Crazy Rescue People

The rescue community can be a little, let’s say, unpredictable. There are a lot of “crazies” who do this work (if you can call what we do work — we don’t get paid, and we do all seem to love it). And “crazy” can mean a lot of things. Let us muse on crazy for a moment.

Crazy can mean you are willing to live with a slightly higher number of dogs than the usual citizen would. Let’s say, 6.

Crazy can also mean you have few (if any) boundaries when it comes to number of dogs. Maybe you have 10, or 20, or 100, or even more. When does the line to hoarding (a real “crazy” disease — I think it is in the DSM-IV even!) get crossed?

Crazy can mean you perhaps occasionally are a wee bit judgmental when someone asks you for help because they can no longer keep their dog. (This is a tough one, as most dogs come into rescue for “people reasons” not “dog reasons” and the people reasons could have been avoided.)

Crazy can mean you’re a real idealist / purist, and you see everything in black and white. So you “never adopt to someone who XYZ” and you are critical of rescue groups that do.

Crazy can mean you actually feel competitive with other rescue groups. (I’ve never understood this one. There are plenty of dogs to go around!)

I’m realizing that each of these could be their own blog post (thank you, inspiration!). There is plenty of crazy to go around. I do think that to do this work, you have to be crazy in love with the dogs. Otherwise, who would put up with the poop, the pee, the barking, the fighting, the risks of disease to your own dogs, the biting, the noise during dinner parties, the inconvenience of trying to go on vacation, the extra expense, the late night drives, the horror of the animal control visits, the hassle of the high-maintenance foster homes, the extra time needed by the adopter who wants a million tiny questions answered when you have a full-time job and twelve other adoption applications to call, the hassle of the owners who act like THEY are doing YOU a favor by “giving” you a VALUABLE DOG? No one would.

We’re all a little crazy. Some of it is good crazy, some is bad crazy. We try to stay out of the bad crazy. What’s your crazy?


DREAM Update

We had a tough year in 2010. Our president (that’s me) was diagnosed with TINU Syndrome (an autoimmune disease) in March and has been down for the count pretty much ever since. The rest of our FABULOUS board of directors has scrambled to fill the gaps, all the while keeping as many dachshunds as we can away from the needle. It has been a bumpy road, but we’ve learned a lot — about each other, about the importance of compassion, about patience, about how important it is to do work that is important to you.

I’m getting back into the swing of things, slowly. We have a board retreat coming up at the end of February where we will reconnect, and figure out how to make 2011 a better year.

Thanks to all of you who have hung in there with us during all of this upheaval.

Top things DREAM dachshunds are thankful for

I polled all the dachshunds in DREAM’s foster homes, and they all were thankful for something different!

Eli was thankful for tennis balls, which he now chases as much as possible (sometimes for hours), and for his foster mamas who throw the ball for him.  Over and over and over. And over.

Stan was thankful for his new foster dad, who is teaching him about the crate being a safe place.

Nicodemus is thankful that his teeth don’t hurt any more. And for his dashing eyepatch.

Wendell is grateful that he has a safe place to sleep, with other dachshunds around.

Sweetness is thankful for her arthritis medicine, and her warm bed.

Fritz Gerald is grateful that he isn’t with that lady who turned him into DREAM, carrying the new puppy in her arms that she had just bought from a breeder.

Maci is thankful that she has someone to sit next to on the couch and watch movies.

Miss Dolly is grateful for her bed and her pretty yard.  That’s all she really needs, she says.  She is retired.

Zap! is grateful that everyone he meets loves him as much as he loves everyone he meets.

Yodel is thankful to be in a foster home with no other dogs.  He likes all the attention all for himself. And for being so good-lookin’.

Zucker is thankful that someone came to get him after he was so scared and all alone on the street, and turned him into a vet who then found DREAM.

Jerry Beasley is thankful that anyone puts up with his grumpy old self.

Missy is grateful for her foster mama, who loves her old old face with her tongue sticking out the side.

Simon is grateful that he doesn’t have all those heartworms anymore.  They made it really hard to breathe.  And for the people who are going to adopt him tomorrow.

Brandy is thankful that her mom didn’t take her to the vet for the “blue juice” when she moved into an apartment that didn’t take dogs. And for DREAM.

Havarti was grateful for the training he is getting at Canine PHD to help him not be so scared.

Tonka is thankful for the dog park.  When can we go again?  And for his foster sister Delia, who plays “wild mustangs” with him.

Angus and Nessa are grateful that their dad’s friend knew how to find DREAM when their dad died, so that they didn’t go to the shelter.

Fella said he was grateful not to be in that dark  garage any more, where he spent 4 years before coming to DREAM.  Also warmies in his crate to help his arthritis.

Shannon is thankful that such a nice lady wants to adopt her, even though she has had skin cancer.

Rosie is grateful for her understanding foster family, who drove her around so much when she needed those surgeries on her mammary tumors and her bad tooth.  She feels so much better now!

Pumpkin is grateful that she and her 8 babies are not in the animal control anymore, and the babies are not sick.  That is no place to have your babies! (Soon she will be grateful that they are all in their forever homes.  She is tired of nursing.)

Buttercup is thankful for her nice quiet foster home in Savannah. And that her eye doesn’t hurt anymore.

Mouse is thankful that her foster home has a big ramp, because she is too little for stairs, and their doggie door is on the second floor!

Starling is grateful for FOOD.  But she doesn’t like her foster mama’s tricks to slow her down so much.

Manchego is grateful for the lady who found him at animal control and called DREAM.  And also for his foster dad who is taking care of him while he finishes heartworm treatment.

Brady is thankful for bellyrubs.

Kirby is thankful that the lady at the dogpound found DREAM, because the mean man who dropped him off at the pound knew he’d be put to sleep that night and left him anyway.  And he’s just a baby!

Olivia is grateful that she isn’t in a scary concrete run anymore at animal control.  No place for a teeny chiweenie!

John-Boy is thankful that he is going to a foster home today that has another young dog that loves to play play play!

Duncan is thankful that his foster mom understands that he doesn’t mean anything by it when he tries to go on an adventure.  (And for his new harness.)

Mattie is thankful for her adoptive mama, who drove up to see her from Columbus and is going to take her home as soon as her heartworm restriction period is over.  And for her foster mama who took care of her during all of that.

We at DREAM are thankful for all the people who love the dachshunds and care for them their entire lives.  We wish there were more of you.

I am thankful for our foster homes, who show these dogs so much love (sometimes for the first time in their lives), and then send them on to their forever homes, so they can help the next dachshund who needs them.

AH, a rainy fall with dachshunds

HowlOWeenie is behind us, and it was glorious.  We now turn our sights to fall, when a young rescuer’s thoughts lightly turn to thoughts of ….. murder, mayhem, and rage at the machine.

No, not really.  But there are a few things I’m pretty hacked off about right now.

1.  Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He vetoed a bill to outlaw puppymills.  Seriously, Arnold? A “responsible breeder” is not going to have more than 100 adult dogs on his / her property.

2. Stories I heard today about a certain county south of Atlanta where—

A) they “adopted” a mama dachshund and her 4-day old puppies, along with an unneutered male, to a backyard breeder.  Georgia law says that dogs coming out of a shelter must be altered by the owner, but this shelter is not one of those that follows up on that.  So, nice life coming for that crew!  And not even any registration papers for the puppies.  So these will be cheap puppies.  And that means, they will get no vet care, because that costs money.  Nice!

B) one of the county commissioners let his unneutered dachshund run free.  Picked up by AC several times.  Last time, didn’t come claim him.  So eventually a rescue got him.  Dog was heartworm positive, had all the intestinal parasites.  And who knows how many litters he’d sired on his adventures. County commissioner is suing the rescue group.  Wanted his dog back.  But the dog had died because it wasn’t healthy enough to survive the heartworm treatment.

I know there are a lot of crazy rescuers out there.  There are some animal rights nutjobs, and there are some overzealous people doing overzealous things.  But when we are just trying to save the lives of the real dogs that are right in front of us, and the “authorities” not only don’t help, but actively oppose, it makes my stomach hurt.

Recent victories:  Rosie from Chattooga County.  Sassy from Dekalb County.  Lester from Fulton County.  And getting another tomorrow.

HowlOWeenie 2009 is upon us!

Hope you’ve got your dachshund’s costume fitted!

Hope you’ve exercised your dachshund’s tail wag muscle!

Hope you’ve practiced your starting block technique for the race!

Hope you’re prepared to satisfy your shopping urge at the artist market – and packed lots of cash and checkbook!

Hope you’ve packed your lawnchair so you can relax for the Roxie Watson bluegrass!

Hope you’ve stretched your tummy for lots of hotdogs!

Hope you’ve limbered up for the dachsie hokey pokey!

Hope you’ve memorized your best dachshund joke!

Hope you’ve practiced your “Dachshund Idol” trick!

Hope you’ve perfected your howling duet!

Howl-O-Weenie is here! Click for complete details and schedule!

“Exception Rescue” vs. “Overpopulation Rescue”

So much of what rescue groups deal with is because of the massive overpopulation of dogs — pure mathematics — too many dogs, too few homes.  I call this “overpopulation rescue” and it is so overwhelming, we often can’t help with special circumstances that are really  heartbreaking — when someone can no longer care for their pet through no fault of their own.  I think if these as “exception rescues” : when life changes, and people have to adjust by finding new homes for their dogs.  Situations like divorce, foreclosure, illness, or even death.

I often am saddened that we cannot handle these “exception rescues” because the “overpopulation rescues” are more than we can handle anyway.

Yesterday I had an “exception rescue” experience.  Sadly, most of the time I have to say “no” to these, but this time was different.

I received a call from a very distraught woman.  She asked if I remembered “Ed Simmons” (not his real name), who had adopted 2 puppies from us a couple of years ago.

Of course I remembered Ed.  I remembered especially the smile on his face when he left with those two darling puppies, Angus and Nessa.  I remembered Angus and Nessa because I’d watched them be born in my kitchen, just 6 days after I saved their mama from animal control.  Mama had been scheduled for being put to sleep 2 hours before I arrived to get her.  (Yes, pregnant.  But that’s another story.)

Her voice choked up when she said, “Ed died.  Can you come get the dogs?”  (Amazingly resourceful, she had remembered the name of Ed’s vet, who then remembered me.  Two big strokes of luck for those babies.  Otherwise they would have gone to animal control and I would never have known.)

Luckily, I was in town and not on a business trip.  I was also in the car and not far away.  I headed over there.  Angus and Nessa were in the back yard.  Scared to death.  Ed had apparently let them outside and then collapsed.  They spent about a day back there, without food or water, and watching their dad through the back door window.  They were frantic.  When I arrived the authorities had already taken Ed away, but the dogs wouldn’t let anyone near them.  The police were there, I suppose to make sure we didn’t take anything except the dogs.

I sat down on the back porch and within a minute or so, they remembered me.  What a moment — after 2 years, they remembered!  They climbed all over me, giving kisses and headrubs.  I got them into the car and got them home.  They were so relieved to be with people again.

We will always need rescue, because these situations are part of life.  I dream of the day when all rescue is “exception rescue” and not “overpopulation rescue.”

As long as we buy dogs from breeders and petstores, giving them the financial incentive to continue their practices, we will have “overpopulation rescue.”

Why I say “And I thought I had seen it all!” so much.

So yeah.  I thought I had seen it all.  But it turns out, no.

Just in the past 2 weeks:

1.  Langley arrived from animal control with his giant cut all down his side, from front leg, all down his ribs, and down his back leg. It had already scarred over in spots, and all of it was scabby, so it was pretty old, but all I could wonder was “Who does THAT to a little dog?”  And I also wondered how you could make such a straight clean cut when the dog must have been struggling all over the place.  Latest theory from the foster home is that was caused by a weed-whacker.  But he’s an angel and will make someone a wonderful, wiggly little companion.  See pic below.

2. Fig came in from animal control, small and sweet.  Handsome tiny little chocolate boy.  He had some funny little bumps….that turned out to be HUNDREDS of baby ticks.  The vet took as many off his eyes and face as they could get without him freaking out.  Now he just has them between his toes…they look like bunches of tiny gray grapes poking up from each foot.  It gives you the heebie jeebies to look at them.  I’m sure I’m going to have a nightmare tonight.  Anyone have any suggestions for getting them off?  We’ve applied frontline so I’m hoping they will just die and fall off, but that seems optimistic.  And through it all, he is affectionate and friendly, even when my husband came home for the very first time, he wagged and wagged.

3. Simon is another tiny boy, also left in animal control.  We’ve had him for a few weeks, and he was heartworm positive.  He had some trouble with the treatment, and we had to take him to the cardiologist for a sonogram.  I SAW a bunch of heartworms on the sonogram!  It looked like a cross-section of a spaghetti box.  There are few things in this world I hate more than heartworms, and this was the first time I’d actually seen one.  They were flowing in and out, back and forth between 2 chambers of his heart.  So his blood wasn’t oxygenating.   I will never forget that image…the only other sonogram images I’ve seen are friends’ babies.  (This, obviously, was quite different.)  He likes to give hugs.  He has at least 60 more days before he will be ready for adoption.  We could use some help with that cardiologist bill, too, if you’ve got some spare $$ lying around.


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