Monday, October 22, 2012

News from the Lazy Grey Ranch

(You may have noticed that I changed the name of my blog from "Tales of Golden Fostering" to "In Dog We Trust" since my posts tend to be about more than just my foster dogs.)

Several months ago, I wrote about my friend Pat Drozt and her greyhound Mulder.  Mulder crossed the Rainbow Bridge shortly before Memorial Day, leaving Pat and Sydney, Pat's female greyhound, to adjust to a new phase in their lives.  Not only was Sydney lonely without her buddy, she was finding it stressful to be in charge of all the dog-related responsibilities by herself.  These included barking at the little dogs next door, border patrol (got to let those squirrels know to stay OUT of the yard), and making sure all the dog treats got eaten.

Over the summer, Pat was contacted by Greyhounds Only, one of the greyhound rescue organizations, wanting to know if she would be available to take a foster dog.  They had been contacted about a male greyhound named Max.  Max's owner had recently lost his wife and had to sell his home to cover medical expenses, and was moving to a much smaller apartment.  With two Italian greyhounds in addition to Max, he was no longer able to care for all three dogs and had made the painful decision to find a new home for Max.  Pat and Sydney went over to meet Max, since Pat's major concern was whether the two dogs would get along with each other.  Max and Sydney liked each other right away, so Pat arranged for Max to move in with them.

Max is a large black and white adult male greyhound, about eight years old.  He was instantly comfortable with Pat and Sydney, and after a tour of the house and yard, he climbed up on the sofa and fell asleep.  Sydney's relief at having canine back-up was obvious.  She became much happier and more relaxed. 

Max soon met many new friends, including Luke the golden retriever and the two brown dogs, Sophie and Korby, and Larry, Pat's human son.  But his favorite human after Pat quickly became his Auntie Andie who comes by the house every day to look after the cats that she boards in Pat's basement (Andie is a TNR - Trap, Neuter, Release - volunteer for cat rescue).

It turned out that Max had a few medical issues.  He was a little overweight, he needed a visit to the doggy dentist, and he was favoring one of his back legs.   Pat was concerned that Max had arthritis, or even worse, a torn cruciate ligament.  A vet visit was arranged, and while Max was sedated for his dental work, the vet took x-rays of his hips and knees.  The good news:  once Max's teeth were cleaned, he did not need any extractions.  He had also lost a few pounds and was now at a healthier weight.  The cruciate ligaments in his knees were in good shape, too.  The bad news:  Max had corns on his back feet.  Foot baths and ointment were prescribed, and the prognosis is good.  With Pat ministering to his feet on a daily basis, Max's corns should clear up eventually.  If he can be convinced to stop licking them.

Once Max received a clean bill of health, Pat decided that she and Sydney couldn't be without him, so she completed the paperwork to formally adopt Max.  But before she could even mail in the adoption contract, Greyhounds Only wanted to know if she could foster TWO more greyhounds.

Toby and Shayna had lived happily with their owner until she became ill and had to be hospitalized.  Their owner's daughter tried to take care of them, but between worrying about her mother, traveling back and forth to the hospital, and trying to cover the medical bills, there wasn't much left over for the two greys.  When it became clear that her mother would not be returning home, the daughter contacted Greyhounds Only about re-homing the dogs.  Of course Pat couldn't say no to fostering them.

Other than being underweight, the new greys are in good condition.  They have been with Pat for a little over a week.  Toby is a seven year old brindle male - he could be Mulder's twin brother.  He even has some of the same quirks that Mulder had (like about the ramp in the backyard).  Toby is already looking at Max like a role model.  Shayna is a five year old female and, except for the color of her collar, looks exactly like Sydney.  The two girls instantly became BFFs.  They take turns sleeping on the pink comforter in the living room (dogs are supposed to be color-blind, so how Sydney and Shayna know that the comforter is bright girly-pink is anyone's guess).  Max is now the leader of the pack.  He gets up on Pat's bed, and the other three greyhounds gather round and gaze up at him like his adoring subjects (I think I need a picture of that).

Pat is already wondering if she can manage four greyhounds on a permanent basis. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

A vacation at Best Friends Animal Society

Last week, I spent a week of my vacation in southern Utah at a town called Kanab.  Along with three friends from As Good as Gold Golden Retriever Rescue of Northern Illinois (Carol, Jodi, and Robin), I did volunteer work for Best Friends Animal Society, at the animal sanctuary near Kanab.  It was the second time that I visited Best Friends.  Set in the high desert, the sanctuary has a beautiful setting in Angel Canyon.  There are sanctuary areas for dogs, cats, horses and goats, pot-bellied pigs, bunnies and guinea pigs, and wild animals that are either being rehabilitated or are injured and no longer able to live in the wild.  This is one of the outdoor cat enclosures.

My volunteer chores included walking dogs, cleaning dog kennels and run areas, changing the water in all of the dog runs in one section, working with one of the groundskeepers at the cemetery on the sanctuary premises, cleaning bunny enclosures and feeding the bunnies their afternoon treat of romaine lettuce, and socializing dogs that are fearful of humans to help them become more comfortable around people.  In general, we did whatever the animal caretakers needed done.  One of my friends ended up cleaning pigeon coops in the wild bird area (in Chicago, pigeons are viewed as flying rats); another friend washed all of the cat breakfast bowls for one of the cat buildings.  Below is a picture of the Bunny House after I finished cleaning it.

On Monday and Thursday morning, we worked with the groundskeepers (Kurt, Dave, and Lenny) at Angels Rest, the cemetery on the premises.  It is a very spiritual and emotional experience.  When I work there, I feel like I am standing in for the families who placed their beloved pets there.  There are windchimes all over the cemetery - when the wind blows, it sounds like the music of the spheres.

I worked on Tuesday morning in an area called the Fairway, a pair of buildings that houses adult dogs mostly between the ages of 2 and 8 years old.  When I returned to work in the same area on Friday morning, I was surprised to learn that two of the dogs that I had walked on Tuesday had already been adopted. 

In the evening, there was plenty of time to sit outside and enjoy a bottle of wine and talk, or relax with a book. The town of Kanab is very quiet, and we tended to go to bed fairly early, since we were due at the sanctuary by 8:30 to start our work for the day.  The weather was perfect except for the last day we were there.  In October, the weather in Kanab tends to be fairly cool in the morning but warms up quickly as soon as the sun comes up over the mountains, so that by mid-day, it is usually in the upper 70's, and then when the sun goes down, the temperature quickly drops down to the 40's.  On our last day at the sanctuary, it had rained overnight and the morning was cool, clear and sunny.  Carol and I worked at the Fairway in Dogtown, and while we were walking the dogs, we saw wild turkeys, a small herd of deer and a huge jackrabbit near the Fairway buildings.  It was great weather to walk dogs, until we were out with our third pair of dogs.  Suddenly it clouded up and HAIL started to fall.  It didn't last long, just long enough that we were thoroughly cold and wet.

We took a day off in the middle of the week and drove to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, about two hours away from Kanab.  The scenery is breathtaking!  We went out onto a narrow strip of land (which is surrounded by a high fence) to get some great pictures.  I stopped in the gift shop and bought Luke a pair of stuffed burros.  He'll probably tear them apart but it will be 90 seconds of heaven while he does.  I took this picture from the lodge at the North Rim looking across the canyon.

The only negative thing about the trip happened on the second day.  My Golden Retriever Luke began vomiting and having diarrhea.  He was staying with my friend Gail, who took him to the vet at Riser Animal Hospital to get checked out.  His bloodwork was normal, and an x-ray didn't show anything blocking his digestive tract, but Dr. Baukert thought Luke should have an ultrasound anyway, just to be sure, so he sent them off to the specialty clinic in Northbrook.  The ultrasound and MRI were also negative.  After spending the night at the emergency clinic and getting IV fluids and antibiotics, Luke was much better and Gail brought him back home.  It appeared he had just been feeling under the weather and was missing his Mom, and ended up getting himself a little too stressed out.  By the time I arrived home, he was back to normal with the only remnant being a sexy shaved ankle that he is enjoying licking.  Here is Luke with his burro.

My foster boy Teddy also had a trip to the vet while I was gone.  His dogsitter wanted to see if the holistic vet could suggest anything to help his skin condition (which is caused by his kidney failure).  The holistic vet gave the dogsitter a bunch of things to try on Teddy's skin, and she tried all of them, including a couple of baths.  Poor Teddy is used to being left alone and not being bothered.  He was exhausted when I went to pick him up, and just about all he has done since he got home is sleep.  He is feeling stronger today.

Best Friends' sanctuary is a beautiful place with dramatic scenery.  Even if you're not interested in spending time volunteering at the sanctuary, you can take a bus tour of the grounds and visit the gift shop in the Welcome Center.  It's a few hours' drive from Las Vegas, so if you're going to be in that area, it is well worth the detour.