Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things to be thankful for. . .

Yes, this IS picture of two adorable, fuzzy little rats and no, they are not for adoption. They are my little critters and I love them dearly. In this picture they are greatly enjoying their portion of the Thanksgiving dinner:-) Bourbon apple & sweet potato casserole, pork loin (just couldn't do turkey this time) and some green beans almandine. Not too bad for a couple of rodents, eh? Of course, all the dogs enjoyed the meal as well. You might say that I spent this Thanksgiving a little differently than most. Specifically, I spent it free of other humans. Don't get me wrong, I love my family and friends. This year though, I wanted to really stop and reflect on the many things that I am thankful for that I all too often take for granted. My animal companions. My dogs and rats put up with much from me. My long hours at work, tolerating a variety of different dogs that come through the house and of course, me:-)
Today I thoroughly enjoyed really just spending time observing the little things that happen every day that I usually don't have time to notice. Such as how I love to watch my rats when they are eating. They really are masters at what they do. Chewing things into perfect little bits then going for more. At almost 2 years old, these boys are really quite spry for their age. Their brother passed on nearly a month ago. He was not so lucky to be blessed with their overall good health. Then there are my dogs. It was cold and rather breezy today. Just looking out the window at my Lexy, I noticed just how long her hair has gotten and how gorgeous she is when it blows in the wind. She really is a beautiful dog. She fell asleep on one of the dog beds earlier today. She rarely does that. She looks like a pup when she sleeps. then there is Squirt. Once an extremely frightened, yet aloof pooch, she has grown into a gentle, trusting soul. I always say that it was her eyes that made me bring her home. She still has those eyes. I swear sometimes I can hear what she's saying when she sits and stares at me. She'll take her paw, put it on my arm and just look at me. Another work of art that nature sent to me.
Cody, on the other hand, is nowhere near as dignified as my older girls. He is a rambunctious little critter that refuses to allow me NOT to notice him.
When Chester was here (sure do miss that old fart) the dogs couldn't have their stuffed toys out. My girls have never been chewers, but Chester, God love him, could shred a toy into a fine haze across the floor (as all good labs do:-) in about 5 minutes. Well, this week I pulled out the toys again and Cody thought he had died and gone to doggy heaven!!! There is one squeaky toy that we used to play with every day when he first came to me several years ago. It was our routine. Every day I would come home from work, and the first five minutes where devoted to throwing this dirty, chewed up little stuffed toy with a rope on it. He would get soooo excited and keep coming back for more. Then he was happy to settle down and drive me crazy with the dang squeaker in the thing! Now he's got it back and loves playing fetch with it again. He was okay with the heavy rubber things that Chester couldn't chew up, but they just weren't the squeaky toy:-)
Looking at the fosters I have here, I just keep wondering how they ended up in the situations they were in. All the dogs in my house, including my own, were at some point either neglected or dumped--and for stupid reasons too. I just don't get it. Jester spent the day between sleeping and coming over to me for some snuggles. I rarely get the time to just be still for any length of time and enjoyed seeing him seek out the attention. He's not a licky dog, but at one point he even very carefully licked my foot. I had to laugh because I thought it was another of the dogs, but there was Jester looking very serious about what he was doing, lol. Mishka is such a beauty. She has those burgundy brown eyes like my Lexy and stunning little eyelashes. If you even get your face close to her, she will give you big kisses on your cheek. When she's happy, which is pretty much all of the time, she wags her tail. She's got this curly tail that hangs over her back and it just bounces back and forth and is just adorable! And of course, there's Mo. This boy is sooo starved for attention, that sometimes I feel badly that he's stuck in a house with so many other animals. He gets along with everyone (and plays hard with my Cody). But if he has a choice, he will literally sit next to me with his head on my lap and let me pet him as long as I want. He is not a crazy, licky dog either he's just very still and almost serene. We think this guy must have been in a home at one time, because he really does have great house manners, but his long stint on the chain very nearly broke him, I think. You can see it in his eyes when you take the time to look. He's just so happy to be free and have someone to love him and pay attention to him. He doesn't have a lot of confidence yet, but he's working on it.
All in all, I feel like this has been an amazing Thanksgiving. For once, I just refused to worry about what has to be done tomorrow. I didn't stress about not getting the house cleaned up. I didn't feel guilty about leaving the dogs at home, staring at me as I walked out the door. And I didn't feel guilty that I chose to spend this Thanksgiving alone. Because really, I wasn't alone. I was in very interesting company. I just might do this again next year:-) I hope you were as lucky as me to count the blessings you have right in front of you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What a Stinker!

So this morning, even before the sun comes up, I'm up and letting the dogs out. I had spent some time playing with Mo and Cody before letting them out. Lexy and Squirt rarely want to play in the morning and Jester usually sleeps until I make him get up. So as I let the dogs out, I notice Jester isn't with the group. I go to his usual napping spots- - -no Jester. I even checked twice, still no sign. At this point, I'm starting to get worried. I know he didn't go outside with the other dogs. Then I felt a panic come on when I thought that just maybe I might have left him outside overnight! So in my jammies and slippers I search my yard (it's still dark mind you and I'm worried he's frozen to death, though I don't think it got below freezing last night), under bushes, by the shed in the corners, under the patio furniture- -no Jester. Okay, so I'm just about hyperventilating now. I ran back into the house and searched again, nothing. Went outside again, nothing. It's 6:30 in the morning, I'm in tears thinking I've lost this poor, sweet, old dog somehow and I turn around and what do I see in my back door window?? Yup, you guessed it, Jester, the little stinker. He's looking up all sleepy eyed and cozy, I guess trying to figure out what all the whistling and clapping is and why the door keeps opening and closing. Apparently, he decided to climb up over a paint can and onto my laundry basket (note: please ignore the laundry, and remember this dog was dumped because he wouldn't do stairs? Whatever. . .) I passed him a bunch of times and didn't even notice. Anyway, once again, Jester makes me smile and I continue to wonder how anyone could ever let this funny little dog go. Of course, once all the commotion was over, you can see that he curled up and went back to sleep. I on the other hand was wide awake.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You won’t have to struggle to get up each time. You won’t have to limp as you walk. You won’t have any trouble seeing or hearing now. You won’t have kidney disease. You won’t have back legs that soon won’t work anymore. You won’t have a hard time sitting down because it hurts. You won’t have to worry about being alone when your time comes anymore. . .

I will remember the first time you climbed into my car and jumped up front to give me a big, fat, slobbery lick on my cheek. I will remember how you were always the first to greet any person at adoptions or at home. I will remember the shadow that constantly followed me through the house even though sometimes I would try to sneak by so as to not wake you up. I will remember how you still wanted to play fetch, even when you could barely walk. I will remember how you would snuggle your head to me when I would give you a hug. I will remember your funny “aroo!” bark when it was time to eat. I will remember how you panted hard, almost smiling when you got excited about a walk, playing or anything that you really liked. I will remember how soft your fur was. I will remember how great it was to see your crooked little tail wag. I will remember how comforting it was to rub my face in your fur. I will remember how you loved your ears to be rubbed.

I could go on and on about what I will remember, but the point is that I will always remember you. Thank you for bringing such joy to my home.

Chester passed away on Monday, November 16 2009.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More Jester

Jester just continues to take such funny pictures. The one at the top reminded me of an old Seinfeld episode with George. Those of you who used to watch know exactly what I'm talking about. Of course, Jester was more spread out, but moved when I grabbed the camera:-) Now will someone please tell me why he hasn't found a forever home yet? Funny, friendly and low maintenance, what more could you ask for??

Yup, best buds

The other day I wrote about how Chester and Mo were good friends. To prove the point, I was sitting in the living room tonight with the dogs. Chester made some kind of funny noise (as old dogs do!) and Mo came running over and immediately sat down and watched him. I thought that was quite adorable. Once he realized Chester was sleeping again, he laid down next to him and crashed himself.

No luck

Well, none of the pooches got adopted today again. Sometimes it just makes me sad that the dogs don't find permanent homes. There are so many great dogs in the group. Of course I'm a bit biased about my own fosters:-) Got a few better shots of Mishka after the event. We thought we had a family for her, but it didn't quite work out. She's so pretty! And has the gentlest personality. Maybe next time. . .

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One more

Okay, last one for tonight. Thought I'd catch up since I missed a couple of days. I have to say, blogging is new to me, but I'm really enjoying it. Anyway, in my posts, I keep referring to "my guys" when I write. Well, here are 2 more of my guys. The brown/black girl hiding in the bushes is Squirt. Found her back in 2000 when I went camping with a bunch of friends and their dogs. She was sick, tick infested (literally we stopped counting after we pulled 200) and as it turned out pregnant. Long story short, she had 9 beautiful puppies, which I still can't believe because she was so small. She almost died, but for the help of the whole neighborhood. Money was especially tight for me then and, well I needed help figuring out how to take proper care of her because I had no experience with sick animals really. (I've got that covered now!) After lots of love and care from the dog friends on Rosa Ave, she pulled through and has been healthy (and bossy!) ever since. She's a gentle soul. She is the mama of all the dogs really. She doesn't play with them, doesn't really want them near her and all it takes is a couple of quick growls and nobody messes with her again, lol. But she is sleek and loves to have her belly rubbed. She's at your complete mercy:-)
I snapped this picture of my Lexy , black/gray girl, just the other day. I swear I could almost hear her giggling saying, "She'll never find little old me hiding behind this great big leaf." It was even funnier when I sent the pic out and a friend e-mailed me writing the exact same thing I was thinking. You have to know Lexy. She's an amazing dog. I got her in the fall of 1999. She was this funny looking, spotted little thing with very little hair (who knew she'd become a great big furball!) She was the hobo of the neighborhood and ended up living with me. She was the first dog I had just after I divorced. She was/is my best pal. Pretty much everyone I met after I moved into the neighborhood was because they know Lexy from running around! I could go on and on about the ways she has influenced my life, but I could never really put into words how much I love this dang dog. She and Squirt have helped me through the deaths of both of my parents, family drama, illness and many stressful times. She always knows just what to do. If I'm happy she bounds around looking back at me to make sure I see her. She will come and swat my leg for a pet or to play. If I'm sad she lays down by my feet and waits. If I'm mad, lol, she's nowhere to be found because she probably did something:-) Don't really know how I would have made it this far without her.
"They say I saved you, but it was really you who rescued me." This is a quote that I've seen around talking about rescuing animals. I think that this is often quite true. . Another of my favorite quotes is:
"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.", --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I guess that's enough mush for tonight:-)

In my other post I was talking about how my guys are good about welcoming the new dogs into the house. One of the reasons is that my Cody (the blonde chihuahua mix pictured) is what I have been calling the dog's dog whisperer. He's been able to take just about any scared dog and make him/her feel more comfortable in the house. Of course, there are a few that have attached themselves to Chester (on the bed). Mo is one of those. Chester was curious about Mo from the start, even jealous I would say. Now they make a point to lay together and are rarely apart if Mo is sitting still:-)
There was one other dog that Chester bonded to even more. Broke my heart too. A beautiful dog named Trinity was with me for a short time. She and Chester were literally inseparable. They went outside together, slept by each others side, ate together, you name it. He adored her as she did him. Trinity got adopted and Chester actually was depressed after she left. It was the saddest thing! Poor guy moped around looking for her for over a week. Eventually my guys perked him up. There's no being sad for long around Cody:-) Then Trinity came back to stay with me for a bit. He was soooo happy! Unfortunately she passed away and both Chester and I were depressed for a bit, but once again, another comes in needing a new place and life goes on. Lucky for me that dog was Jester. He has no idea just how much he can brighten someone's day. So if anyone tries to tell me that dogs,etc. don't communicate, I just smile, disagree and remember that not everyone has had the good fortune to live their lives with animals and look at them for what they are. . .living, breathing, feeling beings. Not human, but simpler, without baggage seeing things for what they are on a day to day basis. Oh, to have that view of life! Sure would make things easier. (Disclaimer: This is my wholehearted opinion and I can give many years worth of anecdotes if anyone doubts it:-)
Mo is getting more comfortable with the camera. Of course, he doesn't really have a choice:-) I'm sure my dogs have already let him know that he might as well deal with it. You know, people look at me like I'm nuts when I mention how my dogs "talk" to each other. But anyone who has a dog or especially more than one dog knows it's true. All living beings communicate in some way or another, right? My guys never fail to amaze me in the way they interact. And they always welcome the new guys into the pack. More about that later. . .

Mo is getting to be more like a puppy every day. This morning when I let them all out, he just started running circles in the yard. It always cracks me up to see this. Complete joy and happiness with a tail, that's Mo. He is ready to find a forever home where he can have more attention. He's even starting to enjoy being on the leash because he knows it's not for something bad anymore. He instigates play and is a good listener. So far he always comes in when I call him. I can't get my old girls to do that like they used to without a bribe! Little stinkers have trained me well. . .

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Handsome Fellow

Chester is quite a handsome fellow. He's been here since around March. Since then he has sure shown what a loving little guy he is. Chester's lived a hard life. I call him my "old fart" or my little old man:-) When he first came, his legs were skinny and his belly was a little bloated. Reminded me of a little old man. He even has a smoker's cough in the morning, HA! Since then, due to some physical issues we discovered, his belly is less bloated and his legs have put a bit more muscle on them. He's on a special diet now since his kidneys are in bad shape, but he's still as sassy as ever.
Sure did give me a scare this morning. When I got up he was on his big round doggie bed. Looked comfortable at first, but then I noticed his legs were sticking straight out underneath him and his right leg was cold. Luckily his legs were fine but it made me realize that time with him is sure precious. Some days I truly wonder how he even walks at all with his legs in the shape they are in, but he keeps on going. He even lets me help him now and then, but he's an independent stubborn old boy when it comes to things like that. Otherwise he's a mellow fellow, with lots of life in a broken body that can't keep up with his spirit. . .


I have visions of Snoopy from Charlie Brown dancing around with his little red bowl at suppertime. Jester doesn't exactly
dance, but he does bounce up and down a lot and spins and barks with excitement at each meal. It's like the first time he's eaten every time:-) He's even got the routine down. I have a food aggressive female so fosters have to all be fed separately from her. He knows to run to the bathroom so that he can eat in "private".
As much as I get stressed at dinnertime (try walking around in a small house with multiple dogs, one of which does not walk well, banging into your legs the second you touch a bowl or 6:30 comes around, whichever comes first) I can't help but laugh as all are clamoring to get to their food first. It is so hard to complete a task when you are laughing. Reminds me of when I was a kid. My grandma lived down the street and I was there with my little sister. We were maybe 11 and 7 (I was the older one). She did something, can't remember what and I started to chase her. She went running down the street, screaming and flailing her arms like she was on fire. LOL, I was mad at first, but she looked so ridiculous that I couldn't help but laugh. Of course you can't run when you are laughing. So dinner is sort of of like that. Well, maybe not, but that's what it makes me think of!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just for fun:-)

No forever home yet

Here are 3 of my boys crashed out. Jester just happened to pop up when he heard the camera click. They are wiped out! Mo went to his first adoption event today. He did pretty well, but didn't find a home:-( Sadly, neither did Jester or Mishka. Their time will come soon enough I suppose. I'm in no rush to get them out the door. I'd just love to see them in a home. I think that rings true for most fosters. You fall in love, but let them go because you know you can't help anyone else if your house is already full of dogs.
The third dog lying next to Mo is Chester. He's my 14-15 year old baby. Of course, don't give away the secret. He has no idea that he's not young anymore. His body lets him know all too often, but he has adapted. I wish that I was always so uncomplaining as Chester. He takes his aches and pains with dignity. Heck, he even continues to get up and follow me all over the house in typical lab fashion.
Chester is a permanent foster. In other words, he's not going anywhere but right here. I wouldn't call him a failed foster so much. Of course, I am glad I am keeping him, but he has something called degenerative mylopathy. In other words, his back legs will eventually be paralyzed. He also is in the early stages of kidney failure. I couldn't bear the thought of him dealing with all of this and adjusting to yet another home. A friend of mine even built a ramp in my yard for the one step he could no longer get up and down. I had just had surgery and couldn't lift him up and down anymore. Now I don't have to. He's still unsteady on his feet at times, but he manages just fine.
Sometimes I think of him as the group's dog because he has won his way into so many hearts with his soulful eyes and happy attitude. I'm the lucky one who gets to see him every day though:-) Wouldn't trade him for a million dollars, literally. No amount of money could replace love and loyalty like that.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Piper Comes Back

I picked up this gal this evening. She's a little chihuahua with the softest coat I think I may have ever felt. This picture just doesn't do her any justice. She'll only be with me until tomorrow though, then she'll go with Ellen or someone who has room to foster her. I fear my bigger dogs could injure her just due to their size. I have an 16lb chihuahua mix and Piper makes him look like a honking moose! The Senior Dog contract requires that any of our adopted dogs be returned to us should the owner decide he or she can't keep the dog anymore. Unfortunately for whatever reason, it doesn't always happen. Luckily the local Humane Society contacted us to let us know that this little gal was dropped there after the owner went into a nursing home and the family couldn't or wouldn't keep her.
I try not to be judgemental because I know that all folks go through things, but I just can't imagine not keeping the pet of someone close to me in this situation. It's hard enough for the person to leave his/her home, but do they wonder what's happened to their beloved pet? What does the family tell him/her? Does the family think about what's going on in the dog's head? Or how the person feels knowing that someone in the family couldn't keep the dog? Just a few questions that pop into my head when I hear about something like this which happens all too often.
Piper will find another home though, no matter how long it takes. In the meantime, she'll get all the love and care she needs, though it won't be nearly the same as being in her own home with her own people (or person.)

Sleepy Dog

One of Jester's favorite ways to pass the time is to take a nap. I don't think I've ever met any dog that could look so completely comfortable in any position that he happens to fall asleep. Did I mention that he snores sometimes?? HA!! There have been a few times that I'll be sitting in my living room reading and hear him sawing a log as he's right next to me. I am forever laughing at something this adorable little guy is doing. Whether it's his stubby little tail wagging or his snoring, he never fails to provide humor in my day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Meet Mishka

Is this a gorgeous face or what?? This little gal is quite amazing. I first found out about her from my vet. The doc knew that I worked with senior dogs and was wondering if I could find a place for Mishka. When I asked what happened, I was saddened but not surprised to find out that Mishka's owner just didn't seem to be able to care for her anymore so she had decided to have Mishka put to sleep. Mishka is not ill, nor is she terribly old. She's just over 7 years old and is full of love and spunk. Of course the vet refused to put down a perfectly healthy dog without at least trying to find her a home.
As it turned out, that Friday was Mishka's lucky day. I wasn't sure what I could do to help as I had a full house already and another on the way. While I was talking to a friend she saw Mishka's face and immediately she and her husband decided to foster her for us (Thanks Betsy and Jim!) Mind you these guys live in an apartment so they weren't sure how Mishka would handle things. Things are working out just fine. Mishka gets her daily walks now and is pleased as punch to just hang around with the family. She loves to go for rides, is great on the leash and is crate trained. She's just an all around mellow gal looking for someone to give her that special forever home she deserves. She is also available through St. Louis Senior Dog Project.

Mishka and Jester will be at the Kirkwood Petco on Saturday from 11 AM until 2PM. If you are interested in meeting Mo, he will be at the Kirkwood Petco on Sunday from 11AM until about 12:30PM. Come on out and meet them and the many other loving dogs looking for that special someone to remind them that they are not alone.

Going for a walk

Tonight Mo took his first walk. He was not happy at first. I'm using a harness with him since he was on a chain for so long. The leash hooks to the harness on his back. He wasn't too sure what to think. I took my older gal Squirt with us because she LOVES to go for walks! In fact, I can't even spell the word around her because she's figured out what I'm doing and goes nuts:-)

Mo spent the first few minutes watching her and trying to stand as still as possible. Well, her enthusiasm got the better of him. Before long, he was sniffing and snoofing everywhere. Watching his tail was like watching a flag. First it hung down even when he was happy. Slowly but surely it started to rise. By the end of the walk it was standing straight up in the air and he was not nearly ready to go in. But I was and I still had two more to walk tonight so in we went. Good thing my dogs are such good leaders.:-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Funny, little Jester

This is Jester. He's a funny little dog, that I can't seem to figure out why he hasn't found a home yet! He is sweet and gentle. Completely house trained and LOVES to snuggle. He's one of the most comical little creatures I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. He's very low key- -just wants some love, food and a soft bed to snuggle on. Did I mention that he loves to take naps too?
Jester is about 8 years old and was dumped at the pound in the county because his folks thought he was too old. Heck, he's in the prime of his life!! He sure seems like the perfect dog to me, older or not. I love puppies, but give me a laid back, loving older dog any day.
These are the dogs that get forgotten because they are not tiny little creatures with that foul but lovely puppy breath any more. And to be perfectly honest, most folks are afraid to take them on because they have already lived some of the years of their lives. Well, they also don't pee in your house like a puppy and they are usually better behaved. Not always, but usually. Again, I do love the little youngsters, but would rather my pals in fostering take care of the little ones. I appreciate the wisdom and quirks of the older guys. Jester seems to understand that and does all that he can to make me smile, whether it's intentional, I'll never know.

All dogs need a home. . .

I am a foster "mom" with St. Louis Senior Dog Project. I decided to start this blog when another member of the group suggested that a few folks record the stories of 3 dogs that came to St. Louis after living a miserable life on the end of a chain in N. Carolina. All three dogs are 9 years old or older. Yet after all that they've been through, they are still amazingly loving, social and ready to find a home of their own. I plan to write about my "forever" animals as well

This is Mooter, now known as Mo. He was one of the 3 dogs to travel to St. Louis. To read how Mo came to be here check out Ellen's blog at . Look for the post from October 30th.
You might notice he's wearing a hat for this picture. Quite handsome fellow if you ask me:-) Very cooperative as well. He's still a bit fearful of new folks at first, but he does great at home with me and LOVES playing with the other dogs in the house. You could say I have a few:-) Mo's future home will have to have a family that is willing to spend a lot of time loving him and giving him the best life possible after being chained up for all those years. I'll never understand why anyone would even bother to have a dog if they are going to be chained up outside. Mo is no watchdog, so I can't fathom the reason. Why have a dog at all?