Jul 30, 2008

Almost 300 Days

That’s how long Pepper was at the shelter, in the Give a Dog a Bone program. Her owner took her home yesterday. And, yet, this is not a happy ending.

Pepper came into the shelter as a cruelty case. The four-year old female pit bull had come in looking like a skeleton. She was seized by Animal Care & Control due to her awful physical condition. Pepper had been starved, that was obvious. Who knew what seemed like a cut-and-dried case of animal cruelty would be anything but.

As a GADAB volunteer, I don’t know the details of every dog’s story. That is on purpose. But, I hear bits and pieces, and what I don’t hear, I can guess. I can fill in the blanks. A starving dog. An owner charged. The dog is taken away from the owner.

Yet, the last part never happened. This story didn’t end that way. And I still don’t understand why.

The owner fought the charge. While Pepper stayed in the shelter, in a kennel, her owner walked free for 10 months. She had to appear at court a few times, while Pepper served the entire sentence behind bars. Why? Why would someone who had starved their dog fight to get her back? And why would ANY judge who saw the photographic evidence ever let them succeed?

I saw the photo. I wouldn’t give the owner a goldfish. If it were up to me, the owner would never, ever be allowed to have an animal again. What is wrong with our legal system? A story was laid out for them, with photos and testimony. A living creature was mistreated. Starved. And the person responsible was not held accountable. For 10 months, Animal Care & Control fed, loved, trained, and took care of Pepper. And now the owner was getting her back, healthy. With even a little extra weight on her. How could it be that this person gets back the dog they starved? How can that be right?

The case was never heard. ACC lost the motion to suppress due to illegal entry. Apparently a starving dog is not an "emergency"... So, tell me, judge, what would be an emergency? A dead dog? Explain that to me.

The only good side I can think of in this case is that we all got to be friends with Pepper. Smart and funny Pepper. We took her out to the park, and Corinne was able to spend time with her in the GADAB office. We did so much to keep Pepper sane and sound. She was first to go out. She had a special place in the office where she could enjoy a kong on a cushioned bed. She learned so many things, and made so many friends. The perfect girl, we called her. I especially loved the way she trotted when out for a walk. She always trotted, like she had somewhere to go.

Like Corinne says--"it's pretty amazing to shelter a dog for 10 months and see her leave as temperamentally sound as when she came in, if not better socialized, more mentally stimulated, very playful, and with some new and fun tricks up her sleeve."

Oh, Pepper, big girl, you will be missed.

And, because we are helpless at this point, I am trying to think positive thoughts for Pepper. Maybe her owner learned something. Maybe her owner will realize she can’t handle the responsibility and we can help Pepper find another home. Maybe…

Yesterday I did a google search for “animal law.” Am I too old to go to law school? Because, if the case of Pepper came across my desk, you better believe I wouldn’t sleep until the roles were reversed. The human behind bars. The dog, free to go.

Jul 21, 2008

Sweetie-Angel-Heart-Baby-Cakes-Doll Face

Hello my name is Sweetie-Angel-Heart-Baby-Cakes-Doll Face. Okay, well it’s my new unofficial name given to me by SJ, a GADAB volunteer. Yesterday, we played fetch for what seemed like hours – it tired me out so much.

One time, she threw the ball up and it got stuck in the tree. Silly, volunteer—I can’t climb trees! Although I wanted to, and I thought about trying…you see, I’ll do anything to retrieve a tennis ball! After many attempts, SJ finally got my ball back down from the treetop and our tennis match resumed. I’m so good that I’ll drop it right in your hand and wait for you to throw it for me again. AND if you should drop it, or if I should place the ball in an inconvenient place for you to pick it up, I’ll re-place the ball near your feet, so it’s easier for you to throw it for me!!

I know what your thinking – this feathery Farah Fawcett-like fur may not make me look like a champion retriever –but I’m telling you – I’m ready for the Olympics. I just need an agent.

Jul 18, 2008

Formerly Cui, now a happy Henri, on his way to his new home.

Henri spots his stuffie in the air and readies himself to catch it.

Although still a little skittish,
his socialization is coming along mahvelously, and his new parents couldn't be more ready for him. He's met his new siblings, also poodles, he'll be seeing a vet regularly, groomed regularly, and tons of exercise with his new family.

"They're working dogs, you know", his new mom said proudly.

Au revoir, Monsieur Henri!

One great ball, three great dogs

Hennessey thinks that keep-away is the best game EVER and is really, really, realllllly good at it. When he absolutely has to, meaning that I've managed to either do a treat exchange for the ball, or waited him out as he gaily prances by me over and over with The Ball of the Day in his mouth as he gets closer and closer to me, knowing perfectly well that I won't grab for it, he finally drops it in front of me, then sit as he's been taught, and wait for me to throw it for him again. A real prankster, but if you don't know his game, he'll pass by you just close enough so you think you can grab it from him. You can't. Just try. Or he'll drop it and pretend he's interested in something else to tempt you to believe that he's lost interest and you can walk over casually to him to pick up the ball. Oh, no. He'll wait until you get just soooo close and then grab it and dash away. One has to laugh. Funny, delightful boy.

Who else loves this ball? Roxie, that's who.
She actually retreives for a treat exchange. Nice - she learned that one pretty quickly as she swerved on a dime, ball in mouth, to see what my outstretched hand held for her. Beautifully built, lavish with affection, and a glutton for belly rubs, Roxie is truly poetry in motion. She had a particularly hard time being kenneled, so we hope it's a good thing that she was redeemed yesterday by her owner. Have a great life, Roxie girl.

Then what about Cui? What is a Cui? Hard to tell, but when a standard Poodle has not been groomed for eight months, this is a horrific look at neglect. When he arrived at GADAB, he was frightened, undersocialized, and young - he is eight months old. We do know that he was kept in a small space, not walked or exercised. Was he ever groomed? We don't know. It was hard to feel anything but mats on this guy. But, the amazing resilience we see over and over again with our dogs has surfaced in Cui, and he is absolutely delighted to be in a world that he had no idea existed.

Still head shy, we are playing Treats Rain from the Sky with him so he'll learn that hands mean good things are coming to him, and I've tossed the favored ball up in the air and he actually lifted his head UP to try to grab the ball. I playbow, he play bows - he loves to run with me, his docked tail is now waving happily as we play and it seems that he wants to do everything that I show him. We're going as slow as we need to with him; he still startles easily, but with time, it looks like this special guy will enjoy life to its absolute fullest. And oh, yeah, he had to be pretty much completely shaved and underneath that rug of hair is an obviously unused body - no muscle tone. But how much better must he feel.

Was it Billy Crystal in his Fernando Lamas persona who said something like, "Dahling', listen to me, in order to feel mahvelous, one must look mahvelous". Cui is both now - devilishly handsome and feelin' mahvelous!

Written by Corinne Dowling

Wally invites someone, anyone to play with him.

Hey! You, over here, it's me, Wally.
Ready to toss the ball for me? I will drop this one if you show me that one in your hand - isn't that the game? Then you throw the slobbery ball for me while I run to get the clean one and bring it back to you?
Yeah, that's it. Then both balls get slobbery and I don't know why you have issues with that.
No, please - not the ballchucker! I have to run too far and as you can see, I'm not built for that. Handsome, yes, built like a Mack truck, yes again, but, run-very-far, no, run-very-fast, no way. Long periods of ball play, no, not for me, Sir.
So now that you know how I like to play, are 'ya ready?
Let's play!

A little more to the left, please.

" Oh, gosh. Oh, golly. Oh my.
Oh, my, my, my. My"

"Thanks, gosh, that feels good - nothing like a good massage, up, down, and around my spine - ooh, hit that spot, girl, thanks. I think you may have done this before."

Little Sandy is a guy who knows how to receive.

Many of the dogs with whom we work do not - for many reasons - and if we can get them to trust us enough to touch them, that's big. For all of us - the givers and the recipients. If we get to the belly rub stage for a dog who's afraid of people, it's a marvelous thing. For a dog to position himself in a position of such vulnerability, exposing his belly, that's a dog who's come a long way.

We'd like to thank YOU for showing us trust.

Now how about a little kiss, riiiight here? Thanks, darling man.

Jul 4, 2008

Baloo smiles.

Yeah, I guess you could say I'm kind of a big guy, actually I AM a big guy.
Newfoundlund/Tibetan Mastiff mix, my former guy said. I just moved to the city - I've been a country boy all my life and these city noises, well, I tell you, they just make me nervous.

Right now, I'm over at the SF/SPCA. I either still have the country blues or has all this city stress gotten to my stomach?

The folks at SF/ACC treated me like a prince and I do feel like one sometimes with all the attention that folks give me. Corinne even sings to me and my, I sure love that. My favorite is "Til I met you" - anyone remember that beautiful song? My favorite part, the part that makes me feel so special, goes like this, "there was love all around, but I never felt it at all, no, I never felt it at all til I met you . . . " Corinne remembers her mom singing it and she says her mom's voice is really something.

I also love TTouch, especially along the sides of my body. When I'm being sung to and getting TTouch at the same time, I can just lay right down, close my eyes, and relax. Right now, that's what I want to learn how to do more of - just reeeelllllaaaaaxxxxxxxx . . . . .

Kelsey celebrates the Fourth of July a day early . . . .

Hugalicious ???

Hugalicious !!!!!

Excuse me, miss,

but I can't find your nose.

Come to mama, baby

Hey, this Find the Treats on the Fire Hydant is sure a fun game.
I didn't know my hind feet
worked by themselves!

Thanks to Sylvia Spiro for capturing this glorious day!

xxx Kelsey