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Momma Pitty Pumpkin’s Journey: From Abused, to Rescued, to Momma/Foster, to ADOPTED!

I’ve written before about my very special student, Sara Elizabeth Jackson, and how she gives her foster dogs the very best part of her heart.  Sometimes those stories are sad ones, but in this case, we have a happy ending.  I’m providing a link to a story just written about Momma Pitty Pumpkin here, but continue on . . . there’s more!

http://blog.petplus.com/2014/04/28/momma-pitty-pumpkin-needs-help-and-a-home/

When Sara found Momma Pitty, we all rooted for her to give birth without problems.  That happened.  

Then we all rooted for Sara to be able to find homes for each of the 8 pups (which were all, by the way, named for the season:  Halloween.  Treat, Wednesday, Poe, Salem, Raven, Magic, Boo, and Candy).  Image

One by one, the babies found homes where their families loved them and appreciated their cuteness as much as all of the “Momma Pitty Family” had from day one.  

Then we rooted for Sara to find a home for Momma (though there were several of us who tried to talk Sara and Mario into keeping the lovable little girl.  But Sara already had Harvey (her very large, constant companion), Capone (an easygoing pit bull), Poppy (a cross-eyed cat) and a Ferret.  She has also found space in her home to foster other dogs.  None of them have suffered from a shortage of love.

 

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(P.S.  Momma’s the one with the pearl necklace :-))

Sara knew Momma needed her own home, though, so she took her to the vet’s to be checked out, only to discover Momma had cancer.  As she had with the puppies’ vet expenses, Sara reached out on Facebook one more time, begging for help with Momma’s vet expenses and for prayers as Momma went through her surgery.  Once again, everyone pulled together and raised some funds, but it wasn’t enough, so Sara became creative and planned special events, her friends made jewelry, and she even sent out invitations.  Because Sara is a runner, she appealed to her runner friends and pretty soon, Momma Pitty’s fundraising event became a Mother’s Day event.

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But before the event happened, something amazing came about . . . .

 

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Momma Pitty fell in love!  And so did her new Papa!  She now has a home where she’ll be loved and spoiled, and where she can have her own human that SHE can love and spoil.  Last night, she spent the first night in her own home and cuddled with her new dad, who is over the moon with happiness.

I’m sure this isn’t the end of the story, but to take it full circle from being an abandoned, abused dog to being rescued by the FABULOUS Sara Elizabeth Jackson, to becoming mother of 8 absolutely adorable pups, then to be faced with cancer . . . and to come out the other end of this tale with a truly loving dad . . . well, that’s something to celebrate.

Thank you to all those warm-hearted people who take in dogs like Momma Pitty Pumpkin and love them and care for them while they look for the right home where they can enjoy the one thing all animals have in common:  a need to be loved.

 

 

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Question of the Day: Cava-Poo-Chons, are they perfect?

Okay, I understand why some of us want a dog who’s absolutely adorable, smart, friendly, hypoallergenic and not yappy.  I understand that because Izzy is one of those dogs.  When I started looking for a pup to keep me company and to replace my recently departed and very old cat, I wanted one that would be all of the above.  There were several breeds that fit my criteria:  Cavachons, Shichons, Shipoos, Cavapoos.  You get my drift.  They were all what could be considered hybrids.  Poodles, Cavalier Spaniels, Bichon Frises, and Shih Tzus in various combinations/iterations, all creating the same little ball of fluff with personality, smarts, friendliness, and a tendency to be less yappy than other small dogs (like Yorkies or Chihuahuas).  And who could resist their teddy bear-like appearance?  (Shichons, especially, which is what Izzy is).

There are positives and negatives to this type of dog breeding, and depending upon whom you talk to, you’ll get bits and pieces of both.  One of the positives is that people who might be allergic to dogs can actually own one.  That’s a huge point to make.  On the down side, by breeding these “designer dogs,” lots of shelters aren’t seeing people walk in to adopt the dogs that fill those kennels to the brim regularly.  Negative to the nth degree.  Nothing is more heartbreaking than the numbers of dogs who are euthanized because they are not considered “adoptable.”  Pitbulls, once considered the American dog, are currently the breed that is least likely to be adopted — and cities/counties don’t help that phenomenon by allowing regulations that allow certain areas/cities/housing developments to outlaw owning a dog from the Pitty family.  

Ironically, designer dogs are garnering higher and higher price tags, normally reserved for those purebred dogs that are never inter-breeded with another species.  Dogs like the German Shepherd are now selling for less than the hybrid dogs like Cavachons.

Yesterday, I read an article from the Huffington Post entitled “Is the Cava-Poo-Chon the World’s Most Perfect Puppy?”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/20/cava-poo-chon_n_4311387.html  Naturally, there’s a photo of an absolutely adorable pup, and the article extols the virtues of the mix of breeds, even commenting on the breed’s long life (though I don’t know how they can know the lifespan since this is a new hybrid).  What amazes me is the price this breeder is asking for her pups.  This is basically what we used to refer to as a mixed breed . . . translation:  mutt.  But because it’s cute and well-behaved, it’s also more expensive.

I don’t know about all this hoopla about the Cava-Poo-Chon, but I can tell you one thing.  Izzy’s a Shichon (Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise mix), and I think he’s pretty perfect.  But I might be just a tad prejudiced.

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Izzy’s day at the S(pa)w!

Sometimes dogs get that smell.  You know the kind I mean?  That odor that really makes you go “pe-yoooo.”  As much as you love the little buggers, you really don’t want them on your lap and you certainly don’t want to be lovin’ on them.  Time for a bath — or better yet, a trip to the groomer’s.

Yesterday, Izzy went to Spaws here in Roxboro and not only got the dreaded bath (he doesn’t like the water, though he’s a real nut about being toweled off.  He’ll wait in front of the door after our walks for me to get out the towel and give him his rubdown), but he was also trimmed and sprayed with an appropriately scented “freshener” for the holidays.  Suffice it to say, my house smells like pumpkin pie now.

Okay, for those of you who thought I was a bit down on doggie prima donnas who get all dressed up, you might want to give me a hard time for the pic of Izzy with his bandanna.  Not my doing.  Everytime he gets groomed, he comes home with a different kerchief.  They last maybe five minutes.  I usually find them under the couch with all the balls and bones he has “lost.”

So, here’s the boy — before and after.  Gotta admit, he looks (and smells) much better.  But it would be nice if he looked into the camera occasionally.  Take out the cell phone for a quick shot, and he either looks away or averts his head so I can’t get a full view, making him look horribly uppity 🙂

BEFORE

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AFTER

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Falling leaves and temperatures . . . must mean cold dogs and NaNoWriMo!

Over the weekend, I spent most of my time writing (this is National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write 50K words), but when Izzy and I went out walking, it struck me that autumn is at its peak.  This morning, I realized winter is on its way.  We’ve had our first frost.

Saturday night, Izzy and I scuffed through piles of leaves that industrious neighbors blew off their fading lawns and onto the sidewalk.  At first, he didn’t want to plow through them, and I had to cajole him to hop right on in.  He’s short, so there were times the leaves were over his head, and he’d pop up, leaves stuck to his nose and to his coat (which needs to be cut before the end of the week — he’s having more “bad hair days” than good lately).  After the first couple of leaf dives, he discovered it’s much more fun than he thought, and now he’s searching out those piles of crunchy playthings.  Now I’m the one reticent to dive in since I’m not sure whether the snakes who’ve just shed their skins might be finding a hiding place under the warmth of the fallen leaves.

While we were walking down Main Street, I glanced up at the sky.  The black storm clouds were backlit with fiery reds, lemon yellows and pumpkin oranges, mirroring the colors of the leaves hanging on the trees along the street.  The whole world seemed warmed by the autumnal colors.  In the air, the smell of woodsmoke reminded me that the season for lighting the fireplace was upon us.  The air, brisk and clean, prickled at my cheeks.  Even Izzy seemed to recognize the change in season and he popped along beside me as if invigorated by the chillier air.

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On Saturday night, I relished the extra hour of sleep, and Izzy didn’t seem to mind it either, but this morning I had to get up for work, and Izzy’s internal clock hadn’t registered Daylight Savings Time.  He started poking me with his paw around 4:35 AM.  Twice, I said, “ten more minutes, Izzy,” but he wasn’t listening.  He hopped over me and sat on the floor near my head.  I could feel him standing beside me, paws on the bed, sniffing my hair and quietly “woofing” — as if to say, “Here’s a gentle reminder that it’s time to get up, woman.  Let’s go!”

He lasted until 5:30.  No matter how many times I rolled over, it wasn’t working to ignore him anymore.  So I got up, put on three layers and my gloves and headed out into the 37 degree morning.

Yup, it ain’t warm in North Carolina anymore.

Dog clothing? Really? Do we need to dress up the little buggers? Or is that human vanity?

While I do believe that when it rains out, Izzy needs his ThunderShirt, both to stay dry and so that he won’t get freaked out if it’s thunder and lightening while we’re out, I’m not so sure he needs a specially-designed sweater in the middle of the winter or a nice wooly blanket for football season.  Seriously.  What is it about people who dress up a Golden Retriever in a kerchief like some Middle-Eastern babushka-wearing grandma?  And how long does the dog keep the kerchief on to begin with?

I’ve read a lot of articles about Baby Boomers and how we are treating our animals as though they are the children who have long since left the nest.  While that might be true (not only of Baby Boomers but pretty much everyone who’s crazy about their pets), I’m still not convinced we have to turn animals into pseudo-human-children.  I’ve seen Chihuahuas in pink tutus, poodles in berets, and boxers in Irish Fisherman knit sweaters.  They all look the same:  ridiculous.

I’m writing this and remembering that the dog I had when we were growing up often got scalped rather than having a decent haircut (because my parents were do-it-yourself-ers).  Tammy would skulk around, head down, eyes averted, as if ashamed that she was “nude.”  In that particular case, I can see putting something on her nearly naked body if it was the middle of the winter, because she certainly would have frozen.  But should we dress our animals just to make a statement?  Does a Cocker Spaniel really appreciate being dressed as a dragon for Halloween?  Should we create a mini Pekingnese version of Santa Claus on December 25th?  Or what about a heart-shaped Pit Bull for Valentine’s Day?

Maybe I’m just being an ol’ poop, but I don’t get design clothing for dogs.  http://www.refinery29.com/pet-accessories?utm_source=email&utm_medium=editorial&utm_content=los-angeles&utm_campaign=131029-dog-accessories#slide-1

I’d be interested to hear how you feel about dressing up your lovely pooch.  And I would venture to guess that your most affectionate cat wouldn’t sit still for putting on a hat or a vest or a lovely sequined dress!  

Herding the pack and Why Friends Are Necessary

Over the weekend, the weather improved from its bone-chilling factor to a rather reasonable and mild 50-60 degree range.  Though I couldn’t do the hike I had wanted to do with Izzy, I did get in some nice walks, and we were lucky to find Peggy and Ellie at home — with visitors!  Nothing like a Fall romp in the leaves with dogs, but when they’re all the same size, are great friends, and absolutely adorable, it makes it even better.

Whenever I’m with dogs, I am struck by how much they teach us.  The attention to detail that Izzy spends when we’re walking always reminds me that I need to pay the same amount of attention to my writing.  He notes every new sound, whether it’s in the neighborhood, up in the sky or in the trees.  This weekend, he heard a new bird, and even though I have no clue what type of bird it is, I can guarantee that Izzy separated that birdsong from the others we hear regularly.  And the sound of fire engines and ambulances on the boulevard several blocks away made Izzy (and the other dogs in the neighborhood) howl in response to the high-pitched noise.  He’s also aware that the seasons are changing, and his gait reflects his pleasure in the piles of leaves he can sniff, as well as the cooler temps.

But this weekend’s most important lesson was about friendship.  I have always valued my friends and have kept in touch with everyone who has been special to me through the years, from my first friend (we met before kindergarten and have been friends ever since) to those I’ve worked with recently at various colleges.  I drop a card or an email or just a comment on Facebook to let people know I’m thinking of them, and I truly treasure the moments we’ve spent together.  The only way to have friends is to be one, that’s my mantra.

Izzy’s excitement when he sees his little buddies knows no bounds, and when I see him (and them) greet each other with that quiver that only dogs can have when greeting someone they care about, I am reminded that we need to show that same kind of pleasure when we see people whose presence in our lives is special.

Next time you see someone you like, wag that tail of yours a little.  Friends are necessary.  They lower our blood pressure and make little problems laughable.

Here’s the pack of Izzy’s friends this weekend.  A smile for a Monday morning.  From left to right:  Cocoa, 6 month old chocolate Poodle; Ellie, 5 year old Maltese; Izzy, 2 year old Shichon; and Maggie, black Poodle (I think she’s 3).

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Dog Treats that Kill.

Every night before we go to bed, I give Izzy a doggy treat.  Most of the time, it’s Pupperoni, but sometimes it’s a piece of dried chicken.  Imagine how I felt when I found out yesterday that some of these treats are being recalled because they’ve been KILLING dogs.  I can’t imagine what I’d do if something happened to Izzy, so my first thought was to share this story with as many people as possible so that no one else loses their beloved pets.  Please read the article that’s linked here: http://www.ibtimes.com/jerky-treats-recall-fda-issues-alerts-after-600-dogs-cats-mysteriously-dead-full-list-pet-treat 

The Kennel and the Car. Izzy’s Fears.

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Izzy upon arrival in North Carolina, 2012

Izzy’s only a little more than two years old, and he’s been working on some fear issues ever since he moved in with me.  I’m proud to say that he’s come a very long way from burrowing deep in the kennel and not wanting to come out when we picked him up at the airport.  He also doesn’t growl and bark at new people like he used to.  Instead, he wags his tail and wants to say hello.  That’s a biggie!  But there are a few things that still bring out the fear.

Over this past weekend, I had to travel to Cincinnati for a college reunion and brought Izzy to the kennel where he has stayed on occasion since he came to me.  The people who run the place are fabulous.  They love him and worked really hard with me when he first went there in order to get him socialized.  At one point, I came to pick him up and found him in the owner’s office, sitting on the recliner.  Yes, he got under their skin like he has with me.

But the kennel isn’t next door to my house.  It’s a half hour ride, which means Izzy needs to get into the car.  That’s not fun for him at all.  When we first started dealing with the issue, Izzy was so frightened of the car that he would literally not even walk by it (and he knew which car was mine) whenever we went through my apartment parking lot after going for a walk.  I spent hours trying to get him to walk around the vehicle, but he sat his butt down and pulled his whole sixteen pounds against the leash.  He would not — for love or money — get into the car unless I forced him.  I knew that wasn’t a good idea, but no matter what I did, nothing got him past the fear.  I spent hours with him, enticed him with treats, sat in the car when it wasn’t running, made sure we went on short rides to “good” places (like my girlfriend’s house where he could run in the back yard with her Jack Russell).  

Nothing worked.

Then we went to obedience school, and one night, I was telling the instructor about Izzy’s fear of cars.  When he rode with me, he would need to be carried into the car, and then he would get up on the glove box, lean against me and drool/pant frantically until we got where we were going.  Usually, those trips were to the kennel.  It doesn’t take much detective work to realize that he soon linked the car with the kennel.

Heidi worked with me that night, and together, we found a “fun” way to get Izzy into the car.  I ran away from it, then turned around and ran toward it (the passenger door open) and when we arrived, said, “Up, up, up!”  Izzy jumped right in.  From then on, it was easy.

But this past weekend, when we went to the kennel (for the first time in months), Izzy didn’t want to go inside.  He finally did, and I didn’t think much about it while I was gone.  When I came back, it was a different story.

Izzy came through the door to the office where I stood, and I bent down to say hello.  His tail tucked between his legs, and his whole body quivered.  The women who were checking me out started making cooing noises, obviously sympathetic to my little shivering Shichon.  

I knew I couldn’t take him in the car immediately, especially in the shape he was in, so I sat on the bench in the lobby and asked him to come up on my lap.  He tried, but the slatted bench wasn’t familiar, so he gave up.  I patted him and talked to him a while longer, but his quivering became worse.  It was as if he knew he would have to go into the car.

Having just driven 10 hours, I wanted to get home, so I paid my bill and took him outside.  He saw the car and immediately pulled in the other direction, both his head and tail lowered.

It was lightly raining, but we trotted up to the end of the long driveway.  I let Izzy take a good look (and sniff) at the horses in the meadow across the road, then we trotted back to the car.  He seemed a bit more comfortable, but not relaxed.  

“Up, up, up!” I said, and Izzy obediently jumped in, though he still shivered.

All the way home, he quivered and drooled.  I felt horrible for several reasons.  I hate driving with him on the glove box, for one.  If I have to make a turn or a quick stop, he has no traction at all.  Secondly, his fear seems amplified, and I don’t want him to associate the car with a negative end.  Thirdly, I had just gotten home and wanted him to be comfortable.

Once we were home, he had a walk and got settled back in the house.  Within minutes, he was back to his playful self, finding his favorite tattered red ball and bringing it to me.  But I think that the next car ride will bring back the same fears.

So, research this week . . . on good car seats that will allow him a view of the outside and some security.  And I think the next time we go to the kennel, he’s going to be wearing his ThunderShirt to keep him calm.

Izzy Wears a Thundershirt in the Rain

Raining, cold, miserable weather.  Not the kind that makes me want to jump out of bed, click the leash on Izzy and head out for a 6 AM walk, but when you have a dog, you don’t have much of a choice.  The funny thing is that Izzy doesn’t like walking in the rain either.  He stops at the back door, looks up at me, out toward the yard and back to me again as if to say, “Seriously, woman?  You want me to go out in THAT?”  I pull him off the stairs, he tucks his ears, then obediently trots at my side, but when it comes to a puddle.  Whoa!  Pull up here!  Then a big leap over the offensive water and we’re off — really quickly — to do “the thing.”

When I lived in an apartment complex on the third floor, the storms would echo through the meadow we faced.  It was truly spectacular to see flashes of lightning from that height, and the repeating booms of thunder made the pictures on my walls rock.  Exciting for me.  Not so much for Izzy.  He would run from room to room, tail between his legs, as if he couldn’t find a space safe enough to sit and hide.  

I did some research and found a place right in Durham that had invented a shirt for animals that purported to calm their anxiety, whether it was thunderstorms or fear of something else that made them turn into whining balls of nerves.  They called their product a Thundershirt.  It looked like a piece of gray flannel with Velcro.  Unassuming.  I wondered what could be so magical about this gray flannel shirt that would calm down the most anxious of animals.  

I spent a lot of time on their website, read all of the success stories, watched the videos, perused the research about how the Thundershirt cured anxiety in 80% of the animals (dogs and cats) who wore it.  No matter whether it was thunderstorms or separation anxiety, the Thundershirt would cure it.

I looked at Izzy, thought about his fear of the thunderstorm, but even more so, I thought about his fear of human beings.  At 9 months old, my little Shichon had a terrible attitude toward people in general.  He charged strangers, barking and growling so fiercely that no one would come near him.  It wasn’t fun.

So I tried it.

Within five minutes of putting on the shirt, Izzy curled into a ball and went to sleep on the floor next to my bed.  Meanwhile, a thunderstorm that wouldn’t quit for hours raged on outside.  He could have cared less.

Success!

Today, Izzy really doesn’t pay attention to storms, but he still doesn’t like rain, so when it’s a dreary, rainy day like it is today, we put on his Thundershirt and it keeps him dry while he’s outside.  I still have to rub him down with a towel when we come home because his head and paws get wet, but his body is dry, and he absolutely loves putting on that shirt.  Amazing.

Having a dog that’s only half wet is much better than having one that is soaked to the skin — even if that dog’s ‘fur’ is really hair.

I’m not doing a commercial for this product, but if you’re interested, here’s the link:  http://www.thundershirt.com/

(And here’s Izzy on our walk when it’s dry!)

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Street Orphans

Street Orphans

In the South, there are house dogs and yard dogs. I’m not a big fan of yard dogs. I hate seeing dogs on a chain in a back yard, and I truly feel that those dogs begin to harbor aggression after a while. Yes, it makes no sense to let dogs run free, but if you have a dog, aren’t you responsible for giving it love and care and making sure it’s healthy and safe from the elements? Yes, Izzy goes out in the yard occasionally, and when he does, he’s tied up (because he does the fa-la-la-I’m-free! thing when he’s off leash and he’s too little for cars to see when he zips across the street — giving me heart attacks). But when you leave a dog outside day and night, simply giving it water and food, that doesn’t work for me.

Yesterday, when Izzy and I walked, a clownish black Lab raced up to greet us, large pink tongue lolling out of his mouth. He was wet and obviously wanted some water, so I knew he’d been outside for most of the day since it had been raining. And he was young and wanted to play. Suddenly I realized he was Spike, the black Lab that lives around the corner from me — in the back yard on a chain. He’s been there since he “moved in” when he was quite little and quite scared. Occasionally, Izzy goes back there to play for a few moments (when I’m brave enough to let him off the leash), but other than that, Spike sees no one, doesn’t play, doesn’t get to walk the neighborhood, and doesn’t have any shelter other than the trees overhead.

His newly-found freedom was obviously an aphrodisiac for him last night. He hopped over Izzy, did the puppy-bow, raced alongside us, rolled down the grass, and generally looked — plain and simple — happy!

We worked with one of the guys on the street to try to get Spike back to his yard, but he was not interested. I think he rather likes being one of the Street Orphans, those dogs who race freely up and down the streets of our little town.

Can’t say that I blame him!