Whole Dog Journal's Blog May 31, 2018

Puppies Are the Cure When You Are Feeling a Little Overwhelmed

Posted at 10:26AM - Comments: (10)

So rewarding to receive happy emails and texts from the owners of former foster pups. This is Poppy, a coonhound from the last big litter I fostered. She even has an impressive CV (see ellis-architects.com/people and click on Poppy).

I imagine that everyone who works or volunteers in animal rescue, or human social services, gets overwhelmed at times with what seems to be a relentless tide of innocents in need of help. Intellectually, I know that there are FAR fewer unwanted pets being brought to animal shelters and fewer animals being in euthanized in shelters than when I was a young person, and yet at times the sheer volume of dogs I’m aware of who are in need of rescue, fostering, transportation, and medical help is just crushing.

I’m fostering a mama dog and her nine puppies. They were surrendered to my local shelter when the pups were about a week old. I’m glad someone brought them all to the shelter; they could have as easily drowned the puppies or dumped the whole bunch in the woods. The shelter was able to improve their chances immeasurably: They were all treated for the hideous flea infestation they had, as well as the intestinal worms AND a lovely case of coccidiosis. The very-thin mama started to put a little weight on immediately. And, in a couple of months, they will be well-started in housetraining and basic manners, well-started on life-saving vaccinations, get spayed/neutered and microchipped, and will be adopted to screened, qualified homes. Things are looking up – even though they were set back a tad by the kennel cough they picked up in the week they were at the shelter being treated for coccidia, before they came to my house for fostering. With good home care and treatment, we will pull them all through this, no problem.

A big dog, Angus was hard to place, but this cutie finally hit a jackpot of a home, with an active couple who own a comfortable home with a giant yard and other friendly pets. Photo by April Kelly.

But I can’t help but think: Who failed to spay the mama dog in the first place – or at the very least, failed to contain her so she couldn’t get pregnant? Who failed to seek out treatment for what had to have been several months of diarrhea caused by a coccidia infection? Or even as little as a flea preventative? Why do people who don’t care for their pets HAVE pets?

And I’m far from the only one. Friends from all over are dealing with similarly depressing situations. One friend who runs a doggie daycare has DOZENS of hounds in foster care in her facility. Another friend who fosters for her local shelter is in despair over the city government’s recent decision to award the shelter-management contract to a new organization, one without a track record of any kind, despite the current management’s accomplishment of achieving the best adoption rate in that shelter’s history. Another friend has been fostering a special-needs dog for over a year, and has been steadily improving this dog’s health and behavior while seeking an appropriate home for the dog – an admittedly difficult task, as the dog shouldn’t be kept with any other dogs or cats – but without a single lead.

Puppy kisses make it possible to go on.

On some days, like today, I am just a little overwhelmed by it all.

The best cure for this? Little bits of good news. Facebook photos of a former hard-to-place† foster dog, depicted sleeping sprawled out on a beautiful sofa (indicating a loving owner and comfortable living situation) and romping in a grassy field with new toys in his mouth. Positive emailed reports from owners of the last puppies I fostered, who are now thriving in homes all over the state. And, just now, a few minutes spent sitting in a pen full of puppies, kissing their little heads and smelling puppy breath as they lick my nose and cheeks, and feeling those little tails wagging furiously. That will have to do for now.

Comments (10)

I know it is the current trend and done with good intentions, but I prefer to adopt from a shelter that cannot manage/afford the spay/neuter and reimburses so one can go to a vet they feel comfortable with...and some of the vets mentioned above are clearly looking out for their own self-interest, not the well-being of their clients either human or canine or feline. I also go permission to spay at an older age of 6 months. As for affording care, consider the pet insurance.

Posted by: robin r | June 3, 2018 6:30 PM    Report this comment

I agree that people MUST to be responsible dog/cat/animal owners, but I truly think that vets are charging way too much for some services. Having a 9 lb. dog's anal glands expressed by a technician for $19 is a lot. It's even worse if the glands are empty (i.e., glands weren't the problem) and the entire $19 was still charged !
Recently I was waiting in line to have my dog looked at and the elderly lady (probably in her 80's) ahead of me wanted her dog treated for an ear infection. I could not believe all the tests they wanted to perform. It totaled over $500 and the dog hadn't even been seen yet! Unfortunately she couldn't pay that so she was turned away - I still can't get my mind off that poor lady and sweet under 5 pound poodle who needed help. There are ways around numerous high tech tests and still being an effective vet. After the lady left with her dog, I asked the technician why couldn't they at least recommend something over-the-counter like Sovereign Silver. The answer was that they can only order the tests and medicines they sell. I thought vets were there mainly for our animals not money?

Posted by: Dog lady | June 3, 2018 4:09 PM    Report this comment

Kimberly sums it up well. We lost our beloved bulldog a year ago. I would love to fill the huge hole in our lives with a rescue, but as a newly retired person now on a budget, I am terrified of the potential vet bills. I know there are so many dogs and cats in need of a loving home, and daily I wish I could take one, but I simply can not make that commitment. My daughter recently adopted a dog, estimated to be around 7 years old, whose monthly insurance bill is $55 per month just for major medical coverage. Full coverage would be $99. I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that veterinary expenses, from spay/neuter to lifelong medical care, is the problem for many of us. Would widespread free spay/neuter clinics make a difference?

Posted by: vwvw | June 3, 2018 11:55 AM    Report this comment

People who shouldn't have kids will keep having them and people who shouldn't have pets will continue to have them. That is the sad reality of our culture. The difference is we see pets as disposable while we see children as our legacy, someone to make us memorable and perhaps change the world, Unfortunately we are wrong in our thinking. Because chances are your children will disappoint you and you will be forgotten eventually. Such is life in the year 2018. Just roll the dice!

Posted by: Ladyrose | June 2, 2018 1:55 PM    Report this comment

The vets could be a little more helpful too. In addition to extraordinarily high charges, the vet I had been going to out of convenience for years, created a seriously expensive and unpleasant experience when I took my new puppy to be examined last year. He apparently did have a common worm giardia which from the timing had to come from the mother. The vet under treated the puppy so the diarrhea continued longer than expected. They put the puppy in their ďhospitalĒ for two weeks and put him through another course of the medicine but the diarrhea continued. They kept changing his diet which itself caused more diarrhea. This poor puppy was trapped at that vet for two weeks at an age he should have socializing at home. I finally took him home knowing his bowel movements were still not right. After a few days, I took him to a vet internal medicine specialist because the original vet insisted he needed an ultrasound - although they had never even done an x-ray. The specialist was much calmer than the original vet and left it up to me to decide about the ultrasound although giving me subtle signals to wait. At this point, after spending $2,000 purchasing the puppy, I had spent about $1,800 on vet care. I decided to stop the fuss. I put him back on the food the breeder recommended. I had been really stressed out about this because the breeder, when told about the worms, immediately demanded vet records be sent to her attorney. I wasnít interested in a legal case, just getting the puppy better. Iím not a vet, but I know puppies pick up vibes from humans and as I calmed down and ignored the vet and breeder, the dog suddenly got better.
This beautiful shaded cream miniature long haired dachshund became a happy and playful and healthy puppy once again. Heís since grown into a wonderful companion and has been well with minimal vet expenced (after switching to another vet).
Whether treating animals or people, there is more to the job than milking an owner by exaggerating the condition.

Posted by: Stephen777 | May 31, 2018 7:30 PM    Report this comment

I am a failed foster of a pit mix, who Iím pretty sure would have wound up at the animal shelter eventually if she had gone to the single guy who said he was ďwilling to take her.Ē He needed to be more than just willing, and she has been a handful. Left alone Iím quite sure she would have been very destructive. Fortunately, Iím retired and have been with her every day, keeping her on track. I love her to pieces (my older girl pup has a different opinion), and her antics have been a source of great fun for me. But not for everyone. I wish people would think about what being responsible for a dog means in real life, but you know, some people shouldnít have children, either. Try telling that to the general public.

Posted by: MJC | May 31, 2018 6:32 PM    Report this comment

Tears in my eyes as I finish reading this post. I always feel such despair and anger when the newscasts and/or personal stories relayed to me of animal cruelty and neglect. Why, why, WHY?! To all those people who are 'dying' to get a dog or any pet:
Please harden your heart against your kids' cries for the fluffy puppy. It just takes one time for a mouthy, untrained pup to have the kids refusing to take care of it, walk it, and this young dog will show up on your long list of responsibilities you are forced to deal with every day. This innocent pup becomes a liability, a pain in the ass, and a problem not of his own making.
Please take a long look in the mirror and be totally honest about why you want a dog. Cuddles, someone to share your couch with and unconditional love are great; but throw those on the scale and weigh them against walks, medical bills, total dependency on you for food, attention, training, etc. Are you ready to give as well as get?
Please be brutally honest about being able to afford a dog, who will get older and perhaps need medical treatment that you are unwilling or unable to afford. I never thought I would end up with my dog Jack who had reoccurring cancer. Thousands of dollars later, I don't regret it, I sleep peacefully at night, because that is the commitment I made to having my dog and he was worth it. But I really took a financial beating.
Please try and ignore that yearning to 'complete' your family with a dog. You have the kids, and you think the kids should have a dog to grow up with because that's what you had. Times have changed -- many are glued to phones, social media, and wouldn't be able to turn off the phone to give a dog the attention he needs.

As much as this is all old news, and advice that has been around forever, I remain frustrated at the number of people who want dogs for all the wrong reasons -- and end up getting one anyway. Sigh.

Posted by: LoveGSDs | May 31, 2018 4:07 PM    Report this comment

Nancy, God bless you for the work you are doing. I know what you do first hand and know how hard it is. I come from a family of animal rescuers. My parents both did animal rescue work for over 40 years. They were instrumental in getting the ASPCA (then under contract with the City of NY) from using decompression chambers as a method of euthanizing. Despite living in a house packed with animals, and a small shelter they ran, also packed with animals, they still managed to get people to show up to protest that organization. Even more important, my brilliant father managed to put pressure on their biggest donors by shaming them into supporting the ban. That's when the tide turned and the ASPCA went 100% to injection method. Still abhorrent, but the alternative was even worse.

For years my parents advocated spay and neutering. They thought that this would solve the problem of animal over-population. Though they are both now gone from this world, you would think with all their advocacy it would have made a difference. But, right before my mother's death I asked her about her animal rescue work and she said it was like spitting in the ocean. Despite her and my father managing to adopt out over 6K animals to great homes, she felt the work was never ending and that the needless suffering of animals would never stop unless a paradigm shift took place. She was right. We have to stop talking about how wonderful animals are and how everyone should get one. No, everyone shouldn't get one unless they fully realize the responsibility involved. We have to start talking about the costs, as Kimberly above did, and how they are, in many ways, even more of a responsibility to care for than taking care of children. If you don't have a fenced in yard and you have a dog, you are going to have to take that dog out no matter how tired or bad you feel, no matter the weather, no matter the time of day. If you have a cat expect your furniture or woodwork to see the toll. If you have puppies, expect a lot of your property getting destroyed, (usually something you love) with their teething. The bottom line is people need to be made aware that animals are not toys that can be tossed aside or abandoned when they get bored or tired of caring for them. We have to start making people think about what is involved, both expected and unexpected, when they adopt or purchase an animal. Maybe one solution would be to adopt out animals on a trial basis. In Japan, people who are otherwise too busy for a lifelong animal can rent a dog or cat when they feel the need for emotional healing. I not advocating going that far because I don't think it's fair to the animal involved, but I do think that people (especially for those who never had an animal before) should have some way to give the animal back if they feel they've taken on too much. I also think that while many states passed spay/neuter laws, there has to be a federal law that requires all domestic animals to be spayed and neutered. The only exception would be for breeders who should be licensed to do so. Puppy mills should be excluded and made illegal. These are just a few of my ideas but I so wish animal advocates would consider them because with millions of dogs and cats being needlessly euthanized every year, apparently what we have done to date isn't working.

Posted by: Anamandy | May 31, 2018 2:20 PM    Report this comment

puppy breath wins every time !!

Posted by: tennesseejed | May 31, 2018 11:37 AM    Report this comment

I think that the spay/neuter problem is the cost. As an adult, Iíve always had this done. We brought home two free kittens two years ago. $300 each to be spayed. Plus one was really sick when she first arrived. $700 later the little kitten was ďhealthyĒ. Before the girls turned 1, the sister died unexpectedly. We didnít know why and it happened in front of me. Then I found out one of their siblings test positive for feline leukemia. We all brought our kittens and the momma plus our existing cats in to be tested. All the kittens and momma were positive. In about a span of four months all the kittens but our girl died. She almost made it to her second birthday. Anyhow, we probably shelled out $4000 dollars plus the regular exams and vaccination expenses. Some people just get a free dog or cat and are appalled at how much money the vet charges.

I get that the bills and kids come first but... if you canít afford a dog or catís health, donít get one! Saying yes or no to having a pet is a choice.

Uffda, this is a hot topic for me.

Posted by: KimberlyO | May 31, 2018 11:37 AM    Report this comment

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