#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.

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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

Saving the Blues

It’s hard not to be human.

By that I mean, we humans are so flawed, so imperfect and can be so judgmental but the very foundation of Pets For Life is to put aside our judgment, our prejudice and remember love isn’t measured by the riches you can bestow on your dog but it is our common bond between the volunteers and the public who will stand in line –in the rain- for hours to have their dog vaccinated. The majority of these dogs had never seen a Veterinarian, had not ever been vaccinated. Some dogs were filthy and smelly and were on leashes made of rope, but in they came with their proud and grateful owners. This series is not about blame. It’s about hope and caring and love.

Approximately a month after the PFL Clinic, I happened to be perusing the Animal Care and Control page of lost dogs and came upon Cujo’s picture. 

  

If you had come up to me on the street 5 minutes before that and asked the names of the two blue pit bulls from the clinic I would have known immediately who you were asking about but I wouldn’t have been able to remember their names. I knew it was “our” Cujo the moment I set eyes on the picture and immediately contacted our Pets for Life coordinator to see if she could get the scoop and the following day Lucky’s picture joined the website. “Our” blue PFL dogs were on stray hold at Animal Care and Control but their owners had been contacted and indicated that they would be in shortly to reclaim. Whew.

Then days passed. And another. And then the weekend.

“Our” dogs showed up at ACC during an especially heavy week of Pit Bull intake which decreased their odds. ACC already had two pit bull ambassadors and the third qualifier went to The Pit Bull Coalition who was beyond full, the SPCA was full and had at least two pittie types. The reports coming from ACC were that Lucky and Cujo were staff favorites, which was a plus. Finally on Monday I was in full on panic mode but tried to keep it together. Stray hold was up. I contacted our long suffering ED at SPCA and hysterically spewed rationally updated her about Lucky and Cujo. It turns out that the day they were called by ACC, one of the owners showed up at SPCA trying to reclaim both dogs and after the confusion in locations was straightened out, she left indicating she would head to the correct location.

So on D-Day, we were trying to piece all of this together. The dogs went stray, the owner came to the wrong location to reclaim, did not show up at the correct location but gave every indication that they would do so. On Tuesday emails began flying between SPCA and ACC: could the Blues just have another day or so to try and locate the owners again? If the delay was in the reclaim fee, we would cover that to ensure these dogs went back to their homes. We would do whatever it takes to keep these dogs in their homes, but eventually something had to give. Phone calls to the owners went unreturned then finally the phone line was disconnected. The Blues had both passed their evaluations and were now biding their time waiting for a break. As it turned out, on Wednesday I was pulling Bitsy from ACC to take to her foster home and upon inquiring about the Blues was informed that they had been “tagged” by SPCA. Regardless of how rational our conversations were and how much Jessica and I assured each other that we couldn’t save them all, she saved these two. 

  

By Friday they were ensconced in the SPCA and ready for the next steps: spay/neuter and adoption.

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.

Guest Post-As Told by Jack

It was the day humans refer to as Saturday. It the day looked like many others but I felt like this was a different kind of day and when I woke up in my cozy nest of grass, I decided that this was the day I’d let them “catch” me. A few days ago, the human I lived with took me to a building that had lots of sounds of other dogs and handed me to a big man who spoke gruffly, but had kind eyes. I didn’t really want to be in the big building with all of the other dogs barking so I gave the big man the okie-doke and slipped through his legs and ran outside but I stayed near enough to the big building because something told me I should not wander far. That Saturday morning, I was feeling itchy from being outside, my skin was uncomfortable from the pulling hair and I was hungry. I ran right up to a lady and let myself be “caught.”

  

A few hours passed and I wondered why I had that feeling that I was supposed to be here on this specific day. I didn’t like being in the building with the loud dogs but then some more ladies came to look at me and one of them who seemed sad when she was looking at the blockheads said, “Yeah, he should definitely come.” Come where?

  

Eventually a few of the other dogs went in the office for a bit but then they were returned to their kennels and it was my turn. When the door opened, I was full of different feelings. I wanted to run away again and yet I also was a bit nervous so I wanted to hide. When I was brought to the office, one of the ladies and the gruff sounding man poked me with needles but they were kind about it so I didn’t cry. I put my paws in the gruff man’s lap to tell him I was sorry for hiding from him then I sat with the lady who didn’t want to touch me. I think she was nervous of all of my handsomeness, so I gave her a little kiss to make her feel happy. It made her giggle and I could tell she was beginning to love me.

  

Instead of going back to the kennel in the loud room I was put into a tiny crate and loaded into what the lady called the Pittie Van and I learned I was going on a Vicktory Ride. Eventually all five of us were loaded and I was nervous when I saw the big crybaby Blue Tick Coonhound loaded. I was sure his voice would give me a headache but he hopped in his crate and fell right asleep. Whew! What a relief! Oh, the pretty girl with the block head is whining-I think she just likes the sound of her own voice. Why does she have to talk so much? No one else is talking. The yellow guy is sitting up in the front seat like he’s special or something and the pup is being good in his little crate too. We’re all wondering what’s going on but we can tell this is a good car ride so no one is scared, we are just a little nervous.

When the Pittie Van stopped we were all unloaded by some more nice ladies who took us to other kennels and put blankets on our beds then left us for the night to wonder why we were moved from one big building with dogs to another one? What’s different? The next few days passed and we began to learn the routine, outside for fresh air, return to clean kennels with fresh bedding , food, dogs leave, dogs come. One kind lady shaved all of my handsome apricot hair off, and I pretended I was mad, but in truth it felt good to not have my skin pulled and itchy-feeling.

  

On the morning they call Thursday, I went for another ride and people looked at my ouchie foot then did some things in my mouth (I think) and when I came back, the little guy who was in the kennel next to me was gone and I felt happy for him, I guess. They said he found his forever home.

Just as I was settling onto my bed, I was brought to another room and as soon as I was in the door, I saw her! I recognized her as soon as I saw her and I ran right over. I was brought on this adventure so that I could meet my forever person and she found me so quickly. I was so excited to see her and she recognized me so quickly that we immediately were wrapped in love. As we cuddled, she whispered to me, “I hope they let me take you home, it will just be the two of us and we’ll be so happy.”

  

As we left the building, I heard something about shopping and getting spoiled…

Vicktory Ride

Over the weekend the world lost a little brown dog. If you had ever happened to see him out and about, you may not have realized that he was a game changer or a trail blazer. You might have mistaken him for just another little brown dog.

  

To the thousands of people who followed him, Ray the Vicktory Dog was an inspiration and a true hero. A little dog who survived Bad Newz Kennels, was rescued and along with roughly 50 others helped change the way we see former fight dogs and pit bulls in general. He overcame numerous hurdles and became a beloved family dog. As we mourn the physical loss, we will celebrate the life and legacy of Ray the Vicktory Dog.

As it happened, we had been in contact with the shelter from which Bentley was pulled and had planned for another pull on Saturday. Allen County SPCA was gearing up for a large Tent Event and we knew from experience that by the end of the day Saturday many dogs would be resting in the comfort of their very own new homes so I was planning to collect five dogs that we had “earmarked” for the SPCA. When I arrived, we had to do some readjusting due to adoptions (Yay!) but quickly set about filling the crates I had loaded into the Pittie Van.

  

While the transport was previously scheduled, I couldn’t help but feel that this was a good tribute to Ray. What better way to honor the memory of a rescued and adopted dog who loved car rides than with a transport.*

In the back of my mind I was hoping there would be an opportunity to name one of these dogs in Ray’s honor, but it turns out that fate already had that taken care of. The little pittie girl who made the transport had recently been named Mya.**

I thought that was very fitting.

*While the sending shelter is doing really good things, they are less visible than the Allen County SPCA which enjoys a very robust adoption rate.

**The name of one of the Vicktory Dogs still living at Best Friends.