Faith in Fate: Dixie Edition

When I was offered the job at the Humane Society, the decision to accept it or not wasn’t as easy as you might assume.  For one, it would mean that I would go from working a little over part-time to working more than full-time.  It would mean long days alone for my dogs.  It would mean working weekends which I hadn’t had to do in years, and frankly dreaded.  But it also would mean that I would have to facilitate adoptions with none of the background work that I was used to doing through the rescue.

Play Group

In the rescue, when there is a potential adopter, they fill out an in-depth application, we check vet references, and we perform a home visit.  You might remember there was a family interested in Maggie and I thought they were an absolutely perfect fit for her.  Everything checked out and I decided to do the home visit and meet-n-greet all at the same time.  When I got to their home it was, to put it lightly, not in a condition that I would find safe for any dog, let alone one that had a propensity for getting into things she shouldn’t and sending herself to the hospital.  I thank God all of the time that I did that home visit and didn’t just let Maggie be adopted by this seemingly perfect family because there is no doubt in my mind that while they would have adored her, she would have been miserable in this home.  So you can imagine my apprehension when I learned that basically anyone that wants to adopt a dog (or cat) from the Humane Society is allowed to.  Unless their is a note in our system about the person, which only happens if they have been convicted of animal abuse (that we know of), or the person basically tells us they plan to leave the animal chained outside (or worse), we must allow them to adopt the dog or cat of their choice, even if we know it’s not a good fit.  Take a minute and think about just truly frightening that is.  Talk about needing to have faith.

Play Group

While speaking with the director about my concerns, because I truly wasn’t sure if I was going to take the job or just continue on my merry way, volunteering as I saw fit, she told me that statistically speaking, the Humane Society’s return rate was actually lower than most rescues.  I found that hard to believe at first but we went into a discussion about the expectations that adopters have when adopting from a shelter vs. a rescue (this is an entire post for another day) and I realized that it does actually make sense that people would, generally speaking, have lower expectations of a dog coming out of a shelter than one coming out of a foster home.  If the dog exhibited an unwanted behavior, the shelter adopters are theoretically more likely to accept it (and hopefully work to correct it) than rescue adopters.  I know it guarantees nothing, but numbers don’t lie either.  It was enough to convince me, and I (obviously) accepted the job.

Play Group

From January 1st thru today, the Humane Society has adopted about 1100 animals out to homes.  That is significantly higher than most rescues do in years.  And we have also seen returns.  When you’re used to a rescue that only gets a couple of returns a year, and you see a couple in a month, it feels like a lot.  A whole hell of a lot.  I know that statistically speaking it is less than rescues, but it doesn’t make it any less upsetting when a dog you did the adoption for is sitting back in her kennel, scared and confused out of her mind.  For me, my normal emotional reactions go something like this: first incredulity, then a deep raging anger, first at the adopter, then at myself, all with constant underlying sadness, to finally a feeling of hopelessness.  How will things ever change if people keep abandoning their dogs?  Not upholding their commitments?  The last one is a fleeting emotion though, because in my years of doing this work I have learned that for all of the bad people, there truly are more good ones, but it still clutches my chest like a vice grip.  Once these emotions have come and gone there are two that remain: sadness and instead of hopelessness it’s now hopefulness.  I will be sad until the day that dog leaves again but I quickly become hopeful for it’s new family.  Because I have learned to have faith in fate.  And that dog is back because there truly is a much better family for them on their way.  Of this I am sure.

Play Group

You’ll notice that the title is Faith in Fate: Dixie Edition.  I did that because as I was mentally plotting out this post I realized there was no way I could pick just one story to share on the topic.  I decided I would randomly share these stories as a way to remind the public, my fellow animals rescuers, and most of all myself, to continue to have faith in fate.  So, without further ado, I give you the story of Dixie, the first of many wonderful stories I plan to share.

Play Group

Dixie, a scruffy little Schnauzer mix, was transfered to us from a rescue and we knew nothing about her prior to that.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  We knew that she was not well cared for.  Dixie had cataracts, a mammary tumor, hair loss, dental disease, kennel cough, and seriously overgrown toenails.  In short, she was a hot mess.  She was allowed to live in one of the offices; the kennel setting was just to scary for this 7-year-young lady dog.  We all adored her sweet temperament and when a nice woman and her daughter came to adopt her, we were all so excited.  Finally she was going home where she would be doted on like she deserved.  When I walked in to work the next day and learned that Dixie was back, I was flabbergasted to say the least.  “But she was adopted just last night?!  What the hell happened?!”  Turns out the “nice lady” and her daughter got Dixie home where she had the nerve to whine.  Imagine, a 7 year old dog, who had been bounced around, countless times at this point, was confused and whined the first night in yet another new environment.  Remember the emotions I mentioned earlier?  I was pretty much just feeling rage over this particular return.

Play Group

The day Dixie was adopted another woman came in to meet her, just as she was leaving with her new family (for that night anyway.)  She had seen Dixie’s picture and knew that she was the dog she had been searching for.  She was so set on Dixie, in fact, that when she learned Dixie had just been adopted she cried.  In a flash of not-yet-realized genius, we took down her phone number and told her that we would call her if another dog like Dixie came along (something we really never do.)  As soon as Dixie came back we called her and she rushed over, in tears again, but this time from happiness.  Once Dixie’s second adoption in two days was complete I walked out with her new, forever mom.  She gave me a big hug and said, “I’m sorry that we have to rush off, but I have 7 years worth of love and fun to catch her up on.”

Have faith in Fate.

All of the dogs in this post, pictured having a blast in playgroup, are adoptable thru the Jacksonville Humane Society.

We Love: Love!

When Maggie came to me as a foster, Rich was out of town for the summer.  That means we had weeks of bonding under our belt before he was even in the picture.  To say that she disliked the sudden appearance of a man in the house would be the understatement of the century.  She was terrified of him.

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Buddy

I’m pretty sure Rich loved Maggie even before he met her.  Every time we talked over the summer I was telling him all about her and how much she was blossoming.  You would think coming home to a dog quite opposite of the one I had been describing would be a turn off.  Instead, I think it made him love her even more.  Every time she growled at him he would turn around and ignore her per my instructions but he would also say, “It’s okay Maggie, I just want to love you.”  And his favorite line to recite to Maggie, “Love doesn’t divide, it multiples!”

Moo

Eventually the growling subsided and she slowly began to let him sit near her.  Then touch her.  And eventually full on cuddle.  It took almost a year, but finally she got excited and would initiate play with him when he got home from work.  A sight I honestly didn’t know if I would ever see and still makes my heart swell.  Now, Maggie can typically be found cuddled up with her dad; her favorite human in the house.  If not for Rich’s persistent love and devotion to little Maggie, she might never have turned the corner with men.  She still occasionally give a little growl at men she doesn’t know but I am quite pleased with her progress.  She may never run up to a strange man just to give him kisses, but I can live with that.  The most important thing is that Maggie has learned to love love.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from our pack to yours!

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

Some pictures from Buddy’s day:

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You might recognize the pretty little lady from this post.

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I’d say those are some happy pups, wouldn’t you?  If you missed it on Facebook, here is the link to my Etsy shop.  It’s sparse right now, but I plan to add new listings every day or so, so check back often if you think you’re interested!

{Legal Issue} Restraining Dogs in Cars

I am going to NY this weekend and currently suffering from some yucky cold that I can’t kick, so when my hubby called and woke me up at almost 10 o’clock last night to tell me he had lost his cars keys I was less than thrilled, to say the least.  He was at an NBA game downtown and needed me to bring him the spare set.  I decided that if I had to drag my butt out of bed, I might as well bring the dogs along and make it an adventure.  So I folded down the seats, rolled the windows down (but not too far because Buddy has been known to jump out so he can go introduce himself to strangers) and off we went.

Getting downtown was no problem, nor was finding Rich….but getting back?  For whatever reason I took the wrong exit and we ended up going waaay out of the way.  And then a police officer pulled up behind me…and stayed there.  I suffer from the delusion that      I’m always going to get caught when there is a police officer around.  For what?  Who knows.  But my mind was racing.  Was he running my plates?  Was he looking at my “My Pit Bull is Family” bumper sticker and getting ready to pull me over and shoot Maggie?  (I have read one too many sad storied about pit bulls being shot and yes, I’m a “worst-caser”, plus I was sick and tired!)  Could he see the dogs in the back and was getting ready to pull me over for that?  It seems like I remember hearing that they are going to start requiring dogs to be restrained, but I can’t quite remember….then the officer turned and I was safe.  But my mind kept going.  Had I in fact been breaking a law by having the three of them loose in the back of my SUV?  Turns out, Rich had already researched this and I completely forgot to read (and obviously post) what he had learned!  Let’s all find out together:

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There is currently a push for legislation in states to prohibit driving a car with a dog unrestrained in it. The push stems from a fear of dogs causing accidents by interfering with the driver’s use of the steering wheel or pedals, or distracting the driver or from the added damage that can occur when in an accident, that the dog can become a “missile” further injuring itself and/or the occupants of the car. I know in our household traveling with the dogs in the car has lead to more than one red light being run to avoid having to slam on the brakes and making them go flying.

There are seven states that restrict letting dogs or other animals ride in the back of a pick up truck or otherwise open air vehicles. Though many of these statutes can be complied with by putting the dog in a crate in the bed of the truck, or by cross tethering the animal to the truck.

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There are only a few states that currently have any law on the books that can be used to ticket someone that drives with an unrestrained dog inside the car. New Jersey is one such state and a fine of up to $1,000 for someone improperly transporting an animal.  At this time, Florida does not have a specific law on the books for this.

Other states prohibit driving with a pet in your lap. Hawaii has an explicit law prohibiting this conduct and Arizona, Maine and Connecticut can use their distracted driving laws to ticket drivers for this conduct.

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“What do you think? Tell mom! She loves to hear your input!”

What do you think? Is driving with a dog unrestrained in the passenger compartment of the car inherently dangerous, should there be a law against it, or would this just be more needless regulation? Don’t just tell us! In a previous post we linked to this Library of Congress website that allows you to contact your local state legislator. Write them and tell them what you think about potential legislation and then share your thoughts here with us.

Good Enough For You.

So recently I was taking The Moo for a little training walk and stopped to chat with a gentleman that was doing construction on a neighbor’s house.  (This was a training opportunity for Maggie and she did great!)  He kept complimenting Maggie on how beautiful she was and told me how much he loves pit bulls.  In fact, he likes to breed them!  Ugh.  I just didn’t have it in me to go in to preacher-mode at that moment so I kind of just talked about how awesome it is to rescue dogs and we continued on our walk.  After that I decided to take The Moo to the pet store because I was running low on treats (second training opportunity, nailed it again!)  While there, a woman stopped to pet Maggie and told me how her daughter and son-in-law breed pit bulls.  Double UGH!  Twice in like an hour I run into proud back-yard breeds.

I got home and there happened to be an old episode on “Flipping Out” on tv and the main guy was talking about his rescued dogs and how he plans his days around them, etc.  It got me thinking: what other celebrities out there are proud rescued dog owners?  Let’s take a look:

Charlize Theron

Amanda Seyfried

Miley Cyrus

Ryan Reynolds

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Miranda Lambert

George Clooney

Jake Gyllenhaal

In order we have: Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Miley Cyrus, Ryan Reynolds, Hilary Swank, Miranda Lambert, George Clooney, and Jake Gyllenhaal.  A simple google search will show you these are just a few of the celebrities out there that adopt from shelters and rescues, promote adoption rather than buying, and even spend free time volunteering.  These are people that have all the money in the world, yet they choose to adopt.  They may buy a $5,000 designer handbag, but you won’t catch them buying a designer dog.  So if rescued mutts are good enough for them….why aren’t they good enough for everyone?!  Dog are not status symbols.  Let me repeat that: Dogs are not status symbols!  They are family.  They are friends.  And their lives depend on us.  If someone that can afford to hop on a private jet can see that, why can’t everyone see that?

Rescued: The preferred breed of housewives, college students, athletes, and celebrities everywhere.  Good enough for them; good enough for you.  

All images are from Google Images.

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

“When Buddy walks on by, girls be lookin’ like damn, he fly.”

Hound Mutt

“This is how Tag rolls, animal print pants outta control (yeah!)”

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“When Maggie’s at the beach, she’s in a Speedo tryin’ to tan her cheeks (what!)”

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“They’re sexy and they know it!  (Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle…yea!)”

Is it terrible that my naked dogs (you know, sans collars) cause me to spontaneously burst into song?  They get so silly, and then I get so silly….and then things just get weird.  And by weird, I mean I convert LMFAO lyrics to suit the situation.  Eh, whatever.  Happy Wednesday!