Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where Did the Fun Go? (Or, Rejection of the "Ideal" World) -- Reply

(Picture left: "Having fun" -- Tina and Chance on a snowy day in Central Park)

SKDean Writes: Unfortunately, life in the streets is not a good one for cats. They risk FIP, as well as feline leukemia and FIV, all of which are transmissible to other cats and potentially fatal. (Although FeLV and FIV cats can live relatively normal lives indoors if they are isolated from other cats or live in groups with other cats who are positive for these viruses.)And life on the streets is no better for dogs, who run the risk of distemper or parvo if unvaccinated.Of course, all animals who roam are at risk for death from being struck by vehicles. In an ideal world, all dogs and cats would have a safe, caring, indoor home with loving caretakers.

Reply: All of what you say is true, however, the fact is, we don't live in an ideal world.

Nor, can we ever make the world truly "ideal" or free from all risks. -- We only delude ourselves into thinking that we can.

The question is, would we even want to create a risk-free world. Really?

I suspect that Kathy's rescue, Snooky, was at one time, an owned cat and might previously have been vaccinated. (I base that conclusion on the fact Snooky was a social and friendly cat.)

Truly "feral" cats and dogs can be remarkably healthy without benefit of ever having been vaccinated.

I am not a believer that vaccines are the cure-all and end-all of all human or animal diseases and woes.

On the contrary, I believe over-vaccinating animals and humans can cause illnesses or subtle impairments to the normal immune system.

I base that speculation on the fact so many shelter cats and dogs become sick shortly after receiving vaccines -- in many cases, coming down with the very diseases they were supposedly vaccinated against!

I believe only in the vaccines against Feline Distemper in cats and Distemper and Parvo viruses in dogs. I do not believe in any of the so-called "Kennel Cough" or "URI" vaccines and suspect these of causing many of the illnesses in shelter cats and dogs.

When I adopted my dog, Tina from Animal Control 12 years ago, she was sick from "Kennel Cough" after receiving the Bordettella (Kennel Cough) vaccine and was going to be "euthanized." Since adopting, Tina she has received no other vaccines and has never had a sick day in 12 years.

What exactly is the great harm if a cat or dog gets a cold anyway --other than creating rationalization and excuse for the animals to be killed in shelters for so-called, "illness?"

For that matter, what is the great harm in children having to contend with Chicken Pox or Measles? Hell, we all went through those things when I was a kid.

"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."

I agree with you that cats kept indoors are safer and live longer as they are protected against the risks that you mention. (They also don't alienate neighbors of kill small animals.)

But, for some cats it may be at the sacrifice of their sense of freedom or joie de vivre.

Truly loving and responsible pet owners have many things to weigh in making choices for their animals.

They have to know and obey the laws in their communities, respect the rights of their neighbors and be aware of dangers (both health wise and others such as vehicle traffic) to their pets.

But, I don't necessarily believe we should strive to eliminate ALL risks to our animals at the possible expense of their natural instincts and well being.

In the end, there are no "one size fits all" solutions and answers for every animal's well being as they don't truly exist for humans either.

Here in New York City, we have eliminated virtually all indoor public establishments where one can bring a dog (other than vet offices or pet supply stores) or smoke a cigarette. This is supposedly for "protection of human health."

But, it makes one long for the old "Cheers"-type bars where one used to be able to bring their pet dog AND smoke!

Who really wants the "ideal world" where no human child ever gets a bruise from playing "Dodge ball" in school, no cat or dog ever gets a "cold" or any human adult has to "fear cancer" because the people at the next table smoke? Who wants the world where one practically needs pliers to open a bottle of "Chlorox" because someone's child "might" drink a bottle?

It makes one wonder how previous generations survived without poisoning themselves before the age of two?

Unfortunately, "The more you control, the more you have to control."

Sometimes, a little less "control" and a little more "risk" is more conducive to a sense of freedom and joie de vivre for both, humans and animals.

Maybe we don't ultimately live as long, but its a lot more fun. -- PCA


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Adopted by God

Over the weekend, I received a call from Kathy (one of our long-time volunteers), regarding a stray cat on her Bronx block.

"There's this cat here, Patty that I think needs help," Kathy said with reservation in her voice. "It's friendly, but looks pregnant. It's got a big stomach, but the cat has testicles! It must be a boy, yes?"

"Well, yes, Kathy the cat is a male. And if its pregnant well, that would be one for the Guinness Book of Records! What do you want to do about the cat? You know, I can't take any more cats in, but if you can foster this guy and take him to the vet, I'll help you with the bill."

"I was hoping you'd have a foster," Kathy lamented. "I have too many cats already, too. But, I suppose I can put him in a cage for now and take him to the vet on Monday. He's too friendly to leave on the street. I appreciate if you can help with the bill."

"No problem, Kathy. Unfortunately, it's impossible to find cat fosters these days, but if we can get the cat vetted and neutered, hopefully we can find an adoptive home later."

Monday evening after work, Kathy took the tabby cat she named, "Snooky" to Dr. G, our veterinarian.

But, the news wasn't good.

The swollen ("pregnant") stomach that was fodder for a joke over the weekend turned out to be indicative of FIP ("Feline Infectious Peritonitis"), a deadly cat virus that when turning symptomatic is without treatment or cure.

Yellowish fluid extracted from Snooky's abdomen confirmed the grim diagnosis.

Dr. G is not a vet who casually recommends euthanasia where there is any chance of treating or saving an animal.

But, he recommended it for Snooky.

Kathy called me with the dire news and there was little in the way of comfort I could provide for her.

"We don't have a choice, Kathy," I said somberly. "FIP is probably the worst thing one can run into with cats. Although many cats are exposed to it and can live healthily as carriers for years, once clinical symptoms manifest, it's all downhill from there."

Following the sad euthanasia of Snooky, Kathy met me with her car to help pick up pet supplies. Although not outwardly showing her emotions, I knew how tough this day had to be for Kathy. One doesn't get into animal rescue work with the idea of saving animals only to have to put them down without the cat or dog ever deriving benefit of a home.

"It's very hard when we have to do this," I told Kathy. "And yet, as Dr. G. told you, had you not picked up Snooky, he would have suffered a slow and horrible death on the streets. You did the right thing, Kathy, you really did."

"I know," Kathy replied wistfully. "But, its not what I wanted for him. He was a very sweet cat. He would have made a wonderful pet for somebody."

"Well, it would have been nice if that 'somebody' might have adopted Snooky from the streets before he got FIP. As it is now, Snooky's adopted by God."
Kathy and I then proceeded to Petco to purchase supplies without speaking anymore of the deflating experience with the little Bronx stray, Snooky for whom rescue came too late.
There are really no consolling words for these terribly sad events.
We just have to hope that there really is a heaven somewhere and a God Who willingly welcomes His animals who have met with such misfortune and human rejection here on earth. -- PCA


Monday, February 16, 2009

No "Supermen" or "Wonderdogs"

(Picture Left: "Maxie" --Healthy, extremely intelligent and obedient, gentle and affectionate. Nevertheless, languishing in boarding 3 months now. Apparently, not a perfect "wonderdog.")

There was a full moon this past week.

That must be the explanation for the sudden barrage of seemingly "wonderful" adoption inquiries we got a few days ago -- only to witness none of them transpiring into actual adoptions.

There is of course another explanation that is probably closer to the reality:

That is that most potential animal adopters these days are seeking the perfect, "wonder dog" "(or cat).

They may call us -- but they are also calling upteen other animal adoption agencies or making the rounds of numerous animal shelters.

They are doing their "research" into finding the perfect pet -- the one that will provide them with eternal bliss and happiness without ever having to lift a finger.

Long gone are the days when you walked into the local pound, picked out a dog and were grateful if you were able to make it home without the dog pulling you in front of an oncoming bus.

A new show on Animal Planet drives home this point.

The show is called, "From Underdog to Wonderdog."

In it, a team of young upstarts that includes a dog trainer, dog groomer, vet tech and of all things, a carpenter, go to a New York City shelter (usually, the AC&C) pick out a grungy, but adorable small dog and over time, transforms the animal from lowly reject (with "issues") to superstar "wonderdog" (with no issues)!

A waiting adoptive family is chosen for the rags to riches pooch and the carpenter goes to the home to do yard work, build a state of the art dog house and even work on the family house. The adopters are then given a year's supply of free dog food at the end of the Disneyworld-type show.

If we in animal rescues and adoptions were already frustrated with the multitude of demands inquiring adopters throw at us such as, "I need a dog who is housebroken, healthy, good with kids, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, birds, goldfish, my neighbor's grand kids, good riding in a car or under the seat of a plane and would make a good 'therapy dog,'" we can only shake our heads in total despair at the new list of demands we can soon anticipate and expect.

Such as: "When will you send the carpenter to my house?" "Can I choose the brand of free dog food you will give me for a year?"

The only "wonder" to talk about here is that it is a wonder any dogs are adopted at all.

And judging from the truly desperate and seemingly endless "Alerts" rescue groups are now receiving several times a day from the city shelter system (AC&C), indeed, few dogs seem to be getting adopted at all.

The Euthanasia (kill) lists grow larger by the day while people relate stories to us of having gone to the shelter and rejected dogs for reasons such as "pulling on the leash," failing to plant kisses on the person or being "too big" or too grungy.

The "mission" for eternal bliss and perfect "wonderdogs" goes on.

But, as a shelter volunteer said to me the other day:

"Most of the dogs are very nice, but none are perfect."

"Yes," I said to the knowing and dedicated volunteer. "But, it is our job to make the dogs perfect -- and then fix up the adopters homes and hand out a year's supply of free dog food to boot."

Media does animals, rescues and shelters no favors when presenting shows that totally distort realities and human expectations.

Oh, to go back to the good ol' days when people only wanted a dog as a companion and were willing to accept personal responsibility for whether and how an animal adoption worked out. -- PCA


Friday, February 13, 2009

Privilege, Not "Entitlement"

(Pictures Above: "Shadow" After and before necessary shaving to remove heavy matts and imbedded feces. A shelter adoption of 8 months ago, the "adopters" were not capable or willing to provide even minimal care to the dog.)
"All or nothing at all"....."When it rains, it pours,"....."Feast or Famine."

The above adages seem to describe well, the ups and downs of animal rescue and adoptions.

After many weeks of scant or flaky adoption inquiries, suddenly yesterday, we were inundated with a whole series of reasonably good adoption calls.

I was tied up on the phone for pretty much the entire day.

It was welcomed relief to suddenly be in the swing again. While most of the calls were not seeking instant adoptions, a number were promising in terms of representing potential good homes for several dogs we have.

Although one can never "count chickens before they hatch" in this line of work, we have felt reasonably optimistic enough to rescue a few new dogs from Animal Control.

Carrie, our long time and most consistent dog foster picked up a lovely German Shepherd mix the other day from the shelter. The dog, named, "Tara" is a total sweetheart and presumably should be a fairly easy adoption following spaying. The wonderful thing about Carrie as a foster person is that she has a family consisting of her husband and two children, as well as she has 3 cats. Once we know a dog is good with kids and cats, the animal becomes an almost assured and quick adoption.

Unfortunately, I almost never have such information on dogs we have in boarding situations.

Another dog we picked up from the shelter over the past couple of days (and who is currently in boarding) is "Shadow" (pictured above).

Shadow is a very small Chow Chow (only 33 Lbs) who was dumped off at the pound by previous shelter adopters. The family only had Shadow 8 months but now claimed they "could no longer afford" him.

Apparently, the people were also incapable of brushing, keeping clean or clipping their dog. Shadow was extremely filthy and matted and his rear end was caked with mounds of dried up feces.

The condition was so bad, Shadow had to be almost entirely shaved. His hindquarters are inflamed and red raw from what seems 8 months of total neglect.

It behooves one to wonder how or why some people acquire animals with seemingly no idea or inclination for proper care. -- It's really not that hard to brush or clip the long hair on a dog's hindquarters.

Recently, I had an email debate with someone in the animal field who stated, "Anyone who wants a pet should be able to have one."

I disagree.

There are many people who, while they may have tender feelings towards animals or "good intentions" are nevertheless, not capable of providing responsible care.

Our shelters are constantly filled with animals (particularly, small, high maintenance or long-haired dogs) who, like Shadow are abandoned when their owners are unable or unwilling to provide even the most minimal of veterinary or grooming care.

While lack of grooming or medical care may not be as egregious as deliberately beating a dog or chaining him/her in a yard without protection from the elements, it is nevertheless abuse in the sense of causing the animal to needlessly suffer. Regardless of the "intentions" of the owner, the result is the same: The suffering animal only knows the pain and discomfort. It matters not what the owners "feel" about the pet or what his/her "intentions" were.

So, no, I don't believe that everyone should be entitled to a pet simply because s/he "wants" one.

I don't believe pet keeping to be an "entitlement" at all, but rather a privilege that should be earned, much the same way a driver's license is earned and issued based upon a person's ability to drive and knowledge of the rules of the road.

It is too soon to know whether some of the hopeful calls from yesterday will result in actual adoptions.

But, one thing for sure: Before we do any adoptions at all ,we will be as sure to the best of our abilities, the adopters will be not only capable of properly caring for a dog (based upon past history and experience) but enthusiastic and welcoming of the responsibility.

The worst thing (in my mind) that could possible occur to anyone doing animal adoptions is adopting out a dog or cat only to witness that animal later returned or abandoned in the condition that Shadow arrived at the city shelter.

Gratefully, I have never had such experience. -- PCA


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Economic Ditches and the Social Parasites who Help to Create Them

Once in a while I like to take a break from animal matters to address current political or social happenings as ultimately, everything effects and impacts everything else.

In recent months all of us have become aware of the very serious economic challenges this country is now facing. Economic hardships and drains that affect all of us, no matter what line of work we are in or where we live.

Our nation is in a economic ditch.

We have heard about bad mortgages sold to people who could not afford to buy houses. We have heard about the credit crises and CEO's who make millions while their companies go belly up and beg Washington for "bailouts." We have heard about job losses and almost 7 % unemployment. We have heard about health care and Social Security systems on verges of collapse as hospitals and other institutions close.

We are indeed living in scary times.

But, what we rarely hear about are those people who have learned how to milk the various social systems for their own benefit and selfish or neurotic purposes.

One such person is Nadia Sulnees (not sure of last name spelling), the mother of the IVS octoplets born Jan.26th.

Here is a woman with no job, visible means of support or husband who has learned how to exploit all the various social systems from Social Security Disability Insurance to food stamps, to MedicAid to Welfare in order to indulge her personal obsessions and/or particular mental illness.

The result is 14 children, 3 of whom are already receiving SSI disability and all of whom will be a burden on the State of California and its taxpayers for many years to come.

The only reason why this story is "news" is due to the woman's birthing of 8 babies through in vitro fertilization a little less than a month ago. (The so-called "Father" is seemingly nothing more than a sperm donor.)

The Caesarian Section birthing process alone required 48 doctors and nurses in the Operating Room, as well as intensive care of the premature infants. One shudders to think of the medical and hospital bills for these extraordinary births, as well as the long term medical costs for preemies that are sure to suffer long term disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, ADD, and other learning disiabilities.

The Mother, while deft enough to figure out how to exploit and milk social systems for all they are worth, seems to live in a world of total disillusion, fantasy and lack of any responsibility.

The so-called "doctor" who implanted 6 more embryos in a single woman who could not support the 6 kids she already had and was obviously suffering from some kind of serious mental impairment should be in jail.

At some point, the state of California and Child Protective Services are going to have to step in and do some kind of "intervention." The Mother is so clueless in terms of the actual physical and emotional NEEDS of children, she is not capable of raising these kids with any sense of responsibility, clarity or care.

Our social systems need to be overhauled in some way in order to identify and weed out all those who exploit and milk them for their own lazy, neurotic or mentally disturbed ends and who ultimately can be responsible for bringing the entire systems down.

In addition to supporting social parasites like Nadia, our social systems also carry the burdens of Polygamous Religious Sects whose exploited women bear multitudes of children at ultimate taxpayer expense.

Social programs like Disability, Social Security, Welfare, Child Protective Services and Medicaid were made law in order to help people who truly find themselves in desperate or urgent need through no faults or choices of their own.

They were never meant to take over for personal responsibility. -- PCA


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"The Bitch is Back" (Reply)

(Picture Left: "Smokey" -- Sweet Shepherd mix at Animal Control. Clock winding down to 11'th hour with no last minute miracles in sight.)

Amby111 Writes: The pool of potential adopters is sad indeed, Patty. A few months ago I had a woman inquire about adopting a black cat; I was thrilled, because as you know, black cats are even more difficult to place than cats with other coloring. We had a very sweet black kitten named Homer in foster care, but after meeting Homer the woman informed me that he was just "too black." I'm not sure what that means, but I was disgusted that she had wasted my and the foster parent's time and had rejected Homer for such a silly reason. Luckily, we were eventually able to find a wonderful home for Homer and another kitten with someone who didn't care what colors the kittens were. Unfortunately, those kinds of adopters are few and far between.

Reply: I wish it could be said that your story of the black kitten rejected for being "too black" is far fetched or unusual. Unfortunately, it's not.

Some years ago, we rescued a black cat from the pound who was an owner dump.

Listed as the "Reason for Surrender" was, "The Cat is Black."


I wondered what color the cat was when the people acquired him? Did the cat change colors? Or, did the people not notice his color until two years later?

I may complain about time wasting or downright crazy calls sometimes.

But, today we didn't get any adoption inquiries at all.

How depressing is that?

I'm actually starting to miss the crazy ones!

It's hard to figure out what's going on. I would think the problem was me, except that other rescuers are relating the same experiences and scary lack of adoptions.

Certainly, the poor economy is impacting badly, as well as the cold winter weather generally deters dog adoptions.

But, even these things don't explain the precipitous decline in adoptions, fosters and even inquiries.

I used to get between 20 and 30 calls a day.

Now, I actually check the phone to see if it is working. (It is. I get plenty of telemarketing calls.)

To make matters worse, we are swamped with requests from Animal Control to take animals. They too are packed with seemingly many more animals coming in now due to people losing homes or claiming they can no longer afford their pets.

I received two personal calls from the shelter today requesting us to take two specific dogs: A very nice Chow and a sweet, older Shepherd mix. Both dogs are now threatened with Euthanasia.

I hate to say "no" to Animal Control, but I also have to be honest in saying we are totally in the ditch with nothing moving and no available fosters.

What is the answer here?

With all rescues seemingly saturated, few animals moving and more cats and dogs arriving at the shelters everyday, it's all adding up to a very grim picture.

The shelter is lucky that they are at least able to get some press to the problem. AC&C was on "New York One" news today begging for people to come to the shelter and directly adopt.

But, while some people will be motivated to go to the shelters and adopt (especially when told they are saving a life), we in rescue don't have the advantage of easy access to the media. Moreover, many people feel once an animal has been "rescued" the story is over, complete with a Disney ending.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Rescue in fact, is the easy part.

It's finding the "loving, committed homes" that is the bitch. -- PCA


Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Sad Pool of "Potentials"

(Picture Left: Male Chow mix. To some people an automatic rejection because........!!)

We have suddenly gone from frigid cold and snow to almost spring-like, balmy temperatures in New York.

One would think that the more pleasant weather might help spur dog adoption inquiries, but, so far, that is not happening. -- Or, at least not quality calls for adoption.

I did get a couple of inquiries yesterday.

But, while seemingly on a mission to adopt a dog, one woman mostly called to rail against another rescue organization.

"I just had a very bad experience with another rescue!" the young woman complained.

"Oh? What was the problem?" I asked.

"Well, I went to see a small poodle they had in a foster home. I told the foster person that I was interested in seeing the dog again and in potentially adopting, but that I could not adopt until after the 15th of the month. But, I just found out yesterday that they adopted to the dog to someone else! The foster person never told me they were showing the dog to other people! Shouldn't he have told me that?"

"Well, not necessarily. I am sure he assumed that you already knew that. If the dog is advertised for adoption, then obviously that notice goes out to everyone."

"But, I could have provided such a wonderful home for the dog! Why would they give the dog to someone else?"

"Well, assuming the other person had the same qualifications as you, the goal of any rescue group or shelter is to move animals as quickly as possible in order to save other animals. Most shelters and rescues are not going to 'hold' animals until someone is ready to adopt. We have animals dying every day of the week in shelters and on streets. We are under a lot of pressure to rescue. In order to do that, we need to place adoptable animals we already have in order to create the room to take in others."

"But, the foster person didn't tell me any of that! I think there was an obligation to tell me the dog could be adopted by someone else."

"Look, Ma'am, if you walked into Bide-a-Wee or any other shelter to look at animals for adoption, THEY presume you are ready to adopt AT THE TIME. No shelter or rescue is going to say, 'Yes, we will hold the animal until you are ready to take home!' They have no guarantee you will ever come back to adopt. Meanwhile, small, friendly dogs are very much in demand. Of course they will adopt out immediately if they have opportunity to do so. This isn't a tea party, you know. It's serious business!"

"Well, I think they were wrong not to tell me these things," the woman further lamented.

"No, Ma'am, you were in error to be looking at dogs now when you are not in position to adopt until later. From that standpoint, you are wasting your time as well as the shelter's or rescue's. No shelter or rescue is in position to guarantee what animals they will have two or ten weeks from now! The best time to look at animals for adoption is when you are actually READY to bring one home!"

I don't think the woman was truly convinced of the error of her ways as opposed to the rescue group she was dealing with. While I agree that every shelter and rescue should ideally inform those hesitant to adopt immediately (for whatever reason) of the animal's potential to be adopted by someone else and that animals are not usually "held" for someone, this reality should be already be known and presumed by potential adopters.

As said, animal rescue and adoptions is not a tea party.

But, if I thought that particular call was a bit silly and time wasting, I was not at all prepared for the one that came a short time later:

"I am looking for a female Chow to adopt," the woman told me.

Now, normally I am very eager to hear from potential Chow adopters, as this is the breed we most frequently deal with in our rescue. But, something about the caller struck me as just a bit "off." For some reason, I was not to eager to tell her of the Chows and Chow mixes we have. Instead, I asked her some questions.

"Why specifically do you want a female Chow as opposed to a male?" I asked. "Male dogs can be very devoted and loving, certainly every bit as much as a female."

"Because I don't like the way the genitals hang down in the males!" the woman replied.


For a moment, I was stunned. But, I proceeded in the conversation anyway.

"But, surely you know, Ma'am that we neuter any dogs before adoption!" (And then, trying to make light of the issue) "You know most guys don't like to neuter male dogs because the dogs don't have balls anymore," I joked. "But, of course the dogs still have a penis."

"Well, that's what I meant!" the woman moaned. "They still have a penis!"

What could one say at this point? I was either dealing with a total moron or a woman who hated the entire male population whether on two legs or four.

"You know, Ma'am I don't think we have anything further to discuss."

The woman then hung up on me.

Maybe I am wrong to "judge" people like this.

Perhaps the second woman might actually provide a decent home for a female Chow one day.

Then again, one would have to wonder what this person would do should the female dog's tummy ever "hang" or sag one day.

Sometimes I think, its a really sad pool of "potential adopters" we have to try and work with. -- PCA


Friday, February 6, 2009

Beautiful Intimacy

One of the things that seems (for better or worse) to impact dog adoptions is the weather.

Here on the East Coast, the winter so far, has been pretty nippy.

Last year, New York City only had a total of 2 inches of snow. This year, so far, we have more than 14.

I love winter in the city. To me, there is nothing quite so titillating as taking the dogs to Central Park in the middle of winter -- particularly when there is snow on the ground. The park is much more serene and country-like with only the most hearty of urban souls venturing out.

My dogs, Tina and Chance both have thick coats. Temperatures can be in the single digits and the ground can be covered in snow and ice. But, for Tina and Chance it can't get cold enough. Both dogs are happy to be out there literally for hours.

I don't know that I can say quite the same for myself. Yesterday, for example, the temperature was in the high teens with wind chills in single digits. It's hard to keep one's hands warm in weather like that despite good gloves. Icy spots on the ground can cause one, like the old Paul Simon song to literally go, "Slip Slidin' Away."

Nevertheless, despite the slippery ice, freezing air streaming up your nose causing it to run like a marathoner, or the wind chills whipping across your face or blowing off your hood, I (like the dogs), love New York City and particularly Central Park in the winter.

For one matter, one doesn't need quite so many tops and changes of clothes in the winter as the summer. A couple of warm winter jackets and a coat can get you through the entire three months.

But, the reality is, most people don't relish the idea of having to walk a dog when the temperature rarely ventures above freezing or there is snow, slush and ice on the ground.

Generally, the lower the temperature goes, the fewer (or even non-existent) our dog adoption inquiries.

That is quite unfortunate as without a dog (or child) one doesn't really have reason to go exploring in the various winter wonderlands around the country.

I think most people have no idea the true beauty of winter they are missing out on.

Go to Central Park on a typical summer day and there will be thousands of people (and tourists) lying on the grass, jogging around the Reservoir, playing games with their kids or walking with their lovers or dogs.

But, go in the winter and the only humans you see are the few die-hard dog people, nature watchers or bird feeders.

Gone are the sounds of children's voices, frantic jogging feet or the sights of scantily clad bodies scrambling for that sunny patch of grass to lay out on and grab a tan.

Winter, by contrast brings with it unsurpassed, crystal clear beauty, icy blue, cloudless skies and a prevailing sense of peace.

Why do most people seek to adopt a dog in the spring, fall or summer, rather than winter?

I have no idea other than lack of awareness.

Because for me, the best time of all to have a dog is in the middle dead of winter.

There is a certain beautiful intimacy about it.........PCA


Thursday, February 5, 2009

That Little Hint of Sun.......

(Picture Left: Amanda -- in a gloomy shelter full of anxious and needy faces, she was the one to make it to the sun yesterday.)

We rescued a new dog yesterday.

"Amanda" is a smallish and very pretty, extremely sweet and young, Labrador mix who arrived some days ago at the city shelter as a "stray."

I called David about Amanda. David is the fellow who fostered "Rudy," the Pekingese for us before the little dog was adopted.

At the time David told me he was willing to foster, but ultimately would seek a Labrador Retriever for adoption.

Amanda is not a purebred Lab though she obviously has some Lab in her. I suspect she is mixed with Pitbull (as so many of the shelter dogs these days are). Somehow though, if we are able to emphasize the alternate breeds the Pittie mixes are combined with, it helps us to place the dogs.

I don't know and make no presumptions that David will "fall in love" with Amanda and eventually adopt her.

But, one can always hope.

In the meantime, Amanda is out of the pound and did not have to go to a boarding kennel.

Yesterday was a good day!

And right now that is all we can truly hope for in these otherwise, dismal, troubled times.

One day at a time and try to find the positives, no matter how small, in each one -- That little hint of sun peeking through the otherwise gray, dank and seemingly endless, winter skies. -- PCA

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"A Whole Lotta Love!"

(Picture Left: "Maxi" -- A lot of dog and a whole lotta love -- but still no takers.)

When we first rescued Maxi, a very young and exhuberant Shepherd mix who landed on the Euth list of the Brooklyn shelter in early December, I was hopeful that she could find a foster or adoptive home "before Christmas."

I just changed Maxi's adoption write-up to say we are hopeful she can find a loving adoptive or foster home "before Valentine's Day."

Maxi has been languishing in a boarding kennel all this time.

What is Maxi's "problem?"

Does she have behavioral or aggression issues? Is she sick? Is she a nervous, unsocialized or shy dog?

None of the above.

On the contrary, Maxi is an extremely exuberant, loving and smart dog who just wants to please people. She is a very healthy, 2-year-old sweetie pie who is in top physical shape and loves nothing more than running and playing with other dogs. We could easily envision Maxi being a great family dog. She is a dog of enormous potential.

But, what has gone wrong with Maxi? Why, in all this time has Maxi failed to generate even one adoption inquiry?

I'm not sure of the answer to that.

When we first got Maxi, she was very wild and strong on the leash and was difficult to control.

But, over time and especially after being spayed, Maxi has calmed somewhat and is very responsive to training.

I remember the first time I walked Maxi, she almost rammed me into a brick wall. Now, she is quite easy and pleasant to take out as long as one keeps the walk brisk and focused.

Indeed, the only thing one really has to guard against when walking Maxi is her tendency to run up and greet everyone on the street. She is overly friendly!

Its hard to think that the quality of being "overly friendly" might be a impediment to adoption!

But, yes, we have had to work on Maxi's wild exuberance to love everyone she meets.

As I've gotten to know Maxi over these past couple of months, I believe her to be a very good dog with huge potentials. She is confident, enthusiastic and so very eager to please.

But, Maxi is, in some ways, still very "puppyish." All that puppy energy needs to be reigned in and channeled properly.

Although most people seek young dogs to adopt, they tend to expect or even demand that those dogs behave like fully trained adult canines.

That's like expecting teenagers to behave like fully mature, adult humans.

There is a great deal of wisdom behind the saying, "Youth is wasted on the young."

And yes, the saying also applies to dogs. Puppies and young dogs are generally a hand-full, just like human teenagers are.

Perhaps this explains why so many dogs dumped in shelters are in fact, young adolescents whose energies and wild exhuberances have proved to be too much for their human caregivers to deal with.

Maxi arrived at the Brooklyn pound two months ago as a "stray." Perhaps she escaped a yard or perhaps her former owner made the mistake of allowing youthful Maxi off leash in open spaces. Perhaps she was deliberately abandoned.

But, for sure, Maxi grew up in some kind of home. By her confidence, enthusiasm, and curiosity I am quite sure, Maxi enjoyed the benefit of staying with her Mom and siblings for a good long time. Morevoer, judging from her love and total trust for humans, it can be surmised Maxi was handled and socialized with humans very early in her life.

There is great raw material in Maxi.

The question is, is there anyone out there who can recognize, appreciate and work with that talent and potential in Maxi? --PCA


Monday, February 2, 2009

"Black Holes" of Animal Rescue

(Picture Left: "Jewels -- now boarding in a kennel after failed adoption due to personal dramas and lack of forthrightness.)

Although we do not have blood test results back on Poochie yet, she seems to be responding to the new antibiotic she has been put on. There is less blood in her urine now, so we are for the moment, cautiously optimistic.

We still, however, continue to struggle both in adoptions and finding foster people.

Although one of our dogs, Spencer, the loving little, 8-year-old, Cocker Spaniel was finally adopted yesterday, Jewels, our small, older Shepherd mix was returned over the weekend from an adoption last month.

Still, one more dog I had to send to boarding as we have no open fosters.

Jewels' adoption and later return was particularly frustrating.

The dog became a victim of people's personal dramas and soap operas.

Although I thought I was adopting Jewels to a single, mature man who previously had a dog for 13 years, I was not aware that "Ray's" main motivation for adopting Jewels was to "provide companionship and comfort" to Ray's girlfriend who is currently undergoing chemotherapy "(and later radiation) treatment for cancer.

Obviously, that did not work out well.

People suffering the effects of chemotherapy are extremely stressed, both physically and emotionally. How can they be expected to care for or about a dog?

Any dog going into a new situation tends to absorb the "energy" around them. If the "energy" is anxiety, stress, fear, anger and physical illness, then likewise the dog sensing something wrong, tends to react accordingly.

Jewel's just couldn't seem to get the housebreaking down, though she was previously housebroken in a foster home.

And although Ray kept reiterating to me how much he "loved" Jewels, in the end, he returned her anyway due mostly to the demands and needs of his girlfriend.

Jewels is an older (about 8-years), smallish (only 35lbs), sensitive, very loving, devoted and protective Shepherd mix who loves children and is good around cats. But, she is, nevertheless a very tough adoption - as almost any animal, but the most beautiful, adorable, young or "perfect" is.

I had really hoped Jewel's adoption would work out. But, I failed seemingly, to scrutinize enough and properly, the adopter's, "Significant Other" as well as his true motives for adopting a dog.

While it is not fair to blame the girlfriend for this outcome, I did tell Ray upon his returning Jewels to me that he was "wrong" not to tell me his true motivations for adopting Jewels ("companionship and comfort" to his girlfriend)

Had I known, I would have refused the adoption.

Now, Jewels, having lost her foster when going to the adoptive home, goes into the seeming "black hole" of (most likely) long time boarding in a kennel.

So yes, I am very frustrated over that.

Sending animals into "warehousing" situations or "black holes" of long time boarding is not something we should be doing.

And yet, with the current social and economic climate, what is the choice?

It says a lot (and unfortunately, nothing positive) when a rescue group finds itself with far more animals in boarding kennels than foster homes. --- PCA