Wednesday, December 9, 2015


My black lab, Ida, is what we call a foster failure. She is a Planned Pethood foster dog who never left, becoming instead a permanent member of the pack. That was more than four years ago and Ida, now 10 years old, and I have had lots of adventures together and, boy, do we have another one to add to the list!

The day began with Ida falling out of bed and it deteriorated from there. Ida is getting up there and she has the lab curse, stiff and arthritic hips. So I really didn’t think too much of her falling. But then she couldn’t get up on her own and kept falling over. Her eyes were twitching back and forth in an eerie manner, kind of like she was possessed. I thought OMG, she’s had a stroke and immediately called our vet, Dr. Bart. They told me it is unusual for dogs to have a stroke but to come on in and have her checked out. In the meantime, Ida could not walk on her own and kept circling and falling. I don’t have to tell my fellow animal lovers that it scared the crap out of me! I was in a panic that we would have to have Ida, my heart, my princess, put down.

Vestibular disease, that is what she had, vestibular disease. What the hell is that? It took our vet only a minute to diagnose Ida and he was quite surprised that I had never heard of it because it is fairly common in older dogs (who I foster on a regular basis). There is no cause nor is there any cure. They can only treat the symptoms and it goes away on its own. Dr. Bart has a colorful way of explaining things in addition to being incredibly talented. Bob, my semi-significant other, accompanied us to the vet’s office because Ida is too big for me to lift and she could not walk on her own. Plus I needed him for moral support if the news was dire. “Well”, Bart made the comparison, “you know how Bob looks after he has drunk a bottle of tequila and cannot walk straight? That is how Ida is feeling right now”. Vestibular disease, in the most basic terms, is a terrible case of vertigo. Armed with this knowledge and a prescription for her from the human pharmacy, we took Ida back home to wait out the duration of the disease.

Our first week was pretty awful. Ida couldn’t stand or walk on her own and I couldn’t carry her. We worked out a system that I took her out in the front yard to go potty because those steps were much less steep than out into the fenced back yard. I have no idea what the neighbors thought when they saw this drunken looking lab staggering around the yard. This worked pretty well until Maya, one of my former fosters, came to stay with us. She is only two and full speed ahead. So, as I am struggling to bring Ida inside, Maya door dashes and heads down the street. My handicapped lab is falling down and my charge for the week is sprinting away. Thankfully, my neighbor, Heather (also a PPI foster) was able to snag Maya before something bad happened.

I can totally relate to what Ida went through. I was diagnosed with an inner ear infection myself a couple of years ago. At one point I was standing there talking to a friend, and the next thing I know, I was, splat, on the ground. We took a trip to New Orleans about that time. We were in a “la de da” gallery in the French Quarter when I felt the spin outs begin. Bob warned me that I needed to let him know if I was going down so he could catch me because he could not afford to pay for the $15,000 picture of Winston Churchill I was admiring at the time. He would definitely need to intervene before that disaster could happen.

Thankfully, Ida has fully recovered, just like Dr. Bart said she would. It took about three weeks before she was totally back to her old self. I count my blessings that it was not something far worse and I still have my big black girl in my life. And now I am just a little better educated pet owner. Although, truth be told, I hope I never hear the term vestibular disease again as long as I live.

--Judy S.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


When people ask me how many animals I have at my house, I usually do not answer them. Some people actually have rules about it. For example, if you have more than one dog, you automatically become a hoarder. For the record, I have two of my own dogs, Ida and Stanley, and four cats, Eleanor, Bernice, Mamie, and Yolo. But that does not include my Planned Pethood foster dogs and kittens. So of course I am the mother superior of hoarders to some. I’ve heard the comments behind my back. My self-imposed standards include two foster dogs and no more than six foster kittens at a time and generally no adult cats. I try to adhere to the guidelines I have set for myself for how many fosters reside here at a time but there is always that heartbreaking story that makes me waver, then yield to “just one more”. Let me tell you about a few lives who were soooo worth breaking the rules.

The emails are always urgent and they are definitely not exaggerating about the consequences of life or death. Maya was about to face the executioner at a dangerous rural pound if a rescue group would not take her asap. This happy-go-lucky 2 year old probably shepherd mix was going to be euthanized by the end of the week. This good natured dudette had survived the crazy, brutal winter in a cornfield on her own! When she came to us, she was skinny as a stick but did not hold back on the kisses she gave us as thank yous with one ear up and one ear down. She soon headed to the vet because she had a pronounced limp. Her xrays revealed that her leg had been fractured and healed badly on its own because she had been shot! OMG, I felt like someone punched me when I got the news. Who does that? Well, despite her limp, her winning attitude totally charmed her new family. In almost no time, she was adopted by Bernie and Mike Jacobs who became smitten with her. Her disability just gave them an additional reason to love her. And, an added bonus, she comes back to visit when her peeps hit the road.

The next emergency email came with one of the most pitiful pictures I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot). Little Mila had been surrendered to the pound along with 3 other dogs because her owners had been evicted. She was covered with open sores oozing pus, had an ear infection and an eye infection, was mostly bald, and had been bred over and over again. Just what you want in the mom of your new pup, right? She was so debilitated she could not even walk. It came down to her last day, and when I found out no one stepped up to take her, I broke the rule again. Even when Mila moved in, she was still on shaky ground. We had to rush her to the emergency vet because she suddenly collapsed. She had to wait 5 weeks before she was even well enough to be spayed.

As of this writing, Mila is still with us as part of our pack and is unrecognizable as the same dog. All of her woes were due to allergies left untreated. For all she went through, this too cute sharpei mix, never had anything but the BEST attitude toward people, other dogs, and the kitties. She likes nothing better than to share her love, free love, ha. It will take a special someone to deal with her issue, medicated baths and allergy meds probably for the rest of her life. But we all know that person is out there. And, fittingly enough, it turns out that Mila, not I, is the hoarder. When rearranging the quilt in her crate one day, I found a mother lode of toys and bones from the other dogs, and a pair of my flip flops. Nothing was destroyed, just well hidden. Mila Tequila can stay as long as it takes. She brings a boatload of joy with her wherever she goes.

And now, on to my NO ADULT foster cats rule. And truth be told, I didn’t bring this foster kitty into PPI, my foster dog Bessie the beagle, did. We were out in the yard playing with the dogs when Bessie kept scratching at the privacy fence. Even after being reprimanded over and over, she went back to the fence. I thought OMG, either Bessie is trying to escape or there is something on the other side of this thing. Sure enough, a cat was cowering in the brush alongside a busy and dangerous highway where he had been dumped. The two year old kitty who we named Providence was terrified, painfully thin, and covered with fleas. He certainly would have been killed if Bess had not discovered him.

 He had to spend the night in the garage until we got him into the vet the next day where he charmed the staff. But once inside, he bunked up with the foster kittens which was a cause of concern (for about 5 minutes). He became the nanny!  He is a big handsome dude, white with gray tiger markings, and as gentle and mild mannered as can be. The kittens would do “drive-bys”, running up and whapping him, then taking off. At one point, one of the kittens jumped directly on his head. As manic as the babies became, I never ever once saw him react. He would simply look up at me, as if to say, really? It took no time at all for Providence to be adopted by a wonderful older couple where he now resides as an only child. The last time I spoke to them, they told me he took over the house the minute he moved in. I wonder if he misses his tiny roommates?

I guess the moral of the story is that rules are made to be broken as cliché as that sounds. Maya, Mila, and Providence are a testament to that. The world is a better place with them in it. Many people say, “you can’t save them all” which is true but you do what you can and save a few. A little more dog hair, an extra dog walk, one more litter box to clean, lots a little annoyances are worth it in the long run. Everyone needs to decide for themselves how many is too many. I am still trying to figure it out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


If you think you are one, then you probably are a Boxer-aholic and as far as I know there is no cure or 12-step program for you to get help. You will know them when you see them. They have boxer magnets plastered all over their cars while boxer doormats welcome you into their homes. And, inside the actual home, there is every kind of boxer paraphernalia known to man from sofa throws to rugs to statues and knick knacks. So far I have fostered 3 fabulous boxers for Planned Pethood, Big John, Freddie, and Maxwell (no lady boxers yet). And, you know, I think I may have been bitten by the boxer bug myself. I have always, always been a lab person through and through but…

I was initiated into this cult by my nephew John and his boxer Buster who was a very handsome, sweet-tempered, and loving boy. Sadly, he developed brain cancer and Johnny lost him at only six years old and it broke everyone’s heart along the way. John and his wife, Amanda, have four of the cutest little boys. But when it came time for a lasting tribute, it is not the wife or kids he tattooed forever. You guessed it, it is the boxer immortalized on his body. They have moved on, recently adding a little girl boxer, Dixie, to the family. She made them all proud by graduating as valedictorian in her puppy obedience class.

My own first boxer was a majestic, regal DRD (Death Row Dog) foster who we named Big John (yes, in honor of my boxer-aholic nephew). The BIG part just came with the territory. He was a beast. He introduced me to the unique world of the boxer-aholics. He was a magnet for them at the park, they were drawn to him from the farthest corners, even on the street. They actually speak their own language, a boxer dialect including words like fawn and brindle… And the stories, OMG, the stories just never end. Many of the members cannot understand that anyone would even consider a dog of another breed. No way, dude! My big handsome guy had a wonderful home lined up when the unthinkable happened. He was diagnosed with lymphoma. He spent the next 8 months being spoiled and adored by us until his time was up. I loved him so much, I adopted him posthumously, something I had never done before or since.
My foster dog Freddie the boxer has been celebrated in his own blog. The title is “Freddie’s Saga”. It was posted on 8/30/13 and you can read it at I recently got some awful news from his boxer-aholic family, Cheryll and Curt Wegner, who adopted Freddie. After two blissful years, I’m certain the BEST years of his too-short life, Fred tragically succumbed to congestive heart failure. The two C’s have been able to ease their pain of his loss a little after they adopted Planned Pethood boxer, Rudy. Thanks for all the love to Freddie. He was the best!

My most recent boxer foster is the magnificent senior Maxwell. Things looked very grim for the big dude when PPI pulled him from the pound. He was a skeleton with skin on it. I was shocked when I picked him up. I was both horrified and scared. I insisted he visit the vet immediately because I thought he was dying. But, unbelievably, there were no major medical issues. The stress of those months in the pound was literally killing him. Boxers suffer mightily out of their routines and home environment. I was actually embarrassed to walk him because I was afraid people would think I was starving him. Max, who turned out to be a big old Mama’s boy, bounced back with gusto and became the star of the show. He demanded his turn for his “senior walk” with the strangest combination of boxer speak and nudging that could not be ignored. It looked for a while like Maxwell would spend the rest of his life as a member of his foster family, partially because people don’t readily adopt seniors and because he is all charm and was more than welcome to stay.

I told everyone who would listen that Max was not going anywhere unless the application for him was perfect. Then, as in each of these cases, that special boxer-aholic appeared on the horizon. I had actually made a list of all of Max’s negatives which in included: arthritis, he was hard of hearing, he could be bossy at the park, he inevitably had to pee in the middle of the night, and the gas, OMG the right out loud gas. Come to think of it, that would sure have discouraged me. I knew Max had hit the jackpot when none of this dissuaded Jamie who had compiled the perfect app for the big guy. He had boxers his whole life, and, boy could he speak boxer! He had recently lost his own senior boxer and it left a hole in the family that included two other dogs, boxers of course, and his roommate Gavin. Jamie even cooks special meals for one of them due to a digestive disorder. But expect nothing less from a true boxer-aholic, right?

Well, before you know it, Jamie, Gavin, Lucy, and Jasper were on their way to Toledo to meet the big dude. By now, he had gained 13 lbs. and looked stunning. I was proud to show off Maxwell on a walk, enjoying the compliments. Our biggest fear was that Max, who could be a little temperamental, may not be crazy about Lucy who was the alpha of their pack and visa versa. But there was no need to worry, the introductions went off without a hitch. After the paperwork was completed, Jamie hopped in the back of the SUV with the dogs with Gavin at the wheel for the ride back to the Cleveland area. I stood watching them go with tears in my eyes but I knew in my heart, Max was off to the best days of his life with 2 chronic boxer-aholic dads in boxer heaven on earth.

Jamie updates me on Maxwell’s progress periodically. And as great as he was doing when he left, he is thriving over there in Boxer Heaven. He has a luxurious dog bed in front of the fireplace. He has a toy box full of his favorite play things. He plays soccer in the yard and engages in play with his younger siblings. Jamie’s work schedule means rising at 4:00 a.m. Remember those fixed boxer routines? Max’s brain says it is wake up time at 4:00 on Sat. and Sun. too. There will be no ignoring him either. Oops, sorry dude. Jamie has a summer home on a lake and I can picture Max lounging out on the back deck with an umbrella in his water bowl in a few months.

So all things considered, I guess there are worse things to be addicted to than boxers. You never know, one of these days, I may even turn myself. In the meantime, there may be a meeting coming to a place near you where you will hear, “I am John, Cheryll, Curt, Jamie, Gavin, and Judy and I am a boxer-aholic…"

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Finding Marcy

It was love at first sight when Macey, a 2 year old shih tzu, first met her adoptive family. Jim, Polly, and their dog, Miley, came to meet Macey at an adoption event at Petco in Toledo. Macey’s kisses flowed freely to Jim and Polly, and Macey and Miley seemed to get along well. At that point, Jim and Polly knew that they wanted Macey to join their family.

The following week, their wish came true. They made it official and Macey came home to start her new life in Erie, Michigan. She went from being a homeless dog to being a member of the family, enjoying her new life, especially her doggie sister, Miley. The two played and played as if they had known each other for years.
Five days after being adopted, the unthinkable happened. Macey and Miley were let outside for potty time, and Macey took off. Her family lost sight of her just as she was running across the street towards a wooded area. They spent the next several hours searching the woods, calling for Macey. She was nowhere to be found.

Polly contacted Planned Pethood to share the news of Macey’s disappearance. Within minutes, Macey’s picture was posted on PPI’s Facebook page, and Polly registered Macey’s brand new microchip and alerted the Monroe County Animal Shelter. At the time, outside temperatures hovered around twenty degrees.

The following day, reality hit. Macey was gone. She was only wearing her new pink collar and a Planned Pethood ID tag. PPI volunteers drove out to the area of Macey’s home. All they could see were wooded areas and bare fields. There were also many houses that included barns and other types of out buildings. It was hoped that Macey had found shelter. Volunteers began to talk to neighbors. Neighbors agreed to watch for Macey, and many of them spoke of the coyote population in the area, concerned for Macey’s safety.

Meanwhile, Macey’s family continued to search, printing and distributing flyers to households on nearby country roads. By this point, Macey’s picture graced every lost pet website in the area. Hundreds of community members shared her picture on Facebook, while on the edge of their seats for little Macey.
By 4:30 p.m., an organized search was started. Six Planned Pethood volunteers showed up, ready to comb the woods by Macey’s house. Macey’s little paw prints could be seen going towards the woods, but the paw prints suddenly stopped. Spread out in a line, volunteers made their way through the snow, branches, and pickers. There was no sign of Macey. Her owner had also just completed another search of the area with no luck. The search continued until dark.

Day 2 turned into day 3, and there was still no sign of Macey. There was nothing. Nobody had seen her, and hope was beginning to fade. Between the frigid temps and the coyotes, the situation was looking very grave. By evening, temps had fallen ever lower.

Day 4 started out with temperatures struggling to make it above 0 degrees. It was freezing. At just 10 lbs., Macey surely could not survive for long. At 9:30 a.m., Polly called one of the Planned Pethood volunteers. Polly exclaimed, “Macey has been spotted on Samaria Road!” Polly and the volunteer both left work and raced to the scene, where they found a couple of neighbors searching a property, which included a home and several greenhouses. The people who had spotted Macey had been driving by, and remembered seeing the flyer about the missing dog. They pointed in the direction in which Macey was running. After searching the property, which included wood piles, a creek, and evergreen trees, Beth and Polly took the search to the neighboring farm. They spotted hundreds of doggie paw prints in the snow, each another sign that Macey was indeed alive.
While searching the farm, the home owner came outside and reported seeing Macey running towards the field behind the property. She called out, but Macey kept running, heading south towards Erie Road. Polly and her adult son began searching in the direction in which Macey was reportedly headed. While searching, they did not find Macey, but they did spot a coyote.

Another PPI volunteer arrived at the farm, toting a trap, with the hopes that Macey would be attracted to the warmth and food that was placed inside. The trap was set, and the waiting game began again. With temps dangerously slow, the trap would need to be checked often.
Meanwhile, PPI’s FIXX line received several calls regarding sightings of Macey, all stating that she was heading south. One caller noted that she had called Macey, but again, Macey was running scared. The sighting updates were posted on Facebook, and animal lovers from the area began to drive out to the area to help search. So many people spent the morning and afternoon searching, all concerned for little Macey.
The trap was checked every hour or so during the afternoon, each time reported as being empty. Macey’s safe haven continued to wait for her return, and with every check of the trap, the situation was starting to look hopeless again.

At around 5:00 p.m. on day 4, Polly received a call. A gentleman was on the other end of the line, stating that he had Macey! He also called Planned Pethood’s FIXX line to report the good news. He had been outside talking to a friend that had just stopped by his house. He saw a little dog run behind a building on his property. He ran inside to get dog food and treats. He took the food behind the building and saw Macey by a wood pile. She was scared, exhausted, and shivering. He was able to grab her after offering her food. He retrieved a box and blankets and put Macey inside while he called Polly and Planned Pethood.

Polly called her husband, Jim, and he was on his way home from work. He stopped at the home and picked Macey up. While Jim was talking to Macey’s rescuer, Macey heard Jim’s voice and instantly perked up. Macey was soon on her way home with her dad.

Polly and Jim report that Macey did lose a few pounds during her time away. However, she is doing remarkably well. She has been resting a lot and eating a lot. In the warmth of her home, she follows Jim around constantly. Polly stated, “We are very happy and blessed to have Macey back. Thank you for all your prayers”.
Jim and Polly wish to thank everyone who helped with the search efforts. Planned Pethood would also like to thank their dedicated volunteers for caring enough to help find Macey. In addition, the volunteers wish to thank all of the community members who got involved to help bring Macey home. We just love happy endings!

Friday, February 13, 2015



Is there such a thing as the perfect dog? I am here to tell you that there is because I fostered her. Her Planned Pethood name was Levine but she was to become Emmy Lou in her forever home. She had been unceremoniously dumped into one of the most dangerous pounds in the area and was scheduled for euthanasia. The time clock of her life was ticking down to zero. She was a stunningly beautiful and gentle yellow lab who was more than likely used as a breeder dog. But when she turned 8 or so, she was no longer of any use to those types of monsters.

She was starved, trembling, and infested with a nasty case of worms. How about that for the mother of your new puppy? Despite the probable nightmare of her former life, she was a mellow, endearing lady full of love and affection. She never needed a crate and got along with the other dogs and cats, both resident and foster, the second she walked through the door. She was also afflicted with the curse of most labs, a painful case of arthritis. But it never, ever affected her demeanor. I wish I could be one-tenth as positive as this sweetheart of a lab was 24/7.

Emmy was not destined to be with me for too long because the cavalry in the guise of Kelly, Pat, Lindsey, and Tori was on their way to town to rescue her. Their wonderful application had arrived explaining how they enjoyed senior dogs, especially labs (were they somehow reading my mind?). Their family already included one, Bailey, the black lab. And, as great as they were on paper, they were just as amazing in person. As they were getting to know Levine a little, Kelly took her out for a little spin. So I asked Tori what she intended to name her new sibling. She confessed she was totally relieved that I did not name her and that they thought Levine sounded like a bathroom spray. We both giggled at that.

Who better to describe Emmy’s life other than Kelly Clark and her daughter Tori? So in their own words…
Family Stories

Hey Judy! Better late then never, with our Emmy Lou stories. Why don't we start from the beginning. The night we met you to get Emmy, after we loaded her into the car our first stop was Wendy's drive through. This was when we discovered that she loved junior bacon cheeseburgers and fries... From that point forward anytime we got fast food we would make sure our furry family member got some too. FYI- about a year later, Dr. Chip, our vet, told us enough was enough and she was put on a doggy-diet! So we would treat Emmy to the occasional Tim Hortons turkey and egg white biscuit.

As you know, Emmy had a big sister named Bailey. We had Bailey her entire life, and we were a little nervous how the two would get along. It turns out, we had NOTHING to worry about. As soon as we got home, Emmy walked over to Bailey and lied down next to her. We started taking them on walks together. The thing is, Bailey was blind. Now how Emmy knew that was beyond us, but on the very first walk Bailey stood still at the end of the driveway, Emmy walked up next to her then stopped about a heads length in front of her. She got so close that their sides were touching. Bailey leaned in to Emmys side and they began the walk. From then on, we referred to Emmy as Bailey's seeing eye dog. They never needed leashes because Emmy always looked out for Bailey.

Besides walking together, Emmy and Bailey often held hands, or paws. We have many pictures of it. Whether outside on the patio, or inside in the living room, they would always lay next to each other or nose to nose.

Every summer we go to North Carolina and rent a house in the OBX. Two summers ago, Emmy was able to go with us. So we probably shouldn't tell you this, but it's too good of a story not to. We always rent a pet-friendly house, except that year. We must've over looked it. Since we were convinced Emmy was human, we didn't think it mattered, and we took her anyway! On the first day there, as we were getting ready to head to the beach, someone knocked on the door. We knew we had been busted. While someone went downstairs to open the door, me and mom rushed Emmy into the bathroom, shut the door and turned the shower on to hide her. Turns out it was a false alarm, just someone dropping off towels. This situation repeated multiple times over the course of the week!

Funny thing about Emmy, although she was a lab, she didn't like the water. Didn't matter if it was the groomer, our bathtub, the pond behind our house that Bailey loved, or even a pool, Emmy wanted no part of it. We learned this firsthand in North Carolina. She loved hanging out by the pool with us, but it got extremely hot, so we worried about her. We had a huge "L" shaped pool, with a step-in, shallow end about 6-12 inches deep. We picked Emmy up, and set her in that water. She froze. Literally. Didn't move an inch. We didn't know what to make of her! We poured cool water on her and she relaxed a bit. So Pat carried her into the deep end, to let her swim (they're swimming dogs, labs you know) and the craziest thing happened. She sank. She didn't move her arms, tail, paws, nothing. Just started to sink! Fortunately, Pat never left her side, and scooped her right up. Back to the shallow end she went! From that day forward, Emmy was banned from any water over her head.

Our next vacation adventure was taking her to the beach. Again, Emmy proved to be a unique lab. The sand and the water were a no go for her. She plopped down on the first sand bar she found, in typical Emmy fashion, she started attracting attention. Everyone stopped by to love on her, and to have their picture taken with her. We joked that she looked like a baby crocodile because of how she laid. Her front paws were folded outwards, just like a croc, and she had her "Emmy grin" ear to ear. It was one of our best vacations ever. And by the way, we cleaned up the house and dog poop, without leaving a trace.

Emmy went to Cincinnati with us, at least 100 times to visit family. Everyone loved her! My aunt and uncle have a small koi fish pond in their back yard. Problem is, when it snows, you don't know it's there... Last winter, while Emmy was visiting, she was let outside to go to the bathroom, and you can guess what happened. She walked right onto it, and fell through. Luckily, my uncle saw her and rescued her. They bundled her up, dried her off, and of course gave her a lot of treats. On a side note, Bailey got into that same exact pond, but on purpose. Killed a few fish, then jumped into the pool, turning it green, and tearing the liner. We still haven't lived that one down!

Although there are many more stories, these are a few of our favorites. We miss Emmy Lou terribly and wish to have had her throughout her whole life. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect dog.

-The Family
Wow, Emmy just stepped into the role of seeing-eye dog for Bailey instinctively (my favorite image). I knew that girl was special! Em was very ill toward the end of her life. But she could not have been surrounded by a more caring and loving family. They went the extra mile, trying to keep her patched together. She broke their hearts when she left them. But she left an indelible mark on everyone she ever met. Both she and Bailey are now relieved of their pain and disabilities. And, I am happy to report there is a new love in the family’s life. They recently adopted Jack from PPI, a stunning yellow lab with definite star power. Jack lost his leg somewhere along the line but it doesn’t bother him or his new peeps, not one bit!

I would like to add another dog to this lab tribute. Recently, a five year old yellow lab named Sam was heading to us from pound. Sadly, the big handsome dude went into cardiac arrest and had to be put down before he could arrive. We are sending our love and respect and we will not forget you Sammy boy.

By Judy S

Saturday, January 3, 2015


It looked like a nice, peaceful stretch ahead. My foster dog Eddie, who was some sort of hunting breed, had been adopted to a loving home. A two year old? What had I been thinking? Hide all the remotes. But then the “try to ignore this” email hit my inbox from Planned Pethood’s Intake Coordinator, Lindsay (she is famous for these). There was a chocolate lab at a dangerous rural kill pound who was scheduled to be euthanized in two days. And, believe me, it is definitely not an idle threat at this place. So much for my mini-sabbatical with my own pack and only one foster, Maxwell the boxer. I guess peace and quiet is not in the cards for me.

After I said yes, I immediately began to brainstorm some fun male latino names for this brown dog like Miquel, Alphonso, or Julio. Come to find out though, I would not be able to name him because someone donated a substantial sum for his admission to the program. Planned Pethood is currently in dire financial straits so if corporations can name stadiums, why can’t donors name dogs? But even with all things considered, Captain Doug is still a pretty awful name but the dude was stuck with it. My apologies to the real Capt. Doug whoever he is.

When I went to pick him up at a vet’s office, they asked me if we would please wait outside after they brought him out. Once outside, on one of those thousand degree summer days, when the employee finally came out, she told me he had a discharge from his private parts and they would not complete any of our package because of it. She threw some antibiotics at us and turned and walked away without even a goodbye. I thought the whole incident odd but shrugged it off. But when we got home…

I always considered a discharge something gunky and disgusting. This was not the case with Doug, he was dripping BLOOD from his penis. When I took him to our PPI provider, I told him my house looked like a Jackson Pollack spatter painting. He was diagnosed with an enlarged prostate which was scraping against his urethra, causing it to bleed. The cure was simply to neuter the big guy BUT that could not take place until at least a week or two of antibiotics. People, PLEASE get your dogs and cats spayed and neutered! In the meantime, you guessed it, I had blood spattered everywhere. It is a good thing I wasn’t a murder suspect or I might have ended up in the Big House.

As annoying, messy, and inconvenient Doug’s bleeding was, there was a far worse side effect of his condition. The poor guy could not hold it and when he had to pee, he just peed regardless of where he was. And this dude let loose with a friggin’ lake.  Needless to say, the day of his surgery was a happy day for me, celebration worthy even. Or so I thought. The ugly truth was it would take 4 to 6 weeks for the prostate to return to normal and the testosterone to dissipate meaning blood and pee for that duration. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! We even tried some kind of diaper contraption lent to me by my neighbor and puppy foster extraordinaire, Heather. And if it hadn’t been me as the victim, it would have been hilarious when pee went squirting right through it all over the place.

The Cap’s personality is sweet and kind as can be but it is my theory that he never lived in a house before. I don’t think he was abused but probably neglected and left to run for the first 8 years of his life. For the first several days, he paced and panted, paced and panted, paced and panted 24/7. He HATED his crate, drooling a puddle when we were away. He was afraid of the tile floors, he flinched when the microwave dinged, and was a giant ball of anxiety and confusion. Add the peeing and bleeding and the poor dude was what added up to a hot mess.

Eventually, the bleeding stopped and he finally ceased peeing in the house but it did take the entire 6 week period. Somehow I did not lose my mind entirely. But Doug was so needy, he wanted to be right on top of me every minute of the day and night. I know, I know, he’s a lab, what do you expect? Well, I have had lab companions my entire adult life and I have never seen anything like it. Returning him and have the program put him in boarding crossed my mind on more than one occasion over the course of his time with us. But then a miracle occurred.

The application came from out of state. A family had seen the Captain on Petfinder. OMG, it was a perfect app. The family sadly had to put down their senior dog at 15 after a wonderful long life. And their other dog, a chocolate lab, missed his companion. So I called and they were even better in person. They told me they had never had a puppy and had ALWAYS rescued. I believe in full transparency and poured out Doug’s whole story, the good, the bad, and the ugly but they were not dissuaded. Now I was sure they were perfect. When they came to Toledo to meet him, they brought their own lab who looked like Doug’s twin. It was amazing, like they were brothers separated at birth. It was the buzz among everyone at the adoption event. People just stared in disbelief.

Doug’s start with the Detwilers was a little rocky. He had a few accidents and his anxiety returned once again. But, with love and patience, after about a week, he settled in. And the rest is history. He has mom and dad, Gail and Steve, 3 great kids he adores, and a new BFF named Buddy. And, adding icing to the cake, with his new family came a new name. Goodbye Captain, hello Petey. And folks, as far as my world goes, this is a Christmas miracle a few weeks early. Merry Christmas to you all too from Judy, Ida, Stan, kitties Ellie, Bernie, Mamie, Yolo, and temps Max, Bessie and Qismat.

by Judy S.