Annie aka The Sweetest Dog Alive

So, I know this blog is suppose to be about my fostering adventures but since things are are pretty uneventful at my house right now I figure I might as well keep everyone up to date on my mom’s new foster: Annie!

When I first told everyone about Annie last week I failed to mention a key component of the whole story.  Annie wasn’t actually tied under the house.  I think that she was waiting for her family to come back for her.  She had the ability to leave and chose not to.  Instead she chose to live in the dirt, under a house, without food and water, being eaten alive herself by fleas and mosquitos–because that’s where her family was suppose to be and she believed they would come for her.   If this doesn’t speak volumes to the love and devotion that a dog can have for it’s people, I truly don’t know what does.

So how is she now you ask?  Well, little Miss Annie is just about the sweetest dog that has ever graced the face of this Earth.  She walks around my moms house, tail wagging, doing that cute little butt wiggle, with a huge grin on her face.  You can just tell she is so happy.  She wants to be right next my either my mom or her dog Tess (who is a 12 year old Lab and also just about the sweetest thing you could ever meet) which isn’t surprising considering how she came to live with my mom.

Just look at that smile!  It’s no wonder she has won my heart, my mom’s, and the rest of the girls that have met her in the rescue.  All Annie wanted was love and now that she’s got it she is as happy as a clam.  She shows no signs of resentment or fear or anything like that even though she has every reason to.  Instead, she’s just as happy as happy can be!

Annie is starting to heal and already looks so much better with just a bath and regular meals.  She has a pretty severe skin infection and is taking antibiotics for that right now along with a de-wormer.  The vet said we will need to wait to do the x-ray and to start heartworm treatment until she is stronger.  Even though she doesn’t really use her back leg at all she still manages to romp around when they go outside.

So far we have raised a little over $700 for her medical care but we still need at least another $800 (and we are really hoping it doesn’t go beyond that) for her expenses.  It’s not really my style, nor what I intended this blog to be about, but I’m going to ask for more donations anyways.  I want to do every little thing I can to help Annie and right now this is what she needs more than anything.  If you can and are willing to donate, even if it’s $5, it will be SO appreciated.

http://lasthoperescuefl.chipin.com/annie

Thank you so much and please keep praying for her continued improvement!

Little Orphan Annie

This past Friday night I had a mission.  It was simple, find and bring home a little abandoned dog.  Turns out this little dog stole a big piece of my heart.

Earlier in the week the rescue I work with received an email from someone in Colorado asking for our help.  She works for a mortgage company and an inspector of theirs called her to tell her that while inspecting a house he saw a little dog that appeared to be tied underneath it.  He asked her to help and, through the wonderful Internet, she found us.

After work on Friday my brother and I loaded up the supplies that we thought we would need–water, treats, a leash, blankets, and a knife to cut the rope–put the address in my handy-dandy iPhone and hopped on the interstate.  About 45 minutes later we were driving around the country side (Chatahoochee, FL to be exact) and searching for the house.  When we pulled up it looked completely abandoned and I was sure that we had just gone on a wild goose chase.

After circling the house and calling out for a dog but seeing and hearing nothing my brother crawled and looked through a gap in the mess that was surrounding the bottom of the house.  “I see something!”  He whispered after his eyes adjusted.  I told him to back out and let me try since the dog might be scared of men.  After crawling in, holding treats out, and talking really slow and soft I finally saw a little white head poke up from the dirt.  She was about 5 yards back in but I could see her little tail wagging.  She struggled to get up but, after much coaxing, she finally limped towards me.

When she finally got close enough to take a treat out of my head, instead of doing so, she bowed her head down so that it touched my hand.  She was so clearly starved for food but even more than that, she was starved for love.  I slipped a leash over her head and it still took a while (and lots of treats) but she finally crawled through the hole and out into the sunlight.  The way she squinted it was obvious that she had not seen sunlight in days.

As soon as I was able to really see her I started crying.  This poor little dog was in the worst shape of any dog I had ever seen.  She had barely any fur, was completely covered in fleas and sores, had obviously given birth at least once but probably multiple times, and wasn’t using one of her back legs at all.  What did she do?  Look up at me and give me kisses.  Here she was, sick, in pain, and clearly the victim of a long rough life, but she wanted to show me affection.  She had every reason not to, but she wanted the love of a human.

My brother drove us back to town and she cuddled in my lap the whole way.  We took her to the house of a lady that is also part of the rescue, Dana, where she had a little sun room all set up for her.  We gave her a Capstar which kills all the fleas within a few minutes, food, water, and a big comfy bed to lay on.

Later that night she got a bath and Dana sat and talked to her.  She just much more interested in being cuddled and loved than even the food.  Over the weekend she continued to perk up some and this morning she had what could potentially be her first ever vet visit.  She is full of worms, high heartworm positive, has a severe skin infection, and as for her leg, we don’t know yet.  They made the decision to wait on xraying her because they just felt it would be too much stress for her.

Above you can see how much better she looks after just a bath.  Her little tail never stops wagging.  We think she has some Dalmation in her–look at those cute spots!

We decided to name her Annie, like Little Orphan Annie.  She has already stolen the hearts of everyone in the rescue, including me–big time!  She will stay at Dana’s for about another week and then she is actually going to go my mom’s!  Yup, that’s right, my mom is going to foster her!  I’m so excited because this means I will still get to see her and watch her heal but it also means there is a chance my mom will “foster fail” and keep her (fingers crossed).

Just the other day I was so down about how awful people can be but just look at how this turned out.  Someone all the way in Colorado took the time out of their day to find us and together we were able to save this precious life.  Annie has probably never known a kind word or touch but she is finally safe and going to get more love than she ever dreamed of.

If you would like to make a donation to help with what surely will be hefty medical bills it would be GREATLY appreciated.  This is the link to make donations:  http://lasthoperescuefl.chipin.com/annie  (Donations are tax deductable too!)

Little Annie, get ready for all the lovin you can handle!

Dash: Update!

Remember my little baby Dash?  Well he now goes by the big, dignified name of Dashington Aristophanes Leonard.  Above is a picture of him with his new momma, Nikki, at a trip to the vet.

I have been rather frustrated and down lately in regards to rescue stuff.  It just seems to be one thing after another.  People that are moving and can’t keep their dog.  Or they adopted a dog and don’t like how it’s acting.  Or it’s more expensive than they thought.  Or it was their parents but they can’t care for it anymore.  Each and every one of these “cases” weighs very heavily on me and I get so upset.  I realized recently that I have lost site of why I do what I do.  So, to remind myself that I have done some good, I decided it was time to do a happy little update on Dash.

Above is Dash with one of his foster brothers.  Nikki tells me that they are all learning to live and play together nicely.  Dash is much bigger than the other two boys (also rescues that Nikki took in before she married Zack) in the house but they have adjusted to his rambunctous puppy ways and now can even be found snuggling on occasion,

Dash is up to 35lbs, walks well on the leash, is learning tricks, and loves to play fetch.  He is also quite the daddy’s boy and get a very “forlorn” look when Zack leaves.

Of course, he is still a little naughty (hey, he IS a puppy afterall).  At first they had some issues with him marking around the house but since he has been fixed that has nearly stopped.  He also figured out how to open his crate and exploded a pillow all over their house one day.  Here is Dash on the bed where he belongs is NOT suppose to be:

Dash is very social, a fast runner, a cuddle bug, and a wonderful addition to their family, and from where I stand most importantly: alive!  In Nikki’s words, “He completes my trifecta”.

Moral of this story?  Even though I get upset over the ones I can’t save, I have played a part (sometimes small and sometimes big) in saving many and I need to remind myself of that more often.  So happy life my little Dash baby!

A Tragedy in Belfast

So, if you have read my “about” section (or know me in real life), you know that part of the reason I started this blog is because I really want to do my small part to raise awareness about “bully breeds” and hopefully dispel some of the negative perceptions that people have about them.  (I know, you thought I started it because I’m such an amazing writer, right?)  Well with all of the press about what recently happened to Lennox I figured why not throw my two cents in there?

Before I go any further there are about 815,746 places you can go to find information about the Lennox case and some of them have slightly conflicting versions of events so what I am sharing is my best guess at the facts based of what I feel are reliable sources that I have read.  If you have heard something different please understand that I am not claiming to be all-knowing about the case, I easily could have just read a different source than you.

Ok, back to Lennox.  So here is the super short version:  Lennox was a well-trained family dog, a beloved best friend of a little girl, and he looked like a “pit bull”.  The family lives in Belfast, Ireland which has strict BSL (breed specific legislation) but they had Lennox properly licensed as a city dog and he was labeled as an American Bulldog-Labrador mix.  To his extreme misfortune, Lennox looked to dog warden like a “possible pit bull type” which is why they seized him from the family in 2010 even though Lennox had never shown an ounce of aggression.  Over the past two years the family fought tooth and nail to get Lennox back.  The case grew to be known internationally and many famed trainers, behaviorists, and pit bull advocates stepped up to voice their concerns, offer to take Lennox into their care, and some even went and personally evaluated Lennox’s behavior.  Amongst these celebrities are:  Tia Torres of Villalobos Rescue and the show Pit Bulls and Parolees (who I have the extreme pleasure of having not only met but I also got to volunteered for her for a whole week on-site), Victoria Stillwell, and Cesar Milan.

Ultimately the judge on the case followed the advice of the warden, who mind you had no training in behavior analysis, over the evaluations of multiple professionals.  On Wednesday July 11, 2012 after a two year battle, reported isolation and starvation, and neglect at the hand of the authorities, Lennox was destroyed without his family even being allowed to hug or kiss him one last time.  Many people believe that this occurred out of pride and the authorities not being willing to back down or admit that they made a mistake.

As Jim Crosby, a behavior analyst with extension experience says, physical appearance has no bearing on behavior and he has met Cocker Spaniels that are more dangerous than Lennox was.  You can read more about Jim and the case in this insightful post:  http://canineaggression.blogspot.com/2012/07/lennox-gloves-come-off.html

So, why am I even mentioning Lennox?  Because if this case touches even one person and opens their eyes to how ridiculous BSL is, then it’s all worth it.  I would implore all of you to do a little research on your own.  Research more about Lennox.  Research more about pit bulls.  Research BSL.  And if you are fortunate enough to own a pit bull or other “bully” breed, research the laws in your area.  The scary truth is, this could happen to you.

I do not believe that there is such a thing as a bad breed.  I do not believe that any dog is born bad.  I do believe though that bad people exist.  Yes, there are dogs that have hurt and even killed people.  This is a fact, there is no denying that this happens.  But when do we look at the other end of the leash?  When do we stop and ask ourselves if the dog was trained or conditioned to behave that way?  When do we start blaming the humans?

Please, take the time to educate yourself more on breeds and BSL.  Form your own opinion.  Better yet, go meet a pit bull and see for yourself.  Teach yourself to view dogs as individuals, just like people, instead an entire breed or race.

And what about Lennox?  If you have access to the internet (and I’m guessing you do since you’re reading this) I would venture to say that you have probably seen pictures of pit bulls with the words “I am Lennox” across them.  While I understand the point people are trying to make, that this can happen to any beloved family pet, there is something even greater I think you can do.  Go to a shelter and spend some time with a lonely dog.  Give it the love and attention that it undoubtedly is craving.  Help it not be so scared and confused.  Tell him Lennox sent you.

Want to do even more?  Contact me about how you can become a foster and bring that life into your own home and give it all the love it can handle.  Teach it about unconditional love.  Help it forget its bad past.  It will probably be the most rewarding thing you have ever done.

Art of the Dog Walk.

The art of the dog walk–and what an art it is!  As anyone that has ever walked multiple dogs will tell you, it’s no easy feat, especially if you are hoping to not become the laughing stock of rush hour traffic (which is a rule I generally try to abide by).

Fortunately for me, I have pretty well behaved dogs with pretty good manners….most of the time.  That is, unless our arch nemesis Mr. Squirrel crosses our path.  But seriously, I really am fortunate that all three pups walk so well since I don’t have a yard to let them loose in.

Buddy does sometimes want to “lead the pack” and pulls a little too hard so I got him a gentle leader and I have to say, it was a great investment!  No, I am not lazy and didn’t want to train my dog properly.  I got Buddy when he was about a year or two old and no matter how much time I spend working with him (at this point it’s been about six years) I can’t break him of this habit.  So, for the sake of my sanity I eventually gave in and bought the gentle leader.

Of course, people see it and think it’s a muzzle and immediately ask, “Does he bite?!  Is he mean?!”.  I explain to them that he is very friendly and what they think is a muzzle actually does nothing to keep his mouth shut but instead helps me to have a little more control over him.  I mean, if I had a hold of you by your nose I could probably make you do what I wanted too.

I think I could write a 1,000 page novel on the crazy things people say to me while I’m walking them but I’ll save that for another day.  Back to the point: walking dogs.

Of course Tag is my little angel dog and walks like a dream.  Aside from the occasional pull Buddy usually walks pretty well too.  Maggie, with all her new found confidence, is all over the place though.  She likes to zip from side to side and sometimes over or under Buddy and Tag.  It’s hard to get angry because she is so clearly enjoying herself (I swear Buddy and Tag look at me, roll their eyes, and seem to say, “this crazy kid…”).  There are so many new exciting things for her to explore and the fact that she is no longer nervous is great but this is something that we need to address.  I don’t want her acting like she’s never been on a leash when she meets her forever family.

I have a little trick that I do with Maggie.  Since it’s hard to get her to focus with the other two dogs there every time she looks up at my I give her a little treat.  I want to encourage her to “check in” with me often so that it keeps her more focused.  I give her encouragement or gently correct her when she gets too excited.  It seems to be working and I can tell that she really is concerned with making sure that I am happy with her.  She gives me a little look like, “Hey mom, how am I doin?”  It’s pretty darn sweet.

Do you have any tricks that make dog walking easier?