Monday, January 17, 2011

A week in dogs part iii and the usual insanity

The third part of my dog week is that I signed on for another foster "Mo" (white midline, looking away) and the part that warms my heart the most is that former-foster Mikey's adoptive family agreed to foster his kennelmate Star!

Mikey's folks wouldn't have found their sweet boy if it hadn't been for Homeward Trails, who rescued him, and his foster (me) who brought them the adoption event at which they found him. And now they are paying it forward by helping another sweet dog find her forever home.

Heart is so warm.

So this weekend Mo and Star hitched a ride on the the five-hour transport from North Carolina and the ever-kind Jamie met them at Dog Paws in Arlington, VA. *And* Jamie took Star for the weekend while Mikey's folks were out of town. Which can only mean one thing: I had Mikey and Mo and, of course, Bella.

For three days.

My headache is searing (not from dogs: snow is coming, and this is how my head reacts) so I will have to limit my tale-telling and go lie down momentarily. But all is good & everyone is getting along. Mikey has decided Mo is cool (ish), Mo is getting comfortable (almost every foster I've had has a few days of confusion. Mo's is far less vocal or nutty than some others have been. He just wants to make sure--understandably--that everything is alright and he's safe now.) The car lives again, thanks to Triple A. The dogs are ok sleeping in the same room--though Mo seems to need to sleep with his full weight on my legs. And it's oddly comforting.

More to come, I'm sure, but for now: First night is always hard with the new foster. Maybe he's not housetrained. Maybe she has no concept of a leash. Maybe he barks in the crate. Maybe Bella is a jerk to her.

I lucked out with Mo: Sweet as hell, Bella was fine with him, he pretty much understood the housetraining concept (two accidents in three days. Not bad.) But Mikey DID NOT like the young interloper and retired to the bedroom for the entire evening. I couldn't walk three at once and Mo (understandably) barked if I took his dog friends out and not him; Mikey refused to walk with Mo (he would walk with Bella). I needed Mo to sleep in the crate, as I didn't know the full extent of the housetraining and Mike wouldn't share the bedroom.

So I dragged a mattress next to the crate and tried to sleep. Bella took up the entire mattress and Mo cried and then he wanted to play and when he went to sleep, I was wide awake.

Long night.

First thing in the morning, we decamped to to Mikey's house via Mikey's family car. All got better once Mikey had the space to walk away from Mo (who loves him!), although Mo took a liking to shoes, and with a family of four, there are many. And not just shoes. In short order I removed from his mouth: Lots of stuffed animals, a pencil, a sled, a pair of ice skates and a shovel. He's not destructive, he's just a puppy and likes to see how everything tastes.

Luckily, he is gorgeous (camera is broken!) and sweet, so sweet.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

LOST dogs--Please spread the word

DC & VA folk, please keep your eyes peeled for these lost dogs.

We were at the vet this evening and a vet tech took her out to walk to get
pee and LOST her. They didn't come tell me immediately but instead tried to chase her.

She was last seen running west down U STREET. She is a tricolor female.

Her name is VICKIE, but she doesn't respond to it. She will only respond to
her bonded male companion who is with me. If everyone can help get the
word out to look out for her and let me know immediately where to come
to find her, I'll bring Rascal and we'll try to coax her to me. She is
terrified and people shy so no one should try to catch or chase her
unless she is cornered and cannot escape.

I am a regional coordinator of a Basenji rescue organization.

Call JR at 202.270.8447 or Dave at 301-503-2120.

She weighs about 30 pounds, has a short coat and has a characteristic CURLY


J.R. Key
Basenji Rescue And Transport
Adoption Coordinator
(c) 202.270.8447
(f) 202.355.6484

Reply to:
We have lost our dog - Nika, female, Italian Greyhound.

She is 8 months old, 9 lbs - skinny and tiny girl. Her main color is
brown; her ears are much darker (almost black); her chest, tip of the
tail and legs are white. Nika also has white mark on her face and a
little bit of black color on the back.

Nika was lost on Thursday, December 9th around 8:30 am in Reston (VA).
She was playing in the snow on a leash outside our home and suddenly
darted after the trash men scared her. We believe that she was picked
up by somebody later that day.

If you have found her or you see somebody walking her, please call us at:
703-303-5955- Vladimir

The reward will be granted to the person who brings her home safely.
No questions will be asked. We miss her terribly.

Please help us find our Nika!

P.S. If you have found a dog and you think it might be Nika, please
send us a picture.

Thank you so much!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A week in dogs - part ii

Sweet Mikey came to stay for a few days between Christmas and New Years and oh, I love that dog. Sometimes I think it may be time to adopt a second dog and, as I told Sweet Mikey's mom, maybe it's time for a senior black lab of my own.

So I put those search criteria on the cool website Pet Harbor and when the site let me know that the Montgomery County (Maryland) Humane Society (from whence Bella came into my life) had a nine-year old girl in need of a home, ace adventurer Deena and I braved ridiculous rush-hour traffic (a trip Google Maps clocked at 34 minutes actually took an hour) to meet her.

She was a love and a half, but she already had an application in. That thrilled me, because all I want in the end is for every dog to have a home of her own. Being in the shelter was emotional, though. To say the least.

I spend a fair amount of time with dogs from shelters, but I rarely have occasion to go to shelters. The first & last time I was at MoCo Humane was to sign the paperwork for Bella (I had met and gotten to spend time with her at the former Dogs by Day and Night, where she was fostered). And I was not very tough about it.

The shelter employees and volunteers were, to a person, caring & involved. The dogs were clearly well taken care of. But shelters are a stressful place and the dogs were not happy. And so many of them were owner surrenders! Which means that many of these guys in row after row of cages had previously been on someone's couch. And that broke my heart.

My heart was actually in smithereens by the time I got out of there. And it took awhile, because I just wanted to talk softly to every one of those sweet faces and I wanted to try to figure out how I could bring every sweet face home and end all the world's suffering.

I completely lost it when I saw one sweet girl, an owner surrender, lying on the floor of her cage shaking in terror.

Bella had been an owner surrender and her foster mom told me that the reason she chose my dog to foster was that Bella lay in the back of her cage shaking, and she wasn't 'showing well' to people looking for the dog o' their dreams.

When she told me this, five years ago, Bella was safe and warm and very, very happy. I didn't even try to imagine her shaking and terrified. And now here was a dog like she had been. And it felt unspeakably unfair that I couldn't open the cage door and go in and sit with her. Hold her.

I imagine the shelter workers must have thought I was a lightweight. A woman who just breezed in and then got to go home. I am, I was. I deeply admire those who can do the dirty work, stand with the suffering every day. I am a total lightweight and I slept exactly one hour that night. The bulk of the rest of those long hours was spent lying in bed picturing that shivering dog's pleading eyes or the long line of all the dogs put down in a year snaking up a never-ending mountain.

I also tore through my refrigerator and freezer in a desperate hunt for something sweet. (I have little food stored as I need to buy what I want to eat shortly before eating it and even then, shopping is a big pain for me. I'll go to the market hungry for one thing, get it home and have completely lost my desire for it, suddenly craving something else entirely. I'll then stick the now-unwanted foodstuff in the fridge or freezer and either eat it later or toss it when it grows some fuzz.) I knew exactly what few things I had recently purchased and none of them was chocolate but, haunted by those eyes, I needed *something* sweet. Some. Thing. Sweet.

I didn't even have jam!

I tried to turn on my computer to post about it here, but, lucky for you, the wireless wouldn't connect. It was maybe three in the morning by then and who knows what disjointed tale of dog suffering and sugar jonesing would have been set down.

In the freezer next to five-year old cookies (you read that right. Apparently I brought home cookies I decorated at a long-ago Christmas party and stashed them in the freezer. They didn't appeal to me in December 2005, but I was tempted by them this week) I found a square of something that might have been white chocolate except I haven't bought white chocolate since I was really into it in seventh grade, and I ate that. As I chewed it, I wondered what the chances were it was some treat of Bella's. Or, worse, some medication of Bella's.

Oh, I also spent alot of time texting with Kris in Oklahoma and Jamie in Virginia. They are rescue dog lunatics (RDLs) themselves and they tried hard to talk me off the proverbial ledge.

It was a bad night.

I felt better in the light of day. And Deena sent me this awesome pic she mocked up on I Can Haz Cheezeburger, which calmed me just enough to get back to the work of trying to end suffering. (In answer to your question, yes, those eyes still haunt me.)

**Note to self: Must find way to make sure all dogs find homes.

**Note to you: There is a part three to the week and it's happier than this, but now I am all wrung out and must rest.

A week in dogs - part i

I lost Bella for two hours once and my world stopped turning. Two neighborhood friends swept the streets while I walked through the woods, screaming my voice raw for her. When what I was waiting for happened--my cell phone rang, the number unfamiliar--I ached with pure gratitude.

"Are you missing a little dog named Bella?" a man asked. I wept so hard, it took about a minute til I could choke out a reply. "She's fine," he assured me. "Cold, but she's fine. I'm going to put her in my car and warm her up while we wait for you." He told me where he lived, and I ran there, calling my friends. One drove by and picked me up and the other, closer to the address, raced on ahead.

I got Bella back that day. The friend who got to her first asked the guy who found her (Bella sat on the steps of an apartment building til someone came out; I was really lucky she wasn't skittish around people) asked if he had a dog himself.

"No," he said. "She got out of the house once and was hit by a car."

How must that have felt to him, to give me what I was praying so hard for when the same was denied to him?

Today I joined the search for Olivia, the sweet mastiff missing in southwest DC. The morning started out bitter cold, and I tramped around a mile-or-so loop with a lovely woman who had never met Olivia either, but she once lost her cat--and got her back--and wanted so hard, like me, to bring what Livvie's foster mom was praying and dreaming for to her.

Livvie's foster mom joined us--as well as Livvie's awesome canine foster sister, and others--but for that first hour or two it was just we two, tracing and retracing our steps, eyes peeled for motion that could be the 90-pound girl or her fresh paw prints. Thanks to a light dusting of snow and a fair amount of mud (and, esp, my companion's eagle eyes), we found the latter.

Thanks to all the flyers searchers have been putting up, Livvie's foster mom got another call about a sighting. The golden hearted tracking team Sam and Salsa of Pure Gold Pet Trackers have found her scent. We're really close to bringing her home.

A week ago, I dreamed I found her. I was walking in a field, I saw her, I leashed her, I brought her home to her family. It's not that easy, obviously. But that feeling, that She's Almost Home feeling, propelled my fellow searcher and me through the streets. It also led me to stuff chunks of Safeway rotisserie chicken in my pockets, in the hopes of being irresistably smelly to Livvie, but only succeeded in making me (a longtime vegetarian) nauseated.

If you're in DC or close by, it would be great if you could lend a hand. Here's more info. It's so cold out. We want Olivia home. --->

Monday, January 3, 2011

Thank you Brangelina

Better than more clothes or a new car... People magazine reports that international superstar pair Brad & Angie made a $2 million donation to a wildlife sanctuary in Namibia.

The mission of the The N/a'an ku sĂȘ Sanctuary is "to conserve the land, cultures and wildlife of Namibia and rescue species threatened by an ever-shrinking habitat."

Fun fact: The sanctuary has Carnivore Feeding Tours.

Dog-related fact: The sanctuary has at least one "wild dog." Maybe more than one? The People story says that Brad & Angie saw one & the sanctuary's website says that "during the course of [one of the carnivore feeing tours] you will view wild dog and leopard from up close..."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dogs at rest

What's more beautiful than a sleeping dog? Methinks nothing, which is why I'm big on tiring mine out. I'm lucky enough to have woods access near my apartment, and Bella and our guests spend countless hours romping.

Jamie brought Ellie Mae & her own sweet, scrappy (and, by hike's end, muddy) pup Lieben to run around with us for two hours this afternoon. When they all got home, Jamie emailed me the pic below of Ellie making herself comfortable on Mom's bed. Bella, for the record, is fast asleep on the sofa over here.
In honor of sleepy, snuggly pups, here are some more past pics of Bella and her friends:

I love how Bella makes herself into a little wreath. She was like that when I first met her. The lamb next to her is Mango, who stayed with us last Thanksgiving while her foster parents were outta town.

Here's Bella with Johnny. I had two dog beds, but most of the fosters prefer to share with Bella. Johnny now has a beagle brother of his own, Lloyd.

Belly in her first (& way too-small) dog bed

Skinny James --also known as Skeeter--loved to snuggle with Bella. Bella, as you can see, loves to read The New Yorker.

Majestic Blue relaxes on my unmade bed. When I first met this gorgeous boy, he was as messy looking as an unmade bed. What a difference a bath makes!

Wish I could keep posting, but no rest for me. Must get myself together. Am off to see The Kinsey Sicks with work friends and 'civilian' friends.

Out with the old!

Here's a little poem I've slapped together this morning...

Gulf of Mexico oil slicks/Haitian buildings' falling bricks
People still outta work/Jesse James: Such a jerk
Chilean miners trapped underground/When Dems fall, does it make a sound?
Mel Gibson's anger on the loose/ Palin, smiling, shooting moose
Snowmaggedon covered green/ TSA goes obscene
Wikileaks good or smug?/In the bed, the biting bug...

More later, but now, off for a walk with Bella and Ellie Mae & her foster mom Jamie. First good news of the new year: Ellie Mae has found a wonderful family! Hooray for Ellie Mae :)