Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Raining Chihuahuas

We're not quite in a drought here in North Houston, but it's been raining Chihuahuas at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter where I volunteer.  Here are three owner-surrender Chi's, reluctantly turned in by an elderly man who could no longer afford to keep them.  They were very sweet, so once they are checked over (and spayed/neutered if needed) I'm sure they will find homes.  We've had Chihuahua puppies and assortment of adult Chihuahuas, along with Teencie, my tiny little foster Chi.

 I don't know if our Chihuahua frenzy is due to fall-out from the popularity of these dogs in the media as "purse dogs" and movie stars (Beverly Hills Chihuahua), but one thing for sure is that these cute little dogs come with their own special needs.

Meanwhile, Little Teencie has come a long ways.  She is still very skittish and will dodge and nip if she feels threatened, and she has a typical, sharp Chihuahua bark, but she has been sleeping with my daughter or with me (she started howling at night when crated) and this has helped her warm up considerably.
My what big eyes you have, Tucker!
Both Teencie and Tucker are going to spend the next four days with a different foster volunteer--I'm leaving tomorrow for an Art Retreat in Waxahachie, and these two dogs are more work than my family is willing to provide.  Tucker has already had one stint at a foster's house and it was very good for his confidence.  Tucker still has issues with men.  He gets panicky when my big college-age son is around, so I have to crate him to keep him from barking fearfully.  If my son would work with me, I could get Tucker to settle down, but my son takes it personally--he's still missing our dog, Taco, and thinks Tucker is just stupid.

Tucker is doing good with his heartworm treatment and will start going to off-sites soon.  BTW, the Shelter lists him as a Chihuahua mix, but at 15 pounds and with his long Whippet-like legs and Beagle-bugle bark, I don't think there's much Chihuahua in him!

-*- Top photo by T.H.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ashes, OTIs, and Pit Bulls: Saturday at the Shelter

I hauled dogs for transport to off-sites today.  The dedicated young woman who coordinates the off-sites at PetsMart Portifino was fuming about kittens.  Right now, about 40-50 kittens (most too young to be weaned) arrive at the Shelter each day.  We do not have enough space or care available at the Shelter for this many babies and ourdedicated fosters are juggling anywhere from eight (a couple of litters) to 30 kittens in a last-ditch effort to save as many as possible.

The Shelter was in full swing for euthanizations this week and the young woman was there when the staff was emptying the incinerator used to consume the bodies.  The young woman gave me a hard look as we were going off her transport list.  "I have a new idea for publicity," she said.  "We should bundle the ashes from the incinerator into little baggies and hand them to each person who comes to turn in kittens."  I had to agree it would be an eye-opener for our clients.  "And it is recycling, too," the volunteer added grimly.

The Shelter Rescue Coordinator has been valiantly trying to place the uptick in OTI (Owner-Turn-In) animals.  We're getting an inordinately high number of healthy, middle-aged, well-socialized pets coming in as surrenders.  The major reason?  People are moving and say they can't take their dogs.  The Rescue Coordinator has a name for it:  "They're moving to the State of No Dogs."

We've got a new Pit Bull Rescue Group to help us deal with our wonderful Staffies and Pibbles!  Guardian Pit Bull Rescue may not be the biggest outfit in Rescue, but they are heroes to the dogs they pull from the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.  The big Staffie pictured above is a perfect example of the kind of dog our volunteers would like to save, but the kind that are harder to place under the County guidelines.  Guardian Pit Bull had a comprehensive application form for interested prospects to fill out--one more suited to the needs of these dogs than the Shelter's boilerplate form.

-*- Photo courtesy of M.H.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fun with My Dogs

This is my daughter (yes, she has dyed her hair blue-green for the summer) holding a reluctant "Teencie" as we are now calling our skittish little Chi foster girl.  Teencie wants so badly to be held, but she isn't quite yet brave enough to let us do so.  We can scratch behind her ears, and hold her (firmly) for a few moments.  She whines and howls in her crate at night, so now she's sleeping with my daughter.  That is, she is sharing the bed.  This has made Teencie more confident.  We've had a her a week and she has improved tremendously.
This is Tucker, my other foster, right before his June 10-11 heartworm treatment.  He received the 2-dose, back-to-back Immiticide shots.  He's doing fine--the biggest problem is keeping him quiet.  He loves to run after birds and squirrels.  One of my Vet Tech friends says her clinic is out of Immiticide, and it doesn't look like they will be able to get more for awhile.  Our Shelter clinic ran out of the drug earlier this year, and so when I took Tucker home, I put his name on a wait list.  When the Immiticide doses arrived, I got a call--I made sure to get him in so he wouldn't lose his place in the line.
This is my dog, Cross.  She isn't really taunting you,  She is about to lick.  She has a licking problem.  She is powerless over her desire to lick.  She needs a 12-step group.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And His Name is Peanut

The old Chihuahua has owners!  They have been looking for him--he is 14 years old; they've had him since he was a puppy, and his name is "Peanut."  So he went home with them.  According to the Shelter staff person who handled the case, the little dog got all wiggly and squeaky when he heard his person's voice.

The visible tumors on him are lymphomas, and the fleas must have come because he was lost for several days.  No information on why the owners had let his toenails grow so long and jaggedy.  Thus, we have closure.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Old Chihuahua May Get a Home

Go figure! The blind, toothless, bald old Chihuahua stud dog featured in the post on June 14th may have a home.

One of the Shelter volunteers uploaded photos of him from her phone, which were picked up by the Houston Pet Blog, Animal Advocate.  A man from Detroit, Michigan, saw the dog via the post and contacted the Rescue Coordinator at MCTAS called and wishes to adopt the dog if transport can be arranged.  Currently, the Rescue Coordinator is working on trying to secure transport.  The little old guy seems pretty darn perky, in spite of his myriad problems.  What looked like an immediate euthanization may have a better ending.  I'll post an update as I get more information!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 Time for more "Shelter Snapshots".

The Good
I went to the Shelter today to straighten out paperwork for my teeny-tiny Chihuahua foster and things were crazy.  This GSD, a small, but very typey female, came in as a stray.  The woman who brought her in thinks she may have jumped out of a truck.  She was in good shape, just frightened.  No microchip.  We'll be lucky if anyone claims her.  If not, though, she'll be put into rescue or adopted quickly.

The Bad
No, this isn't "bad" because she is a pit bull.  It's bad because she came in as a stray, super skinny, obviously bred-to-bits, and bearing scars on her ribcage and ears.  This is our typical pit bull mama dog--a marshmallow personality condemned in a fighting body.  This girl probably has heartworms, along with at least one badly infected dug.  Her fate is uncertain.


This train wreck of a dog was scooped up from the roadside by a good Samaritan.  He is a tiny boy Chihuahua who--more than likely--has spent his entire life being a stud dog.  He is not blind, but close to it, has no teeth, no lower jaw, and was covered with fleas and nearly bald, with exceedingly long, jagged toenails.
We thought at first that this would be an immediate euthanization case--he lay listless in an old towel.  But once he was on the floor, the little booger lapped up some food (we made it soupy) his tongue darting like a hummingbird's, then we we put him in a crate with an another dog (a Yorkie about twice the Chi's size), the little old man puffed up like a Rottie and dominated that poor Yorkie, standing with his studly equipment on full alert, and growling (although it sounded like snufffling).  The Yorkie cowered in the corner, terrified of this little banshee.

This guy's fate after the end of his stray-hold period is most likely euthanization--he has visible tumors, an abnormally swollen prostrate, a bellyful of worms and most likely is heartworm positive.  How someone can permit an animal to decline into such a horrible state is hard to fathom.  This dog's problems were almost all preventable with decent care, but clearly, his owner didn't consider them to be issues worth treating.

We've had a run lately with stray old dogs arriving in horrible shape--a blind, incontinent Pomeranian, an old Yorkie with half his coat gone due to mange, and a blind Cocker Spaniel with a coat matted to a dense carpet of flea-dandered fur.  We end up giving these weary seniors the pink injection, but the volunteers and Shelter staff would sure like to give a swift boot in the rear to the owners who abandoned these elders in their last days.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Little and Fiesty

I have acquired a second foster, a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy, bitey-bitey black-and-tan Chihuahua girl.  One of the Shelter Clinic Techs pulled her from the Stray area  because she was so nippy she would have been euthanized and urged me to take her home and "tame" her.

Evidently, I have become the "small dog lady".  I'm also considered the Chihuahua expert--which makes me laugh!  My off-site Team Leader, who loves the big lunk-head Labs, was impressed how I dodged the Chi's nips in order to get a slip leash on her.  If you use a towel and grip her from behind, she can't get you with her itty-bitty teeth.

This little girl is tee-nincey, weighing maybe two and a half pounds.  She growls (a teeny sound) and rolls her eyes and nip-nip-nips!  Her bite isn't strong, but she is a wiggly, fiesty thing.  She is terrified and doesn't hesitate to let you know how she feels. She did eat some chicken from my fingers at dinner tonight and she seems calmer than she did yesterday, when I first saw her.  Hopefully, she'll come around.  She is absolutely adorable--my 16-year-old squealed like a kid when she saw her.

Tinker Bell (as I'm calling her since "El Diablo" is a boy's name) isn't in good shape--her toenails were so long (before the first bit of trimming) that the front feet nails curled completely under.  She's skinny and has a silver dollar-sized bald patch on her right side (an old burn wound?).  She came in as a stray (how on Earth did the Animal Control officer catch her???) and hasn't been spayed or checked for heartworms (with my luck lately, she'll be heartworm positive).  I just hope she doesn't get distemper like Arabella did.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tucker Starts Heartworm Treatment

This little guy is Tucker, my current foster.  He had the first of two immiticide shots to combat heartworm infestation and he is currently curled under my desk, groaning pitifully.  I hate having to put a dog through heartworm treatment--the cure is painful and risky.  Tucker will have a second shot tomorrow followed by a month of crate rest (or at least very limited activity).  Barring complications, the adult heartworms will be killed by the powerful drug and he'll be on Heartguard to prevent further infection.

Here in Houston, preventive heartworm treatment is a year-round necessity.  Anyone who skips preventive treatment is putting their dog at stake.  I know that many dog blogs offer conflicting opinions about treatment and preventive protocols for heartworm, and I hate it when people say, "Oh, we give the heartworm preventive in the warm months but not in the winter."  I get mosquito bites all year round, and so do dogs.  And heartworms are transmitted only by mosquitoes.  Dog bloggers who advise people to use farm animal products or to skip using Heartgaurd or similar products because it is a "Big Pharma scam" should come walk our corridors at the Shelter. About 40 percent of our incoming animals come in with heartworm.  And many times, the heartworm is so advanced that the animals are already severely ill.  In our area, the main reasons people don't give preventive tablets are financial--or they assume that if their dog appears healthy, it doesn't have heartworms.

I'm not looking forward to the next two weeks of extremely limited exertion for Tucker.  But he'll be a healthier dog at the end it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thank You to My Readers

Today, I'd like to make note of some milestones and acknowledge my gratitude to my faithful readers.  I began this blog a year ago in March 2009.  Although I have had some time gaps (mostly in the fall, when I'm busy being a Band Mom), I have written 110 posts.  And recently, my 50th follower joined the pack!

As readers, you have all been so supportive.  My goal isn't to rant and rave (there's enough of that already on the Interwebs) nor is it to present an always rose-colored vision (there's enough sweetness on the Interwebs as well).  I wanted a place to connect with other people involved in animal rescue, a place where I can post a cute picture (like the one above), a funny video, or a snarky aside.

You, my faithful readers, have followed my adventures as a Shelter volunteer, the exploits of my foster dogs, my Vet adventures with my own two dogs, and have taken things in stride when I have a cuteness attack or a need to gripe.  I have added a number of intriguing blogs to my sidebar list, and have begun clicking the "follow" button on other peoples' blogs so they know I'm reading.  My lurking days are fading.  I know how much your comments mean to me, so I've increased my effort to leave a note on the blogs I read.

My other blog, "El Rancho Not So Grande," is an artsy blog.  I love making art, collecting junk, and learning new craft techniques, but the artsty blog world is where I don't feel as confident.  Many of the artsy blogs are so beautiful, elaborate, and so filled with exquisite photography and shots of stunning abodes that I feel like my eclectic interests are too scattershot.  Still, I have some followers and receive a few comments.

I have been a writer all my life--I have written three complete novels (all submitted through an agent, but with rejections), countless poems, and I've worked as a managing editor (transportation journals) and free-lancer for 20 years.  When I started writing, we didn't have computers--just the typewriter--and the Internet was a pipe dream.  I got my first computer in 1985 and went on-line  (dial-up) in 1998.  I wish I'd had the Interwebs with its blogs and social networking when I was a young novelist.

"We Don't Rent Puppies" has allowed me to develop a different sort of voice than I used in my novels and professional writings.  I've been timid, but I'm getting bolder.  And I owe it to my readers, especially to the very regular readers who leave me comments.  Thank you all!

If you're dropping by and reading me for the first time, please look at some of my previous posts. Leave a comment so I can visit you.  I also invite you to sign up as a follower.  And remember, we still don't rent puppies.  Adopt a Shelter pet and gain a friend for life!

Artwork courtesy of Flickr; based on a scan of a vintage children's greeting card.