Monday, March 28, 2011

Meet Maxwell

Every day, dozens of dogs die in overcrowded shelters in less than a 5-hour radius to the Bay Area. These include purebreeds and little dogs, dogs that you wouldn't normally think would have a problem being adopted. But the reality is that especially in rural areas, dogs come into the shelters at an alarming rate yet there are rarely any adopters at all.

For most of these dogs, their only chance of survival is to be transported to more populated areas, where there are more potential adopters. Yet who does the transporting?

This past Saturday, a dedicated group of volunteers, people just like you and me, who have full-time jobs and families of their own and I'm sure a hundred other things they could spend their time doing, worked together to save over 30 dogs. Under the organization of one amazing coordinator named Jennie, 3 transporters split the drive between Bakersfield to Santa Rosa, over a 9-hour route. They picked up 3 dozen dogs from 5 different shelters and transported them to 4 cities where over a dozen rescues were waiting with open arms.

One of those lucky dogs was A843504 from Kern County Shelter in Bakersfield.

He has since been knighted Maxwell. I drove 50 minutes to pick this little guy up at one of the drop-off points of the transport. I scooped him up in my arms and put him in the backseat of the car. He was a little nervous and unsure of me but within 2 minutes, he was ready for a cuddle. Within 10 minutes, he had chewed off the harness I just put on him.

"Who me?"

Yes, you, you little stinker. That harness held memories. It was the first harness I ever bought for Popeye.

"Oh. Sorry."

You're not getting off so easily, mister. It's bath torture for you.

Not by my hands though. Remember Crazy Lady & Sugar? They fostered Pip until he was adopted.

They had so much fun, they asked to do it again. So where was I? Oh yeah . . .


"Is it over yet?"


Crazy Lady & Sugar will be putting him through his paces until a good home is found for him.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cookie: A Happy Found Dog Story

A few months ago, our mail carrier knocked on our door and told me about a stray dog she saw along her route, just a few blocks away. Out in the cold rain I went and back I came with Pip, a little long-haired chihuahua.

Today, the mail carrier knocked on our door again and told me about another stray she saw. I'm starting to get scared of answering the door when she knocks. This time, it was a pit who was following a woman and her dog. "Very calm and friendly." I never meet calm & friendly strays.

But I grabbed a leash and a small bag of dog treats and followed the mail carrier in my car to where she saw this dog. The dog, a black & white pit, was just hanging out with a woman and her dog. Not really interacting with them, just hanging out. She was indeed calm. The woman clearly didn't know what to do and was relieved that reinforcements arrived.

I was thrilled to see this dog had a tag. First sign that she wasn't dumped. The tag had the name "Cookie" in large bejeweled letters, and on the back, it had a crossed-out phone # and 2 teeny phone #s written with a sharpie that were barely legible. For you petowners out there, it's great that your dog has a tag and that anyone who might chance upon him will know his name, but really, that's about the least important information you can provide about the dog. Make sure the contact info is updated and readable because that's what may save his life.

Cookie wasn't uberfriendly like most pits are. She wasn't bouncy or tail bashing waggy, but she was mellow and well-socialized. She got into my car with just a little bit of enticement with treats, and I took her home and put her in the backyard, where I gave her a ton of water and a bit of food. I wasn't sure how long she had been wandering (she was covered in dry poop--obviously she rolled in something nasty just like Boomer likes to do).

I tried calling what I thought to be the number written on her tag but it was disconnected. I then brought out my microchip reader to see if she was chipped but of course she wasn't. Then I tried to call Animal Control to see if anyone had reported a lost dog but of course the local AC is closed on Fridays (and Mondays and Sundays).

All the while I was making plans in my mind about everything I'd have to do if no one claimed her. She was well-behaved, knew "sit" at least, and she quietly followed me around the yard while sniffing everything she could. She was so mellow, I thought for sure she was an older dog.

If she was going to stay, I'd have to introduce her to the dogs sometime. She seemed fine with the woman's dog she followed so I wasn't too too nervous about introducing her to Phoebe at least. Phoebe gets along with everyone. But I had the penny shaker in hand just in case something bad happened.

I need not have had the slightest qualms. Cookie, calm and self-contained up until now, absolutely lit up the moment she saw Phoebe. Their powerful tails almost seemed synchronized as they swooshed their tails as hard and as fast as they physically could.

In the meantime, I began to change the digits in the phone # I originally called. The 5 could've been an 8, the 4 could've been a 9. I called 3 more numbers, left 2 voicemails, and got another disconnected line. The first person to call me back said she didn't have a dog. But the second person immediately asked, "You have Cookie?" Bingo!

Cookie had been spotted with another dog. But the other dog was skittish with strangers and took off. Turns out these dogs jumped the fence this morning. The other dog returned home, so maybe Cookie would've gotten safely home as well without our interference. But I'm glad I got involved anyway.

I dropped Cookie, with Phoebe tagging along, off at her house about a mile away. She went back to being the calm lady. I had a nice chat with her Dad, who told me that he himself had found Cookie wandering the streets with nothing but a harness just a couple of months ago. Despite putting up flyers and reporting a found dog with AC, nobody claimed her so he just adopted her. I made sure to suggest getting a new tag.

I'm glad this story had a happy ending and that I was a part of it. It was a pleasure hanging out with Cookie and I already have a soft spot for her. And on my drive back home with Phoebe, I passed this:

It always gives me a good blissful feeling to know that people really love their dog.

Thursday, March 3, 2011