Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shelter News: Progress

On Monday, June 29th, more than 50 supporters of the Montgomery County Texas Animal Shelter seated themselves in the public gallery of the County Commissioners Court to hear a presentation by our new Shelter Director Dr. Patricia Ryan asking for an exemption to a budget freeze in order to hire more kennel staff.

According to a shelter industry formula, a shelter our size, with the number of animals we have on an average day (currently 500 animals) and some other factors, ideally needs a staff of about 45 people. We currently have a staff of seven.

Dr. Ryan asked for the funding to hire 10 additional kennel staff ASAP, and requested that the county adjust the starting wage from $8.25 to $10.00 per hour in order to better compete with other shelters in the Houston area.

The commissioners unanimously approved this request, and will investigate some other solutions—including a plan that could place trustees from the county jail in the Shelter after hours to provide overnight cleaning. The volunteers, community members and other supporters were extremely pleased with the outcome.

Some people were surprised at how quickly the commissioners court agreed to the proposal. What needs to be kept in mind is the following:

1. Several dedicated and articulate community supporters spent the past several months contacting decision-makers to lay the groundwork for this request.
2. Two commissioners actually toured the Shelter and saw for themselves the dire need.
3. The new Shelter Director was the only one who made comments.
4. The public area was PACKED with supporters—it would have looked horrible to refuse such a necessary and entirely reasonable request with so many voters in the room.
5. No other court business could be easily conducted until our case was heard, so the commissioners prudently adjusted the agenda, moving our Shelter case forward so that they could clear the gallery and get on with their other business without us underfoot.

Maybe I am just cynical, but I wasn’t among the volunteers who had tears of joy in their eyes and who felt the commissioners had been generous. Certainly in these tight economic times, making a hiring decision when the county is under a budget freeze is refreshing, but in all honesty, I don’t think the men (and they were all middle aged to older white men) sitting above us were stretching all that hard to grant this request.

After all, as taxpayers we’re paying their salaries. They were just doing the job they’ve been appointed to do. It wouldn’t have been in their best interest to refuse such a basic request. Some of the volunteers sent an email afterwards urging us to “shower the commissioners with thank you cards.”

Considering that this is just a first step in a long process to bring the Shelter around to what it should be, I don’t feel we have to fawn over the commissioners. They did the right thing, and we shouldn’t expect any less. I feel that sending a bunch of thank you cards is rather like giving every 15-year-old on a youth soccer team a trophy just for showing up.

I am glad that the commissioners are paying attention because they need to. They’re going to hear more from us over the next few months.

-*-Photo courtesy of "chilli media" via Flickr, with adjustments in Photoshop.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot

It's 97 degrees outside here in Houston, Texas, as I write this post. Add in the humidity, and it feels much, much hotter. It's just noon, so it will get even hotter before the day is over.

Yesterday, another high-temperature record made the books--104 degrees in Metro Houston. Where I live, it was about 102--we're north of downtown at the edge of the Piney Woods.

Speaking of pine trees, the woods are parched. So is the grass, and the oak seedlings that so hopefully sprouted from the stump of our big tree that came down with Hurricane Ike. We're under burn bans and voluntary water restrictions, with more to come if things continue as predicted.

My dogs stay inside during the heat of the day, although my huntin' dog, Taco, the min pin, spent an hour outside this morning, patrolling his back yard. Now he's barking at the unfortunate lawn guys who are mowing my neighbor's lawn. And my workaholic type A husband has forced my son out to mow our lawn. So I guess I'll have to go out pick up poop.

The Shelter dogs are cool--there's air conditioning. The dogs at the Off-Sites, well, they're hot. I opted not to go because it was so hot last weekend, but if my husband stays in his frantic mode, maybe I'll head off to the Off-Sites just to escape his never-ending chore list. I had hoped to take one day off, but it doesn't look that will be the case. I'll be better off with the hot shelter dogs at the Off-Site!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Premio Meme Blog Award

I wanted to thank Everyone Thinks They’re Good Drivers for awarding me Premio Meme Blog Award.

The rules associated with this award are that I am to write seven little-known facts about myself, and then pass this award to seven of my fellow bloggers.

Seven Little Known Facts about Calsidyrose
1.I just received word that my mixed-media piece, “Landfall,” (a Hurricane Katrina piece) has been selected by Susan Davidson, Senior Curator for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, for the first ever Rauschenberg Tribute Exhibition, an International Juried Competition hosted by the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur, Texas. My piece will be on display with the work of 33 other artists from August 30th through early October 2009. This is the first time my work will appear in a juried art show, let alone a show with pieces chosen by such an esteemed judge.

2. I am an Oil Brat—I was born in Tulsa, but my Dad’s job took our family overseas. From 1967 through 1976, we lived in foreign countries, including Venezuela, Libya, and Bahrain. I owned a horse when we lived in Libya and we used to take trail rides across old battlements left over from the fighting in World War II.

3. I hold a 3rd degree green belt (one level below brown) in Shotokan Karate, although it has been many years since I have actively practiced. I started Karate because I was a devoted fan of the TV show, Kung Fu—“When you can snatch the pebble from my hand it will be time for you to leave.”

4. I had my photo taken with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans at their Victorville, California, museum in 1985. I can remember watching re-runs of Roy Rogers’ TV show when I was very young. I wanted to be Roy because he got to ride Trigger. I still adore Trigger and keep a vintage Trigger lunchbox on display in my office.

5. I majored in Classical Civilization, which means I studied Ancient Greek. I had to memorize the first 20 lines of Homer’s Iliad in Greek for one of my classes.

6. I used to do free-lance landscape design for clients I met through my job at Roger’s Gardens, a 7-acre nursery in Newport Beach, California.

7. I have written three complete novels and have received a stack of rejections from New York publishers. All three novels are set in the American Southwest. All three books feature something involving horses, even if it’s just a cameo appearance!

I am bestowing this award on the following blogs:

One Bark at a Time
Dogs Deserve Freedom
Painting a Dog a Day
Garden Antiques
Magpie Ethel
The Dog Geek
Shakespeare Geek

I have a long list of bookmarked blogs on a variety of subjects, and I’m a big lurker. I didn’t start leaving comments until I launched my blog, and since I try to stay on topic, I limit the WDRP Blogroll to dog-related blogs.

Thanks again for my award, and I hope those who received it enjoy it as well!

p.s. I read somewhere that people like to see the blogger, so below is photo of me with one of my favorite Shelter dogs, JoJo, the pit bull! My 15-year-old daughter took the portrait!

JoJo Gives Me Kisses
Originally uploaded by Calsidyrose

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Heartworms at Home

My latest foster, Rusty, an oversize miniature pinscher boy, is heartworm positive. Today, after being in my house for a month (Rusty is my 8th foster dog for 2009), Rusty started treatment. The treatment used by the veterinarian hired as our Shelter’s new director (Dr. Ryan has been with us less than three weeks) is a two-injection, back-to-back approach. Rusty got his first injection this morning, and will get the second tomorrow morning. He’ll have a week of steroid tablets and a month of limited mobility—crate confinement.

Right now he’s sacked out in the big dog bed at my feet in my office. Since I have French doors that close, my cramped office can double as his confinement area. He’s had the run of my house with my dogs and has been sleeping in my son’s room. I hope he’ll get to sleep with my son after a week—but first I have to make sure that everyone in the house follows the recovery plan. My husband doesn’t think anything is really wrong—after all, Rusty looks fine, especially now that he’s over his Upper Respiratory Infection and has gained a little weight. My son needs to remember to shut his door so Rusty won’t be tempted to bound down the stairs. And Rusty needs to be leash-walked outside rather than let out in our large backyard to run around. So he’ll be crated until I am confident I have full family buy-in.

I hate heartworms. I hate mosquitoes (I’m highly allergic to all bug bites). I hate it that people don’t give the preventive meds. I hate it that there’s so much misinformation on the Interwebs. I hate it when people say, “It’s just a Big Pharm scam.” When our clients hear that, they think they don't need to do prevention. I hate it when people claim you can use a calendar system to chart when the nights go below 40 degrees and just give Heartguard “some of the time.” Yeah, and you can use the rhythm method and just get pregnant some of the time, too.

I hate it that Heartgaurd and Interceptor are so expensive. I hate it that Ivermectin requires such precision to administer. I hate that you have to remember to give a monthly tablet. I hate it that the 6-month heartworm injection has been removed from the market. I hate the fact you have to poison the dog to kill the heartworms that are clogging up his heart. I hate that the Shelter can’t do a chest Xray to determine if Rusty has heart or lung damage. I hate that the treatment is so expensive and dangerous. And I hate the fact heartworm infections are invisible unless you test—because when you have visible symptoms, then you’ve got an even bigger problem. What I hate the most is that so many of the dogs that enter our Shelter are heartworm positive.

There. I feel better getting all that out of me.

As for Rusty, he’s a super sweet guy. He weighs 13.6 pounds and is about 2 or 3 years old. He’s neutered, UTD on his shots and microchipped. He’s spunky and happy and has really blossomed since he’s been at my house. He’s not as clingy or snappy as some min pins, and he doesn’t have to be glued to you on the couch. What he likes best is to lie at your feet in a dog bed or on a rug. He also likes to stretch out with his hind legs behind him, cooling his lean belly on the tile or carpet. Rusty loves walks, and has learned how to sit and how to take food gently (but still very eagerly) from your fingers. He’d make a great single or second dog and would probably do okay around older kids. He crates and travels well and is 98% housebroken, which is pretty darn good for a min pin. If you’re in the Houston area and are interested in a good dog like Rusty, leave me a comment. His adoption fee is $100.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Where the Wild Things Roam on Craigslist

This mind-boggling ad showed up on the Houston, TX, Area Craigslist Pets section this evening. I copied it into a Word file. When I went back to Craigslist later, the ad was gone. The text is as follows, below. I removed the poster's email.

Hyena Pups for adoption

Date: 2009-06-20, 7:34PM CDT

Two Hyena pups, one boy one girl. The mother and father are also pictured below. Very well mannered & well socialized. Enjoys trips to the dog park. Current on all puppy shots. Not asking an adoption fee, just asking that they receive lots of TLC. You would take care of Hyenas as you would on any other dog but please read up on these animals before you inquire

I’ve learned not to be surprised by what I see on Craigslist, but this is disturbing, to say the least.

Hyenas, according to a 2001 Texas law, are among 16 “dangerous wild animals” prohibited from being privately owned without proper permits. Individual Texas jurisdictions can set up their own guidelines for the permitting process. At least that’s how I understand the law, based on the scant Internet information about Texas exotic animal laws. Texas is a large state with very little federally managed land, and the attitude here is that the private land owner is king of her/her ranch.

Private owners operate game ranches full of exotic hoofed animals, including zebras, blackbucks, water buffalo, gazelles, and wildebeest. People pay fees to hunt the animals for trophy mounts. Even native animals, such as mule or white-tailed deer, are managed on vast private deer leases and game ranches. There’s a booming business in automatic feeders and deer corn in many rural counties.

Apparently, this easy-going attitude toward exotic hoofed animals spills over into a gray area. I can't imagine wanting to keep an African hyena as a pet.

Are animals such as hyenas legal to own as pets in your neighborhood? Let me know.

Both photos are from the ad. I covered the woman's face to protect her privacy on my blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why People Want Puppies

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a dozen times: "We want a puppy so it can grow up with our kids." What people don't realize is that a two-year-old dog can grow up with a child just as easily (and often without the need to housetrain) as any puppy.

I wish more people would look at the grown-up dogs. We have so many deserving animals--beagle mixes, cattle dogs, black mouth curs, rat terriers, and more. Our Shelter does put pit bulls and pit mixes into the adoption room, but its hard to find homes that work for these guys and gals. And the labs--oh, the gorgeous, lovable--and sometimes crazy labs. We ALWAYS have Labs. Anyone who wants their own Marley needn't go to a breeder--just go to a Shelter in the huntin'-strong south.

Puppies go out fast from the Shelter, but since most bitches haven't had any pre-natal care, and the after-care for puppies is often minimal for surrendered litters, these puppies have the cuteness but not the strong immune systems of puppies from reputable breeders.

Meanwhile, the adult dogs languish--the gorgeous Queensland Heelers, the rough-coated Jack Russells, the Walker Coon Hounds, the Blue Ticks and Beagles, the Huskies (and do we get Huskies--) often seem invivisible.

What I wish our Shelter would do: 1. Make our adoption areas more customer-friendly. 2. Identify breed types more carefully on intake forms. 3. Take better photos of animals for those who are searching for pets via the Internet.

What I wish our clients (those looking to adopt) would do: 1. Do some basic research and planning before coming in to look at pets. 2. Decide in advance who will be the primary care-giver for the animal (dog-walker, pooper-scooper, vet chauffeur, groomer, etc.). 3. If you don't have a fenced yard, realize that you will need to walk the dog for both its exercise and elimination needs. 4. Realize that a dog or cat requires some financial commitment and time. 5. Understand that puppyhood is a brief blip in the time-line of your dog. 6. Consider taking on an older dog. Just because they may give you only three or four--or six or seven--more years shouldn't be a deterrent. That's more time than many marriages last!

Illustration by Garth Williams from "My Big Golden Counting Book," by Lillian Moore. Golden Press, Racine, Wisconson, 1956, 1957. 1974 printing. Counting.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Adopt a Kitten Month

see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Dont u luv LOL Kittehs? Gets yur own kitteh for photo ops.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From My Reading List

Just finished the book One Nation Under Dog: Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog-Park Politics and Organic Pet Food, by Michael Schaffer (Henry Holt and Company, NY, 2009). Schaffer, a journalist and a dog-owner, strolls through the quirks and foibles of American pet-ownership, spending time at a pet-supplies trade show, unraveling the tangles of on-leash vs. off-leash park use in San Francisco, and participating in a pet-bereavement support group.

The result? An entertaining, factual, but not strident book that focuses on the changing role of dogs in American society. I’ve perused more in-depth books on various aspects that Shaffer covers, yet this book provides a brisk, timely read for those interested in animal-human relations. Shaffer is a journalist, but he has a folksy way of writing, and offers chatty footnotes detailing his investigations. Not bad for a tour of the various foibles and peculiarities of American dog-ownership.

Schaffer is democratic—writing thoughtfully, without painting an either-or picture about issues such as Cesar Milan-style “dominant” training vs. reward-training, traditional kibble foods (think Iams or Purina) vs. raw food diets, and the way veterinarian practices have become more sophisticated (and expensive) as people apply human standards to animal treatment protocol. Great for trip reading or as an introduction to major dog-related trends in America.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Disaster Prep Monday: Food and Treats

Toby Terrier, our Hurricane Preparedness mascot, like most dogs is always looking forward to his favorite meal—the next one. In the event of a planned evacuation, or a few days spent without power (some folks in our area went three weeks without power after Hurricane Ike last September), you need to add pet food to your disaster planning list.

If your dog has a favorite food from the grocery store, pet or big box store, keep tabs on how much you have on hand. When storm approaches, shelves empty out. You might be able to find Alpo, but not your pooch’s favorite flavor of Iams select. After a big storm, stores will be closed—where I live, stores were closed for a week and poorly stocked for up to three weeks, and we were well beyond Ike’s Galveston-area landfall in Montgomery County, Texas. Even if we had wanted to drive out of the storm area, we were reluctant to use the gas in our vehicles.

If you feed your pet a prescription dog food from your vet or a specialty food not easily found in grocery stores, it’s even more important to plan ahead. Post-storm, both animals and people yearn to preserve whatever routines we can, and switching kibbles or canned food is not something wise to try during this time. My advice is to keep an extra month's worth of canned and dried food for each pet on hand during hurricane season. Consider how you’ll keep open cans of food cool. We had a generator so our pets didn’t have to worry that the Science Diet canned food would spoil!

Be cautious about the risks of spoiled food. Don’t feed your pet questionable human or pet food. And be alert to the garbage that appears post-storm—-it will be extremely tempting to your pets. After Ike hit Texas and other parts of the nation, many folks had to empty their refrigerators. In our neighborhood, bags of refrigerator garbage lined our normally tidy streets. And because we had no power, dog owners walked their dogs a lot more.

But we had a close run-in with a purloined “snack.” A few days after Ike’s landfall, my husband came back from walking our dogs on their usual route shouting that he needed help with Taco, our 16-pound athletic miniature pinscher. I found him struggling to keep all four of Taco’s feet off the ground by clutching his harness. Taco had a big bird leg in his mouth and was doing his best to swallow it whole. He had picked it up in the dark of early evening (we had no power, so no street lights) and my husband thought he had a stick until he got home and saw gristle and a clawed foot!

I put my hands around Taco’s neck and gripped him firmly enough to feel the butt-end of the leg-bone in his upper throat. By squeezing against Taco’s throat and yanking on the clawed-foot (yuck!) we managed to get the jointed leg bone away from him. We call Taco “Mr. Bitey” because he can be nippy—and you can bet he was pissed that we deprived him of his treat.

How the bird foot—it looked like a rooster or bigger—got on the walking path we’ll never know. Maybe it was a game bird killed in the storm or a hunter’s catch dumped somewhere from a freezer. All we knew is we didn’t have an emergency vet available within a 100-mile radius two days after a major storm made landfall. We made sure to walk the dogs before nightfall after that.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Shelter Update

We have a new director at our Shelter, a vet, Dr. P. Ryan. We're hopeful that the Shelter will improve its conditions, redemption rates and adoption rates, while lowering kill rates, with the addition of Dr. Ryan to the staff.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Craigslist Made Me Smile

I'm sure the busy-bodies will have a flagging heyday with this ad in our Houston-area Pets Section, but the text (minus the photo of the sweet "pet") is below, unedited as I found it. Read on and enjoy!

Pure Bred Needs Good Home... (Katy)
Reply to:comm-5g9nk-1202470559@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]
Date: 2009-06-02, 8:09PM CDT

Although it saddens me to see her go, I am interested in rehoming my 89 year old pure bred White Anglo Saxon Protestant grandmother to someone who will give her a good home. She has the cutest little wrinkled face and shiny silver hair! If someone does not adopt her I will be forced to put her in a retirement home. The retirement homes in my area are unfortunately too full already and most new additions are put to sleep immediately since they simply don't have room for them. She responds to "Edith" although you can call her whatever you want since she can't really hear too well. I've had her for as long as I can remember but unfortunately I just don't have the time to give her the attention she needs since I am having a baby, moving into an apartment where they won't allow pets, my boyfriend has allergies, and I have to pay for some unforeseen medical bills. She is in excellent condition and is up to date on all of her vaccinations. She is mostly housebroken and is able to do some cool tricks like drive to WalMart (as long as it isn't more than 2 miles away), misplace objects like her glasses in her pockets, or do the laundry even if only 1 pair of socks is dirty. She subsists mostly on frozen Eggo waffles heated in the toaster and microwaveable mash potatoes and meatloaf with an occasional treat of peanut brittle when she has been extra good. For some reason she enjoys heating drinks like orange juice and 2% milk in the microwave before consuming them. We have spoken to a vet about this and they have assured us it is perfectly normal for a specimen her age. She's good with kids and other pets and has tons of stories to tell them or anyone else who isn't listening, unfortunately I have heard them all already. Her natural habitat is a 10'x10' room crammed with old couches, pictures, dusty lamps, and other crap. It is also very important that she has access to a TV with no remote (too complex) and only three channels; the weather channel, QVC, and the Tele-evangelist network. The last piece required for an ideal enclosure is a window overlooking at least a mailbox and preferably a neighborhood street; a large majority of her time and energy will be spent observing the proceedings in the neighborhood and commenting on them out loud to herself. I originally paid $50,000 for her, plus an additional $10,000 for her enclosure, but I am only asking a small rehoming fee of $15,000 to cover her recent knee replacement surgery which she has recovered from nicely. This is a unique opportunity for those of you who have kids who will neglect and lose interest in their pets after several months since this is the environment that she thrives in. I hate to see her go, but I know someone out there will be able to provide her a better home for the several years she has left. I will include her habitat as well as all toys and accessories (including her beloved electric heating blanket); local pickup. Serious Inquires only please.

•Location: Katy
•it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hurricane Season Is Here

Twelve percent of Americans live in a hurricane zone—they live in areas on or near the coast where hurricanes can strike. In recent years, we’ve seen that Hurricane Season is not to be taken lightly. If you live where your newspaper and grocery stores feature hurricane tracking maps or if you are among the one affected by Katrina, Rita, Dennis, Ivan, Charlie, Claudette, Bonnie, Gustav or Ike (just to name a few of the storms that have made headlines in recent years), then you need a plan for your pets.

I’ve developed the logo above, along with a spunky mascot, Toby Terrier, to highlight some of the best preparedness suggestions for pet owners throughout the season. So when you see Toby, you’ll find a tip or two for your own Pet Disaster Plan.

Today, we’re highlighting Crates, Leashes and Paperwork.

1. Crates: The best purchase you’ll ever make is in a folding wire crate for each of your animals. Folding crates pack easily but set up instantly to provide a secure place to restrain your animal. They are vital for advance evacuation—to hold your dog safely in a hotel room or pet-friendly shelter, or as a way to hold a pet if you end up stuck on the roadside or at a campground or a WalMart Parking lot. If your dog isn’t crate-trained, buy a crate now (you won’t find then on shelves when a storm is in the Gulf or cruising up the Seaboard) and make sure your dog gets used to it. If you have a strong dog or an escape artist, invest in a few snap latches to help hold the door and corners secure.

2. Leashes: Retractable leashes are not the best restraint system for the chaos and uncertainty of an evacuation. If you have to handle your dog in line with other people or in a crowd, you don’t have the control you need. Get a sturdy nylon or leather 6- or 8-foot leash with a strong snap. Make sure your collar or harness fits properly, too. A standard leash gives you more control over your dog, is less tiring for you, and can be tied around a pole if needed. Some leashes come with built-in rings that make it easy to convert a leash to a temporary tie-down. You won’t be leaving your dog tied with a leash, but if you’re stuck in a long evacuation or supply line, you’ll be glad you have a standard leash. Bring along your retractable leash, but don’t try to make do with one.

3. Paperwork:
Now is the time to get your dog’s paperwork in order. Make copies of your dog’s current health and shot records, veterinarian contacts, rabies tags and microchip identification numbers. File those things in your go-kit. Make sure your dog’s microchip will scan (ask your vet to double check the chip to ensure that it hasn’t slipped or faulted out). Make sure your dog wears a collar with tags. Take several good photos of your dog—front, face, right and left side, and include these in your paperwork. If you have a puppy, update the photos as the puppy grows. You want to keep current photos in your go-kit in case your dog gets lost during an evacuation or in the chaos after a storm event. A cell phone photo won’t help you if you need to make “LOST” signs.

Toby Terrier says, “Don’t be tardy—be ready NOW!”