The faces of 2009 and 2010
http://s520.photobucket.com/albums/w328/walkswithdog/great pyrenees overload/
McCarran is my GP, a farm rescue who had parvo. Noel is a foster needing a home, Sophie is a foster pending a trip to foster in the North East, Gnocchi is going to live in Atlanta, Nicky the Pit Bull, has a new home outside Nashville. Penne has a home, totally wonderful up in the North East US, and we've started placing some dogs up there and in Canada. Ziti is up in Canada as a foster, with a pending adoption on the horizon! As many as I have taken in and moved into rescue, I get calls for a dozen or more each month. Currently is a request to save two litters of pups, ah puppy season... sigh.
And this is Foo Dog, my love and my heart break for the beginning of 2010. Dogs deserve better than this.
http://s520.photobucket.com/albums/w328/walkswithdog/foodog and friends/
On Thursday, January 14th I went to the feedstore. With the number of critters here - I do that a lot. Nine acres is nice but you tend to fill it. I was driving along (evidently with the Neon Sucker Tattoo on my forehead well lit) when I saw by the side of the road, a dog, sitting in that ancient, my hind end broke down, sit with her legs sticking out stiff and forward like a toddlers, front end still determinedly upright. Sigh. Another motorist stopped when she also saw the dog. And she tried first to get the ancient animal into her modern little sedan... You can say of Foo that she tried. But she was too big for the car and slid off the slick leather seats into the footwell with a whine. I went over and smiled at her. "You don't fit, I'll get you out of there. So I grabbed one hundred pounds of red dog and lifted her out of the footwell. She whined, then kissed my face. "Good, dog" earned me more kisses. I got a good look, Anatolian by the look,big red dog, black masked, grey nosed and OMG wow filthy. Two ancient filthy collars, one a bark collar, no tags. We got her (at the time I thought him with the massive size and noble head) to my truck and I hoisted her in. Once again a low whine and then a thorough face bath. "Good dog." Most people would take that dog to the vet or the shelter, oily, filthy, smelly, matted, crippled, and probably dying. I, of course, brought her home.
When I got her home, we worked our way through getting her down the stairs into the yard and through the back kitchen door that had flat access for her. There I added another set of words to Foo Dog's set of facts. Osteosarcoma. Right there on the left hind femur. As I worked over her, looking for anything that needed immediate care, I continued to get short baths each time she worked up the energy to do so. I got out my grooming tools and started cutting away mats and brushing some of the years of foul out of her coat. She took it all with amazing grace and if she couldn't reach my hands or face would lick my ankle or my knee. I did her nails. Somewhere between the truck and the house she had become Foo Dog, the ancient guardian dogs of Chinese and Buddhist legend
I started looking for help for immediately, she needed pain meds for what appeared to be bilateral elbow dysplasia and arthritis, they were the size of softballs and hot to the touch. At least one bad hip with the possibility that both had HD and then add the bone cancer. So pain meds. and anti-inflammatories, both were going to be necessary if she was to end her life in relative comfort. Yes, in my home. Remember the sucker tattoo? I've been working shelters for 30 years. The first dog I ever brought home from the shelter was a dying great dane who'd been left at the shelter because she was old and dying and they didn't want to be there for her. I found her sadness and her gentle kisses, payment enough to love her for her final days. So I'm used to just being there, because I can be.
I lucked out the local shelter agreed to take her in, do a medical work up, help me get her bathed and comfortable and started on meds. The Heroes of Young Williams Animal Center here are many. And it is a most beautiful facility. Karen helped me get set up in their walkup tub with the right shampoos for Foo's wildly gross coat issues. And Foo Dog was not sure about getting a bath but happy with the attention, even if all of it was exhausting and unfamiliar.
The arthritis and tumor weren't keeping her from living with grace and determination, and thanks to Young Williams and Karen and the other Heroes there, and Lonestar Pyrs for providing rescue support to pull her out again after her care and stray hold, she can hang out here until her time comes. Here she'll get the respect she deserves for a lifetime of loving someone and protecting their home and I won't let her die alone, in pain and filth in the yard. I've got a nice spot in a warm kitchen with her name on it. She's been a warrior and protector of legend, my Foo Dog. Too many times I've seen it. Once was too many, every time since makes me shudder for the condition of the human race, that some of us can do this, blindly only seeing our own needs and irritation. What cost to brush a dog? To bathe it?
And I know that often people put it out, tie it out, stop seeing it to avoid the pain of an old dog's passing. I'm not someone who could. She can have my face to wash and my heart to break, she's spent a lifetime earning SOMEONE'S grief. She can have mine and I will cherish each minute she lives. It happens here with alarming regularity, most people still seeing them as property, as livestock, not companions with feelings and souls. I knew that when I moved here. The number of dogs tied out or penned up for an entire lifetime, until they just die out there is flat amazing. With the Pyrs they often come in as unhandled, fur bearing tools, with no concept of living beside us as companions, or of trusting us.
Teaching trust is our biggest challenge with these great souls. Being trustworthy, in word and deed and intent is where it begins and ends. If you can do that, you can reach them, teach them and bring out the joy. 14 years and ancient, or three months and wicked feral, the mission is the same one - teach trust and offer love.
I lost Foo Dog on Tuesday the 19th, she died sleeping in my arms, on my kitchen floor. Part of my soul went with her. God Speed Foo Dog