Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Foster Mustang Sally

So in the midst of the insanity that is my life/house at the moment, I decided it's time to foster another dog. Mustang Sally is a cruelty case owner surrender. I like doing medical fosters, and this one's a doozy.
Mustang Sally is available for adoption through Austin Pets Alive!

From what I gather, Sally's previous owner basically neglected her. She is underweight (38 lbs, should be 50 or 60), undersocialized, and unfortunately tested positive for heartworms. Then, she had a litter of puppies (currently being cared for by another momma dog, or so I was told), and developed mastitis, a painful infection of one of her mammary glands. By the time animal control collected her, the mastitis had basically exploded out the side of one of her nipples and was spreading to another. Somewhere along the way, she also developed a pretty significant upper respiratory infection.

Nevertheless, she's a happy, playful youngster who really enjoys a good cuddle. The animal shelter is calling her a "pit mix" but I see a lot more Boxer than anything. In fact, she reminds me a lot of Lucy, an extraordinarily stupid but loving Boxer that lived with us for several years, first as a foster, then as our (ex-)roommate's dog. Lucy passed away a few years ago, but I see her ghost in Sally, right down to the drool that Sally spreads around after drinking, and the bemused stare she gives me while I futilely attempt to teach her some basic obedience.

As you can see in the photos, Sally is wearing an Easy Walk harness. She's a puller! When I picked her up from the shelter, she practically sawed my hand off, lurching around on the cheap nylon leash they supplied. The harness eliminates all the pulling. It's a temporary fix, but genuine leash training will wait until she's healthier and can focus on what I'm asking her to do.

Unfortunately, her respiratory symptoms are potentially contagious, so we have arranged the house so that the dogs are well-separated. She stays in the "foster wing" (the upstairs bathroom and office), with no less than two baby gates at strategic points to keep the dogs out of sight of each other. When I leave the house, Sally goes into a crate that is in the foster room, so there's absolutely no chance of unsupervised interaction.

The separation isn't much fun for Sally, however necessary it may be. The company of other dogs can sometimes help an undersocialized dog feel more comfortable about new situations. At the same time, I'm not sure she and Star will hit it off—they're very similar in appearance, age, and temperament, and I think Star might feel that her spotlight is being usurped by this newcomer. Once Sally is healthy enough to be with other dogs, we will have to proceed very slowly and carefully with introductions. I'm already prepared for the possibility that Sally and Star will need to stay separated. Dogs don't always get along, especially if their temperaments aren't compatible.


Two Grad Students and a Pittie said...

thanks for helping out Sally! Do you like the easy walk harnass? We currently are using the Gentle Leader, but it is rubbing Havi's nose and she is NOT a fan.


jen said...

She is super smiley considering her condition! My goodness. Dogs are incredible.

Do any of her treatments for various ailments conflict? Like can she be treated for heartworms while being treated for mastitis & upper respiratory?

puddleofink.com said...

There was a pit bull that went through a similar story at our shelter, and I wound up fostering two of her puppies. She was hard to look at then, though I'm told now she's fat and happy.

How do you like the Easy Walk? Every harness of that style that I've seen would just twist around and get tangled to the side of the dog when the dog pulled. I'd be curious to hear your experience with them.

happypitbull said...

Regarding the Easy Walk--I've used a lot of collars and harnesses (can't really think of one I haven't used) and I prefer the Easy Walk above and beyond any other type of "no-pull" device. The Gentle Leader is also very effective, but I've never had a dog that actually liked it much, and I stopped using the GL altogether when Dozer managed to cut the top of his nose open on a GL. If the Easy Walk is put on correctly and snugly, it can't twist or tangle, and unlike with the GL, there's really no need to teach the dog to tolerate it—-it just goes on and does its thing, no fuss. The Easy Walk harness and Premier limited-slip collar are the two preferred tools amongst the rescue groups and shelters where I handle or have handled dogs--where you often have strong, untrained pullers and you need a simple tool that you can get on and off a dog without really thinking about it.

And for Jen--another great question--the medicines are selected and spread out so that they won't interfere with each other. For example, Sally gets a single antibiotic that works on the mastitis and the URI at the same time, and that antibiotic is okay to use with deworming meds and vaccinations. If she still has a URI after the mastitis has cleared up, we might switch to a different antibiotic at that time, but we don't want to do two antibiotics at once--that would be too much!

The heartworm treatment probably won't happen for a while; heartworm tests can sometimes give false positives, so Sally needs a retest in six months to confirm the diagnosis--unless she starts showing symptoms sooner. I'm hoping she'll be adopted by then! :)

forsythia said...

This is going to be an interesting story to follow. She's a cutie-pie.

loveandaleash said...

mustang sally is gorgeous. you are wonderful for taking on medical fosters. we currently have a very easy, happy-go-lucky foster baby, but the next dog in our lineup is a gunshot victim. he is undergoing multiple surgeries to remove bone fragments from his wrist, being treated for kennel cough, and being neutered. as soon as we get our current guy, Mr. Gonzo Bunny-Ears, into a home, we will be bringing our medical foster home!

Daisy Dog said...

She is a lucky girl. You are the best :)