July 06, 2009

Speaking of hoarding!

I brought home a new dog on Saturday. Her name is Zuni and she came from a hoarder in New Mexico. She was one of more than 80 dogs that were taken in by the shelter when the were discovered after their owner went into the hospital.

The first thing I noticed when we met was how many bite scars this little 14 pound dog had on her face. Apparently, when you put 80 some dogs, at least half of them terriers, together in a house, not only is it dirty but it is violent at times. With just my small pack, fights will break out every once in a while and even though injuries are rare, there have been some. Pack mentality being what it is, when a pair starts a fight, chances are good that several others will join in the fray. When 5-6 dogs fight, there is a reasonable chance of breaking it up without anyone being seriously injured. A churning mass of 20-25 battling dogs is something to run from.

Zuni is very shy and frightened, another consequence of living with a hoarder. She has not been well socialized with people and will not approach me at this point. I can only approach her if she is in a corner as she will move away when I move her direction.

Tonight, she discovered how to let herself in and out of the dog door. She may have had some access to a dog door where she lived as it is unusual for a new dog to figure it out that quickly if they have never used one. This of course creates a new problem, she is able to let herself out when she doesn't want to be caught. Once outside, catching her will not be likely so starting tomorrow this girl will probably be dragging a leash when she is loose. At least that way I will be able to bring her in at night.

She has unusual markings for a Rat Terrier, rather reminds me of a Foxhound. She has the build of an Italian Greyhound but the face of a Rat Terrier. She needs to fill out some but she is still going to be a leggy thing with a whip tail. She is a very quiet girl so far, of course she is still getting acquainted so this may change. In the two days since I started this blog, she has become quite proficient at using the dog door. She has trouble deciding if she wants to be in or out so she just goes back and forth. She did finally approach me tonight and sniffed my leg then she let me catch her without cornering her. Good signs! She is on the way to a better life.

July 03, 2009

Princess Amissa

Amissa (Hebrew for companion) Ratbone is sometimes a princess, sometimes an evil queen! First and foremost, she is the poster child for "CUTE" with her long legs and turned out ears.

She is not my dog, she came here to live until a permanent home can be found for her. She is part of the Ratbone Rescues pack, which is somewhere around 100 dogs presently. NO! All 100 of these do NOT live with me, although my co-workers sometimes suggest otherwise.

Several years ago when a hoarder bust in Oregon hit a tabloid, they cut the story out, pasted my face over the woman hoarder's picture and put it on the bulletin board. There were something like 260 dogs found in the residence! What a sad mental illness animal hoarding is. People who believe in their hearts they are helping animals but are compelled to continue bringing more and more animals into their home until there is no way they could care for them. Even when the filth in the house is ghastly and the animals are starving and dying, they still cannot see that they are helping neither the animals nor themselves.

Being only one of over 100 foster homes associated with Ratbone Rescues, my foster numbers have remained manageable although it would not be hard to lose control. All it would take was to accept every dog that I am asked to take. That is probably the hardest part about rescue, having to say no to an animal in need because there just isn't room for it. Knowing the chances are good that little dog will die because I said "No" is heartbreaking. Some of their images still haunt me, making me wonder if I could have fit just one more in. I know this is a common emotion among rescuers, who, despite their many difference, all share the wish that they could "save them all".

Amissa was a lucky one, she made it under the wire, filling that reserve spot that I try to keep empty because it is one over my limit but now and then it still ends up filled. Mimi, as I sometimes call her, was found wandering in Oklahoma. The person who found her could not find her owners and could not keep her as she already had all the dogs she could care for. She did not want to take the little girl to the local pound as this could easily be a death sentence so she contacted Ratbone. As it worked out, I had just agreed to take a little female that was in a shelter in Oklahoma. Transport was being set up and Mimi's rescuer was able to drive her up to join the transport.

So Amissa came to Kansas where she was number three in the trio of 11 pound girls fostering in my house. She proved to be more feisty than appearance would lead to believe. She and Abebe, who she came from Oklahoma with, seem to both believe they should be in charge. There are regular bouts of posturing between them and every so often they will break into a "girl fight" which produces a lot of noise but fortunately, few injuries.

Mimi is not adverse to putting one of the big boys back in line if she decides they are not showing proper doggy etiquette but she most enjoys just looking cute. She does seem to think that looking cute should garner plenty of adoration, petting and treats from me or any other human around. Unlike many of the dogs, she is not camera shy. She will hop up on a chair, look right at me with those big brown eyes and wait for the flash.

Cookie is gone now, she was the first of the three. She has a new home in Oregon, leaving Amissa and Abebe to jockey for the position of Queen of the foster dogs. I could easily keep Mimi, she is quite a charmer but I'm sure she is going to catch someones eye before she is eligible for foster adoption. Of course, after she leaves there will be another little dog who will come along and steal my heart for a while before going to it's forever home. It's all part of rescue work, loving them, then letting them go.