Only Connect

“Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its highest. Live in fragments no longer.”

E.M. Forester

 

If you were my student when I was teaching Freshman Comp many years ago, I might have asked you to journal on this. Now I’ll just hurl my interpretation of it at you and then get to a great little rescue story that just happened.

Why are we here? Human love. (And dog love. Cat love. Love, love, love!)

What should we connect? The prose and the passion. (Work and passion! Living and passion! Whatever: Just live in your freaking passion.)

Why shouldn’t we live in fragments? Because our work, our passion and our love may miss the opportunity to be exalted.

So how should we work? Together.

Thanks for indulging me.

Very often, people who work in animal rescue do so because they love animals, but they’re really not crazy about people and sometimes they’re bad at working together. Having good people skills, however, means you will inevitably be able to place more animals in loving homes. First, the public doesn’t want to  deal with cranky animal rescuers who make them feel bad about themselves. Second, when people who work with shelter animals get along well with each other, they are able to network animals into many more wonderful, loving homes than they might otherwise.

Meet my friend, Jodi (she’s the one on the right, I’m on the left):

JodiGolden

Jodi and I are both Crazy Dog Ladies, Yankees in Louisiana and moms with three kids. We do not share hair type. We do not share politics. We have sparred on Facebook in the past about Big Issues. But we also crack each other up and we have a deep appreciation for each other’s good heart.  Jodi and I have each other’s backs —  not  including the time she almost cut off my finger at the shelter while showing me how to groom a matted Shih Tzu while we sparred about the upcoming Presidential election. We both actually think this is really funny, so we share a twisted sense of humor too.

So when Teddy arrived in Boston a couple of weeks ago and his adopter’s sister fell in love with him and said, “I want a dog like Teddy too!” All I had to do was look at Jodi’s Facebook page to see that she was fostering this guy, Rasta, who  had come into the shelter a dreadlocky mess with a terrible cold. The shelter vets fixed him up with meds, the assistant shelter director, Paula Shaw, did a beautiful job on him with the clippers, and he came out like this:

Rasta2

 

I asked Jodi what his temperament was like and she said calm, sweet and snuggly.

Sounded like Teddy.

Looked enough like Teddy too. Am I right?

Rasta3TeddyEnRouge

I messaged Teddy’s mom, Claire, and shared his info with her. She shared it with her sister. We were honest that Rasta is not yet house trained, but that being recently neutered would help. As would a magical contraption called a “belly band.” Like Claire, her sister is amazing and this was a non-issue for her.

She adopted Rasta by phone. She booked him a trip on the Rescue Road Trips bus. Jodi is going out of town this week and needed  help, so Rasta is here at my house for the next 48 hours, and then he’s on his way to New England to be a Yankee who loves Louisiana. Like me. Like Jodi. Screw the fragments. Only connect.

 

If you would like to donate to help dogs at Companion Animal Alliance, the open-intake municipal shelter in Baton Rouge where Teddy and Rasta once lived, please click here: http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx 

And thank you! 

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Teddy: Home at Last

This is the story of a sad little five-year-old Cockapoo named Teddy.  Last October, Teddy found himself at an open-intake Baton Rouge shelter called Companion Animal Alliance and yesterday, he got the happy ending he so richly deserved.

TeddyEnRouge

 

These are the things that happened to Teddy:

1. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/teddy/

2. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/teddy-ii

3. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/teddy-iii/

4. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/teddy-iv/

‎5. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/teddy-v/

Yes, this is a lot of reading, but seriously, it’s a good story, so don’t ruin it by reading the ending before you have all the juicy details.

Go get a cup of coffee and we’ll wait for you to get caught up.

 

 

 

 

Ready?

(Don’t cheat!)

Also, if you read these other entries about Teddy already, you might want to refresh your memory. Just a (pushy) suggestion.

Okay, so from where I left off, at “Teddy V,” I was very sad that the lovely older couple didn’t adopt Teddy after his hip surgery, though I did understand. And we were committed to finding him a home and not foster failing.

In the weeks that followed, a slew of people with children wanted to adopt Teddy and that was frustrating. Teddy loves kids, but he wasn’t going off to a home with them. (You read the other blogs, right?).

I took him to adoption event after adoption event, including this one at the Mystic Krewe of Mutts Mardi Gras parade where he had a great time, got a lot of attention and I gave my contact information to more than one interested prospective adopter. But none ever called.

ReneeTeddy

 

Teddy also spent several days a week at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House, an amazing place open to the public in Baton Rouge, where foster dogs can go for “Doggy Day Care” while they are available for adoption. The Dog Adoption House not only looks like a decorator showroom, dogs there get excellent glamour shots taken by generous volunteer photographers like Holly “Bird” Harris and Cheryl Smith Dispenza, who runs a program called Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender (PASS) that helps keep dogs out of the shelter in the first place. Cheryl took these of Teddy in November:

Teddy4 Teddy3

Teddy loved it at the Dog Adoption House. It’s cozy, immaculately clean, and the dogs there are given a lot of love from staff and volunteers who let into play yards hourly and give them treats like Kong toys stuffed with frozen peanut butter in their kennels. The Dog Adoption House adopts out dogs at a rate of 1-2 per day, seven days a week. Several of our fosters have been adopted there, but Teddy was passed up again and again. I just didn’t understand it. Maybe it was my sign on his kennel saying he was sensitive and delicate after hip surgery and he needed to be in a home without kids. Who knows.

And then at the end of January, a month after Teddy’s surgery, I got an adoption application from a woman named Claire who lives in Boston.

I have sent fosters to New York, Maine and  Chicago, so I have nothing against shipping dogs thousands of miles away for a great home. But a month out from  surgery, Teddy was still occasionally limping around. On very cold nights, he seemed really uncomfortable and would sometimes cry out while getting in and out of his dog bed. And he was taking arthritis medicine that he might possibly need to take for the rest of his life.

 

Teddy_SundayMorning

 

On paper, however, this Claire person looked pretty wonderful. And she didn’t have kids. Also, she had gone to college at Tulane and was extra excited when she saw that Teddy was a Louisiana dog. Claire loved Louisiana.

I sent her an email expressing my concern for Teddy’s health in a cold climate, because Boston has been slammed with freezing temps and blizzards all winter. I told her about the arthritis meds and about my concern that if she adopted Teddy and wasn’t happy with him, I couldn’t easily get him back, like I could if he were adopted locally. My biggest fear for Teddy was that he might end up at another shelter.

Claire wrote back, saying the arthritis meds weren’t a problem and assuring me that if she adopted Teddy he would never end up in a shelter. Worst case scenario, she said, she would make sure to get him back to me. We agreed I would ask Dr. Salmon what kind of impact the cold might have on Teddy’s pain, and I said I would call Claire the next day to speak with her further.

I never did.

And I didn’t call her the next day either. Very unlike me, but at that time, I just could not envision it. Plus, a really lovely friend and neighbor was letting me rehab Teddy’s hip in her indoor pool and hot tub and he needed more of that. Doing this at a dog rehab facility would be very expensive. Here is the pool where Teddy and I worked out together:

 

Can you even believe our luck that this was blocks from our home and my friend had no objection to letting a DOG swim in it? Let me add that she fostered a pregnant terrier for Companion Animal Alliance. The dog had more than seven puppies in her bathroom, all of whom found homes. And my friend adopted the Mama.

Can you even believe our luck that this was blocks from our home and my friend had no objection to letting a DOG swim in it? Let me add that she fostered a pregnant terrier for Companion Animal Alliance a couple of years ago. The dog had more than seven puppies in her bathroom, all of whom found homes. And my friend adopted the Mama. You really do meet the best people doing stuff like this…

 

I apologized and emailed Claire again, saying Teddy needed  more free pool rehab time. I also told her about the snapping. He hadn’t done it in a month, but I was concerned if he did it to Claire, she might freak out. I signed off saying if she were still interested, I would touch base with her in a month if he hadn’t been adopted locally. I never expected to hear from her again.

But she was still interested. Oh, did I mention Claire works with children who have special needs? Did I mention when I told her about the snapping-but-not-biting, she said, she worked with kids all day who lashed out at times and she felt confident she could handle it?

Thirty days ticked by and the kind of home I wanted for Teddy still wasn’t coming along in Baton Rouge. In that month, he grew stronger, healthier and happier.

Crespo, Luna and Teddy

He didn’t cry getting in and out of his bed on cold nights. He no longer needed arthritis meds. He let me massage his hips and gently tug his tail in a game that I instituted which at first he found puzzling and later found hilarious. And after three months of watching my dogs play with each other and never joining in, Teddy started awkwardly trying to roughhouse with our 85 pound Mastiff mix, Crespo. This was previously unimaginable in his formerly delicate state. Crespo obliged, allowing Teddy to pummel him, like he does with our 30 pound Beagle mix, Luna.

By the end of February, Teddy was feeling like a million bucks, and although I was sure Claire probably had adopted another dog, I gave her a call.

She had not adopted another dog. She was waiting for good news about Teddy.

WHAT?

Seriously, one of the best things about fostering dogs for me is getting to meet amazing people like Claire. You think they don’t exist, and yet they keep showing up, again and again, making fostering dogs so addictive.

I asked Claire for two references and called them — they were Perfect and More Perfect.

I made a Skype date with Claire and met her via video-conference — she was lovelier than I had even imagined.

My friend Deborah, who lives in Boston and had adopted my friend, Laurie Lynn Drummond’s CAA foster Sally the previous month, did a home visit at Claire’s house for me.

Deborah’s verdict: Claire is as great in person as she was on the phone, by email and Skype. Claire clearly understood what she was getting herself into. She was planning to take Teddy to obedience school, not for him, she said, but for her. What Deborah liked best about Claire was how she “lit up” when she spoke about Teddy. If a person could fall in love with a dog over the internet, Deborah said, Claire had done that with Teddy.

It was a done deal. I approved Claire for adoption, she booked Teddy a ride north on the Rescue Road Trips truck and paid for it.

Teddy was Beantown Bound.

My husband, Ed, is from Massachusetts and we met at UMass, Amherst. Ed couldn't wait for Teddy to learn how to root for the Sox and the Pats.

My husband, Ed, is from Massachusetts and we met at UMass. Ed couldn’t wait for Teddy to learn how to root for the Sox and the Pats.

 

For moral support, my friend Laurie Lynn drove me to the Love’s truck stop in Port Allen, Louisiana, where Teddy was being picked up at 9 am on a Thursday. I kissed him goodbye in the backseat of her car.

 

Teddy20140319_3

Was I a little nervous that Teddy would be scared or naughty and snappy with his handlers on the bus? A little. Was I worried he wouldn’t want to leave me and get into a tractor-trailer lined with 60 cages of dogs and think he was in a strange moving animal shelter? A little.

But it seems Teddy’s experiences at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House made him see kennels filled with other dogs as happy places. Teddy also loves riding in the car, so when he saw the truck, he started wagging his tail like he was about to go on the best ride of his life. He hopped on board in two elegant leaps and let the driver/owner, Greg, lift him without objection, for a picture.

Teddy20140319_1

This is Greg Mahle, who owns and operates Rescue Road Trips. He’s an gentle, kindred spirit who loves dogs as much as we do. Every two weeks Greg drives from his home in Ohio down through the deep south to pick up and deliver homeless dogs  to New England.

Teddy20140319_2

Over the next 48 hours, Teddy let perfect strangers in Alabama and Pennsylvania walk him. And he got to see his first snow. (Unimpressed with that white stuff…Lemme back into the truck!)

TeddySnow

Forty-eight hours later, Claire and her sister drove to get him in Putnam, Connecticut.

TeddyArrived1

I’d be lying if I told you I don’t miss Teddy this morning as I sit on the sofa typing this. He would be pressing his feathery little body into my side trying to get closer than close and encroaching on my keyboard. And if Crespo got too close, he would be turning around and giving him the stink-eye.

Anyone see a photo- bomber trying to disguise himself using the wrong camouflage against my pajama bottoms?

Anyone see a photo- bomber trying to disguise himself using the wrong camouflage against my pajama bottoms?

But the fact is, although Teddy liked Crespo and Luna well enough, he is more of a People Dog than a Dog Dog. And in all the time he was here, he never gave up his hope that he could one day have me, or any woman, all to himself. I am a foster dog mom though, and no dog is ever going to have me all to himself. After everything Teddy had been through, he deserved a woman all his own.

It took a few months to find her and more than a thousand miles of traveling, but Claire, it turns out, was Teddy’s woman all along.

Happily. Ever. After.

Happily. Ever. After.

If you would like to donate to help dogs at Companion Animal Alliance, the open-intake municipal shelter in Baton Rouge where Teddy was housed when I met him, please click here: http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx

If you would like to help dogs at Friends of the Animals in Baton Rouge, a rescue organization that holds offsite adoption events and has the amazing Dog Adoption House where Teddy spent many happy day time hours over the course of many months, please click here: http://friendsoftheanimalsbr.org/donate.html

Both of these organizations have my heart. Thank you!

The Top 10 Dogs of 2014 (AKA: Our Fosters Last Year)

One of the things I like most about fostering is that it allows those of us who really like dogs to try out various breeds, sizes, ages and fur types we never thought we would want for our own. Sometimes I take dogs just because I’m not attracted to them; that way I think the temptation to keep them will be less. Other times, I take dogs because I’m so attracted to them it tears me up to leave the shelter without them (See Izzy, below. She looked so much like my beloved dog, Tick who passed away in 2001 I almost couldn’t stand it.)

Here are the dogs from Companion Animal Alliance who lived at our house for a spell last year.

Yogi, a pathologically shy (sweet) guy, was our foster in the spring of 2013. He was returned to me  in November 2013 because he was really afraid of men and would submissively urinate inside every time the man of the house tried to put a leash on him to take him for a walk. He was adopted one more time and returned to me again after a day (another guy problem). And ALMOST adopted a third time, but he made a break for it on his overnight trail with the adopter which led to a harrowing chase and, well, it didn't work out. In the interim, Yogi and I became quite attached all while he really wanted nothing to do with the men in my house. And they left him alone. At last, in the spring of 2014, his princess came along: An LSU student getting her PhD in psychology. YOGI GOT HIS OWN PERSONAL PSYCHOLOGIST! Seriously, they are so incredibly happy together and I could not be happier that he found the person of his dreams.

Yogi

Yogi, a pathologically shy (sweet) guy, was our foster in the spring of 2013. He was returned to me six months later because he was really afraid of men and would submissively urinate inside every time the man of the house tried to put a leash on him. He was adopted one more time in 2013 and returned to me again (another guy problem). He was ALMOST adopted a third time, but he made a break for it from the yard of the prospective adopter on his overnight trial with her which led to a harrowing chase and, well, it didn’t work out. In the interim, Yogi and I became quite attached. He really wanted nothing to do with the men in my house though, and they respected that and didn’t engage him, so it all worked out fine while he was here. At last, in the spring of 2014, his princess came along: An LSU student getting her PhD in psychology. YOGI GOT HIS OWN PERSONAL PSYCHOLOGIST! Seriously, they are so incredibly happy together and I could not be happier that he found the person of his dreams.

Yaya

Yaya

Poor Yaya didn’t work out at my house. We fostered her through her spay recovery, but my dog Luna didn’t like her and I was afraid one of them was going to get hurt, so I had to return her to the shelter. That’s always the tough part about fostering for me: If a dog doesn’t work out with my pack, they have to go back. It may sound cold hearted, but with a shelter that houses 300 animals, I can easily find a dog there that does get along with my pack and I can’t endanger my animals or the foster (Luna did bite a foster once and it cost me $100 at the vet to fix that). Fortunately for Yaya, a volunteer named Susanna met her at an adoption event and was very smitten with her. Susanna went back to the shelter after Yaya had been there for several weeks and brought her home as her foster. Yaya is still available for adoption. Susanna is her hero.

Fosters2014_3

Jacy

Jacy and her litter mates were born under a house, had very little contact with humans and by the time they were brought into the shelter most of them were terrified of people. Translation: Unadoptable. Two of her siblings were euthanized and she was slated to be next. My friend, Jacinta, who works at the shelter begged and pleaded for someone to get her out of there, so I gave it a shot. I wasn’t hopeful, because she was just so shut down and wack-a-doodle when I met her. But after a couple of days at my house she totally came out of her shell and became the normal, spunky puppy she was always meant to be. It was kind of a miracle. I brought her to the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House where she was adopted by a lovely young woman after I’d had her for only about a week.

Fosters2014_5

Louis (now Lazlo)

I put in my orders for dogs with my friend, Jacinta who works at the shelter. This time I said, “Kooky (that’s my nick name for her), get me something that’s practically in a coma.” I really don’t have a lot of patience, energy, time, etc. at the moment (or ever). But I do want to help. I just can’t have a dog that’s going to wring me out (or my husband, Ed). That was Louis. You see how he looks in this picture? That’s how he looked at the shelter most of the time. And he was incredibly sweet and well behaved when he managed to wake up. I brought him to a dinner party with me the first night I brought him home because he was so impressive. The hostess, my incredibly big hearted friend, Author Laurie Lynn Drummond, said she would foster him so I could pull another dog from the shelter. I had him a day, Laurie had him a week, and my yoga teacher, Janene, adopted him and he lives happily ever after with her and her husband, Mike and their two other dogs (and so many cats I’m not allowed to tell you the number).

Chip

Chip

“Hey Jacinta, get me another Louis,” I said. That would be Chip. Both Louis and Chip had languished at the shelter for months. Why? No clue. Both were fantastic. Chip stayed with us a few months. Everybody loved him, but nobody adopted him. Finally, a really nice couple from outside New Orleans saw him on the Friends of the Animals Facebook page and came up to their dog adoption house with their dog to meet him. Their dog was his girl twin. They adopted him and he lives happily ever after. At Christmas, they sent out the cutest picture of the two dogs snuggling like an old husband and wife.

Fosters2014_6

Godiva was also on the long timer list at Companion Animal Alliance. They call it the Lonely Hearts Club. Isn’t that the saddest thing? I was at an adoption event with another dog and she was there on a day trip with a volunteer. She had a squeaky toy in her mouth that she was enjoying very much and I watched another dog reach over and take it away from her. She gave it up so willingly, I knew she would fit in just fine in my house (with our holy terror, Luna). That day, I pulled her from the shelter to foster and later Friends of the Animals took her on as a rescue. Godiva too was with us for several weeks.  Again, no clue why it took so long. Is she not the most gorgeous thing? Google “Dutch Shepherd.” That’s what I think she might be. She too was adopted at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House. She lives with a lovely family that includes an old dachshund, an old cat, at teenager and a pre-teen who just worship her — as she deserves.

Fosters2014_7,8

Noodle (L) and Mattie

Noodle and Mattie were short term transport fosters. They were being transferred to a shelter in Virginia Beach and needed a place to stay in the interim to make room for more animals at our shelter. It was only going to be three days, so although I’m pretty adamant about fostering only one dog at a time, I thought it would be fine. They were perfect angels. Mattie would peel her lips back and give me a full blown smile whenever she was excited to see me. She and Noodle liked to perch on my husband’s chair or curl up in his lap while he read on his I-pad. They were adorable. Both were adopted quickly at the Virginia Beach shelter.

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Teddy

You’ve heard enough about my darling Teddy already, haven’t you? Well, for this week anyway.

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Izzy

Like I said, we don’t usually foster more than one dog at a time, but while we had Teddy, I could not resist taking home Izzy too. She looked just like our dog, Tick, who passed away in 2001. She has a hilarious personality and is a hard core snuggler who also likes to burrow. We’d wonder where she was and then find her under a pile unfolded clean laundry. A police officer and security guard at the produce stand where I shop adopted her at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House. Have I mentioned how much I love Companion Animal Alliance’s partner organization, Friends of the Animals? I foster for them as well. (Godiva and Yogi were both Friends of the Animals’ rescues). Izzy now lives in a home with four humans and three other dogs. Her dad reports that she fits right in.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015. Raising my water bowl to you and your dog(s)! If you’d like to make a donation to either of these fantastic rescue organizations, both of which could really use the help, please click here their names here: Companion Animal Alliance and Friends of the Animals. I love them equally, and both help so much on the local level.

Please leave a comment and tell us about your rescue dogs. Did you adopt or foster in 2014? I’d love to hear their names and stories, please!

Teddy V

The first week Teddy was at our house, he didn't know how to negotiate the big dog bed with other dogs in it. So he just made himself comfortable in a clean basket of laundry. How cute is that?

The first week Teddy was at our house, he didn’t know how to negotiate the big dog bed with other dogs in it. So he just made himself comfortable in a clean basket of laundry. How cute is that?

The sad news is, the night before our arranged meeting, Teddy’s awesome prospective adopters decided it wasn’t a good idea for them to adopt him. At ages 68 and 71, their adult kids were concerned Teddy might have health issues down the road that they wouldn’t be equipped to handle.

Although Teddy’s prognosis is excellent and as we all know there are no guarantees about any dog’s future health, these really nice people had already been through their fair share of health issues with their elderly Labradoodle, so I understand their reservations. And I don’t hold anything against them, though I was really disappointed for Teddy. (For the record, I would highly recommend a dog like Teddy to my own parents, who are 76 — though my dad does not go for the fluffy type, nor the mixed breed type, nor the shelter type, nor anything that doesn’t start out in his house as a puppy from a breeder, despite the fact that he overtly cheers my shelter dog fostering efforts).

Before we hung up the phone, the man asked me if I was going to adopt Teddy myself. It’s difficult to explain to people who don’t foster that this innocent question is upsetting. I have no intention of ever adopting any dog that we foster (though it did happen once, with foster #12. Oops). My family has two dogs. We don’t want or need more than two dogs, even as I often fall in love with every shelter dog that comes through our door.

We foster for a variety of reasons, but the main reason is that our shelter has to kill highly adoptable animals every single day because they are overflowing and people will not stop dumping their animals there. Many people here in south Louisiana also won’t (or can’t afford to) spay and neuter their pets or take proper care of them. People across the nation create a market for puppy mills by purchasing dogs from them, and tons of puppy mill dogs end up at municipal shelters like ours too. If my husband and I were to have adopted every dog we fostered, we’d have more than 30 dogs right now, which would make us hoarders.

So no, we have no plans to adopt Teddy. My plan is to find him a loving, devoted home where he can snooze peacefully on a dog bed beside his person making them as happy as he is making me right now. It’s only a matter of time before that will happen. I have faith because I’ve seen it at close range 30+ times. And when it does, I will get that same great high that I always do, and then head up to the shelter and get another.

If you’d like to donate to help dogs at the shelter that stepped up for Teddy, please click http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx And thank you! 

Teddy (IV)

Teddy1228_5

Teddy’s been a good patient who doesn’t seem to mind being doted on one bit.

Teddy’s recovery is coming along much better than I expected. The day after his surgery he was touching his back left toe to the floor. I read online that this wasn’t to be expected until day 10. When we left the shelter, he hopped into my car on three legs, unassisted.

I’m not saying he wasn’t in pain. He surely was, and he cried out now and then, or skittered through the house with his tail tucked between his legs. I tried to comfort him, scratching his neck where I know he likes it and caressing his downy fur. I told him he was a good, brave boy and counted down the minutes until he could have his next pain pill.

Here’s what his hip looked like on Day 2:

Teddy1228_4

The incision looked great to me, so I texted this picture to Dr. Salmon. She texted me right back and said it looked swollen. So I took a deep breath, prepared to be snapped at, and broke out the frozen blueberries to see if he would let me ice it.

First I let him sniff the packet so he would know what it was. He was good with that. Then, I put it gently on the side of his chest so he would know it wasn’t going to hurt in general. Good with that too. Then, verrrrry, verrrrrrry slowly I approached the tush.

Post-operative frozen blueberries help keep the Teddy's hip swelling down.  (He finds this humiliating though and this is why he won't smile for the camera. Don't take it personally.)

Post-operative frozen blueberries help keep the Teddy’s hip swelling down. (He finds this humiliating though and refused to smile for the camera. Nothing personal.)

No problem! He didn’t snap or even growl. In fact, he seemed grateful. It must have numbed the pain.

He’s been going outside on a leash several times per day to potty, mostly hobbling on three legs, but using the fourth leg when I lean on the opposite hip, or walk him in a circle to the left, as Dr. Salmon instructed. At one point, he even seemed as if he was willing to give the neighborhood cat a chase when she was lounging on our front porch. And he hops on and off the sofa pretty easily managing some combination of three or four legs.

But mostly he’s been resting on my lap, seeking comfort. And I can’t say I blame him.

Teddy1228_2

You can help dogs like Teddy by donating to Companion Animal Alliance’s Sick and Injured Animals fund. Thanks for your help! http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx

On Tuesday, a retired man and his wife who live in New Orleans (and sound lovely on the phone) are coming to meet Teddy. It will have to be a perfect fit all around, and I really hope it is. Stay tuned!

Teddy, Christmas Day (two days after surgery). Pretty amazing.

Teddy, Christmas Day (two days after surgery). Pretty amazing.

Teddy (III)

Some nice person brought a cheese cake to the vet clinic at the shelter. Teddy was hoping he could have a piece before surgery. But no...

Some nice person brought a cheese cake to the vet clinic at the shelter. Teddy was hoping he could have a piece before surgery. But no, Teddy, we did not fast 10 hours before surgery so you could blow it on cheese cake, man.

Was I concerned about bringing in a foster dog for major surgery that would require me to do post-op rehabilitation (and on the day before Christmas)? Yes.

Did I want to be absolutely sure this surgery was necessary before putting Teddy through it? Yes.

And was I afraid that if Teddy was in pain, which he surely would be after his operation, that he would bite me as I tried to help him in and out of cars and whatnot? Oh hell yes. (Remember, I’m a chicken about being bitten. And I’m not even slightly kidding about that).

Dr. Michaelson’s observations about Teddy were interesting. When he looked at his films, he said, “Dogs don’t walk on X-rays.” All three vets laughed. Clearly, a veterinary inside joke.

TeddySurgery3

Looking at the films. To operate? Or not to operate? That is the question.

“I don’t get it,” I said.

Dr. Michaelson said, “It doesn’t so much matter what the x-ray says if the dog is walking around like nothing is wrong.”

The truth is, after a week of anti-inflammatory medicine, Teddy seemed to be in pretty good shape. He jumped in and out of the car on his own with no problem. He could jump on and off my sofa and my bed. And he had stood on his hind legs and pawed at me in the vet clinic several times during his exam.

“So what would you do if I were a private patient who brought him into your clinic?” I said.

“I would probably tell you to wait a couple of weeks and see if his symptoms returned.”

But the fact is, I still didn’t want to adopt out a dog to someone who might require an expensive surgery down the road, even if he seemed fine in two weeks. What would happen if his symptoms returned in 6 months? What about in a year? Very often, dogs are brought to the shelter because the people who own them can’t afford the expensive medical treatments they require. And this might be Teddy’s one opportunity to have this surgery and go on to live a hip-pain free life based on the generosity of a supervising veterinarian donating his time and services and a shelter that had purchased the equipment to do it.

As we were deliberating, Dr. Salmon picked up Teddy to weigh him and he snapped at her (again, no biting).

“Ah ha,” Dr. Michaelson said, “Now that couldn’t have hurt him. He just didn’t want to be picked up.” I could tell he was now concerned that Teddy might just be unpredictable.

“My hand was on his groin,” Dr. Salmon said. “That may have hurt.”

I also felt sure, after having Teddy in my house for six weeks, that he was predictable and that the way Dr. Salmon had lifted him had, indeed, hurt. “No, watch,” I said, and reached down to pick up Teddy under his chest.” He dangled in my arms like a happy little sack of flour.

Then Dr. Michaelson, Dr. Salmon, and another shelter vet, Dr. Moore, came up with a plan to definitively decide whether Teddy was in pain or just being an ass. They would sedate him for his exam.

So, a shot in the tushy, as we say in my birthplace of New York:

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I figured this would simply make him woozy and not really mind being touched in places he ordinarily did not like. I thought it would simply take away any mojo he had for snapping if something they did hurt him.

But no. He was out cold. He looked like a dead dog on the vet clinic floor. See?

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Dr. Michaelson was able to manipulate his back legs and hips every which way. And when he really dug in and started working that left hip, Teddy let out a howl from the deepest sleep that just broke my heart.

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“We have our answer,” Dr. Michaelson said.

“Let’s do it,” I said.

Dr. Salmon and Dr. Moore nodded and smiled.

And Teddy, a neglected little fella from a rough part of town who had probably spent most of his six years living outdoors with infected ears, a cracked vertebrate and a bum hip, was going to be treated like a dog that was loved (and by people with the financial resources to help him, like other lucky dogs).

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Shave that dog’s rump, please, Dr. Moore.

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Me: Okay with you if I take pictures, Dr. Michaelson? Dr. M: If it helps other animals, of course!

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More shaving for Dr. Moore while Dr. Salmon gets ready to support Teddy’s airway during surgery.

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I don’t know how people do this. I’m so grateful that the world is not made up of people just like me (who would faint if she had to do this).

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Teddy:  I.  Have become. Comfortably numb.

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Did I want to observe Teddy’s FHO surgery? Part of me did. The other part said, “I’m getting out of here!” and dragged the first part home.

Post-op wakey wakey:

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Thanks, Dr. Salmon!

The next day (doing great!)

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Thanks, Dr. Moore! Thanks, Dr. Salmon! Thanks Dr. Michaelson! Thanks Companion Animal Alliance!

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If you have charitable donations you still need to make for 2014, please consider Companion Animal Alliance, the shelter that helped Teddy in Baton Rouge, LA. Here’s the super easy link to click and donate: http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx And thank you for caring!