What is it about putting a pet to sleep that is so heartbreaking.
For me, it is not always that I love them so very much that it is about losing them. I realized yet again tonight as I stood in a room with my cat, brushing him and doing what I could to make him happy and distract him, that it is also about the power and responsibility of literally killing another being.
How did it happen that humans not only use animals as pets, but that we get to decide their fate. If we are good humans we do what is right and and responsible. If we are bad humans, we never realize our responsibility. The suffering of all beings is an enormous concept which deserves enormous respect. And, even with all of my years in veterinary, animal welfare and as a pet parent to many, the respect I have for life for all never fades. In fact, it seems to have grown stronger...
Two years...24 months...how quickly time flies. Cora is still stubborn, still whines too much and still thinks she is the boss. But, luckily for her, I am still okay with being her slave:)
In these chaotic and sad days where people are divided on a new level, and the differences in beliefs and personality are highlighted in everything they do and say - one thing stands out as an unusual but important binding factor; dogs.
Dogs must be walked and walking much of the time is done with friends, neighbors and sometimes groups of strangers. Walking dogs together forces people who otherwise have nothing in common, and probably would have nothing to do with each other, to interact and socialize. The time spent walking and being together is a chance to hear stories, different opinions, to learn new things, to learn tolerance and to hopefully grow as a person.
For those people who are willing and able to take these opportunities to do just that, it can be as rewarding as it is to watch the dogs play and do their own socializing. For those who are not able or willing to, then they will just be walks. But, then again it has always been up to those who can to carry the brunt of awareness...
As long as the dogs are having fun!
Sometimes you get what you need, not what you want...
It took someone to remind me of that to fully appreciate the new four-legged friend I recently adopted. On April 12, 2019 it was four months, and to be honest, it was a rough few months adjusting to her presence. And I think she would say the same of me.
Her name is Cora, or Corabelle...
I have always taken in dogs with a bad past, most scared of people, not dog friendly and scared of their own shadow on some days. I am used to all of the issues that come along with these types of dogs. But, they were always a "type" of dog...Huskies, Great Pyrenees, Flat Coated Retrievers...big, long-haired dogs with a certain style of personality and looks. I am very much drawn to big, calm and independent. It was never a decision to adopt these type of dogs, they just happened along the way. I have always joked that I like my dogs like I like my men...big and quiet, lol.
So, when the time came to think about saving another life I spent hours on Petfinder looking for that type. A few came along that I really wanted to meet, but were adopted before I could even start the process. I knew it had to be the complete opposite looks from Evie since that would be too difficult for me. I knew I could not adopt a full Pittie, which has been my dream, because of not being able to take it to work, etc. I filled out a few applications, each time I explained what I was searching for. This was the first time I was actually able to choose a dog rather than ending up with one and it was a big decision. I wanted another companion, one that would be by my side for many years hopefully.
One photo was for a sad looking tan and white girl with big ears that stood up miles above her head and a big belly from recently giving birth. There was a little Pittie look to her, and those ears...oh, those ears. I contacted the rescue but was told she had a meet n greet the day and then told she was adopted. So, I put her out of my mind.
A few days after that the rescue contacted me and said the first home was not suitable and was I still interested? I spoke with the foster a few times after and explained again what my situation was and what I was searching for...must like cats, must be calm and quiet so I could take her to work, and must like to go on drives and do things with me, etc.
Fast forward a few weeks and I drive to pick her up, excited, but nervous.
I am not sure what the look on my face was as the little, skinny, timid dog walked across the parking lot towards me. It was probably a little bit of shock. She let me hug her and walked with me to the car. On the drive home I sat in the back seat with her and she sat on top of me, shaking and visibly confused and nervous.
Once home, she would not lay on any of the beds I had for her...she would crawl up to them and touch them with her toes. She would not take treats because they scared her, she would cower when I showed her the toys I had gotten her. She trembled and trembled and trembled a little more, with an occasional whining fit in between. I really hate whining. Her skin was a mess, her teeth were horrible and her spay incision was not healing well. She did not know words such as treat, walk or come.
Ahhh...so much for the big, calm, quiet type.
The next few weeks the whining continued, the projectile vomiting in the car was constant, the neediness was prevalent, walks were no fun. The only thing that was going well was sleeping and eating. She did both like a champ.
I could see she was trying but I was having a difficult time with my attitude and the inability to shake the annoyance and disappointment with the situation. I tried to take her to the dog park because I was told she liked other dogs and she had done well on a few walks with other dogs with me. That was a horrible experience, we never made it further than the side of the car where she began to violently shake and snarl like an alien had taken over her body.
I really did consider giving her back to the rescue after that, feeling she deserved a home different than mine, but knowing also I was the one that who to change. How was she going to become my companion like this? I had worked with this type of dog many times, but have never lived with one! So, I decided to talk with a trainer and told her my concerns. A few days later I spoke with another type of trainer and shared my concerns again. Both were very nice and told me things that I already knew, and a few that I didn't. Both gave me a reason to keep trying.
Sitting at work one day not too long after a co-worker asked me how we were doing and my response was that it was difficult, but we were getting to know each other. Her simple response changed everything...sometimes you get what you need, not what you want. It was as if she gave me permission that I needed to be okay with this dog and my attitude magically changed. No kidding.
Since that day things have gotten better because she senses the change in me. She is still a whiner, which I will never get used to. But, the vomiting in the car has mostly stopped, she loves her beds and her toys and she definitely loves to eat as the six pound weight gain has proven. She loves her belly rubs and kisses on her head. She loves to run around the yard throwing the ball up in the air and run zoomies around the house. She thinks rolling in absolutely everything is the best thing ever.. She snores like a freight train and likes to snuggle inside all the blankets I have for her. And she is more confident which has, of course, led to being very stubborn, lol.
When I look at her now I don't see that small, annoying dog. I see her for "who" she is and the good things she brings to my life. She loves, loves, loves people and it is a joy to watch her say hello to everyone she sees. She does well with most dogs and it is a treat to see her run and play with them. She loves to snuggle with me on the couch while I tell her stories and rub her belly. There is still a lot to work through and deal with so that I can be the best human for her issues, and I still have that sneaky feeling that she would maybe have done better in a home with lots of people and dogs to play with. But she deserves to have someone be there for her. I guess I am that one and that I must have needed her "type" without knowing it.
I decided to make my first entry into this journey of blogging about the amazing feeling it is when an animal decides to trust you. When moving into my current apt complex a year and a half ago there were several cats living outside. The two girls, Silky and Cali, were born here and my neighbor had them fixed and vaccinated long before I moved in. There was a boy named Bandit who has only one eye and then there was Momma…the mother of the two girls. Momma is a mess. Her coat is filthy, her tail thin, her whiskers caked with old food and who knows what. She has had a chronic mouth infection since the day I saw her and you can hear her breathing yards away. She has never been friendly, even to my neighbor who has been feeding her for years. Soon after moving in I set up a few shelters close-by for all the cats and Momma took to them in the winter, even though she would run when I approached to clean them or straighten them. At first she would run far away and leave, then over time she would run a few yars and then recently only a few feet. I have spent as much time sitting and talking to her as possible, but never trying to bother her beyond feeding her when my neighbor was not around. Her breathing became bad enough in the last few weeks that I managed to get my hands on some antibiotics for her. Of course, she disappeared for a week and I was not able to give them to her. Two nights ago she was sitting out front by the food bowls and I decided to take a chance and see if she would eat the food with the liquid. I slowly walked to her and crouched down. I opened the can, put the liquid in and slowly put the bowl under her face. She must have been overly hungry, or the medicine tasted good, because when I decided to put my hand out to pet her she didn’t flinch. In fact, she right there and then, became my friend. I spent the next hour feeding her, petting her and loving every minute of it. And so did she. She obviously hasn’t had any attention in forever, if at all, and purred up a storm. All the while her wheezing making loud noises in between the purring. Two days later she is now waiting for me when I get home and lets me walk right up to her. I have taken a warm wash cloth and wiped as much of her face as possible, although she warned me that I need to go slowly with that. Amd I am happy to do so. Tonight her infection seems a little better, her eyes a little less gooey and I can’t help but smile. I have taken in a lot of animals, taken care of colony of cats and even stalked ferals to save them, but the grand feeling of being able to help never goes away. Stay tuned to see how things go…</strong>
Momma Day 2:
<strong>Well, I just came back inside from sitting with Momma as I have the last few nights after work. She is now letting me pet her under her chin and all over without signs of biting, although I am still cautious. Unfortunately, the Clavamox is not working as well as I would have liked. Although, she is a little better for now. Once again, I had to explain to my neighbor that her fat belly is not because she is happy and fat, it is because she is unhealthy, has worms and God knows what. She was freaked out and asked me if Momma needd to be put down because of the worms….
Also, had to take a few minutes to explain that not all Pitties are bad after she commented about that they all need to move out of this neighborhood and that they are mean. Reminds me of my many years in the veterinary exmination room trying to educate the clients.
Anyawy, Momma is outside eating the rest of her third bowl of food. The only way I feel okay walking away from her is when she is eating.
Just had someone from Guatemala contact me via FB and ask for help. He and his wife run a welfare organization there and in need of supplies and equipment to help the animals. One of their notes below is a good reminder of how many people are out there trying to help and I wish there was some real way of getting everyone in welfare - all over - to work together on a wide scale. It is always on my mind...
Any ideas out there?
"Today trbajamos in education for people on responsible pet ownership and low-cost neutering to reduce the over population of stray dogs, our goal is to have a veterinary clinic to serve nescitados many animals of the street, in our country dereschos education on animals and there is what we fight, we help doctors to make the surgeries but all funds out of our pockets and it is very hard work if you have equipment you no longer use or occupy it and can not be donated to our organization would be great to help us so many animals in our country. thank you very much."
It will be fun to go to the VIP VEEP premier this weekend. It is a show starting on Sunday on HBO and rumor has it that Evie's photo will be used in a scene in one of the first few episodes. Of course, I don't have HBO or any of those channels so I won't be able to watch it. Have been asking around for someone to record them so I will have a copy. Seems we may have a movie star in the family...figures it is the dog!:)
This is the photo I think they ended up using. What they don't know is that the white stuff on her face is actually fish guts because she had run off and been bad as usual, lol:)
Sharing this from a FB Friend...good thoughts!
Isn’t he precious? This sweet little boy was found outside. His eyes are shut not because he’s so young, but because they were full of pus. He could barely breathe because of all the mucus caked around his tiny nose. But the good news is that his luck has changed! He’s on medicine, getting bottle fed and should grow up in to a handsome kitty.
There’s three lessons this little guy has to teach us...:
Lesson #1: Spay and neuter of outdoor cats is critical. Estimates range, but we’ve heard 80% of the kittens going into shelters come from outdoor cats. 50% of outdoor kittens die. The other 50% either end up in a shelter/rescue, taking homes away from other homeless cats or they grow up on the street and reproduce - causing a vicious cycle. If you’ve never looked into Trap Neuter Return find out why it’s so important here: http:// www.allaboutanimalsrescue.org/ stray-cats/
Lesson #2: Caring people make a difference! The Good Samaritan that found him didn’t keep walking, they picked him up and searched diligently to find help. Once someone was willing to help him, they made a donation for his care because they knew the rescue was going to incur costs.
Lesson #3: When we all work together we save lives! His new momma is with another rescue. As soon as she heard about this kitten’s need she volunteered to take on the major responsibility of feeding every 2 hours and getting him well so he can go up for adoption.
As I watch the videos and see the photos of the fires in Colorado, right where I used to live, I am reminded of how the animals fled before. How the horses on the ranch became distraught before being caught by their owners and taken home. Of how I watched the fire and smoke come up the mountain and the air turn dark over days.
I remember being evacuated and having to watch the red and golden flames shoot up from the mountain and wonder if the house...any of the houses...were going to be there after the fire stormed through.
I remember months after, walking along the back of the ranch with the dogs high above the house, and smelling the smoke and seeing the blackened trees and ground. I remember how silent it was because the animals were all gone. As far as they could run, slither, fly and scamper. But, then a small baby bear was found by a neighbor wondering lost and alone. It was saved and taken to a safe place. That was a good feeling.
It reminds me of how those of us who are trying to save lives in our own way each day watch the many animals come through our lives like a fire out of control. So many not saved, but the ones who are will always be strong because they made it
I have been involved in welfare since shortly after beginning in the veterinary field in 1997. Since that time I have helped people find homes for their pets, rescued many off of the streets, fostered, spay/neuter clinics, community outreach, come up with original fundraising items, covered stories for rescues and shelters, witten a book about the welfare world and much more.
But, during most of that time I was lucky enough to have access to resources most people do not. I had all the veterinary help I needed: cages to hold animals, wholesale costs...and so on. When I wanted to pull an animal off of the street I could do so easily and without the urgency that most people experience when trapping, etc. I could take the time to work with an animal who may not have been immediately adoptable, and when ready, find a good home.
So, as I sat on the ground in my neighbors yard a few hours ago, listening to her tell me how to use a new and fancy trap, I felt somewhat embarassed. But, also amazed at what the woman knew and how much she does for the cats in our community. The few roaming around while we talked were reminders of just how dedicated she is.
I found myself eagerly absorbing all the directions and information she gave me and a little nervous about what I was about to do. After all, it was my first time actually using a real trap instead of patiently stalking as I have often done. The cat to be rescued is a very, very pregnant girl who suddenly showed up down the hill from me in my apt complex and is living in the gutters among the cars. I have been feeding her on a schedule the last 10 days to get her used to me and a time to be fed...just so I could catch her. Of course, none of the other million people who actually live by her were going to do anything.
As I crawled under the bush, trying to avoid the sharp dried holly leaves from poking further holes in my knees, I spotted the perfect place for the trap. When done I called her and, of course, she did not appear. Nothing is that easy for me. After a few moments of waiting I knew she would not come so I decided to walk the block and come back.
About half an hour later I arrived back at the bush and saw a flicker of paws pacing back and forth and a smile broke out across my face. Success! Well, to my surprise the cat staring at me was not my girl but a big Tom Boy, and he was not happy. The feeling of success quickly changed to, oh crap, what now!?
So, I called the woman and told her that I did indeed have a cat, but it was not the one I wanted. To my surprise, she said no problem, they all need to be fixed, so bring him up. And so I did. The very large hill seemed even more difficult to hike up as I attempted to carry the trap and a heavy, very upset cat in the afternoon heat. By the time I got to her house, both the cat and I were panting. I put him under the shaded table and sat next to him. We both looked at each other and I told him I was sorry, but it was for the best.
Tomorrow I try for the girl and hope that she has not yet had her babies. Tonight I go to bed with a new appreciation of trappers and their plight. We all have things to learn...