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.