March 24, 2008 The Ups and Downs of Rescuers

March 24, 2008

The Ups and Downs of Rescuers

Some days I wish I knew nothing about animals and nobody knew what kinds of animals I have. The reason being, once word gets out that you love animals, or have a certain breed, it opens you up to other well meaning folks who rescue and love pets and know how easy it is to get you to say “Yes, I’ll do it” when you know deep down you will get hurt in the end.
Last Saturday Casey Werts from Casey’s Canine Cuts called and told me about some dogs needing someone to place them into good homes. One of the dogs was a standard poodle. I knew of some clients who were looking for a Standard Poodle and I was sure I could find her a loving home. How could I say no? So, we packed up our kids and hopped into her van for a ride down to Terre Haute to meet the rescuer.
The lady that rescued these dogs got them from a puppy mill, where it’s located, I have no idea. She told us that there were over 300 dogs on the property and the person that ran the puppy mill was 80 years old and had some deep connections with animal control and law enforcement. Many animal rights groups and others have tried to shut her down for the past 30 years, it hasn’t happened yet. Worse yet, she told the rescuer that she intended to go to a dog show and buy more dogs. Apparently she lets some of her “stock” go to this rescuer who finds them homes, or passes them along to other rescues. I can’t see how this is helping control this woman’s dog population other than helping the few she lets go get homes.
In Arizona recently there were almost 800 dogs and 86 birds that were rescued from a puppy mill. How is this legal? How is this allowed to get this out of control?
The most disturbing thing I’ve noticed about puppy mill dogs is the lack of human contact and socialization. These dogs are scared to death. They exist in cages only to breed over and over again. The dog I took was a 7 month old Standard Poodle female. This dog has the sweetest personality and is content to lie on my couch for hours. The problem is she’s a 7 month old puppy. That’s not normal puppy behavior. This dog should be bouncing all over the house destroying things. When I let her out to the potty area, she didn’t want to come back inside, and when I went to get her, she darted back into the house past me. If I cornered her, I could catch her easily and she didn’t respond by snapping or snarling, or even submissive peeing. She simply came along. She never had a leash or collar on by her reaction to them, and it took a little coaxing to get her to walk with me and not pull back and be afraid. She allowed me and my kids to hold her, pet her and she even licked the kids a couple of times. She seemed like she was comfortable in her new surroundings.
I found some time between grooming dogs to run her to the vet for a heartworm check and some vaccines, as I wasn’t sure she ever had any in her previous environment. She jumped right into my van like she was eager to go for a ride, and when we got out she took a few steps following me when all of a sudden she stopped and balked, and managed to pull out of her collar and was loose!
She took off like a rocket and even though I had other people try to help me catch her, it was futile. She ran across the cornfield by Country Critter Care with no intentions of stopping. She ran up and down the fence rows, and when anyone got near her, she bolted. We tried getting kids to go after her since she seemed closer to them, but it didn’t work. Animal control would dart her with a tranquilizer if they could get close enough but it was useless. This dog wouldn’t come within 30 acres of a human. One kind man had his dog “Buddy” go after her in the field, but when Buddy got close, he started to follow her farther away instead of leading her closer. We tried baiting a live trap, leaving a kennel full of food but no dice. This went on for over 24 hours. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. I worried and prayed for her safety all night and was back out the next morning to see she was indeed alive, but just as reluctant to come to me or anyone else. Sheila from Fountain county animal welfare was out there too, watching with binoculars. I went back home and received a phone call from Denise Routzhan offering her husband and his 4 wheeler to go help. I called Troy and off we went in hot pursuit of this wayward pup. When we arrived, Brad Summers, Attica’s animal control was there with his dart gun along with Sheila and her binoculars but the dog was nowhere to be found. Troy and I mounted his 4 wheeler and took off through the fields combing the fence rows and looking over hundreds of acres of empty field for about an hour but no luck. We headed back towards the road when all of a sudden I saw her head pop up from the middle of the field. She had found a tiny space to lie in and was sleeping when the ATV woke her up. Brad hopped on with Troy and they ended up chasing her back and forth across the field having trouble keeping up with her! Every time she would stop, they would stop so Brad could dart her, and she’d take off again. She wasn’t wearing out. Finally, I heard a cheer from Brad and figured he had managed to dart her. Yet, she kept on running back and forth, adrenaline charging those spindly legs and still running like a racehorse! Then after several minutes, she began to slow down, and eventually stop and Brad was able to pick her up and carry her back to me. Sheila drove us to the vet where I had her checked out and also finished what I had came there to do, which was heartworm check and vaccines. To my horror, her heartworm test was positive. She was only 7 months old! This complicated the situation. If I were to find her a home, she would have to be treated for heartworm first. What rescue would take on a heartworm positive dog, knowing it was positive and expecting to have to spend a lot of money? Carolina Poodle Rescue would. I was put in contact with them and spoke with the lady in charge of it who assured me that they would indeed love to take this wayward baby I named “Ebony” and they would vet her and make sure she had only the finest of homes. They would rehabilitate her and teach her that humans aren’t all bad and scary, and they will arrange transport to get her to South Carolina ASAP. The lady I spoke with from the rescue said, “Aww, you love her don’t you! I can hear it in your voice”. I told her that yes, I do love her and I know how hard it’s going to be to give her up. But I was at my limit as far as pets go, and although I love this dog dearly, I can’t afford to keep her in the manner she deserves, at least not for long, and I don’t have time to rehabilitate her. I will place her in this rescue, knowing she will be in good hands with a group that is large enough to take care of the enormous vet bills they incur on many of the animals they bring in. She will be rehabilitated, spayed and treated for her heartworm disease and eventually placed into a loving home. In the end, our hearts get broken, but her life is saved. I guess that’s why we rescue. We can’t save them all, but one at a time, we can make a difference.
My eternal thanks to Troy Routzhan, Brad Summers, Sheila and all the staff at Country Critter Care for their help as well as thanks to the neighbors out there who kept the vet notified of sightings, and who did their best to help out. Thanks to Casey Werts for allowing me to be part of this little girl’s life even if just for a little while.

March 10, 2008 Kids Are Just Too Funny

March 10, 2008

Kids Are Just Too Funny

Last week the little girl down the street came over to "help" me because she was bored at home. She's 9. While she was chatting to me, she mentioned that her Grandma doesn't want her to become a dog groomer, but she likes working with dogs. I told her, “Well you could always become a veterinarian.”
“I can’t!” she replied with some shock in her voice.
“Why not?” I asked her.
"Because I eat meat” she replied sheepishly.
After I stopped laughing, I said, veterinarian, not vegetarian!
Did I mention she's blond?
You know, it makes a mother proud to hear her children say they are going to grow up to be just like her. My boys have always been exposed to animals of all sorts, and they have always been very gentle and compassionate kids when it comes to critters. My youngest tells me he’s going to grow up to be a dog groomer, and he’s also going to work at McDonalds, and be a firefighter like his dad and build cars too. Clearly, this is going to be one very busy man when he grows up.
My oldest son has actually had a crash course in grooming one day when I realized I had accidentally overbooked myself and I needed someone to help me bathe dogs FAST! Much to my surprise, he did a very good job! He liked it so much, he is ready to do it again for me. I promised him that if there was time this summer, I’d take him up on it. He does have that entrepreneurial spirit I admire. My youngest son has that spirit too. So much so that on heavy trash day when people were “shopping” in our trash, he was busy running them down and saying “Hey! You have to pay for that!”
I suppose selling trash is a good way to create income when you are 7.
He’s such a salesman when he’s in my boutique and clients are checking out, he’s busy pulling stuff off the shelves and informing them that their dog needs this or that, and he’s always ready to hand them a business card of mine too.
I had a client bring along her adorable little boy who was 6 when she came to have her kitty groomed. The little boy also had brought along his toy stuffed dog to play with while he waited. He talked to the kitty, and petted him and told him you’ll be alright, sympathized with his kitty when he meowed. He was sure to mention that he "helped" me groom his kitty and was expecting something for his hard work. I gave him some kitty toys for his kitty and him to play with and I put a bow on his toy doggie before he left and that made his day.
A few years ago, another mother had brought her dog in to be groomed and her child came with her and fell in love with my collie Brittany. Brittany was the ultimate kid dog. She loved kids! She would take any form of torture from children because she felt it was her job to watch over them. She truly was "Lassie". It was so cute because that little boy lay down on the floor and put his head on Brittany, his pillow. I swear she had a smile on her face. I wished I had my camera handy for that. She was in heaven!
When my youngest was an infant, I put a blanket on the floor and the baby on it and Brittany stood over him, protecting him from anyone who came near. There she stood proudly over my baby, in all her beautiful Collie glory, with long flowing hair. She was his protector and guardian and there she stood, with her head held high when the baby reached up and grabbed a handful of her hair on her belly and pulled. I could see her wince, but she continued to stand there and take it, because that was her job. She wouldn't dream of biting. Obviously, I couldn’t allow her to be hurt, so she got a haircut for her own protection.
Kids and dogs go together like peanut butter & jelly. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. There is nothing cuter than to hear a toddler say his dog’s name, “Pwincess”, “Mowwy”, or “Wex”. I love to see the look in their eyes when their dog licks their face. I’m sure that dogs love kids because they are such great sources of food too. Hey, someone’s got to clean the floor, and those hands! I fondly remember when my kids were toddlers and would carry around dry cereal, one for me, one for the dog. Let’s not forget ice cream cones, most kids eagerly share their cones with the family dog. While that vision grosses me out, kids are so pure and loving that they don’t seem to mind a little dog slobber, provided that “Wex” doesn’t eat it all.
So next time you’re in need of some spirit lifting, ask a child about his dog and see where the conversation takes you. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.