2006-05-03 / Columnists
Pets, Pets, Pets...
by Joanne Anderson
First you get the animal out of harm's way. Every rescue person knows this, and some stop at that step. A happy ending is neither automatic nor guaranteed. It would be wonderful if the after shocks always ended when the animal was safe. Unfortunately, abuse has a way of cutting deeplyscarring the body, wounding the psyche, and making the search for a forever home more difficult. Despite torture or neglect at the hands of people, an injured dog or cat may still trust humans, pushing us to try to live up to that trust, and find that special someone who will care for this animal for the rest of its life.
A pedigree does not protect a dog from abuse. Two purebred foster dogs, profiled here, come from horrible backgrounds. Their trials may be different but our goal is the same. Carlie, a neglected German shepherd, and Zoe, a physically abused German shorthaired pointer, are each seeking a compassionate owner who will continue their healing and help them forget their past.
Carlie probably spent most of her 6 or 7 years outside. The pound was her Waldorf Astoria. Two months ago she came into Babylon Shelter as a stray with a metal chain embedded in her neck. Kristin, Babylon Shelter's ACO and Shepherd aficionado, didn't even recognize her as a purebred until she came back from neck surgery because her ears are so deformed. Carlie's trademark RinTinTin ears are hardened and bent over (like a Scottish fold cat) from untreated hematomas due to pseudomonasa severe bacterial infection usually brought on by an underlying allergy. Her ears are less painful now because they have been flushed and treated but they'll never stand up again. That's how she got her new name"Carlie von Flower". (Think: boxing match). She was emaciated, heartworm positive, and coughing as a result of living outdoors.
Under Kristin's care, Carlie has finished her heartworm treatment and begun to gain weight. She is great with people but doesn't like other dogs. This makes living arrangements tricky because Kristin has 2 Shepherds of her own, and shifting dogs around becomes a safety issue. Because of her strong prey drive, Carlie probably would not tolerate cats. She hasn't been around kids, so no one knows for sure. All this narrows her field of potential homes.
Carlie loves to be brushed, carries toys, retrieves, and leans against you. She knows English and German commands like "sitz" and "platz". Kristin is looking for placement with a rescue or individual who will take Carlie in and show her the comforts she has never had the luxury to enjoy. Call 631472-2149. Zo, the Pointer, a lovely representation has had a rough, young life. "Sweet and loving" are understatements. She wants to be your constant companion which is part of her problem. She seems fine with dogs, cats, kids, and even ferrets. Two years ago this German shorthaired pointer, then a skinny pup, was found lying by the side of the road with a broken bone protruding from her leg. Her leg was cast and healed beautifully. When she remained unclaimed, someone adopted her, but in this home, the Pointer was left alone, free or crated, for long periodssometimes 12 hours. She suffers from separation anxiety and thunder/noise phobia. She was destructive and tore up rugs, dog beds, and other household items. She was put on calming drugs without benefit. Each episode was punished severely. The dog was allegedly beaten and then tossed outdoors in the unfenced yard. Zoe always came back because she still craved affection from her anyone who would pet her. Witnesses tried to convince the owner to relinquish the dog. They approached the police and rescue groups but there was nothing legal anyone could do if she refused and the SPCA did not see the abuse.
Last week during a short thunder storm, Zo was alone and tore up a rug. The owner admitted throwing the dog down the stairs. After a long talk, she signed the dog over to be placed in a proper home. The dog is now boarded at a vet, back on meds that take time to build up in the blood stream, and surrounded by people who love her. She's out of danger but is in an artificial environment.
If life were a fairy tale, Princess Zo, now safe, would ride off into the sunset with her charming new owner. I hope, yet doubt, it will be that simple. Separation anxiety is fixable but it takes commitment. There are many training exercises and techniques that build confidence and independence. For example, dogs are taught to stay in place near you, but not next to you; dogs are desensitized to the cues of owners leaving. People pick up their car keys and or/ coat and sit down again instead of departing for hours. Drugs, like Clomicalm, if used properly, are temporary aids. The objective is to wean the dog off them eventually.
Pointers are sporting dogs that need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. Lack of it can increase destructive chewing. But as a Bonnie Folz, dog trainer and Vivi search coordinator, told me: "Separation anxiety CAN be worked with and the behavior modified but it's the owners that will need to do most of the work....At this point, the dog needs two things, she needs to understand that her people are not leaving her forever and she needs her confidence built up." Several trainers have offered to help Zo get settled in a new home.
I could say I'm searching for a recluse or ascetic monk who adores sporting dogs, but, seriously, Zo needs a patient dog person, preferably with breed and/or separation anxiety experience. Zo has love to give in return. I know it is a tough bill to fill, but the right person is out there. Might it be you? Call 631-661-6164.
Babylon Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon has many deserving dogs and cats looking for homes. I'm trying a new tactic this week and only mentioning 2 special ones. You'll have to go visit the rest for yourself "in person" or on Petfinder. "Sudoko" is a magnificent longhair black and white cat in the cat colony. It's a puzzle why he's been at the shelter so long. "Geezer" in Cage 43 is an absolute doll. This old timer Shepherd mix would be so happy to be to your friend.