Huckleberry (the artist formerly known as “Syrus”)

Huckleberry

Look who made it onto transport in Slidell, LA this afternoon! Yes, that’s our boy Huckleberry (formerly Syrus), about to make his way north to his forever home on Long Island, New York.  It took several weeks and three different antibiotics for poor Huck’s upper respiratory infection to go away, but he is finally healthy enough to ride on Rescue Road Trips. www.rescueroadtrips.com

Wow, was this whole thing a complicated ballet: An acquaintance from my former hometown saw him on this blog and fell in love with his picture. I couldn’t keep him in my backyard for longer than 10 days, so a volunteer pal arranged a second foster home for him. The adopter’s  big-hearted 69 year old mom lives in New Orleans and drove here to do all the adoption paperwork, pay the fees and bring the second foster home food for him and other supplies. Then when he flunked his first health check and could not ride on transport, the second foster home kept him another two weeks, lavishing him with love and letting him loll on their sofa and enjoy the company of four roommates and their Great Dane. And then this morning,Huck’s new grandma drove up again from New Orleans and brought him to the pick-up spot in Slidell. And if that’s not complicated enough, his adopters had to travel out of the country and so when he arrives in New England this weekend, a sister-in-law will be picking him up and holding onto him until they are home.

And THEN, they’ll get to meet their sweet, new boy. It seems like a lot to put a dog through, but as my rescue friend, Jill, said when she brought him to my house, “He was supposed to go Jesus yesterday.” Fortunately, Jesus was cool with waiting.

Happy Tails, Huck! No more living alone underneath a camp carport for you!

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Syrus (now Huckleberry): Day 13

Huckleberry, fattened up and  relaxing in his new foster home en route to his Forever Family in New York.

Huckleberry, fattened up and relaxing in his new foster home en route to his Forever Family in New York.

So the truth is, I haven’t updated you on Syrus, whose name is now Huckleberry, because I’ve been nervous. Nervous because I did something I’ve never done when fostering before: I adopted him to someone (fabulous) who lives more than 1,000 miles away. And the logistics have been a little complicated. I haven’t wanted to share because I’m holding my breath that it’s all going to go off without a hitch, but enough with the superstition. You care about Huckleberry too, so we can all cross our fingers and toes and hold our breath together. Alas, here it is:

About a week ago, my adopter (who wishes to remain anonymous for now) sent her 70 year old mother up from New Orleans to officially adopt our boy. Her mom, the most delightful woman you can imagine, arrived with a huge bag of nutritious puppy food for Huck and a blankie and other goodies for his stay with the next foster and we went up to the shelter together for her to do the paperwork. The reason he went to another foster is that I was only able to have him here for a week due to my work schedule. And the adopter’s mom couldn’t keep him at her home. And also, because I wanted him to be in a place where he could live indoors and practice his good house manners, as well as recuperate in a warm place from his kennel cough and snotty nose. (He’s on round two of antibiotics for that, bless his heart).

So Huckleberry is doing great in his new foster home from what I hear, and he’s house trained and crate trained and coughing less and enjoying the company of a Great Dane too. And if all goes well and he gets his health certificate from the vet in the next couple of days, he will ride on the transport with Rescue Road trips (www.rescueroadtrips.com)to his fabulous new home in a beautiful little fishing village in New York on Long Island.

I ask you to send our boy good, healing energy so that he is well enough to make the trip. And that every requirement is met so that he can get on that transport and be on his way to his new life.

Addendum: Looks like poor Syrus flunked his pre-transport check-up because he still has the remnants of kennel cough, despite two different antibiotics and a week on each. And no health certificate, no travel north to his Forever Family. Hopefully, his foster can hang onto him for another two weeks until the next transport when he is 100% with certificate in paw. A stay at an animal shelter for an unvaccinated dog or cat can be an unbelievable germfest. I’m just grateful Huckleberry continues to improve, because a lot of dogs and cats die in shelters from the disease they can all spread around there. Please make sure your dogs are vaccinated for Bordatella (aka: Kennel Cough) every six months, even if you don’t board them. If they ever get out and picked up by Animal Control, even a brief stay in a shelter can be a death sentence.

Huckleberry with Camelia on our "goodbye for now" walk.

Huckleberry with Camelia on our “goodbye for now” walk.

Huckleberry's new collar, with tag that doesn't let him forget his Louisiana roots.

Huckleberry’s new collar, with tag that doesn’t let him forget his Louisiana roots.

Huckleberry's new grandma (or MawMaw as they say it).

Huckleberry’s new grandma loving him in my garage .

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.

Going...

Going…

...going...

…going…

Gone.

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! (www.acadianak9training.com) 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: http://foodporndaily.com (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.