Archive for July, 2011

Chester Iva

July 6, 2011

Pulled: Tuesday July 5, 2011 from Dillon County Animal Shelter/Middle Mutts

Adoption commitment: Saturday July 16, 2011 by Save-A-Litter Pregnant Dog Rescue

Meet Middle Mutt’s Kris, and my Chester Iva. Foster #9.

Since I’ve rescued and fostered dogs for Middle Mutts now, I’m on their email list. The good thing about this is that I like Middle Mutts, and I’m glad they like me too. Yay!

The bad thing about this is that I get heartbreaking emails about pups on death row, and Scott would divorce me if I took all of them. He would consider divorcing me if I took another one as a Fisk Foster, leaving us the responsibility of finding a home for him/her, since we’ve yet to find a home for Chester Edisto. So, after getting that first heartbreaking email, I responded to Kerri, one of my Middle Mutts contacts, explaining that I would gladly pull and foster any animal with an adoption or rescue commitment in hand.

Kerri emailed me back and asked if I’d be willing to take a very pregnant yellow lab. Chester Iva already has a rescue commitment. There is a rescue that works, particularly, to save pregnant mothers and their pups. The problem is that this rescue is in Philadelphia, and Chester Iva is due to deliver any day.

“Could you take her?” Kerri asked. “We’d much rather have her out of the shelter asap and transport her once the pups are a week or two old.”

“Of course,” I said. So, after a First-Year English meeting, the kids and I set off for the Dillon County Animal Shelter. When Chester Iva came out, I was so shocked by how very pregnant she was that I forgot to ask all the important questions: about age, about delivery expectations, etc. I just remember thinking that she looked like a goat, and also having flashbacks to the final days of my pregnancy with Jack. — during which time I looked a bit like a goat myself.

Whenever she panted on the two hour drive home, I thought, “Please don’t have your babies in the car.” Arina, trying to be helpful, would say things like, “Maybe she has to throw-up. Remember? Like you did, Mom? In a bag, in the toilet, in a bowl, [well, you get the idea].”

Since we’ve gotten Iva home, she seems to be enjoying her new surroundings. And I’ve never had a dog enjoy a bath so much. She would have let me scrub her with shampoo all day, I think. She’s a super sweet girl and an enthusiastic tail-wagger, though she is afraid of overhead bridges. She rode shotgun on the drive home, and ducked every time we went under one.

I’ve titled the photo, below, Iva’s official pregnancy photo. Here she is in all of her pregnant glory:

And here she is getting some much needed rest:

More details after the birth. Perhaps I’ll revisit The Adventures of Milo and Otis. I’m glad to know that I wasn’t traumatized by Sondra’s birthing scene for naught.

Chester Hampton

July 1, 2011

Pulled: Sunday, June 26 2011 from Sandy Crest Kennels/Middle Mutts

Adoption commitment: Tuesday June 21, 2011

Scott had to pull Chester Hampton. He had just gotten back from Salkehatchie. I had just gotten back from vacation with my parents and the kids. We were both exhausted, but I had made a commitment to pick him up on the way home.

Hampton thrashed; he screamed (literally); and he bit aggressively (the bite and shake, rather than Cooper’s nips). He was still afraid of us, even after the car ride, even after he was put in a fenced in area. We worried about how we were going to transport him from my parents’ house to ours in Columbia. He had bitten Scott 10+ times already, breaking the skin, and had destroyed a pair of Dad’s welding gloves. And it was Dad who saved the day in the end. He literally lassoed Hampton with a drop cord and got him, somehow, into a pet carrier.

I knew I was making progress with Hampton when, as we neared the end of the drive to Columbia, he didn’t growl at me when I turned around to talk to him. And he finally approached me and let me pet him at the end of the day. By the second, he was transformed. He was jumping into my lap, giving me kisses, following me around everywhere.

He was so friendly and loving with me that I thought I could take him to get him groomed. I carried him in, and he was fine. — until I put him on the metal table. Then, it’s like he was gone. — scared out of his mind. He would have bitten me if I had tried to touch him at that point. Instead, I said, “Okay. Let’s go.” He jumped off the table, followed me to the door, and very gratefully allowed me to pick him up and take him to the car. (Sorry about the drama, Sarah and Susie.)

The same thing happened at the vet. I took him in, he was sitting on my lap, and then I took him back and put him on the metal table. He went into his dark place. He jumped off, hid, snarled and snapped at everyone. I jingled my keys, said “Okay. Let’s go.” Same thing. He followed me to the door, whined for me to pick him up and carry him out. I carried him out to the car, slipped on a muzzle, and took him back in. The ultimate betrayal. /heartbreaking

The vet sedated him so that I could take him to the groomer’s and said that he’d be asleep within 10-15 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like this, but Hampton FOUGHT the sedation. He never went to sleep, even though the drug made him too weak to move. He’d try to lift his head, to look at me, to move closer to me from the passenger side seat. /heartbreaking again

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Hampton thought he was being put down and was determined *NOT* to die. I was told that both boys had been pulled from the euthanasia room. Maybe that explains Hampton’s fear of metal tables.

I had literally spent half a day cutting out all of the matted hair I could before taking him to the groomer. He was so patient and didn’t even nip me, even when I accidentally nipped him with the scissors. But I needed help. There were still matts, and I knew that he’d have to be shorn completely. Although I miss his long beautiful curls, I’m glad he’s cut short in a way, because the grooming is so traumatic for him. He does look a bit like a drowned rat to me. But, his adoptive mother, Peggy, wrote me to tell me that he’s beautiful. /love

Chesters Gilbert and Hampton were difficult at first, but I’ve never had such devoted and spirited (as in an admirable will to LIVE) little fosters. I adore them.

They remind me of some lines in an article I read, Christie Keith’s “There’s Something About Shelter Dogs.” Keith writes,

“Don’t get me wrong; I’ve loved all my dogs, the ones I brought into this world with my own hands, the ones I plucked out of a wriggling pile at a good breeder, the little one I found running in the road. But there’s something about going to hell and back with a dog that is unlike anything else. You don’t go through that with a dog and not love her.”

Her. Or him. Or them.

Adopted by: Peggy Sudol

Renamed: Romeo, his Middle Mutts name

Chester Gilbert

July 1, 2011

Pulled: Monday June 20, 2011 from Sandy Crest Kennels/Middle Mutts

Adoption commitment: Tuesday June 21, 2011

Scott left on Saturday for Shelby, NC, to lead a team of teenagers who would be helping a low-income family repair their house. Unbeknownst to him, I left for Chesterfield on Monday to pull our seventh foster, Chester Gilbert. I swung by McBee to pick up my mother, because I figured I’d need her help. Whitney had warned me that it would be difficult (she actually told me I should bring a rotisserie chicken with me, and I sort of wish I had taken that advice).

We got to Sandy Crest Kennels, a temporary haven for dogs pulled from High Kill Shelters, and we met Laurie, who expressed doubt as to how this pull was going to go. She had tried to give both dogs pills to sedate them, but when we went back to their kennel, we saw that the pills were still wedged in the pieces of hot dogs she’d thrown in to them. — neither hot dog nor pill was touched.

I had told Whitney that I would get both if I could, but she said that one at a time might be better. The pair seemed to feed off each other’s anxiety. The larger of the two had backed up in a corner and was snarling and snapping at us. The smaller of the two was hiding underneath a cot and growling.

Laurie managed to get the larger one to go out of a door, to an outside fence, so I went outside to try to calm him. Whitney said that she had had more success with the larger of the two. She took photos of them both to send to rescues, although she had initially been too intimidated to approach them. Then, she said to herself, “Whitney, what’s wrong with you? You deal with pit bulls. These are MINIATURE POODLES.” When she got down on the floor, in front of the bigger one, she said that he was friendly to her. I plopped down in front of him on the floor, but he continued to snarl and snap. I had already sent Mom out to the car.

I thought, “Today is the day I’m going to get bitten.” I knew that it would happen eventually, but I thought I’d start slowly. If it had to happen, I wanted to be bitten by the smaller of the two. So, I went to see Laurie, and she let me borrow her elbow-length gloves. She explained that I’d still be able to feel the bite — that it would be like a pinch — but that it shouldn’t break the skin. Three bites later, I was holding Gilbert, speaking softly to him and bouncing him gently, like I used to do with Jack when he was upset.

He was calm. Laurie was able to slip off my gloves. Mom got out of the car and tried to help but nearly lost her hand in the process. She agreed to drive, instead, and I rode passenger side, with Gilbert in my lap.

Mom went through the drive-through at Wendy’s. I wanted her to get fries for Gilbert, because after watching the documentary trailer for Eating Mercifully (, I had decided that I’d only buy/eat meat if I knew that the animals were raised humanely. I started expostulating on the horrors of factory farming, when Mom cut in and said, “I’m paying, and I’m getting the dog chicken nuggets. This is an emergency.” Ah, well.

I do think Gilbert liked her better after that, although I’ve since discovered that he’s a fan of fries as well.

By the end of the drive to Mom’s house, Gilbert was letting me pet him. Once out of the car, though, he went and hid underneath it. And growled and snapped if I tried to pull him out. Finally, Mom moved the car, while I watched Gilbert and motioned for her to do so.

After a much needed bath and haircut, though, he was like a lamb. He has been following me around, begging to cuddle with me ever since. To start with, I thought Mom would adopt him, since pulling him with me was such a good bonding experience for us. But, alas, Dad says “We have enough dogs.”

So, Gilbert is meeting his wonderful adoptive mother, Peggy, tomorrow. Peggy has worked with dogs for years. She trained seeing eye dogs for the blind, she has fostered for Lowcountry Lab Rescue, and she now wants a couple of lap dogs who will sleep in her bed with her. I told her that Gilbert and Hampton are her men.

Note: Gilbert did NOT look as good as he does in the photo, above, after my haircut. That is, instead, the work of Sarah and Susie’s Grooming on Forest. And, work it was to correct this:

Sarah and Susie were amazing. And after hearing Gilbert’s sad shelter dog story, they wouldn’t even charge me. Poor Gilbert had been a trooper that day. He had been vetted and had been in the car with me and the kids for 6+ hours while I rode around, trying to find someone to do an emergency grooming for a reasonable price. I think Sarah and Susie’s was the seventh or eighth place we stopped. And clearly the best.

Adopted by: Peggy Sudol

Renamed: Cooper, his Middle Mutts name

Chester Gilbert and Hampton

July 1, 2011

Pulled: Monday June 20, 2011 (Gilbert) and Sunday June 26, 2011 (Hampton) from Sandy Crest Kennels/Middle Mutts

Adoption commitment: Tuesday June 21, 2011

Meet Cooper and Romeo, my Chesters Gilbert and Hampton. I had run into some problems with fostering: (1) I had not yet found a home for Chester Edisto, and Scott’s rule is one foster at a time; and (2) My whirlwind fostering was starting to be a painful financial commitment.

When I started this, I had hoped to be able to pay the adoption fee ($73 at City of Columbia Animal Shelter, and $150 at the local rescue organizations) and to then give the animal, free of charge, to the adoptive parent. Whitney cautioned me against this, saying that owners become more invested in their animals if they have to pay for them. Still, I knew that all the adoptive parents were spending money on their new fur babies; they were getting them established at vets, they were buying toys and beds and treats and food.

Whitney was absolutely right, though, when she pointed out that if she did the same thing, she would not be able to save nearly the number of animals that she does. She just wouldn’t have the resources to do so.

Still, Scott and I try to give 10% of our income to various charities; Heifer International, Help Us Adopt, Somaly Mam, Akshaya USA, and the Animal Welfare Institute are a few of our recent favorites. I’ll count this as a donation, a more active form of donating to the Animal Welfare Institute, I reasoned. (And, besides, I had gotten a few donations that I had put toward adopting the next dog.)

But Scott was worried. Since I wasn’t paid for the first part of the summer, though I still used daycare occasionally for Jack, Scott said that our finances had entered “DEFCON 1,” whatever that means. I assume that it’s bad.

Then Scott went away for the week, to participate in a Salkehatchie service project. As Jenny Rhoad said, he should have known better than to leave me unsupervised. I heeded his warning about finances, though, and looked to rescue from a place that offered financial assistance, or wouldn’t charge a pull fee. Because we still have Edisto, I was also on the lookout for a dog I knew I could place, preferably BEFORE Scott got home.

Enter Cooper and Romeo, two poodle mixes. Since I had received the most interest in Clover, my other poodle mix foster, I thought that I’d be able to find homes for Cooper and Romeo in no time. They were listed as Poodle/Havanese mixes, although some other people I’ve talked to have identified them as Poodle/Schnauzer mixes. And, of course, there could be all three in there.

They had both been pulled from a High Kill Shelter. I had assumed they had been pulled from Chesterfield, since they were at a temporary holding kennel in Chesterfield, but they were pulled from Marion County.

Whitney contacted me about them. She pulled them, and she said that she had difficulty finding a rescue for them, because they *seemed* to be vicious little dogs. Both she and I knew, though, that they were terrified out of their minds. They were rescue dogs in the truest sense of the word, having been pulled from the euthanasia room. Whitney told me that she would not charge me for the expense to pull them, if I would only come get them and find them good homes. “Done,” I said.

I knew I would have to get them vetted, but this time, I would save the receipts and ask the adoptive parents to reimburse me as they could.

More specifics about Gilbert and Hampton, the most challenging and rewarding little fosters to date, in upcoming posts.

Chester Florence, continued

July 1, 2011

Pulled: Thursday June 2, 2011 from Pets Inc.

Adoption commitment: Friday June 10, 2011

Flo, our second little girl foster, has been our friendliest one to date. She doesn’t meet a stranger. Although she has separation anxiety, like Clover, she is more easily pacified. As long as she has a lap to sit in — any lap — she’s fine. She’s the type of dog that dog-sitting services were created for.

She and Edisto really hit it off, and he was sorry to see her leave. Flo, though, was just eager to go and to meet new friends. Her adoptive parents, Sue and Wayne, understand what a needy girl she is and have been lavishing her with attention. They even let her sleep with them. I tried letting her sleep in the room with us, while we fostered, but had to kick her out, because she snores. Sue and Wayne have noticed that about her, but being the indulgent parents they are, they don’t seem to mind.

Flo loves the water, to lounge around on a hot summer day by a paddling pool. Wayne is particularly good at brushing her and cleaning her eyes and thinks she’s just “gorgeous.” Sue is experimenting with different hair accessories for her and pedicures. Knowing Flo, I’m pretty sure she’ll love those too.

Adopted by: Sue and Wayne Crow

Renamed: Molly

Chester Edisto, continued

July 1, 2011

Pulled: Thursday June 2, 2011 from a local rescue

Rescue commitment: Friday October 21, 2011 by Last Chance Animal Rescue

Poor Chester E. Marion, at the City of Columbia Animal Shelter, warned me that beagles are notoriously difficult to place in homes, and she was right. It’s so hard to be a beagle and have to compete with super cute small dogs like Chesters Clover and Flo.

And Edisto is such a good, albeit somewhat traumatized, dog. He is a hunting dog who didn’t like to hunt (love not hate; peace not war) and would get beaten for it. As a result, he goes limp and cowers at the hint of a stern voice. And God help him if he hears a loud noise like a gunshot or smells gunpowder. Scott was using a power tool one afternoon that had a gunpowder residue, and we thought we’d never pry Edisto from the super-tight hiding place he managed to find.

If ever a dog needed anti-anxiety pills, it’s Edisto. He attaches very quickly, especially to children and other (kind) animals.

He is more comfortable with Jack and Arina than he is with us (see photo below), and loves to play with other young dogs.

But, that means that when J&A leave to visit the grandparents, and the fosters with whom he’s made friends go on to their adoptive homes, poor Edisto has bouts with depression/anxiety. He seems scared to go outside, and battens down the hatches inside by marking his territory. I’ve never cleaned so much in my life, which is good in one way and very bad in another.

He’s a smart dog, though, in that he knows when he’s done wrong and has perfected the hound dog expression. For example, he knows that he should not get on the furniture right now [he’s shedding], and he knows that he has a very nice bed [as seen in the photo above]. One day, when I kept finding him on the couch, I finally removed the cushions as a deterrent. Then, the next time I walked in the den, I found this:

Still, we can’t stay mad at him, mainly because he’s so patient and long-suffering with the kids. That said, I’ll give Edisto the final word.

Dear adoptive parent(s),

Please rescue me from the baby human (see photo below).


Chester E.

Chester Edisto and Florence

July 1, 2011

Pulled: Thursday June 2, 2011 from local rescue

Adoption commitments: Edisto: Still available; Florence: Friday June 10, 2011

Now for the fostering whirlwind. Mr. Boise had asked me to look for another companion dog for him. I didn’t want to adopt from the shelter again right away, just because I didn’t want to risk pulling another dog with distemper. That said, I haven’t heard of any additional cases.

I am very impressed with the City of Columbia Animal Shelter. They clean and disinfect immaculately, quarantine sick dogs, and observe all dogs carefully after there has been a sickness.

Still, they gave me some information about local rescue organizations, and one of them (Pawmetto Lifeline) had a beagle available for adoption. I called, sent in an adoption application, and asked for a speedy approval, under the circumstances.

While I was waiting to hear back, I visited Pets Inc. and met my next foster, Chester Florence, whose name I shortened to Flo. The adoption consultant said that Flo was just the dog for an elderly man. She had belonged to an elderly woman, who had died, and was happiest as a lap dog. She had been adopted since and returned by a busy family who had found her too clingy in that respect.

I didn’t know whether the beagle would come through, and I just had a feeling that Flo would quickly become Mr. Boise’s new girlfriend. If not, I thought, I’ll surely be able to find a home for her. A shih tzu/dachshund mix, Flo is indeed a cutie.

I took her to meet Mr. Boise, who offered to dog-sit her while I checked on the beagle. Because Mr. Boise really wanted a beagle.  I went home, called Pawmetto Lifeline, and they told me to come pick up my second foster in one day, Chester Edisto.

Mr. Boise was delighted. Edisto was exactly what he wanted. We congratulated Mr. Boise, took photos for him, and left for home with Flo.

The next morning Mr. Boise called and asked to return Edisto and to adopt Flo. “She loves me,” he said, and complained that he could “do nothing” with Edisto. And, indeed, Edisto had not taken to Mr. Boise. A hunting dog who had been abused ( he has buck shot scars), Edisto did not respond well to Mr. Boise, who had been a hunter in his youth and who confessed to us that he also shot at his “disappointing” hunting dog with buck shot. *SIGH*

Edisto would dig in his heels whenever Mr. Boise tried to get him off of the couch or out of the door for a walk, and it became a true battle of wills.

Still, Edisto is a good dog, and I tried to convince Mr. Boise to be patient with him. There had been a storm the night before, and Mr. Boise was hard at work, trying to get someone to help remove a fallen tree limb (of significant size) from atop his camper. He stopped talking about his damaged camper to complain that Edisto came into his room during the night, barked once, and then went back to sleep on the couch.  Me, dryly: “Maybe that was his way of telling you that a huge limb just fell on your camper.”

I made the switch, though, and Mr. Boise was delighted. For a day or so. Then, I got a call early one morning, and Mr. Boise complained that he’s too active — gone too much — for a dog. “But I’ll dog-sit for you whenever you want to go camping or to see your aunt,” I said. But Mr. Boise said that he feels guilty even going to church meetings, because Flo gets so upset with him for leaving her. “If you don’t want to take her back,” he said, “I can take her to the shelter.”

I couldn’t have that, of course. So, I went to get Flo, and while Mr. Boise was very sad, he also seemed relieved. He said that at 93, he finds it hard enough to take care of himself. So, no more dogs for Mr. Boise. I told Scott that if I wasn’t so fond of him (I’ve always had a soft spot for grandfathers, having been so close to my own), I’d kill him.

I’m so glad I’ve met and worked with Mr. Boise, though. He’s not the best adoptive dad for a dog, but he’s a great adoptive granddad. — a good person to dog-sit and to then hand off the dogs to the parents.

More specifics about Edisto and Florence in upcoming posts.

Chester Dillon

July 1, 2011

Pulled: Tuesday May 31, 2011 from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter

Adoption commitment: Tuesday May 31, 2011

Because I was missing Clover, I got a new foster the next day. I read somewhere that the only way to remedy the little piece of your heart that breaks when you give up a foster is to rescue another one. — b/c each one brings a piece of heart with him or her.

Chester Dillon was the first dog I chose from the City of Columbia Animal Shelter, without any help from Howard or Marion. Mr. Boise had said he wanted a beagle. And I went to the animal shelter and saw a 10-month old beagle. It seemed providential.

Mr. Boise, 93 years old, said that he was lonely and thinking of getting a dog. A beagle, specifically. He had lost his wife the previous year. Although a dog is a big responsibility, I knew that Mr. Boise would have the help he needed to care for the dog. From me. From his grandson and granddaughter-in-law, my neighbors. And it isn’t as though Mr. Boise isn’t capable. He has a boat and a camper and travels often, going on solo trips camping at least once a year. And he frequently visits his aunt, who lives in Georgia and is 100. Or older.

Dillon was sick, though. Marion explained that he had kennel cough, but that they had medication for him, and that he would probably recuperate more quickly at my house, if I was willing to take him. Of course I was. Our own dogs, Emma and Mr. Knightley, were visiting with the grandparents for a few days, so I didn’t have to worry about them catching it, even though I keep them up to date on vaccinations anyway.

So, I scooped up Dillon, took him home, and immediately called Mr. Boise. “I have you a beagle!” I said, triumphantly. Mr. Boise was thrilled. “He’s sick,” I explained, “With kennel cough. — sort of like the doggie version of a bad cold.” Still, Mr. Boise wanted to meet him, so I took him over. He was satisfied, and Dillon wagged his tail when we spoke kindly to him or took him outside or on a walk.

I told Mr. Boise that I would take care of Dillon until he was well, so I took him back home with me, only to have Mr. Boise drive by the house within the half hour to tell me that he wanted to name Dillon “Sam.” Honestly, I think he just wanted to see him again.

I like giving people healthy dogs, but I was talking to my mother, and if Mr. Boise wanted to start taking care of Dillon, we thought it was a good idea to let him have him. I would go to his house (5 minutes from mine) and administer Dillon’s pills every day, to help out.

Mr. Boise was satisfied with this arrangement, but he called me the next evening, Wednesday, and said that Dillon was “puny,” sleeping all the time. He also said that his “twitching” was getting worse, that it reminded him of a dog he had seen once with distemper, that he may need to be “put down.”

I went that night to pick up Dillon and take him to the emergency vet, who said that she also suspected distemper. Heartbreaking. Dillon and I got home between 1:00 and 2:00am Wednesday morning.

I talked to my friend, Whitney Knowlton, from Last Chance Animal Rescue, and decided that the responsible thing to do was to take him back and let the shelter vet diagnose him. They would need to know if a distemper outbreak was a possibility.

Knowing that Dillon would have to be put down, I made sure that his last morning was the best morning ever. He had virtually stopped eating, but I made him sausage rice that morning, and he ate. I put him behind a baby gate on the front porch, so that he could enjoy the beautiful morning. I wrapped him in a blanket and talked to him on the drive to the vet.

I remember watching the Disney movie The Three Lives of Thomasina as a child and finding the idea of reincarnation for animals particularly appealing. They have such shorter lifespans than we do, I thought. They should get multiple shots at the good life. So, I explained this idea to Chester Dillon and told him that he would go to sleep and wake up in a healthy puppy body with a mouthful of warm milk.

Whether he believed me or not, I don’t know. But, he was calm as I held him in my lap and rocked him. He only whined a bit when I passed him to the shelter worker, but settled down when I petted him and spoke gently. The shelter vet wasn’t there, but they were all sure it was distemper, since they had seen a couple of cases of it, which they thought they had contained, around the time Dillon came in. He had been vaccinated against distemper at the shelter, but he must have already been infected, just asymptomatic.

Letting Dillon go was easier than I thought it would be, both for me and Mr. Boise, because we could tell that he was so miserable. As an experiment, I clamped my jaw repeatedly, as Dillon had been forced to do as a result of the disease, and tired quickly. Mr. Boise and I agreed, though, that we had great admiration for the little dog, once we realized how very sick he was. He still managed to pull himself up every time Mr. Boise had suggested a walk. — four walks, I think, the day before he died! Mr. Boise said that Dillon was so eager to please that he even wagged his tail along the way.

Rest in peace, sweet Dillon.

Adopted by: Mr. Boise

Renamed: Sam

Passed away: Thursday June 2, 2011