Thursday, December 31, 2009

11 Foster Dogs in 2009

I had 11 foster dogs in 2009--dogs I took home from the Shelter and kept until I found them a new home. This total does not include my "over-nighters"--dogs who came home with me from an off-site and who then went back to an off-site or to a rescue group. Nor does this include my "project" dogs such as "JoJo" (the pit bull) or "Riley" the Australian Cattle Dog. I've lost count of the dogs I've taken out again and again, or the ones who I kept tabs on until they were adopted.

I'm looking forward to helping more dogs, one at a time, in 2010, including "Peaches," who is looking for her own loving forever home!

Have a Happy and Safe New Year

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chihuahuas Multiply in Shelters

According to the Los Angeles Times blog, “LA Unleashed,” there has been a sharp increase of Chihuahuas entering California animal shelters. The increase is being blamed, in part, on the long-term pop culture status of these feisty little dogs—from Paris Hilton’s pocket pooch, “Tinkerbell,” to the saucy, lately departed “Gidget,” who played the Taco Bell Dog who snarled, “Yo Quiero Taco Bell!” during the wildly popular Taco Bell commercials of the early 2000s.

I don’t have statistics for our Shelter here in Metro Houston, but Chihuahuas arrive, in various sizes and temperaments, on a regular basis. Recently, we received four Chihuahuas which were surrendered by their owners because the owners claimed, “We aren’t making money with these dogs anymore.”

One of those dogs, “Peaches,” the matriarch breeder Chihuahua, is sitting on my lap as I write this entry. We’re at my Mom’s house in Spring Branch, TX, which is a virtual “Chihuahua Ranch” since my Mom has three Chihuahuas (plus my very first ever foster dog, a Jack Russell mix).

“Peaches” has overcome her fear to exhibit her true Chihuahua nature—she is snippy, bossy, needy, and exceedingly cute as she prances along, thrilled with her new life as a “Queen of the Lap Dogs.” Her very nature—her tendency to snap if she feels threatened, her prancy gait, and her radar-quick prick ears, are hall-marks of the breed’s character.

I grew up with my Mom’s Chihuahuas—we’re in the fourth generation of dogs (none are related)--and while I am a small dog fan, I rarely recommend Chihuahuas to my adopters.

These are high-maintenance dogs—their tiny tummies do best with several small meals, they have are horrifically difficult to housebreak (so you’ll be cleaning up tiddle spots and poops around the house) and they are noisy, noisy, noisy. Of course, they love to snuggle, they have kissable little, round heads, and they fit perfectly in your arms.

Still, I don’t recommend them to most of my adopters. Chihuahuas aren’t great with little kids. They are fragile and nippy. They chew up everything they can get in their mouths. And if your Chihuahua eats a packet of M&Ms, you’ll be making a vet visit to have its tummy pumped.

We get lots of Chihuahuas in the Shelter. Many come in with confirmation issues—overbites, underbites, hip problems, splayed feet, weird body shapes and eye problems. The Chi-Weenies (the Designer Dog cross of Chihuahuas with Dachshunds) aren’t any better, in spite of the “thumbs up” given by the Animal Planet show, “Dogs 101.” The ones we get at the Shelter tend to be wildly long in the back, with bad teeth, temperament issues aside.

All that said, my little foster girl, “Peaches,” is going to make some Chihuahua-savvy person an awesome pet. She’s a very perky, pretty girl (in spite of her overbite and bad teeth) and is a snug-bug who is easy to sleep with (yes, I let her sleep in bed with me—it’s almost unheard of to banish a Chihuahua pet from your bed!) Right now, “Peaches” thinks she’s going to stay with me, but on January 2nd, she’ll be at a foster-dog event in search of an owner who will give her the life she deserves.

What do you think about these attractive little diva-dogs? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Puppy Mill Chihuahua Mama

My 11th foster dog for 2009: a tiny Chihuahua girl who was a puppy mill breeder mama. She was one of four back yard breeder dogs turned into the Shelter last week. When does a "back yard breeder" become a "puppy mill breeder"?--well, in my mind, it's when the owner surrender form states: "We had these dogs only for breeding for top dollar puppies. We no longer make money with these dogs and are moving."

I don't know how the intake person who handled this "surrender" could keep calm. I think I would have gone ballistic. There were three females and one male. Three of the chihuahuas had horrible confirmation--long, skinny backs, outward-turned paws and weak mouths. The mama, named "Peaches," by her owners (although she doesn't appear to answer to the name) came with me. Peaches has an overall good body type, adorable markings, including a kissy spot of white on top of her round apple head, tiny ears and a peach-colored coat, but she has a severe underbite, crooked lower teeth and her ankles have fallen so far they nearly touch the ground. The ankle issue is probably a by-product of spending a life in a wire cage.

All the dogs were nearly feral, with poor socialization. This mama dog was not producing puppies for her owners because when the Shelter vet did the spay operation, the poor dog's uterus was filled with pus from a horrible infection. The Shelter vet did a full hysterectomy and gave her an antibiotic shot. I have started Peaches on Clavamox and have give her some Tramodol leftover from when my little dog got bit up by the Jack Russell foster (that happened in April).

Peaches nommed hard on my index finger put of fear yesterday while I was putting a harness on her, but she seems a bit less terrified today. Picking her up without a fuss is impossible, of course, but she did eat some boiled chicken out of my hand. She is probably not housebroken, but has piddled on the pee-pee pad.

While I was taking care of Peaches' paperwork, the dispatcher came in to say that one of the Animal Control officers was bringing in 10 Rat Terriers from a hoarding situation where there were at least 40 dogs. The Shelter is stuffed with dogs, and we're not really set up to handle these special cases. If you live in the Houston area, and would like to foster a special needs dog, please leave me a comment or visit the Montgomery County Texas Animal Shelter website, I'll be posting updates about "Peaches" and her kennel-mates.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Back in the Saddle

After taking time off in October and November from dog rescue work to support my 10th grade marching band student, I am now back to hosting foster dogs and working at Off-Site Adoption events in Montgomery County, Texas.

I did an off-site event in early December, and came home with a new foster dog, a sweet, pretty little terrier mix female. She had kennel cough, tapeworms and roundworms, but after 10 days of medicine, she was regaining her spirit. I found her home—a friend overheard me talking about the dog when things were still touch and go (she wouldn’t eat for the first two days I had her) and on December 12th, “Felicity” (as I had named her) went to her new home. Today, I met her new owner at the Shelter and we got the dog her rabies shot and microchip. Unfortunately, she turned out to be mildly heartworm positive, but will do fine being on a monthly dose of Heartguard. The neat thing about this adoption is that I’ll be able to check up on “Felicity” in the future!

Currently the Shelter is overflowing with animals. We’re having a late-season influx of puppies and kittens, and have received many owner-surrendered pets. We have hundreds of adoptable animals—cats, dogs, puppies and kittens. Many animals are available through special holiday adoption programs. For more information for adoptions in the North Houston, TX, area (North Harris County and Montgomery County) visit the Montgomery County, Texas, Animal Shelter website at