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.

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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!

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.

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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.