Monday, November 26, 2012

Bingley The Patient

Remember when you went away to summer camp and came home with a broken arm, poison ivy, or the world's worst sunburn? For Bingley and Magic, going to Windsong is a lot like human children going to camp. That's really the only place where they can run free in a safe, spacious area. But late in his recent visit to Windsong, Bingley developed a limp--just didn't want to put weight on his front left paw. Because it is almost exactly five years ago since Zephyr developed a limp right after Thanksgiving and it was the first symptom of incurable osteo sarcoma, I was quite concerned. Mike,the proprietor of Windsong, who has seen many canine injuries, thought it looked like a soft tissue injury. I clung to that, all the while re-living our loss of Zephyr. So Saturday, after we unpacked, we took Bingley to the vet. She, too, diagnosed a soft tissue injury, but just to be on the safe side, we had x-rays taken to confirm the diagnosis. The results relieved my worst fears. No osteo sarcoma! However, we are very glad that we had x-rays. They revealed a break in the outside toe of the left front paw. So Bingley is sporting a splint covered by a heavy bandage that goes up halfway to his knee. He's on pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds and is learning a different way to walk. No long morning walks. No walks in the park with Marilyn's pack. We're looking at 6-8 weeks,poor lad. But as Mike says, Bingley is one tough dog, so he is adapting quite stoically.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Little Magic, Happy At Last

John and I were out of town for Thanksgiving week, so I was unable to post on the exact anniversary of Magic's arrival in our home: November 20, 2009.
Every rescue requires time and patience after adoption. Each has their own sad past and defensive behaviors they use to cope. Magic was a Girl With A Reputation at the rescue kennel. Volunteers and staff still talk about how she unlocked two gates and led a little band of escapees across the Greyhound Adoption Center property, until--thank heavens--they were spotted and returned to quarters. Magic was subsequently placed in a foster home that had super secure premises. And we have her insightful foster mother to thank for understanding that Magic was just "making do" as the seventh of seven dogs in her pack. Her foster mother understood that Magic craved much more individual attention than it was possible for her to receive as a member of a large pack. But finding a home for a sight hound mix with a reputation is not an easy thing to do For that little miracle, we have our good friend Marilyn to thank. Marilyn literally walked with me through the traumatic loss of Portia, knew and loved Bingley, and sensed the time when John and I would be able to adopt another companion for Bingley. After John and I visited the GAC kennel and didn't feel any connection to any of the girl dogs available for adoption, Marilyn called and said "Why not Magic?" Of course I knew who Magic was. After all, She was a Girl With A Reputation. But for some reason, I had always been attracted to "fuzzies"--Greyhound mixes with long or rough coated sight hound breeds. Magic, a Greyhound-Scottish Deerhound mix, was a "fuzzie". Her initial days with us were not auspicious. She was visibly mourning the loss of her foster mother and her foster mother's daughter--the first human bonds she had ever formed. She didn't trust men, and she didn't want to be near John--would move if he settled near her. Over the three years she has lived with us, we have seen ongoing blossoming. She loves John and seeks him out for attention. She has come to terms with Bingley's play and actually enjoys it. She is a good little walker on leash. AND, she occasionally, actually plays with a stuffed toy! Today when we picked up Bingley and Magic from the wonderful Windsong Resort for Pets, Mike Dougherty, who knows more about dogs--and especially sight hounds--than any other human, remarked on Magic's transformation. John and I glowed with pride in his compliment for our Grande Duchess. Yes. Adopting a rescued dog takes time--sometimes a very long time--and patience, patience, patience. And the realities of contemporary life seem to militate against the dog-human connection that is necessary for that process. But this Thanksgiving, I am thankful that John and I are in agreement about adopting rescued dogs and that we are able to adapt our way of life to their needs. The rewards are indescribable. So Happy Belated Gotcha Day, Miss Magic. We wouldn't have wanted to miss the pleasure of your company.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beware Of Retractable Leashes!

For a long time, I have loathed retractable leashes. Walking two sight hounds who weigh eighty-one and seventy-eight pounds respectively, I must maintain control of my dogs at all times. I use four foot, reinforced velvet leashes with adjustable loops to wrap around my wrist. Any moving object will get my dogs' attention, and if I am not alert, I will be pulled along by two running machines that can reach forty-five miles per hour in a few strides. A sight I dread is a small dog being walked on a retractable leash. A small animal, dashing about erratically, is the most tantalizing prey for Bingley and Magic. Trying to control them under such circumstances is challenging, and, if I fail, serious injury can result. And I am not speaking only of the little dog. A friend of mine recently told me her story which illustrates a quite different, but equally serious, danger of retractable leashes. My friend is a tall, large-bone lady who is perfectly comfortable riding very large horses and jumping them over hurdles. She is at ease around both horses and dogs, and for years has always had an Australian Shepherd as her canine companion. Her Aussies are beautifully trained and well behaved. Recently, my friend was taking a walk with her sister and her dog. They were in the country-side, following along a gravel road. To give the Aussie a sense of freedom, my friend had her on a retractable leash let out to eighteen feet. What happened next is the intersection of innate dog behavior with physics. The Aussie saw a squirrel before my friend did. My friend does remember being lifted up in the air. Mercifully, she cannot remember the following seconds--or minutes. She came to her senses after having been dragged down the gravel road, her face, arms and one hand bleeding profusely. With help of her sister and husband, she was able to get to an emergency room for treatment. But the healing has been slow and painful. She will be consulting a plastic surgeon. If you are using a retractable leash, I hope I have frightened you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy News

I visit some rescue sites quite often, partly to see what's out there--more bully dog mixes and chihuahua mixes than ever. But name a breed and you'll find it or a mix with the breed in it. One of my favorite rescues is Pet Orphans of Southern California. It's a beautifully run rescue for both dogs and cats, located in Van Nuys, California. It was the alma mater of our first rescued dog, the unforgettable Daphne. Ajay, a small, eleven year old spaniel mix has been on their adoptable list for months, waiting for a home. What a cute dog! Alas, he had the bad luck to lose his home at an advanced age. Eleven year old dogs are very hard to place. But, when I checked the Pet Orphan's site today, I discovered that Ajay has a new home. Congratulations Ajay! and Thank You Pet Orphans for all you do for homeless dogs and cats.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another Needy Dog

A wonderful Rottweiler-Shepherd mix is in desperate need of a home. Another victim of the economy. His human had to downsize into an apartment that doesn't permit dogs. Our Rottie mix is well socialized, house trained, gets along well with other dogs and small animals, walks well on a leash and behaves himself in off-leash dog parks. Frankly, friends, I'm close to tears as I type, because so many of these sad stories come to my attention. And as I read of a new round of lay-offs, I know that things will only get worse for our domestic pets, and rescues will face grim fundraising times. All I can say is: If you are thinking of adding a new canine companion to your life, do not purchase a puppy from any sort of breeder. Show puppies will always find homes and pet stores support puppy mills that are dog concentration camps. Backyard and kitchen breeders need to be ignored until they stop their destructive practices. If you know of a home for this very deserving dog, please contact me at: portiasmom at live dot com.