#TakeAChance

Well, that was quite the cliffhanger, wasn’t it? I meant to finish out the Tale of the Blues and talke about “Iron’s” hashtag on Friday, but not only did scheduling not permit, but Fate intervened as well. Chance’s story was going to be about how Asia regretfully decided to let him go. She had told him during her visits that he would be coming home to live with her and ultimately with all of the newness, as well as a foster pup, she agreed to see if his true family would show up. She gave them 30 days.

August 15

On Saturday August 15th I had an urge to visit “Iron” at the shelter and as I was driving down there, I received a text that a wonderful couple were in and going to adopt Iron. As luck would have it, I was able to meet this couple and they were, in fact wonderful. 

  

In the back of my mind, I felt a little sad for “Iron.” He would be an “only dog” which may make him a little sad, but it might work out in the end. That is the story we would have published on Friday.

August 22

A beautiful day dawned full of promise and anticipation. Today our little Pets for Life team would finally be hitting the streets and knocking on doors to begin our mission of helping our neighbors retain their pets. We were going to be able to offer spay/neuter, vaccines, preventatives and food among other things all for free to this specific area. What nearly marred this glorious day was the message I received that “Iron” was coming back to the shelter. The funny thing about this, though, is that it didn’t upset me or even make me sad. It felt right somehow. 

  

The adopters were distraught to return him (along with the mountain of belongings he had amassed in just 7 days) but due to some neighboring dogs trying to fence-fight, he returned as they say “through no fault of his own” and with the feedback that he is, in fact, perfect in a home. I’m not sure why, but I just couldn’t feel upset about this return. I hugged the big wiggly lug when I saw him and I let him know that it was ok and I would always be around to look after him.

August 23

Another Sunday and another Pack Walk with The Bully Collective. As has been her custom, Lisa had arranged for a couple of volunteers to come and walk adoptable dogs. One of those dogs was meant to be Bitsy, Asia’s foster dog but as fate would have it, Bitsy had been on a two-night trial and on Saturday night we received the message that Bitsy had found her forever home. That allowed for her walking partner to be available for Iron/Chance.

  

Julius and I picked him from the shelter and left with the message that while I’d try to have him back by noon, I wasn’t going to promise. (Side note, Julius is the only dog I know who gets excited to roll up to the shelter as if we’re going to Disney.)

A nice long pack walk was followed by some impromptu Bro time as Clyde came over and the three boys had some quality play time in the yard. 

  

I loved seeing Chance waddle-trundle along after the sleeker Clyde and Julius. It was so much like a little brother trying to keep up with the big guys. As Lisa and I watched the adora-bulls play in the yard we agreed that someone in our large family of friends needed to adopt Chance. We couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing him regularly. I considered it over and over again. He and Julius got on well and Ray would be given all the time and space he needed and even the name could work. My boys are named after football players, so Chance might not work but Iron? Iron Mike, of course would be perfect!

After Clyde went home, I loaded Chance in the car and decided to make a pit stop at Asia’s house. Since she had company over everyone was in the back yard I text her to make sure Ms. Cranky (Sugar) was on a leash. 95% of the time Sugar is great with other dogs but there have been a couple that she wouldn’t tolerate so I wanted to be sure there would be no incidents. There weren’t. Asia didn’t receive my text on time and as Chance and I walked in the far gate, Sugar greeted him as if he were a long lost brother.

  

Chance played with Sugar, romped around the yard, followed the little (human) girls around and drank his fill from the water spurting out of the Slip ‘n Slide.

An hour before the shelter was to close, I called and got assurances that no one had come in to visit with him so I let them know he wouldn’t be back for “curfew” and since the shelter is closed to the public on Mondays, he wouldn’t be back until Tuesday.

There’s no mistaking the joy on Chance’s face when enjoying all of the activities of the day. Going from Pack Walk to a play date with the Big Boys, to a play date with Sugar, Slip ‘n Slide fun with three girls ranging from 1 – 5 years of age to all of the different locations in just one day back from another home would make anyone exhausted or even over-stimulated. Chance aced the day as if it was just business as usual.

Are you a believer in fate? Karma? Everything happens for a reason? The very evening that Chance was returned to the shelter Bitsy was adopted 

 

Bitsy and Bentley

 

and on Monday morning Asia emailed me, “I think he is meant to be with us. It’s been one month since I met him, I tried to let someone else adopt him, and it didn’t work. It’s a sign.” My response?

  

Okay.

Cujo’s Chance

Technically, Lucky/Ion/Eden never made it to the adoption floor. Cassie and Melissa had adopted her immediately after her spay, so her name was listed without any picture other than “available soon” to mark her presence. Chance had a different story.

On the day they were both transported for their surgeries, Chance was found to have a cold and could not be operated on and thus not yet ready for adoption so he would remain a guest of the Allen County SPCA for a bit longer but was already creating a small buzz.

  

The Blues had arrived at the SPCA on Friday and on Saturday and Sunday I did something that could have impacted his future. Saturday morning Asia and I went to the shelter to visit the Blues and she immediately fell in love became obsessed with Chance. He was, after all pretty spectacular in so many ways.

  

 He was calm and affectionate and while Eden bounced all over him and jumped on his head and his back, he remained steadfast and happy, giving more credence to the theory that he was her father. Though he was sweet and affectionate with us, it was clear that Chance was a dog’s dog-he loved being near other dogs, especially little Eden. His tender, gentle acceptance of her was inspiring to see.

  

The following day, the hubby and I had to run an errand that took us to the shelter and I used that opportunity to introduce him to the Blues. I rarely do that but when I do, it’s to plant a seed, because there’s always that just in case case that comes up. Little did I realize that little seeds had been planted in Asia’s heart as well and on that Monday she informed me that not only did she submit an application for Chance, she had called to ensure that her faxed application had been received and already scheduled a meet and greet for him and Sugar. As much as I already loved Chance, and thought that he would make an excellent addition to the family, I wasn’t convinced that it was the right time or circumstances.

  

For as much as I pressured gently encouraged Cassie and Melissa, I wanted to be sure that Asia was separating Chance’s back story with her urge to adopt him. As far as the circumstances in Asia’s household, she had just purchased her new home, adopted Sugar and began fostering Bitsy all before even the first utility bills began rolling in. Luckily since his neuter was delayed, so would be his meet and greet which would allow me to really work on if not changing Asia’s mind, at least to get her to think the decision through more carefully.

In the meantime, I pulled out all the stops. The time commitment, the financial commitment, the loss of a crucial foster at a time when good foster homes for pit bulls were scarce were all arguments I cited while trying to get her to reevaluate her decision and ultimately I asked that she at least wait to see if another family would come along that would be in a position to give Chance all that he needed. Not that Asia wouldn’t, but instead of being the second or third in a home, he should have an opportunity to find a family who needed to love him. He deserved that chance. If after 30 days he was still available for adoption we could reevaluate.

Nearly every day I went to visit Chance and while sitting with him or walking him I fell for him again and again but knew that if the hubby and I were to add a dog to our household, it would be someone spry and active enough to play with Julius but calm enough to keep Ray feeling secure. While Chance would definitely not be threatening to Ray, he would not in any way be able to keep up with Julius so while I loved him dearly and if I needed to I would provide him a home, I knew that a better one was out there somewhere for him…

  

To be continued…

#FreeLucky

#FreeLucky

There’s no denying that Lucky and Cujo were in fact two lucky dogs and oh my goodness, if a name was ever wrong for a dog, then Cujo was it. We began referring to him as Chance; he’d gotten several by now and yet The Blues still got other new names at the shelter. Ion (Lucky) and Iron (Cujo/Chance). I’ll admit, I really never called them by their new names much; Lucky and Chance they were in my mind and my heart. These two were definitely wiggling deeper into my heart, I mean, how can you carry a dog into a clinic, wear her blood on your shirt (like a badge of honor) and not feel like you are now somehow bound together? Can’t happen.

 

Lucky is about 10 months old and presumably Chance’s daughter. She’s a stocky little low rider who wiggles into you as if she’s trying to osmose into you to get that much more loves because she’s never met a stranger and is absolutely positive that all of humanity was set on this Earth specifically to love and dote on her. She’s probably right about that.

Soon after the weekend, the pair was sent to H.O.P.E. for their surgeries where Lucky’s lucky streak continued. There’s a fabulous woman (and friend) who loves Pit Bulls has been volunteering with the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition by walking foster dogs at our Pack Walks and we’ve joked that she is a lucky charm because the last three dogs she walked were almost immediately adopted afterwards. She also works at H.O.P.E. and though she was at the June Pets for Life clinic volunteering, it was at H.O.P.E. where she re- met and fell in love with Lucky all over again prompting a Facebook campaign that had me in stitches and tears.

Ironically I had just recently had a text conversation with her partner about her level of readiness for a “large” dog and how all of their friends, especially all of us crazy committed pit bull people would be there to support them but understood the reluctance since they are newly settling into a new home.

The campaign started with this picture

Photo by Cassie

and the caption, “This is Lucky/Ion/whatever I name her. I have absolutely fallen in love with her and need her sweet love in my life forever!”

Friends, ever supportive that we are began a very low pressure, reasonable show of support for Cassie’s campaign which became known as #freelucky.

 

Photo by Lisa Reyes and The Amazing Adventures of Clyde

Comments such as “Poster dog for PFL,” “Such a proud symbol of the PFL cause,” “If there was no Pets For Life in Fort Wayne, where would this girl be right now?” (Did I mention the other mom is the Pets for Life coordinator?) “#luckyneedstwomommies” and then there was, “Sarah McLaughlin called, she wants to perform at the #freelucky concert.”

Then the one that may have tipped the scale, “…I really do think it is time for me to devote my love to another dog. I miss Oscar and he would want me to love again….she just left to go back to ACSPCA and it made my heart hurt.”

Photo by Lizz (photobombing dog has already been adopted)

Ultimately,and in record time the campaign worked and Lucky’s fate rested in the paws of the two resident dachshunds.

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

Photo by Melissa and Cassie

All kidding aside, how fitting that this Lucky dog found her way to these lucky women. This little dog, who in less than one year of being had been bounced from home to home, been protected at two shelters, become a rally symbol of community hope, a symbol of two women who are passionate about saving lives and giving back to their community and has made her final stop with them. I’m sure that when they look at their girl now named Eden, they don’t see a sad little story, but one of success and love written on one kissable, squishy face. #LoveForeverEden

Pets for Life and the Blues

The problem I have with my own social media is that I hesitate to inundate people with the same info over and over again on each outlet and that I forget that there are those folks who only follow along on certain outlets so there are “holes” in my info sharing. Case in point is that I wanted to reference our Pets for Life clinic in June for some posts this week only to find that I never did blog about it.

Last year, our shelter director asked me if I’d like to attend a Pets for Life seminar in Detroit with one of the shelter staff and that seminar really struck a cord. This initiative which is about serving those pets who live in underserved parts of our community and assisting the people who love them. I’ve loved volunteering at our Pet food Pantry and this initiative not only dovetailed nicely with that, it really amplified everything that we’d be able to offer folks.

This Spring, in conjunction with the staff at H.O.P.E. for Animals, our low cost spay-neuter clinic, the Allen County SPCA began making plans for a free clinic to be held in June. Having pooled our resources, we found that we’d be able to offer Rabies, distemper, microchips, ID tags, flea treatments, collars, food, leashes, some nail trims and offer information about spay and neuter. After months of planning the morning of the clinic dawned to a torrential storm that brought down mighty trees all over the city. Would we cancel? Would we reschedule? We had local Veterinarians and Vet Techs volunteering their time, regular volunteers ready, premeasured vaccinations in the fridge and finally, lines of citizens beginning to form in the miserable drizzle that continued after the storm swept through. Lines of dogs and the people who love them ready to receive that much needed dose of vaccines. With some quick thinking and arranging, the clinic proceeded as planned. Dogs of all shapes and sizes received their chips and vaccines while their owners received food and supplies if needed and rather than feeling tired or daunted by the lines, each new little paw that walked through the door gave me that much more energy and sense of purpose.

Photo credit Allen County SPCA

Naturally there were Pit Bulls through the doors, but there were so many dogs of all shapes and sizes that were truly reflective of a diversity of taste in our community. Most were well behaved and those who were slightly less socialized were brought in separately and given all respect, consideration and space. Thankfully those owners waited their turn in line and upon reaching registration were given the instructions on how and where to bring in their dog who was given the works in the comfortable space off the lobby.

Photo by Allen County SPCA

And then we met the Blues.

I wasn’t the parking lot greeter, so I didn’t hear the whole story at the beginning, but two women came to the line who had literally just come to own two pit bulls 30 minutes before arriving and arrived at nearly the end of the clinic. They had acquired these two dogs from a neighbor or something and remembered hearing of our free clinic, so loaded the dogs in the car and headed over. Not knowing the dogs or their personalities, the ladies secured their spot in line and when it was their turn, I accompanied them to get the first of the two dogs. The male, named Cujo came out first. He was a calm “little” blue hippo who was unsure about what all was occurring, but stood stoically for his shots and chip. Upon his release, we tried to guide him down the exit hallway but he dug in and wouldn’t budge. I asked the volunteer to open the door so that Cujo could see that it was a “good” hallway and out to the parking lot he trotted lumbered.

 

With Cujo taken care of I returned for Lucky. The young female had a large gash on her hind leg so I carried her to the clinic for her turn and along with her vaccines and chip, the docs set her up with some healing salve and told the owner to bring her to HOPE the following week for a check up. The two ladies told us they were first time dog owners and we all ooh’d and ah’d over how exceptionally sweet the two dogs were and that while Lucky certainly was lucky, Cujo definitely needed a new name. Many of the collars and all of the leashes were gone, so I ran to the pittie van to ransack my supply and came up with two leashes and a collar as well as a couple of bowls. From the clinic, we found a suitable collar, a full 30 pound bag of food and the offer of a crate if they’d come back for it. The little group left with all of that as well as my personal card and that of the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition so that if they needed anything they could reach out and we’d be there.

Nearly exactly 30 days later, my heart sank to see Cujo’s picture on the stray site at Animal Care and Control. Come back as we explore the journey of these two blue dogs.

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.

 

 

Belle of the Ball

I do so enjoy getting dressed up for special occasions and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic presentation of Holiday Pops was just that type of occasion. What could make it even more fun and special? Being accompanied by and adoptable dog, of course! The Allen County SPCA joined forces with the Fort Wayne Phil to hae some adoptable dogs on hand for the performances and a few lucky pooches even got to go on stage!

We volunteers were told in advance (at least I was) that we’d be handling small dogs since the singers taking the dogs on stage in all likelyhood weren’t experienced dog handlers, and I had my eye on a cute little poodly-do to be my date. Imageine my delighted surprise when, a few hours before the performance, I received a message stating I would be accompanying SnowDrop (ugh! that name!) For the evening performance, two of us would be handling larger dogs (SnowDrop and Myrrh) and the third would bring Candy and Cane, a bonded pair of Chihuahuas.

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After picking our pretty girl up at the shetler and securing her in the Pittie Van, I switched out her collar and leash for our Freedom Harness, a gold and pearl (duh, not real) necklace borrowed from my closet and a beautiful peacock colored tutu donated to me by our friends at Lamae Designs.

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Not only did our girl rock her fancy attire, she was a perfect ambassador for -not just her “breed” -but for all adoptable dogs waiting at the shelter. She was well behaved, steady in the face of massive crowds around her, she was utterly affectionate to all who jockeyed in for a pat and some doggy smooches and she is apparently even house broken. People of all ages clamored around her to admire the fancy, muscular dog in a tutu and she was steadfast with the youngest to the oldest.

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As the Embassy seats filled up and people began vacating the lobby, SnowDrop settled on some pillows with a bully stick (of course!) for a well-earned break. She chomped happily uninterrupted on her treat until intermission and then once again donned her tutu and sparkled for the masses.

I thought she might have garnered some serious interest and am hopeful that she made enough of an impression that those who fell in love with her will come back soon and fill out an application. This girl is a gem. After intermission, we packed up and all headed back to the shelter to get the dogs all settled in for the night and as I removed SnowDrop’s borrowed finery and settled her back on her blanket covered Kuranda bed, I couldn’t help but think of Cinderella at the stroke of midnight.