An Extraordinary Externality

This story about two authors featured in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Northern-Breed Dogs just has to be shared! Last week, Nancy Triggiani, parent of the lovely Aurora (see below), wrote me to say:

Aurora the Akita
Aurora

“I thought you might be interested in knowing a story within the Lost Souls stories has developed! A couple of months ago I noticed a woman’s name on the ARWNY (Akita Rescue of Western New York) Facebook page that was the same as a long lost cousin, whom I hadn’t seen since I was a kid. She must have noticed my name on the ARWNY “friends” list and friended me, and it was indeed my cousin I had lost contact with – our adopted Akitas reunited us. I just found out last night that you are publishing her dog’s story in the same edition as Aurora’s! My cousin is Florence Leone and her dog is Bert! What are the odds of two long lost cousins being published in the SAME book?”

Bert the Akita
Bert

How fun is that? Both Aurora and Bert’s stories are featured in the upcoming book. Buy a copy on pre-sale today through June 17th, and make your money count even more!

Boston Terrier Meets Video Camera

Hillary’s first experience with a video camera was just too cute not to share. Yes, I know there’s a typo. It adds character! (Actually, I deleted the raw files before I could fix it.)

 

*If you don’t get the Chinese pun, it’s just a reference to the fact that everything is made in China these days, and my video camera is probably no exception. No offense intended.

Snort! Snort!

Let me start by apologizing that it’s been so long since I’ve posted. We had a string of “difficult” foster dogs (for various reasons) and then took a little break. Bill has earned his nickname “Ole’ Grumpy Bill” by either completely ignoring or snapping at all the recent male foster dogs we’ve had, so we’ve asked the rescue to only send us females. It’s a bit of a concession, and I love them all, but it’s Bill’s house, and we need to be fair to him.

Well, with the latest foster dog, Sophia, I can tell you the wait for a female was worth it! Sophia spent the last seven years of her life sitting in a chicken wire cage, making puppies for pet stores. The poor girl looks like a pregnant little cow with udders that hang so low, and we just discovered a mammary tumor. However, Sophia doesn’t let that stop her. In fact, she just took a sip of water and then darted out of the room, happily snorting all the way. Turns out she got the snack out of the Kong.

These mill mommas are so resilient. It just blows my mind! I could easily believe that Sophia had been someone’s family pet because she is so well socialized and has taken well to potty training. In the video below, I’ve got a diaper on her because she marked a little when she first got her, but I don’t think she’s marking anymore – at least I haven’t found anything. She’s been hiking off leash with us, following right along with Bill, and she’s starting to learn her name and some commands. She knows “Come,” and she’s always excited to run back to me for some love. The only thing I have to watch is that sometimes she’ll follow the people we pass. Many of our fosters do that. Bill does it, too, with joggers. Sometimes they get a little freaked out, but one look at his happily bobbing head, and they see that he’s just happy to go with someone who is moving faster than me.

I feel privileged to care for these mill mommas, who have faced so much adversity and somehow still manage to love and trust. I’m sure we’ll find her the perfect family soon, but in the meantime, I’ll learn all I can from her.

 

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.

 

Break Through Radio Video about Pet Shops

Great video! Though it’s about NY, it’s definitely reflective of our nation as a whole. Don’t be fooled by what pet shop owners say, no reputable breeder would sell their dogs through pet shops; they usually have a waiting list and want people to come to their home/kennel so they can evaluate them. Additionally, “USDA certified” is nothing to brag about. Only large-scale breeding facilities that sell their dogs like livestock need to be certified: a sure sign of a puppy mill.

Oh, and at the end where the ASPCA is talking about “euthanization.” Don’t fool yourself. These animals are being needlessly killed. I highly recommend the book Redemption by Nathan Winograd if you’d like to learn more about the pet overpopulation myth. Simply put, yes, puppy mills need to be stopped, but shelters also need to do more. As Winograd outlines in his book, a few things they could do to to stop killing pets are:

1) Be open at night and on weekends when working people can actually visit.
2) Take adoption to the people via mobile adoption units
3) Offer low-cost spay/neuter clinics

There’s much more in the book, so I’ll hope you read it. But first, watch the video below!

Rescue SPOTlight: Alliston & District Humane Society

This week’s rescue SPOTlight is on Alliston & District Humane Society of Ontario, CANADA, an organization that is helping Up For Pups, our sister non-profit organization, to create a Rescue Best Practices Manual:

• Mission: The ADHS attempts to provide shelter for stray and unwanted animals with priority given to abused and neglected animals.
• Date founded: 1988
• Types of animals you take in: Dogs, Cats, Small animals, Farm animals (in foster homes).
• Size of Rescue (Small=less than 50 animals, Mid=51-200 animals, Large=201+ animals): Large

• Your name: Emily Day
• Your position in the rescue: Secretary, Board of Directors
• How long you’ve been with the rescue: 5+ years
• What you like best about animal rescue: Working directly with the animals.
• What you think is hardest about animal rescue: Saying goodbye.
• Share one quick story about a rescue experience: There are so many … We currently have a 7 month old male Beagle puppy, Charlie. He is a bundle of energy but hasn’t had a very nice beginning. He was found in a cardboard box on the side of the road – covered in mange. After being treated for mange, the people who found him decided that he had too much energy for them, and they did not want him anymore. They gave him away for free to a friend. This friend had the pup for a week and decided that he was chasing the cat too much and had to go. Charlie ended up in our care. He is a friendly enough guy, but he has some wicked separation and abandonment issues. He is rambunctious and has a LOT of energy. He mouths. He jumps. He tugs on the leash. He cries. He screams. He is a DRAMA QUEEN. Our volunteers are working with him to overcome these and many other issues he came in with. Charlie will stay with us until a new home is found or a suitable foster home is located.

Rescue Spotlight: Nebraska Border Collie Rescue

Our rescue spotlight today is on Nebraska Border Collie Rescue, Inc. . This outstanding Border Collie rescue has been saving dogs since 1999, and they have generously offered their time to help in the creation of Up For Pups’ best practices manual.

Mission: Nebraska Border Collie Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, all volunteer organization dedicated to serving the immediate needs of Border Collies and Border Collie mixes in danger of harm or euthanasia, as well as educating the public to reduce the need for rescue in the future.

  • Date founded: Spring 1999
  • Types of animals you take in: Border Collies and Border Collie x
  • Size of Rescue (Small=less than 50 animals, Mid=51-200 animals, Large=201+ animals): Mid
  • Your Name: Karen Battreall
  • Your position in the rescue: President
  • How long you’ve been with the rescue: 11 years
  • What you like best about animal rescue: Seeing a great dog go to a great family
  • What you think is hardest about animal rescue: Making the decision to euthanize
  • Share one quick story about a rescue experience: We had a very intelligent, energetic Border Collie that we felt would be hard to place.  She found a home but was returned because of her extreme intelligence and energy.  A second home was found with a retired rancher.  He reported to us that his wife suffered from a debilitating disease and hadn’t smiled in over a year.   Maggie had made his wife not only smile but laugh.  They went for walks around the ranch together and had become constant companions.

 

Rescue Spotlight: MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue

Happy Tails Books and Up For Pups are working together alongside 20+ reputable rescue organizations to create a best practices manual. We’ll be featuring a rescue each week so you can get to know the rescuers behind this mammoth effort. Read about the best practices manual at http://upforpups.org/

MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue

 

  • Rescue Name: MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue
  • Website: http://adoptaboston.com/
  • Mission: To rescue and re-home abandoned Boston Terriers and to persuade those interested in purchasing a dog to “adopt, and not shop”, meaning to not purchase a dog or puppy from a puppy mill or puppy mill-supplied pet store, but instead, to adopt a homeless dog to save a life.”
  • Date founded: November 2005
  • Types of animals you take in: Dog; Boston Terrier
  • Size of Rescue (Small=less than 50 animals, Mid=51-200 animals, Large=201+ animals): Large
  • Your name: Jennifer Misfeldt
  • Your position in the rescue: President/Founder
  • How long you’ve been with the rescue: November 2005
  • What you like best about animal rescue: the support from the public
  • What you think is hardest about animal rescue: inconsistency among multiple foster parents across multiple states
  • Share one quick story about a rescue experience:Here’s a poem from the MABTR website, which speaks for itself

To My First Rescue Dog

You came to me full grown
But very much like a puppy.
A human’s love you had not yet known.
Each pat on your head
Caused you to jump in a frenzy.
In your first hours you even shredded your bed.
Each experience was new and you were so amazed.
Inside the house you seemed overwhelmed.
Just the simplest things would capture your gaze.
Constant excitement was your state.
Your jumping and barking
Made you a challenging roommate.
But slowly you came to understand
And when I reach out
You no longer chewed on my hand.
Within a few months so calmly you sat.
Imploring with those sweet brown eyes
To give your head just one more pat.
The adoption day in mid-December
When you met your new family
Is one I will always remember.
I sent you on your way
With a final hug and kiss
Knowing your new life began that day.
You trotted away without a backward glance
And through my tears I smiled
Because you deserved this second chance.

 

Through a Guide Dog Puppy’s Eyes

This story, translated by Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy-raiser Jill Nieglos, shares a dog’s perspective on becoming a service dog. You can read more about Lilo and another dog Jill raised named Heloise in Partners with Paws: Service Dogs and the Lives They Change.

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Hi, I’m Lilo, a Yellow Lab guide dog puppy born at Guide Dogs for the Blind in California.  When I was just three weeks old, some very friendly and specially-trained people began cuddling me and whispering sweet nothings in my ears. Bet you didn’t know puppies learn more quickly and bond with humans better when we are handled gently while very young, did you? This type of interaction with humans actually makes more synapses in our brains. And, as you know, we guide dogs have to be extremely smart; this is one of the tricks of the trade.

At about seven weeks I went on short walks exploring our campus, but I must say I wasn’t a pro on the leash then. My handlers were gentle and patient while I bounded about on my leash smelling the flowers and bushes.

At eight weeks I went on a long ride with my siblings and friends all the way to Colorado. If you ever see our puppy truck, you will recognize it right away because it has my baby picture on it! The puppy truck really is a very special truck. Not just because my picture is on it but also because the puppies in this truck will forever change people’s lives. When we arrived in Colorado, I saw smiles and tears and cameras everywhere. Everyone was so emotional! Well, I must say, after three days on the truck, I was too.  I kissed my new puppy-raising mom again and again before I became so exhausted from all the excitement that I fell asleep in her arms.

Lilo and JillPuppy raisers are often goofy at the puppy truck. For some raisers who were previously raising a puppy, this is a little bit sad because they have to trade their grown-up puppy for a replacement puppy. For others who are picking up their first puppy to raise, the event is exciting and nerve-wracking. Emotions are running high!  When we came off the truck one by one, there were enough “Oohs” and “Ahhs” to make you think you were at the Miss America contest.

What fun I had when we got home! A huge yard to play in with grass where I could “do my business,” flowers to sniff, and even an older dog to play with. My older sister, who has helped Mom raised seven puppies before me, is pretty strict. No chewing on her ears, I bet.  When we were in the backyard, mom told me, “Do your business,” and when I did it on the grass, you’d of thought I was the smartest puppy in the whole world! She told me what a good girl I was. Humans are a strange. My Lab mom didn’t care where I did my business.

The next year went by in a whirl! I’ve been just about everywhere starting with church. In the beginning I had to sit with Mom in the cry room, but guess what? I’m a baby myself, so I had fun with the other babies.  Soon I sat out with everyone else, but I had to be a “good girl,” which meant no chewing, playing, or barking.  Naptime! (Nothing against the minister, I hear he is good.)

During the next year, I went to lots of puppy meetings where I saw my friends and learned all sorts of neat stuff.  For example, at the outside mall, I learned not to bark at the skateboarders or the fire truck and how to walk over grates (scary) or up open stairs (yikes). But the hardest part for me was learning not to snag the ice cream cones the little kids were holding. I admit this is not to say that I didn’t try a couple of times, but Mom was quick.

The inside malls had all sorts of interesting stuff like toys that talked, funny people that did not smell like people, weird floors, and see-through elevators. Sometimes I was scared, but Mom was patient and showed me I was safe; I really trust Mom.

My mom retired from an airline and still has friends all over, so you should hear about all the places I went: A Polish wedding in Chicago (I do not polka, thank you); Yosemite (I met lots of nice tourists who asked to pet me, and when I was a perfect lady, I did get petted); Las Vegas (pretty lights but very crowded); New York City (Boy, was that an experience). I am now a pro when it comes to airports, buses, planes, trains, automobiles, and subways.

I went many places close to home, too. We visited the doctor’s office and the grocery store (I must say I’m so good at staying by those onions while Mom gets the tomatoes). Mom tells me the grocery store is important since my future blind person will surely go grocery shopping. I also went to concerts, banks, and restaurants, with restaurants being the most challenging because despite all the great-smelling things that were going on the table, I had to just sit on the floor and act disinterested.

Mom tells me I am the best of all eight puppies she has raised, but I bet she says that to all of them. One day we went for a ride, and I saw the puppy truck again. You remember: the one with my picture on it.  Mom whispered in my ear, “See you at graduation.” I didn’t understand, but she did since she has had several of her puppies become guides already.

That day I went off to school.  Wow, was I a busy girl! Six months of intensive training to learn about curbs, stairs, and obstacles. I learned about how to guide a person at night, in the rain, in the mall, and on country roads. The final test was whether I could do my job in San Francisco amidst the noisy cable cars.

After I passed all of my tests, I was assigned to my own person.  She’s different from my puppy raiser, but she loves me; I can tell. She hugs me a lot.  We worked together for a month before the big day… Graduation! Can I tell you a little about it?

What an occasion that was! Over 100 people were there, and us dogs were the center of attention, up on the stage beside our blind people. Everybody gives a speech (well, not us dogs, of course). There was not a dry eye in the house. First, the recipients thanked everybody for their dog (tears). Then, each puppy raiser made a speech about how happy he or she was that his or her “baby” made it (more tears). Finally, we (the dogs) gave a demonstration about how guide dogs actually work.  Everybody was so happy that they were crying and hugging… Well, you get the picture. Lots of Kleenex. Humans are weird.  None of us dogs were crying.

Now I am official, harness and all.  I look nothing like the little baby I was when I left California about 18 months ago. I have been a busy girl with so much to learn, but it was all worth it because now I have a wonderful life serving as my friend Pat’s eyes. I get to go everywhere with Pat, which makes me one happy dog.

Now that you know my story, I’d like to say thanks for listening, and hey, would you do me a favor? Wave if you see the puppy truck on the road between California and Denver.

Love, Lilo

(Transcribed by puppy raiser “Mom,” Jill Nieglos)

A Real Foster Failure: I Liked Ruth Better

It was almost like the last time I saw her. She waddled into my life, gave me a few licks, then out the door she went. She’s always been cute, but I didn’t remember her being so funny. Back then her name was Ruth.

Ruth

Ruth, now Lilly, was returned this week by the family I adopted her out to over a year ago. I feel like such a failure.It’s not that they got divorced and moved into “no dogs” housing, but I adopted out a dog out to a person who would stand in front of her four-year-old and lie to me. I give her credit for sticking with the contract and returning her to rescue, but really? You lied in front of your four-year-old.

She seemed so nice. Her son’s tears were so sincere. She had to let her beloved dog go because she had gotten into “a bad situation” and had to move into “no-dog housing.” Understandable. This happens in life. But when I ask you about the last time your dog was bathed, you could have told me the truth. Her answer was that the dog was bathed, had her nails trimmed, and her ears were cleaned three weeks ago. Uh…

Later when I examined this dogs toenails, I discovered that she couldn’t even put her feet flat on the floor because her nails were so overgrown. Now, unless there is some nail growth disease affecting this dog that I don’t know about, I’ve never heard of a dog’s toenails growing over 1/4 inch in three weeks!

And if she did have some nail-growth issue, for shame anyway. You told me she gained weight over the winter because she didn’t like to go out in the cold. That could possible account for longer nails than usual if Lilly wasn’t pounding the pavement. But, uh, I took your dog out to the dog park yesterday, on one of the coldest days so far this year, and she had so much fun that she would have stayed an extra hour if I let her. So I ask, “Who in your family has a problem with the cold?”

I don’t think it was your dog.

Boston TerrierWell, I’m thankful you returned her to me. This is all my fault. I was uneasy when you first adopted her, as if for some reason I didn’t believe in your commitment to her care. I should have followed my instinct. You had other issues and problems to deal with that would throw your pup, who had already suffered in a puppy mill cage for four years, into the back seat.

The whole thing is sad. I know you did your best, and I wish I wasn’t bitter, but since you neglected to even return my email when I asked about her vaccinations, I can’t help but be mad. I took YOUR DOG to the vet today. The rescue paid for her vaccines, which she should have gotten a year ago. I found YOUR DOG a new family today, who I absolutely believe will help her lose the weight you promised to remove and feed her the healthy food you obviously neglected (I can tell by her smell and her flaky coat).

There is NO SHAME in using the return policy, but you should be ashamed that you neglected to care for YOUR DOG for so long. I hope the next time you consider a pet, you remember that YOUR DOG is now with people who are actually caring for her and not with you. They are giving her appropriate veterinary care, nutrition, and love (the neglect there was obvious, too). If you can’t walk your dog, hold your dog, and feed your dog decent food, PLEASE DON”T GET ONE.

I hope you do a better job caring for your son. Children are not so resilient.

You can call her whatever you want, but to me, she’s my Ruthie, and I’m glad she’s in a better place. I’m just very sorry it took her a year and a half to get there. I hope I do better next time.