Category Archives: Rescue Happenings

Fostering is Rewarding

Shetland Sheepdog
This is Max!
Shetland Sheepdog
And this is Pitusa!

We have had foster dogs again! It has been a long time. Two and a half years to be exact. Our last foster dog was Claire, and you know how that went since she is the most recent addition to our pack.

We haven’t fostered much in recent years. Once we got Zekie, he was all we could handle with the other dogs. (Zekie the Wonder Dog) He has calmed some over the years he has been here, or maybe we are just used to him. There’s also the miracle of Prozac in his life. (Good News-A Somewhat Calmer Zekie Bear) After Zekie was with us for about two and a half years we fostered again when our rescue group received an influx of five dogs at one time. One of those was Claire, who came into rescue with the name of Topanga! She never left.

I want to say that she was here for so long because of Covid isolation that I couldn’t bear to give her up. In fact, I have claimed this for a long time. However, I fear that the truth is closer to…now that I am retired and home with the dogs all the time, I get too attached to them and can’t let them go. And so, between that and the fact that we had six dogs, we took a sabbatical from fostering dogs.

We lost our oldest pack member, Nikki, last autumn at 14 years of age. (Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants: A Tribute) That put us back down to only five dogs. We made the decision that we could do short-term fostering again if the need arose. And we got the call that there was a need last week. Next thing I knew, I was in my car on the way to pick up two shelties from our rescue’s intake coordinator. They are named Max and Pitusa. I know, I was surprised by the female’s name too. Apparently, Pitusa means “sweet, funny little girl” in Spanish. And as I discovered, she is aptly named.

Max and Pitusa were sent to a boarding kennel because their owners were no longer able to care for the dogs due to their own failing health. They are one male and one female Shetland Sheepdog. They are 10 years old and appear to have led good lives and been well cared for. I am unclear as to whether they are siblings, but they are a bonded pair. And they already had a new home awaiting them. They just needed somewhere to stay from Wednesday until today (Monday), when transport was arranged.

This was the perfect set up for me, and they turned out to be perfect house guests. They were well mannered, sweet, friendly, and a little playful. I picked them up last Wednesday and put them into crates in the back of my car for the trip home. We didn’t get far down the road before the whining and yipping started. I put a podcast on my cell phone and the dogs quieted down for the rest of the 40 minute trip home. When I got home all of our dogs were outside except for Shelby who doesn’t do the pasture anymore. I brought Max and Pitusa inside and they met Shelby and our three cats. The new dogs were perfectly behaved, briefly sniffing the other animals and then keeping to themselves. Shortly thereafter, I brought the rest of our dogs inside in groups of two to meet our guests. There were some brief bouts of sniffing and that was it. Dogs, okay, cats, okay. Oh, look, a soft bed to lay down on.

At bedtime, I put the two foster pups in crates side by side in the dining room. They did quite a bit of whining and woofing. It took me a number of times coming back downstairs to squirt them with a water filled squirt bottle for barking to get through the night. I discovered that the crates were the problem for these two. I don’t think they had ever been crated before judging from their reactions. As I got to know them, I discovered that they were so well behaved that the only thing we used the crates for were mealtimes. We crate dogs at mealtimes to ensure that everyone eats their own food and no one else’s. It also prevents food related scuffles between dogs. Max and Pitusa were fine at night without being crated and we even went away and left them loose in the house or while we were working outside. No trouble at all. Let me point out that this is NOT typical for foster dogs, or any new dogs, coming into an unfamiliar house. I don’t believe I have ever left any dogs uncrated until they have been at our house for some time, and I am confident that all will be well. It just goes to show that there is always an exception, or in this case, two.

Max and Pitusa acted like they had always lived here from the moment they walked in the door. They got along with everyone, showing absolutely no aggression. They were completely relaxed, drinking from the water bowl with the others, following the humans from room to room with the others, running down the back stairs and out the door to do their business when everyone else did. They blended right in.

Shetland Sheepdog
Pitusa snoozing on the couch.

From the first day, Pitusa would come up to either my husband or me and paw us so that we would pet her. She would also give us a big grin to let us know that she was happy to have our attention.

Shetland Sheepdog
Max giving me a Class A smile!

Max was also good at giving happy grins. His favorite thing to do in the evenings was to sleep with his head on my foot. I think I loved it as much as he did.

The only notable difference with having these two here was in trying to navigate the house when all the dogs were laying down. Seven dogs take up a bit more real estate than five. It was a bit of an obstacle course trying to move from room to room. As soon as Max realized that I was going somewhere, he got up to follow me anyway. And these pups are only around 25 pounds, so they didn’t take up a lot of room.

We greatly enjoyed their stay, and we got to show them off. We are a family of dog lovers. My mother-in-law came to meet them one day and my daughter came the next day to meet the new dogs. So, I anticipate that we will be doing short-term fostering again since it was such a success. I doubt that the next dog will be as easy as these two, but that is not necessary. We do what we can for the rewards of being able to make a difference. I even told our intake coordinator, if we get a dog that comes into rescue and has a home scheduled but just needs some work before they are ready for placement, I think we are up for it!

I dropped Max and Pitusa off this morning for the next leg of their transport and they are probably in their new, permanent home as I write this. I am sure they will be happy. We found a home where they can stay together with one of our previous adopters, so I know they will be well loved. Have a good life little ones! It was a joy having you here, and I even got to include you in my post for National Dog Day.

National Dog Day
Our resident dogs at the time of National Dog Day.

A Dog Rescuer’s Point of View on Puppy Mills

Image from Facebook

You may get a puppy from a puppy mill and it turns out fine, so you think what’s the big deal.

Your thought process says, “My puppy is healthy and all is well”. That’s great but where did that puppy come from? I’m betting the parents are not well. They are are probably living in squalid conditions and receiving little to no veterinary care. You’ve seen the photos. I’ll spare you those here. But, look at the offenses documented above.

Why wouldn’t the kennel owners provide veterinary care to the dogs? Because the dogs are seen as a product and spending money cuts into the profit margin. The dogs are a commodity and it is cheaper to get another one than put money into the adult dogs that live there. Ditto for any puppies that cannot be sold for a profit. Compassion and emotional well-being are not a factor that is considered.

Your puppy mill dog may be perfectly healthy and be a fine companion. But by buying from this source you are promoting the system and allowing it to go on. Each puppy sold provides more money for these people to continue with what they do.

Some people buy their puppy directly from the puppy mill farm. They see the conditions the dogs live in and pay for that puppy and take it home to get it out of poor circumstances. This is a double-edged sword. You save the puppy you went to meet, but you feed the system. It continues with the parents left behind and new generations of puppies born into suffering. I would not condemn anyone for choosing to buy the puppy and save it after you have fallen in love with it. I don’t know what the right answer is. But you should have the full knowledge of what you are doing before you make the decision.

I am the President of a local breed rescue for Northeast Ohio. I have seen some of the dogs who make it out of the puppy mills. We rarely get puppies from any source. When it comes to puppy mill farms, we get the breeders and the dogs that didn’t work out as expected. The dogs who didn’t produce enough puppies or they have health problems that the owners don’t want to deal with. They come to us generally in poor physical condition and they have not been socialized.

These dogs are afraid of people and life in general. They are afraid of going outside. They are afraid of coming inside. They are afraid of stairs, petting, and direct eye contact. Our rescue had one who would only eat in the dark, after the rest of the household had gone to bed. These are the dogs that usually stay in rescue for a year or more. They go to homes where people are willing to live with their issues. Sometimes, they stay with their foster families forever, because we don’t want to subject them to the trauma of going through it all again. Also, it is not easy to find the special families who are willing to work with these dogs. If they do get adopted, there is the possibility of them being returned.

The average dog owner wants a dog that they can do things with, like go to the dog park, take a leisurely walk around the block, and snuggle on the couch. Many of these puppy mill survivors will take many months or years of work before they get to this point. Some will never make it.

There are those puppy mill survivors who are able to integrate into a normal life with a bit of retraining and lots of love. If you become the owner of such a dog, the rewards are great. Knowing you have turned life around for a dog like this is a feeling like no other.

Some rescues and shelters frown on buying purebred dogs from reputable breeders. They think the only answer is adoption from a rescue or shelter. And I agree, adopting from rescues and shelters is indeed a wonderful thing! I recommend people looking for dogs, check into adoption first. There are many wonderful dogs awaiting their forever homes. Many of them have no issues whatsoever and are there through no fault of their own. Purebred and mixed breed dogs who would fit into many homes seamlessly.

And I think there is also a place for the reputable breeder as well. The good breeders go to great lengths to plan their litters. They take great care to make sure their dogs are healthy and receive prenatal care and general veterinary care. They may do genetic testing if it would be beneficial. They breed for maximum health and to maintain breed standards. These dogs and puppies are housed in good and safe places, often the breeder’s own home. The resulting puppies have been handled and are used to people. The mother dogs only produce a few litters, so their bodies do not wear out. And when the puppies are gone, the adult dogs are still a part of the breeder’s family life. These puppies may cost a little bit more, but it is an investment in the health and quality of the dogs. And reputable breeders take their puppies or dogs back if they do not work out or the buyer cannot keep the dog at any time down the road. They will take the dog back until they can re-home it, or they may decide to keep it.

Sometimes our rescue will even refer people to a reputable breeder. We may not have an available dog that is right for every situation. If we are not sure our rescued dogs are good with small children, we may refer them on to someone who has puppies. The children and puppies can grow up together. If someone wants a dog for a specific activity like agility or herding, we may refer them to a breeder who specializes in dogs who were breed for this. When the dog is a good fit for the home, things tend to work out.

If you plan to make a canine addition to your home, think about how you expect your life with a dog to look. Do you want a companion? A working partner? A running buddy? Pick a dog that is likely to fulfill the plans you have. Be willing to put in the work.

And above all, consider where they come from. By making an informed choice, you have the ability not only to set yourself up for success, but to play a part in ending puppy mills and the suffering that takes place. YOU can make a difference!

Transformation of a Foster Dog

Claire the sheltie relaxing
Claire hanging out at home

Claire has been with us for a year now. She came to us as a foster dog last January. She was turned in with four other dogs from the same owner. The elderly owner knew that she was reaching the point where she could no longer give the dogs the care they deserved. So she made the heartbreaking decision to turn the dogs over to our sheltie rescue group. I really felt for this lady because these dogs were members of her family.

Claire became a permanent member of our family over the summer. She was with us longer than expected because of the pandemic. When there was finally a  serious inquiry into adopting her, I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t let her leave. Luckily for me, that adoption fell through, so I didn’t have to let her go. I remember when things were up in the air. I spent an afternoon sobbing while weeding the vegetable garden and thinking about her departure. The neighbors must have thought that I had received bad news and had some dread disease the way I was crying. So, once it was determined that she wasn’t leaving, we adopted her.

She has undergone a transformation in her time with us. Not only has her coat become shiny and plush, but she has developed an outgoing personality. Upon her arrival, she was quiet and shy. This lasted the first few months. She kept to herself and didn’t interact much with the other dogs and did not seek attention from us either. Boy, have times changed. Now Claire comes up to us and pokes us with her nose for attention. She is very persistent. And she will put her front feet in your lap and sit beside you demanding that you pet her. If you don’t, you get “nosed” repeatedly.

Claire the sheltie relaxing with daddy

Claire relaxing with daddy

We are still working on obedience commands. She has mastered the sit.  And when I tell her to come, she approaches me and stops at the half way point. Any thing else is currently beyond her. We continue to work on commands and know that one day, she will get there.

Dogs playing frisbee in the snow
Claire and Baxter playing in the snow

Claire has recently developed enough skills that she is a pack member, playing with our five other dogs. At first she didn’t understand respectful boundaries in regards to the other dogs’ food and toys. Fortunately, our other dogs our quite tolerant of new dogs. They have survived enough foster dogs that they cut a new dog some slack until they learn the ropes.

I just put the dogs outside for a minute. Claire and our sheltie mix Zekie (Zeke the Wonder Dog) were chasing each other in circles and playing. And when the other dogs play frisbee, Claire tries to join in. She has yet to grasp the idea of picking up the frisbee, but she has a grand time running and barking with the rest of the pack.

I’m sure the changes in her will continue and we will enjoy watching the development. We are blessed to have her.

A Memory Captured

Super Weasel

This is a sketch I drew of one of our foster dogs a number of years ago. I know it’s no great piece of art, but it captured a memory.

This was a foster dog that came to us with the name of Lawrence. Our neighbor Larry had recently passed away and I felt odd standing in our yard repeatedly saying “Lawrence, do you have to pee?” Not to mention, it was a formal name for a one year old sheltie. He had a vey slender build and was always jumping up into the air. He especially liked to jump up and hit me in the butt with both his front feet when I would turn around to walk away. I often turned and said “You little weasel.” This eventually led to me affectionately calling him by the moniker Weasel.

Hence, this sketch with “W” on his front that I call Super Weasel.

He was a wonderful little dog that I loved dearly. I still remember tearing up when we left him at his new home. He went to a great family that also loved him dearly. He was renamed Scotty and became best friend and companion to a young girl. He became a 4-H dog and went on to run lots of agility. I couldn’t have asked for a better home for him.

Scotty left us to go to the Rainbow Bridge much too soon. I am still happily acquainted with his family, and that young girl is now an adult who has since adopted another sheltie from our Rescue.

Sometimes You Get It Right

Do you ever feel like fate has a hand in your life and when you follow your gut instinct, sometimes you get it right?

I recently did away with our landline and switched that number over to my cell phone. The old cell number is now defunct. I felt that it was important to maintain the old landline number because it has been used for our dog rescue business and is printed in numerous places so that people can reach us when they need help. I could have replaced it with another number, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. It would have been a fair amount of work and just didn’t seem right.

Well, I got a call today from someone in our Rescue family. They fostered and adopted a dog from us recently and this was not their first dog from us either. Rescue members become a real community and like family. I would not have received the call if I had not kept that phone number. The changes would not have been updated to our documents yet.

Our Rescue friend’s wife had passed away unexpectedly two days ago. We talked for a bit and I was able to offer condolences and some kind words. I was blessed to hear how the dog he has from our Rescue group comforted him. He thought we should know what happened and I am touched that he shared this with us. I hope I was able to bring him a small bit of comfort in this difficult time.

I have long said that rescuing dogs, is helping people too. I am blessed to do both.

A Home With Friends

My post last week about Maizie generated lots of interest. You can read it here if you missed it. A Heart of Gold

Rest assured Maizie enjoyed her life here. She became a permanent member of our family the day we received her diagnosis of kidney failure and found out her time was limited. She loved going out to the pasture with the other dogs and coming back in to sleep on the dog bed.

As many of our animals do, she seemed to enjoy the Christmas tree. I think it has something to do with the lights. Even with kidney failure and occasional infections, she never messed in the house. She was such a good girl. And she always greeted me with a smile when I opened the door to let her back inside.

Maizie developed a special bond with our cat Lacey. They could often be found sleeping together. Maizie passed before Lacey. When Lacey passed a year or two later, I buried her with Maizie’s ashes in our little pet cemetery. She earned this right as a part of our family and the two friends were together again.

Maizie’s time here was happy. She was only visibly failing for the last few days. The rest of the time she enjoyed doing her goofy gallop around the yard with the other dogs, playing, going on walks, getting lots of petting, and sleeping on a warm bed with her friends. Good dog Maizie, good dog.

A Heart of Gold

This is Maizie. She was our foster dog seven years ago and passed to the Rainbow Bridge after spending a little over a year with us. She had a heart of gold. Following is what I wrote at that time.

Dear Person Who Abandoned this Senior Dog,

Maizie was found by the pound and when they sent you a letter to come and get her, you did not come. She spent 30 days in the pound kennel waiting for you before the efforts of two rescue groups brought her to our house as a foster dog. Today we discovered that she has kidney failure and will live out the rest of her life with us however long that may be. What lesson am I supposed to learn from this? Perhaps to have compassion for you and not be judgemental? I will work on that.

I know that I have been blessed to know this dog who is sweet, loving, and grateful for every bit of attention. She smiles at us constantly and is one of the happiest dogs I have seen. Occassionally she will try to play and has a small, joyful hop to her step. Our lives have been enriched by knowing this kind dog.

My dreams will be sweeter knowing that I have helped and loved this girl. May you be able to sleep at all.

Welcome Home!

This is the newest member of our family! Meet Claire. She has been our foster dog for the past 6 months so if you know us, she’s not new around here.

I honestly did make a good effort to adopt her out. Our rescue isn’t doing home checks right now because of the pandemic. Over the past three months I did speak to previous adopters about her but the time and situation wasn’t right for any of them.

Mercifully, after speaking to the last potential adopter last week, they decided the timing was not right. I say mercifully because after I got off the phone with them before they had decided, I fell apart at the thought of Claire leaving us.

I don’t know if I’ve changed? Or I lost my edge after taking a year and a half fostering break after Zekie came to us? Or if it’s due to the fact that I’m home all the time now? Or if it’s just Claire. But the thought of her leaving is unbearable.

This does mean that we are on a moratorium from long term fostering for now. We will still be available for fostering those shelties that only need one or two weeks here.

So Claire is home! As you can see, she is quite happy about this. And so am I.

A Day in My Life

Today was one of those days where I got a lot of necessary things done. Those things that you don’t like to do, but it feels good to have them done.

Our township provides a dumpster that is at the township garage for one weekend each year for spring cleanup. Anyone in the township can use it to dispose of large items, until it is full. And you need to get there quick, before it gets full. Today was the start of that weekend. I hauled two loads up to the dumpster for disposal, consisting of an old, musty Christmas tree, a couple pieces of decomposing wicker furniture, and various odds and ends.

This afternoon, I spent a few hours doing various forms of paperwork for our dog rescue group. I worked on some financial paperwork, some filing, and some educational material. Not fun, but things that are necessary.

And since I was on a roll doing dog stuff, I decided to give three of our dogs their annual DHLPPP-type shots that were in the refrigerator. Followed by cleaning litter boxes and picking up poop outside. I clean up our dog yard every time the dogs go outside now, because we have two who apparently consider themselves to be connoisseurs of poop. Even so, I sometimes run around with the scoop yelling “drop it” while chasing the offender. It’s a fine line between following the defecating dog around closely enough to get there before one of the other dogs grabs the result, but not so closely as to interrupt the dog doing his business. Such is my life.

As a reward for a productive day, I made Indonesian stir fried noodles for supper. Noodles, vegetables, and fish. Yum!

Just a day in my life.