Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Sweet Dog with Blue Eyes Needs a Loving Home

Crystal is a sweet dog with blue eyes who needs a loving home.  My rescue group, COLARS (the Circle of Life Animal Rescue Society), received a call from a concerned citizen about 6 weeks ago.  She had been feeding a dog who had been abandoned near a closed-down rural business for about a week.  She called us when it became obvious that no one was coming back for her.  

We took her in for a veterinary check-up right away and he noted she was pregnant.  The next day, she went into labor ... we had rescued her in the nick of time!  She had three pups.  Two black and one brindle.  After just one week, it became apparent that these were going to be BIG puppies.  They gained 10 pounds in only five weeks.  Since Crystal is a smallish lab-mix at only 40 -45 pounds, we had to wean them early ... in their enthusiasm to feed from her, they were causing her pain and discomfort during nursing. 

So now Crystal is puppy-free and we're waiting for her milk to dry up so we can get her spayed.  I went to meet her for the first time yesterday after she was transferred from one foster home to another.  She now has room to run in a very large fenced yard.   

The first thing I noticed was that she is VERY active ... and in need of an experienced, patient trainer. She loves people, but has bad manners, and won't even respond to her name.  But I could also see that she's got great potential. She was starting to respect me after only an hour of interacting with her. Her typical sweet and friendly lab personality endeared me to her, but she acts like a 6-month old puppy.  She has no focus and is "all over the place."  She jumps on people and needs help to learn some basic good social skills.  

The second thing I noticed about her ... once she slowed down long enough to get a good look at her ... was that her eyes appear to change color.  Sometimes they are crystal blue, but they also appear white or yellow, depending on the light.  

Crystal is definitely a unique-looking dog, at least as far as black lab-mixes go.  I hope that will help us find her a good home.  She'll need lots of attention, LOTS of exercise and positive reinforcement-based training.  I'm confident she'll make some loving person or family a wonderful companion.  She's got lab smarts, lab friendliness, and a beautiful, shiny black lab coat. 

 We'll only be giving her over to another rescue group with a trainer on staff (wish we did), or an experienced person willing to take on a project dog.  She's located in southeast Missouri.  If you are interested in adopting her, or know someone who might be, please leave me a comment here, or feel free to visit the COLARS Facebook page and leave a private message.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Am a Facebook Addict ...

I must admit, I spend too much time on Facebook.  My name is Amy and I am a Facebook Addict.  

I resisted for years before opening an account because I thought it was just a waste of time.  But since I joined in August 2011, I've found that Facebook can be a great tool and a fantastic way to meet people with similar interests and passions as my own.  Not only have I re-connected with long-ago friends, but I've found a wonderful group of like-minded animal-lovers. 

Today's post will be dedicated to some of the worthwhile images and messages I've come across on Facebook.  Just today, for instance, I saw this:

Thanks to Inside The Divine Pattern and Anthony Douglas Williams for sharing this.  It perfectly expresses what I see and feel every single time I look into the eyes of any animal.  Although there is a lot of controversy about whether animals have souls, I have no doubt in my soul, heart and mind that they do indeed have souls.  It is only the human soul that needs "saving."  Animals, like babies, are innocent.  And have pure, uncorrupted souls.  

A popular message I've seen on many rescue pages involves "forever homes" for pets.  The photo to the right was posted by The German Shepherd Dog Community.

Along those lines, I shared this photo today on my personal wall as well as my non-profit spay/neuter group's Facebook page:

Thanks to RePeace for sharing such an important message ... one that is near and dear to my heart.  I first saw this photo on another wall and one person had left a comment admitting that he/she had done this very thing and was ashamed for it.  The person admitted he/she didn't think about the consequences of abandoning the dog until he/she saw this photo, which included the horrifying ways a dog, cat or house rabbit can suffer after being abandoned:  starvation, heat stroke, freezing to death, dying of thirst, being hit by a vehicle, or being preyed upon by wild animals or humans.  I respected this person for admitting publicly what he/she had done and left my own comment telling him/her so.  I added that I hope he/she will now consider becoming an advocate for animals.

So, although I often spend waaaaay too much time on Facebook, it has added another dimension to my life and expanded my circle of dear friends.  And it has provided me with a platform to help spread the message of responsible and loving pet guardianship and kindness to all animals.

To end on a lighter note, let me share a photo and quotation I posted today:

Cookie, a formerly neglected dog, and her old pal, Teddy (R.I.P.). Teds was abandoned near my front gate.  He was lucky and found a new and better home.  Other abandoned dogs don't fare so well. 

"Home is where the dog hair sticks to everything but the dog!"
~Author unknown

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ripley Gets Knee Injections for Her Arthritis

Today (Wednesday, April 11th) I brought Ripley to the vet so she could get some fluids injected into her arthritis-riddled knees.  I knew she wouldn't be able to stay upright on the slippery floors of the waiting room, so put her in her cart.  She had a good time walking around and greeting all the people ...  She's such a ham! ... check out the short video to see Ripley walking around the waiting area like she's on the Red Carpet.  :-)


I'm trying the mobile cell phone app feature for my blog as I wait for Ripley to recover from sedation.  Dr. Ben isn't sure if the injections will help her this time ... When he examined her legs before the injections, he said they felt REALLY bad. Worse than the last time. I'll be able to tell if the meds are having a positive effect within a few days.

Waiting for Dr. Ben

........ Back at home .... I had to carry Ripley into the house.  She can't walk AT ALL!  She's always been sore after getting the injections, but she's always been able to walk afterwards.  I gave her pain meds and a couple of her favorite treats.  She's resting on her orthopedic bed and I'm hoping that after a while, she'll be able to put some weight on her back legs.

Fresh out of surgery.

Still groggy from the sedation.

So, yes, I'm a worried Mom right now!  And feeling helpless.  She's also been leaking pee a bit.  I tried to use a back leg support harness to help her walk before we came inside, but she didn't want to put enough weight on her front legs either.  If she's not a little better soon, I'll have to call Dr. Ben and see what he thinks.  Prayers and healing thoughts for Ripley, please!


I ended up calling the emergency number for the vet clinic at about 1 am.  Her right back leg was so swollen and hard, and she couldn't sleep because of the pain.  I described her symptoms and he asked lots of questions.  He determined that she wasn't in immediate danger, but wanted to see her first thing in the morning.

Thursday morning the 12th of April:  Since she still wasn't able to walk without help, I enlisted my step-father's aid in taking her in.  In the parking lot of the vet clinic, the vet tech and I loaded her onto a gurney/cart so she wouldn't have to walk.  After examining her leg and getting Dr. Ben's opinion (Doc Ben was on farm calls), the kind, young veterinarian decided to give her steroids and antibiotics. They concluded that some of the joint fluid that was injected leaked under her skin causing the pain and inflammation.  It's possible that her knee joint is so clogged with arthritis that the fluid just didn't have anywhere else to go.

Waiting for Dr. Kelvin to examine Ripley's leg.
Back at home, Ripley seemed very relieved, and I helped her walk around for a bit so she could get some of the stiffness out of her legs.  We all rested in the sun for a while before going inside for treats, more water and some much-needed sleep.  Ripley and I both slept most of the day!

Thursday morning. Resting in the sun after a morning visit to the vet.
...............  Friday the 13th of April:  The swelling in her leg is slowly coming down and hopefully the steroids the doc prescribed will help speed her recovery. ... Something that became very clear to me the past couple of days: When you live with a disabled family member, otherwise small set-backs loom large.
But small steps forward are great victories. Yesterday evening, I left Ripley laying out on the back deck for a while since she seemed to be enjoying the air and scenery. I had planned on going out to help her back in soon, but all of a sudden, I heard her coming through the doggie door on her own. She gave me her usual "woo" of hello as she walked into the kitchen and I couldn't help but laugh and cheer.
Even though her progress has been slow and she has needed help getting up several times today, I can see "the old Ripley" returning.  Her appetite is getting better and her back legs are starting to work for her again.  I hope to report soon that we've taken a walk in the woods ......
"We derive immeasurable good, uncounted pleasures, enormous security, and many critical lessons about life by owning dogs."
~Roger Caras, A Celebration of Dogs

One Man's Trash is Another (Wo)man's Treasure

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man."  ~Mark Twain

One Man's Trash is Another (Wo)man's Treasure.....

Ripley, 1 week after rescue
Can you believe that someone just threw this beautiful puppy away? 
One day after work in September 2009, I was taking my two dogs, Brittany and Lacey, out to our favorite place to walk.  To get there, I had to load the dogs into my little truck and drive about 10 miles to a state conservation area, where we walked around a peaceful, scenic lake.  There were two ways to get there, depending on which part of the lake I was in the mood to wander :  on one route, I drove the back roads, and on another, I started out on Interstate 70.  On September 11, 2009, I decided to take the I-70 route.

I had just merged onto the interstate from the entrance ramp when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted her.  I had to do a double take.  For one, I was nearing a cruising speed of 70 mph, and secondly, she was just so small.  And she blended in ... she was frozen in fear along the white "fog line" (the white line on the right side of the lane).  I thought to myself, "was that a puppy?" and pulled over onto the shoulder.  I looked behind me, and sure enough, it was indeed a puppy.  So I backed up, got out of the truck and quickly snatched her up before she decided to run into traffic.  I remember feeling the 18-wheelers and other vehicles whizzing by and winced at the thought of this little creature wandering out onto the busy interstate highway.

Ripley, 3 months old

As I pulled her close to my chest, I noticed she smelled strongly of urine and grease, but she appeared to be in pretty good shape.  But rather than continue on to the lake (sorry Brittany and Lacey!), I figured I should take her home and get a better look at her.

Ripley has always been a "talker," and a great character.
Back at the house, she got a bath and a meal ... she was very hungry.  And then I wrapped her up in a towel and she slept for about 14 hours.  At the veterinarian's office the next day, she got some puppy shots and a clean bill of health from the vet.  She weighed all of 3 pounds and he estimated she was only about seven weeks old.  He and his staff were sure she was an Australian Cattledog (Blue Heeler) or a Cattledog/Australian Shepherd cross.  Whatever she was, I surely didn't need a third dog ... but almost 13 years later ... well, let's just say I'm a softie and leave it at that!

Acting the Clown
It was obvious early on that Ripley is smart ... she learned to use the doggie door and was house trained in less than 2 weeks!

Ripley has brought me years of smiles, laughter and loyal companionship.  Being a herding breed, she is extremely intelligent and has lots of energy.  It's often been a challenge keeping her mentally stimulated, but since I was already used to taking my dogs for long walks several days a week, I had few behavioral issues with Rip. 

 And Ripley has taught me so much.  She's been nothing less than inspirational.

When she was only five years old, she started to show signs of arthritis.  And unfortunately for her, it has been an aggressive and pervasive disease.  Within just a few years, her spine was nearly fused together with invasive tissue, and both of her knees were nearly unrecognizable in x-rays.  Added to that, her front right foot is also gradually being taken over by pernicious tissues.

The arthritis in her spine got so bad that the nerve to her back legs was crushed, which also affected her bladder ... she leaked urine almost constantly.  When her veterinarian, "Dr. Ben," showed me x-rays of her lower back and legs in September 2010, he said, "I don't know how this dog can walk!"  And he followed that with,  "if any human had arthritis this bad, they'd be in a wheelchair."  Then Dr. Ben looked me intently in the eyes and told me he had shown these x-rays to his colleagues.  Their immediate reaction was to put her down.  He responded to them with, "You wouldn't say that if you knew this dog.  She has the spirit of a puppy." 

And he was right.  You'd never know how bad her condition was just by watching her ... she was still happy and silly and more than willing to go on hikes with me and the rest of the Pack, and got around the house and yard well enough.  But I knew she was in pain and it was getting worse, despite daily doses of anti-inflammatory drugs and joint supplements.  I had a decision to make: take away her life, or seek advice from a specialist.  And when I looked into Ripley's eyes, I knew I couldn't give up on her.   

So Dr. Ben referred us to the best orthopedic surgeon he knew.  And I drove her 3 hours to  the University of Missouri--Columbia's College of Veterinary Medicine ... several times over the course of several months.  To make a long story a bit shorter, in December 2010, Ripley had surgery to scrape the foreign tissue from around her spine to free up the nerve that had been crushed flat.  I knew it would be only a temporary solution, but the orthopedic surgeon, "Dr. Jimi," was confident that it would make a significant difference in Ripley's life.  And it did!  Within just a few days after the surgery, I could see how much easier it was for her to walk.  And her bladder no longer leaked.  Along with the back surgery, Dr. Jimi injected steroids and other fluids into her stifle joints (knees), which made her all the more comfortable. 

For about six months, Ripley was practically a new dog.  She had to have more injections in her knees to keep them cushioned, but otherwise she was able to continue our hikes.  She couldn't run with the other dogs, but she trotted along quite well.  ...

But then I noticed she started to slow down and started to walk funny when going downhill.  She looked like a drunk, swaying from side-to-side and stumbling like she didn't have full control over her back end.  I had hoped the surgery would give her more time.  My Ripley still had the heart of a puppy ... always eager, always ready, and still the family clown.

I knew another surgery was out of the question.  She was getting too old and I didn't have the money.  So I started to ask around and search the internet for a brace of some kind to support her back during the downhill portion of our hikes.  I posted a video on YouTube showing how she walked and asked anyone who watched it if they had ideas.  Ripley got a lot of sympathy from viewers and a kind woman from Bahrain, who had become a "fan" of  my dogs (I have a few dozen YouTube videos of the dogs just being dogs), helped me search internet sites for something to help Ripley.

During my search, I came across the website  They specialize in wheeled carts for dogs.  I didn't really want a cart, though.  I wasn't sure Ripley would be able to use it out in the woods.  I contacted Dr. Jimi, Ripley's surgeon, and showed him the video.  He didn't know of any braces that existed that could help Ripley.  So I took a leap of faith, and borrowed more money from my savings, and bought Rip a wheeled cart from (And with the help of some friends and family, widened the path we walk through the woods to accommodate the cart.) 

Along with the surgery and the steroid injections, it has been Ripley's saving grace!  She only needs it going downhill, so to help keep her muscles toned, I only strap her in right before we head down the mountain.  Thankfully, the cart is very lightweight and it balances nicely on my shoulder.  Ripley is such a good girl!  She learned to use it very quickly and seems to "get" that it helps her walk much more easily ... so she stands still whenever it's time to attach the cart.

Ripley poses in her wheeled cart.

"Classic" Ripley
I can't imagine going on a hike without Ripley.  It would break both our hearts.  I also can't imagine the pain she must be in every day.  Yet she seems to just ignore it for the most part.  Ripley doesn't see herself as disabled ... or unable to do much of anything, for that matter.  She doesn't see obstacles.  She sees beyond them.  She has taught me that obstacles are almost always of our own making and that you can find a way beyond them if you look hard enough.  She has helped me to appreciate the little things in life ... simple joys and pleasures.  She reminds me to smile and laugh every day, no matter how badly I may feel.  

Ripley has taught me to slow down ... to take a deep breath ... and live in the moment.  For in such moments, there is peace.   

Monday, April 2, 2012

Do Dogs Have Personalities?

Duh!  I think anyone who has spent any time around dogs would have to say YES!  And if you live with multiple dogs, like I do, there is absolutely no doubt that dogs do indeed have individual personalities. All 5 of my dogs have their own very distinct set of traits and behaviors.

Ripley, pictured above and below, is the family clown.  She is extremely bright, loyal, and likes to goof around.  She responds to laughter and seems to know that she's funny.  She's one of those dogs who "talks" and seems to make different noises depending on the situation. 

Ripley can be a bit bossy with the other dogs and often acts like a crabby coach when they are playing, like she's trying to tell them to calm down and quit acting like idiots.  And one of her most endearing behaviors is her love of grooming the other dogs.  My mother calls her "Nurse Ratchet" (from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), because she is both bossy and nurturing.

Ripley also has a talent for finding ticks on the other dogs.  She'll stick her nose into their fur at the exact spot where the tick is hiding out.  Then she'll pull back and look at me with a certain expression in her eyes.  If I don't investigate right away, she'll stick her nose back into the other dog's fur and repeat the whole process until I remove the tick. She's right on target every single time!

Then there is Shasta.  She's a whole other story.  She's much more subdued and serious than Ripley.  Although, as you can see from the photo of her to the right, she's got some seriously goofy expressions.  Shasta was rather neglected when I found her wandering along a rural highway.  I'm guessing she spent the first year or so of her life mostly alone.  It might be the reason she is a loner.  Although she's friendly and sweet with me, she prefers to keep her distance from the other dogs most of the time and doesn't participate in "pack activities," such as playing and sleeping together.  And when we take hikes, I have to keep her leashed because she won't stay with us and wanders away on her own.

Like Shasta, Cookie was also neglected before she came to live with us.  I started calling her Cookie because she's just so dang sweet!  She's rather shy and submissive and likes to cuddle ... despite her 80+ pounds!

She's one of those typical large dogs who think they are small.  She'd sit on my lap if she fit, but usually just has to settle with putting her head in my lap or curling up next to me in a ball. Cookie knows what the word "kisses" means and will give kisses if you say the word to her.  Fortunately, she has pretty good breath for a dog, so her kisses won't make you pass out or even turn away with a grimace.

Cookie is also camera shy, so I don't have as many photos of her as the other dogs.

And if we're outside wandering around in the woods, it's next to impossible to get any good shots of her.  I have to act quickly to get some photos of her when she decides to take a break ... but I've taken more photos of her butt than her head ... she doesn't stay still for very long!

Well, I have to get back to my "day job."  I still have two dogs to go ... I hope you're enjoying getting to know my special pals.

Please feel free to leave comments and feedback.  The only rule for posting comments is this:  Be the person your dog thinks you are!