Category Archives: Misc.

Ketchup!

Last night I had a dream that I was competing some championship swim meet. I was up on the starting block pulling my goggles down over my eyes when it suddenly hit me that I haven’t done this since high school – what am I doing here? I’m not prepared for this! I won’t mention just how long ago high school was – or how long it’s been since I’ve been in a pool for that matter – but I think that dream was a metaphor for the chaos that has been my life lately.

Yes, I’ve been busy, as is probably evident by my lack of blogging. Actually, busy is an understatement. But most of the things that have been keeping me busy are great blog fodder, so my New Year’s resolution is to blog more. You like how I’m just now getting around to making my New Year’s resolutions and it’s almost February? Welcome to my world.

In addition to being busy at work (yes, I do have a day job – despite the fact that I would much rather spend all my time rescuing dogs, that doesn’t pay the bills), my involvement with rescue has pretty much occupied any remaining time outside of work. I’m cranking up the mileage on the car running transports and doing meet and greets, running up the minutes on my phone screening potential adopters and staying up late almost every night answering emails. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I fear this post is going to get quite long, so I’m going to break it out into chapters with big bold headlines so you can skip anything you’re not interested in….

Chapter 1: Update on the bust dogs

What an emotional roller coaster that situation was. It really opened my eyes to the horrors of dog fighting in a very personal way. Of course I have always thought dog fighting was terrible, and if the Philadelphia Eagles ever come to play the Seahawks, you know I’ll be the first one outside the stadium letting Vick know exactly what I think. But getting to know so many of the bust dogs, knowing very well many of them would never be adopted, really hit me hard. I fell head over heels in love with so many of those sweet souls, and in the end, we were only able to save 4 out of the 22.

That sounds like a terrible outcome – and in many ways it was – but the important thing to realize is that those are 4 dogs that would never have been saved if we hadn’t stepped in. Pierce County has never before even evaluated fight dogs – they were always held as evidence until the trial and then destroyed. And it’s not that the other dogs were vicious. They were just broken. Broken by human hands, through no fault of their own. I hate people sometimes.

The hardest part of the situation was knowing that many could be rehabilitated, if only we had the resources. But the shelter where they were being held probably puts down 10-20 healthy, adoptable pit bulls every week, since we are a small group and can only save as many dogs as we have foster homes for. Sure, we could have taken in more fight dogs and spent 2 years rehabilitating them to ready them for adoption, but how many “regular” pit bulls could we have saved during that time? Unfortunately the dark side of rescue is that it’s often a numbers game, and you have to weigh which option has the best odds. It’s really hard, because it’s often the sad cases that really tug at your heartstrings.

I still want to cry when I think of all those sweet dogs who are no longer with us, but it helps to know that even though they spent the last few months of their life in a shelter, it truly was heaven to them. They were inside, and they had nice people stopping by to give them treats and love on them every day – compared to their previous lives of being chained up outside in the cold, forced to fight each other in hopes of pleasing a master who never showed them the approval or affection they craved. For their last meal, they all got cheeseburgers. I like to think they left this world happier than they ever had been in their lives.

But you have to focus on the positive in this line of work, or you’ll go crazy. So to end this chapter on a positive note, here’s a link where you can follow the progress of the survivors. They are doing great!

Chapter 2: Foster #2: Gracie Lou Who!

At the beginning of this month, we unexpectedly ended up with our second foster dog. We were technically supposed to be on a foster hiatus, as the hubby wasn’t quite ready to foster again, but one of our previously adopted dogs came back to us and we had nowhere else for her to go. So after much begging and pleading with the hubs, we took in Gracie. We had two good leads on her for permanent homes anyway, so I convinced the mister it would probably only be for a few days.

Gracie was an absolute doll, and I quickly fell hard for her. Unfortunately, my boy Stewie did not. Thus, we were quickly introduced to the world of crating and rotating. Let me tell you, I have tremendous respect for people who have been forced to crate and rotate as a way of life, and make it work. It’s exhausting! (Mental note: crating and rotating would make a great future blog post)

Gracie’s presence with us really tested my emotions. The fact that I had to pretty much force my husband to even take her in in the first place, coupled with the fact that we had to keep her separated from Stewie created a lot of tension in our home. When the first adoption lead fell through, I was heartbroken. I was so sure it was going to be a good match. So I convinced the hubs that it would only be another week with her while I worked on the second lead. The next weekend, the second meet and greet went really well so we tentatively planned to send her on a trial run starting the following weekend (me to hubby: “okay, just one more week”). About halfway through that week, though, the adopter got cold feet.

Crap, now what?

I had already pushed my luck with the hubs, and if I wasn’t careful, I’d turn him off to ever fostering again. But with no other adoption leads in sight and nowhere else for Gracie to go, we were at a loss. The reality of the situation is, we can only save as many dogs as we have foster homes for, so if we don’t have a foster home for Gracie… I didn’t even want to think about that.

You see, Gracie had already cheated death once before. In fact, Gracie is the very reason our rescue formed a partnership with one of our local shelters. That particular shelter had a “no pit bull” adoption policy. Not because they thought they were inherently vicious, but because they were so hard to adopt out and they were already a high-volume shelter. Gracie was found as a stray and taken to that shelter a little over a year ago. She was actually on the euthanasia table, and the shelter worker flat-out refused to put her down. She was just too nice of a dog. So he called up the board and told them if they wanted this dog euthanized, they would have to come down and do it themselves. That sparked a discussion with our rescue, and they worked out a program where any pit bulls they received would be evaluated by us and taken into our program if there was room. They would still spend their days at the shelter to get exposure to the public, but would go home with foster families at night to learn manners and sleep on a warm bed. All applications would be handled through our rescue, not the shelter, so we could adequately screen them.

Long story short, Gracie had come too far and been through too much for it to end now. So I called up the adopter with the cold feet and talked to her about why she had changed her mind. She said she was in love with Gracie, but she was worried about how her cat would do with her in the house. After reassuring her that Gracie had lived with cats before and would probably be fine, we agreed to do a week-long trial run. I am happy to report the adoption was finalized last weekend! Gracie did awesome with the cat (as I knew she would), and everyone seems really happy.

I will end this chapter with a few photos of sweet Gracie, AKA Gracie Lou Who, AKA Gracie Lou Freebush (Miss Congeniality reference).

Chapter 3: Josie Update

Speaking of foster dogs, remember that super cute blue brindle puppy I had for a while? Well, that “puppy” is now a year old and about 70 lbs! That means she’s bigger than my Stewie. To put that in perspective, here’s a picture of her when we first got her, next to Stewie:

And here’s a picture of her now:

Look at the size of that head! Such a pretty girl, still. She is just thriving in her home, and I love that I get frequent updates on her. I love that “little” girl, and she is a big reason I do what I do.

Chapter 4: “The Kids”

As swept up in the rescue stuff as I get, I can’t forget my own two dogs! Maggie and Stewie are doing great. Stewie still chases his tail on occasion, but we seem to be able to manage it for the most part.

Having been through the crating and rotating phase when Gracie was with us also made me realize how good I have it, and what a perfect match Maggie and Stewie are for one another. Dogs are funny – like people, sometimes they just “click,” and sometimes they just don’t like each other for whatever reason. Maggie and Stewie are like soul mates. They bring out the best in each other. Maggie was really shy around other dogs before we got Stewie, and she has really come out of her shell in the last couple years. Stewie can be a bit of a butt head around other dogs sometimes, but he totally looks up to Maggie and does whatever his “big sister” says.

Sometimes I get applicants on our rescue dogs who are set on one particular dog and don’t like to hear me tell them it won’t be a good match for their family. But I really wish they’d just trust me. When you have a multi-dog household – especially with pit bulls – having the *right* match makes all the difference in the world!

They are lazy and like to wrestle laying down

Best friends

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Filed under Humans, Josie, Maggie, Misc., Rescue, Stewie, Training/Behavior

Update…

I have not been very good about keeping up with this blog lately. So, here’s sort of a mashup of what’s been going on in my life…

Josie is doing great in her new home. My cousin and her husband have been sending pictures and keeping me updated, and it’s so great to know she’s doing well. I am thrilled that it worked out that I got to keep her in the family. Here are a few pictures – she and her big brother Moses are just the best of buds!

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In other exciting news: I was just voted onto the board of directors for our local pit bull rescue! I have been volunteering with this rescue for about a year and a half now, and have slowly been getting more and more involved. I’ve been very impressed with the rescue and consider it a huge honor to have been asked in the first place. As a board member I’ll become more involved with the events and media outreach I’ve already been doing, and will also start doing some of the adopter screening and dog evaluations.

This past weekend I went to hear Donna Reynolds, the co-founder of BAD RAP, speak at the Pacific Northwest Animal Care and Control conference. What an amazing experience. First of all, BAD RAP is pretty much the holy grail of pit bull rescue (they are the ones responsible for saving all the Michael Vick dogs). Donna shared some amazing stories about programs they’ve implemented and partnerships they’ve formed, and then everyone broke out into groups to talk about the problems pit bulls are facing today, what our main goals are for improving these problems, and how we plan to get there. Though there were a lot of different points of view in the room and at times we didn’t all agree (the group consisted of private rescues, shelters, trainers and animal control, to name a few groups), it was really interesting to hear everyone’s perspectives. We were also able to share quite a bit about what our rescue has been doing, and I think there are a lot of ways that we can help these other animal organizations through partnerships. At the end of the session, Donna actually told us how great she thinks our rescue is – which was a huge compliment, considering the source! We’ve certainly modeled a lot of our programs after the success that BAD RAP has seen, and to receive that recognition was quite an honor.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…  Stewie’s tail chasing has been improving. Ironically, the day I called in the prescription for his medication was the day he quit chasing his tail in his crate. He still does it occasionally – mostly in the mornings when I’m getting ready for work. But the crate thing was the biggest issue since we couldn’t stop him from hurting himself. At least when we’re home and he does it, we can physically stop him from spinning and/or redirect him to a bone or toy. I think we’ll hold off on the meds for now, but it’s nice to know we have access to them, should we get to a point where he needs them again.

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Filed under Humans, Josie, Misc., Rescue, Stewie

Too funny not to repost: “The George Incident”

Came across this blog post yesterday and just about died laughing.  Enjoy.

http://www.arottalove.org/blog/?p=1581

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I *heart* George. He is without a doubt my favorite dog in the adoption program right now. He’s sweet, handsome, happy, funny, and about a dozen other nauseously sweet adjectives. Tragically – and I say this with all the love in the world – there are goldfish smarter than George.

So when I call Maus, Riley, and George in from the yard Saturday night and George doesn’t come racing up, I don’t think much of it. I tuck my two boys inside, close the screen door, and go off to find my wayward temporary foster.

It’s dark, but luckily for me George is white, and I find him behind the garage making friends with a tree – or so I think. I call him with the promise of all sorts of yummy treats, and at first I think it works. George’s head pops up, he tosses a full body wiggle in my direction, and starts prancing over. However, when he gets about five feet away, George suddenly veers to the side and starts running for the house. That’s weird, I think, and then I saw it silhouetted in the porch light:

George has half a dead squirrel dangling from his mouth.

The other half is, of course, on its way down his throat like the world’s most disgusting spaghetti noodle. I spring into action, and in a fit of genius, George realizes I’m on to him. The race is on: can he finish swallowing this thing before I get there, or will he be telling generations of foster pups about The One That Got Away?

George breaks through my screen door and tears into the house, me hot on his heels. He flies through the dining room, the sound of franticly crunching bone coming from his mouth, but I manage to tackle him in the living room. Without thinking, I wrap my hand around the former squirrel’s tail, and now –

Now I have a problem.

Those of you who own pit bulls know one basic fact about them: pit bulls do not let go of something unless they want to. George definitely does not want to let go of his new friend. I am definitely not letting George eat this dead squirrel, no matter how fresh it is. Unfortunately, George weighs almost half of what I do, and unlike me, George is entirely made of muscle.

While I am desperately wishing I own a break stick like any good pit bull owner (and then realizing that if I were to let go of this squirrel for the three seconds it would take me to go get the break stick the squirrel would be gone), I suddenly become aware that George and I have an audience. Maus and Riley are watching this exchange with expressions of rapture that I can only assume have not been seen since the three wise men saw the baby Jesus for the first time.

Crap.

Well, first things first. I have to get this squirrel out of George’s mouth. I’m smarter than him, I can do this. I decide the best course of action will be to pinch George’s nose closed and cut off his breathing. George now has three options: he can let go of the squirrel, he can pass out, or he can grow a blowhole.

George tries very, very hard to grow a blowhole.

Luckily for me, evolution doesn’t work that fast. George projectile vomits the squirrel across the living room in a way that would make men shot from cannons proud. For an instant, time stops. The dead squirrel is free; none of us can quite believe it.

“MINE!” I scream like a deranged Chihuahua, “MINE!MINE!MINE!MINE!”

The four of us launch ourselves toward the squirrel at the same moment, colliding together in a storm of legs, teeth, and bodies.

“Wa-HAH!” I shout, jumping to my feet and triumphantly waving the dead squirrel over my head like I’ve just won the Super Bowl. “Mine!”

And in this second, I realize that I have a really, really big problem.

Now there are three pit bulls staring at me as if they’re wondering if it might be okay – just this once – to bite the hand that feeds them. I’m surrounded in enemy territory.

Double crap.

I start inching toward the door, but the dogs mirror my movements, waiting for that one, perfect moment when my focus waivers. I’m going to have to make a run for it.

I take a deep breath, shoot out a quick prayer to whatever deity might be listening (and laughing his or her ass off), and make a break for it.

I race out of the living room, through the dining room, into the kitchen, out the door, and SLAM! the door shut behind me. There are three crashes from the other side that I’m sure are hard enough to rattle windows and knock pictures off the walls, but it doesn’t matter because I HAVE WON!

THE DEAD SQUIRREL IS MINE!!!!!!

MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have survived this ordeal to tell you one thing:

Crazy is contagious.

You get it from your dogs.

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Filed under Misc., Rescue

Vote to Ban Michael Vick

ESPN has posted a poll, asking people whether Michael Vick should be reinstated to the NFL.

PLEASE, go to http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/polls and click “outside the lines” on the left hand side of the page. Last I checked, 59% had voted to reinstate immediately. This completely disgusts me. Let us not forget that not only did Vick fight dogs (a horrendous crime unto itself), but actively participated in the bludgeoning, drowning and electrocuting of dogs who failed to perform. On top of this, he pled “not guilty” to animal cruelty. Many sports fans will argue that he did his time and has rehabilitated himself. I call BS. How can you be rehabilitated if you don’t believe you did anything wrong in the first place?

For an inside look at the magnitide of this man’s cruelty, check out this post on the BAD RAP blog, and scroll down to Donna’s story. For those who aren’t familiar with BAD RAP, they’re the organization that pulled and rehabilitated all but two of Vick’s dogs. Donna’s story is incredibly heartbreaking, and it just sickens me that someone who could do such a thing could possibly be placed back into the national spotlight, where he will be an example to the kids in this country who look up to NFL players as heroes. Even if you aren’t a dog lover, you can’t argue the connection between animal cruelty and crimes against people. Who’s to say Vick’s next crime won’t be against another human being?

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Filed under Humans, Misc., Rescue