Tag Archives: rescue dogs

For the Love of Dog People

1124827531_293c4da2ea_oOn the eve of the new year, Terri and I want share with you this surprising article that conveys the big picture: love for dogs and everyone who loves them.

Happy New Year. Be safe! Be good! Have fun! Love big!

In Defense of Dog Breeders

by urban fantasy author and rescuer, Michele Lee

I’m a part of the rescue community here in Louisville. That’s a really loaded statement. There’s a lot of issues I have with some of the people and ideas I run into. One example is the rescue world’s view of dog breeders. Some people blatantly say silly things like “I wish all dog breeding would be banned” or “We should punish breeders.” Continue reading

You’ve Got A Friend

Seventeen months a shelter dog

Written by Terri Florentino & Mary Sweda

It was a warm night on the 1st of August when the police officer pulled into the parking lot of the local shelter. In the back of the police car there sat quietly an enormous, fawn colored, mastiff. She was an older girl, evident by the gray fur that covered her jowls with eyes so large, dark and soulful it was as if you could see right thru to her soul.

“C’mon old girl,” the police officer stated as he reached in to the back seat of the patrol car to pick up the leash that was already secured to the dogs collar.  “You’re such a good girl, I’m sure someone will be looking for you,” he said as he lured her from the vehicle and took her for a brief walk around. As they approached the overnight holding area for stray dogs the officer bent down next to the gentle giant and stroked his hand across the top of her head, she leaned closer, if just for a moment, appreciating the gentle touch. The officer stood up, put the secure combination into the lock and opened the door of the emergency night drop. “Good luck to you old friend,” he smiled as he led her into the kennel area and secured the door behind him. There she laid in the dark, alone, scared and confused.Maude13

Early the next morning as the sun rose the rays of light found a way to creep between the bars in the window and shine down on the old girl. Those soulful eyes peered up towards the light just as the door flung open. “Well now, what have we got here?” the staff member stated with a smile as she bent down to greet the gentle giant. The dog immediately stood up, stepped back and let out a great big defensive bark.  The young lady backed away, slightly startled by the dogs aggressiveness. “Eeeasy girl, I know you’re scared, settle down, it’ll be OK.”

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After some yummy treats and gentle persuasion the old dog made her way out of the night drop. She was moved to a secure area within the shelter that is not readily available to the public. There she would wait for her family, who would never come.

The old girl quickly became fond of one staff member in particular, her name’s Cyndy.  She primarily cares for the dogs that are kept in the temporary housing area. She’s patient, caring, gentle and kind. There’s also a devoted volunteer, her name is Marisa. Several times a week she’d come to the shelter to walk, brush and give her treats and love.  “You’ll need a name,” Marisa thought, “How about we call you Maude?” The old girl stood up, leaned into Marisa’s leg, glanced at her with those great big dark eyes and looked as if she had a smile on her face. “OK, Maude it’ll be then.” “What do you think if we call her Maude?” Marisa asked of Cyndy. “I think that’s a perfect name,” Cyndy smiled as she bent over, threw her arms around Maude’s neck and gave her a big squeeze. For the first time since her arrival at the shelter Maude wiggled her bob tail. Cyndy and Marisa laughed in amusement as Maude’s entire back end wiggled to and fro with delight.

 Cyndy with Maude

Maudecyndy

Maude was eventually moved to the adoption area where she quickly gained a fan club of volunteers, yet still no home.

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One couple in particular, George and Mary visited Maude often. In their own words this is their personal experience with her.

George and Mary,

It was almost a year ago when we first met Maude. We had seen her image posted on Facebook, along with her heartbreaking story.

This became a personal crusade for Mary. 

I was always terrified to enter a shelter. I didn’t think that I could face seeing the homeless animals and feeling that heartache, but her story, that face, those eyes would not let me turn away.  I also remembered what my brother Nick always said, “It’s not about you Mary, it’s about those less fortunate. The sadness and discomfort you feel for a short time will be temporary, nothing compared to the joy you can bring them each time you visit”.

So, I showed George her photo, and off we went.  When I first met Maude, she was in the main area of the shelter with the other dogs. I was able to walk right into her cage and hug her. She didn’t resist one bit, and I didn’t want to let her go. Since that day, George and I visited her 3 to 4 times a week. She was always so loving, such a snuggler!  Maude had such a goofy side…dropping and rolling with no warning on walks…really funny expressions..and boy she could be stubborn! She always cracked us up!  What a joy! For George, he made a best friend, he fell in love.  No matter how hectic his schedule, he made time for Maude nearly every Saturday and Sunday. He treasured his time with her…we both did.  It tore us apart not to take her with us every time we visited. However, Maude needed to go to a home absent of other animals and their two labs made that a practical impossibility.

Mary and George with Maude

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Maudegeorge

In the meantime,

A joint in her right front leg was swollen; it was causing her paw to curve to the right. She’d been this way since she was dropped off at the shelter.  “We’ll need to have her leg evaluated by a veterinarian,” advised the executive director of the shelter, so an appointment was made. We feared the worse, praying she did not have cancer. An x-ray, biopsy and bloodwork were performed. Thankfully her bloodwork was normal, the x-ray showed severe malformation to the right carpus and the biopsy concluded that no cancer was present. In fact under the microscopic interpretation new bone formation was present. Perhaps she was injured? We’ll never know for sure. We’re all elated that she didn’t have cancer.

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 Prayers were answered!

We prayed for that one person out there to give her the home she deserved.  Finally it happened.  Ed, the executive director gave us the call that she would be going home…sooner than we thought or were prepared for.  And we both cried…happy for her, so sad for us.  She had become like our own. But we knew it was for the best…and now she is the one and only with a great new family. She was always loved at the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, but now she has a home of her own.

Maude with her new family

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The gift,

Maude has given us a gift…she has led us to what is now such an important part of our lives…The Griffin Pond Animal Shelter.  We just walked several beauties this past Sunday, they all with their own  stories.  But no matter how sweet, no matter how many, there will never be another Maude.  She will be forever in our hearts.Maude10

The Pack, Part 5

 The Renegotiation

A couple of weeks had passed. Scout’s game, as I saw it, was to resource guard not only whatever she held in high value, (i.e. a plastic bag or paper towels of all things), but also space and certain people. She knew exactly how to get whatever she wanted. And yet, she could be the most affectionate and lovable pup, as long as it was on her terms. We needed to renegotiate those terms.

As time went on we’d made some progress. Now, in lieu of biting, she’ll give up whatever’s in her mouth with only a brief display of her teeth. Ideally my goal is “no lip” from the little lady. Along with Mirk and Echo she would come to my office with me. The privilege of being able to hang out in the office was immediately revoked as soon as she started inappropriately chewing or rooting through the trash. While I’m working on financials, I don’t appreciate a game of tug o’ war for a banana peel. Continue reading

The Moyer Menagerie, Part 3

Just Like A Feral Cat

By Terri Florentino

It was evening by the time Tillie and I pulled into my driveway. I would introduce my pack one at a time after Tillie and I had some time alone to take a walk and get better acquainted. I opened the back of my truck to find the little pup cowered in the back of the crate, trembling so badly her teeth were chattering. I wasn’t sure if she might react fearfully and attempt to bite, so I moved slowly as I reached into the crate. She continued to quiver as I clipped the leash onto her collar as she turned into a tiny ball in an attempt to make herself as small as possible. I couldn’t recall ever dealing with a dog that was as petrified as this little girl. It was a good thing I had a secure hold on the leash, as I picked her up out of the crate and gently placed her on the ground she immediately defaulted to her flight drive and attempted to scurry away. Her social skills, at best, were similar to that of a feral cat. I attached a 30ft line to her collar hoping some distance between the two of us might help her to relax and feel less threatened. There was almost never any tension on the line, 30ft wasn’t even enough to take off the edge. I decided to let my dog Scout out for a meet and greet. He was such a gentle soul, I Continue reading

The Moyer Menagerie, Part 2

Luke, Fly & Tillie

Pam was barely able to speak in between her sobs. “Luke needs to have his eye removed. It’s swollen and painful.” The veterinarian had told her that he had cancer in his spleen that had gone to his brain. “I’m not convinced the cancer is anywhere but in his eye though, and I’d like to go for a second opinion and quickly. Can you recommend another doctor?” Continue reading

The Moyer Menagerie, Part 1

Prayers for Luke

It all started with a private lesson. “I need your help—my puppy won’t stop biting me,” said the voice on the other end of the line.

We scheduled a training session for later that same week.

Continue reading

Congratulations to our BCI Writer, Terri Florentino

Northeast Woman!

Animal advocate: Salem Twp. woman turns childhood passion into a way of life

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2014:04:03 12:59:07

MICHAEL J. MULLEN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Terri Florentino, hospital manager at Abington Veterinary Center, with dog-in-training Angelina, left, and two of her own border collies, Mirk and Echo.

Continue reading

The Truth About Pip: Dogs, Divorce, and Memoir

Casey loved any kind of play

Casey loved any kind of play

Some readers of my memoir, For the Love of a Dog, say the end dissatisfies them. If I loved my dogs the way I did, how could I have just given Pip away to a stranger?

They’re right. There’s something wrong with the narrative–I didn’t tell the whole truth. Continue reading

Her Name is What?

The Pack, Part 3

A fellow rescuer emailed me about a nine-month-old female border collie. “She’s too much for the owner to handle,” Linda wrote. “If someone doesn’t take her she’ll be dropped off to a shelter in the morning.” Continue reading

“Do Whatever it Takes”

Nala, the Diagnosis

On a hot August day, I went back to Nala’s home. Nearly a month had passed since our first meeting. As  Michele, Mike, and their son Bobby and I greeted one another, I noticed Nala pacing back and forth. I tried to get her to engage with me as she did the first time we met. She stopped the pacing and let me caress her gleaming smooth black side. Then, she turned and growled. I pulled away, and she continued pacing back and forth, back and forth.

“How’s she doing?” I asked. I missed the way she’d once gazed into my eyes. She now seemed unreachable.

“Big Dog’s got me real worried,” Mike said, and I smiled to hear him use Nala’s nickname.

“Mike was recently out of town,” Michelle said.  “While he was gone Nala was so agitated and aggressive I could barely go near her. A few times I saw her wobble and collapse. I wanted so much to help her, but if I touch her, she growls and snaps.” Michele crossed her arms across her chest, hugging herself, her brow knit with worry. “I feel so helpless.” We four stood watching Nala endlessly pace, hypnotizing us with her rhythm, all of us sharing in that helplessness. “Our other dogs have been avoiding her as well,” she added. “Want to meet them?”Nala3

“Yes,” I said, eager to break the spell.

The terriers came out first. They were cute, friendly, small, and curious. They were littermates that had never been separated, and you could tell that they were everlastingly bonded. As they rushed me and then romped in the yard, they purposely avoided Nala. She ignored them as well. A moment later, the sheltie mix blasted out the door and after the terriers. Mac was medium-sized, active, affectionate to his family, and slightly wary of me. However, he seemed especially on guard with Nala, tail tucked, ears back, giving her lots of room. He knew something wasn’t right.

Mike clicked his tongue. “That’s the saddest thing right there,” he said. “Big Dog and Mac were always best buddies. See what I mean? This is definitely not normal.”

Bobby chimed in, “I can’t pet her or take her for a walk. I can barely touch her without the fear of being bitten.”

Mike talked about the most recent visit to a veterinarian in Pennsylvania. She had been previously examined by a veterinarian while living in Boston with his son Biff. “She tested positive for Lyme disease so we’re treating her for the Lyme disease and pain.  Anxiety medicine was also prescribed to help her to settle down. The doctor suspects some sort of central nervous system disorder and suggested that we take her to a local neurologist. We’re taking her next week.” He sighed, his eyes following Nala as she paced back and forth and the other dogs gave her room. “We’ll do whatever it takes. We need to get to the bottom of this.”

“I hate to say this, but what I recommend is for all of you to keep Nala as quiet and comfortable as possible. If she’ll go into her crate and rest comfortably, use it as often as you can. Keep a very thin four-foot leash attached to her collar so if you need to take a hold of her you’ll be at less risk of being bitten. Be sure to call me anytime if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do for you and please keep me posted.”

Nala6“Thanks,” Mike said, giving me a wan smile. “We’ll let you know how Big Dog’s coming along.”

The entire drive home I replayed all of the events from the last couple of months over and over again. I was trying to make sense of Nala’s bizarre behavior. I was mystified. My heart was heavy not only for Nala, but her family as well.

After seeing both a neurologist and an internist, Nala was taken to surgery in late August. The poor dog had been diagnosed with Lyme disease, hypothyroidism, and an abscess in her armpit that was no doubt causing her discomfort and pain.  A surgical specialist removed the abscess, and she was sent home with a drain coming from her armpit, a bandage, and medication. Hypothyroidism can promote behavioral problems, I thought. Could the answer have been found? She would need time to heal. All we could do is wait, hope and pray.

Over the next month, Mike sent me email updates on Nala’s progress. She had two post-op appointments, and the specialists were pleased with her healing. Her behavior, however, was still as unpredictable as an uncharted river. Most worrisome, she was now consistently turning in circles to the left, so Mike scheduled an appointment to take her back to the neurologist.

On September 11th, a staff member at the animal hospital came into my office and handed me a fax. The report was from a veterinary neurologist; Mike had taken Nala to him that same morning. My eyes scanned the report. I was like a speed reader going from the pertinent history, quickly through the physical examination notes, skimming the diagnostics and finally on page 2, the diagnosis. I took a deep breath: Intracranial advanced brain lesion (thalamus), placing pressure on the cortical plates.

So, that was it. After all was said and done, Nala had a brain tumor. For a moment, I was paralyzed with grief for Nala and her family. I sat in silence, still holding the report. I no longer looked at it, but through it, where I could see big, sweet Nala gaze again into my eyes the powerful and pleading way she did that first time.

Then, I snapped out of it and read on. “The family decided to let her go . . .”

She’s no longer in pain, I thought, the report blurring through my tears. For that I am relieved.

I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the Patrician family. I cannot thank them enough for allowing me to share their story.

Godspeed, Nala.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”

Martin BuberNala5