Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A First Glimpse

Because I've been fostering with various rescues for a while now, I constantly get emails about dogs needing homes. I'm extremely limited to the number of dogs I can foster at a time--usually to only one--so the vast majority of dogs I hear about I know I cannot help directly.

When I got the email about Popeye, a little stray dog found by an acquaintance of an acquaintance while visiting Taiwan, the first thing I noticed was his picture. He was a puppy and absolutely adorable. I know puppies, especially such cute ones, would have very little problem getting adopted or finding another rescuer, so I was prepared to move on.

But then I took a look at his video:

How can you not fall in love with a dog filled with such spirit? Who has experienced what most people would find tragic and yet whose joy of life remains undiminished?

Popeye had been hit by a motorcycle. Unable to use his hind legs and without the ability to control his bladder and bowels, I knew that it might not be so easy for Popeye to find a home on second thought, especially considering he would probably need medical care. The 2 vets in Taiwan that he saw both recommended euthanasia because with all the stray dogs on the streets of Taiwan for the taking, they knew nobody was going to be interested in a dog with such special needs. Maybe Popeye did need me after all.

My then-foster dog, Junebug, already had an interested adopter and I knew she'd be going home within a couple of weeks, so I decided to help Popeye. But how to get him here?

As luck would have it, somebody I knew through fostering a while back was in Taiwan for the month of July. I asked him if he would be willing to bring Popeye back with him when he returned to the US on July 31, and he said yes. There is an amazing rescue in Taiwan called The Animal Rescue Team who agreed to prepare the necessary paperwork and make all the arrangements for Popeye's flight.

Popeye's flight is expected to arrive in SFO tomorrow. I've purchased a used cart for him (thanks Kate of the SF Chi Meetup Group for letting me know about it!), though I'm not sure about the fit. And I've set up a vet appointment for him on Friday. I've also decreased my work load so that I would have more time to care for Popeye (as well as Bandit and my own 2 dogs, Boomer & Phoebe). I'm nervous but excited at the same time.

Popeye will be sponsored by Walkin' the Bark Rescue, a 501c3 organization. They/we are still trying to pay off Bandit's over-$4,000 surgery bill, so there's very little left for Popeye's care. Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to: Walkin' the Bark Rescue, 4464 Lone Tree Way Box #1064, Antioch CA 94531. Or you can click on the Paypal link to your right to donate online.

Other ways to lend a helping hand:

- The rescue has an eBay store to help a bit with fundraising. Please consider purchasing from them. They have free-range bully sticks, microchips, toys, glucosamine supplements, and more.

- I think Popeye is an amazing dog with the power to move and inspire. I'd like to get his story out to as many people as possible, and somebody recommended MySpace and Facebook. I don't know how to use either of these, so if anyone would be willing to volunteer to set up a page for Popeye on one or both, that would be great!

- Share Popeye's story with as many people as you can.

- Send in any tips or advice you can think of. This is the first time I will be caring for such a special needs dog.

If you're interested in adopting Popeye, visit his Petfinder page:

I will be providing updates on Popeye (and continue to for Bandit), so please check back!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Bad

Here's a little video of Bandit amusing himself today. His leg appears to be healing nicely so I gave him a little extra freedom to move around, which he took full advantage of.

Bandit also sported a few new e-collar alternatives. The cervical collar worked great but it was chafing his neck and giving him a blister. So we tried a couple more--the Comfy Cone, which is an e-collar made of foam and fabric so it is pliable, and the Procollar, which you have to inflate and looks like a lifesaver. The Procollar alone did not prevent Bandit from chewing on anything, but if I use it together with the cervical collar, I don't have to tighten the c-collar as much.

The Comfy Cone works very well on Bandit. It's soft so it doesn't bang up against anything. The only flaws I've noticed about it is that if Bandit is rolling around on the floor or sticking his head in the many places he likes to stick his head in, the outer edge of the collar sometimes folds back, which then does give him access to his wounds. Also, since it's made of fabric, the edge gets worn easily. Bandit has had it for only 2 days and already the edge is a bit tattered. Still, way better than the standard e-collar. And of course, it doesn't stop Bandit from doing what he normally does.

Play with his toys.

Stick his head way down into the toy bin. I've realized Bandit has a very curious streak. He'll stick his head in everything!

Peeking out from under the desk.

And of course sleeping.

Bandit does not have many flaws that I've seen so far. He hasn't had a chance to be completely free due to his leg and things may change once he's healed, but so far, I'm hard pressed to find any really bad habits--except one. This dog can CHEW. His mouth works like Speedy Gonzales. Bandit is only 9 months old (estimated), so he's still at that puppy chewing stage. (Another way he reminds me of my german shepherds.) His confinement and the lack of any other outlet to expend his energy only makes it worse.

Here's a little project Bandit worked on for about 5 seconds and with me sitting right beside him before I realized what was going on:

This is definitely a correctable habit, especially once he's able to get out and exercise more. And like my german shepherds, I think he'll outgrow it over time. Until then though, hard chew toys are the order of the day. Lots of them.

To date, we have received $1,270 in contributions towards Bandit's $4,093 surgery bill. Bandit would like to give all those who donated lots of licks!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Good

A few people have offered to foster Bandit. I am extremely appreciative of this! Before pulling Bandit from the shelter, I had already committed to fostering a paralyzed puppy named Popeye, who arrives on July 31. To care for 2 special needs dogs as well as my other dogs while juggling (or trying to) a full-time job, I think may be a case of biting off more than I can chew. To have another place where Bandit can receive the care he needs, even for just a week at a time, would greatly help. But I wouldn't want anyone to rush into it, and I think there are circumstances that everyone needs to be aware of before making this commitment, whether it be short or long term.

First, the GOOD.

I know there is a part of Bandit that I still haven't seen, a part that would love to wrestle with the other dogs, run around the back yard in abandonment, and who knows what else if not for his injury and subsequent confinement. I do look forward to the day when he is fully recovered and can finally move about freely as any dog should be able to. Seven and a half weeks feel like a long long way.

The good about Bandit I think (and hope) is obvious. He's been easy going with everybody he's met, every stranger, every dog. Except for when I saw him at the shelter, he seems to have taken every new situation in stride. The car rides have been no big deal, the vet hospital was no big deal, even the horrid cone he had to wear was quickly accepted, as well as the cervical collar he sports now (it keeps him from bending his neck so he can't lick his sutures, but doesn't bang around like the cone collar). He just has a wonderful temperament.

Bandit is an incredibly devoted dog as well. The girl who brought him to the shelter said he was a german shepherd/husky mix. I don't know too much about huskies but my first 2 dogs ever, Jasper & Samson, were german shepherds, and there are facets to Bandit that remind me so much of them. His loyalty for one. Wherever I go, he wants to go too. Even around the house, he's always looking to see which way I'm going and making sure I'm close.

I also get the impression that Bandit is very smart. I can't honestly say why I think this (and believe me, it's not every dog that I think is smart), the little things I guess. The shelter said his name was Juno and he seemed to respond to it the few times I used it. But in less than a day, he recognized "Bandit" as well.

And he is a goofball. He likes to put his front legs on my lap when I'm sitting on the floor, burrow his head under my arm. It's funny to watch him stick his head deep down into the toy bin filled with toys and then emerge with one toy as if he were bobbing for apples.

Often times, as I work on my computer, I have Bandit confined behind my desk with me. The first few times I had to grab something from the other room, I saw him put his front 2 paws up on my chair, which about gave me a heart attack (no jumping, running, or playing, the vet said!). I corrected him for that, and while I still wouldn't trust him behind on my desk for extended periods, when I have to leave the room just for a few minutes, he now peeks his head under the desk to watch me.

Sometimes Harry, a previous foster who I'm now dogsitting, peeks his head under the desk from the other side to see what's going on with Bandit.

And they play tug of war and steal each other's toys.

For the most part, Bandit is an extremely good dog, well-socialized and with an even temperament. He's not hyper, not mouthy, not a nuisance barker. He loves to cuddle, listens well, and is just plain sweet. But he has a dark side to him too. More to come as I gather my evidence! In the meantime, enjoy this new video:

BTW, we have now surpassed the $1,000 point and have raised $1,040 of Bandit's $4,093 surgery bill! Thank you everyone!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Start of Recovery

I picked up Bandit from the hospital yesterday morning. He came out with the vet tech calm as you please. The vet tech engaged me in conversation and told me that even when Bandit was in pain, he was as sweet as could be. I can't honestly say that Bandit was particularly happy to see me--he's always pretty much happy to see anyone and always ready to give soft licks. He had plenty for the man waiting in the lobby, who petted and petted him while I completed the paperwork.

I received a copy of the new x-rays which show the rejoining of the 2 split ends of the bone, held together by a long and permanent steel plate.

Bandit has 19 staples in his leg holding his incision together. It's a bit graphic so I'm minimizing the picture for those faint of heart--like me. (You can click on the picture to make it bigger.)

Here are the post-operative instructions the vet provided me with.

I'd say the worst part of it is the Elizabethan (cone) collar he has to wear. Bandit doesn't mind, but it drives me crazy. Although he does look quite adorable in it.

From every angle.

Bandit's surgery bill came out to $4,093.

A very very big thank you to those who have donated. We also received a $200 grant from United Animal Nations (who, amazingly, processed my application in less than 24 hours!). So far, we've received a total of $905 towards Bandit's surgery. Thank you! A super big thank you also to Jen & Rob (they adopted Isis aka Iris from me last year) for dogsitting Bandit today so that I could catch up a bit on work.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Getting Patched Up

Bandit is at the vet hospital now. I dropped him off this morning for his surgery, and he will be staying there overnight. The doctor called me earlier to let me know that the surgery was completed and that all went as planned. He said that once the bone heals (in approximately 2 months), Bandit will be able to jump, run, and do anything else he would normally be able to do.

This is the x-ray of Bandit's broken bone:

To think, he went at least a week with this injury. It makes me very sad to think about it.

Here is a video of Bandit this morning being dropped off at the vet's:

And one of him coming to our home for the first time yesterday, straight from the shelter:

Thank you to those who have already donated to Bandit's medical fund. I think we have raised $255 so far. I have heard from many who have fallen under Bandit's spell, and it really feels good to know that others see in this great, soft-spoken dog what I see in him. (I will reply to everyone as soon as I catch up on everything--I promise!)

A Long First Day

July 16: The days seem to gone by so slowly as I waited for this day to come. Bandit, as he is now being called (thanks Elizabeth), is out of the shelter and laying at my feet as I type! A big thank you to Astrid at Home At Last Rescue for her assistance in getting Bandit released to me.

It's strange and wonderful how things work out. It was by pure chance that I saw Bandit last week as he was being surrendered to the shelter. When I looked at him and heard his story, I knew I had to do something to help even though I was not free to foster him myself, since I already had 2 dogs of my own, was dogsitting a 3rd, and also had a foster named Junebug.

As fate or just plain coincidence would have it, Junebug was adopted today. After dropping her off at her forever home (and feeling a bit sad about it), I headed straight for the Martinez Shelter. I filed the necessary paperwork, then waited for Juno, as he was then still known, to be brought out. As I sat in the lobby, I felt excited but also a peacefulness in knowing that the thing I had been hoping for and wanting so badly was about to happen.

And then I saw him round the corner.

And my heart just swelled.

From that moment, I wanted to wash away the ordeal he had known, the uncertainty, the fear, the overwhelming confusion. From that moment, he became Bandit.

Bandit could not jump into my car because of his injured leg, but he allowed the shelter staff member to lift him in. He was calm and quiet the whole ride home, peeking through one window, then the other, giving me a few soft licks in between, then laying down.

Bandit was very accepting when we arrived at my house. I lifted him out of the car and he followed me to the backyard.

He was fine with all of my other dogs, from my submissive female to my dominant male. He and Harry, our 4-legged guest, were especially cute together.

I quickly learned that Bandit likes toys.

And tummy rubs.

The entire time, I saw that Bandit was not using his left hind leg at all. He was hopping on only 3 legs. I called various vets and VSA in Concord, who surprisingly actually remembered me from almost a year ago when I brought in my then-foster Laura, managed to squeeze me in that same day. So it was off we went again.


When we arrived, Bandit was curious but calm and won everybody over.

X-rays were taken, which showed a complete break of his thigh bone. They explained to me that they would rejoin the 2 bones and hold them together with a permanent plate, similar to what they did with Laura. The surgery is estimated to cost about $4000.

Bandit will have his surgery tomorrow. I can't bear to think of him in pain longer than he already has been. Any donations, even a few dollars, will add up and help immensely. Contributions are tax-deductible and can be made through Walkin' the Bark Rescue, a 501c3 organization.

If anyone would like to adopt Bandit, you can go to his Petfinder page and fill out an application. From what I've seen so far, he is a great dog who has bonded to me very quickly. I haven't even known him for a full day and already I love him.

Thank you to everyone who emailed about then Juno, now Bandit. It is nice to know that there are so many others who care.