Sunday, April 15, 2018

#150 Rescue An Animal From A Shelter

Rescue animals are special animals.
This one is going to be a long one. My heart is too invested in this.

Oneco X's and O's. 

There are many reasons why an animal is in a rescue or shelter. These animals are sometimes abandoned. Sometimes their owners cannot take their pets with them when they move, as much as they love them and want to keep them. Life is surely not fair but it happens. Sometimes people with multiple pets move in together only to find that their pets are not quite as compatible as they are. Sometimes their owner passes away. Sometimes the animal is stray or feral. Sometimes the animal is taken away from abusive owners.

Rescue a pet
Often times, these animals face a premature ending if they are not adopted. It's absolutely heartbreaking to think about their fate. However, as much as most people love animals and want to save them, there are many, many factors you must consider before bringing a rescue animal into your home, especially a dog.

The most important thing you must consider before even looking to adopt is "Can I properly provide a better life for this animal?"

If you decide you can responsibly care for an animal, you need to go ahead and start doing your research. You need to ask a lot of questions. You need to make sure you are getting an honest history about the animal you are considering for adoption. Most of all, you need to keep a level head. It's easy to look at an animal and immediately fall in love with it.

Here are some of the things you need to factor in before saying she/he is the one:

1. Study the breed or the mixed pedigree of the animal. Read articles about the breed. Talk to professionals. 

2. Do you have small children? Will the dog be compatible with them or aggressive towards them?

3. If you have other animals in your home, will they be compatible? 

4. Do you travel or work a lot? Will this animal be alone for long periods of time? 

5. Will you be okay with accidents, things getting chewed or scratched, and maybe items being broken? Animals are perennial toddlers. 

6. Do you have the patience to go through the adjustment period animals require when being introduced to a new environment? 

7. Do you move a lot? Will your landlord be okay with you having a pet??

8. Are you willing to accept that fur and slobber are part of being a pet owner?

9. Can you to feed and care for the animal?

10. Do you have enough space for the breed or can you get the animal to a park for it's exercise requirements? 

These are just a few things you need to ask yourself. You can also bring your questions to people who work with animals as their profession. They can provide you with a wealth of information as well as valuable insights regarding animal breeds, behaviors and adoption. If a dog or cat is just not in the cards for you at the moment, there are other animals you can adopt. Rabbits, birds, iguanas, ferrets, rats, guinea pigs, and many other smaller, cage animals are often also available for adoption. These may be a better option for you.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am by no means trying to deter anyone from adopting a pet. I want to see as many animals rescued as possible. I am just being honest and real. You have to benefit the animal's life as much as the animal will benefit yours. It's only right.

Years ago, 2004 to be exact, my family decided to look into adopting a greyhound. We loved the breed and heard they were very docile with children. This was a huge factor since my children were still younger. I did much research on the breed and looked into the various foster care agencies that dealt with greyhounds. Most of these agencies were located out of state. I had hoped not to venture too far outside my area to adopt just in case there were any issues once we brought our new pet home.

Then I came across a rescue near Dallas, PA. The rescue put me in contact with a lady whom was a foster mom to greyhounds. I cannot recall her name and I feel so bad about that. Anyway, I called the lady and spoke with her about adopting a greyhound. We discussed my living situation, my family and what my preferences were. I told her my only preference was that I needed a greyhound that would be good around my children, especially my son.

My grey loved my kids and loved birthdays too!
She told me most greyhounds were wonderful with children but she had a particular, very sweet greyhound in mind for me. She was completely straightforward. She asked me if I had any other pets. I told her about my rabbit Max. She asked me if Max spent his time in a cage. I told her we did keep Max in a large rabbit pen that was off the floor.

She told me she did not think that would be a problem. She informed me that the greyhound she had in mind for me was not very good around other animals. She was rescued by another family but that family had multiple pets and my greyhound did not do so well there.

She told me she had 20 different greyhounds and a whippet she was fostering and she also had to keep my future greyhound crated from the rest of them. I am not gonna lie, I was concerned about this greyhound because if she did not like other animals, would she like the kids. She assured me that the grey was wonderful around all humans. However, before she could set up an appointment for me to meet the grey, I needed to fill out the application and mail it back to her. As long as everything was good, she would contact me to set up the meeting.

I printed up the application from her website, filled out all the information and mailed it to her. Ten days later she contacted me. Everything checked out fine. Would I like to meet Oneco X's and O's? I absolutely did! I was getting excited. She asked me if I could possibly come up to her ranch that night. I was a little taken aback by how quickly this meeting would occur, but saw no problem with meeting her that night.

Of course, in true Chrissy fashion, I was an hour late for our meeting. It was not because I left my house late. It was because I got lost. I did print out a map from Google telling me exactly how to get to her ranch, but I still managed to make a very, very wrong turn that lead me 30 minutes out of the way. GPS is a beautiful thing and I am so thankful for that technology. Back in 2004, I still used maps. How did I ever survive?

Anyway, I finally arrived at my destination. I rang the bell and heard all these doggies start barking. Too exciting! I wanted to play with all of them. The lady opened the door and asked me if I could go around back to the door leading into the basement. She was waiting for me when I came around the corner. I apologized profusely for being so late. She assured me it was no problem. She understood how confusing navigating back country roads could be at night.

She explained that she wanted me to come to the basement where I could spend some time alone with Oneco. There were too many dogs upstairs and she did not want me distracted. Seemed legit. She also explained that Oneco stayed in a room in the basement away from the other dogs because of her demeanor towards animals. I felt the anxiety in my stomach start to swirl. I was still nervous that she may not adjust well to my kids.

As we were speaking, the lady's daughter brought Oneco X's and O's into the room. My heart melted. She was beautiful and elegant and very docile. She was white, with little brown spots. I exclaimed that she had freckles, just like me. How cute! This grey was also very shy. She hardly made any eye contact with me. She was just as nervous as I was. I felt such a sweet aura coming from this grey.

Let's just say, Oneco X's and O's came home with me that night and the rest is history.

Rescue greyhound
O's with her squirrel buddy on a family camping trip. 

(I keep crying every time I start writing about her. I started this blog entry over a year ago and have had to stop writing it several times because I get so over come with sadness. I miss her so much.)

This dog, this beautiful, sweet greyhound was a precious, silly, loving, gentle, goofy, pain in the ass. She would become my shadow for the next 6 years. She was so patient and wonderful around my children. She loved the both of them. She greeted everyone with her signature kiss. She would raise her nose to yours, then rub her nose on yours. She was definitely not a guard dog. If someone would have tried to enter the house, she would have become their best friend.

O's howling at the motion activated ghost.
That being said, she was definitely an alert dog. Greyhounds are not known to be major barking dogs. Well, my greyhound loved to bark. She also loved to do that whole woowoowoo thing dogs do. It could be both hilarious and annoying depending on my mood. O's, as we called her, recognized the sound of our car. She could hear it coming up the street from 6 blocks away and would stand patiently at the door to greet whomever was coming home.

Her favorite time of the day was anytime I was cooking. She would stand in the doorway of the kitchen and crane her neck around the door, watching me cook. She was a tall, slender beast. In the mornings, when I would make the kids sandwiches for lunch, I would make sure to put the sandwiches as far onto the center of the table as possible. That didn't always work out so well. If I would turn my head for even a second to grab a baggie for the sandwich, the sandwich would be gone.

O's would be standing there licking her chops with a guilty look on her face. That dog loved peanut butter samwiches. And I can't tell you how many sticks of butter I have "lost". She would do a total drive by like some greyhound ninja. One minute, the stick of butter I was bringing to room temp for cookies would be high up on my kitchen island, the next minute......gone! Gone! O's would be hiding in the corner licking her chops, refusing to make eye contact with me. I never had to sweep the floor either. That dog would find every spec of a crumb and lick it right up.

One time she got a hold of an entire bag of Easter themed Reese's peanut butter cup miniatures. I came home from work and saw the empty plastic bag on the carpet and freaked out. I was so afraid she was gonna die that I watched her intently all night to make sure she was okay. Thankfully she was but she shit a bunch of pastel colored tinfoil for the next few days. Her shit really did shine like the unicorn dog she was.

And all these shenanigan's would always worry me. You see, Greys are special. They are all muscle and bone. I kid you not, when my grey was outside, you could literally see the sun shine through the skin by her ankles because it was just stretched skin and bone. But, that is how greyhounds are built. People would sometimes remark that my grey was too skinny because you could see her spine bone and ribs, but my vet assured me that she was the perfect weight. Too much weight on a grey, or any dog really, will cause premature health problems.

Business greyhound. 
Since greys have such delicate, thin skin, I had to take special precaution with bathing her and using flea prevention. Using too strong or harsh a product could not only burn her skin, but get into her bloodstream, making her sick. I also had to keep her on a strict, dog food only diet. Obviously, I did my part. It's not my fault my Grey was a high level ninja samurai warrior with stealth bomber skills when it came to food.

That and my dad, whom lived two yards away, liked to throw leftovers into my yard for the dog. I would let her outside and she would come running back in with a hot dog, a breaded pork chop or a hamburger in her mouth. At first I was like "Where the eff did you get that from?" I would chase her around to trying to get the food from her before she ate it. It didn't take me long to figure out who the culprit was. Caught him red handed one night when I got pelted by a hot dog as I was bringing my laundry in the house. Nice one dad!

Chasing around my dog was a lesson in futility though. She was a greyhound. She could run up to 43 miles an hour. I never won that battle nor did I ever win the battle with my dad to stop giving my dog pork chops and hot dogs. He meant well. He loved her too and he was old school. A lot of people used to feed their dogs scraps back in the day. Why waste food when my dog would enjoy it, even if it gave her the shits. She didn't care. I did but I was out ruled.

And while we are on the subject of speed, let me tell you, my grey was FAST! I loved watching her run around my big yard. You could tell when she was ready to go off because she would get in this stance, nod her head up and down a few times, then take off like a bat out of hell. She would do several laps around my yard, clumps of grass flying up from under her feet like you would see with horses running in a field. It was simply amazing.

Devil dog. Food thief. She hated when I dressed her up. 
My silly dog also had no problem walking around with her long, floppy tongue hanging out the side of her mouth. I would just sit there and laugh at her. It did not phase her in the least. She would walk around like that all day. She also liked to sleep on her back with her long skinny legs sprawled up in the air like a giant king crab, her tongue hanging out of her mouth, eyeballing us as we would walk by her, snickering. She didn't wag her tail like a normal dog. Hers whipped around in an almost circular motion. She was such a goofy dog and she fit in perfectly with our goofy family.

She loved the smell of her humans. If we left a blanket, a towel, a tee shirt, or even a sock on the floor, she would circle around it several times, then plop her butt down and lay on it. She didn't want the $100 dog bed we got her. She wanted Ricky's T-shirt, Heather's sock and my bedspread. She eventually became the owner of my favorite pink bedspread. No matter where I put it in the house, she would find it and sleep on it. She was getting older and I didn't have the heart to take it from her. It became hers.

O's rarely chewed anything but she did love to eat my lipsticks and chapsticks. They were her favorites. Sometimes I would come home from work and she would be standing in the doorway to greet me, like she always did, and I would notice pink or red lipstick on her face and around her mouth. All I could do was laugh. She found one of mommy's lipsticks again.

And taking this dog for a walk, what a production that was. It would take me 45 minutes to walk her around one city block. She had to sniff everything. She had to pee on everything. She had to walk up on my parents porch just to check and see if we were visiting them that day. Then she had to smell every flower in their yard and pee on them too. God forbid we saw people on our walk. We had to visit them too so she could give them kisses. Often times, I would have to stop and try to pry something out of her mouth that she should not have picked up. It was always an adventure with this dog.

As for her relationship with Max, our rabbit, it was not what you would expect. It's kind of ironic that I had a greyhound and a rabbit since fake rabbits are used to lure greyhounds around the racetracks when they are racing. Max and O's greeted each other every morning with a nose kiss. She would often go over to Max's pen and give him nose kisses through the mesh of his cage. He would give her a nose kiss back. When Max died, we were all very upset, including O's. He was her buddy.

Max was the only animal O's liked. She definitely was not a fan of other dogs. She had no problem nipping one in the mouth if they got too close to her. She didn't outwardly attack them but she was definitely uncomfortable around them. She kind of kept her distance when possible. However, dogs are known to be curious and a few times one of the visiting dogs would get too close to her and get a little surprise nip from her.

I think her dislike of other animals stems from her upbringing. O's was not a racing greyhound. She was a brood bitch. She was a breeder. And aside from the blue identification numbers tattooed in both her ears, the only other signs of her past were the numerous scars she had on her head and her body. The scars were little puncture marks from her puppies biting at her. Greyhound pups are often called little piranhas by breeders because their teeth are that sharp.

O's had five litters of greyhound pups before I adopted her. I was able to research some of her children whom were still living in Rhode Island where she was from. Several of her children were racers. Some performed very well. One of her sons was worth $35,000 on the racing circuit. My girl had good genes. I also understood that after five litters of pups, my girl was exhausted. I understood why she wanted nothing to do with other animals.

Momma to five broods taking a rest.

Except bunnies. She seemed to like bunnies. Yes, she would see one in the yard and chase it. Thankfully she never caught one. Before we got her, bunnies loved coming into our yard. We never bothered them. We would feed them so they became comfortable with us. Well, they became as comfortable as they could be. We were humans. I will say though, it was nothing for me to walk down to my clotheslines and pass a few bunnies sunning themselves in the grass. Some would run but a few would just lay there, unphased.

Once we got O's, that kind of ended for the most part. We still had a few die hard bunnies that refused to give up their time in our yard. So, a lot of times, before I would let O's out, I would go outside and check the yard to make sure there were no rabbits in it. If there were any bunnies, I would shoo them away. Some of them listened, others were like nah, I am staying. I am going to make that dog chase me out of this yard.

Unfortunately, every spring a mother rabbit would make a nest in my yard and have her babies. I am not sure if it was the same mother every year but every spring, I would come across another bunny nest. In order to protect them from the lawn mower and my dog, I would cordon off the area with white garden fencing. My grey would literally go out everyday and check on the bunnies. I of course went with her every time. She didn't hurt them, she would just go over and make sure they were still there. Once she got confirmation they were still there, she went about her business in other parts of the yard.

This little guy was too cute!

No worries. The momma die not reject her bunnies. She knew our scents. 

bunny nest
Precious baby bunnies. The momma always put her nests in the greyhound's yard. 

When it came time for the bunnies to leave the nest and go live under the blue spruce in another yard, my grey would get confused and a little sad that they were not longer hiding in the hole. I had already known they had left so I would sit on the porch. O's would run over to the fencing, run back to me, then run over to the fencing, then run back to me. It was sad and sweet and funny all at the same time. I just kept thinking of the irony of it all.

Laying by the bottom of the steps. 
The only thing I think she loved more than bunnies, sticks of butter, my pink bedspread and licking the inside of peanut butter jars was us. She loved my kids. She was very perceptive to their vibe. She could not do the flight of steps to the upstairs bedrooms, a lot of Greys have trouble with more than a few stairs because of their bone structure, but if one of the kids were sick or sad, she always stayed closer to them. She would lay at the bottom of the steps. She just knew. She just knew with all of us.

She would hang with me on the back porch stairs on beautiful spring and summer nights while I sipped wine and just stared into space. She slept next to my bed every night. She greeted me at the door, tail spinning, every time I came home from somewhere. She watched me cook. She listened to music and watched TV with me. She helped me go through my divorce. She was my dog. She was a girl's best friend and the best dog anyone could ever ask for.

Eventually my grey started getting goofier than normal. She was walking into things. She would appear ditzy at times. She was choking on her food more. She was struggling to go up and down the three stairs to the backyard. She would wince in pain sometimes when going to lie down. This time, when I took her to the vet, she went to the bathroom in the back seat of my car. She had never done that before.

The vet looked her over her. We talked about her symptoms. The diagnosis was, my grey was 90% senile, her teeth were going bad and she had arthritis. There wasn't much I could do about her senility. Her dental work was going to cost a lot of money. There was a treatment they could do for her arthritis but it would have to be done every six to eight weeks for the rest of her life at a price tag of $350 per session. My mouth dropped a little when I heard that.

Before I could say anything, the vet told me that my greyhound had already lived to her life expectancy. She was ten and Greys have an average life expectancy of anywhere between 7-12 years depending on if they were racers or not. The fact that she had 5 litters of pups and was not spayed reduced that number a little bit. She gently told me that she could tell my grey lived a happy life and that I took good care of her. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

My vet recommended that I give her a children's Motrin or Tylenol when my grey was in pain. When I was ready, she would help me do what needed to be done. She told me I gave O's another year of life that she probably wouldn't have had, had I not adopted her. I was not sure if she was just trying to be comforting to me but she seemed so genuine.

It was a quiet ride home. My head and my heart were hurting. I explained to the kids that we were going to see how things went with O's and take it from there but that unfortunately, O's was getting old and frail. I got to spend one more spring and summer on the back porch with my grey. I cherished the moments with her. By the end of the summer she could no longer do the three steps down to the yard.

Heather and I would try carrying her up and down the steps but while she was frail, she was still 68 pounds. Her awkward shape made it hard for us to lift her. Several times we almost fell carrying her and several times she winced in pain during the process. She was also starting to have accidents in the old kitchen on the other side of my half double because she dreaded the steps. ( I owned both sides of the house and had a doorway connecting them.)

I started laying newspapers and pee pads in there for her. That worked for a little while but eventually she was starting to go everywhere in the house. We were having a hard time clipping her toe nails. I hurt her a few times trying to clip them because the quick in a greyhounds nails is so long. Eventually her toenails started falling off. She was wincing in pain more and more when she moved. It hurt her to lay down. The children's Tylenol was not working for her anymore.

And through all of this, she still knew who we were and she would still greet us at the door and hang with us and give us kisses. Some days she didn't even seem sick and old but they were rare days. It was breaking my heart and I knew I was being selfish for allowing this to go on any longer. I was allowing this dog to suffer because I did not want to let her go. How was that taking good care of her?

Dog best friend
Girl's Best Friend
On November 10th, 2010, I made my grey a Delmonico steak. I fed her all the peanut butter sandwiches she could eat. I gave her a stick of butter. I laid down next to her on my former pink bedspread and caressed her soft white fur. She looked at me with those big, brown, loving eyes. She gave me one of her famous nose kisses although her nose was no longer cold and wet. It was dry and crusty. It had been for some time now. She laid her head close to mine.

I cried so many tears. I told her I loved her. I thanked her for helping me through so many challenges and sad times. I apologized for the days I was crabby or moody. I begged her for her forgiveness for what I was going to do that night. She just looked at me with love and adoration.

It's true what they say about dogs. They love you unconditionally. They don't care what you look like, what you weigh, how much money you make, what type of career you have or whether you are as funny as you like to think you are, they just love you. They just want to please you and make you happy. O's did all of this for me. Some days I took it for granted but everyday, I loved that dog. I will always love my sweet, beautiful grey.

The next day I came home from work and opened the front door. My grey was not there to greet me. She was not there the next day or the day after that either.

A few mornings later, I woke up and looked over to my pink bedspread that was still lying crumpled on the floor of my bedroom. My heart raced with excitement. She was there! She was snuggled up in a ball sleeping on her bedspread. How could this be? I literally had to rub my eyes because I could not believe them.

Snowball and O's. My puppies. Miss them so much.
I guess I was still groggy and half asleep. I guess it was all still too fresh in my mind. I guess it was part of the grieving process. She wasn't really there. There was no way she could be there and I knew that in my heart. The king sized pillow I was laying on next to her the day I let her go was still by the blanket. It looked like her white body curled up on the blanket. My heart sunk so deep into my chest. I was so angry at my eyes for tricking me like that. I sat in my bed the whole morning, crying.

My grey's ashes were sprinkled around Lacey Memorial Pet Cemetery. She joined my other beloved dog, Snowball. His ashes were also sprinkled around Lacey Memorial. They were together on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge now. I hope my greyhound is nice to him. He was a special dog too and I loved him as much as I loved her.

I know I am not the only person in the world to lose a beloved pet, but at the time, you feel so alone. It hurts. It hurts like hell and I know most of you reading this can relate 100% to what I am saying. But for how painful it was to lose all of my pets, the unconditional love they gave me is the reason it hurt so bad. With true love comes true pain. And it was worth everything. I will never forget my dogs and my rabbit and how much of a positive impact they had on my life, especially on those incredibly hard days where the depression and disappointment was almost unbearable.

losing a pet

Eventually I will rescue another animal. Right now, I am not financially able to do so and I am not sure where the road is going to take me. But I do know, I will rescue another animal one day, and that animal will rescue me in return.

I can't see through my tears right now but I am so glad I was finally able to finish this very special blog entry.

I dedicate this blog to all the precious animals who have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge


you'll meet me in the light

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