Fostering Quincy

6-30-2019 Update: I originally wrote this post with the idea that Quincy would be adopted quickly. He was not. This post might read weird, I’m trying to clean it up, but, basically, this post has been 3 years in the making. I am brain dumping here, to have a historical record of everything I can related to this sweetheart.

Quincy might just be my heart dog. We received him on leap day, 2/29/2016, and to say he was weak is an understatement that doesn’t do him justice. The backstory on this guy is a little weird, since he had a brother, and they lived together, but apparently things turned hostile at the foster. I can’t say what really happened, there were apparently several fosters along the way, one of which adopted the brother, but let Quincy get turned back into the shelter, where he lived (and was rehabilitated) from November 2015 until we got him.

You can see how thin he was at intake. Notice the pits behind his eyes. Still looks like SUCH a happy boy, though!

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Truth be told, I saw his picture a bunch of times. Now, you all know my predilection towards black dogs. I have a major thing for old, black dogs. If the dog is injured or needs me, that is TWICE as true, not an exaggeration. I feel like fostering or hospice fostering (hospicetering? When you have them and they stay until they pass) senior or injured dogs is an incredibly noble calling, one that involves a strength that is not common, and I’m not sure I have. I saw the foster coordinator saying “MUST GET OUT OF THE KENNEL!”. Mind you, we’ve had Midnight and Bella in the time he’s been in the shelter.

The foster coordinator likes to give me special cases, I guess. Bella was very near and dear to her heart, and she felt confident that we’d take good care of her; I like to think that we did. She asked if we could take Quincy, and his description says “cannot do stairs”, so I tell her… I guess we’ll just carry him up the steps.

Quincy shows up and he’s weak. During his introductory bath, he can’t stand well. His medical records indicate that he’s basically been doing physical therapy every single day. He absolutely cannot figure out the stairs. Thankfully, he sort-of bambi-legged his way to the yard where I was certain he was going to sit in his own poop. These legs were WEAK. When it comes time for bed, Laura and I basically carry him up the steps. Should be noted, of course, that Quincy is a complete and total velcro dog, and stuck to me like GLUE. He’s also a giant crybaby. Worse than Midnight. He doesn’t sleep well that first night, crying and obviously being very upset. I think Bella and Midnight spoiled us by actually sleeping. I went downstairs and laid on the couch so Quincy could, you know, touch me, or whatever. It didn’t work. Sleepless night!

The next day, Quincy was on the ground level, and I went upstairs to shower. I am getting undressed, and who do I hear “figuring out” the steps? Well, I’ll be darned… Quincy figured it out. His velcro nature pushed him to it! So now, the nosiest, most velcro dog has a command of the stairs.

He certainly figured out how soft beds are, right away.

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I’m being fairly selective about who gets him. In my world, if you have a dog that can’t do steps, you lift him up the steps. It’s a no-brainer. This dog is too into his people to not sleep near you, he’d cry, a lot. Heartbroken dogs are not OK in my book! His life would be demonstrably better in a rancher home too, but carrying him everywhere is an option. I want this guy to have a good life, at least as good as he has here, and if I say so myself, he’s got it pretty good.

Loads more pics after the jump, as usual.

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I took him to the store in Hanover, and he just hangs out. He loves everyone.

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I even meme’d him.

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We took him to an adoption event on 4/10/2016. He loved everyone there, but everyone kept calling him old 🙁

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He stood for 2+ hours, which was a bit amazing, but dogs can’t calm down in those situations. He was super exhausted that night, but followed me around anyhow. We were in the kitchen, and he came and sat behind me, and his poor muscles were spasming like crazy. I got him on the ottoman and Laura gave him medication.

I started corresponding with an adoption coordinator on April 12th about a couple who was interested in Quincy. It was tough to find anyone that could get past the initial tough stuff. Doesn’t like other dogs, doesn’t like other people, bad legs, old! We had a couple come in with their two kids, and Quincy started biting, which was weird. Now, anyone with a mind towards legal definition of biting will tell you that any bite is a bite, but in my head, there are varying degrees of bite. The “charge and jump and bite and not let go” is clearly problematic, and so is “nip because I don’t trust you and I’m scared.” That second one is what Quincy started to do. We took him to another adoption event, and it became clear that this is a behavior that was going to stick with Quincy.

We took him to the vet to see if something was medically wrong, we took him to the dog psychologist to see what she thought (don’t laugh!) on March 12, 2017. The dog psych said that his legs are bad, and that dogs can’t understand that their own bodies can cause them pain. So, he attributes pain to any new person in the scenario, because he is pretty sure its not us. That really hindered the efforts to find an adoptive family.

A couple contacted us through the rescue, and they were interested in Quincy, as they’d just lost their dog. We dropped him off on 11/19/2016. We warned them that he took some time to adjust, and panted all the time. I also told them that he would do much better with someone home more often than not, since his legs were terrible and he would just lay around all day. I got a text the next day that it wasn’t going to work out, for basically all the reasons I warned them about. I went to go pick him up, and I’m not sure if he was happier to see me, or I was happier to see him.

We didn’t hear from any potential adopters for a long time. I continued to post online, and people would comment that he was a pretty boy (obviously very true). We were slightly concerned, since Laura was pregnant, and due with our son in May of 2017, and Quincy’s seemingly protective nature gave us reason to worry. During Laura’s labor, I went home every 8 hours, and he was a trooper the whole time. Turns out he was totally fine with Bryan, but we also had a very slow intro, and taught bryan to behave around dogs. No climbing on them, pulling tails, ears, etc.

Things were kind of business-as-usual for the next 2 years, honestly. I continued to work from home until late June 2018, when I got a job at a casino, and I wasn’t home all day. We decided to adopt him for real at this point, on July 10, 2018.

Quincy transitioned through every life event that we threw at him seamlessly. We dealt with his quirks, and he returned the favor by being incredibly patient and exceptionally adaptable. As long as he was with me, he didn’t mind whatever was going on.

I was too used to fostering, and forgot the individual vaccinations and stuff like that were needed, so in January 2019, I switched from LRCP vets to Eastern Animal Hospital. The initial consult resulted in the Vet really torquing his legs around to figure out what was going on, and he was in REALLY bad shape after that exam. We gave him a Deramaxx but he never really recovered fully. Quincy’s front nails were in bad shape, so I started a regimen of nail maintenance every three weeks. His legs had gotten noticeably worse, but he turned 10 years old in November of 2018, so we attributed it to old age plus that terrible exam.

Quincy had a routine nail-trim on May 24, 2019, and while Quincy always panted his way around, I noticed that his throat sounded rougher. Labs are pre-disposed to Laryngeal Paralysis (where the cartilage in the throat doesn’t open the whole way) so I was worried, and wanted to see if there was anything we could do, so we opted to see the Vet during his nail trim. She thought that he was not a great candidate for the remediation surgery, so we opted to try some medication. A low dosage of Gabapentin and Deramaxx were ordered, and we tried those, but Quincy’s mobility hinged on his ability to lock-out his back legs. Gabapentin relaxed his muscles enough that he was in really bad shape, mobility wise, and Deramaxx ruined his digestive tract. We backed off, and tried to keep him cool and calm, which worked… For a while.

Laura is home for the summer, so she was already there when I arrived home from work on June 27, 2019. Quincy was breathing heavily, which wasn’t odd, necessarily, but I noticed that his waist looked exceptionally small. Upon further inspection, it wasn’t that his waist was small… It was that his chest was big, because he was taking huge breaths. He couldn’t catch his breath. In this situation, I’m not sure how everyone else handles it, but I asked Laura, myself, and the universe “Is this it? Is this the time?” as if someone would provide me a definitive yes or no. I called up Peaceful Passage, at the recommendation of my Vet, which is a mobile vet service that does the euthanasia procedure in-home. They told me they didn’t have an appointment until the following day, which I thought was an interesting thing (as generally speaking, I think, there is no such thing as a planned-for-the-future euthanasia), but booked it. Laura and I sat for a few minutes, and she became the voice of reason in a moment of clarity and said “He can’t breathe.” So I called our vet, and asked if we could come in. I carried him to the truck, carried him to the waiting room, and carried him to the back room of the vet, where they had a couch and blankets for him to lay on.

I sat on the floor with him, and Laura had Bryan on the couch. Bryan was screaming the whole time, I’m sure a mixture of “I don’t want to be here” and “Why are mom and dad falling apart”. We held him, and they gave him the shot, and I felt his head become heavy in my hand hands. Laura took Bryan out to let me have a moment, then I went out and got her, took Bryan, and paid for the services. I wanted to give him one last kiss before I left, and I wanted to run out of there as fast as I could.

I went back, and he laid there, still, peaceful. I held his head, and stroked his ears. The vet tech came in, and asked if I needed more time, and I told her “No. If I don’t leave now, I’m staying all night.”

Good night, Quincy. I can never repay you for what you’ve done for me. You taught me about dogs, how scared and broken dogs can learn to trust again. How disabilities don’t mean a dog is ready to go (not that I ever thought that). You taught me how to love a dog more deeply than I ever had before. You taught me how to approach a dog in such a way that it doesn’t scare them. I will be forever grateful to you for that.

You taught me how to be a better, more patient person. You got me ready for fatherhood, and stuck around just long enough to make sure I had it well in hand without you. I love you deeply, son. May the road rise up to meet you, until I see you again.

Update – The worst kind of update

The worst kind of update… the “sorry i haven’t updated this blog and I promise its not going to be like this forever, baby I can change”.

We have Quincy, a foster that is a super duper velcro dog. I don’t post things about dogs I’m fostering until they get adopted so STAY TUNED for that one. 

The pump machine is running ~amazingly~ and I have it up for sale but I’m not sure I’m actually going to sell it. Life is hard.

Might try to book a trip to Chicago this summer. 

I’ll leave you with a quote I found about the loyalty of dogs:

George Graham Vest – Tribute to Dogs (c. 1855) after winning a case against a man who killed a dog:

Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. 

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. 

If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death. 

Fostering Bella

Miss Bella. 

Christmas Eve saw Midnight’s departure with his new family. They had their hands full, and wanted to return him on Christmas Day. The wonderful adoption coordinator talked them off the ledge, and as I hear it (from the adopters), they’re totally smitten with him. That was a giant relief.

We had plans for New Years Eve that saw us staying the night in Inwood, WV, after a murder mystery dinner. Midnight was amazingly social, but a bit of wrecking ball, so we weren’t planning on taking a dog to Matt and Amanda’s, though they’ve never said no, strictly speaking. We didn’t want to risk having a dog that wouldn’t get along with Dexter, so we took a break for a week. I hated it.

We got that old familiar email…

In Buckeystown, MD: 

BELLA #4 has been waiting patiently for a foster opportunity. She’s a sweet and calm 7 year old. Needs to go to a quiet neighborhood as she’s not fond of bicycles. She is a snuggler and rides beautifully in the car. She also likes calm dogs. Not good with cats. Approved for kids 10 and up. Bella weighs 55 pounds.

Along with this sweet picture:

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So, Laura and I packed up and rode out to Buckeystown Vet to meet the foster coordinator. We met a very sweet chocolate lab, named Annie, who was meeting her potential new-parents. Its a bold move to “show” a pup at the kennel. Its super stressful for dogs to be in there, so, I hope that the adopters were ready for that! 

Anyhow, Bella came out with Silvia and she was a little scatter-brained, which is normal. It caught me off guard how NICE she was on a leash. After spending time with Midnight, who could pull a car, I’m convinced, she was… Dainty? I don’t know. 

Another interesting tidbit is that apparently Bella had some some service work at a prison. I don’t know what capacity she filled, but even if its just for comfort, she’s so sweet. 

We took Bella home that day, and were immediately concerned, as her hair is SO SOFT that we figured she’d shed quite a bit. I think half a dog came off of her in that first bath, and I can’t really overstate how soft this dog is. She was really super cool. She was an owner give up, for chasing a cyclist… Which, I don’t super understand, but, to each their own. We had a very quiet first week with her. We introduced her to dog beds, and, she did the Post-Kennel-Amazingly-Relaxed-Sleep in that dog bed. I need to come up with a better word for that. Just-obtained-temporary-alternative-residence-until-longterm-adoption? JOTARUL. I like that. Turns out Bella was a serious, serious window watcher, so she’d pick her head up, look around, and sigh, and fall back to sleep. 

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We tried to get her to hop into our bed, because, as I previously mentioned, the SOFTNESS. She wouldn’t do it! 

There was extra applicant screening with her. We knew (from past reports and personal experience) that she wasn’t good with younger dogs. She isn’t interested in playing. She did fine with my in-laws dog, they almost cuddled.

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So we had an applicant come through, after the reports that Bella and Bailey had done so well together. The folks were nice enough, and brought their 10-11 year old lab. He was pretty nice on his own. I got a text from this person (after they showed up 30 minutes late)…

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Well, in case anyone wasn’t aware, most dogs sniff noses and butts. Well, Bella and this guy didn’t see eye to eye at first meeting, so we decided to take them for a walk. They actually did really well on the walk, and when we went back inside we all relaxed a little bit. Just at the point where our guard was down, the potential adopters dog basically lunged towards Bella, and left a tooth mark just below her eye. Off to the vet we go! Two stitches 🙁

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Bella healed up really nicely. I formed an opinion that, even though she did ok with Bailey, she would be best as a quiet couples “only child”, including dogs and children. I was away from home for Snow-Apocalypse-Mageddon 2016 (30 inches in 24 hours or something?) and Bella romped around the snow and had a grand time. We received a call that there was a couple from Delaware that was very interested in Bella, and wanted to come see her on Sunday. 

When they arrive, the “dad” is immediately smitten with Bella. I love it when potential adopters come in the door, and flop on the floor. This guy is going to treat her like a princess. Makes this whole process very easy 🙂 

More pics after the jump, of course. And a video!! We’re “off” from fostering for a bit while I go to Katsucon and MagFest. We’ll get another one right away!

Fostering Midnight

After Gizmo left, it became pretty aggressively clear that I can’t be alone in a house with no dog. I emailed our contact at Lab Rescue, and i got this back:

Hi, Jesse. I have a gorgeous black boy ready for you at Towson. His name is Midnight. 18 months old, 65 pounds, and got neutered on 12/1. He’s ready to go. He’ll be announced tomorrow and I can send you his profile, but he’s good with other dogs. Could you get him tomorrow? Thanks so much. Yes, I can take the cone on Sunday. Thank you!<

So I head over to Towson Veterinary hospital, leash in hand, and say “I’m here for Midnight”. There is no fanfare (like with Gizmo) and no warnings or anything, just a few moments later, a wild bucking bronco appears in the waiting room, choking himself on my leash which has been used as a slip lead. For about 20 seconds, I try to put the harness on him, before giving up, as a totally useless pursuit. The hapless vet tech looks at me struggling and says “do you want a collar or something” and i’m like “yes, please, for gods sake”. So we get a collar, and i wrestle him into the car, and its all good. In addition to several other things, I learned that I can’t make it to Towson and back in a lunch break.

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Got him home and he was obviously very strong, and not trained well. He’d sit if you had his full attention, though! Additionally, he was house-trained, in that he didn’t 1 or 2 in the house. Midnight was a special boy, very playful, exceptionally cuddly. He had tape on his tail, because he has “Happy Tail”, and believe me, if you caught a tail wag, it hurt!

Its important to note (and I’m not certain that I have elsewhere) that we don’t really get much history on these dogs. The intake form for Midnight said basically that he lived outside, or in the crate. I find the latter claim dubious (at best). Midnight had puppy energy, and separation anxiety (for sure). Thanks to the holidays, we didn’t really get a chance to “train” him for either the crate or out of separation anxiety, which made it so that we essentially couldn’t leave him alone. He was really great, though, and super cute. I don’t know why people think 18 month old dogs are couch potatoes. I’ll go on record as saying that they settle down around 3-5 and some NEVER slow down, especially without properly being trained.

We had a couple interested in Midnight the second night we had him. They were interested in another dog to help their dog “stay young”. This dog, a 12 year old husky, was not really SUPER interested, so, away they went. Another couple came, allegedly they were dog walkers and dog sitters, and had a 12 year old chihuahua. The 12 year old chihuahua didn’t like Midnight, which is like, the most “no shit!” thing that has ever been written on this blog, but for dog walkers, dog sitters, etc, these people were REALLY unprepared for a 1.5 year old dog. Like, to the point that the husband had the chihuahua in his arms and was jumping back, almost scared of Midnight.

A week came and went with no hits, and then the flood gates opened, and we got 3 hits in 24 hours. Some folks with 2 other dogs called us, and we set up the hot date, and they met and went home with him. He loves playing with their 3 year old Chocolate lab, and they’re working with a dog behavior specialist to figure him out around cats, and to calm him down. Happy endings 🙂 More pics after the jump.

Continue reading Fostering Midnight

Fostering Gizmo

I received an email on November 11 from the foster coordinator of Lab Rescue LRCP about Gizmo, a 5 year old black lab male who was freaking out in the Vet in Towson. Laura and I were slated to watch Doogie and Marley (see their post below) from December 5-15, so we were apprehensive, but my conscience got the best of me, and I told Laura that if we had to have three dogs, darn it, we have to have three dogs.

The report from the temporary foster said that he was amazing. Here’s some pictures.

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We showed up at the Towson Vet on Friday, November 13, 2015 (ooo Friday the 13th, 2spooky), and after petting a deaf / blind dog of some kind (which, if you know me, dogs that are infirm, senior, or disabled basically are my kryptonite) the Vet came out to talk to us. Now, I appreciate the curt, forward nature of an older, grizzled vet, but this guy took it a bit far. He calls out the window “What fool takes Gizmo?” And Laura and I look at each other and say “Us?”

He goes on to tell us about how Gizmo won’t let anyone touch him, and any time that they have to do anything to him, they have to sedate him. That when they approached him, he’d growl, and basically was mean as hell. Now we’re scared. He’d been neutered just 4 days prior, and because they had to sedate him to give him ear medicine, they had been giving him weekly medicine to cure up his ear infections. They told us to make an appointment to bring him back in, in a week, to have the medication put in his ears.

So we say, alright, whatever. We can handle this, mostly because the the Lab Rescue folks said he was awesome in his temporary foster’s care, and that the vet was stressing him out. He bounces out of the vet’s back room, cone on and everything. Usually this is a pretty tense moment, and this was no different… Waiting room with 2 other dogs, and a wild man coming out.

Once in the car, we began to question if they gave us the wrong dog. It because clear very quickly that this dog wanted to be in your lap. The first 24 hours were ridiculous because this dog had no idea that he had a cone on, which he proceeded to knock on everything in the house. I told Laura that he had it on for a reason, and that first night, he kept the cone on. It was pathetic, for sure. We decided, collectively (ok, it was mostly Laura), that the cone had to go, and that surely, the reason the cone was on was because the vet couldn’t handle Gizmo. Turns out, she was spot on, and he barely paid attention to his incision. He had a lot of swelling “down there” from what he could reach, but it got better.

He putzed around with me all day while I worked. It was very interesting, because he peed a lot, and I speculate that he’ll be diabetic… But we’ll see. If he wanted to play, and perceived that he was being ignored, he’d sing you the song of his people. Check the video.

I took him to Westminster Mall with me, and he was great. What a smart little guy. If he was singing and you told him to go get a toy, he would go upstairs and find one for you. Neat stuff.

A couple came to see him on Tuesday (November 24, 2 days before Thanksgiving), and asked an awful lot of questions. I could tell that they were very unsure of adopting Gizmo, which was weird. He is really super cool. They left without him that night, and even asked me if they could come back to get him on Saturday. I guess they didn’t want him for the holiday or something like that. I told them that as soon as they left, the dog was technically “Available”. I always tell folks that we advocate for the dogs, and that their chance is when they come to see the dog. Its one of the necessary evils of rescue. Another couple called me on Wednesday (November 25) and arranged a meeting on Friday (November 27). They came, with their golden retriever, and took him home that night.

Laura had to deliver Gizmo’s ear medicine to the adopter’s house (since we forgot it at the in-laws during turkey day), and she stayed to help put the ear medicine in one last time. She said he fit right in, and was doing great with the resident golden. I guess this one has a happy ending! I sure will miss him.

There is something to be said about emotional attachment and fostering. The first dogs we fostered (Doogie and Marley) were easy to let go, since there were obviously two of them (and we want one), and we had our guard up. Doogie and Marley were also crate trained, so they didn’t sleep near us at night. Gizmo was literally in our bed. I feel like the “guard up” thing hit us most of all, simply because after they left, and we got our next pup, we basically thought we were seasoned pros, and that is just not the case!

December 18, 2015 edit: Here are some more pictures (after the jump). I probably should have kept this dude. He was really great, except the whining. Sometime around, oh, I don’t know, “Gizmo’s arrival” we decided that all sorts of rules were dumb and let him on the couch, in the bed, it was crazy. More pics from jump.

Continue reading Fostering Gizmo

Fostering Doogie and Marley

 

I received an email on Friday, 10/17/2015, about a bonded pair of pups that needed a foster. They were called “DOOGIE/MO” and “MARLEY” in the system. I have a giant crate, but we needed another so I ran out and bought another. We expected the boys on 10/19, but they were apparently stricken with kennel cough, so they had to stay at Towson Veterinary Hospital for a few more days. 

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To say these dudes were cute is an understatement. Laura and I are not really into having two dogs, long term, so we’ve not really experienced with “brothers” or a bonded pair at all. It is amazing to watch their codependence. I told you I bought the other crate, well these kids didn’t need it. Marley (the chocolate lab) would actually cry and bark if he was separated into a different crate than Doogie. It was really something. 

When we received the transport of these boys, they smelled like kennel… Really badly. So Dave and I took them to Dogma in Canton, because I like lifted tubs, and warm water, and I’ll pay for the  privilege of not freezing my butt off bathing two dogs in the cold. They got back to our place and crashed HARD for about 2 days. So sleepy.

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They were pretty cool. Marley could do this thing where he was so flexible and long-legged that he could scratch his head with his back legs without sitting down. It was awesome.

Eight days after they got here, we were in a groove, and they were keeping me company during the day, we’d take a walk during lunch, and chew antlers and whatnot. We got a call that there were some folks interested in Doogie and Marley. They had two dogs before, so it sounded like a great fit. We invited them to come meet the boys (10/29/2015), and they seemed smitten immediately. Its a good sign when someone sits on the floor instead of the couch (thats my move, usually). They did go home with the pups. 

I received a call at 9:30AM from the adoption coordinator that the boys had run before they were able to make it into the house, so I went up and looked for a couple hours. I left the crate there, with the blankets they’d used. The people were super frazzled. Thursday night they left, and they were found on Saturday, October 31, five miles away, by two nice guys. They called the boys over and they hopped right in the truck.

Update 11/30: The adopters have returned the boys. We had Gizmo, so we could not take them back immediately, so they were at Towson Vet for a few days, but they’re back, and Marley is so very skinny. I’ve been giving him two cookies and Doogie just one cookie. Don’t tell him. Truth be told, I considered keeping them. They really are two of the sweetest pups. Some folks came on 12/5 to meet them, and were under the impression that they were taking them home. Laura and I were happy to see how they interacted with the boys… They brought them Christmas collars, with engraved name tags. It was much harder to let them go this time… But I think they’ve found their home.

Real talk though, if they get returned again, they aren’t leaving my side.

Rescue Animals

Now, full disclosure. I understand that a lot of my blog posts are about animals. I get that. I self-identify as the dog version of crazy-cat-lady. Whenever the “At parties, I play with the dog” meme gets recycled, I’m the one people tag. I’m involved heavily with 3 separate dog rescue organizations in the Baltimore area, and my preferred activity at any given time would be “roll around with puppies”.

That said, I get a lot of emails that report the whereabouts and happenings of animals in the area. Trust me, if you have any doubts that humanity is spiraling out of control, rescue work will reinforce that. I got an email from one of the rescues about this dog:

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His name is Junior. He is 14 years old, and has been with his owner since he was 6 weeks old. How did the rescue get him? His owner called the local humane society to say he wants “to get rid of the dog” since he got a divorce and has no time for the dog. No time for the dog.

His faithful companion for 14 years. If you own a dog, you know that that dog experiences your whole life, with you. He seemingly empathizes with you when you’re sad, he delights in your success. He feels your pain. During this guys divorce, I’m unable to accept that this dog offered him no comfort.

I know that I’m absolutely crazy about my dogs, but I can’t stomach these things. Not many things raise my blood pressure to the point of inciting violence like callous feelings towards animals. We’ve bred dogs to be our companions for over 10,000 years, and this is how we treat them? Ugh.

My Dog: An Epilogue

My dog was terminally ill. He passed away in my arms this evening.

20140603092221 cafba990 me My first real post on this blog was about him: http://www.jessewolcott.com/i-got-a-dog/ 20140603092225 a7cfecc7 me

We both grew up with Labs, so I searched for “Lab Rescue” and found Lab Rescue LRCP, and went through the application and interview process, which we, apparently, passed. The interview process was pretty hilarious, including questions like “What do you intend to get out of a dog?” and “What do you expect from a dog?” (My answers are “A buddy?” and “Be cute and occasionally catch a ball?” if you want to know).

After stalking their website for weeks and week, we had a couple prospects in mind, and turned up to an adoption event in Fairfax, VA, at “Weber’s Pet Supermarket” on July 14, 2012. We walked around, trying to find “the dog.” Kona was a chocolate lab with wicked neon green eyes that looked adorable, but had a seizure issue that required he take daily medication, so we were put-off by that (which is hilarious, more later). There was Cowan, the fox-red pup that was wild as a banshee, and “not for first time dog owners.” There was Dune, the 40 pounds black lab that shook like a leaf at any stimulation.

We found Dune, who was busy cowering under a truck. Adoption events are very, very stressful for dogs, so it was understandable. The people who brought Dune were from Richmond, and also had recently come into possession / fostership of another dog, Coy. They didn’t know much about him, except that he had some veterinary records from an animal hospital in fairly rural Virginia. He was rescued, taken to Disputanta, neutered, and then into shelters. He was then rescued, and found himself in Richmond, VA with these foster parents, then off to Fairfax the very next day for this adoption event. While kneeling, trying to visit with / pet Dune, this dog laid a huge drool string on my shoulder. I goofed with him for a minute, and didn’t give it another thought.

You may have guessed from my gross over-detail that Coy later became Ganon.

We left the adoption event that day, without-dog. We stopped at a barbecue restaurant called “Red, Hot, and Blue” in Fairfax, which is a chain place, but offers, I don’t know, B- barbecue. I laid awake in bed that night grappling with the day. How, out of 30 dogs, could I not have been able to bond with one? Then it hit me: Coy. The Drool. Thats my dog. I spun around and checked the Lab Rescue Website, and, much to my dismay, a brown “ADOPTED” tag was next to his name. Shit. Love was lost. I contacted our adoption coordinator and expressed my disappointment.

The following Monday saw work come and go, and after work, Laura and I were dressed and ready for the Gym when I received a call from our adoption coordinator who told us that Coy was not adopted, and in fact, his new foster was in Dundalk. Oh, good fortune! We hopped in the car and went to meet him, again. He was a jumpy, nervous wreck! We found out that the “foster” was actually just a potential adopter that didn’t want him. He wasn’t “ball crazy,” so he wasn’t good enough for her. Well, fuck you lady, he’s ours now.

So, Laura and I got Ganon on July 16, 2012.

July 16 2012

It was horrible. I’m not going to lie and blow smoke. I suppose we thought having a dog would be… easier? Somehow? I don’t know what we expected. He was jumpy, he was nervous, he didn’t trust us. We were used to the calm, cool, collected dogs that our parents had raised from puppies; we didn’t see the hard part. We didn’t know that a dog growling while he played wasn’t outright aggression. We didn’t know that you can’t get in a strange dogs face when they’re sleeping, having been in a shelter, you have to earn that trust.

We debated taking him back to the rescue, going so far as making calls to arrange the return. The issue was not Ganon, of course, but that my wife and I weren’t ready for the commitment of taking care of another living being. We labored over the newfound change in our lives, and I talked, out loud, to myself, as I am wont to do, to sort the issue. The words that made the decision for me were “If I return this dog, I’d be the kind of person that I’d talk badly about.” That settled it for me.

Laura is a teacher, which I’ve mentioned elsewhere, so she was home a lot during the summer (most days, actually). I’ve since learned that you’re supposed to do a “Two Week Shutdown” with a dog (Materials from “Big Dogs Big Hearts” if you’re interested here: Two Week Shutdown. We didn’t do that, at all. Looking back, we basically did the exact opposite of that guide. We introduced him to loads of people, took him for walks, took him for car rides, all sorts of things. My in-laws’ dog didn’t care for Ganon, which is something that turned into grudgingly-given tolerance, but that’s another story.

Laura didn’t immediately take to him. I will credit Ganon for bringing my wife and I together in a profound way… I also totally agree that a dog is a great first step towards children, but more in the mental capacity. Both of us really struggled to accept the responsibilities that we now had. It wasn’t long until we were both totally smitten, though. I’d get home, and the dog was hype to see me. See below:

August 15

In the late summer and early autumn of 2012, I had to travel a considerable amount for work, first to San Antonio for nearly a week, then to South Carolina in September, October, and November. The biggest revelation of these trips was how much my world revolved around my wife and dog. I’ll not say that my love for my wife has ever changed, but with people, speaking on the phone, seeing each other in video chat, the distance can be shortened greatly using technology. After all, I love my wife because she’s my wife, not because she’s fuzzy. A relationship with a dog is very physical, cuddles, petting, lean against. You can’t replicate that away from home, no matter how hard you try.

For a short time, when we first got Ganon, we tried to crate him during the day (while we were out or at work), as the rescue reported that he was crate trained. He was not. That was a lie.

Time went on fairly routinely. We struggled with some food allergy stuff because Ganon, throughout his life with us, scratched himself in the Fall and Winter. Might have been allergies or just dry skin, we’ll never know. Thanks to this scratching, he endured some pretty horrible hematoma in his ears, which left him with a seriously scar-tissued right ear. We often talk for our dog (its weird, i know). We called it his cauliflower ear (because thats what fighters get, and its the same problem). This was the first real visit to the vet.

Jesse Wolcott

Mid-2013 saw my first foray into volunteer work. I just do transport Rescue Road Warriors and all kinds of stuff with Dogs XL now. It was because of Ganon though. I solidified my beliefs about dogs with him.

In June, 2014, we went to Ocean City, and thanks to our friends Matt and Amanda, were able to stay in their in-laws house, and bring Ganon. As you can see, “Uncle Matt” loved Ganon so much.

Matt There is a section of the bay that is accessible from a rec center, and we took Dexter (Matt and Amanda’s yellow lab) and Ganon to swim and play catch in the bay. We had a very long leash on Ganon, but we were worried because we never really trusted him off leash; he is too curious. He swam out to the ball and came back in, limping. We thought we were in for a trip to the Ocean City Emergency Vet… when a small crab unhooked itself from Ganon’s paw. Pathetic! We cracked up. Dexter and Ganon spent a lot of time together.

WetG

Ganon was so loved wherever he went. He had an energetic goofy demeanor that endeared him to people. Thats the part I’ll miss the most.

Ganon, when we got him, had a tumor that we assumed to be fatty on his belly. We had that tumor removed in late October 2014. The testing of that tumor came back negative, and he was on an antibiotic and pain pill. After the antibiotic ran out, after a week, Ganon became unable to hold his urine for more than about an hour. It was diagnosed as a bladder infection (by an Internal Medicine $pecialist), so we treated that. After a while, he seemed to recovered, and was able to hold his urine. I was “tapping him out” by taking him for a walk in the morning on January 5, and I noticed that his urine was very, very orange / red. Back to the vet, this time, for a biopsy.

The biopsy was incredibly invasive, and he was in really bad shape after that. It took him quite a few days to even be able to walk correctly, or to pee consciously. This carried us through the year’s end. We had an excellent couple of weeks, until February, when Ganon suddenly was reluctant to eat. He’s never been a picky eater, so this should have been a monstrous red flag. He also began to vomit pretty regularly. It should be known that when we got Ganon, he was the biggest drooler I have encountered. We were able to control it with Pepcid, but this time, he was throwing up everything.

In the end, he was down 11 pounds, and would not eat. Could not digest. He’s thin, and exhausted all the time. We have not been able to keep any meaningful nutrition in him since he began vomiting (Tough to figure out the exact date on this one, but I believe it was the beginning of February). We were in constant contact with our Veterinarian, and performed so many tests. They haven’t been able to figure out what it is, beyond “Irritable Bowel Disease”, but he’s not responding to the treatment plan thats typical for IBD. Its probably because his poor little body can’t take anymore.

On February 20, Laura took him to the vet, as he was not eating, and when he ate, he vomited. He was getting dehydrated and lethargic, as well as extremely weak. Subcutaneous fluids let him come home, but the lack of nutrition continued to be a problem. Wednesday (2/22/2015) I dropped him off at the vet for a battery of tests, and he came home that night, slightly more hydrated but not really any better. The vet decided to keep him for some time, to give him intravenous medication, subcutaneous fluids and so on. In the end, he was there 9 full days, with our vet giving updates daily.

While Ganon was in the hospital, we had a snow-storm that was pretty bad. Our vet, Dr. Rick Lewis, essentially took up residence in his office, and cared for his patients. He acted with care, compassion and sympathy. He answered our calls, gave us status updates, and gave us consolation when we needed it. He is a skilled veterinary surgeon, and delivered news to us in a way that we understood the impact. A seasoned professional, truly and completely. The way that the doctors in that office rallied around my pet to try to figure him out was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Saturday, February 28th, we went to Monster Jam, and Fogo with some friends, and I can remember walking through the streets of Baltimore like I had a rock chained to me, and the world on my back. That night should have elicited nothing but various spikes of content, and my mind flashed back to his face so much. Laura and I moved through the motions of life, almost, at least to me, like I was watching someone else do it. I’ve never felt so disconnected.

We brought him home on the morning of Saturday, March 7, 2015, and he had a very sluggish, but reasonable day. He was thin as hell, at 69 lbs, where he spent most of his life with us at a comfortable 83 (and lean and mean). He looked terrible. We slept on the ground floor with him that night, so that we could be near, and answer his cries if he needed to go outside, as he was far too weak to handle the steps up to the bedroom. Sunday came, and we spent all day with him. Laura’s mother and father came to visit, and around 7 PM, I took Ganon outside. He laid down in the grass and was not able to get up. He defecated while laying down, struggled to get up, then defecated again, this time very red, very bloody. I carried him inside and set him on the ottoman, but he was panting, his breath was very shallow. Laura and I decided that it was time to put him to sleep, so we called to ask the Vet if we could take care of it this evening, to which he agreed. I carried him to the sidewalk, while Laura brought the car up, and I carried him to the car. I sat in back and Laura drove. He was very weak, but he was thrashing around (as best he could). I know that the term “death throes” exists, though I’ve never looked much into it. He died in my arms on Bel Air Road, around 8 PM this evening, Sunday, March 8, 2015.

He came home for two days. I think the vet knew that we needed some closure, and some time to say good-bye.

Laura and I are struggling. It was pretty difficult for me to catalog this, but I know how time passes, and I want to make sure that I have a solid record. I may come back and add more events, or pictures. He was very much our son. I’m so very thankful for what he’s given to me, and I’ve given him everything I can. He taught me many things in his life, and will continue to teach me in his death. I love him so much, and I’m so thankful that Laura and I have thousands of pictures of him. I am not a religious man, but times like these make me wish I was able to think I’d see him again. He is such a good boy.

Thank you, Ganon. May the road rise up to meet you. I love you with all my heart. Rest in Peace.

Veterinary Blood Donation

Ganon gave blood today for the 3rd time.

When dogs need surgery, they often need blood transfusions, in a very similar way to humans. They get this blood from many sources, but a big one (just like humans) is blood donation.

We use Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank. The process is pretty easy, you fill out a form on their site, they reach out to you, and you show up at the same time once every 6 weeks for at least a year. You get some pretty sweet perks as a result.

  • Free Heartworm and Lyme’s disease testing
  • Brucella Testing
  • Complete blood profile (which is then sent to your vet!)
  • Brief physical exam before the donation
  • Aforementioned blood / plasma discounts

They also get a sweet bandana and cookies like crazy. If your dog is in pretty good health, check out the site. Help the puppies!

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