Posted by: sialater | August 6, 2009

All My “Children”

And why I’m a Rescue Dog Mom.

The first animal I rescued, I don’t have a picture for. He doesn’t really live with me any more, he lives with my parents because he didn’t get along with dogs. Sam the cat literally followed me home one day when I was living in Dallas. And he was rather persistent about it. He started the trend I continued with taking in the unwanted fur balls Tim and I now have.

Kira was the first dog I ever had by myself. She is a full blooded Black Labrador Retriever who seems to be a throw back, in size anyway, to the Newfies Labradors were supposedly bred from.

Kira

That picture doesn’t really show how huge she is.  Let’s just say, the average size of a female lab is 2′ at the shoulder and 75#.  Kira’s about 3′ at the shoulder and 95#.  I got her through my mother’s office at the time.  Somebody who knew somebody who was a breeder of Labradors had this puppy that was now too old to sell.  (Her litter had been excessively large, even for Labs.)  And Kira, being the dominant animal in the bunch, was left while her more docile siblings were bought.  So, she was free to a good home.  And I gave that stubborn old gal a home.  I’ve had her since 1999 and she’s more than a little gray in the muzzle, now.  Her days are spent happily holding down the couch and any cool patch of tile she can find.  At night, she watches me cook, more in the hopes that her messy mommy will drop food than from any desire to keep me company.  She’s a problem solver.  If she wasn’t the most lazy dog I’ve ever met, I’m pretty sure she’d have figured out how to open the fridge to help herself by now.  And her tail is a lethal weapon.

Kira used to be my jogging buddy, but she’s gotten too old for that and prefers a nice slow walk around the block when it’s not 100 degrees in the shade.

Missy was my second rescue.  She’s a border collie mix, we think the mixes are Lab and Whippet.   Tim’s mother missed her original dog quite a bit after she passed and wanted another.  However, it was quite a busy time in their lives and Missy had been an abused puppy.  Abused dogs take a bit more TLC than normal dogs and with two little boys running around, Tim’s mom had her hands full and couldn’t deal with a dog that was so nuts, she ate their deck, dug up the yard and chewed the Hardi-plank siding off the house they were trying to sell.

Missy

Tim took pity on her and since by that time, we’d become pretty exclusive, he asked his mom if she wanted to give the dog to me.  I lived alone, except for Kira.  The only other responsibility I had was Kira and she needed a buddy.  Missy the Psycho Squirrel Slayer came to live with us.  Her first full day with us, I had to go to work and asked my retired dad to puppy sit.  Missy, not liking ANY man, not even Tim, because of her prior abuse, ran away from my dad.  I came home from work to find a funny looking little black dog sitting in front of the apartment complex offices looking forlornly down the road.  Apparently, she’d been waiting for me.  It took her a couple of seconds to recognize me (we think she’s badly nearsighted) then she took off across incoming traffic to get to me, despite my orders to STAY.  (We really needed to work on that command.)  She hasn’t left my side since.  From that day forward, she’d decided she was my dog, not Tim’s.  She and Kira were best buddies instantly.

Strider didn’t find me, originally.  He found my boss.  Strider decided my boss’s garage looked like a nice place to camp out.  My boss considered keeping him, then remembered he currently had a very ill, very geriatric cat who wasn’t up to competing with a half-wild adolescent alley cat.  I’d been complaining about the rats around my house at the time (I was renting a house in a not-very-good part of town), and he remembered and asked if I wanted a cat.  So, after I told him yes, he went and found a live trap and caught the little stinker.

Strider

Strider, the King of Kitty Gondor, made himself right at home, after teaching Missy and Kira that a cat was not to be trifled with because it’s made with very pointy sharp things on the end of its paws.   Strider set about trying to escape almost immediately because he was convinced he was better as an indoor/outdoor cat.  He finally succeeded when we were living with my parents.  He promptly got into a fight and nearly lost his eye since he apparently can’t duck.  His eye had been punctured and sliced from the outside corner to about the middle.  He had to have emergency surgery to put it back together again.  $1000 later and 15 vet visits and a lot of pain, he slowly adapted to having next to no vision in his left eye.  (It burst on the operating table while they were trying to stitch his nictating membrane across the tear to hold his eye together.  They were able to save most of the fluid, but he will never see 100% out of that eye again. )

It was kinda funny watching him adapt.  First few days he wouldn’t stir except to eat and go to the bathroom.  After awhile, he’d be absolutely certain to keep a human or a wall or furniture on that side of his head as he was walking.  When he added to dogs into that circle of trust, THAT was funny.  That he’d rather have Kira or Missy on his blind side than a new human being was extremely funny.

Arya was a college graduation present to Tim.  His dog he’d grown up with had passed away up in Wisconsin.  He felt awful that he’d have to leave that dog with his mother when he was a child.  So, we found Arya at a puppy mill.  We took pity on her since she’d been there for sale for two full months.  (Apparently, she’d be a “special order” from some guy who wanted a hunting dog.  He ordered a female yellow lab.  Came in, looked at her and said, “I wanted a boy dog.  I’m not buying this,” despite the fact that the order form for her was in his handwriting.)    Tim’s family and my parents  were planning buying him a graduation gift anyway, I just persuaded them to put up part of the money for her and we’d put up the rest.  Arya joined our family, the only animal we’d paid to rescue.  But if we hadn’t bought her, she’d have ended up in the pound.  She was a cheerful and energetic puppy.  Annoyed the ever loving crap out of Kira and became Missy’s instant play mate.   Kira was just annoyed because she knew she was raising yet another puppy.  Missy was happy because Arya matched her energy level.

Arya

Arya, however, is not the brightest bulb in the pantry.  She never remembers where she lives, for instance, and the one time she wandered off due to a broken gate, she nearly died from heat stroke.  A little neighbor boy found her and gave her water and when she was found, Tim remembered his boy scout training and dumped her in lukewarm water.  (Important safety tip:  if any mammal, including a human, is suffering from heat exhaustion or stroke, NEVER put them in cold water.  That’ll send the body into shock.)  According to the vet, both those actions saved her life.  Another $1000 later, she was pronounced in good health, but she never wanders far from us and we’re very careful to watch her heat level when she’s outside because she’s so eager to do things with the humans, she’ll ignore her own thirst and blistered paws because dammit, she’s having FUN!

Tiger was the last to join our menagery.  Originally my cousin’s cat, she had to get rid of him because her daughter had developed unexpected allergies to him.  Tiger was a bit gun-shy at first, he and Strider didn’t get along all that well, both being dominant males, and Strider considered the dogs HIS.

Tiger

Tiger was already fixed and declawed.  He was used to big dogs.  And I’d always like him when I visited my cousin.  So, Tim and I took in the last member of our “pack” until children come along.

Rescuing these animals has been very fullfilling.  They’re constant sources of love and amusement.  I desperately want children, but I wouldn’t trade my time with any of these pets for a child for anything in the world.

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