It Takes A Village

 *Update: Bentley got adopted today.  5/6/15.  I won’t pretend  that while I’m happy that I might have had just the slightest twist to my heart when I got the news.  

Sometimes the stories that mean the most are hardest to write; at least they seem harder to start. This one has been pinging around in my head for awhile and I keep trying and discarding the beginning, so maybe it will help if I just let it flow.

I’m wondering if this story is so hard to start because there are so many morals to it. Maybe it’s just not organized as well as I’d like it to be for the telling.

Some people shy away from adopting a shelter dog because they don’t know the dog’s history. In many cases, even if a dog winds up at the shelter because the owner surrendered it (rather than showing up as a stray) we don’t really know the history. We know the provided history only. I guess there are the people who have run out of resources and have to surrender and then there are those who just need to “get rid” of their pet. It can’t be easy and those people may or may not be aware that their words at surrender could possibly condemn your dog unfairly.

The first time I saw Bentley was in a picture that was sent to me on March 26th.

 

I had been an official Board member of the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition for a whole five days when a Board member from a neighboring shelter contacted me about an abundance of Pit Bulls currently at their facility. We set a time to come and evaluate possible candidates for our rescue and I was the first to arrive so the Warden’s wife took me on a mini tour and I met the 6 pit bulls in house. Immediately Bentley grabbed my attention. In a large, clean pole barn stood two long banks of double kennels which could be partitioned off in case of a full house. Amid all of the barking and jumping on kennel doors, sat a large red lump with an impossibly large head. As we walked along the line, I was given a brief recap of the little bit of info available on each dog. The majority of the dogs were known by the number on their kennel and not given names, unless they arrived with one.

Bentley and Trina were the only Pit bulls with names. Trina had become the Warden’s wife’s favorite and then there was the large red lump named Bentley. Apparently Bentley was surrendered with nearly the equivalent of a death sentence: “He’s great with people and kids, but tries to kill other animals, including horses.”

When the rest of the team arrived, we began bringing the dogs out to the yard for assessment. The younger dogs, the under one crew were about as expected and pretty much all fun, all the time. The young adult females were also good but with a few slight health issues and all the while we struggled a bit to find a “neutral dog” for the tests. We tried Trina as the neutral dog and she soon showed that not only was she not neutral, but she might not be a very good candidate for …anything. She was returned to her kennel and not evaluated. Finally after all five were seen, the Warden’s wife, turned plaintive eyes to us and asked that we just look at Bentley. Just try.

Long story short, Bentley quickly became the star of the day and left us all wondering about his true past. He and two others were selected for the Coalition-when space became available-but should be left to the adoption floor in the meantime, just in case.

Days then weeks passed and the Coalition, always short of Fosters, did not have space and the Pit Bulls sat.

Waiting.

 

One month later, I received another message that the same shelter was full and needed some relief and this came at the same time that our own shelter was able to pull some dogs, though with the abundance of abandoned Pit bulls in our community, that type of dog as well as Chihuahuas and a few others was rarely “imported.” However, since Bentley had specially touched me, I was hopeful that he might be among the chosen to come to our shelter.

“What is the benefit of pulling dogs from one shelter just to put them in another one?” the Warden’s wife asked. The Allen County SPCA’s kennels are full of enrichment and some training for their temporary guests. Generally when walking through the kennels, one is greeted with soft music and otherwise silence. Dogs learn quickly that sitting quietly buys treats while jumping and barking brings nothing.

 

Bentley was pulled (have I mentioned how much I love that Executive Director of ours?) and quickly became a staff favorite as well as a garner of compliments from the Veterinarian’s office staff while visiting for his snip-snip.  Even on his first day at our shelter, I got the sense that he was happy to be there and he recognized his good fortune and saw his bright future.

Had we relied solely on the surrender information, and without a good word from the Warden’s wife, Bentley might not have been evaluated and certainly may have languished in the kennel until his space was needed. His big, sweet face haunted my mind, but had we not evaluated him, I might have let him go from my mind. Had he not shown himself to be a huge cinnamon sugar cookie of a dog, he might not have had a champion pulling for him. I don’t know.

 
What I do know is that despite whatever may or may not have happened in the past and because so many people stepped up and gave him a chance, Bentley’s future is bright.

But it takes a village.

Expo Time!

What a beautiful weekend it was here in Northeast Indiana. On Saturday the sun was shining, birds were singing and what seemed like the entire neighborhood was outside doing yard work. Sunday was warm but overcast and that lead to rain which lead to good nap taking weather.

 

I actually didn’t do either thing on either day because it was time once again for the Northern Indiana Pet Expo and as is my custom, I worked volunteered both days. Each year rescues and shelters bring adoptable animals and vendors bring their wares and we immerse ourselves in All! Things! Pet! for the weekend. (Because we clearly aren’t about All! Things! Pet! the majority of the time.)  

 

This year was a bit different because for the first year I split my time between two organizations rather than dedicating the entire weekend to one.  On Saturday I spent the day with the adorable handful of love named Benson who became also known as Benny Boo Boo Boo Boo Boo Boo Boo. (Recommend that his be said in your best Kate Hudson voice.)

Benson

Benson

The rap on him was that he was a handful, but staff had been working really hard with him on his manners and it really showed. He was a delightful companion who is probably resting comfortably on his own sofa right about now.

 

Recently, after a bit of soul-searching, I wondered to myself why I wasn’t involved with the local Pit Bull Coalition after all I live with and love Pit Bull-type dogs and am committed to helping them, so what was I waiting for? The truth is, the Coalition has had its ups and downs and until I met one of the Board Members on a Pack walk, I wasn’t sure how the mission was being carried out. After learning more and going through the interview process, I’m pretty proud to say that I am a new Volunteer and Board Member of the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition. As such, I worked at the Coalition booth on Sunday where we hosted the rambunctious but polite Titan (whom I’ve met and transported already)

Titan

Titan

and the very sweet and slightly shy Bug-A-Boo (with whom I clicked immediately).

Bug-a--Boo

Bug-a–Boo

I was bemused at how many people mistook Benson and Titan for Julius and Boo for Ray. Both received applications and will hopefully be in their forever homes soon as the waiting list for those waiting fosters in rescue goes on and on. In the meantime we do what we can for as many as we can. 

We hope your weekend was just as awesome.

 

 

Practice Makes Not Perfect But More Fun

I’m not a good photographer by any means and I just have an entry level DSLR, but the kind animals of the Allen County SPCA allowed me to take some pictures of them and for the first time, I was very happy with these in that I got nearly a 20% keep rate with very little editing.  Here are a few of my faves.

Delilah

Delilah

Delilah was the last model of the day for me and as it turned out, I had saved the best for last. She’s a tiny boxer gal who is calm and loving. She seemed like a pro, vogue-ing for the camera. Just a few shots and I knew I had “money.” She was beautiful and touching and will be a wonderful addition to any family.

Isabelle

Isabelle

Isabelle came out, sniffed around the yard, posted for pics and returned to her kennel. She was sweet and friendly in a tiny little package at only 38 pounds.

Capone

Capone

Capone seems very large, but upon checking weighs in just about the same as Julius at 76 pounds.  He is a lot of boy. I’m surprised to find that he is 4, because he has a puppy exuberance that will do well with training, oh, but he is a love bug!

Cha-cha Capone

Cha-cha Capone

I did do a few others but these were some of my favorite shots. So, while I’m fishing for compliments, which watermark do you like better?

Weekend Wrap Up

This past weekend was a busy one with wrapping up the AdoptaJubitation, readying for the next round of celebrations coming up in August, helping with the baby’s two year photos and taking a beautiful girl named Meadow to Pride Fest.

 

Proud to be a Pit Bull at Pride Fest

Proud to be a Pit Bull at Pride Fest

I’ve been enjoying a look back via the Timehop app at some of the first pictures of Julius in our home ad what has surprised me is that he looks so at home even on the first day or two. July 26th is actually the day I brought him to our home and it wasn’t actually until a few days later that we officially decided to utter the words aloud that we really were keeping him.

 

For the second year in a row, I was able to bring an adoptable dog from AC SPCA to Pride Fest. Little Miss Meadow, who seems so quiet and reserved in the kennels, completely blossomed among the crowds of people who stopped by to visit our booth. She handed out kisses and affectionate tail wags to scores of people, accepted pats while gnawing on a bully stick and only barked at one person…the protester outside the main gate. What a good girl.

 

Aurora and Meadow

Aurora and Meadow

The second kennel-mate Meadow has had since arriving at the shelter was adopted on Sunday, so I’m hoping Meadow’s person comes soon. She is definitely the type of dog who would love living with another dog, so I hope that will happen for her.

 

Finally, our “contest” is over, so I want to thank everyone who commented, liked, shared and/or entered. Allie F. is the winner, so be on the lookout for your package.

Queen Bee

Over the weekend, I stopped by the shelter to visit with the adorable pocket pittie named Meadow whom you may have seen spammed all over a picture or two of on my personal Facebook page.  I had actually meant to make a quick visit to her on the way to running some errands and though this story isn’t about her, here is another gratuitous picture.

Meadow

Meadow

After I visited with Meadow, I departed the kennel area to find Miss Honeybee wandering around the hallway having escaped from her gated office accommodations.   “Hey, what are you doing out here?” I asked her, to which she turned and in all of her haughty splendor gave me a look that quite clearly said, “Why are you daring to speak to me, peasant?”

I shoo’ed her back towards the office in which she was being kept, all the while she darted indignant glances at me over her shoulder as if to ensure that I wasn’t thinking of touching her.  As I reached in an attempt to navigate her back over the gate opening I was treated to one more frosty gaze, so I sat and waited for staff to come rescue me.  When a staff member arrived with another dog on leash, I explained that Honeybee had escaped and that I was a bit afraid to touch her.  I held the leash of the 80 pound dog she had been showing and she scooped up all 6.2 pounds of  Honeybee to be returned.

Honeybee, photo courtesy of Allen County SPCA

Honeybee, photo courtesy of Allen County SPCA

I know when a dog doesn’t want to be touched and  I respected her wishes in an effort to not get myself bitten.  After all, what would have happened if she bit me?  She’d have to go into bite quarantine, we’d have to fill out a report and you know, they just have such a bad rap anyway, that I wanted to save her from any prejudice a potential adopter may have in feeling they were unsafe with a dog of her breed.

Superstition Is The Way

There is a superstition at the Shelter that if you suddenly think about or talk about a dog that has been adopted for quite a while, you’ll soon hear something adverse about that dog or it will suddenly come back.  Although I don’t work there, there have been times when I’ve gone through my camera roll and deleted pictures of adopted dogs only to find them back in the kennels within a week or so, or worse.  Not included in this (for me) are the dogs who have been adopted by people who are friends or have become friends like Glamour (now Kya), Pop Tart (now Kahlissi) and Nina.

Glamour/Kya

Glamour/Kya

Leesi

Leesi

Nina

Nina

They are all in great homes and I get to hear about them and on occasion, Julius gets to play with the Nina-bean.

While I do think about many others occasionally and there are some pictures that I can no longer associate with a name, there is one who remains in my heart and is never far from my thoughts.

Big Mama Tora

Big Mama Tora

I constantly hope she is doing well while secretly hoping she’ll wander back into my life. Is that as bad as I feel it is?

Keeping Up Appearances

Ah, Friday, I’ve waited all week for you!  Today is warm, but not too hot, sunny, slightly breezy, casual wear, last day before staycation day and I can feel the wind down begin.

I actually spent my lunch hour with my favorite shelter boy, Deuce, and our own Hometown Hero, Jessica, chatting about all of the great things in store for the animals in this community and their humans.  Sometime during the course of the conversation, Jessica pointed out that Deuce had left (multiple) smudge prints on my clothes. 

As I headed back to work, the running dialogue in my brain reflected that I should have been more careful and that if I took more pride in my appearance, I might not have to sit in the office for the remainder of the day with paw prints on my pants and sweater.

pooldeuce

Then on the heels of that thought (do thoughts have feet?) I realized I take great pride in my appearance.  These multiple paw marks were born from multiple hugs from a dog who loves and trusts me.  They’re from a dog who six weeks ago was happy to see me but so unsure of himself that he pancaked and urinated on himself.  These marks are from a dog who has gained some self confidence back and can ask for affection as freely as he gives it.  I was a part of his growth process, so yeah, I’ll wear this badge of honor pretty darn proudly.

Enjoy your weekend!