Storytime: Misfit Manor

From Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pets with Disabilities, Vol. II

Misfit Manor

 Shih Tzu

I witnessed a Thanksgiving miracle: my dog, Baxter, took tentative, wobbly, awkward steps with his paralyzed back legs.

The Tuesday before, I had glimpsed some movement. On Wednesday, my partner, Brian, saw the same thing. On Thanksgiving morning, Baxter managed to right himself and began taking some steps.

This is definitely something for which we are thankful.

We had adopted Baxter, a three-year-old Shih Tzu, from the local SPCA. His background is a mystery. Since he had little musculature in his back end, doctors assumed that his spine had been injured some time ago and that the damage was irreversible. He was originally scheduled to be euthanized, but after a caring veterinarian built him a makeshift wheelchair, he was given a new lease on life.

After Baxter was offered for adoption, many people expressed interest in Baxter but left abruptly when told he was paralyzed. Brian and I started receiving messages from concerned friends soon after this. They told us we were the only ones who could save this dog. We already have a house full of misfit animals, so what was one more?

We went to see Baxter at the shelter. He was terrified, shaking pathetically in the back of the cage. We could not leave him there, so after paying a small adoption fee, we walked out with him. No questions asked, no background check. They were glad to get rid of him.

The first week was difficult for Baxter. He was sullen, but as soon as he got in that cart, his tail (which, by the way, works just fine) wagged and wagged. He became confident and social. He started looking us in the eye. After a few weeks, he decided a house of full of crazy animals and a few people was not so bad after all.

We took Baxter to a specialist and learned about exercises that would strengthen his legs. Then we took him home and started working with him, which brings us to Thanksgiving—when he took a few steps, and we witnessed our miracle!

Domenick Scudera

Storytime: From Beirut to the ’Burbs

Originally Published In Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Golden Retrievers, Vol. II.

Rescue Organization: As Good As Gold

From Beirut to the ’Burbs

Golden Retriever International Transport

From a pet store to the streets. From the streets to a shelter. Then, from the shelter to a new home…6100 miles away!

We don’t know for sure what happened to land six-month-old Isabella out on the streets of Beirut. A mix of Golden Retriever and what looks like Saluki, Isabella often garners remarks of, “She has hair between her toes,” when people first meet her.

According to an article by Barbara Cooke in the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Patch (an Illinois publication), a Beirut dog-rescue agency named Animals Lebanon found this mixed-breed Golden and placed her in a local home, but she was returned shortly thereafter because she had health problems. Eventually, she was diagnosed and treated for nephritic syndrome, A.K.A. renal failure. She was placed in a foster home until her foster parents started traveling a lot, which landed her back at Animals Lebanon.

Had Isabella fully recovered from her health problems? No one was sure. The symptoms seemed to have subsided. Perhaps she needed more thorough diagnostic treatment than Beirut could provide.

Animals Lebanon started looking outside their immediate area for help with Isabella. They eventually made contact with animal rescuers in the Chicago-land area. Barbara Cooke was then contacted via email, and she posted about Isabella in her column. Thanks to a selfless donation of frequent flyer miles, Isabella and two other dogs from Lebanon were flown to Chicago’s O’Hare airport, where rescuers picked them up. Isabella went to As Good As Gold (AGAG), a northern Illinois Golden Retriever rescue that had read about her plight on Facebook (posted by Cooke) and stepped up to provide foster care and medical treatment for her. The news was good. Isabella might only have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which simply required a limited ingredient diet.

In January, my wife, Leslie, and I contacted AGAG to adopt a dog. My mother had passed away the previous November, we were empty nesters, and our six-year-old black Lab, Bojangles, had died suddenly and tragically several years prior, an early victim of pet food contamination. We needed someone to care for, and we wanted to again fill our suburban house with a daily dose of happiness.

After completing the AGAG pre-screening process, we were invited to visit Isabella and her current foster mom, Jennifer. For us, it was love at first sight. After Isabella pranced around with her foster home’s dogs in their back yard, she came up to me and sat down. I petted her, handed her a few of the dog treats Jen had given us, and leaned over and smooched her on her forehead. Thirty minutes later, Isabella hopped into the back of our Prius along with her food and toys and headed to her new home in Naperville, Illinois.

Since then, we have maintained a close watch on Isabella’s eating habits. We take her for periodic checkups with her veterinarian to ensure that her health problems – whatever they were – stay in abeyance. Additionally, just as Facebook and social media helped make possible Isabella’s lengthy trek to the United States, it also allowed us to get in touch with her Beirut foster mom, Angela. She confirmed what we already knew about our “Izzy”: She’s shy, adorable, cute, and every other adjective that doting pet owners use to describe their “one and only” pets.

The most surprising aspect of having Isabella in our family was our rapid discovery that we had a celebrity in our house! We’ve come to hear, “Oh, I read about her,” and “I saw her on WGN when she landed at O’Hare,” quite often. At a September reunion picnic for AGAG rescue dogs, Leslie and I felt like we could have set up a booth and hung out a banner that said “Meet Isabella.” While our faces may have been unfamiliar to many attendees, Isabella’s was another story. “Is this the Isabella?” one person inquired upon seeing her. Several of the individuals involved in her rescue through AGAG came by and reacquainted themselves with our world-traveling canine. Currently, Isabella holds the record for furthest distance traveled for a rescue dog from AGAG, a fact that sometimes is referenced with potential adoptive parents.

Isabella is a shy, friendly girl who recently passed her Canine Good Citizen evaluation, but like any dog, she has her moments of mischief. I got a full-blown black eye one day when she butted her forehead against my eyebrow after I bent down to give her a treat. We’ve had to childproof the garbage, and now we have to close the pantry door when we go out, as Isabella sometimes decides to play with the raw potatoes or Swiss Miss hot chocolate packets rather than her own toys. Our two house cats, Huey and Tundra, are slowly warming up and even willing to engage in some play time with her as well.

At first, Isabella had a high incidence of nightmares when sleeping. Was she reliving scary moments on the streets of Beirut? Encountering some other aggressive canine in a dark alley before a fight over garbage in the trash? Re-experiencing the airline flight and an uncertain future from Lebanon to the USA? (Who knows, since I can’t ask her about them, maybe they were really fantastic dreams of scrambling up a tree to snare a squirrel.) The thing I take the most satisfaction in is that Isabella’s nightmares seem to be subsiding. I like to think that she sleeps more soundly these days because after traveling 6100-plus miles, she knows that she’s now home for good. -David Madalinski

Heidi’s Challenge

Happy Tails Books encourage people to find unique ways to integrate their pets into their lives and communities. Here’s Valerie Keener’s story about how she and her Boxer, Heidi, have come up with an innovative system of helping children to improve their reading skills:

When my eldest daughter had our grandson at only 28 weeks gestation, we anticipated developmental problems. He was in the NICU for 13 weeks and came home on heart monitors, etc. 

Eight months after my grandson’s birth, I looked to adopt a Boxer puppy because I felt that my grandson would benefit from the stimulation, and perhaps he and the dog would bond. We brought our grandson to meet Heidi, a 13-week-old pup from a bad situation. She was shy, but she went running right up to my grandson and stayed by his side. We took that as a sign and brought her home.

Luckily, it turned out that my grandson had no deficits. None! He is our miracle boy in so many ways. Although he didn’t need Heidi as much as we thought he might, perhaps other people did. Heidi had the perfect disposition for a therapy dog, so I decided to train her. After she finished beginning though advanced classes at PetSmart and achieved her CGC (Canine Good Citizen award), we joined an organization called Thera-Pits in the Cleveland area, and Heidi went on to earn her Therapy Dogs International certification.

With the blessing of Chris Hughes, the founder of Thera-Pits, we started an Akron branch of the organization. With that, we began working on reading skills in local schools with both special needs and mainstream kids. We also worked with the local library in their kids reading to the dogs program. 

Our work with the children had many ideas rolling around in my head. I researched dogs and reading programs and discovered that university studies proved that kids’ skills and confidence grew significantly after reading to a dog just once a week. I thought, “What if they were able to do this every day?”

Of course, Heidi can’t work with the kids every day, so what could we do? I founded Thera-Paws, a new organization, and from that came “Heidi’s Challenge.” Through this, we challenge kids to read to their family cat/dog/hamster/whatever (if they don’t have a pet, a stuffed animal will do). They are to do so for a specific amount of time, during which they are to skip over words they can’t read or pronounce. After the designated time is up, they are to ask someone for help with the difficult words.

We challenge them to do this every day for an entire month, and at the end, we give them an award from Heidi. The first month earns them a bookmark with Heidi’s photo on it. It says, “I completed Heidi’s Challenge.” Each month they complete earns them a different award. 

Last year was our first, and the program was very well received. We have been asked to do it again this year. We are extremely pleased with the program’s success, and especially with the fact that we are not only helping children to read but we are also helping children to learn about pet-related issues. In launching the challenge, I did a 20-minute assembly with the entire school and spoke about proper dog manners, how to handle a strange dog approaching in a park, and the “real” pit bull and canine discrimination and BSL (breed-specific legislation). 

I have MS and I do not do well in the winter months. Historically, I do not go out in the winter; basically, I just hibernate. During this past winter and with the commitments I had made with Heidi, I was forced to go out. As a result, I had the best winter I have had in many years, both physically and mentally!  At this point in time, Heidi and I are the only Thera-Paws “team,” but another team is joining me this year. Their timing is great because the more known we are, the more we are invited to visit schools. I really believe in the program and the impact it has on kids. This year, we are working with at least three classes of autistic children. We look forward to the challenges. 

If you’d like to follow Valerie and Heidi’s successes, please visit their website and their Facebook page.

 

How Does Everybody Win?

Being both an animal lover and a rescue donor can put a person at odds with oneself. While the animal lover hopes that every wayward animal can find a wonderful home, the donor understands that rescues have financial limitations that necessitate some tough decisions about financial allocation and who gets to be saved. Short of overhauling the entire animal rescue and rehabilitation system (thank you to those working on that), what’s a person to do? If you can’t save everyone, how do you decide who gets saved and what donations are best used for?

We felt this topic deserved a post after receiving a heartbreaking email from a Lost Souls: FOUND! author about her dog, Joey. Joey was the product of a backyard breeder. He arrived with mange, cherry eye, and some extremely serious anxiety, which manifested in aggression. For four years, Leatha and her husband, Jerry, worked to build trust and include Joey in their furry family. Things did improve over the years, but still he suffered with anxiety, and one day that anxiety turned into aggression toward Leatha when she startled him by mistake.

JoeyTwelve bites and a trip to the hospital later, Leatha is recovering, and Joey is in mandatory quarantine for 10 days. As Joey continues to struggle with both human and canine relationships, Leatha and Jerry have had to make the heartbreaking decision to give him up. They have tried all they can – they have seen him enjoy some things in life, like going for walks and playing ball – but after this last incident, they simply feel that they can’t go on with him like this. They are, however, offering to pay for Joey to spend two months training with Suzi Schaefers, a canine aggression specialist, if someone would be willing to adopt him. Her number is 1.303.995.0132, if you are interested.

Any dog lover can surely empathize with the difficulty of the decision Leatha and Jerry have had to make. Surely it will linger in their hearts, especially if Joey doesn’t find a new home before his quarantine time is up (which will ultimately mean that Joey’s “time” is up as well).

Beyond the immediate concerns about Joey, this situation made us think more generally about rescues. It begs the question about when a rescue should say when and how scarce financial resources should be allocated. We often talk about when it is time to euthanize a pet. The consensus is generally “when the pet is in too much pain in this world to go on or poses a real threat to society.”

Is it more humane to free a high-anxiety, aggressive dog from this life if all other options (anti-anxiety meds, training, etc.) have been exhausted? Is the rescue running a risk by not euthanizing a dog who is known to be aggressive because a human (or canine) could get hurt? Regarding the financial cost of attempting to rehabilitate extremely “difficult” dogs, do you think that money would be better spent to help multiple readily-adoptable dogs than just one questionable one? Or is it that a rescue should do the best they can on a first come, first serve basis?

Is there a solution where everybody wins?

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Pets with Disabilities Photo Contest Winners

First let us say, wow! What a great community you are. We are overwhelmed by the wonderful photo submissions and the outpouring of support all the photos have received. We had a very difficult time choosing which photos would go on book cover…so difficult that we decided we would put five photos on each back cover instead of four!

And there’s more great news: We’ve received so many great stories and photos that we’ve decided to do TWO volumes of the upcoming book, Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Pets with Disabilities, instead of just one volume! The first volume will be completed by the beginning of July, and the second will be ready for the holidays in November.

But wait, there’s even more good news! From this photo contest, we’ve selected five photos to go on the back cover of each of the books, and we’ve also selected a photo to be the front cover shot for Vol. II. Plus, we’ve selected two photos to be featured as the interior title page (the first page people will see in both the paperback and eBook versions), and we’ve selected several photos to include in collages on the page that follows the introduction, which begins the “meat” of the book.

Without further ado, here are the winners (click on images to see full size):

Volume I:

Front cover: Axel, Jennifer Hague (donated from our photography partner, not part of this contest)

Back cover (top): Angelyne

Back cover bottom (from left to right):Teddy, Bogie & Josie, Dorothy, Ella

Pets with Disabilities book

Interior title page:Omid, Babak Alipour

wheelcart shepherd mix

Introduction page (clockwise from top left):Tim, Sky, Josie, Autumn, Ella & Jake, Thresina (center)

Pets with disabilities

Volume II:

Front cover: Dutchess, Lisa Prince Fishler

Back cover (top): Almendra, Eli Hernández

Back cover bottom (from left to right): Ty, Cali & Taffy, Kiefer, Zepplin

Pets with Disabilities, Volume II

Interior title page:Bandit

wheelcart dog

Introduction page (clockwise from top left):Tito, Hailey, Nemo, Roxie, Scoot

pets with disabilities, vol. II

————————————————————————————–

VOLUME I will be available for pre-sale shortly! Stay tuned for details.

Pets with Disabilities

 

Work + Dog: Peekeeper

In every newsletter, we feature entrepreneurs who have found ways to incorporate their love of animals with their work. This month, we’re featuring Lisa Williams, the founder and president of PeeKeeper. Here’s her story:

peekeeperoffice3

A few years ago I adopted a toy fox terrier from my local shelter. We named him Dash and he quickly became part of our family. Dash fit right in, but he had one little problem, he peed whenever he got excited or frightened. Unfortunately, with a busy house that included my husband, four kids and two other dogs, that happened quite a bit. I was sure I could train Dash, but no matter what I tried, nothing seemed to work. My husband was getting frustrated and I was getting tired of cleaning up the “accidents.”

PeekeeperI tried several different types of dog wraps and diapers, but nothing worked. Dash would either wriggle out of them or my other dogs would pull it off. That’s when I came up with original design for an escape-proof dog diaper I called the PeeKeeper®. Other people started asking me to make a PeeKeeper for their dog and I soon realized I wasn’t the only one with a “leaky” dog who was desperate for something that worked. So, I formed a company and began selling the PeeKeeper online. I started out sewing each PeeKeeper myself. I got so busy that I hired several women who sewed at home and now we use a factory in NYC to sew the PeeKeepers. It’s important to me that the PeeKeeper is made in the USA, even if it might be cheaper to produce them overseas.

For me, the best part of this business is hearing from our customers about how the PeeKeeper has changed their dogs’ lives. Dash was given up to the shelter because of his peeing issues, so it’s wonderful when we hear from someone that because of the PeeKeeper they no longer have to worry about their dog peeing or marking in the house. I know from personal experience that the PeeKeeper makes things easier for dog parents, but my favorite stories are definitely the ones where we’ve made a difference in the dog’s life, especially when there are medical issues involved.

Dash was the inspiration for the original PeeKeeper and because he was adopted from a shelter, we think it’s important that as a company we give back. We work with several rescue groups and also donate gift certificates for rescues and shelters that are doing fundraisers. Every dog deserves a safe, loving home and we do what we can to raise awareness.

I’ve always loved dogs, but I never expected that bringing a dog into my home would lead to me starting a business. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found work that is so fulfilling, to have made personal connections with so many of our customers and, best of all, to work every day with a great bunch of people who also love dogs. And, yes, in case you’re wondering, we do bring our dogs to work!

 You can learn more about PeeKeeper at www.peekeeper.com and join them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PeeKeeper

Carol Bryant: Entrepawneur

To inspire those who desire to incorporate dogs into every aspect of their lives, including their work-lives, we like to feature people who have done just that. This just in from Carol Bryant, our “entrepawneur” of the month:

BryantMy heart beats dog. At the very core of who I am, it is dog that is my passion. I decided to switch careers several years ago, and I knew in my heart and gut that incorporating writing for and about dogs into my life was a must.

“A dog lover of the highest order,” is how Gayle King introduced me when I, along with my Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, appeared on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King show to dish dogs. I use my voice for dogs and my passion as a frequent media contributor, and have appeared on television, radio, and in print. A repeat nominee from the Dog Writers Association of America, I also write for Dogster and Pet360 and am the PR and Marketing Manager for BlogPaws pet blogger social media community and conferences. With Dexter, my PR (Puppy Relations) Manager, by my side, we have attended all four BlogPaws conferences to date and I am active in canine rescue and fundraising.

This June, the “Wigglebutt Wedding” will take place, which is the brainchild of myself and Val Sorensen, mother of the bride. Zoe, the bride, was rescued the day she was scheduled to be euthanized. We are having a huge fun fundraiser in Connecticut, princess formal style, with 100 human and 40 doggie guests. All proceeds go to Life’s Little Paws rescue group to save more Cocker Spaniels.

I am also the founder of Fidose of Reality, a canine-centric online magazine dog blog where dog lovers of the highest order unite,™ a consistently ranked Technorati top 100 pet blog.

Fidose of Reality is not for ordinary dog lovers – we are for extraordinary dog lovers. Come celebrate dog lovers of the highest order at FidoseofReality.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FidoseofReality, and on Twitter at @fidoseofreality.

Pawgua Fundraising Walk in Brooklyn

Dogs Storm Brooklyn Bridge during ‘Wags for Wellness Walk’

Event will benefit New York City Animal Non-Profits

WHEN:  August 13, 2011 – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHAT:  The “Wags for Wellness Walk” is a two-mile fundraising dog walk.  It will feature dogs, and their pet parents, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to raise funds for New York City-based non-profits Animal Haven and The Animal Medical Center.  An “after-pawty” will be held in Hillside Dog Park from 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

COST:  Pre-registration at http://www.pawgua.com/wagsforwellness costs $20 for one dog and up to four people (through Aug. 6).  After Aug. 6, the cost is $30 for one dog and up to four people.

 

Hosted by Pawgua, the ultimate portable, resealable dog water bottle and The Salty Paw, Andrea Arden Dog Training, Throw me a Bone NYC, The Honest Kitchen, Stella & Chewy’s and Rocco and Jezebel.

Avoiding Street Shocks

I had no idea about the danger of street shocks until Blair Sorrell of StreetZaps brought it to my attention. Here’s what she has to say:

Contact voltage is a chronic hidden hazard that can readily victimize an unsuspecting dog, walker, or both. No dog lover could possibly observe a more horrifying scene than witnessing his beloved pet instantaneously maimed or tragically electrocuted. When you exercise your pooch, please exercise greater prudence. Common outdoor electrical and metal fixtures may shock or even kill your vulnerable dog. And depending upon the current, the walker will be bitten and like poor Aric Roman, suffer permanently. But you can, indeed, self-protect.

Just start to adopt this simple strategy — EYEBALL THE BLOCK, AND AVOID A SHOCK. Take a few seconds and make your trajectory toward generally safer, free standing, non-conductive surfaces, ie., plastic, wood, cardboard. Intuit your dog’s cues and if it’s resistant, change directions. Work site perimeters may be live so try to elude them. If necessary, switch sides of the street or your hands when leading to skirt hazards. If you traverse the same route, you may memorize locations of potential dangers. Carry your pooch when in doubt. Consider indoor restroom products like PottyPark when external conditions are chancy or RopeNGo’s hardware-free leash and harness. And don’t rely on dog booties as a palliative as they will actually put your pet at even greater risk since the dog can’t tell you they’re leaking! To learn to more, please see StreetZaps. A safer walk is yours year round if you are willing to open to your eyes and mind to it.

 

An Invisible Danger to Pets

By Blair Sorrel, Founder

http://www.StreetZaps.com

Contact voltage is a chronic hidden hazard that can readily victimize an unsuspecting dog, walker, horse, rider, or both. No dog lover could possibly observe a more horrifying scene than witnessing his beloved pet instantaneously maimed or tragically electrocuted. When you exercise your pooch, please exercise greater prudence. Common outdoor electrical and metal fixtures may shock or even kill your vulnerable dog. And depending upon the current, the walker will be bitten and like poor Aric Roman, suffer permanently. But you can, indeed, self-protect.

Just start to adopt this simple strategy — EYEBALL THE BLOCK, AND AVOID A SHOCK. Take a few seconds and make your trajectory toward generally safer, free standing, non-conductive surfaces, ie., plastic, wood, cardboard. Intuit your dog’s cues and if it’s resistant, change directions. Work site perimeters may be live so try to elude them. If necessary, switch sides of the street or your hands when leading to skirt hazards. If you traverse the same route, you may memorize locations of potential dangers. Carry your pooch when in doubt. Consider indoor restroom products like PottyPark when external conditions are chancy or RopeNGo’s hardware-free leash and harness. And don’t rely on dog booties as a palliative as they will actually put your pet at even greater risk since the dog can’t tell you they’re leaking! To learn to more, please see StreetZaps. A safer walk is yours year round if you are willing to open to your eyes and mind to it.

HOW TO SLAY AN INVISIBLE DANGER.
 
Blair Sorrel, Founder
http://www.StreetZaps.com
212-877-2104

Contact voltage is a chronic hidden hazard that can readily victimize an unsuspecting dog, walker, horse, rider, or both. No dog lover could possibly observe a more horrifying scene than witnessing his beloved pet instantaneously maimed or tragically electrocuted. When you exercise your pooch, please exercise greater prudence. Common outdoor electrical and metal fixtures may shock or even kill your vulnerable dog. And depending upon the current, the walker will be bitten and like poor Aric Roman, suffer permanently. But you can, indeed, self-protect.
 
Just start to adopt this simple strategy — EYEBALL THE BLOCK, AND AVOID A SHOCK. Take a few seconds and make your trajectory toward generally safer, free standing, non-conductive surfaces, ie., plastic, wood, cardboard. Intuit your dog’s cues and if it’s resistant, change directions. Work site perimeters may be live so try to elude them. If necessary, switch sides of the street or your hands when leading to skirt hazards. If you traverse the same route, you may memorize locations of potential dangers. Carry your pooch when in doubt. Consider indoor restroom products like PottyPark when external conditions are chancy or RopeNGo’s hardware-free leash and harness. And don’t rely on dog booties as a palliative as they will actually put your pet at even greater risk since the dog can’t tell you they’re leaking! To learn to more, please see StreetZaps. A safer walk is yours year round if you are willing to open to your eyes and mind to it.