Sunday, July 25, 2010

Saturday Shelter Snapshots

Time for another round-up of Shelter snapshots:
1.      Hawt Dogs & Hot Dogs.  Dedicated volunteers donated money, PR and time to help mount the “Hawt Dogs & Hot Dogs” mega-adoption event on July 24th.  Sleek, pointy-topped white catering tents sprang up in front of the Shelter, while cafĂ© umbrellas sprouted in the fenced-in play area. Balloons and banners announced the event and a full complement of volunteers and Shelter employees flung up the Shelter to highlight the dogs and cats needing new homes. 

Long-term dogs, our “Diamonds in the Ruff” were available at special adoption rates, and hot dogs donated by our local James Coney Island franchise were available (donations encouraged) as snacks.  Sixty-nine animals left the Shelter on Saturday, including 14 foster animal placements and three animals transferred to rescues.  About 10 of our long-term animals found new homes.
2.      Overheard at the Shelter.  A college-age girl, with her parents in tow, was looking for a dog—preferably a Chihuahua.  The dog had to be under 5 pounds.  When I asked about the severe weight restriction (a necessity since our average Chihuahua weighs in around 8 pounds), the girl said that her Sorority in Austin didn’t allow any dog over 5 pounds. 

A vision of Paris Hilton and her little Chi flashed through my head, and I couldn’t stop myself from asking if the girl realized how challenging it would be to care for a dog while she’s in college.  “We’ve got four dogs!” the girl replied.  When I asked if she realized that Chihuahuas are prone to house-breaking difficulties, her mother snapped, “We’ve got a 21-year-old Chihuahua and he never has accidents.”  In my experience, it’s the rare Chi that is truly, fully housebroken.  We didn’t have anything that small (fortunately) and so I turned the family over to a different volunteer before I really said something snarky.  The last thing a college-age kid in a Sorority house needs is a dog.  As I passed by the girl’s father, he said, “Thank you,” in a low, grateful voice that let me know he and I were in agreement.
3.      Pyrenees-Anatolian Shepherd Mixes.  Both the Great Pyrenees and the Antolian Shepherd are common big dog breeds in our part of Texas, used primarily to guard goats and sheep.  Our local Craigslist generally has at least one listing for “Great Pyrenees-Anatolian Shepherd mixes".  Recently, a young Anatolian mix came in as a stray at the Shelter.  You could tell from the dome of his head and the fluffy coat that Rufus (his kennel name) was a Pyrenees mix. 

Great Pyrs and Anatolians are just too damn smart, and they do poorly in the Shelter, quickly becoming despondent.  This big, young guy had closed down with depression.  He had lost weight and was suffering from abscessed areas near his dewclaws.  Two volunteers gave him a much-needed bath and spent an hour combing out his tangles.  Although Rufus perked up, he wouldn’t eat any canned food.  I was transporting for an Off-Site, so the Coordinator decided to take Rufus with us.  Our goal was to find him a foster home.  We had to drag him into PetsMart and I was concerned the managers would think we were bringing a sick dog to an Off-Site.  The dog flopped down into his crate, and stared dimly out into space. 

However, a couple came by and were immediately smitten.  They offered to foster him, and after filling out the paperwork , the husband had to pick up the dog and carry him to the parking lot.  He spread his army fatigues across the back cargo area of his SUV, explaining he was a former Green Beret.  Then he hefted the dog into the rear cargo space, patted him softly and said, “Now we we’re off to Best Friends [a local Veternarian’s office] before they close.  Thank goodness for those who step up to help dogs like Rufus.

Photos courtesy of the MCAS Facebook page, located here

Monday, July 12, 2010

D.C. with Dogs

We are on vacation, and my little dog and all my fosters are at their get-away digs, too!  In fact, the MinPin, "Sam" is now back at my house with my college-age son, who had to head home to work. Sam's foster mom said he was well-behaved at her house (she has seven dogs, including fosters and rescue transients).

We spent four days in New York City and are now in Washington, D.C., staying with my sister-in-law, who works high up in the FBI.  This cute little Chihuahua was on tour with his owner at the Lincoln Memorial.  His owner says he goes out to see the D.C. sights almost every weekend, riding along in her backpack.

My daughter said I just had to have a "dog fix".  She was right--I felt better after seeing this cute little guy. re We' heading out to visit Arlington Cemetery today to pay our respect to those who have died for our freedom, then we're off to Mount Vernon.  Did George Washington have a favorite dog?  I plan to find out.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On The Hunt

Sometimes in the course of events it becomes necessary to take an excursion with members of the family.  As this is one of those times, I'll be away from my off-sites.  My own dog, Cross (AKA The Cutest Dog in the World) has gone to my Mom's house, to join the Chihuahua Pack.  Teencie and Tucker are still vacationing with their BFFs the Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mixes.  "Sam," the Miniature Pinscher who was my Rusty-look-alike is going to visit another MinPin named "Jake."  So, we'll BRB.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth of July Off-Site Fail

I spent Fourth of July not grilling hot dogs, but dealing with hot dogs. 
First, let me say that I adore my Off-Site Team Coordinator.  She is energetic, enthusiastic, patient, persistent, and has the stamina of an Amazon warrior-priestess.  Like those hapless dudes from "Wayne's World", "I am not worthy!"  So, because I adore her, I agreed to help out this afternoon at an Adoption event held at the Unity Park in Magnolia, TX.

The park is so new it doesn't show up on Google Maps.  It was 25 miles from my house (not including a return trip to the Shelter).  On a Sunday afternoon. On the Fourth of July.  In 95 degree F, humid weather.  In the mud, since the park was just finished (and is located in the piney woods).  With two small tents for shade.  And about 14 dogs, three young kittens, a gaggle of teen-aged girl volunteers and a total of three volunteers (spread throughout the day, not all at once) plus my dauntless Team Coordinator.

As adoption events go, it was a FAIL.  Set-up began at 12:30 p.m.  I arrived at 3:00 p.m., bringing more water, four bags of ice and a storage bin of fleece blankets.  Magnolia is a small farm town in a rural area surrounded by a mix of low- and high-end subdivisions.  The primary attendees of this event were families who live in either Waller, Grimes or Montgomery County.  They are already dog owners.  They have cats.  And horses.  And goats.  And probably chickens, too, although I didn't ask.  They were very, very nice, and we had lots of help walking dogs.  But no adopters.  Not even nibbles.  Everyone appeared to have their quota of animals.
The little Chi-Mix in the middle was our only adoption today. 
The red Miniature Pinscher is my "Rusty" look-alike.  He is now my foster dog. 

Toward late afternoon, we did place a Chihuahua mix with a woman who lived nearby.  The little dog was worn out from a weekend whirl of off-sites.  I hope she won't throw up later tonight from the heat.  It was bloody hot.  We laid plastic ziplock bags filled with ice under the fleece blankets to keep the dogs cool.  We gave everybody (including ourselves) a lot of water.

The action picked up closer to evening--the park planned to host a fireworks show.  I saw people coming in with their dogs.  The dogs were oblivious to the fact that in an hour and a half, they would be barraged by fireworks noise.  *sigh* Some people don't think.

Take-down was hampered by a sudden, intense rain shower (thank you, Hurricane Alex).  Wet dogs, wet blankets, wet crates, wet tents.  And mud.
 What it looks like to the kitteh under the van.

Then a young cat got loose (a tween girl helper lost her grip) and darted under my car to cower in the spare tire.  Three teenaged girls, the sorrowful tween helper, and a five-year-old boy who actually corralled the cat when it darted away from the teen-aged girls.  They were filming the whole scene with their phones.  It will probably be on YouTube.  It was very funny, really.  The young cat was unharmed.

Finally we were packed--dogs in a Volunteer's horse trailer, my van, and my Team Coordinator's van.  Plus the three young cats, the crates, the bins, the folding tables, two tents, and a bunch of very wet and stinky fleece blankets.  We pulled out of the muddy venue. We didn't get stuck.

We drove back to the Shelter on what in Texas are called "FM" (Farm-to-Market) Roads.  They are two-lane highways that are rapidly being widened to four lanes because of suburban growth. The are no streetlights and few stoplights.  In Texas, we like to drive fast.  My Team Coordinator drove fast.  The volunteer with the horse trailer drove fast, too.  I drove over the limit but was last in line.  I'm a coward.

A few miles from the Shelter, a State Trooper was parked in a dirt drive, hidden by pines.  In Texas, the State patrol cars are black, with a few white markings, and it was nearly dark--the gloaming.  The blue and red lights blazed.  The officer pulled over my Team Coordinator.  She was doing 65 in a 50 or 55 mph zone (the limits bounce around on this stretch of highway). The volunteer towing the horse trailer slowed down.  I was trailing and only had to lift my foot from the gas.  We didn't stop.  We continued to the Shelter.

The Shelter has a Twilight Zone air at night.  I hate going to the Shelter at night but, as I said, I adore my Team Coordinator.  At the Shelter, the Foster Coordinator, who is a paid employee of the county but who is has a Volunteer's never-quit attitude, was still there. It was almost 9:00 p.m.  I asked if she lived there. She just laughed.

Outside, there was popping and banging.  The big fireworks display put on by The Woodlands Township was underway.  From the Shelter, we could see bits of the sparkles.  The noise carried loudly on the humid air, and was augmented by the noise of the fireworks blown off by all the freedom-loving Texans in the loosely-governed subdivisions around the Shelter.  The dogs in the outside runs were barking non-stop.  But they were safely penned.
 This is the "Dog Lady" van.  Tonight it smells like wet dog.

My Team Coordinator arrived a few minutes later.  She said the officer gave her a warning.  Her van was full of wet dogs.  She was soaking wet, head to toe.  She was grateful for the warning, but thought we would be laughing at her.  Not at all. We were just glad she got a warning. The officer must have felt sorry for the "dog lady."  That's what we are, you know.  We don't mind.  We're doin' it for the dogs, anyway.  And those ungrateful young cats, too.

Photo Credits:  Ribbon--scan from my own magnet; Kitteh--I Can Has Cheezeburger Hall of Fame; Police Lights:  The Interwebs.  Thank you Google Images.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Shelter Dogs Show Their Colors

Volunteers came out in their walking shoes to help us leash up and parade more than 60 adoptable dogs from the Montgomery County Texas Animal Shelter (MCTAS) as part of The Woodlands Township, TX, annual Fourth of July Celebration "Red, Hot & and Blue" Parade.
 The parade rolled at about 9:00 a.m. in spite of threats of rain (leftover bands of moisture from Hurricane Alex), with a mixture of civic, church and high school groups, including three marching bands.  Our dogs joined the line-up in the top third of the parade, helped along by walkers and accompanied by a truck pulling a hand-decorated trailer with cages to hold adoptable kittens and puppies. We also had an electric-powered "eco-taxi," piloted by the owner, who volunteers at the Shelter, to give weary dogs and walkers a brief rest.

We had mutts of every shape and size, from perky little chi-weenie mixes to lumbering Labs and a regal AmStaff with gorgeous tiger-stripe brindle markings.  Dogs were kitted out in bandannas, flower leis, and such, all in appropriately patriotic collars.  Sponsors walked with us, handing out coupons for custom-painted dog dishware and other tokens.

We urged all the parade-watchers to spay and neuter and make a difference by adopting their next furry friend.

It was a lot of work hauling the dogs to and from the Shelter, and several pooches got a bit hot, but the dogs received as much water as we could provide and a cool kennel after the parade.

Many of our potential clients don't realize that we have lots more than just "Pit Bulls and Black Labs" at the Shelter.  And we let people know that we need the public's help in reducing intake numbers by spaying and neutering all their animals.

Photos and artwork by C. Bruhn

Thursday, July 1, 2010

OMG Is this Rusty?

As my faithful readers know, I have a soft spot for Miniature Pinschers--my own dog, Taco, was a MinPin, and I have fostered several MinPins from the Shelter, including a very sweet oversize stag red guy we called "Rusty."  We had Rusty as foster dog all summer so he could undergo heartworm treatment, and we loved him a lot.  Last September, during a Labor Day PetsMart event I adopted Rusty to a family in our area--and still have the work phone number of the wife.  Even now, we still think about Rusty--he was a sweet, friendly, laid-back dog who liked everybody, even if he wasn't the sharpest saw in the toolshed.

I went to the Shelter today to see two Miniature Pinschers.  One was a female chocolate and tan girl with upright natural ears, a docked tail and a dainty demeanor.  The other was a stag red boy.  I can't take on a foster right now as I have another set of travel dates, and have already got two dogs in foster care (both Tucker and Teencie are doing great, according to their temporary foster Mom), but we all want another MinPin to replace Taco, who went over the Rainbow Bridge at the end of April.  I had to check out the boy dog.'s this stag red MinPin.  He was turned in as a stray, but the people said they found him, and no one responded to their signs.  I don't know where he was picked up yet--I plan to find out tomorrow--and while he didn't do a "Lassie Come Home" jump-for-joy at the sight of me, he was very happy to get out of the Kennel.  I compared microchip numbers when I got home--they are different, but this dog has a fresh set of microchip scan slips and a tag in his paperwork folder, so he could have two chips. He's a stocky, rather pudgy dog (Rusty was leaner) so his original microchip could have slipped.   He has the same calm, happy demenor, and he's clearly been someone's pet.  His size and basic color, stance, build, and ear/tail treatments are the same.  Could this be Rusty? 

The MinPin at the Shelter is the dog on the left in all the photos.  Rusty is the dog on the right.  It was very cloudy and dark today (thanks to Hurricane Alex, south of Houston), so this MinPin's coat appears lighter.  Plus, I tend to push the saturation on my photos, so my shots of Rusty have all been tinkered with.

My husband thinks he's a different dog.  What do you think?  Leave me a comment!