Monday, April 25, 2011

Sally's farewell photos

Foster dog Mustang Sally has been spayed and is now attending adoption sites in search of a new home. I got some funny and great photos of her toward the end of her stay.

(Star's patented Paw-Smak™ technique. Guaranteed to take out an eyeball!)

Dozer is only too happy that this toy-stealing, ball-chomping, rough-romping gal has moved on. I think Star's a bit depressed after losing her playmate. Even mealtime couldn't get her excited enough to stand up.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Not all foster stories end well

Today I dropped Mustang Sally off for her spay. This is the end of my role as medical foster; she starts looking for a home via the rescue group's adoption program now. I patted her on the head and said "Good luck, kid," and left really quickly, before the tears came.

I was really surprised at how soon it was time to give Sally back. I guess it's because I'm used to the mange puppies, and that single medical issue can take months to resolve. Sally had a small handful of medical issues, but all cleared up in four weeks, and medical foster is no longer necessary.

I'm hopeful that Sally's future will be bright and she will live a long and happy life with a loving family.

That happy ending is not, I learned this week, the case for Titan, a blue heeler that we fostered in 2008.

We were still doing independent foster in 2008, though what that really means is that acquaintances dumped stray and unwanted dogs on me and my husband, and we had to find new homes for said dogs. Thus we ended up with Titan, a seven-month-old purebred Blue Heeler (aka Australian Cattle Dog). He would be one of the last dogs we fostered independent from a rescue group.

Titan was a lovely little guy with a strong working dog temperament. He had high prey drive, tried to herd us around, and bickered with Dozer on more than one occasion. He was also very smart, very trainable, and enjoyed being around people.

In early 2009, we placed Titan with a family who had another cattle dog and a big yard. I urged the new family to get him some obedience training and give him a job or activity that suited his drive.

This week, I got a call from the dad. Divorce. They're all moving to places that don't allow dogs. Will I take Titan back?

Of course, we prefer that our foster dogs come back to us in the event that things don't work out. So I was fine with taking Titan back and re-homing him, even two years later.

Then the other shoe dropped. The dad said that Titan was aggressive toward strangers. And... Titan had bitten a couple of people. Including a child. The bites had occurred over a period of time, and Titan's owners had evidently done nothing, such as calling a trainer or behaviorist, to address the problem.

Well, when a dog develops a bite record, re-homing is no longer an option. Liability and public safety are the major considerations. Rescue groups won't take known biters, and people won't adopt them. There's only one realistic outcome for homeless dogs with bite histories: euthanasia.

Could Titan's aggression be managed? Could Titan be a safe dog? Could Titan live a long and happy life without biting another person? Titan's owners didn't have his behavior assessed by a professional, but I suspect that the answer would be yes, Titan could be a safe dog and could live a long life. Aggression can often be treated, managed, and reduced so that known biters can live out their natural lives without biting again.

But such dogs have homes, and their owners care about them. This family was about to make Titan homeless. Homeless dogs do not have such opportunities.

It saddened me greatly to tell the dad that, because of the bite history, aggravated by the fact that they had not sought professional help and diagnosis, I could not take Titan back... and further, that there were no rescue groups in the area that would accept Titan, and that it would be impossible to rehome Titan as things stood.

I explained that if they are definitely going to get rid of Titan, they cannot rehome Titan without disclosing the bite history, and that will make it very unlikely that anyone will take Titan. It's a lawsuit waiting to happen. From a public safety and legal liability perspective, the only option is the local shelter. The family must disclose Titan's bites when they relinquish him at the shelter, and those bites make him unadoptable. Titan will probably be killed at the shelter.

Although it's hard to say what I could have done differently, I feel that I failed Titan by placing him with a family that apparently didn't care enough about him to keep him safe.

There's no moral to this story, only sadness. I'm sorry, Titan.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Video of Star and Mustang Sally

Here's a short video of Mustang Sally playing with Star. As it turns out, Sally really loves to be around other dogs--so she should be very adoptable.

She's very physical when she plays, with lots of mouthing, play-bites, and pawing, so I think she would be best placed in a home with another dog of similar size.

I took this video rather late in the day, and you can see that lazy Star is already exhausted from tumbling around. This is probably the most subdued of their playtimes so far. I'm going to try to remember to record them the next time they both get the crazy zoomies.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I have pit bulls. I CAN'T buy your insurance.

Saleswoman: Mrs. Thomas? I was just calling to let you know that Texas auto policy premiums have increased, but Allstate's premiums have actually decreased. I wanted to offer you--

Me: Oh, Allstate? Yeah, I can't buy your insurance.

Saleswoman: You... can't?

Me: Yeah, see, we want to keep our auto policy and our homeowner's policy together. You know, for the multi-line discount and all that.

Saleswoman (excited): Oh, of course! Well, Allstate does homeowner's too and the rates--

Me: Um, no. I know we had Allstate auto for a while, a really long time ago. But we chose a different company when we bought our house, because ya'll wouldn't cover the house.

Saleswoman: We wouldn't?

Me: No. Allstate told me they won't cover houses with pit bulls.

Saleswoman: What? Pit bulls? I didn't... Allstate won't...?

Me: Yes. We have pit bulls. Allstate actually doesn't cover several different kinds of dogs. Pit bulls are one.

Saleswoman (flabbergasted): I... I've never heard of that. I'd have to look into it. Pit bulls, you say? In the house?

Me: Yes, in the house. They're our pets, you know.

Saleswoman: Yes, of course. Well I... I didn't know about this. I've never heard of it. Thank you for the information. I'll have to look into this.

Me: Sure. Good night.


In other news, foster dog Mustang Sally and Star have become super play buddies. They love to roughhouse, chase each other, and play tug. I'll have some photos or a video in a while. I needn't have worried about their compatibility.

Even better, my mom recently gave me a pile of my childhood artwork and stories. I figured I'd share a few of the best ones here, from time to time.

So for today, here's an untitled creation that I drew in first grade. I've never seen this work before (except, presumably, when I drew it) so I'm afraid I don't have an interesting background story to tell about it. I will say that I believe the scene is entirely fictional; I don't think this is depicting something I saw.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Mission accomplished: exterior paint!

Eleven years since we moved in and began this monstrous remodel project, the house is finally painted.

You've come a long way, house. Such fond memories...



Next major project: a garage! Here's hoping it won't take another eleven years to get there.