like someone had mowed her down. "If we still feel this way on Monday, we can always adopt her."

Her foster mom Jamie was thrilled to have her home and her dog and E Mae greeted each other like long-lost pals. "I'm just going to treasure this time with her," Jamie texted me, "because I know she'll be scooped up and gone so soon."

As she should be. It's why we foster: to get dogs ready for their forever homes. But WOW, it's tough.

Love you, Ellie Mae!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fostering in Western Pennsylvania

The website of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society outlines why it so needs fosters:

Kittens and Puppies

Beginning in the spring, we take in many nursing mom cats and kittens, nursing mom dogs and puppies, and orphaned litters. Your love and attention will allow these babies to reach the weight they need to be spayed/neutered and adopted.

Fosters feed, comfort and socialize these little creatures. The Humane Society provides all the needed medical support, including medications.

Sick Animals

The Western PA Humane Society has isolation and treatment rooms where we treat cats and kittens with upper respiratory infections and dogs and puppies with kennel cough... Isolation space is often a challenge in our shelter when many animals get sick at the same time. Housing them with healthy animals would compromise the health of our entire shelter population. At these times foster homes are crucial to the lives of our beloved animals.

If you don't currently have a pet in your house who would be exposed to these very common & easily curable shelter illnesses (or if you can bring a different species in, say a cat if your household has a dog), you can save a life just by providing love & care for an average of 10-14 days.

Neonatal Kittens and Puppies

When kittens and puppies too young to eat on their own come into our shelter, their lives depend upon staff and volunteers who have the time, energy, expertise and emotional strength to bottle-feed these babies.

If you have time for the special care these wee ones need, the Humane Society can train you to help them.


The Western PA Humane Society doesn't usually foster out healthy, adoptable dogs and cats, prefering to have them on site where visiting potential adopters can interact with them. But as an Open Door Shelter they never turn away an animal in need. As you can imagine, that leaves them pretty busy (they currently take in more than 13,000 animals a year) and space is at a premium. That's where fostering comes in.

Readers in western Pennsylvania--hope you'll consider fostering for the WPA.
Those who already do: I'd love to post about your experience, so email me!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

the great outdoors

When I first adopted Bella, someone asked me what the biggest difference was between having a dog and not. And I said, "You know those lazy, cold days when you just stay in your pajamas all day and never leave the house? Those days are gone."

As it turns out, what they say is true: If you dress warmly enough, there is no such thing as bad weather.

On Christmas, Bella, Ellie Mae and I enjoyed the great outdoors with our friend Deena. I honestly, truly don't miss those never-leave-the-house days.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Let a dog run free only when you are confident she or he knows his/her name and will come back when called. Some dogs can be off-leash only in contained (eg fenced) areas.

photos by Deena. Thanks, Deena!

Why I foster: Kris Ann's story

<--Kris Ann first met Artie at the Tulsa, Oklahoma SPCA in their Jog the Dog program, through which local volunteers run or walk with shelter puppies to give everybody a good workout of mind and body.

Here's Kris Ann walking the wonderful Gretchen, another member of the shelter's Lonely Hearts Club, who recently went to her forever home. :)

the first time i walked Artie he pulled me everywhere and seemed totally disinterested in me. when I showed up at the shelter the second time he waited at the gate and ran up and down his run, and jumped on his doghouse and made this deep soulful noise, like 'when is it my turn, when is it my turn when is it my turn?' and i said hmmm i thought you didn't like me.

How could this guy dislike anybody?

he is one of those dogs you may walk past if you're just browsing; he wasn't the cutest thing i have ever seen. now i rank him up there with George Clooney. i have spent time with him every time i have been there and he has stolen my heart, the more you get to know him the more his silly personality comes out, obviously i love him, and the fact that he is still a good boy despite being found running on the streets, taken home and loved for awhile and brought back makes me love him more.

Kris and her husband have two dogs already, and adopting a third just wasn't possible right now--even one as sweet and handsome as Artie. But Kris was determined to help get Artie adopted.
She knew that fostering can make the difference between a dog languishing at the shelter and going home.

I knew he needed a chance to prove he could do a good job in house after being at the shelter basicially since april 2009.

So Kris brought Artie home for Christmas thanks to Tulsa SPCA's Foster for the Holidays program. He's doing fantastically.

<----this couch is soooo much more comfortable than the ground.

it was really nice of these good people to bring a tree into the house for me. but it's really ok; it's only been a few days, but i'm used to being an inside dog already!

THANK YOU for all you do, Tulsa SPCA!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ellie Mae, ready for her closeup

Meet Miss Ellie Mae. She is as sweet and funny as she is beautiful.

(Ignore the woman behind her, who hadn't planned on being included, but the puppy wouldn't stand still. )

These pics were taken by the extremely talented Bill Owen, who donated his services to benefit Homeward Trails rescue.

(I'll post a Bella one too, when I receive them.)

(I made the second one black & white just now, because I'm artsy like that.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Last week, Bella had her yearly vet appointment. One of the millions of wonderful things I love about having a mixed-breed dog is that we haven't had to go to the vet otherwise AT ALL except for one time when Bella had some gross thing on her foot (soaked it, gave her antibiotics, done) and the other time when a dog bit her (vet cleaned it, gave her antibiotics, gave her pain pills, she slept. The vet got more than she planned for--you're welcome, vet--when my then-boyfried met me at the clinic and we got into a heated discussion about...stuff. It was very dramatic, and yet the vet still charged us full price.)

Anyhoo, Bella got the vaccine she was due and the doctor pronounced her


which I had known before I opened up my wallet and emptied it on their counter. But it's still nice to hear.

At the counter when I was emptying out my wallet, I saw a sign announcing a Washington Humane Society fundraiser at which pets (dogs. Cats don't take that crap) could pose with Santa.

I had already paid $$$ for the doctor, the vaccination, the half year's supply of flea & tick and heartworm, and the Zipcar rental (animals can come if you put them in a carrier, which everyone hates, the dog because it's like being in a cage in a moving vehicle and I'd vomit too, and the driver because her/his beloved pet is crying. It's also stupid, if I may veer even farther off topic for a moment, because if the idea is that a crated animal will disseminate fewer allergens--which is Zipcar's stance--then I say perhaps you should look at my jacket. Bella doesn't sit in the driver's seat, but her hair does) but I couldn't resist (and didn't even try).

All went less smoothly today when Bella, Ellie Mae (who came to us yesterday and is here through Christmas) and I shlepped out to Gaithersburg (apparently, it's in Maryland) for a pet portrait shoot with all the money going to the rescue group.

We were scheduled at 2:30, but the sessions were running an hour late. Annoying, yes, but not a death knell to the plan for those with cars that don't turn into pumpkins, but I had a Zipcar and I couldn't extend my reservation, as another patron was waiting to use my car. So my shoot was 5 minutes for each dog and poor Bella the canine thermometer of Mom's feelings looks so stressed out :(. I didn't even have time to see Ellie Mae's photos, but she wasn't excited about the bright lights. Most of Bella's pics are in profile, because she's staring hard at the photog's umbrella. (She believes in putting objects she's afraid of on notice that she's on to them, so they are less likely to attack her. Years ago, a stereo speaker in my apartment fell to the floor, scaring my skittish girl. For weeks after, she gave the speaker a wide berth when she walked by, and fixed it with her stare as she went.)

I saw some of the photographer's other work and he's really talented, so despite the fact that I limited him to a mere fifteen or twenty shots, I'm excited to see what he sends me--and very grateful to him & to Santa for donating their time.

The first rule of blogging about fostering

Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.
-Fight Club

It doesn't make sense. It isn't even good grammar. What the hell does it mean to disappear somebody?

Sorry I've been gone so long. While blogging about fostering is a fantastic idea--if I do say so myself--I'm finding it tough to do both. Fostering Jack meant petting him endlessly, which state made it hard to type. Then the shelter really wanted us to take Cinnamon too, and a foster couple was found who expressly wanted to take in a senior. So Jack was passed off to them and Cinnamon came in and kicked my ass. Bella's too. She was wonderful but indefatiguable (Bella and I: fatiguable) and I had zero time to type. I'll tell you more about her sometime...

When she found her forever home, I went on vacation. I'll tell you about that too...

Then I came home, rested and ready to rest some more. I wanted to hang out, calmly, with Bella, and to work on my apartment, which lay somewhere under a thick layer of bones and dog toys.

So I told the rescue group I needed a break. That lasted two weeks.

Then Christmas came and fosters wanted to go home to their families and I got the call. Which is why Ellie Mae is chewing my slipper with a vengeance, and dancing with it, in the center of my living room. Now she's trying to lift her dinner bowl off the floor--no, it's back to the slipper dance--wait, she's managed to flip the bowl up, hitting herself in the head. She's taking this as a sign it's time to fling the duck toy around the room. Now the porcupine. Now the lion's head. And back to the slipper.

Yeah, a break.