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Archive for July 9th, 2010

Back with the pack in Santa Fe

Meet my new posse.

For the next week, I’ll be serving as caretaker for:

Sophie, a gigantic, sweet and speckled nine-year-old great Pyrenees who recently had one of her front legs amputated due to bone cancer.

Charlie, an affable, seven-year-old golden retriever with a congenital respiratory disorder and a severe fear of thunderstorms.

Lakota, an 11-year-old bulldog with issues both behavioral and gastrointestinal. He’s prone to snapping (especially at Ace) and known far and wide for his frequent, most audible and highly pungent flatulence.

Then there’s Cleo: a five-year-old cat who has no issues, it seems. After hiding from Ace for two days – and what cat in her right mind wouldn’t? — she’s taken to approaching and nuzzling him, to Ace’s unending delight.

In exchange for looking after them, making sure they get their food, their meds and ample amounts of attention, I get to stay for a week in a lovely and peaceful home in Santa Fe, to my unending delight.

All four pets belong to a writer/editor and her veterinarian husband, who have gone to New York to attend a family reunion, leaving me with four animals (five counting Ace) and two pages of instructions.

What with all the medications, it’s a little complex, but I should have it all down about the time they come back. Sophie gets a pill to help deal with the effects of her chemotherapy treatment a couple of days ago. Charlie gets tranquilizers because afternoon thunderstorms tend to roll in almost daily. Lakota gets half a Rimadyl and some Beano with meals. He takes his meals in a separate room with the doors closed – in one of those bowls designed to slow down fast eaters — lest he get any ideas about snatching someone else’s.

It’s a five-water-bowl house, six counting Ace’s. Ace has adapted to the new pack. He seeks out Cleo, is amicable with Sophie and Charlie, but steers clear of Lakota, who has gone at him a few times.

The first time Ace laid him down with one paw. Two other times, Lakota jumped Ace, but, luckily, Lakota telegraphs his attacks, with an Elvis-like lip quiver first, and his bites are not too intense. I know this because the second time he went after Ace, I stuck my foot in between them. Generally, though, my “dog shouter*” (patent pending) techniques work to quell any misbehavior.

Sometimes, Lakota’s humongous tongue seems to get stuck outside his mouth, generally after he’s been napping (he snores, too), but when I touch it, it usually slides back in.

Sophie is easy to deal with, and has quickly adapted to being a three-legged dog. She was up and around the day after the surgery. But I have to be sure and immediately scoop her poop. Because of her chemotherapy treatment, her “output” will be toxic for the next couple of days, and both Charlie and Lakota tend to eat poop.

Charlie is the biggest attention seeker. He makes strange noises deep in his throat, like a two-pack-a-day smoker, because of respiratory problems and difficulty swallowing. “If it persists, and it seems like he’s choking, just hit his sides to help him clear up what’s in there,” my instructions say.

Lakota is described in the note this way:

“Can snap on occasion … If he starts to snarl at any of the others, yell ‘Hey!’ very loudly. If that doesn’t work distract him with food … In general, keep him apart from the others, especially when vying for your attention, in a close space or when food is nearby.”

It all requires some logistical forethought, some maneuvering, but after day one, it’s going smoothly. In the days ahead, I’ll keep you posted on how we all fare, and on our travels around dog-friendly Santa Fe.

Dog dies in parked car in Frederick

A Labrador retriever died after being left in a car parked outside a Costco in Frederick, Maryland.

A Maltese died after being left in a parked van while his owner went for a swim in a New York park.

A rash of similar cases have been reported across the heat-waved northeast, leading animal advocates to reiterate what they have long said — but apparently not everybody has heard: Dogs should never be left in parked cars, especially not in summer

In the Maryland case, Frederick County Animal Control says the dog was left in a car on Tuesday, as temperatures climbed to 104 degrees, the Washington Post reported. Authorities were notified about the dog, but by the time investigators arrived the dog was dead and the owner of the car was gone. Authorities are still investigating.

Earlier this week, a Bronx man left his Maltese inside his van at FDR State Park in Westchester, while he went for an hour-long swim, the New York Daily News reported.

Someone saw the dog and called park police, but by the time it was moved to the shade, the dog died. The owner of the dog was charged with animal cruelty.

Off base: Fort Knox won’t help return dog

A Kentucky mother of seven wants to gets something more precious than gold back — her dog — but Fort Knox is standing in the way.

Kim Church, of Radcliff, wants the army base to return her family’s 2-year-old Weimaraner, Riley, who was impounded in mid-June after either wandering onto, or being taken to, the secure base.

Fort Knox’s stray animal facility sold the dog to a new owner 11 days after she was picked up by military police, according to the Press-Enterprise, in Hardin County, Kentucky.

The dog disappeared from the family’s yard. Her tags — but not her pink collar — were found in the yard.

Church said she searched all over town for Riley, called city and county pounds and put an ad on Craigslist. A caller notified her that she saw a dog that looked like Riley at the Fort Knox PX, where the post was hosting a pet adoption fair.

The post’s animal shelter is not open to the public —  like much else at Fort Knox. Instead, it adopts out animals through PetFinder.com and adoption fairs.

Church said she called the facility, but post officials cited HIPAA — the same federal law which prevents hospitals from disclosing patient information – and refused to shed any light on Riley’s whereabouts.

A spokeswoman told the newspaper that a Weimeraner was found by military police and was taken to the pound, bu twould not release any information about the new adoptive owner.

Church filed a report with Radcliff police, claiming her dog was stolen. She’s launched a Facebook page to rally support for her cause and posted an updated advertisement on Craigslist, explaining the details of Riley’s disappearance and subsequent adoption.

“The vet told me I’d have to take this to the Pentagon,” Church said. “If that’s what it takes. …”

(An update on this story can be found here.)