Mystic Krewe of Mutts Parade

Today was the Mystic Krewe of Mutts Mardi Gras parade in Baton Rouge, a fundraiser to benefit the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society ( I volunteer with a different organization,  but this nonprofit also does great work helping homeless dogs from our shelter in Baton Rouge, and this parade is always a blast.

My dog Crespo and I went downtown to check out the scene, and what a scene it was! Beads; floats; bones; biscuits; shelter dogs available for adoption; intact male dogs whom I directed to the low cost-spay neuter services of The Spay Spay — (Various organizations had tents set up with information, and that was one of them). Obnoxious of me? Maybe. But I just can’t help myself after knowing first-hand how horrible the pet overpopulation problem is in our town. I try to be as tactful as possible, talking to people as if this was something we both knew they were planning to do, but I just happen to know a really inexpensive and excellent place where they can make the appointment RIGHT NOW. And maybe they were. And surely I do.

And, while at the parade, I also got to meet Joseph Tullier in person. Joseph is a trainer who really helped me with a dog I co-fostered with a friend when things got a little out of hand (But that’s another bottle of wine).   He is a deputy with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and was honorably discharged from the Marines where he was a Military Working Dog handler deployed twice to Iraq. (Thank you for your service, Joseph!) He now owns Acadiana Canine Training (, where he runs doggy boot camps, and trains therapy dogs for vets with PTSD. And he had an agility course set up near the parade for people to try out with their dogs.

Even at 83lbs, I’ve always thought Crespo would make a great agility dog, so we gave it a try. I don’t want to be a stage mother or anything but, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN MY DOG ON THAT COURSE!

Ha ha. Really, he had a ball doing it. Below are some pictures of the scene.

Hope you enjoy. Stay tuned for more news of Syrus, who leaves here tomorrow either to go to a new foster home, or to start the journey to his Forever Home in New York (if that works out — still hashing out details). I am going to miss Syrus a lot. I’m usually happy to see my fosters move on, even if I love them, because I have three dogs of my own, two teenagers at home and a busy work schedule. But in addition to being an absolute love, Syrus is really low maintenance. He’s good people. I’ve haven’t cried when saying goodbye to a foster dog yet, but I’m a little nervous I may tomorrow.

Anyway, parade pictures:

Highly Handsome Mardi Gras Indian

Highly Handsome Mardi Gras Indian

Crespo checking out a brindle Dane who dwarfed his 83 lbs.

Crespo “saying hello” to a brindle Dane who dwarfed his 83 lbs.

Crespo tête-à-tête with a spectacular Mastiff. Or is it a Bull Mastiff?

Crespo tête-à-tête with a spectacular Mastiff. “Hi there, gorgeous. Can I get you a bowl of water?)

Oh the things a Louisiana dog must endure...
Oh the things a Louisiana dog must endure…

Oh the things a Louisiana dog must endure (part II)

Oh the things a Louisiana dog must endure (part II)

Oh the things a Louisiana dog must endure (part III -- You even gotta pull ya own float!).

Oh the things a Louisiana dog must endure (part III — Ya even gotta pull ya own float!)

My friend, Debbie, from the Spay Spa (and a very chill companion).
My friend, Debbie, from the Spay Spa (and a very chill companion. Yes, the dog is alive).

Crespo walking the plank. He fell off once -- didn't realize he had to keep track of where he put his feet -- but  hopped right back on.

Crespo walking the plank. He fell off once — didn’t realize he had to keep track of where he put his feet — but hopped right back on.

Crespo climbing the walls.

Crespo climbing the walls.

Look how steep that is! Now he's coming back up the other side. I think he's going to get a scholarship! To what? I don't know.

Look how steep that is! Now he’s coming back up the other side. I think he’s going to get a scholarship! To what? I don’t know.

Syrus: Day 5

It looks as if there’s just a small possible glitch with my perfect adopter for Syrus in New York, but I think we’ll be able to work through it. So far, all of our communication has been via Facebook message, and I’m hoping to talk with her tomorrow, so it will feel more real. The glitch is that she’s going to Europe on business for a week shortly after he would arrive, and is reluctant to board him so soon. But I don’t think that would be a big deal. Syrus was living under a house for ages, has been living in an animal shelter for a month and is now in a shed with doggy door to a kennel in my backyard without any protest. He doesn’t whine, bark or complain in any way. He doesn’t want out. As long as he has his blankie, and lots of food so he can continue to regain weight, he will be absolutely fine until his “real” new life begins. I hope this won’t be a deal breaker. Not that we can’t find him a great home here in Louisiana. I’m sure we can. But this just seems like kismet; someone you know from far away falls in love so hard with a dog on your blog that she knows he’s the one for her. And when you receive her adoption application, you know this dog will live a life like your own cherished dogs do. It just seems meant to be. Maybe I’m a romantic, but we shall see…

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with some pictures of Syrus chowing down on a pot roast appetizer before his kibble fest. It’s really fun fattening up an emaciated dog. You fill their bowl, watch them eat, then top it off when they’re done and keep at it until they back away from the bowl like they’re going to explode. (My dogs, all pushing the envelope on their respective BMI’s, just read this over my shoulder and they hate me now. I’m not going to post the pot roast photos until they leave the room)









Okay, they left.






gone! Attaboy, Syrus.

Syrus: Day 4 (Post-Catitude Test)

Were you agonizing over the outcome all day? Because agonize no longer, the verdict is in: Syrus has good Catitude!

Yes, he was interested in Allie’s cat, Moo. He was sniffy and nudgy and just plain excited for visitors period. But there was no growling, no barking, no licking of chops. No giant fangs near any fuzzy little kitty neck. Nothing like that. Just a little nuzzling. At one point, I thought I saw Syrus give Moo the signal for “You run and I’ll chase!” But Syrus was on a leash, so that ended quickly with a win for Moo. We even put them on the floor in a small, closed off area together (while I still held Syrus’s leash firmly) and they were absolutely fine.

I envision Sweet Syrus curled up by a fireplace in the near future with one kitty curled up under each arm pit. Moo, by the way, is so mellow, I’m nicknaming him Cat-atonic.

Thanks for the Dog/Cat Introduction advice, Joseph Tullier at Acadiana Canine Training! ( and Shelter Adoption Counselor, Lily! And most of all, thanks to Allie, Ken and Catatonic Moo.

Stay tuned for “As the Adoption Progresses…”

Meanwhile, here are some bad pictures of us laying Moo’s life on the line ;}

Syrus: Day 3

Another great day with Syrus. Still a total sweetheart. Still quiet in my kennel. Still delighted to see me and mellow when I go. If I could make a template of every future dog I want to foster, I’d make it out of Syrus.

Don't look so pathetic, Syrus.

Don’t look so pathetic, Syrus.

Don't look so pathetic, Syrus.

That’s a little better, Sweetheart.

So I said I was going to include a recipe today for fattening up an emaciated dog, and I really was going to do that, until I read the ingredients. The problem with the ingredients, as I see it, is that the main ingredient is “raw, cheap hamburger meat (for the high fat content).” Many of my friends in the rescue community swear by this recipe to pack on the pounds and nobody has reported a problem with it. But when I asked a vet friend about feeding dogs a raw food diet once (as some friends of mine do), she simply responded: Ca-Ching.
Translation: Raw meat can lead to expensive problems for your dog’s digestive health. Hopefully, we’ll get a lively debate here in the comments section on that, but to play it safe, I decided not to make the famous recipe, nor to print it here. However, if you google “Satin Balls” and it pops up, what can I do?

Slightly bummed about deciding not to pack the pork onto Syrus’s ribs and watch him expand exponentially (ha,ha), I thought I’d run by a large pet chain where I have been known to score high quality, high protein dog food at 75% off a couple of months before it’s “Best Before” date. The last time I was there, I’d found several giant bags of $60 dog food that had already passed that date and asked if I could simply have it for my rescue dog efforts, but the manager said no, she wasn’t allowed to do that. Something to do with SKU #s. It had to be slashed and put in the dumpster.

Aw, I know.

Aw, I know.

Slashed? Seriously? Can’t they just leave it beside the dumpster? Apparently not. Not unless they “forget” to slash it. I asked if they could “forget.” She said she couldn’t, but she couldn’t speak for the other managers. Long story long, I asked her if I could buy the food for $1 a bag. She checked and said she could only sell it to me for 75% off. You know what? There was A LOT of really good dog food whose primary ingredients were salmon and herring, so I bought it. Several trusted sources of mine say that dry dog food is good for a year past the “Best Buy” date, or unless it smells funny. And as my 85 lb Mastiff mix, Crespo, has skin allergies, this is his stash. There’s no way I can afford to drop $60 a bag on my sweetheart, so I’m grateful when I’m able to find this and I kind of hoard it for him. And I have been known to share it with fosters that have Demodex mange, a bad skin condition that requires a really good diet to heal quickly.

Everything's gonna be alright. (Bob Marley said so.)

Everything’s gonna be alright (says Bob Marley).

Anyway, got to the store and it wasn’t open yet, so I decided to check the dumpster. Let me just say that this is so not my style. I can’t even believe I’m telling you I did this, but yes, I went dumpster diving for dog food. I’m sorry, dear upper middle class friends and relatives who just threw up in their mouths and then worried I got swarmed by roaches and rats. I’m sorry, but I have no regrets and I’ll do it again. The worst that happened was I experienced the heartbreak of seeing an unconscionable amount of high quality Nutro Max dog food in slashed bags. This is the kind of dog food that would really have helped the thinnest and sickliest of our shelter dogs. It just killed me. I picked up the end of one bag and watched all the food slide out. Sigh. I’d been hoping the expired dog food bag slasher was sleeping on the job, but no such luck. All I came up with was a moldy rawhide, which I passed up, and a sealed bag of rabbit litter. (Hey Julie Sheffield: That rabbit litter on your porch? Your welcome.)

So I came home empty handed for Syrus. While the shelter does give its foster homes dog food for foster dogs, its first ingredient is corn. Not ideal. In my mind, a high protein, high quality dog food past its Best Buy date is better than a “younger” food that’s made of mostly corn. I decided to dig into Crespo’s stash and mix it with Syrus’s shelter food. (Did I mention that Crespo LOVES this food, it makes his coat gleam and he never scratches?)  I also gave Syrus leftovers like the chicken and scraps of brisket I keep stashed in the freezer for training treats. Syrus polished off the remainder of the brisket training treats before noon. He sits like nobody’s business now.

Yo, Syrus. Yes, I do want a kiss, but not this very second, okay?

Yo, Syrus. Yes, I do want a kiss, but not this very second, okay?

Wow, I’m really rambling here and I’m sorry but I haven’t even gotten to the absolute best part of Syrus’s day. Here it is: I got an application in this morning from the woman who expressed an interest in adopting him and she and her family are 99.9% perfect. (If you didn’t see my previous blog about Syrus, I was acquainted with this woman and her husband when I lived on Long Island, and she saw my blog in her friend’s Facebook newsfeed and just fell flat out in love with Syrus’s pictures).

So here’s the .9% possible problem. They have cats. Syrus seems interested in cats, but I’m not sure if he’s interested in them as friends or as snacks. So the task at hand is to test him out with my friend, Allie’s cat, Moo and see how strong his prey drive is. Moo lives with two dogs who are her best friends, so we’re hoping he’ll forget the prey drive and pick up the cats-and-dogs-can-be-friends vibe.

I leave you with that hope for Syrus. Can you please just put it out there? Just hope that Syrus wants to be friends and only friends with Moo. Because if so, he’s going to live the most beautiful life in a seaside town in New York with a teenager, two cats, two elderly Ridgebacks, a fenced yard and a really awesome antique store to boot. And getting him there will be another fun blog. And then I can help another Syrus.

How could you not want to help another Syrus?

How could you not want to help another Syrus?

Syrus: Day 2

In today’s Syrus News:

Syrus is still a very good boy. He kept his kennel clean and dry and was very happy to greet me this morning with tail wags and wiggles. It’s kind of funny to see a dog with a head like an anvil and a gigantic skeletal body greet you with wiggles as if he’s a fat little puppy, but he does. He’s happy. Syrus is a lesson to us all in how to be happy.

The good news today about Syrus is that (a) he doesn’t climb chain link fences, as some of my foster’s have and (b) he doesn’t bark when left alone and (c) his bronchitis appears to be getting much better, so his antibiotic is working.

The other good news about Syrus is that someone I know from New York read this blog yesterday and has had the good taste to fall in love with him. Well, maybe that describes more than one of you. But this person wants to adopt him!  I’ve sent her my adoption application, which includes practical questions to help a person decide if she is REALLY ready for the 10+ years of responsibility that come with having a new dog, and I’m hoping she is reading this right now and getting it back to me.  Because Syrus has some other (somewhat vague) interest in him too, but I think this person would be ideal. And I’ve already checked up on her behind her back. So cross your fingers for Syrus, because this would just be great if it all works out. I can just see him now, all filled out, coat glistening and secretly cheering for the Saints on tv in his new home.

I know you want a picture of him today and I promise I’ll go get that later after I get some of my paid work done. And I’ll also be posting a recipe I’ll be making later today that one of my rescue buddies shared for fattening up an emaciated dog. I know most of your dogs are probably as fat as pigs (like mine), but if you ever pick up a stray that needs fattening, it will come in handy. And meanwhile, you can just show it to your own dogs and tell them it’s the dog version of that “food porn” web site. I’m sure you’ve seen the people version, right? If not, here it is: (Don’t look at this if you’re on a diet or you’ll have to kill yourself.)

Okay, gotta run, but before I do, please brighten our day by sharing your dog’s best quality in the comments below.



Say hello to Syrus!

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I told myself I wasn’t going to foster another shelter dog until Feb. 1. In fact, I told my best friend, Julie, not to “let” me because I was overwhelmed with work deadlines. She doesn’t know about Syrus, so don’t tell her, okay?

I love fostering, but I’d be lying if I told you it isn’t a bit of a time suck:  The dog is sick and you have to run it to a vet (2 hours). The dog is matted and you have to run to a groomer (2 hours). The dog needs antibiotics and you have run to a pharmacy because the shelter ran out (an hour). It’s all a labor of love though, so that time flies. And then work deadlines creep up and your own dogs don’t get much attention and you remember why you promised yourself you’d set boundaries and limitations. If you don’t, you burn out. My boundary is this: I try to take only one foster dog per month.

And then there was Syrus.

Syrus was brought to the shelter  two weeks ago when someone discovered him living under their neighbor’s camp house. He was sweet and emaciated and they were concerned, so they called Animal Control.

The good news is: Syrus was neutered and microchipped. The bad news is, his microchip wasn’t registered so it wasn’t possible to locate his owner.  Further bad news:  He wasn’t kept on heartworm prevention, so Syrus is heartworm positive. (There are a variety of ways to treat heartworm in dogs, some of which are easy and inexpensive). And Syrus wasn’t vaccinated.

Because he wasn’t vaccinated, Syrus quickly became sick at the shelter with kennel cough and then bronchitis. And he didn’t put on any weight either. My theory is that because he’s not a dominant dog, Syrus’s kennel-mate was hogging the food bowl.

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The Euthanasia Time Clock started ticking on Syrus and when my friend, Jacinta, put out the word on Facebook that he had just a week left,  I couldn’t resist.

Another volunteer at the shelter, Jill, sweetened the pot by getting a rescue group in Illinois to take him when he is well enough to go on transport. And another shelter volunteer, Amy, is arranging the transportation details. All Syrus needed was kennel space outside of the shelter and someone to give him his meds and fatten up his skinny ass.

That had my name all over it.

So here he is and I am glad.

Syrus will need a forever home, so I hope you’ll share this post and my updates as I observe his behavior over the next few days.

In short, these are our best guesses about him:

Syrus is a neutered, male 60 lb Rhodesian Ridgeback/Great Dane/Hound mix who is approximately 2 years old.  When healthy, Syrus should weigh in at more than 100 lbs. He is calm and sweet and thinks he’s a lap dog. Literally. Jill, who delivered him to my house said he slithered onto her lap while she was driving on the interstate and she didn’t have the heart to move him.

Syrus may look threatening, but he’s very docile and LOVES people and other dogs. Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but he has also been known to pee like a girl.

Syrus is happy and quiet in a kennel so far, and he seems to really enjoy snuggling with his comforter and scarfing down as much food as his body can hold. I’m thrilled about all of that!

He also sits when told and takes treats with a gentle mouth. He makes great eye contact when you talk to him, which tells me he will be easy to train. And since he is large and likes to stand and give hugs, he will definitely need an owner who will train him or take obedience classes. The payoff will be a scary looking dog who’s sweet as pie and can do party tricks to impress your friends :}

Leave me a comment below if you or someone you know is interested in adopting Syrus and I’ll send you an adoption application. He is currently available locally in Louisiana, and in about three weeks he will be available nationally through the rescue group that will take him if he’s not adopted here.

Syrus is a very good boy and we are determined to find him a home where he will be adored.

Please spread the word and let’s turn his story into a Happy Tail.

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