Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Peek Inside The Nursing Home

The resume reads: This dog is housebroken, does not tear anything up, is fine to be left home uncrated, is well mannered, likes kids, and is loving and happy. Wow, sign me up. Where can I find a dog like that? I’m sure people will be beating down my door to adopt a foster dog like that! Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is the description of soooo many senior dogs I have fostered for Planned Pethood. And, unbelievably, they linger in foster care. Before I commit to a senior, I must come to the realization that this dog may spend the remainder of their lives without a forever home and remain with me. For the reasons listed above, I love fostering seniors. And, my home has been nicknamed by the other volunteers “The Nursing Home” due to my affinity for the canine elderly.
It is nearly impossible to limit spinning my stories of the dog silver set to just a couple of characters, or this blog might go on forever. Just Bucky’s story alone could fill a decent sized children’s book. But I will try to give the short version (no mean task for this author). Buck was an elderly Bagel (Basset/Beagle) who was 10 or 12 when he was surrendered by his owner. You know, like giving Grandpa away. His name has actually been Buddy but there were 3 other Buddies in the program at the time. Buck was utterly sad, confused, and depressed. No matter what I would do, he would not wag his tail. Then, one day while walking at the park, we met Lynda with her beagle Juliet. One thing led to another, as conversations go among dog walkers, and I told her Bucky was a foster dog. She spoke to him and I’ll be damned if he didn’t wag his tail for her. We didn’t realize it at the time but it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

The next thing you know, an application arrived. One question and answer stood out, “Why do you want to adopt this dog?” Lynda responded, “I want him to be happy and content for the rest of his life”.  She provided a beagle paradise for the old dude. She made him stairs so he could rest on the couch when his arthritis prevented him from jumping up. The three of them took leisurely walks daily so Buck could sniff and pee every few feet. They shared an unmatchable love. He lived for two more years succumbing to cancer at 14. I accompanied Lynda when it was time to put him down and he left us all heartbroken but better people for having known him.
Big John was a massive boxer who was incredibly regal in his bearing. I actually overheard someone say “you mean they took in a nine year old boxer?” Planned Pethood does not discriminate by age, breed, or disabilities when they take a dog into the program. This was my first boxer experience and I do mean experience. Boxer people are like a cult and they speak boxer, their own language which was pretty confusing for someone like myself who was uninitiated. Well, Johnny was so impressive, that he was like a secret handshake at the park. The boxer people were attracted to him like a magnet.
He really wasn’t feeling very well at first. He was misdiagnosed initially but we finally realized he had a thyroid condition which was treated with a pill once a day in his favorite snack, peanut butter. Then his coat came in smooth and silky and he just held court throughout the neighborhood. His strut down the street was the ultimate definition of cool. He was about to be adopted by one of those wonderful boxer people, when we got some bad news. The big guy was struck down by cancer. Planned Pethood chose the best course of treatment for him, and he lived another happy, pain free eight months with us. It was tough to let him go. To honor Big John and never let him leave from my heart, I adopted him posthumously.
We cannot conclude this senior edition without adding some girl power. You already know Nina, returned at 10, now adopted at 11 to a family with 2 small children who love her (“Just Throw It Away” blog). So let me introduce you to Levine too. She was a nine to ten-ish yellow lab snagged from death row at the pound. Everyone in the universe would have foster dogs if they were all like Levine. She is beautiful both inside and out. She is sweet, gentle, and loving. She had a few health issues as well but came through with flying colors to be adopted by the most incredible family. Their other dog, Bailey, has gone blind and Levine n/k/a Emmy has become her seeing eye dog. Both dogs became fast friends at the initial meeting. Bailey can no longer see but she can smell so Emmy takes the lead on walks followed by her BFF. She doesn’t need to use her eyes anymore. And I must admit, I misled Tori, the human kid in the family. I promised her Emmy would love to sleep w/her. But, to date, she sleeps with Bailey.

Puppies are definitely not right for everyone. Potty training, chewing, and hyperactivity, I will leave to someone else. I know I will always adopt adults into my pack. It is a win/win situation. I’m sure many people have never even considered adding a senior citizen to their family. The oldsters will not be around as long but the time they have with you will be golden. People crave vintage cars and clothes, why not dogs?  The old dogs can pack a lot of love and companionship into those last few years. Thanks for the memories to Bucky, D-Dog (Dallas), Red, and Big John.

-- Judy S.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


It was a warm summer night and I was D & D (desperate and dateless) that particular Saturday night. So I decided to take the dogs for a bit of a stroll around the neighborhood. It seems like an innocent enough pastime. But nothing is ever simple or easy in my world. As we walked, we encountered a little boy playing with some kittens, who were running free. I asked the kid to go get his mother.  Instead nana emerged after a few minutes. Her home was adjacent to a park and first the mama cat had shown up, then one baby, then another, then finally three. The woman was at wit’s end. Luckily, the kittens were socialized and friendly therefore they were adoptable so I returned with a carrier and whisked them off. I explained to her I would be back later to do a TNR (Trap/Neuter/Release) with the mother. Spay/neuter is a founding principle upon which Planned Pethood is based.

The next day I was able to corral the mother without much trouble. As a matter of fact, mama was not much more than a kitten herself and she was very friendly. So I called Karen, Planned Pethood’s Cat Intake Coordinator. Karen has one of the toughest jobs in rescue. She literally gets 50 to 100 calls a day from people who want to dump cats or kittens, usually during the height of kitten season. And that is to her own, personal phone number! That's on top of the calls filtered to her from our FIXX Line (419.826.FIXX).  She must make the decision of who will be saved.

Well, Karen was in no position to add another adult cat to the program at that moment, but we got the cat in. People want to adopt kittens, the smaller the better. Adults tend to linger in foster care for months. We had Alice (I was on a presidential relatives naming kick) spayed and vaccinated with her foster going to be my semi-significant other, Bob. Bob tried fostering but he failed miserably because he ended up adopting Alice himself. Currently, two cats own Bob, Alice who is now 4ish and Brittney, both his former fosters ending his career as a foster dad.

TNR is misunderstood and people are wary about using it. So here is a short primer on what the heck TNR is. The cat population is out of control. One unaltered female cat can be responsible for thousands of offspring. Cats form colonies from which all new cats are excluded. If all the cats are fixed, the colony will eventually disappear through attrition. Friend and fellow rescuer, Nancy points out, “rehoming does not work as has been proven by every trailer park that has the decades old approach of forbidding feeding, then killing, or trapping/dumping”. Those trailer park problems persist.

Most people get the trapping and neutering but have issues with releasing the cats where they were found. We must point out too, that there is a big, big difference between a stray and a feral cat. Feral cats live in the wild without any socialization with humans. Trying to adopt a feral cat would be like trapping a squirrel and bringing it into your home as a pet. The goal is to trap the cat, spay or neuter, then release them where they were found.

My friend Jeannie is a self taught TNR expert. She has, to date, been responsible for TNR with 19 cats and kittens, most of them on her own dime. Planned Pethood began to help out when they discovered her need. They are known at the clinic as Stoney Creek #1, #2, #3…#19. Employees there and Jeannie are on a first name basis. She has had to fend off a great deal of resistance from upset neighbors. At one point, they were releasing the cats from their traps, thinking the traps were inhumane. Another resident stole her trap entirely. Some still are hostile to her efforts. She and other neighbors have a pool of money from which they feed the cats. I just got a bulletin from her: NO NEW KITTENS this season, it read. But this unbelievable dynamo did not stop there. She used TNR with the feral cats at her lake house too. They are known as the royal family, the Queen, Prince, Princess, and even Royal Consort (although his consorting days are now over). Hopefully, more and more people will become enlightened if not become an activist like Jeannie.

Traps can be obtained from Humane Ohio in the Toledo area for a cash deposit. They provide a low cost spay/neuter option. Any cats that arrive in a trap do not need an appointment. For those in economic hardship, Planned Pethood can provide assistance toward with the cost of spay/neuter in some cases.

Further information about TNR can be found at Humane Ohio and Alley Cat Allies websites. My heart and encouragement go out to all the dedicated and selfless volunteers who trap and transport. In most cases, it can be a thankless job. They are real heroes.

Regards, Judy S
We are dedicated toward the end of the pet overpopulation problem. Statistics have shown that the majority of litters in shelters are the product of unintended pregnancies. They have stories attached to them about how Sparky somehow got out of the yard or how some strange dog jumped into their yard. Your unaltered pet is the source of that unintended pregnancy. You have insurance on your car knowing you probably won't need it, but you have it when you do need it. Don't take the risk of having your pet contributing to the overpopulation problem (and, yes, this includes your cat or dog).

Planned Pethood began over 25 years ago when a small group of concerned animal lovers wanted to do something to stop the huge pet overpopulation problem in our area. They began a program of working with local veterinarians to offer low cost spay/neuter. Today we continue that mission.

When you join Planned Pethood, at an associate level or higher, your annual membership entitles you to low cost spay/neuter at any of the participating veterinarians listed below.