Friday, November 4, 2011

The Maria Project - Part Two

About a week went by before I heard from "The Farm". It seems it was love at first sight for Maria and resident dog "Ollie".

And on July 28th, Maria delivered ELEVEN puppies. She only had 9 nipples. Do the math. But her foster parents tried to help out as best as they could, rotating the puppies so everyone got a turn and even trying to bottle feed the tiniest runt. Alas, that itty bitty one was whisked away over the Rainbow Bridge leaving 10 perfect siblings behind for Maria, Ollie and the human helpers to take care of.

What a family!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Maria Project - Part One

"Maria" as she has come be to me known far and wide was the very first pregnant dog to be sent to foster care from Town Lake Animal Center. She came in as a dreaded "bite dog" - after having been reported as biting someone who had been feeding a bunch of stray dogs in his neighborhood along with his other dogs.  When I met Maria for the first time she was timid, a little nervous and she looked to have a bloated belly - a sure sign that a "street dog" had an advanced case of heart worm disease and that dim prognosis along with the "bite history" made the chances of her leaving TLAC alive pretty slim.

When I got back to my desk to look at her notes in the database I was surprised to find she was heart worm negative! I also took a very close look at the bite record. It seemed to me like this could be a case of mistaken identity. For one thing, the victim of the bite said the "brown pitbull" that bit him had been lactating. Maria, clearly was not . . . . yet. Uh oh. I put two and two together and realized we had a pregnant dog on our hands. Regardless of whether or not she was "guilty" she had to be quarantined for 11 days to check for signs of rabies as state law insists. After the 11th day, I met her again and she was showing signs of a cold. Even if it was early enough in her pregnancy to spay her, we couldn't spay her if she had any sort of respiratory illness, it just wouldn't be safe. So another 14 days of treatment go by and now, she is clearly about to "pop" any day.

But who would take a pregnant dog? I didn't want her to have to deliver puppies at the shelter, but not many rescue groups could take on a good sized dog about to have a large litter of puppies - the larger the dog, the bigger the litters. And one of my foster homes? Yikes, I didn't know if ANY of them would be equipped for such a big long job. But I had to try.

I circulated her story and this video far and wide, in an attempt to get someone to take her. Finally a foster application came through that was interested in fostering her. But they lived far away - in Adamsville. How was this going to work? How would the puppies get their regular shots? What if someone got sick or needed to be seen by our vets? I called up the potential foster home and voiced my concerns. Bess stated they lived on an organic farm and came to Austin EVERY Wednesday and Saturday to sell their wares at the local Farmer's Markets! Problem solved!

The next day, her partner Carlon came to Austin to pick up Maria. I took Maria back to vet services to get her rabies shot and microchip and walked her up to meet Charlon for the very first time. While usually timid with new people, she crawled right into his lap. My eyes filled with tears as I saw the look on his face - it was literally love at first sight! They cuddled together in the lobby as I ran to get my camera.

Carlon told me all about "The Farm" and how she would have a big brother Ollie and a little sister too. How he'd been around dogs his whole life and delivered many a litter of various animals. I knew Maria was in extraordinary hands. He told me he was at the farm all the time, she would rarely be alone and they had already set up a little place for her inside.

I couldn't believe my luck. Tears of joy were streaming down my face as he gently lifted her into the truck beside him and headed back to the farm.

And that was just the beginning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What About Bob ? The Happy Ending

Well of course Margot the Foster Mom couldn't leave Bob at the shelter - she picked him up that afternoon and took him back home.  A full scale marketing blitz took place the likes of which we hadn't seen then or since. Bob was all over Facebook, craigslist, one of the volunteers even created a OCR code that could be read by smart phones to tell Bob's story. There were flyers up all over town about him. There was no doubt about it, he needed his new forever home and he needed it FAST. 

Well, all the marketing did the trick and it wasn't long before the perfect adopter stepped forward.  Margot, with the sting of his first adoption gone awry still biting, left no stone unturned during the adoption interview. She consulted with other volunteers and shelter staff to make sure this would be a better match. Bob had been through so much, would going to yet another unsuccessful home be more than he could bear? 

We all waited anxiously for word after he got adopted and finally, we got the following letter:


I'm still trying to get our little Bobby to sit still and smile long enough to get a picture of the whole family but here are some updated pictures of him from last night after a long walk where he did very well pottying and I actually got some tail wagging in addition to what I have termed his "smiley face" :). He is slowly becoming more adventurous on the leash and likes to sniff around in the grassy areas of our complex. We take him for walks about 3 times a day including one walk that is mostly for exercise right after work.  He is getting more comfortable in our home and I think he knows that this is his house now, because he feels comfortable enough to hop up on the couch with me while I'm watching TV, lay by our feet (Instead of underneath the coffee table, which is where most of these pics are taken) if Phillip and I are both on the couch. We did have some hiding behaviors with Bobby hiding underneath our bed and not coming out when called, but we remedied the situation by starting to 'store' things underneath our bed and we haven't had any trouble again. He slept very well all through the night last night in bed with us at the foot of the bed. When Phillip got up this morning at the god-awful hour of 4:30/5ish Bobby promptly took his spot on the bed and proceeded to cuddle against me for the rest of the morning. He seemed very calm when I left this morning and we have started to move his food out from underneath the coffee table to teach him that the whole apartment is safe for him to be in so we shall see how he did on coming out from underneath the dining room table and eating. I also turned the radio on for him today to 93.3 and am listening to the station myself today to make sure all of the music is as calm as I think it is (and because I'm a crazy doggie momma and want to make sure that our little pooch is doing well!). He has started to sniff at toys and was very close to playing with some other dogs over the weekend. Overall, the adjustment has been going very well and we are SO happy to have him in our home! Both Phillip and I love him so much already! 

Bobby has his first vet appointment tomorrow at 8:30a at Research Pet Hospital on Duval and 183 for his overall wellness check-up. I am trying to find a good groomer to take him to to get his undercoat brushed out nicely (in spite of my brushing, his undercoat is shedding a lot so a little trip to the groomer will be good), as well as his teeth brushed, ears cleaned, and nails clipped. In a couple of weeks when Bobby feels secure in his attachment to us we are going to start training classes with him to strengthen our bond as well as teach him some of the basics. Our plan during training classes is to start researching some doggie-day care places where, idealy, we would like to take him every other week for a day to continue increasing his socialization skills. He was receptive to our friends' dogs on Sunday and was relatively content to watch them play with several movements to play himself. I don't think it will be long before he is out and playing with the other dogs!

Just wanted to give all of you an update on how our favorite boy is doing. Once we get a good family picture I will send it your way!

Hope y'all have a great day and enjoy the pics!


Monday, October 31, 2011

What About BOB? - Part 2

It didn't take too long for Bob to find a foster home. One of amazing dog volunteers stepped up saying she would give him a try. She picked him up after he got neutered and he settled right in with just a few little bumps in the road. He really enjoyed her two dogs and started to really relax away from the shelter. 

In fact, he was doing so well, his Foster Mom brought him to the shelter one Saturday morning to talk him up and try to find him a new home. As if by magic, a boy and his dad fell in love with him on the spot! They wanted to adopt him right away! Of course, we took pictures!

To ease the transition for Bob, his Foster Mom Margot met them at a local Petco. Here is the report of how things went: 

I really liked how confident Bob walked around in the store with his new dad and I felt good about the adoption, it even made me stop crying. Bob did not even pull the leash to go with me when I left. About an hour or two later, I received the horrible call that Bob had jumped off the 2nd story balcony and ran into the woods next to his complex. I drove over there and we started walking in the woods, calling Bob's name constantly. The dad's son needed to get out of the heat after an hour but I stayed and walked around all afternoon and tried to go in all kinds of directions, until it got dark.

It was at that point that the incredible team of dog volunteers went into ACTION. Using Yahoo groups and Google docs to stay in touch with each other, posters were hung all over the area, a craigslist ad was posted, the local home owners group was contacted and at least 4 times a day a volunteer would track around where he had been seen last. It seemed he was traveling far distances across the green belt, he was spotted all over the place. The volunteers even checked the homeless camps in the greenbelt, begging anyone to keep an eye out for Bob. 

Over a week went by and the sightings continued. Volunteers were leaving food and water out where they thought he would be. After all this time, drastic measures had to be taken. They decided they would set a humane trap for Bob. He was getting hungry - someone had seen him eating birdseed! So they felt sure with a stinky enough morsel of food, they could lure him into the trap. 

Again, four times a day, volunteers were checking the trap. In the hot Texas heat, if he DID get trapped, he could overheat very easily, even though the trap was covered and in the shade and had water waiting for him, it could still be very dangerous. Volunteers were still fielding calls and e-mails about "Bob sightings" - what an amazing group of folks!

And all their work paid off - exactly TWO weeks after he escaped - Bob was trapped!

He was transported back to the shelter - hungry, filthy and exhausted, Bob had been found and was safe at the shelter.

But of course, that was not the end of the story . . .  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What about BOB? - Part 1

When Bob entered the shelter in July it was immediately obvious that he would not do well in the shelter. He was not eating, he huddled at the back of his kennel shaking and giving a big scared "whale eye" to anyone who looked at him.

While the shelter has nothing against scared dogs, we know that often they are SO scared they are forced to snap and even bite if pressured so many of us just left him alone, gave him some time to "decompress" after having gone through what - we would never know.

But after several days, he remained not eating, shaking and scared. It was torture to see a dog in such a level of stress. That was when a handful of brave volunteers started to gain his trust. First, they would just sit in his kennel with him, throwing tasty treats his way, singing softly to him and one volunteer simply brought a book and would sit in her kennel and read softly to him, not pushing him, not asking him to do anything he didn't want to do, just being with him and showing him he had nothing to fear from us humans. Slowly but surely he started coming around and one day, a volunteer got brave enough to carefully slip a leash over his head and coax him out of his kennel. It became painfully obvious he had not been eating as his ribs and back bone were sticking out. Once out of the kennel, he was actually very good on the leash but when assaulted with the barking of the dogs in the kennels around him would pancake flat on the ground and refuse to move.

Clearly this was a dog who was about as under socialized as the come. Undoubtedly, he lived the majority of his life in a backyard with not a whole lot of human interaction and what he did have did not seem to have been very enriching or positive. Had he ever lived indoors? Had he been taken on walks? Did he have any dog friends? Had he ever been around children? Cats? These are questions we would never know the answer to but still had to solve the main and most serious question of "What about Bob"?

Several different dog volunteers approached the Foster Coordinator to see if a suitable placement could be found for him and she went out to meet him for the first time. As she entered the inside of his kennel, his shaking became more noticeable and the look he gave her was not very friendly - not out of aggression, just out of pure unadulterated fear. She went around to the outside of his kennel, treats in hand. She tossed a few in his direction. While he sniffed them , he still wasn't comfortable eating them. Taking cues from other volunteers she began singing, just a few lullaby's, a few love songs she could remember or fake the words to. We'll never know if he liked it or thought it was horrible - Sarah is not known for her singing voice . . . . but he approached her and she slowly slipped the leash over his head and took him out to an exercise pen. This time he did well, didn't pancake onto the ground even once and made it all the way to a small exercise pen successfully. He quickly did his business and began eagerly sniffing around the pen. I few times coming close enough for her to pet him and cuddle the tiniest bit. A volunteer was walking through the courtyard and saw us together. "Hey, this is Bob!" she exclaimed and entered the pen with us. He immediately went to her and seemed to really enjoy the attention and petting he got from the volunteer. The Foster Coordinator, never without her Flip Camera, managed to get some good footage:

The journey - and we had no idea how far this journey would take Bob - was about to begin. Step one, find him a foster home . . . . *to be continued*

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Adventures of Mazzy and Ernie

I have spent the better part of the past ten years traveling all over the world, and when I came back to Austin last summer, I was determined to settle down a little bit,make a home, and get a dog. After a few months back in Austin I started my search for a medium, low shedding older dog. I searched for a couple of months, and finally one spring day in March I found a Wheaten Terrier mix named Chiquita that been dumped by her owners. She was about three years old , super mellow, and low shedding (everything I was looking for). I filled out the paperwork and was told to come pick her up the next day after she had been evaluated by a vet. The next day came and when I showed up at the shelter I was told the devastating news that she had advanced heart worms. Living in a busy active household, I just couldn't take on the financial hardship, or the ability to keep her kenneled and calm after heart worm treatment.

Heart broken I walked around the shelter one more time, and that's when I met my future dog Mazzy. She was a German Shepherd /Schnauzer mix about 8 months old, shed liked crazy, and hyper. She was nothing like the dog I was looking for, but somehow she wormed her way into my heart and came home with me. She has chewed up a number of things , has given everyone in my household Poison Ivy, and has a penchant for rolling in cat poop, but otherwise is one of the smartest easily trained dogs I have ever owned, and gives me lots of entertaining things to tweet about.

Mazzy at the Shelter
At this point I thought I was done in the dog department, then I made the mistake of surfing on the internet this July and came across a plea to adopt dogs at Town Lake during the 100+ degree weather. Someone had dropped off 15 Miniature Schnauzers, and they were over crowded. I went to go check it out, and managed to come home with one of them named Ernie. A three year old, super mellow little guy that we had to teach how to eat of a dog bowl.

Ernie at the Shelter

Mazzy and Ernie in their FURRever home!

Recently my boyfriend proposed and I have settled down even more. My crazy single life has blossomed into long walk's at night and trips to the dog park. I can't convey how rich and rewarding rescuing two dogs from TLAC has been, they filled a void I didn't even know I had. And on top of that both my dogs were practically free and came to me already neutered/spayed and most importantly both were housebroken! I don't know why anyone would look anywhere else for a pet.

We are also moving to Denver soon, so they will have lots of new trails to explore, and I look forward to watching them experience snow for the first time!

Friday, October 28, 2011

It was meant to be!

I just wanted to share a quick story of the awesome pup my husband and I were able to adopt from TLAC. Her name was 'this dog'. She was black, a pitbull and they thought around 8 months old. We came to the shelter to look at a different dog but my husband fell in love!

A shelter volunteer talked to us about her chances of being adopted because pits were not in high demand, nor black dogs. We came back for 3 days and decided that if on the 4th day no one came for her she would be coming home with us.

Day 4 came and we went with the anticipation of wether she would be there or not. Thankfully she was and my husband was so happy. She came home with us that day.

We named her Daisy despite her all black coat.
She now calls 10 acres of farm and a large house to roam her home sweet home.
She has a nice fluffy bed and a cat named Riley to play with.
Our 9th month old son loves her and even though my husband and I always said we would never adopt a pitbull, we are so happy we found this little girl to lighten our heart on this breed.
What a sweetheart!!

Thank you TLAC for giving her a chance and giving us a chance to find a perfect fit for our family!!
The Meyer's