Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And Pogo makes three

The legal limit where I live is 3 dogs. I considered my age and the average life span of a dachshund and decided that I could treat myself to one puppy. The pup and I would become senior citizens together. I really wanted a standard wire-haired dachshund. I had fostered a mini wire and loved their personalities. I had had a standard, black and tan smooth dachshund when I was a child. Standards were the norm back then (in the dark ages, lol) whereas minis are more common these days. A combination of the coat and size seemed perfect. I started to research good breeders of wire standards.

Well, "man proposes ........".

Along came Pogo. I got an email from a rescue friend in Quebec that there was a mini teckel who on death row at the local SPCA. My rescue accepted him into our adoption program and I agreed to be his foster mom. Another member of our rescue come out to meet the transport just to see what kind of a dachshund a "teckel" was. Dachshunds were newer to this rescue and they were facinated with the variety of dachshund colours and coats and sizes. Little did they know that teckel is just the European name for a dachshund.

When the transport arrived, inside the plastic crate was this scared and shivering little black and tan, silver dapple doxie. He had been scheduled for euthanasia due to his "skin condition" and aggression. (The shelter manager at the SPCA realized that Pogo was not aggressive but rather, just scared out of his mind. He had been in an apartment all of his life, never going outside until he was brought to the shelter along with a 16 month old doxie. The owners were moving and the dogs were not going along on the move. The younger doxie was deemed adoptable, but not little Pogo). Some thought Pogo's baldness was due to a food allergy; some of the transporters thought he had mange. I took one look at him and knew exactly what we were dealing with. Poor Pogo has Dachshund Pattern Baldness. This phenomenon is found in smooth dachshunds particularly. Due to his dapple genes, Pogo's one blue eye is a bit misformed as well. (Most dapples have one dark eye and one blue eye.)

You can see his Dachshund Pattern Baldness here

Pogo standing

Pogo really was to be a foster and was listed on the rescue's website of available dogs.

Valentin had other plans.

On one hand, adopting Heidi had been a mistake. Having a buddy did not bring back the confidence that Valentin had developed around my golden retriever. With her handicap, Heidi was just one more person that scared Valentin felt he had to protect.

Valentin was thrilled with Pogo. I had fostered several other dachshunds and Valentin did not react to them as he did to Pogo. Within a few days, Valentin started to bond with Pogo. Valentin became more confident as he grew to trust Pogo to help him with the duties of being the "men" of the house. They raced and wrestled, played and slept together. They truly became brothers as you can see here. Those are Valentin's hind legs and tail wrapped around Pogo's shoulders in typical "dachshund pile" fashion.


I maintain that I did not fail Foster 101, but rather, Valentin failed Foster Brother 101.

That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Aren't all dogs "special"?

Yes, everyone's beloved pet is special.

I named this blog "... life with 3 special dachshunds" because each of my 3 are particularly special plus their special needs. I started this blog to show how dogs with special needs, be it physical or behavioural, can have happy lives.

Heidi's special need is obvious; her IVDD, her cart (or wheelchair) and her diapers. Her love of life and people make her "differences" fade away within seconds of meeting her. She is truly special rather than special needs.

Valentin's special need is an invisible type of disability or special need. Due to the lack of socialization and mistreatment during the first 18 months of his life, he has fear aggression issues with people. From the first moment I met Valentin, he was fine with me, but he is definitely not comfortable with the rest of the world. As long as I control his environment and exposure to people, he can have a happy life; but it requires a constant awareness on my part to ensure he is not put in a situation that would trigger him. I also work with him on an on-going basis following a desensitization program specifically designed for him by an animal behaviourist. As our behaviourist has said, "Valentin is as much as special needs kid as Heidi". He has improved. Valentin is comfortable at his doggie day care and gives at least one of the staff members kisses. I expect that he will be a "work in progress" for all of his life, and I am fine with that. With me, he is as loving a little furkid as anyone could ever ask for.

Pogo was an indoor dog 24/7 before coming to live with us. His special need is learning about the great outdoors. He is almost perfect at using pee pads, but his transition to also using the great outdoors as a bigger pee pad is very slow. Pogo will hold it until he gets inside to his papers. We were out travelling for the day and I did not realize that Pogo had not eliminated once, although we were outside for a great deal of the time. The poor boy was so happy to get home and rush into the bathroom to his pee papers. You could almost hear the sigh of relief. He is also still learning about the great outdoors beyond being the world's biggest pee pad. Wind is scary, this invisible hand that pushes him along. Rain, cold and snow are things to be avoided at all costs (although the silly boy LOVES to eat snow and will sneak snowballs into the house, hidden in his mouth). His dachshund pattern baldness is a special need in so far as he gets cold more easily and usually wears a t-shirt inside for most of the year. When he came into rescue, he was misdiagnosed as having a food allergy. We do want to raise the awareness of this phenomenon that is more common to dachshunds.
The other thing that makes Pogo special, is not a need, but a characteristic. This boy can JUMP!! So far, he has gotten two loaves of bread down from the kitchen counter top. He can jump straight up, shoulder height. I am so grateful that he has (so far) not been able to combine forward motion with his leaps. We are working on keeping him on the floor, as this behaviour will almost inevitably lead to back injuries if he continues. Some statistics say that one in four dachshunds will have some sort of back episode in their lifetime, while others say one in five. My hope is that through education, the use of ramps, etc, that the odds are slowly improving for this wonderful little breed.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Next came our "special" girl, Heidi Ho Ho

Within two weeks of losing Champ, I had to take an extended business trip back to the company's head office. Valentin and I would end up living in an hotel room for 4 months (blessedly, a pet friendly hotel). I think being away from our home, the familiar surroundings and Champ's scent made it easier for Valentin to deal with his buddy's absence, but I could see that he was lonely and needed another friend.

I searched the DRNA (Dachshund Rescue of North America, http://www.drna.org/) website, looking at the furkids who had been waiting the longest for their forever homes and fell in love with Miss Heidi Ho Ho. There was something about her picture on the internet that kept drawing me back to her. The fact that she was a "special needs" girl did not deter me. Due to my working hours, I did not feel comfortable taking on a dog that needed expressing, but Heidi was incontinent and diapers easily handled that.

Heidi had been found by the side of a country, dirt road. Although it was early December in South Carolina, the people who found her kept her outside in a box on their front porch for a few days, in case someone passing by recognized her. She then was turned into the local kill shelter as a stray.

When no one claimed her after 7 days, she was scheduled to be killed. You see, Heidi was found already paralized. We estimate her injuries were 2 years old at that point and she had wear marks on her feet that she had previously been in a cart. YOU figure out how a paralized dog ran away from home. Heidi`s age was estimated at 7 to 9 yrs old at that time.

Blessedly, a wonderful lady named Mardy realized how special Heidi was, and stepped forward to become Heidi's foster mom. Mardy nursed Heidi back to health (she was very thin, had a UTI, her legs and feet were very scraped up from dragging herself over the rough ground). Heidi hated being in that cage at the shelter, her nose was bloodied from banging it against the cage bars. Here is a picture of her poor little feet when she came into rescue.Photobucket

Mardy and I talked several times about Heidi's needs and how I would look after her, working and being single. In theory, on the phone, it was all good.

After being approved, volunteers helped to transport Heidi from South Carolina to the Canadian border at Niagara Falls. It was a 2 day car ride for my girl, she loved every minute of it and charmed each of her transporters. Heidi is a real trooper. I will confess to panic as the transport pulled away, leaving me holding Heidi. "What had I gotten myself into?" "How could I possibly care for her?" I wasn't even sure how to put her into her cart, let alone change diapers, etc. The first 5 or 6 weeks I guarded the last diaper that Mardy had sent. Each new diaper was carefully measured against the sample, so that I would get the hole for her tail in exactly the right place. With time, I did relax. Heidi was very patient with me. Today, I can free-hand cut the tail holes and change her diapers with my eyes closed.

We were in the hotel room for another month, then 2 months with my sister while I had knee surgery. Heidi did not actually settle in to her new home until 3 months after she became a Canadian. She took it all in stride. Heidi reigns over whatever situation she finds herself in.

Heidi was with Mardy for about 6 months before I adopted her. Being a foster mom myself, I know how hard it was for her to let Heidi go so far away, knowing that she would most likely never see Heidi again. We have stayed in touch for these past 2.5 years and 14 months after the adoption, Heidi and Mardy got to meet again in Virginia, at the Mid-Atlantic Doxie Phest. It was a great reunion, Heidi obviously remembered Mardy and I got to thank Mardy in person for the wonderful gift of Miss Heidi Ho Ho.

Here is Heidi in her newest cart. This was taken at one of Heidi's public education presentations. We teach children the proper way to meet a strange animal and that having "special needs" does not mean being different or excluded from day to day life.


This was the first day with her new brother, Valentin


Here they are today, as close as if they have been together all their lives.Photobucket

Monday, December 22, 2008

White Christmas

2008 will be a White Christmas for all of Canada. The last time this happened was 1971.
We certainly have more than our fair share of snow. We have received half the season's average snow fall within the past week. I am so glad that I bought a snow blower. It was not cheap, but well worth the investment. Even with the machine, my knees and hips are aching for this weekend's workout. Without the machine, I would be lying in a snowbank, probably dead from a heart attack.
Our doggie run has about 3 feet of snow, so obviously the boys are not getting their exercise out there. Instead, Pogo is finding all sorts of mischief to get into while I am at work. (He has now learned how to unzip my backpack.) I was going to send them to the basement during the work day, where they would have lots of room to run and play, but with -20 C temperatures today, I felt it was too chilly to leave them there. Valentin and his long hair would be quite happy, but Pogo, with his thin fur and dachshund pattern baldness, would feel it. Even in the kitchen, Pogo wraps himself up like a mummy in his blankie on the heated dog bed.

Heidi's intro will be coming shortly, just wanted you to know that we have not been buried (yet) in the snow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Multi-task blogging

I have been AWOL for a few days.

Heidi's introduction is postponed for a third time :-(

I am a volunteer with the UAN (United Animal Nations) EARS (Emergency Animal Response Support) team. We have been working with the HSUS and HSI at a puppy mill seizure.

I had the honour of making two posts to the UAN's blog. Two blogs for the price of one. In today's economy, bargains are extra special.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Farewell to a rescuer

Again, my intended entry has been set aside, this time to mark the passing of a woman who cared deeply; for her family, her friends and for every animal who did not know the comfort of a loving forever home.

The rescue world was shocked and saddened today with the news of the sudden passing of Barb Kemsley. Barb was a Board member of Tiny Paws Dog Rescue and a mainstay rescue transporter, participating in transports for a wide range of rescue organizations. She spent many weekends on the highway, helping animals to foster care or forever homes.

One special project that Barb managed was obtaining and distributing paw print shaped decals and magnets that declared a vehicle to be an "Animal Rescue Transport Vehicle". Transporters all over our province have these affixed to their vehicles. These help us to identify fellow transporters as we hand over our precious cargo, from driver to driver (Barb, herself, being one of these most regular drivers). I should like to think that a bit of Barb's spirit now rides with each one of us who displays this symbol on our vehicle. It will be our own, private, Highway to a Hero.

Barb's passing is sudden, she was only 45.

Barb leaves behind a husband, daughter and son.

My deepest sympathies to Barb's family, as well as the many expressions of condolence from the rescue world.

Rest in Peace, Barb. We've got this run.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day of Mourning

My next entry should have been about adopting Miss Heidi. Instead, I need to mark the passing of a friend's golden retriever.

I used to house/dog sit for her when I lived in her area. Her 3 goldens, my golden and my doxies all played, ate and slept together (all of them in the big bed with me).

If I were still in the area, I am sure I would have been house sitting for her this past week. While she was away, someone poisoned one of her dogs. Just hours before she arrived home, the sitter let her 2 goldens (one of her 3 has already passed) out into her very securely fenced acre+ yard. When they came back in, Dodger was foaming at the mouth and collapsed. He died of poisoning. My friend was in the air on the way home and had no idea she would arrive to a dead dog. She is beyond devastated right now.

If I had been there, could I have some how prevented this? Or would Valentin now be dead too?

We have the evidence that he was deliberately poisoned, we have a suspect. What we don't have is proof, just a dead beloved fur friend and some ugly suspicions. Dodger is not the only pet in the neighbourhood to have been murdered.

I feel as if I have lost one of my own. I can't count the number of times I have stayed at her home, nor the hours that I have spent with Dodger and his brothers. To bring this even more closer to home for me, is that her remaining golden, who came in unharmed, was my former foster dog. He was rescued a day before he was scheduled to be shot. We thought we had brought him to safety. He was a stray in a very northern, isolated, native village. He is a golden/arctic wolf cross; a miniature golden with blue eyes. Welcome to "civilization".

I know her yard is 100% secure. Valentin has been in that yard countless times and could never find a crack to escape. It is almost an acre of backyard, so there isn't any room for anything to have "accidentally" gotten into her yard.

You can be sure that I will now be checking my dog run before letting my boys out. I live in a very pet friendly neighbourhood, but anyone could still toss anything over our gate. Afterall, we never, ever dreamed that this might happen to Dodger.
Dogspeed, sweet, sweet Dodger Candle - you never hurt anyone, even when little Miss Heidi would nip at your paws, you never reacted back. You did not deserve this death.
Give all your furkids an extra Puppy 1 tonight, for Dodger --- RIP my sweet friend.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Introducing the furkids, in order of adoption

First came Valentin. He is my "middle child" in age, but the first to be adopted. When a rescue foster home adopts their foster, we usually say that they "failed Fostering 101". Well, in Valentin's case, I managed to fail "Transporting 101".

I was living about 350 miles away from my family and was back home for a long weekend. Valentin had been adopted in the area, but his adopters could no longer keep him and he needed to be returned to his home rescue, run by a friend of mine. I had agreed to pick up Valentin while visiting family and return him to the rescue after the long weekend . At that time, I had a golden retriever; I had had goldens for 30 years and was heavily involved with my local golden retriever rescue. My childhood, standard dachshund was a dim memory. Just to add to the weekend, I had also transported a shepherd puppy and chinchilla (yes, chinchilla, rescued from a fur farm) to waiting adopters. My poor family never knew what critters I might be bringing along with me.

Valentin came into rescue at the age of 18 months. Sadly, he had not experienced any human kindness in those first 18 months. He had learned early in life that people hurt him, and he responded accordingly.

He barked at me when I went to retrieve him. In my naivety, I told him to stop barking, and just picked him up. I did not understand at the time, the shocked looks, as Valentin did as he was told and allowed me to carry him out to my van. My golden was in the van and Valentin immediately took comfort with this big "body guard". From that moment on, Champ and Valentin were buddies and Valentin accepted and loved me almost as quickly. By the time we had returned home on the Monday, he was "mine".

Valentin will be 6 this coming February and he still has fear aggression issues with people. We are working on it, he may always be a "special needs kid" in this area. I can do anything with him and he gives kisses to the ladies at his doggie day care; so we know he can progress, the question will be, how much of his first 18 months of abuse will never quite leave him. We have a wonderful behaviourist to help us expand Valentin's comfort zone with the world. He is great with other animals, it is just the human race that he is afraid of (with just cause for what has been done to him in the past).

My long haired boy is truly my Valentine (yes, his birthday is Feb 14). He is a beautiful, long hair, red brindle boy. You can see why he was used for breeding purposes at the beginning of his life (by the way, he is modeling a harness purchased in support of Dachshund Rescue of Houston).

We lost our golden boy very suddenly to leukemia about 6 months after adopting Valentin. Valentin had started to overcome some of his fears, but regressed dreadfully without his large body guard. He grieved the loss of his buddy and tried to take Champ's place as our "protector".

Dachshunds are pack animals and so I began the search for another dachshund buddy for him. That is how Heidi came into our lives. He loves Heidi, his special needs "sister" who was adopted next. We moved back to my family's area and I started to foster dachshunds. Valentin bonded with our foster Pogo, which resulted in Pogo's adoption.

Their stories will be next.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In the beginning, I started a blog

Well, here I am, in the 21st century, or at least I have a toe in the 21st century.

I am not on Facebook, or My Space, don't have an ipod or MP3player, not even sure what all those things are; but, I have a blog Question Mark .

Why? Why start a blog?

Well, as life gets busier and busier, it is harder and harder to keep up with friends and family. So, a "one-stop" shopping overview of what is going on in my life seemed like a good idea.

Most of what goes on in my life, is involved somehow, some way, with my dogs, so Dachshund Tails seemed like a good, buyer beware, title.

Who is this person, other than obviously a "dog" person?

First, yes, I am a "dog" person. I am owned by 3 rescued, miniature dachshunds: Heidi, a physically challenge senior, Valentin a 5 yr old who has not always seen the better side of mankind, and Pogo, our newest addition, a 2 yr old (and therefore, teenager) with all the bounce and impetuousness of youth.

Heidi is a big motivation behind starting a blog. So many dachshunds suffer back injuries (current statistics say 1 in 4 dogs) because of their body shape and so many of those are prematurely euthanized due to lack of information about the possiblities for their lives and exactly what their day to day care would entail. This is a way to share what it is like for one girl, who was saved at the eleventh hour by a rescue group. She has come to be one of the lights of my life and a wonderful ambassador for both rescue and handicapped causes.

I am a Christian, who tries to live her faith. I am human, I am weak, I do not always achieve the grace that I am called to strive for in this life.

I am an animal rescue volunteer. I foster, fundraise, transport and use my network of contacts to bring needs and resources together.

I am an accountant, by day.

I am a new homeowner.

I am on the "back 9" of life (although I still feel like I am just teeing off), playing a single round.

I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a great-aunt.

And, now, I am a blogger as well.

I can't wait to see what else will be added to the list.