Baby the Wonder Dog

In mid-October 2011, shortly after my 35th birthday, I was the “victim” of a corporate downsizing.  The company offered a fair severence deal – my salary through the end of the year – so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I laid around the house a couple of days, and then I decided to go on a shopping spree.  I bought new clothes for my pending job search; suits, tops, slacks… I went to Ross so it’s not like I went overboard or anything.  Of course when one is unemployed one can only spend so much money without guilt, severance or not, and so after I shopped for a couple of days I was bored again.

I spent time with the dogs – Max and Peaches, my own dogs; Maggie, my first rescue and a classic foster fail, and her five remaining puppies – Georgia, Hershey, Lil’ Bit, Po, and Chunkybutt.  I took them places – not all at once.  I had long philosophical discussions with them.  I played a lot of fetch.  But contrary to popular belief, there are periods throughout the day when dogs don’t want to play fetch or engage in philosophy.  Those periods are called “nap times.”  During “nap times” I was still bored.  Oh, I took one nice nap each day, but one can’t nap as often – or as long – as a dog and still sleep through the night.

I had become semi-involved with Stokes County Humane Society at this point, though not as involved as I was about to become.  One “nap time” I was on Facebook, that most wonderful of all social networking inventions, when a fellow rescuer/SCHS volunteer sent me a message on Facebook:  “Female dog with 9 pups at the shelter – do you know anyone that can help?”

(Coincidentally this is the same friend who gave me notice of Maggie’s plight back in July.)

Maggie’s pups were the most amazing pups ever.  Maggie was a wonderful mother.  Things with Maggie had gone very smoothly, all told.  It would be that way again!  I would go and rescue this dog and her puppies, and it would be a walk in the park!  I was doing the Lord’s work, and He would never send me more than I could handle!

I’m convinced that the Lord enjoys a good joke as well as anyone, and He possesses a very twisted sense of humor.

I was babysitting my nephew that morning – he was suspended from school for getting beat up.  I’ll blog about THAT subject another time.

“Gaven,” I said.  “I’m going to go to the dog pound.  You need to sit in the lobby and be very good while I’m there, and don’t touch anything.”

“Are we getting a dog?” was his eager response.

“Maybe,” I said.  “I want to see her first.”

So we rode over to the animal shelter, and Sarah took me back to meet the little mama.  Little is a relative term – this was a shorter dog, appeared to be an Aussie/spaniel mix of some sort, but she was the fattest dog for her size I’d ever seen, and nursing a litter of nine fat, rolly-polly, adorable four week old puppies to boot!

Sarah opened the kennel door, and I walked in and knelt down.  Mama dog raised her head and looked at me.  I spoke to her and held out a hand; after a minute her tail began to thump the floor and she licked my fingers.  I picked up a puppy; the tail never stopped wagging, but mama dog did lay her head back down and heave a sigh.  She knew why I was there, bless her soul.

I had so much to do – I needed to go home, set up Rosie’s/Maggie’s crate, find the old towels and sheets, and on and on.

“Don’t do anything with her,” I told Sarah.  “I’ll be back for her.”

On the way home, Gaven asked, “Aunt Heather, are we getting a dog?”

“Yes, we are,” I told him.  “And she has nine puppies!”

“Just like Maggie!” was his enthusiastic response.

Wrong!

Things went smoothly at first.  My husband was home when Gaven & I got back & nothing would do but that we turn around and go ahead and pick her up.  He won’t admit it, but Charles enjoys this rescuing – not as much as I do, but he does enjoy it.

Sarah told me her name was Baby, and she was an owner surrender.  The owner’s statement was, “We can’t do it anymore.”

I made Gaven ride in the front seat on the way home from the shelter.  Strange dog with puppies + 9 year old nephew could possibly equal a bad situation.  I’m very careful with new dogs.  I didn’t have anything to worry about with Baby.

I laid one of the back seats down and I sat on the other one.  The theory was that Baby and her puppies would ride in the cargo area but if I needed to I could reach them via the laid-down seat.  What REALLY happened was that overweight mama dog rode home IN MY LAP and the puppies kept falling off the seat and into the floorboard, so I was squished and rescuing puppies the entire ride home.

Once home, we carried the puppies inside and installed them in the crate.  Then I went back for Baby.  Baby spotted Max, Peaches, Maggie, and Maggie’s puppies in the fenced backyard and went ballistic.  She roared challenges, insulted their mothers, called them lily-livered cowards and codfish, and said things that I would blush to put in my public blog.

That was my first hint that this wasn’t going to be quite the breeze Maggie & her pups had been.

Baby didn’t want to take care of her puppies.  She didn’t want to nurse them; she didn’t want to clean up their poopy messes; she didn’t want to be around them the majority of the time.  She was a terrible mother.

I had to bathe the puppies daily – sometimes Mama would come over & help me.  She wishes she’d had the sense to get a video of them in the tub – they would sit and howl so mournfully.  They HATED bathtimes!  But if I left the house, by the time I’d come back they’d be covered in pee, poop, and mushy puppy soup.

Within a few days I had an inkling that something was more than not right – something was dreadfully WRONG.  I was trying to make Baby get in the crate to nurse her puppies.  I opened the crate door and the puppies rushed out.  They knocked Baby down.  She gave a heart-wrenching cry of pain as she went down, and as the puppies swarmed over her and found teats, she lay trembling and whining and staring at me with wide, frightened eyes.

I called Mona, and Mona set me up an appointment with a vet in Kernersville.  The verdict:  Baby was suffering from bi-lateral luxating patella.  We took her to a vet in Walnut Cove for a second opinion – same diagnosis, except this vet recommended putting Baby on a diet.   She also quoted a fairly steep price for the necessary surgeries.  We’ve been fundraising ever since.  We’re close to half-way there, but it’s taken seven months to get here, and I really hope it doesn’t take another seven months to raise the rest.  Baby deserves better than that.

I’ve gotten to know Baby fairly well over the last seven months.  She’s opinionated, self-centered, always hungry, and nosy.  She’s also sweet, loving, playful, and funny.  If she needs to go outside and I don’t jump up as soon as she scratches the door, she’ll start talking about it.  She’ll start out with a few whuffs under her breath.  If I still don’t answer, she’ll escalate to barking, but she goes through several increases in volume along the way.  And if that fails to elicit a response, she’ll come to me, climb into my lap, and bark in my face.

Baby has developed a relationship with my pack, and enjoys the steady stream of older puppies that comes through.  She’s still aggressive toward strange dogs, though.  Honestly, I don’t know if it’s real aggression or if she’s just so unsocialized that she doesn’t know the proper way of approaching other dogs.  I do know that she’d start a fight if I’d let her, whether she intended to or not.

She’s always had a keen interest in birds.  When I walk her she’ll run to the end of her leash and back to me – but if there are birds in the woods she’ll try her best to chase them.  So I don’t know why I was surprised when we moved my chickens outside (they were under a heat lamp in my bathtub to start with) and Baby tried to make a meal of them.  Funny thing – she goes straight for the chicken coop now every time I take her outside.  The other night the stupid hens were sleeping with their heads stuck through the chicken wire.  I barely kept Baby from decapitating one of them – I heard her teeth click together as I pulled her back.

While I have no intentions of letting Baby eat my chickens, I would like to see her be able to run and play like she really desires.  She’ll sit and watch the other dogs play, and she’s got such a keen interest in them.  She likes going places – I take her to soccer games, and when SCHS had a big yard sale fundraiser last weekend I took her to that as well.

Baby is great with children.  She can be jealous if she thinks the children are getting more attention than she is, but that jealousy always manifests in non-aggressive acting out like eating Gaven’s Christmas present, or jumping, or barking, or getting on the furniture – things she knows better than to do but, like a spoiled toddler, she does them because she thinks negative attention is better than no attention at all.

This is Baby napping at soccer practice with the coach's young daughter.
This is Baby napping at soccer practice with the coach’s young daughter.

I’ve called her a pampered princess, a food whore, an attention whore, a little fat thing, and my sweet Baby girl.  In truth,  Baby is a wonder dog and she’s going to make someone an excellent pet someday.  Sadly, she can’t be put up for adoption until her knee surgeries are behind her, and without help, that’s going to be awhile yet.

If you’re able to contribute even a small amount toward Baby’s surgery, then visit http://www.stokescountyhumanesociety.com.  Follow the links on the “Our Fur Babies” page to Baby’s fundraiser.  Every little bit will help.

Modern-Day Heroes

It’s true that the term “hero” is vastly overused today…  But I just read an article about a petite 15-year-old girl who deserves the honor.  Read here about how this young hero leapt into action and saved 25 horses from a horrendous death by burning.  She was unable to save every horse in the stable – but the fact that she put her life in jeopardy to save 25 – returning time and again to the burning stable – speaks volumes about her character.  I imagine her mother is proud of her and furious with her at the same time – this is an emotional paradox with which most mothers and many fathers are familiar.

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/13/11181218-teen-girl-saves-25-horses-from-stable-fire?lite

The Attack of the Killer Possum

 

(Yes, I know it’s spelled opossum, but I live in North Carolina.  Nuff said.)

 

I was sick yesterday.  I mean, S-I-C-K.  If-I-wasn’t-temping-and-had-sick-leave-I’d-have-gone-home  sick.  So after supper (hubby grilled bbq pork chops – none of this NC brown sugar and vinegar bbq crap, we use Absolutely Wild barbecue sauce, produced & bottled in Abilene, TX.  I’ve discovered it can be purchased online – joy, joy, joy!) –

Where was I?  The dastardly parentheses distracted me.  Oh, yes –

So after supper, I half-heartedly played online for awhile before calling it an early night and heading to bed.

I slept hard for what felt like hours.  You know how it is – you don’t feel good, you’re sleeping like a log – and then something wakes you and you’re disoriented and fuzzy.  Yeah, that happened.  I was sure it must be morning – imagine my surprise when I looked at my clock and it was only 11:30ish!

I lay in bed trying to figure out whether I should be alarmed or just go back to sleep.

After a moment the realization penetrated my consciousness – someone was banging on the front door!  And all the lights were on!  And hubby wasn’t in bed!

I rolled out of bed and stumbled to the living room – not the smartest thing to do – I didn’t even stop for the shotgun, which is my usual recourse when someone pounds on my door in the middle of the night.  Hubby was standing at the door in his pajamas – and he was the source of the banging.

“Whasgoinon?”  I asked.  At least that was my intent – not sure what it actually sounded like, but that’s what I meant.

Hubby pounded a few more times on the front door and responded – all I caught was something about Vannesa being home from work.

“Why’re you banging on the door?” I asked.  I’m sure it was more of a whine than a query. 

“Because,” hubby answered in that tone that indicated this was his second time telling me, “Vannesa’s home and there are two possums on the front porch and she’s afraid to come to the door.”

He then dismissed me and picked up his cell.  “Yeah, are they still out there?  Ok, ok – come around back.  No, no, I’ll get the dogs – yeah, they probably will jump on you – well, would you rather have to face the dogs or the possums?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

He went to the back door and out onto the back porch.  I stared at the front door for a few years, and then went to look through the peep hole.  I saw nothing – but that doesn’t mean anything, since the peep hole leaves a ton of blind spots for a clever possum to hide from view.

After another month or two passed, Charles and Vannesa appeared in the living room.  There were some puppy-sized paw prints on Vannesa’s pants – I’m sure she probably died three deaths when the dogs touched her.  She has developed a marked dislike for fur-bearing mammals; I’m pretty sure she’s been body-snatched by aliens, because how else could any child of mine be so averse to furry critters?  Especially dogs.  I could understand her not liking possums if she at least liked dogs.

I’m pretty sure nothing like this ever happened to her:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I can’t help but wonder if she didn’t turn this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

into this:

 

 

 

 

 

Once the excitement was over I lugged myself back to bed & slept like the dead til morning.  I told Bridget about the possum incident – then asked her to walk Baby.  She politely declined so I walked Baby myself.  First, though, I made sure there weren’t any possums lurking in wait for Vannesa…

All joking aside – possums can be fierce when cornered.  The whole “they’ll always play possum to avoid confrontation” spiel is wrong.  I’ve had dogs torn up by possums more than once.  Vannesa was perfectly right to go out of her way to avoid the two that were on my porch last night. 

Wild animals are wild.  It’s best to watch them from a distance, and call a professional wildlife rehabber or wildlife remover rather than approach a wild animal yourself.

Living Vicariously Through My Kids…

There are so many places I’ve always wanted to go and haven’t had the chance to go yet.  While I hold onto the hope that I’ll visit these places someday, I also accept the possibility that I won’t.  So when Damon & Vannesa had the opportunity to go to New York City (high on my list of where-I-want-to-go), I tried to persuade them both to go.  Vannesa put down a deposit but then decided not to go – too bad the deposit was non-refundable.  Damon, on the other hand, went – my mom helped hubby & I come up with the rest of the money for his trip.  Here are some photos from his trip:

 

This blogger is amazing. I would recommend his blog to anyone.

Rochester SAGE - Supporting Advanced & Gifted Education

“Too often the strengths and interests of Gifted-Learning Disabled students are either unrecognized, seen but ignored, put on hold, or are irksome because they are the wrong talents for conventional school achievement.” − Susan Baum and Steven Owen

In a special post, guest blogger Amy Simko, co-leader of Gifted in Michigan, writes about Twice-Exceptional Learners

Twice exceptional refers to a person who is both gifted and learning disabled in one or more ways.  Twice exceptional children are not often correctly identified in our schools and those who are discovered rarely have a place in school that provides what they need.  Here’s an experiment for you…ask the next 10 people you meet what twice exceptional means.  Chances are you’ll receive a few guesses and a lot of strange looks.  Now that’s not so hard to believe, but now try asking 10 teachers what twice exceptional means.  The result will not be so very different from the random sample. In fact, I’ve met medical professionals who had not heard the term before.

Funding cuts at our public schools have led to reduced resources, lower training budgets and fewer special…

View original post 1,694 more words

This blogger has very eloquently addressed a subject about which I feel very strongly.

Rochester SAGE - Supporting Advanced & Gifted Education

Heinlein Quote

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan

The pupil who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can do. – John Stuart Mill

I want my kids to fail.  That probably isn’t at the top of your list for your kids, but it should be.  Failure is one of the most important experiences they will ever have.  The road to success is paved with failure because failure teaches us how to succeed.

View original post 680 more words

Letting go…

I always miss my kids when they are adopted – Sandie, Scooter, Georgia, Lil’ Bit, Hershey & Po have all found homes – Sandie went home with a new friend whose daughter played soccer with Vannesa in the fall; Scooter, Georgia, Lil’ Bit, Hershey & Po were all adopted as a result of SCHS networking.  They’ve all gone to wonderful families, and the people who adopted Sandie, Lil’ Bit and Hershey are now my friends on Facebook, so I’m getting to watch my babies grow up, which is nice.  Scooter’s family emails me photos now and then, and I’ve gotten a few photos of Georgia via text.  I love technology.  I really do.

I’m used to having  a little time between adoptions to get used to one of my kids being gone before I have to part with another one.  That’s not the case this time.  Po was adopted by a very excited young vet student who took him home this past Saturday.  Merry & Pippin, my private rescues, are boarding a transport tomorrow morning for North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, NY.  I’m not used to Po being gone, and now Merry and Pippin are going too.

I’ve taken stock and this leaves me with Chunkybutt and Baby in foster care, and of course my own Max, Peaches and Maggie.  Chunky’s the last of Maggie’s puppies.  He’s a big, handsome fellow, with a wonderful long black coat and a laid back personality, and I’m baffled as to why he hasn’t been adopted.  Baby’s going to be with me for awhile yet – she has to have surgery to correct her bi-lateral luxating patella (that is, dislocating kneecaps in both hind legs) before she can be put up for adoption.

So what am I going to do with just five dogs?  Back when I still had five of Maggie’s pups and all nine of Baby’s, plus Max, Peaches, Maggie and Baby, I was running day in and day out and I was pretty sure I was crazy – or getting there fast.  Now my life is about to get back to normal (whatever normal is, when applied to the life of a canine foster mom), and I’m sitting here tonight unable to comprehend the fact that I’m ONLY going to have five dogs!

Am I going to take a break from fostering?  That’s a tough question.  I don’t know.  I think I should take a few weeks off – we don’t want my husband to get burned out, after all – I rely on his assistance in every aspect of my various insanities.  He lifts heavy stuff, drives long distances, helps with feeding, bathing, walking, and playing, and gives me his version of pep talks when I’m feeling blue.  (Think, “I hate all these animals in the house, there’s hair everywhere – but you’re really good with the dogs, they really love you.  You’re doing a good thing.  I hate all the hair.”  That’s the Mr. Camp version of a pep talk.)

Will my impulsive nature assert itself again?  Probably.  I definitely won’t rule out anything.  I’m pretty sure there are puppies in my future, and more than likely adult dogs as well.  In spite of the fact that Maggie’s the first black dog I’ve had in several years, and Baby the second (not counting Maggie’s black puppies), I’m partial to black dogs.  I’m also partial to large dogs, though small ones aren’t so bad as all that.  I foresee a future with many black dogs.  Of course I won’t limit myself to the black ones – I’ll take in a dog in need regardless of shape, color or size (or religious affiliation, sexual orientation, nationality or political preference).

I’ll be saying good-bye to Merry and Pippin tomorrow morning.  I’m going to miss them.  It’s going to be harder to let them go, I think, because I’m not used to Po being gone yet.

I’m typing this and a commercial is on – one of those Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials – and I’m reminded yet again why it’s ok to let my kids go, even when three of them go within such a short period of time.  It’s so I can rescue again.  There are animals in the shelter that the ASPCA and the Humane Society and all of those other rescue groups can’t help, because there are more homeless pets than there are foster homes.  The longer I hold onto my kids, the longer a homeless pet has to wait for a rescue that might not come in time.

So I’ll be saying goodbye to Merry and Pippin tomorrow morning, and it’s too soon for me, but I’ll be ok.  I’ll probably cry, but I’ll be ok, because three less foster puppies means that some other dog or puppy is going to have a chance…  And that’s why I’m doing this, after all.

My younger daughter, who is 13, and my son, who is 16, have both expressed their sorrow that they always get attached and always have to say goodbye.  I told them both tonight that when we stop getting attached it will be time to stop rescuing – because after all, it’s not fair to the dog if we don’t love it for however long we have it.

I’m becoming a pro at letting them go.  I just hope I never get used to it.