Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Member "Pet of the Week" with Aktie9

(companions of Heather of

Heather writes:
This is Duke, my black labrador cross adopted from
OCC: All Retriever Rescue. He is a Southern USA rescue that once lived in the streets and in back alleys and rural areas. I know for certain that he ate from dumpsters, as he has a certain penchant for them and for pizza. When we used to go walking by the pizza parlour in town, he'd try to drag me there- not to the front door, but to the dumpster! Instead of diving in, we make or buy pizza, and save him a piece on occasion as a special, not-so-good-for-me, yummy-to-eat treat. ;)

Duke- "love me"

Prior to adopting Duke, I had researched dog breeds and, based on the traits and characteristics I read about each breed, decided that I wanted a Labrador. I was thinking of adopting a yellow or a chocolate Lab until I went to Vet tech school and found out that black dogs, when rescued or in shelters, are the first to be euthanized. Apparently, they don't often photograph well and are sometimes scary-looking to potential adoptive families. I decided that I would look for a black dog (just hoping I might happen upon a Labrador).

Duke is an incredible, wonderful dog and a kind, loving soul who seems to know much more than you say to him in words. He understands body language, and comes over for lovins or a snuggle when you are down or needing a boost. We needed a calm, loving, yet hardy dog who could both love and be patient and gentle with my two small human children, and Duke was the first dog of those we had met that seemed right for my family- it was love at first sniff!

Since Duke was such a love bug and so easy to add to the family, I began searching for ways to give back. Subsequently, I happened upon a dog on craigslist named Candy who had been relieved of her duties at a Puppy mill, AKA a "Retired Breeder" dog. Her puppy mill owners had planned to euthanize her until the nice family who currently had her saved her and her two brothers. At the time, she was extremely obese and on a poor-quality, corn-based diet due to her owners' financial difficulties. The family who rescued her told me she had contracted lyme disease (for which we later treated her and of which she never exhibited any symptoms), and was continuously penned in a 4x4 concrete bottom cage- kind of like living in a zoo. Life must have been horrible and so boring for Candy. I told the OCC folks about her, and they were happy to help her and find her a good home. I was to be Candy's foster Mom until then... but I was probably only a "foster" Mom to Sadie for all of the car ride home!

We changed Candy's name- well actually, I believe I changed her name the instant I met her. Since she wasn't very *pretty* at that time, I named her "Sadie" after Sadie Hawkins. And since she's an English Labrador and fetches like crazy, I gave her the middle names "Ophelia" and "Grace" so that her initials became SOGO! Get it... "SO GO?" "So, Go run, Go play." Sadie would make a fine hunting dog, and we have a routine where she circles me when we are in the yard, I throw the ball, and she runs to retrieve it and bring it back. If I don't take it from her as soon as she returns with it, i.e., I'm busy with a toddler or something, she will circle me until I take the toy and toss it for her again. We could start the day at 6AM and play fetch till 6PM and she'd barely break a sweat. (See the book titled Marley and me, by Josh Gogan)

Sadie, chunky as "Candy," and now

As mentioned before, Sadie was extremely obese and pushing 98 lbs. when she was rescued. Her poor, corn-based diet at the puppy mill had made her fat (corn is very bad for dogs, and fattening). I chose to put her on Wellness brand's canned food, low fat and for seniors, and she lost the weight. We are now doing a somewhat vegetarian diet.. with occasional meat products and vitamins. I also attribute Sadie's weight loss to long walks with two other dogs, and constant fetching in our yard! Her life is very full and happy now.

After Sadie joined the family, on a day in the merry month of February (which in Massachusetts means temps as low as 2 degrees F at times), Duke and I went for a ride in the car. Duke likes to meet other dogs, and since it's my guess that he lived in a pack situation at one time or another, he's a bit more "mouthy" than other dogs who are taken early from their parents and brought into the human world. He talks to other dogs, and if we're in the car driving, he barks/shouts so they can hear him saying "hello." (It's a good thing I'm not easily startled when driving- it was freaky the first 100 or so times. ;) )

So anyway, on this February day driving, Duke suddenly went absolutely bonkers in the rear of the wagon, barking and jumping and freaking out. He was looking at a tiny little black and white dog walking on the street *all alone*, and must have "known" that she wasn't supposed to be alone, without a human and a leash. You recall I was a foster Mom to Sadie... for all of the car ride home, right? So I doubled back, pulled to the side of the road, and called out something to the little dog, like "Hey puppy, come here!" or something to that effect. She looked, then came running towards me (I apparently have a kind voice and face ;) ). When she reached the car, she did a quick glance right into my eyes... and then jumped in! Though I didn't think about it at that moment, I have several times since, and she had glanced into my eyes, THEN jumped into my lap. Apparently the eyes are the window to the soul. She checked me out before getting into the car with a "stranger"- smart dog! She shivered in my lap till we returned home.

Minnie- "Minnie of Barkington"

That very day I began posting "found" notices all over the internet on lost dog sites and on the sites of local rescue centers, etc. After one hundred days of posting, reposting, and answering 100's of emails, I repeated the process for almost fifty more days, and... *no one came forward for her.* I was in the right place at the right time, but Duke is her real saviour. We named her Minnie, aka "Minnie Cooper," "Mini pooper," or "Minnie of Barkington," a nickname for every bad habit! Minnie looks to me like a Chihuahua-Papillon mix, meaning that, as Chihuahua's have no thermal properties in their fur, she might have frozen to death within a few hours if we hadn't rescued her. For the life of me, I cannot train her to potty outside 100% of the time, and when we aren't around she has to be crated. Crating= less wee and poo on the floor. ;)

In a short manner of five months, we became a family of 2 human children and three dogs!!! Oh yes, did I mention my husband? Oops- I must have forgotten all about him! Poor, poor hubby.. he gets no love. ;) Sorry Honey! I Love you!

P.S. I've been in just the right spot to be able to help many dogs and other animals during my life so far. Since meeting Duke, Sadie, and Minnie, I've rescued several other dogs or helped get them to safe harbors. Also, Duke wasn't my first adopted pet- I've had many others before him (along with a purebred Abyssinian cat- she was a rescue too).

Let me know if you know of a dog needing a place to stay. I can't have anymore dogs here- 3 is enough- but maybe in the future... If anyone knows of some free or inexpensive land for sale in a rural area, with or without a house, I'm totally game as long as there are no restrictions on number of pets! I can definitely see myself adding more to my family, or at least meekly asking them to hang out with me for the duration of their life. It's only natural that a pack expands. There's a Bulgarian proverb that says it best: "If you call one wolf, you invite the pack."


Crickets Creations Handknit Scarves said...

So interesting to hear the journey of how your animal companions came into your life, Heather! :)
Celeste (Crickets)

demandablog said...

What a great entry. I loved reading this story. :D I'm so happy for you and your dogs.

Ity-Bity Bags said...

What an awesome story! I am so glad your puppies have a fun and loving home!

FireHorse3 said...

What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for giving these beautiful dogs a stable and loving home :D

silentlotuscreations said...

I agree! :) They are as lucky to have you as you are to have them. :)

palafoxstuudio23 said...

what cuties!!

annada said...

How wonderful! I love all the details of your family! They're adorable :)

Heather said...

Thanks everyone! We just love our doggies to pieces! :)