Happy New Year!

What is the best animal-related thing that happened in your life in 2013?

For me, it was adding Wendy to the family.  It was a bumpy start dealing with her myriad medical issues and her repeated escapes though.  The vet knocked out all her medical problems one at a time and she’s been in good health ever since.  Project Runaway was a horse of a different color.  It’s not something I’ve dealt with before and at first it was perplexing.  She would be out in the yard, seemingly fine and then POOF – she was gone.  We added additional fencing but that was just a little exercise for Billy apparently.  What ended up working for us was a combination of limiting her outside time to direct supervision in a small portion of the yard and taking her for leashed walks.  When she needs to go out for a potty break or wants to have a bone, we put her on a tie-out (only when we are home and can see her out the window if we are indoors).  She loves her tie-out and took to it like a duck to water.  My vet guessed that perhaps she had been on one previously and it represented something familiar for her.  Whatever the explanation for why it works, I am just happy that it does.  We haven’t had an escape since we started using this system and she seems very content.

Wendy was shot at some point before we got her, as evident by the small game shot visible throughout this x-ray.
Wendy was shot at some point before we got her, as evident by the small game shot visible throughout this x-ray.

The trigger for Wendy that causes her to run away is gunshots.  We did not realize this for quite awhile.  We were aware she was afraid of gunshots (and firecrackers and thunderstorms) but had no idea this was what was putting her into a state of panic.  Then one day Billy was outside with her in the small portion of the yard where she gets her freedom under direct supervision and she happened to be on the back deck when a gunshot was fired in the area.  Being on the back deck, she could have either come to the back door and scratched to be let in or gone down the stairs to get down to the yard.  Instead she immediately began attempting to hurl herself over the side of the deck.  This would have resulted in a fall down to the back yard and accomplished nothing from a practical point of view.  In other words, she still would have been outside and within the small fenced portion of the yard.  Billy intervened quickly and brought her inside.  But the behavior was revealing.  Apparently hearing a gunshot outdoors sends her into such a state that all she can think is to hurl herself over the nearest barrier, without rhyme or reason.  I guess this would be described as an extreme fear response and it would explain why and how she escaped several times in her first weeks with us.  We live in a rural area where gunshots are common and it’s possible that she exhibited this same extreme response then, which resulted in repeated yard escapes.

Now that we have the routines in place to keep her safe and know that if we hear a gunshot when she is outside we need to run, not walk, to carry her indoors – it’s all good.  The only problem now is that Billy has stolen her from me – just like he did with Graham.  The man is obviously not to be trusted.

Beagle thief and his loot.
Beagle thief and his loot.

15 thoughts on “Happy New Year!

  1. The best animal-related things that happened to me in 2013 were the best things in general; both my dogs came to live with me. AJ, my Doberman mix, was pulled from a local shelter by a dog rescuer who thought I might want to adopt him, and she was so right. Beckley came to me when I went to a farm in West Virginia where I had placed a cat who didn’t get along with other cats and needed to be an only cat; I went there to pick up the big dog crate I the cat’s people had borrowed to keep her in until she was acclimated to her new home, and I was greeted by this cute little dog. The farm owner told me the dog had been abandoned there, and he didn’t want a dog and wanted me to take him. The vet who neutered him said that he was approximately six months old and probabaly an Australian Cattle Dog-Corgi mix. Two dog rescuers I know tried to find adopters for him, but he wasn’t quite what the potential adopters who met him wanted, and I decided to keep him–he gets along great with AJ, and I love having him here.

  2. I hope for your sake that your community does not ban the use of tethering, and tie outs are included in that definition. Proper use of a tie out, as you have demonstrated, is a completely safe, humane way to protect a fence jumper. Another option for you to try would be a DAP collar. If you are not familiar with them, they release a dog appeasing hormone, the same scent that a mother dog releases to calm puppies. I have used it successfully with some of our rescue dogs. It also comes in a spray. Happy New Year!


    1. Thanks for the suggestion. Although I have not tried the collar, I have bought the wall plug-ins in past (for a different dog). They didn’t yield any results with that dog.

      If they introduced an anti-tethering ordinance here that banned even brief, supervised periods, I’d fight it. If it passed, I’d become a lawbreaker in order to keep my dog safe. I’m a rebel.

  3. I’ve only had one major fence jumper, and we ended up having to use a tie-out for her as well – we used it the way you do, under supervision but it was the only way to keep her safe. Just like so many other tools that we have, tie-outs can be used humanely to keep dogs safe, or they can be abused. It doesn’t make any sense to ban them just because a few people don’t know how to use them correctly. But it happens more and more – it’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    As we go into 2014 I am grateful for many animal-related things, but the main one is that we still have our Matriarch, our 11-almost-12 year old Dane who is still feeling and doing very well!

  4. The anti-tethering, or anti-chaining, as they call it around here, legislation that has been passed in Virginia and Maryland only pertains to dogs who are tied out for a certain time; I think it’s longer than 12 hours a day. Tying a dog out for a few hours makes sense; tying a dog out for longer than 12 hours seems cruel to me.

  5. Sharing a UPAWS homeless pet story. Moral of the story – Never just give up! Don’t just say there is nothing we (our shelter) can do, it is too expensive etc. etc.. YOU HAVE TO TRY!! This is what happens when you do the right thing and your supporters trust you. This is the plea we put on our website and UPAWS Facebook page last night (yes on New Years Eve) at 10PM! It’s kind of long – but the outcome is at the bottom!!

    Help Buddy Holly Heal”
    This is a story of Buddy Holly and his Christmas Day rescue. Buddy is a
    gentle and sweet kitty cat boy that has a unique story. UPAWS wants to share his
    story with you in hopes you can help our deserving friend.

    Buddy’s story: Christmas day Buddy was found by a kind person lying in
    the snow bank. It quickly became evident that Buddy was lost, scared and
    very cold. Buddy’s rescuer was able to bring Buddy back
    to his home where he let him rest, warm up and eat. But over the next few
    days his rescuer found that Buddy wasn’t okay. He wasn’t moving and was
    still very scared and acting hurt. So he contacted UPAWS for help. Buddy
    quickly grab the hearts and attention of the UPAWS staff. His bright blue
    eyes and brave spirit warmed our hearts. We were able to do a quick exam
    and found that his rescuer was right, he was very hurt. At his vet
    appointment the next day it was found that poor Buddy has two fractures in
    his front leg. This darling boy has had rough holiday! Out in the cold
    on Christmas day, unable to walk or fend for himself. We are very thankful
    that his rescuer found him and brought him into our care. We are also very
    thankful for Buddy’s amazing personality! With a hurt leg and still
    enjoying pets and being very gentle and sweet. Now Buddy needs your help.
    He needs surgery to correct his leg and to get him back on his feet and
    into a home. Can you help Buddy?

    UPAWS needs to raise $800 to pay for his surgery and vet care and he’s hoping that our caring community can help.
    Please Help Buddy Holly Heal” and donate to help pay for this survivors surgery.
    Any amount you can donate will be gratefully appreciated. Thank You!

    In 13 hours we made $1185 (and more coming in)!! And that was overnight on New Years Evet! I didn’t get Buddy story on Facebook and our website til 10PM last night (figured well, at least you will have my donation and maybe 1 or 2 more). But our supporters know UPAWS does the right thing. PLEASE show this to your local kill shelters — ask them TRY even if they think no way – it is hopeless. They won’t know unless they try.

    Happy New Year to Buddy Holly : )

  6. Yesterday, I would’ve said, when we brought our Sphynx kitty Prune home. But this morning, I woke to find myself bracketed by Prune and P’Gell, both of them relaxed and happy.

    To understand why that’s so great … shortly after our old cat Norton died, P’Gell wigged out and attacked Prune, and then when we broke it up, tried it again. Quietly, calmly, focused, as if he were prey. I’d never seen inter-cat aggression like it in my household. To make a long story short, our vet put her on fluoxetine and we kept them separate for awhile, then slowly re-introduced them. It was successful, and they’ve come to share the house amicably. But this … this is a level up.

    To make it even better, this morning P’Gell also gave our dog Bertie a friendly nose-touch, and let my husband pet her.

    Happy New Year!

    BTW, I too think that’s an adorable photo.

  7. The best animal related thing that happened 2013 is we adopted our basset mix dog, Merle. She’s the first dog I’ve ever had and she fits into our family quite well. Also in late 2013 I started helping a lady with her feral cat colony at the BBQ she runs. We caught and fixed the matriarch who’d been having kittens for 8 years. We also caught her three kittens (all girls) and they will soon be ready for adoption or rescue.

    Probably the funniest animal related story is how we caught the last kitten, Kayla. One of the workers called me frantic saying the last kitten was stuck and sounded hurt, the kitten had been crying for almost an hour. We got there right away and thought the kitten was under the building (a mobile unit). So My husband unscrewed some of the skirting and crawled in, not knowing what to expect. After 15 minutes of crawling under the cold building, he found….. NOTHING. So, he came out and we started looking around some more. The kittens cries kept getting louder and softer as we tried to find her. We looked under the porch and around the building, and finally she was spotted. She was located inside the carrier that I’d left for them a few weeks back. I’d left the carrier in case they managed to catch a kitten by hand, they could put it in the carrier and call me to pick it up. Apparently the curious kitten had gone into the carrier, then tipped the carrier in such a way that the door was jammed mostly closed. She was scared and completely unhurt. :)

  8. For me it was adding Mikey to our brood. His owner passed away on Christmas day and he was stuck in boarding. His foster family contacted me to see if I could find someone that could care for him. I went and got him immediately. Mikey is a 10 month old Pomeranian with the cutest little face. The cats have fun playing with him, chasing each other though the house.

  9. For me it was continuing to deepen our relationship with our two younger cats, forever to be known as “the kittens” even though they are six years old. When we first adopted them, back when they were actual kittens (rescued outside with the rest of their litter, the mother dead beside them), they fell in love with our slightly-older tabby . . . but we couldn’t look at them without them running away. The rescue had described them as “very shy” and what that really meant was “we hope you have the patience for cats that you won’t be able to touch for a long, long time.” Following the typical advice — to try and handle them a lot — just made things worse.

    Fast-forward past years of us adapting our behavior so as not to frighten them . . . softening noises, slowing movements, speaking gently, giving them their space. They are still very easily spooked, and most of our friends still have never met them. (I actually relate to dog-owners who have to walk their dogs late at night or early in the morning, who live in a secret world constrained by their dogs’ reactivity.)

    But now Smoochie waits every evening to have play-time with my husband, he and Dorian line up for their treats, Dorian jumps up to “help” me with my laptop, we pet them both every day . . . and so much more. It’s been a good year for the twins. They love us and we love them, and we all know it.

    Plus, breakthrough for Dorian: our tabby, whom Dorian worships as a goddess, has finally accepted Dorian as a sleeping mate and is no longer grumpy about her incessant adoration. Dorian’s world is complete.

  10. I got my foster dog, Corky, adopted into a wonderful home!

    Corky–a blind pug/chihuahua mix, was with me nearly a a year, first getting to a healthy weight and learning how to be a house pet, and then looking for his forever home. He’s now in a lovely home with two chihuahuas, three cats, and a mom who works part time and can sometimes take him to work with her. If that’s not enough, her mother lives nearby and can ALSO sometimes take Corky to work with her.

    Best of all, Corky’s forever mom took over the Facebook page I’d made for him, and is keeping it up. I get to see pictures of him with his chi brother Louie, his cat brother Daddy (who volunteered as his seeing eye cat for his first few weeks in his new home!), at work with his mom or grandmom…it’s wonderful. :)

  11. My best is also one of my hardest. I brought home two fosters who were not doing well at the local humane society. They are no longer fosters, but forever cats. Unfortunately, my 6 year old boy cat has advanced CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) and cardiomyopathy. He’s in hospice care now and actually doing very well, but our time is limited. The best is that he’s here, the hardest is that he’s way too young to be so very sick.

    1. I’m so sorry, db. I know the kind of gymnastics you’re going through to keep everyone happy and safe. But in his limited time, he’ll know love and a home. And THAT is everything.

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