Apr 23, 2008

You won't find these little girls in a chi-chi bag in Hollywood

Chihuahuas (chi’s). Coming in a close second to pitties for dogs dumped, at least here in San Francisco, we are seeing more and more of these frightened little dogs. While Give a Dog a Bone's charges are mostly custody dogs, we also take medically challenged dogs under our wing.

"Dumped dog" is not a nice term, but then, neither are the dogs that are found wandering the streets, brought into the shelter by a Good Samaritan (Good Sams, we call them), or just dumped in a box in front of the shelter, the pitties and chi’s are usually in sad shape and go directly to a medical isolation kennel.

Many of these dogs are terribly undersocialized, as well as having severe medical issues. Having been bred to sell as a member of a fad breed for maximum bucks and for all the wrong reasons, care is not taken to ensure their well-being in ways that dogs need to become good healthy (behaviorally and medically) companion animals. We have adults, puppies, adolescents, all shapes, colors, and sizes. We have dogs that come from backyard breeders or puppy mills and they all consider the dogs whom we treasure as a commodity. Perhaps I preach to the choir, but you who read our blog do know that those cute dogs that you see on on-line lists, newspaper ads, and pet stores come from these places? People also surrender these dogs to shelters because they haven't done any breed research and have no idea who the four-legged being is who will be sharing their home.

GADAB starts their lives over. While the vet staff does their part, we treat skin holistically, work on fear issues with slow, soft, gentle approaches, using calming methods recommended by Turid Rugaas. They work. Most recover enough to go to a solid rescue organization, usually Grateful Dogs Rescue, where they go to foster homes until they can be adopted to a forever family. I say most, because sadly, some of these pitties and chi’s cannot recover from earlier traumas, and as much or as long as we try, their lives have become so awful that we are the last to care for them on this earth. Perhaps we have also been the first.

These three little girls went to Grateful Dogs Rescue, where they await their forever homes.

Written by Corinne Dowling.

Apr 13, 2008

The Dog who was told she was a Dalmation

Wait a minute. Let's get one little thing straight - I like Dalmations; I've always found them to be a lot of fun, but the gal I lived with wanted me to be one and I'm just not.

I'm Tina. I'm playful, love the water, very affectionate, and have a bit of an identity issue. Not for me, of course. I'm clear on who I am. A dog. An ideal dog. One who is looking for a home and I'd like folks to know that there's a good possibility that I could be an Aussie/couch potato/kitty mix.
"Well", I say, "yeah, the couch potato part was pretty clear. You folks here at the animal shelter saw right through my soft eyes and yummy soft coat that you can just sink your faces into as I roll over and you tuck yourself into into my body and listen as I hum. Almost like a purr? Ummmmmm, I am lovin' this".

Excuse me if I say this, but do Dals have the soft coat that I do? Nothing against Dals, of course.

The folks here at GADAB took me out to the park, played with me, even have a little pool out there that I love to jump in and out of, and - this was kind of big - showed me how to play with toys, which I love, love, love. I can toss stuffed toys into the air and sometimes I bring them back to the person who threw it for me so they can throw it again. Woo-hoo!!!

Now I'm available for adoption at Animal Care and Control in San Francisco. And if you're looking for a Dal, google Dalmation Rescue.
Written by Corinne.

Apr 12, 2008

How about some updates on dogs that we've blogged?

Ever wonder about GADAB's dogs whereabouts now? Sometimes it seems as if they're stuck here in some kind of depressing timeless warp, but no, eventually, they all leave, somehow.

I go back and read these blogs, remember our roster of characters with so much fondness, sometimes smiling with happiness, sometimes with a heavy heart. The bitter with the sweet. I remember their favorite toys, their issues, their triumphs, the butt scratch/slap with The Retreiving Meister, the world-class grin of Her Serenity when she succeeded in catching a ball in the air from a TWENTY-FIVE FOOT sit/stay (she was here a while - of course, we didn't start at 25'), how Ms. Dog and A Half took soooo long to learn to trust again, how Sir Hugeness jumped for joy every time he saw one of us, how Little Barky-Snarky Guy really liked to curl up in a lap and take a good snooze.

I remember how one of my favorite pitties of all time came out of her shell, treat by treat, creeping closer and closer to me while I dare not move a hand or a single body part or she would retreat. That lovely dog finally found joy in being with us, generous with her kisses, and we discovered about the same time that she did that she was a born wiggle bug. None of us ever would have known had we not been there for her, day after day, week after week, month after month.

Another favorite mental visual is of Mr. Hip-Hop dancing merrily across the mid-bar of his kennel, which he never left the entire time he was with us. But if he could find joy in two-stepping across his kennel, how am I not to celebrate his dancing prowess and laugh with him, his huge mouth stretched widely in a grin?

Can I ever forget how Sparkle's passing was, how her favorite animal care attendant grabbed her into his lap and held her close while I fed and touched her, how surprised I was that she went so quickly from this life into the next, and how I didn't know what to do with myself then, she had no more need for me, how numb I felt, and how much her life changed the person who loved her more than anything in the world. He knew, when he came back later and we talked, he knew why Sparkle had come into his life, how he grew into the person he was supposed to be because of her. We cried together.

I salute him and all of you who who recognize why our dogs come into our lives. They are teachers, they allow us to love when it's so hard sometimes to remember why we are here, they kiss away our tears, they make us laugh, they accept us, they put their trust in us. They are givers.

The rescues with whom we work, the funders, and individuals who make this possible, the volunteers who give themselves to the animals. Stay. Grow with us.

Dogs, go. Grow without us.

Remember Blackie, the grumpy reindeer, posted on 12/4/07? She went to Chow Rescue (quite the adventure that transport was!) and was adopted from there to an older couple who fell in love with her.

You'll be seeing Leroy and Samson when you arrive at the Pearly Gates. Farewell, laddies.

Little Mo, whom I tracked after he was allowed to go home with his owner, has a much better life now. His owner is on track with pulling his life together, hanging out with Mo at one of our lovely multiple-use local parks, keeping him well fed and quite dapperly dressed.

Booda, adopted by rescue. Grow into a good adult, baby.

Pops, aka Little Papa, aka LP, adopted. Bear, his partner, euthanized. Just too long at the fair. Some dogs deteriorate so much from being at the shelter that they can't make it out in the real world again. They become unsafe. Sadness.

Frankie, Stoney, Jeckel, Gracie, all adopted. Joy.

You were loved.

To paraphrase what Mark said about Momo and Minna, "it's been an honor to know you". All of you. Each and every one of you.

Apr 7, 2008

The Sweetest Pea

Sometimes, as a GADAB volunteer, you fall in love just a little bit with a dog. It may be a short-lived love, but it's immediate and real. In the case of my latest puppy love, Sweet Pea, this love is of the 100% feel good, happy variety. It's the giggly, squealing, the OH MY GOD YOU ARE SO CUTE kind of dog crush that makes it all worthwhile.

To be realistic, volunteering for GADAB isn't always easy. We see some things that are hard to see. We see dogs in very bad condition, often at the hands of humans, and that can be difficult to say the least. But, then there are the wiggly, happy, and grateful dogs. And then nothing else matters.

The last kennel run at the shelter is the isolation run. Often the dogs back there have kennel cough or skin problems, and the vet wants to keep a close eye on them. In the last run, I found Sweet Pea.

OH MY, I said out loud when I saw Sweet Pea, because Sweet Pea is my very favorite type of dog. Short, wiggly, and pitbull. I knew I was in love. When I saw that she was able to go out to the park, I was ecstatic. I was going to get to hang out with the little girl with the itchy, patchy skin....and that made my day.

We took Sweet Pea out the park. What a good girl...no matter that she is young and probably hasn't had much training (if any), Sweet Pea behaved herself beautiful. Yes, she was excited to get out, but she didn't get over stimulated. She didn't get mouthy, and she didn't jump up. Letting her off leash, and sitting on the cement step as she took off, I could feel her happiness. And before I knew it, Sweet Pea was in my lap. Just like I knew she would be. See, I have a lap pitbull myself (with the same beautiful yellow-green eyes as Sweet Pea) and I just KNEW that little Ms. Pea was of the same ilk. Rub me, rub me, scratch me, love me, she said. And the three of us in the yard did just that.

It's so important sometimes for the GADAB dogs to JUST BE DOGS. To run around the yard, chase a stuffed animal, and to feel kind human hands on them...this is what they live for. And this is why I volunteer.

I don't know if Sweet Pea will still be in the program next week. I never really know when I leave the shelter for the day who I will see again and who I won't. Some dogs with pending cases...I know they'll be there, and I look forward to seeing them. Others, like Ms. Pea...I'm not sure. But, that 20 minutes in the park....it was heaven. It was pure joy. It was sunshine, happiness, and love. For her AND for me.