The Value of a Dog

Gala. The million dollar dog.

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Okay, not a million, but certain the several thousand dollar dog. Between her rescue, heartworm treatment, four months of foster care, and now the broken jaw, this dog is costing some serious money.

I’ve been thinking about this fact. Why do we pour all this money into a stray dog from South Carolina? She’s just one dog, and a difficult one at that.

And then I think—it’s just money.

That’s the same thing I tell myself when my children cost a fortune or we lose money on something stupid or we need an expensive repair on the car or the house.

Because it is just money. And doing right by this dog is far more important than money.

A noble thought, but it won’t pay her bill. She’s not the most expensive dog OPH has rescued, not by far. I’ve watched much more expensive efforts be made by this organization to save a life. Not that they throw money around willy-nilly; they certainly consider each penny before it’s spent and they’ve made more than a few hard decisions. But it’s rare that money is the only consideration.

Dogs are expensive. That’s a fact that seems to slip the minds of plenty of people. And for whatever reason – ignorance or arrogance—there are plenty of people out there who don’t think a rescue dog should cost a lot. After all, a purebred dog could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. There’s a mindset that since you’re saving a dog no one wanted or possibly a dog someone threw away, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

OPH’s adoption fee is $335 ($375 for puppies, but you get a $60 rebate after you spay/neuter). This includes spay/neuter, vaccines, wormings (with puppies this can be 6-8 times or more), and microchip, not to mention the expenses most adopters don’t consider like the original health screening and treatment, transportation, and food. And with many dogs there are other expenses.

Dug had to visit the vet and be treated for demadex mange this week.

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(And before you freak out at the word, mange, Continue reading The Value of a Dog

Fact: Horses Kick Dogs

This is the post I always dreaded.

The first week Gala was with us, I wrote about how she was prone to adventures. Excited to be here and curious about the really large dogs in our pasture, she found many ways to escape our house.

Each time we managed to catch her just in time and then reprogram everyone to lock that door, not let her on the deck, etc. On one of her early escapades, she raced for the barn area and chased the horses around the field, ignoring our pleas to come, only leaving them when she caught a hoof to her side from my elderly mare. I breathed a sigh of relief, hoped she’d learned her lesson and got much better at keeping Gala contained. I wrote: “If she had gone after one of the other horses, I’d be writing a much different post today.”

Well, three months later, here’s that much different post. She escaped again, and no, she didn’t learn a lesson that first time. Continue reading Fact: Horses Kick Dogs

With Gala the party never ends

Gala, Gala, Gala. There is never a dull moment with this dog.

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On Friday, we sat on the deck having snacks and a glass of wine with the five grandparents who had arrived for the graduation of my middle child. Gala worked the crowd, slurping faces, giving full body hugs, gladly accepting the dropped slice of cheese. I kept her on a leash so that I’d be able to restrict her enthusiasm if necessary. It was all going nicely. Gala sat sweetly next to me on the couch for a picture.

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And then a moment later, she was up and over the deck railing. Her leash was looped around my wrist, as it always is since I’m well acquainted with her sudden movements. I felt the tug and then nothing. Had she slipped her collar or worse yet, had she inadvertently hung herself? Continue reading With Gala the party never ends

WANTED: The Perfect Adopter

WANTED: one adopter. Must be a long-distance runner or hiker or have a securely fenced, large yard. Must be a patient person with a good sense of humor. Must be smart and not intimidated by a smarter dog. Must be creative and willing to adapt to my needs. Must not be a person who is overly attached to their belongings and/or is a neatnik and never leaves valuable items lying about. Must be kind and understanding and willing to accept that we all have our own histories, habits, and hang ups. Must be a one-dog kind of person. Must be allergic to cats (okay, maybe not allergic just not inclined to ever own a cat). Proclivity for road trips and adventures, a plus. Adopter should be looking for a dog who not only provides excellent and enthusiastic company, but also personal protective services. Lifetime commitment required.

That’s the ad that Gala would have me place. We discussed it on our long run this morning.

This dog.

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She is breaking my heart. Continue reading WANTED: The Perfect Adopter

Rescue Work Overload & the Difference a little Trust Can Make

Every now and again, the dog-thing gets a bit overwhelming. This weekend was one of those times. It makes me pause and wonder if I’m doing too much, asking too much of my family, my own pets, my own heart.

It’s so easy to anthropomorphize dogs. (I toss that big word out there as if I didn’t have to look up the spelling and be sure I was using it correctly. It means to attribute human characteristics and purposes to inanimate objects, plants, and animals.)

We imagine we know a dog’s motives, emotions. We think we can read its expressions, sense its moods, understand why it responds the way it does, even interpret its feelings. (I’ve been anthropomorphizing Gracie for years — but who knows what really goes through that little head of hers.)

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This week confirmed for me once again that dogs, like people, are mysteries. It is nearly impossible to know another person’s heart, let alone a dog’s, and twice as easy to imagine that we do. We assume based on our own experiences and bias, but in reality we’re wrong as much as we’re blessed with a lucky guess or two.

Yesterday morning, for the first time in weeks, Gala and Darlin’ had a nasty fight. Continue reading Rescue Work Overload & the Difference a little Trust Can Make

Capybara, Hamster, or Darlin’? You decide! (Plus updates on Gala, Punkin, and missing dog, Cindee)

The brown dogs are still here.

Seems like brown dogs are not in style this spring.

I have faith that their families will find them, but the longer they are here the more entrenched they become in our lives. Darlin’ is embarrassingly attached to me. So much so that when I leave, she whines and pines and generally annoys everyone left behind. When I return she is beside herself with happiness circling me and begging for my attention. She needs to find her person soon, so she can aim her endless devotion on the right soul.

Addie has decided Darlin’ looks like a giant hamster. I asked her why and she said, “She just does. Look at her!” Another OPH foster’s teenage daughter, who was here to help with the puppies, said Darlin’ looks like a capybara.

Thinking of the capybara brought memories of sitting through the videotape (yes, I’m that old) called “Baby Animals” which my preschool age children wore out with their constant viewing. The announcer tells them all about the Capybara. In fact, if it weren’t for that videotape I, like my OPH pal, would have thought she was making up the animal’s existence. I reminded Addie of that video and how she loved the capybara and she had no memory of ever seeing it. One more reminder that my version and her version of her childhood bear no resemblance. But Darlin’ does kind of resemble a capybara, doesn’t she….. Continue reading Capybara, Hamster, or Darlin’? You decide! (Plus updates on Gala, Punkin, and missing dog, Cindee)

Irritation or Grace? You Decide

(Here’s the post originally intended for Tuesday before my world got sideswiped by Crash’s diagnosis.)

One of my favorite mom-writers, Katrina Kennison, writes at length about living intentionally. Saturday morning I read an essay of hers that made the point that we can meet disruptions and disappointments with irritation or grace. She’s right, I thought before embarking on a weekend ironically full of disruptions and disappointments.

I will be the first to confess that my default reaction for years has been irritation, but a funny thing has been happening as I get older, I’m beginning to see that irritation gets me nowhere. And once more, it only makes a situation worse. I feel no better when I’ve handled an inconvenience or annoyance with irritation whether it was caused by strangers, family, dogs, myself, or the universe. I always regret my harsh words or grumpy attitude.

On a much needed date with my husband this weekend, we were enjoying a beer flight at a wonderful restaurant, when our waitress arrived with my salad and promptly dumped a bowl of Caesar dressing down my side. Continue reading Irritation or Grace? You Decide