The Value of a Dog

Gala. The million dollar dog.

FullSizeRender (2)

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.

DSC_8141

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

A Hamilton Birthday Party

Every time I have the opportunity to see one of my former foster pups, I always wonder if they will recognize me, and pretty much every time I go away both sad and glad that they don’t. Or if they do, they keep it to themselves.

I’m sad they don’t recognize me because I still love them and remember the bond we had. Some of them were with me for months. At the same time I’m so very glad that they are happy in their new lives and not pining for me. As I said to someone who asked me about it at the Hamilton puppy birthday party over the weekend, “If they did, there would be 70 dogs roaming around the mid-atlantic (plus one in Indiana and one in Massachusetts) feeling depressed.” I’m glad they’ve moved on. I’m grateful dogs are so resilient.

On this past Sunday, I had the immense pleasure of seeing Schuyler and six of her nine pups a year after they consumed my life and solidified my puppy addiction. When I agreed to foster Schuyler and her newborn puppies, through a simple miscommunication or perhaps an assumption on my part, I thought I was getting a mom dog and three pups. That seemed manageable and my husband was game.

Then, a day before I picked them up I discovered there were actually nine puppies coming. Luckily, my marriage survived it. And I do still wonder if I would have ever volunteered for that many puppies had I known. Either way, it set my course and explains why since then I’ve fostered 26 puppies in less than a year.

When they left my house, the Hamilton puppies weighed 10-12 pounds and now they are all between 45-65 pounds. They are still a happy bunch and took over the dog park where the party was held. The Hamilton pack was back in action. They wrestled over sticks, just as they had in the puppy pen last spring.

Continue reading A Hamilton Birthday Party

Fruitcake’s Happily Ever After Thanks to YOU

Ever since our little cow puppy emerged, clearly different from the rest, it has been a magical journey.

dsc_5969

 

Not only was his color different, but his hair was longer and softer, his head shaped differently and his body, well, wider is the kind way of putting it. His enormous hind feet sported six toes and he seemed to need to sleep much more than the other pups.

dsc_6114

As the other puppies grew up, he grew out—flat as a pancake. Continue reading Fruitcake’s Happily Ever After Thanks to YOU

Our Holiday Treats Came Early

Estelle arrived early on Saturday morning, a little weeble with a happy wobble. She glued herself to my side and remained there all day, nearly tripping me time and again. I was working on a holiday project in the kitchen and she stuck close periodically circling me and pressing her swollen belly against my side. Here’s the view I had of her for most of the day:

img_4387

Her sweet attitude endeared all of us to her quickly; her tail wagged nonstop and her appreciation for any affection offered was obvious. I trimmed her long nails and introduced her to the Frank bed. She didn’t seem to have much of an appetite and refused dog food until I fed it to her on the floor.

Edith was very interested in Estelle. Eventually introductions were made and for the remainder of the day Edith stayed on one side of me and Estelle on the other. I walked them together and they engaged in competitive peeing. Gracie gave her usual welcome, snarling from the other side of the gate, before retreating to her crate.

At bedtime I introduced Estelle to her new digs in the puppy room. The whelping box Nick built took up much of the room. I lined it with layers of quilts and towels. With the grow lights and the blooming flowers that share the room, I thought the whole set up looked quite cozy. Estelle not so much. She really didn’t want to be left all alone. It took a little convincing to get her in the box the first time and she continued to hop out of it each time I left, whining at the gate that blocked her escape.

I went to bed imagining I’d find her pressed against the gate in the morning, but was surprised to see that she’d decided the box was hers and insisted on staying in it for most of the morning. She swirled the bedding into a nest and lay in a corner, watching me. The tail wagging had abated. Could she be in labor? But we have two more weeks! Continue reading Our Holiday Treats Came Early

Election Results

When I woke last Wednesday morning and the election was finally over, I was devastated. I looked out at the rain and it felt like my best plan of action was to crawl back in bed and not get up for four years.

But then I had another thought.

“Suck it up, Buttercup,” I told myself.

I can handle this. And besides, I’m not always right. It is my greatest hope that I am completely wrong on this one. Now, don’t let that sidetrack you. This is not a political post. That’s just a confession of where I was when I made a crazy decision.

I got out of bed, had some caffeine and changed the notifications on my Facebook (I did put on my big-girl panties, but that doesn’t mean I could stomach the taunting or rejoicing of those for which it was a bright sunny morning).

And then I decided what I really needed was some puppies. That would put everything in perspective for me, or at the very least, it would be a grand distraction and a place to channel my excess emotions. Continue reading Election Results

We’re Running Low on Puppies

dsc_5551“We’re running low on puppies,” said Ian after he’d poked his head in the puppy room on Sunday and noticed we were down to three puppies.

It’s Tuesday now and the quiet in our house is remarkable. The silence rings like it did when the baby finally stopped crying and fell asleep all those long nights a decade or two ago when we were young parents.

All the puppies have gone to their forever homes. It’s just Edith and Gracie left negotiating territory and guarding their food dishes. Before the pups left, we had one last adventure together that still has me smiling every time I think of it.

With the help of Nancy (Edith’s adopter and OPH photographer) I took all twelve puppies to the vet for their well-visit last Thursday. Remembering my last puppy vet run, I’d packed the car with bags of wet rags, extra towels, garbage bags, and no one (including me) had eaten anything in four hours. We left early so we’d have time to clean up the barf and poop coated puppies that would emerge from their kennels when we finally arrived at the vet. Continue reading We’re Running Low on Puppies

Puppies Ruin Your Life

After over six weeks with these pups, here’s the thing that is getting to me—there are so many of them. Yes, yes, I know. I knew there were twelve when I picked them up. But back then they were tiny. Their little shiny bodies could be held in one hand.

Having fostered a litter of nine puppies last spring, I really thought that twelve wasn’t that many more.

It’s just that it is.

Twelve is a lot.

Adjustments have to be made. Not just enlarging the pen, but in terms of equipment and strategies. You can’t feed twelve puppies with a couple dog food bowls. There would be a riot and little Georgie might get trampled. So, instead, we use a plastic veggie tray which is large and round with six sections, plus another three section serving tray. (Don’t worry— I probably won’t use either again at our parties!)

dsc_5402

A water bowl also won’t work for twelve puppies, so instead I use a big, tall-sided plastic chip and dip tray, filling the chip area with water so that six or ten puppies can drink all at once. Puppies tend to do everything enmass. (Again – I promise you probably won’t see this dish at our shindigs!) The chip/dip tray works great unless the kennel attendant steps on a side of it. If that happens the room is flooded and the freshly laid puppy pads are soaked. The residents find that to be a fun situation. Continue reading Puppies Ruin Your Life