A couple of weeks ago, I did something I rarely do, but when I do it, it’s for someone special. Often while working in a different town, I try to visit the local shelter and on this particular instance, I knew that there was a special dog in house. I had seen Margeaux when the Executive Director of this shelter had posted her on the page of a private group. She was special and the hope was that a friend or someone “in the biz” would adopt her. While I wasn’t in the market for a third dog, nor am I the intake person of our rescue, I couldn’t leave without her. We had an adoption event just a few days following and I figured she would be gone by the end of the weekend.
Here we are two and a half weeks later enjoying the company of a very special and happy house guest. While she could probably walk right under Julius, she only weighs about 10 pounds less than he and Ray. She is quite the little piggy and snorts like one as well. She’s never met a stranger and truly believes all humans are set on Earth just to adore her, with our family being no exception.
If you follow either me personally or the boys on Facebook, you’ll have seen my Margeaux in the morning posts and undoubtedly seen the numerous declarations that we should keep her. While it isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility it isn’t a done deal either. After two and a half weeks, she and Ray have still not met. They have seen each other but haven’t yet even taken a parallel walk. While this separation is happening, we have learned to gate and rotate like pros. Margeaux lives in the office behind a baby gate. At the end of that hallway is a folding divider gate. There is another wooden gate that we move to suit our needs and basically is just propped against whatever wall we need. Ray is usually behind that gate and in his x-pen which he uses as his crate or safe zone and he is becoming more and more curious to meet the little foster gal. I believe her family is out there waiting for her and I will definitely make sure she goes to the best home possible, so stay tuned to see more about Margeaux.
Two years ago this month, I had an epiphany and I found my happy place and while I’m not ready to make the move yet, I have no doubt that we will try really to “end up” there. In the meantime, I’ve had a not so secret obsession with not only the V dogs but with some dogs related to them as well and I’ve been squirreling away online auction winnings and such in the hopes that I’d one day get around to displaying my growing collection. With the cold winter and the empty office walls, we’ve finally made some headway.
First, on the side wall is a shot I took from the sanctuary. If I was more talented, this shot would be better, but for now I can look at it and be transported.
The glare is from my phone.
On the wall above the desk, I gave a sneak peek on Facebook as to what was in the works and now that both Kevin and I had the time to devote to it, I’d love to share our still-in-process-but-kind-of-finished wall. I say it’s a work in process because there are a couple of other dogs I’d like to add.
My Wall of Fame
Here’s the overview above from left to right Handsome Dan pawtographed print, Oscar’s paw print, Little Red’s pawtographed print in her “I’m with Handsome” shirt, Jonny Justice Gund plush, below him is a selfie(!) of me and Ray, next is a pawtographed print of Cherry and to the right of him is a pawtographed print of Halle. Above Cherry I have my pawtographed print of Wallace who wasn’t a V* dog but who did overcome some great obstacles to shine on his own as well as the brother of Hector.
I love my prints and hope to add to my collection but in the back of my mind I feel there will be a time where I will be able to “give back” by re-donating my collection to help other Pit Bull type dogs in need. It just won’t be any time soon, as I’m enjoying these too much.
*True geeks know that only the 22 dogs who went to Best Friends are referred to as the “Vicktory Dogs.”
I can’t say that I’m any more aware of Pit Bulls or Pit Bull type dogs in October than I am during any other month, and I’m not big into celebrating things just because someone tells me to but would rather celebrate little things with my guys just because. That isn’t to say that I don’t love the idea of a month dedicated just for the block heads. I think they deserve it as does every breed, style, make or model of dog. We should celebrate our four-legged friends often.
When reading about the situation in Montreal, I can’t help but feel bemused that some of the pro-BSL folks are contending the “millionaire pit bull lobby” (google it, I won’t link to it) are trying push their agenda that BSL doesn’t work. Yet on the other proponents of BSL contend that criminals and dangerous people are the ones who are attracted to and wish to own Pit Bulls.
I am neither a millionaire nor am I a criminal but I do like to fancy myself a dangerous person in the “don’t fu@k with the tiny middle-aged Korean” sense. Do I have a lion tamer complex? I do not. I rather see myself as someone who loves her dogs and revels in the fact that they love me back just as whole heartedly. I love my avocation of helping to place these wonderful dogs into loving homes where they fulfil their obligation to hog the sofa, snore like pigs and love with hearts bigger than their heads.
There’s no point to this other than to reiterate that my dogs, like all dogs are individuals and I will continue in my self appointed role of protector and defender of these fat heads until I can no longer draw a breath.
I’ll leave you with this: today I met this big lug head of a guy. All 83 pounds of him just stood and wagged his tail at me while I bent to pet his snout and he mimiced my movements till he was lying at the fence to kiss my finger. He and I went for a short walk where he tried his best to show me his good leash skills until a squirrel would happen by. Luckily for me and my arm, I’m an old squirrel spotter from way back and have some impressive skills myself so we struck a happy balance for the duration of the walk. We walked just far enough for me to fall madly in love. If you are interested in adding the biggest mush bucket to your home, visit the Allen County SPCA and ask to visit with Abel.
The difference between volunteering at a bustling shelter and an up and coming rescue is vast but no matter what the rewards are great. If you see my Facebook at all you know that in the past year and a half or so I’ve become more and more involved with the Pit Bull Coalition and that definitely has caused a shift in my so called free time. That’s completely fine, though because I’m doing something that I believe in and it’s something that I feel passionate about.
We ended last year with having done 109 adoptions and as of the end of August this year have done 124. My not so secret goal is to reach 200 but if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. I won’t push an adoption to reach a numeric goal but we will just keep plugging away at it and one of the things I stress with adopters is that once you adopt from the Pit Bull Coalition, you are family. We are intrusive in the best possible way, of course. Naturally we do follow ups and love seeing pictures of our alumni in their happy homes. I’m honored to be Facebook friends with numerous adopters to see them out and about at events and to be “real life” friends as well.
Occasionally we get an especially touching case and Kya was just such a case. She was about 7 years old last fall at the time of intake and she had lived with a couple who then had children therefore relegated Kya to the in-laws home where she was cared for but not necessarily doted on. She had the basics but eventually was given to us in hopes of finding her a better life.
I had been working with a lady who eventually became dubbed “The Crying Lady” because, well, she had recently lost her dog and was quite emotional when meeting our adoptables. She was well balanced by her stoic hubby and they were just the nicest couple. After seeing Kya’s picture, TCL called me and I answered the phone to hear only sobbing. We knew Kya was the gal for her and for the following months, Kya was treated like a princess. She became the beloved puppy that she never got a chance to be and was completely doted on.
As often happens with these stories, we learned just after a month or two after her adoption that Kya had cancer so her adoring parents set out to make the next few months the best ever for her. When it became apparent that her time was winding down I met TCL and the Stoic Man at the vet to lend support as they sent her off to romp pain free at the bridge. She was hugged and stroked and comforted every step of the way and as her last breath left, we applied some red lipstick to her nose and made an impression. TCL left the lipstick on Kya to send her off to the bridge looking pretty.
We are family. When you adopt from us, you adopt us for as much or as little as you want us in your life. We don’t just adopt animals, we adopt family members. We adopt love.
I’m not an overly demonstrative person and I try to keep my emotions pretty tightly bound. In my mind that helps when I lend this support in times like this. I hope Kya knows how adored she was. I think she knew and I think she sent me a sign. Feeling pretty solemn after the morning but soon, so very soon, I received a sign…a sign possibly from Kya signifying life goes on…
I got to pick these two little nuggets of love and bring them into rescue.
We all have flaws and while we don’t all always see our own image as clear as possible in the mirror, we have to hope for some semblance of self awareness and also that this self awareness will result in growth. Maybe “flaw” is a strong word. At work we talk about strengths and opportunities, so maybe that is a better characterization. When it comes to my dogs first and pit bull type dogs in general, I know that my strength and opportunity lie in the fact that the propensity for them to be unfairly judged for anything is real and abiding and yet I know that I will go to any length to defend them, thus nearly every reaction stems from how it may affect me or my dogs. It also tends to make me more unforgiving towards other dogs.
Recently we were at a fundraiser which was held at a local bar with a “paw friendly” patio. The fundraiser was for a cause very dear to me and while the weather was hot, the evening promised to be chock-full of fun. As dog lovers filtered through the outdoor patio with their pooches in tow the evening seemed to be headed for one of laid-back joy and fun. As I stood just inside the gate listening to the speech, welcoming us and explaining the mission of Pet Promises for whom the fundraiser was benefiting, a lady walked in to stand just behind and beside me with her little red cattle dog. The man sitting behind me immediately engaged this woman in conversation as he apparently owned a blue heeler, who was, of course, “the best dog in the world.”
I glanced at them a couple of times throughout the speech that was being given as they weren’t quiet and were certainly drowning out some of the speech, at least for me. As often tends to happen during speeches, people are acknowledged and others applaud. As I was trying to balance a drink in one hand and do my best to offer more than just a golf clap, I soon, adjusted my arms and at the appropriate time offered up some applause. At that exact moment, the little red cattle dog sprang from her sitting position nearly 5 feet away and nipped my arm, but good.
The woman was horrified and immediately regained control of her dog, apologizing the entire time but to be honest, the numerous emotions and thoughts that coursed through my heart and head would have none of it. The very first thought through my head (besides “ow”) was “If my dog did that to anyone, they’d be screaming about a Pit Bull attack.” My skin wasn’t broken but it was certainly bruised for several days and while I know that the lady was “sorry” and upset, I couldn’t bring myself to utter words of forgiveness or consolation. Less than 10 minutes later she and her dog were leaving and I knew in my heart that while it wasn’t anyone’s fault and that she must have been feeling horrified, I could not, would not offer any clemency by word or deed. I could not forgive her or her dog for an act that, had it been done by one of my dogs would have been magnified tenfold. (Note: not by those who know and advocate for my guys but just in general.)
So to you, I ask, what do you say when someone says “I’m sorry” to you and the last thing you could possibly utter is, “That’s ok.”
Or in this case, redux is a little bit of a stretch. Originally when I made Ray’s appointment, he was to be brought in Tuesday the 5th but Kevin and I had some maneuvering to do with our vehicles and thus decided to reschedule for today which would make two trips in two days to the office. Juli’s annual visit was yesterday and he completely rocked it.
As is customary the office called yesterday morning and left a voicemail reminder about Ray’s appointment and upon hearing it I began to shake. They clearly didn’t “get” what I was trying to accomplish so after I calmed a bit I called the office. Ray was not coming in for an exam and a possible x-ray. Ray’s anxiety at the Vet’s office was so high that I couldn’t subject him to that type of waiting and anticipation. Fortunately, the office manager answered the phone and got me in touch with a staff member who knows Ray. Knows him well. She and I talked extensively about what has been going on with Ray and since he really has been walking better since the two incidents and is newly on some new arthritis supplements we decided to refill his Rimadyl and cancel the x-ray for now.
I obviously keep a very close eye on him and all manner of how he walks. I don’t take his legs, his health or his pain levels lightly so with all of that in mind, we are in a holding pattern for now. We will resume his walks and slowly build back up to where we were. He is still dropping some extra weight so that should help to alleviate some joint stress and for now we will just continue to live and love as ever.
Thank you, everyone for all of your good wishes and for checking in. I can’t express how touched we are for your friendship.
The saga of Ray’s legs continues. As you may remember, last July after the Sugar family was adopted, Ray went in for his TTA surgery to help repair his ACL. Due to his high anxiety levels and my anxiety over his anxiety, I waited longer than I should have to schedule this surgery and going into it we knew that he had advanced levels of arthritis is both legs for a dog as young as he is. Fortunately the surgery was a success which was doubly confirmed in March when Ray went in for his annual vaccinations and exam.For a dog like Ray I’ve just learned to do a lot of this medical in one fell swoop. At annual exam time, Ray has a dental cleaning, is vaccinated, has his nails trimmed and this year had his leg x-rayed –all while he was anesthetized. This most certainly is not ideal. Who wants to have their dog anesthetized every year? Not this gal, but I also don’t want him thrashing around screaming and injuring himself or staff at all either.
After Ray got the all clear in March we loosened the reigns a bit and allowed him to romp more around the yard. He’s pretty reasonable when trying to chase squirrels or
the world’s fastest dog Julius around the yard so we haven’t worried too much. Besides walking has really helped with not only strengthening his leg but with is overall mental happiness. A lot of what he does is he bounces about like a happy cow and pretends to chase Julius as Juli zips by only to stop and wait for the next pass.
Then about a week and a half ago, I let the boys out for their last potty break, and after a very short time heard the worst sound I could imagine coming from our back yard. For a split second my world stopped as it sounded like the boys were in an all out fight. Screaming and guttural growling filled the night air as I ran outside fearing the worst only to find that they had crossed either over or under the temporary fencing we had put up across the side (the whole yard has a privacy fence) where Kevin is trying to grow some grass-a temporary fence they had never before challenged-and were leaping at an opossum that was balanced atop the fence hissing at them. Julius and Ray were both leaping in the air with varying degrees of height (Juli can reach the top, so I’m thankful he didn’t this time) and screeching at this poor creature who finally departed to the neighbor’s yard. I got the boys back into the house and we all retired to bed after my heart finally stopped its frantic racing.
Sometime during the night Ray left the bed to lie on his mat and when we all got up in the morning, he did not want to get up for his morning potty break. I let Juli out and encouraged Ray to come when I finally saw that he wasn’t putting any weight at all on his leg and didn’t want to walk, so I helped him back to his mat, gave him some Rimadyl with his breakfast and left to help man the Pit Bull Coalition booth at Pet Expo. Ray has extraordinary holding powers so I knew he’d be alright until I returned, and he was. I helped him go outside in the afternoon, and kept him mostly immobile for the remainder of the weekend. He’s been relegated again to sleeping on his mat on the floor and had seemed to be healing just as we hoped. Until the following Friday. Last Friday I was sitting on the patio with the boys when Ray heard Kevin pull into the drive. We went inside to greet him after having been gone the week and all was normal yet again until about an hour or two later when Ray again wouldn’t put any weight on his foot.
Kevin and I have agonized over this since Friday. We hate to put him under just for x-rays again but in reality we can’t not do it because we need to know the extend of any damage, but do we subject him to another TTA? Do we try TPLO? How acutely does the arthritis factor into the equation? Can his pain be managed medically? Lots of questions right now and no answers…but he knows we’re talking about him.