Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

2am Sunday morning (Sat night): What day is it? huh? About to pass out but I have realized that if I don't write stuff down as it happens, I never do and then it just disappears into the ether.

830pm Wednesday night:  oops - did I just pass out while trying to write a blog and then get way too busy to get back to the draft version until Wednesday night!? So yeah, this is now the day before the day before the day before yesterday...
Mama Belle
The Day Before Yesterday (Thursday): AWESOME dog photographer and huge supporter Jenna Leigh Teti came with me over to Johnny Bergmann's in Williamsburg to shoot pics of the American Eskimo/Parson Russell terrier family we rescued from Rutherfordton, NC. Johnny and I had really wanted to rescue the mama Belle - too gorgeous - and we don't really do puppies... But no one was stepping up for the puppies and we certainly couldn't let them just die in the shelter. SO, we rescued the WHOLE family!  Can you say OMFG what are we going to do with all of these dogs? After fostering for a couple of weeks down in NC, we transported the family up with a group of other dogs that we had also rescued from Rutherford (Jazz, Benny, and Fonzie). Johnny generously opened his home to foster the whole family together - his kitchen became 'the Eskimo room.' He also fostered Fonzie. Benny the super energetic beagle went to board at Eva's Play Pups in Williamsburg and Jazz went to foster with a new friend and foster Krishnan in Park Slope.

Fonzie - looking like an oil painting
Doing this photo shoot was like a dream. Johnny has a nice little garden where the dogs could just be themselves and relax, and Jenna was totally in her element. She specializes in getting candid, unforced and unposed shots that really capture the essence of a dog's personality (or is it dog-ality, canality?). I think she actually took 1500 shots and was up past midnight sorting through to send me selects to post online.

Benny Beagle
Friday morning: I started putting up the pictures that Jenna took on Petfinder and AdoptAPet and suddenly started getting flooded with inquiries about the dogs! We told everyone to come to our first ever adoption event to meet the doggies which was scheduled for the next day. My block association president invited me to do a dog adoption event at our annual block party and we did lots of publicity and preparation to make it a great event. (Which basically meant Johnny and I going around our neighborhoods posting up fliers and posting on facebook and just basically your average low-rent, grass-roots, DIY promotions.) But we also got a nice mention in the awesome F*cked in Park Slope Blog! I also got a couple of cool tee shirts printed for us to wear at Neighborhoodies in DUMBO.

Friday night: A rare treat - I actually put on some jewelry and nice clothes and went out for drinks with humans! It was such an exciting departure, I did drink a bit toooo much and drunk texted various friends (and exes - oy) while riding the F train home at midnight.
Saturday 530am: Wake up hungover, wanting to kill myself and Lucy - who is being spayed at the ASPCA. She has to be signed in at 7am all the way out in bumfck Queens. WHY WHY WHY couldn't she have already been spayed at the shelter?! Oh yeah, because she was taken into Staten Island ACC the day before Hurricane Irene was meant to hit and they were killing all the animals in preparation for possible flooding (since the SI ACC was in the flood zone). So instead of getting a chance to get spayed and possibly adopted, Lucy would have been slaughtered with all the rest of the animals at the shelter if not for a cat rescue that pulled her out just in time. They contacted Ruthann from Tails of Love and asked her for help - and she called me since Lucy is a lemon beagle and I am the beagle girl.

Lucy the Silly Goose-y
So Lucy the Silly Goose has been fostering with me for a few weeks and we finally got an appointment to get her ass spayed at the ASPCA. Why on earth do we have to get there at 7am? Why can't we run on a 12noon-midnight work schedule like normal night owls?

It's a good thing we had Lucy scheduled to be away on Saturday because she is a bit leash aggressive and basically becomes the White Rabbit of Caerbonnog whenever she sees another dog when she is on leash. For some unknown reason when she first met Simone on the street on leash, she was totally fine, wagged her tail, and became friends. She loves Simone (Simone does not requite that love), but she just gets all freaked out when she meets other dogs on the street. Soooo, an adoption event with a bunch of dogs on leashes outside the apartment = not the best place for Lucy Goosey to be chilling.

Sat 7am:  meet Linda Hastings Kane outside the ASPCA. She adopted Jackie O - the 70 pound 5 year old black lab that I rescued back in May from Rutherford and NO one wanted. She was fostering her for a few months and when we finally got an app on her, Linda knew she couldn't give her up. Linda has started rescuing on her own and had rescued a dog from GA that needed neuter. We had to wait over an hour to sign in and Lucy was freaking out the entire time - just going ballistic over seeing all those dogs waiting for their turn to sign in for spay/neuter. The ASPCA spay/neuter clinic is awesome - we were on the mobile unit and it was really clean and nice inside and Lucy calmed down once she got into her crate on the van.

Sat 9am - 12noon: Johnny comes over with his dad and Jenna comes over with her tables and we get set up for our first ever adoption event. Kristin Wilhelm and Linda Hastings Kane come over to help with the silent auction and walking the dogs. Ann Rose comes over to shoot some video of the event for a potential tv project. Jazz's foster dad and fellow documentary filmmaker and Park Slope resident, Krishnan Vasudevan comes over to help and ends up shooting a little video. Which you can watch here: From NC to NYC

It's pretty amazing and awesome to have such great help from such smart and motivated people. I was doing this all alone for so long and now I feel like we have a whole team of really talented people who know how to take the initiative and get shit done. BADASSES!

Sat Noon- 6pm: HOLY COW! The adopters are coming to meet the dogs and they are filling out apps and people are dropping by with their own dogs offering to foster and donate and help walk the foster dogs! What just happened? Did I just go from a one woman show a few months ago to a bona-fide rescue with actual volunteers? We have a donation jar and people are actually stuffing dollars in there and the rescue car magnets that Kristin's mom bought for us to sell are actually selling and people are bidding on the silent auction items - which I must admit are pretty damn cool: Molly Mutt Dog Bed Duvets, Mod Dog Collars and Leashes, Butter Lane Cupcakes, a session with Give Paw Dog Training, a sitting with photographer Jenna Leigh Teti and country boarding in PA with Eva's Play Pups. I think this might be an amazingly successful adoption event! AND my friend Tracy who lives on the next block invites us to do another adoption event at her block party in October!

Sat 6pm: I come inside the building to find Ann and Johnny holding a cupcake with a candle it in and champagne and singing happy birthday! My birthday was in 2 days but I hadn't made any plans - too busy with the dogs - so this was a very nice surprise!

Sat 7pm-10pm: Johnny takes Mel and Scarlet (2 of Belle's puppies) on their home visits in Prospect Heights and Williamsburg and I take Rhett (the other of Belle's puppies) on his home visit in Sunset Park.

Scarlet nuzzling her brother Mel
All the new parents are very happy with their puppies and agree to post pics and even want to keep in touch with each other so that the puppies can see each other at a reunion later. As has become routine these days, I cry when I tell the adopters about Rhett's story - that his family was living outside a trailer in NC and all 4 were dumped at the shelter together. That the puppies had never had human attention, let alone affection,  before getting to their foster home and how they were still confused and disoriented by being moved up here and separated. The adopters were so loving and understanding and I knew that all of these dogs would soon be the happiest pups on earth basking in the love of families who really value them.

Sat 10pm: Wishing I could take a shower and wash off the grime but no time - Ann and Jenna take me out for bday dinner/drinks at my local pub and we have a grand time.

Sat night - Sunday morning 2am: Start trying to write this blog as eyes drift closed... dreaming of happy doggies snoozing in their new homes, safe and sound...

Belle and Fonzie snoozing on Johnny's couch

Nikki Moustaki Interviewed Me Today

I just shot a short video interview with a fantastic shelter dog advocate/dog expert/trainer/writer and rescuer named Nikki Moustaki. She has rescued numerous dogs from Miami Dade, has published literally dozens of books about dogs and birds (!), and runs The Pet Postcard Project - "a grassroots arts-and-crafts project aimed at raising food for shelter pets and awareness about the plight of homeless animals." She is a totally hot chick who is also totally cool, smart and an all around badass.

I will post the video when it is done...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

that is quite a bit of money..thought you were into rescue?

A couple of days ago I received an email inquiring about Penny - a beagle that I helped rescue from Laurens, SC. This was the email:

"Hi! How old is Penny?  We are beagle lovers on Long Island, love her pic."

I wrote back thanking her for writing and telling her a bit more about Penny and attached the application. I then got  the following response - this is the entire email verbatim:

"that is quite a bit of money..thought you were into rescue?"

NOW, I realize brevity is the soul of... something, but really? Seriously?

You know what - I have had people write back that they can't afford the fee - fine - I get it - not sure how they will afford the first $250 vet visit, but whatever. As long as they don't make snotty comments, that's fine, forget about it and move on. But this really got me going - again - I AM on my last frayed nerve here. So this is what I wrote back - not brief...

Hi Rochelle:

Yes, I am into rescue - which is a major strain on both my wallet and my sanity.  After the adoption fee, I generally lose an average of $200 per dog. Please remember that I am one person, not an institution.  I do ALL the work myself - which has turned into a full time unpaid job. I actually haven't had time to even look for work since the management of all the rescue related things takes all day and night every day. I try to blog about it and find I don't even have time to sit down and blog because of one crisis after another. Far from getting paid for this full time work, I am PAYING to do it. Here is a breakdown of the average expenses to rescue a healthy, socialized and adoptable dog (which many are not - more on that later). These costs are average PER DOG:

$100-140 - Basic vetting for healthy dogs, depending on the vet I can get into (some vets give a better break than others). I get the dogs all necessary vetting including spay/neuter, rabies, dhlpp, bordatella, fecal exam (they ALL have worms), dewormer (panacur or drontal), frontline dose, heartguard dose, heartworm test (heartworm is rampant in the south and must be treated and they must be negative to be able to get heartguard up here).

$168 - Boarding - min 2 weeks before transport and often times can be 3-4 weeks or until I find a home for the dogs. I live in a one bedroom apartment and while I often foster 2-3 dogs at a time, I cannot possibly foster them all for as long as it takes to find them a home. Boarding costs average $8 a night but sometimes I have gotten stuck paying $15/night per dog because the cheaper vets and boarding places fill up. So boarding averages $168 per dog for 3 weeks but again, this is often much more for longer times or for more expensive boarders.

$135 - Transport from NC/SC to NY - Because I rescue from extremely high kill rural shelters in NC and SC, I have to obviously get them transported north. I have searched high and low and not been able to get transport cheaper than 100/dog. Most of the time, I have to pay the professional transporters their flat rate which is $135 per dog. They also are dog lovers who are very dedicated to rescue and do NOT make money doing this. If you can imagine what it takes to drive 14 hours each way and have sometimes 7-10 dogs in crates and have to stop and walk them, clean them, feed them, etc and also obviously cover the cost of gas and the wear and tear on the vehicles. I often have to drive 2-3 hours to meet these transports because they are driving dogs all up the east coast. I have driven out to Scranton at midnight to meet a transport that was on it's way to Syracuse. I have driven up to Newburgh to pick up a dog from a transporter that was heading further North. None of them want to come into the city, so no matter what, I am driving to get them. I have never totaled up the amount I have spent on gas but frankly, it's quite a bit. And I can honestly tell you - it is definitely not my first choice of how to spend an entire Sat night or Sunday afternoon to be driving 2-3 hours each way to some random place to get dogs. I am not counting my own transport costs but just to pay the transporter is 135 per dog.

Extra vetting - Penny is a good example here although her extra vetting has been pretty minimal. I have had dogs that required 500-700 of extra vetting before being healthy and ready for an adoption; Like the beagle I rescued who had been bred so many times she had hernias and had to have surgery for that and THEN had so much bloody diarrhea and vomiting and persistent parasites (after being dewormed twice) and had to be hydrated and on several medications that even after the initial major expense of surgery I had another $520 in vet visits - this is AFTER she had traveled up.

Anyway: Penny tested very weak positive for heartworm. I have had several dogs this summer that tested light positive. Because heartworm is so prevalent down there, if it is light positive they often do 'slow kill' which is just keeping the dog on heartguard (as you would for any dog) and giving the dog antibiotics and within a year or so the adult worms die and the heartguard prevents the babies from growing. While I think this is a fine way to treat a heartworm positive dog - and MUCH cheaper, I also know that people up here don't really understand heartworm and the vets will not do slow kill. The vets up here won't even allow you to buy heartguard without a negative test result. The vets up here also charge 600-800 to treat heartworm so it is very important to make sure the dogs are negative before they travel because once they are up here the adopters can get very screwed by heartworm positive tests. I am very diligent about this because before I started rescuing I heard horror stories of people adopting from the south straight from the shelter and getting socked with up to 900 vet bills for heartworm treatments because the vets up here freak out and see it as a chance to charge a lot of money.

SO - with Penny, like the other dogs, I have had to pay for the 'fast kill' which takes a month and consists of several shots. I get a better deal down there with the rescue vet I use and it costs $150 (for a beagle, larger dogs cost more because they charge by weight). ALSO this means that the dog being treated will have to board an additional month because they have to wait until they can get their last shot before transport. I am not often blessed with foster homes that will keep the dog for free - so guess what - that means another $8/ night in boarding - for an ADDITIONAL MONTH. = 240. I was very lucky to have a foster for Penny who didn't charge for boarding and this helped A LOT, but this is the only time this has happened.

Just an example of the kind of issues I have to deal with - I had a beagle who was boarded for 5-6 weeks. I had called the vet no less than 4 times when she was being spayed to make sure they did the heartworm test. They forgot. The woman who was taking care of her lived 45 min away and worked full time and didn't have time to get her back for the test. I had a home for her ready to go and was getting her health certificate and remembered she had never had her heartworm test. Well, of course she came out weak positive. SO - now she had to get another spot in boarding for another month and of course the cost of treatment itself is $150. So, now I am looking at an additional $390 just because the vet is so busy down there with SO many rescue dogs they made a simple mistake and forgot to heartworm test her. Had they just tested her when she was first in for the spay, I could have transported her when I had planned to because she was already down there for 6 weeks and could have been undergoing treatment and been done and ready to go to her new home. Instead her adopters had to wait another month and of course *I* am footing the bill - not the adopters. So that was $390 on TOP of the OVER $400 I had already spent on her between basic vetting, boarding and transport. 

I am not even going to include here the breakdown of the THOUSANDS I have charged to my credit cards for food, treats, toys, crates (average cost of 60-70 a piece), leashes (that always get chewed and need to be replaced), collars, harnesses, ADOPT ME vests, and other stuff necessary to properly rescue and rehome the dogs.

I am ONE person.  I do all of this myself. I spend many many hours on this to the point where I literally don't have time to do basic stuff for myself that I need to do. I do not have an institution to help raise money for this. My "foundation" is my maxed out credit cards and I just literally had to get another credit card to pay for these heartworm treatments. I am basically subsidizing other people's adoptions and frankly, I cannot afford it.

Why do I do it? Because if not for me every single one of the dogs that I have rescued would be dead in a landfill. That is the bottom line. Penny was pulled by a friend who lives in SC and has been tirelessly working to save the dogs in rural shelters. Penny came from Laurens, SC where the animal control officer literally said to my friend 'we are a kill shelter not a save shelter' and they do NOTHING to try to get the dogs out or adopted. I have seen pictures of dogs that I desperately wanted to save but didn't have the money, space or ability to do it myself and the next day they were killed. Their faces haunt me and I cry often about the ones I have tried to help but didn't have the resources to do it.

ANY small rescue that you will meet will have an adoption fee - usually between 250-450 per dog. Small rescues do not have financial support from big donors or development staff to raise money.

If you are worried about money - the best deal around is to go to NYCACC (the city pound) and adopt from them. They desperately need to adopt dogs out and often get beagles. They also have CITY MONEY to help cover their costs - so they are able to get the dogs spayed/neutered and get them their shots cheaply so they can then charge a smaller adoption fee. I adopted by beagle from the Harlem ACC 5 years ago and she is a wonderful dog. You can also go to North Shore Animal League which is a much larger organization (again, I am ONE person), and they raise a ton of money and have many people working and volunteering for them - so again, they are able to charge a lower fee.

I personally feel passionately about rescuing from these rural southern pounds myself because frankly there are very few of us who even KNOW about these hellholes. I can't even use the word shelter since they aren't (they are warehouses where they kill dogs using inhumane methods such as heartstick and gas chambers often twice a week) and without the FEW of us who care and work hard to make a difference these dogs ALL end up in landfills by the thousands.

I realize this is a long explanation, but I have spent my very limited time writing this because I think it is important for people who have no idea not only the time but the money that goes into rescuing each dog to understand why we have to charge a fee and what is covered (and not even begins to be covered) by that fee. I hope that once people are more educated about these issues they will understand how rescues work and why fees are what they are.

Hopefully now that you are aware of all that goes into rescue - all the work and money for each single dog - you can spread the word to your friends and family and support small rescues.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sara's Choice

Do you remember that film Sophie's Choice with Meryl Streep? If not, look it up. It's basically about a woman who we find out is a mother who went to a concentration camp and had to choose which of her children will live and which will die. An impossible choice - but one she had to make - to avoid losing both to the gas chamber she chose one to go to the work camp and the other to go to the gas chamber.

The Holocaust was a long time ago now. The veterans who fought in that war (like my grandfather - who was an Army Air Corps navigator shot down over occupied France and saved by members of the French Resistance)  are almost all gone now and the Millenials, Gen Y don't even have the benefit of hearing the stories first hand (as my generation did).

But guess what - all over this country, particularly in the south, there is a very real holocaust going on in animal shelters. Some of these rural high kill animal control pounds (hard to call them a shelter when they are basically prisons that only exist to kill) - actually USE gas chambers. Do you know how gas chambers work? They shove all the cats, kittens, dogs and puppies in together in a rudimentary gas chamber - usually some kind of shack or truck type vehicle. The dogs are terrified and because it takes such a long time for them to die, they tear each other apart out of fear. So the less aggressive dogs get killed very violently first because the more aggressive dogs freak out and attack them to death. It takes like 20 minutes for them all to die. This is happening all over the south.

But even regardless of the way the dogs and cats are killed - and other shelters use different means, some more inhumane than others - does it really matter so much HOW they are killed as much as the very fact that literally MILLIONS of dogs and cats are KILLED every year in animal control prisons for no better reason than they have no place to live. People don't spay and neuter their dogs - and even worse, they purposely breed their dogs. The result is that dogs breed (and cats, let's not forget the cats), and instead of DOING something to prevent this, people just dump them at the shelter. Or they don't put a collar and ID tag on their dog or think to keep the dog inside or inside a fence and then when the dog runs off and gets lost and animal control picks up the dog and takes it to the 'shelter' the dog has 72 hours to wait until they get to be next in line to get killed.  Fantastic.

Soooo THEN those of us who actually care and want to help save some of these innocent lives (and really, they are innocent, they didn't ask to be bred, they didn't ask to be lost, they sure as hell didn't ask to be dumped at the 'shelter' and they DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG) WE get to look through pictures upon pictures of dogs who are scheduled to be pts (euthanized, killed) within 3-5 days and PICK which ones we are going to save.

Most of us who do this don't have much money. A lot of us are unemployed - I am. Most of us don't have a ton of time either, taking care of our own animals as well as doing all the work that goes into actually finding homes for these dogs (which is basically a full time unpaid job). And most of us don't live in big houses or on big farms and we don't have room for more than 1 or 2 foster dogs at a time. SO, the people that most want to help are strapped financially, hardly have any extra time and have no room.  I am sure I can speak for everyone who rescues when I say that if we had the money, space and time we would rescue them ALL. Of course we would. People say all the time that they want to win the lottery so they could afford to buy land and rescue them all. There does seem to be a dearth of lottery winners in dog rescue. So in the meantime, while not winning the lottery, we have to make choices. We have to choose which dogs will live and which will die and we know that if we don't choose a dog and no one else does, that dog WILL die within a few days. No, they won't give a few more days to work on networking with more rescue groups or raising more money.

For the first few months that I was doing this I was pretty good at shutting that off - just choosing the few dogs that I personally could rescue - meaning that I could max out my credit cards paying for vetting, boarding and transport, and foster myself in my 1 bedroom rented apartment (with neighbors asking what is up with all the dogs). And for awhile there were dogs that I wanted to save but didn't have to because other rescues stepped up to save them, in a way saving me as well - from the guilt of knowing that I couldn't save them and knowing they would still be okay.  But lately, that has not been happening. Lately, if I am watching a dog and I want to save that dog, but I don't have the money, space or time to do it myself, that dog gets fcking KILLED.

This happened last month at Laurens, SC - a very high kill rural shelter that kills at least once a week. The dogs have basically no time and hardly any rescues even know about the shelter and certainly they don't make it easy to rescue from there. There was a gorgeous gorgeous white fluffy dog - about 20 pounds - so pretty. The volunteers who posted her pictures called her Sallie. I couldn't rescue Sallie - not because I couldn't take HER, but because she had 4 little beagle mix puppies that were young and I couldn't take her and leave her babies to die. I kept thinking maybe another rescue would take the puppies or even the whole family. 

Maybe I should have just fcking done it - taken the mama and left the adorable puppies to die in the shelter. Because the fact of the matter is that I didn't have the money or space to be able to rescue the whole family. But instead of making that impossible choice, I just didn't pull the mama and she got killed - along with her puppies. The whole fcking family KILLED. Her pics are still up on the facebook page for the shelter and I kept going back to her picture for weeks - just looking at her face, and her puppies faces, knowing that they are dead and in a landfill somewhere now.

That same week, after Sallie and her puppies were killed, I did manage to rescue one dog from Laurens. A black dog (which I love since they often get overlooked), a 40 pound flatcoat retriever - a gorgeous girl named Honey. Incredibly, I was able to get an approved adopter lined up for Honey and she is going directly to her forever home as soon as she gets off the transport. I was really happy to have saved Honey - she would have gone down that week. BUT, I couldn't really get Sallie out of my head.

And now it has happened again. At Rutherford there were two small jack russell looking mixes - both male, about the same size, similar enough markings that I thought the pics might be the same dog. My friend Johnny who has been rescuing from Rutherford on his own too, really loved this dog too. We pulled the one - named Fonzie - and coming up on transport next week. But we didn't have the money, space or time to pull the other.  I kept checking his page and kept sharing his pictures, asking others to step in and save this adorable little guy. I just kept thinking SOMEONE would save this dog. Well, I saw the RIP album today and lo and behold, there were his pictures - this gorgeous little guy who would have been a great NYC dog - very adoptable - and NO ONE fcking stepped up to save him.

This little dude didn't even have a name - his 'name' was the ID number  DOG - ID#A018815 And the shelter volunteers wrote this info under his pictures: I am a male, black and white Beagle mix. The shelter staff think I am about 2 years old. I have been at the shelter since Aug 23, 2011.
I saw this picture today in the RIP album and I about lost my shit. I am SICK of seeing good dogs, sweet dogs, adoptable dogs, get killed just because *I* can't save them. I am sick of it! Where is everyone? Why is it always just the same few people who rescue every week form this shelter? People like Sarah Miraglia, who is a PhD student, works at Syracuse University,  has 2 kids and 7 of her own dogs at home - SHE still manages to stretch her budget and reorganize her space to fit more foster dogs. And she manages to be an incredibly responsible rescuer - she has a rigorous application process, reference checks, a home visit, and never ever adopts out a sick or unspayed/unneutered animal. I can't seem to post a link to her facebook page, but if you can search Loki Grrl Rescue on fb, please like her page, people like her need more support. Here is her petfinder link:

And there are a few others like her - like me - but WHERE THE FCK IS EVERYONE ELSE?!  

I can't take them ALL! Sarah and Johnny can't take them ALL! WHERE IS EVERYONE?! 
This is not fair. It is not fair that this dog who looked so much like Fonzie - the one Johnny and I saved - should have had to die.  HOW are we expected to make that choice?! How can we sleep at night knowing we picked the one who would live and the other would be left to die - unnamed and unknown except by a few volunteers at the shelter and a few of us who looked at his pictures for the few days that he sat in prison, waiting for death. I posted how upset I was on my fb page and I got a few comments and my sister wrote one that I am reposting here:

Rachel Shwayder
"Sara, listen to Susan, any one person can only do what they can, the fault in the case of these shelters lies not with the rescuers, or even that there are too few rescuers, but with a shelter system that is a) very likely underfunded, understaffed, and under appreciated by their own communities, b) that people treat these shelters as dumping grounds for unwanted dogs who they allow to breed indiscriminately, and c) a political system in the area that hasn't decided that animal welfare ranks very high on their list of things to manage in the city or county... I honestly wish that more effort went into promoting and providing affordable spay/neuter, some idiots can afford to pay but won't allocate money to the proper care of their animals, a skilled vet team can get a dog or cat done in minutes and it just doesn't have to cost what many charge private clients.  So shame on the majority of vets (I know you all work with some great ones) who don't make this a priority.  All of this I am saying basically to point out that you are hying to work against an entire system to save each dog, so you have to consider your achievements. Just think, I have foster dogs who have literally been with me up to 2 years before getting a home, even Esme was only months waiting and once you got her back it was only weeks, to me - that is amazing."
It makes sense - of course it makes sense - but you know what - there is nothing that can make me feel better about making the choice to save one life and let another die. I can never be okay with that choice. I almost want to give up - to never have to make that choice again. 

But I can't give up. And now we are in it even deeper because Johnny and I were watching this gorgeous Eskimo dog and wanted to save her but she had 4 puppies and we knew we couldn't handle 4 puppies. They would have been killed today - they had been in the shelter since last week and it was overcrowded and they wouldn't have even made it through to the usual kill on Friday afternoon. We knew we couldn't save the mama and let the puppies die. How could we do that? How could you ever look at a dog again knowing you let her puppies die in a prison? So, we just bit the bullet and maxed out our credit cards and rescued the whole fcking family. Poor Johnny is going to foster them all at his apt. We are just hoping against hope that we can get them into homes quickly. Meanwhile we are looking at over 1000 in costs between vetting, boarding and transport. But we had to do it - because I can't go on looking at Belle's pictures the way I look at Sallie's, knowing that I failed her when I should have saved her. 

This family is now in foster care with a wonderful and caring rescuer in NC named Susan Thompson. She has been rescuing independently for many many years, struggles financially, and puts all her limited funds, time and space into helping save dogs and promoting spay/neuter in her area. She has given them all baths and heartguard and dewormed them and they had their shots and next week they will get spayed and neutered. Then they will travel up here to be adopted. It will cost Johnny and I at least 1000 and we haven't had much support. We need donations. I started a chipin to help pay the expenses of saving this family. 

Please donate if you can and please share this with your contacts. Sallie and her puppies didn't make it out, but Belle and her puppies did because we took the risk, not knowing how we would pay for it or where we would put them. But we couldn't save this mama and let her puppies die - it is another impossible choice. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Notes

Just posting a listing of my updates from before during and after Hurricane Irene.

yay Park Slope! the highest point in Brooklyn. just looked up my address on the hurricane zone evacuation map and found out I am not even in an evacuation zone. woop woop

oh boy staten island pathmark a cornucopia of delights but the water aisle completely bare...

omfg was gonna pop into trader joes to get some non perishable food and there's a line down the block to GET INSIDE! fts!

well, one good thing about 10 inches of rain is that it should wash away the scent of eau d'urine that overwhelms the streets - oh, until the sewers flood that is...

Does CANDY count as non-perishable food? Cuz I got a TON of that in my cupboards!

why does my computer not realize that it is plugged in to the wall?! I just bought a new power cord and it is not lighting up and not charging the battery and the fcking battery is down to 28 minutes. About to KILL someone!

well, all the shops have signs up saying sold out of batteries, flashlights and hand radios. guess I will be bored and in the dark this weekend. damn computer won't charge either, logic board fcked up. benadryl and sleep...

is already drinking.

all the shops on 7th ave out of D batteries and flashlights... just tried 7- 11 on 5th ave and they have boxes of both! the guy went out to LI and got a bunch to stock store. smart. bought 2 flashlights and 12 D batteries. could prob stand out on 7th ave and sellthem for double!

hoarding pays off! my old boom box from 1993 been stored all this time. kept thinking might need this one day. put some D batts in and the radio works! its alive!

eating all the ice cream in the freezer in case it shuts down and melts. There are no less than a dozen different pints in there, plus lime sorbet bars and mint choco chip mini ice cream sandwiches from TJ's. That's a lot of ice cream to get through!

woo hoo - found my old little ipod shuffle (since I STILL haven't found my actual ipod Nano), was able to load up some Melvyn Bragg podcasts and about 200 songs!

had only partially filled the tub and realized I wanted to take another shower before it's too late! used the water to mop the whole apt, then got my shower and put on lots of perfume!

It's only 10pm and I don't know what to do with myself! I cleaned the apt, froze water, took the air con out of the window, walked the dogs, gave the dogs xanax, took a shower, ate dinner, watched the news all day - nothing new, just storm, storm and more storm. What are we meant to do now while we wait for armageddon?!

just discovered Standoff on hulu with Ron Livingston (!) and Rosemary DeWitt ... here's hoping the internet holds out

was that it? It's not even raining!

Esme is too funny - she has taken a toy and is playing with it in another crate, not her crate, another I set up in case Simone wanted to go in during the storm. She's a goofball.

cute moment of the day: I was curled up fetal position, Esme was curled up with her back to my back and Simone, facing the same direction, was curled up with her back to my legs. No one to take the picture but it was really cute - big and little hounds.

my picture of a downed tree PPW and 15th street is on the TPM livewire!
Yesterday at 12:16pm

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Those Dogs are Better Looking than My Last 3 Dates

Soooo, rolled out of bed this morning pretty darn late (so late that I won't even admit it here what the time really was), and threw on my ratty-ass $19 cotton dress from Ross. I have been known to go out in my pajamas... forget brushing hair or teeth, it's all I can do to make sure the dogs are in leashes. So basically I look like the crazy dog lady when I take the dogs out first thing.

Walking down Prospect Park West with Esmerelda, Angie and Simone, hiding behind extra large sunglasses, hoping to avoid meeting anyone I might know (or anyone I might want to know). Older man who hasn't updated his look since 1977 rides up on his bike, turns dramatically toward me and says 'Those dogs are better looking than my last three dates.' I laugh and say 'especially her' motioning to Esmerelda. He stops to chat for a bit and tells me that he has a couple of rescued cats and that his friend is caring for 16 cats in a house with his wife and 2 kids and it is so clean you could eat off the floor - and that this guy's 'heart is so big' he even feeds a rat that skulks around outside. I think the conversation might be winding down a bit and he is readying to keep riding along when he lowers his sunglasses suggestively and says 'Might I also say that it should be illegal to look as good in that dress as you do.' I have no response at this moment, just an uncomfortable 'thank you.' Then he says, 'That's a gorgeous dress and you look great in it.'

Quick recap - unshowered, unbrushed hair thrown up, no makeup (of course), wearing a ratty-ass cotton dress off the sale rack at Ross... this is NOT a gorgeous dress in any dimension of reality, and I do NOT look great in it - particularly not at this moment.

Seeee now, this is the thing about creepy older men who think it is 1977 - the compliments just make us gals feel uncomfortable because a) we know you are delusional when we look like we have just hacked our way through a dense forest, b)  how are we supposed to respond to this? I have no response. I cannot think of a response except that I just want to escape.

I think I sort of chuckled uncomfortably and he says 'Thanks for the company. Have a great day' and rides off.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dog Day's Journey into Night

Written Aug 21, 2011

9am - Barely awake - stumble out to the living room to hide the cats in the cat room so that I can take Esmerelda out for a walk (if she sees a cat she goes into hunter mode - goes nuts, so can't let her know they are in the next room).

10am - In the park Angie the double wide toy fox terrier who was used for breeding in a puppy mill and lived her whole life in a cage before rescue follows Simone's lead and starts rolling around in the grass. Her little chunky tummy is so funny when she wiggles around on her back - she is basically a roly poly.

11am - Get everyone fed and watered - put Esme in her crate, shut the bedroom door, let the cats out into the living room (since having a cat-killer in a 1BR apt with 2 cats this is a 3x a day ritual).

12noon - Call Katie in SC who was fostering Sweet Tea and Penny and said she could help get Honey the flatcoat retriever from Laurens to Landrum. Realize that all of our problems of getting the dog from the shelter an hour away from the boarding can be solved if she can pick her up early Monday and drop her off when she picks up Penny at Landrum vet from having her heartworm treatment. Yay - a logistical situation that might actually work. After we get Honey the 1 year old flatcoat retriever to vet and boarding - then what. Hmm. Definitely not fostering a 50 pound young dog here.

1pm - Head out to Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene to show off Esme and Angie in their orange Adopt Me vests. In the car to the flea at every stoplight text various people about getting Honey out of Laurens. Also texting Sarah Miraglia about where to meet her husband Rick tonight at 10m to pick up two dogs going to homes this weekend. Complain that google maps should show the exits and the gas stations and truck stops - not sure why they don't.

2pm - The heavens open up and the angels sing - Brooklyn Flea food tents! Eat a shrimp roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound, drink a watermelon shiso soda from Brooklyn Sodaworks.

230pm - Walking through the flea with Esme in her vest getting a lot of attention - meet a nice couple who live in Windsor Terrace (next neighborhood over from me) who are very interested in her - they have no cats, don't even like cats - and have a country house (DING DING DING) with land (we might have a winner!) - give them my card - practically beg them to call me

3pm - Run into Holly and John who adopted THE DUDE back in May! Crazy crazy coincidence since he rode up on the same transport as Esme - and Molly - who I am about to get and take to her new home later, maybe running into The Dude's parents with Esme same day Molly is getting a home means good omen for Esme? They loooove the Dude btw - love him - they call him the perfect dog. They show me a picture - he looks like different dog - so much healthier and happy.

4pm - About to leave the flea - have to run by the doughnut stand - fried in Brooklyn - get a passionfruit with cacao nibs doughnut and a blood orange glaze doughnut - eat half of each in the car on the way home.

430pm - Amazing friend and incredible photographer Jenna Teti comes over to help with the dogs. I have to tie them downstairs so that I can freely move about the apartment and attempt to clean up some of the pig stye-ness that has become my living space - basically a kennel - living in a kennel - pieces of dog toys all over the floor, clothes and papers everywhere, unlivable. Frantically frantically try to clean apartment - fry the vacuum cleaner - it gets too hot as I am vacuuming everything in sight and shuts down. Damn, and I only got through the living room. Bedroom will still be covered in dog hair. Hate myself for living in a pig stye. Wish I had nice apt with everything all clean and no papers or clothes lying about - like in the catalogues.

5pm - Freak out because cannot find ipod. CANNOT FIND IPOD ANYWHERE and have to be in the car for 6 hours - SIX HOURS in the car without an ipod. Will life's miseries never end?

530pm - On the verge of losing my shit - running late - take Esme with me to pick up Molly at boarding at Eva's Play Pups in Williamsburg.

6pm - Molly and Esme recognize each other and kiss kiss kiss and excited to see each other! They rode up on the same transport back in May but only really spent 1 day together before Molly went to a home. Last week after almost 4 months the family felt it was too much for them and returned her. She got a couple of new applications and voila- a great family in NJ with a big back yard interested. Drive out to NJ to do home visit and drop off.

7pm - Arrive at NJ suburban house with big back yard and really nice family. Realize that my car is fcked up - my break lights are stuck on - they won't turn off - wtf? I am worried my battery will die. All the neighbors come out to see the new dogs. Friend of Molly's adopters falls in love with Esme but worries about the cost of treating her leg. Freaking out about having to drive to Scranton with tail lights that won't shut off. Images of battery dying leaving me stranded with 3 dogs in the middle of bumfck nowheresville, PA in the middle of the night.

730pm - Another neighbor rolls up in his ginormous truck - he and the patriarch of the Molly family fiddle with some switch beneath my break pedal - after about half an hour of fiddling voila - break lights go off when they are supposed to - no dead battery.

8pm - Molly and Esme run and play like sisters in the back yard - chase a ball - run around sniffing having a grand time. I click with the clicker when Esme sits but I don't have any turkey or cheese and she scoffs at the peanut butter treat I try to give her. Damn, damn, I have never met a hound so picky about what she eats.

830pm - Load Esme back in the car (she and Molly still playing as we walk out the door) as the family loads Molly up to take her to Petco and get her all set up.
9pm - Call everyone I know trying to stave off the boredom while driving to Scranton to get new dogs. Esme sleeps sooo cute in the passenger seat.

1040pm - Arrive at the 24 hr McDonalds in Throop, PA - great place to meet off 81. Get a fried chicken sandwich, Dr Pepper and fries - must not be hanging out at the all night micky d's and not partake of the culinary delights. Not being a connoisseur of the Mc - have to actually ask the girl at the counter if all I want is small fries and soda (rather than medium) if I should order the meal or just separately. She looks at me a little bit confused. I order separately. On the way to wash my hands in the bathroom I notice the decor is looking more like a spa - wood and stone paneling - than the yellow and red McD's that I remember from truck stops of yore.

1050pm - Come out of the McD's with my bag o' goodies and see Rick Miraglia across the parking lot - yay! We made it! He had left at 6am Friday from Syracuse - driven straight down to Landrum, SC - camped out - then this morning picked up all the dogs and was on his way back to Syracuse. That's a long ass drive to do in one day but to do it twice in 2 days - I could not do it. He is chill and cheerful as usual (not sure how he maintains this easy going attitude all the time). He helps me get the two dogs I am picking up out and walked around. Sweet Tea is the cutest tiniest beagle I have ever seen. EVER. I think she could be mixed with chihuahua - that is how little and cute she is - like half the size of Simone. So fcking cute. And she goes pee pee right away on the leash! Take the puppy Brandi out - she doesn't pee. Oh well. I tried.

1115pm - Load everyone up in the car and head home. Love driving at night when no traffic. Sweet Tea climbs in my lap and she is small enough that it is okay - she curls up and rides on my lap most of the way. Esme snoozes on the back seat and little Brandi the puppy is on the floor in the back. I stick my hand back there and she licks my hand. aww. Chat with friends on phone.

2am - Arrive on my street - DING DING DING there is a parking space just a few doors down from my apt! Yay! But oy vey - I am going to have to walk all these dogs before getting everyone to bed. Go upstairs and walk Simone and Angie. Angie doesn't go - argghghg - but Simone does - good girl.

230am - Try to walk Esme and Brandi and Sweet Tea around the block. Want to scream as Esme is going kind of crazy - not sure if she saw a stray cat but she is acting like the hunt is on - running up every tree - and Sweet Tea is doing it too - wtf is going on? As if there is some invisible force making the dogs insane. Not sure how I will bring them into the apt if they are all keyed up like this. Give them all water in the car. Set up the crate upstairs.

3am - Bring Esme, Brandi and Sweet Tea upstairs. Simone goes in Esme's crate (she never went into a crate before, only when I am about to put another dog in). Dogs everywhere - get Esme in her crate, she settles down. But Brandi - oh Brandi - Brandi whines and then BARKS a PIERCING BARK - at 3am! Spray her with the spray bottle.

315am FCK FCK FCK - I cannot have a dog barking at 315am in my apt. This will NOT DO. Sit outside Brandi's crate with the spray bottle poised and ready. Sweet Tea's crate next to it - she knows better than to bark.

320am - Oh shit - another loud piercing bark - never again - never again will a puppy enter my home at 3am. Bitches can sleep in the car next time.

330am - Realize that if it's not on fb or on reality tv, it didn't happen! Decide to sit down and write this chronology of my day as an example of a typical day of dog rescue - totally typical - this is not unusual - and can you believe it - I'm PAYING to do this (rather than getting paid!). The world is upside down.

4am - Exhausted - not seeing straight and Sweet Tea's adopters will be here at 7am. OMG have to be awake in 3 hours and will never get to spend any time with this adorable dog. Probably better this way -I would fall in love with this one.

405am - Drifting off - dying of exhaustion - but shit shit shit that fcking puppy is whining and I feel a BARK coming on...