Saturday, July 26, 2008

And, she is here :-)))))

Finally, on Sunday July 20th I got to meet Mabel. I drove out to Western Springs, IL to meet her transport and pick her up. It is so great to have her here.

Meeting Mabel for the 1st time.
She wagged her tail for me immediately and fell asleep on the way home, using a stuffed toy that I bought for her as a pillow. I was immediately in love!

Mabel's night in Indy

Mabel spent the night of Saturday July 19th at the home of a wonderful volunteer in Indianapolis, IN. Jenn not only overnighted Mabel, she also drove several legs of her transport. Big thanks to Jenn for helping this lucky girl.

Jenn reported of her time with Mabel: "I had the pleasure of keeping Mabel overnight. Such a joy! An absolute joy! I fell in love with her and I miss her terribly already!"

As you can see Mabel made herself at home in Indy!

Mabel's Cross-country adventure!

Question: "How do you get a dog from a foster home in Charleston, SC to a foster home in Chicago, IL?"

Answer: "Once again, you rely on the kindness and hardwork of a selfless group of strangers."

For those that don't know here's how it works. Everybody drives about 1 hour, so for Mabel that was 15 different legs on Saturday July 19th and Sunday July 20th, plus one overnight stay at a volunteer's home in Indianapolis, IN.

Michelle and I were worried, very, very worried, that Mabel would freak out with meeting so many new people and being passed off to a new stranger every hour for 15 hours. She, again, surpassed all our expectations and was an absolute treat with everyone that she met. These photos are of her travelling through NC on Saturday.

Mabel's last days in SC

Michelle gave us one last update on Mabel before she began her long trek to Chicago. Mabel's behavioural issues are improving and she is gaining confidence. Michelle and Andrew have done such a wonderful job with her. Mabel is healthier and happier thanks to them. Our emaciated puppy who weighed 33.7 lbs at her first vet appointment on July 1st now weighs in at a whopping 43.7 lbs. Pretty impressive in just 17 days. I can't thanks Michelle and Andrew enough for taking such good care of her.

"Mabel's temperment has finally stabilized and become predictable with us- she is much better behaved (though she's still a typical bully puppy and will need to learn manners) and hasn't peed or pooped in the house while supervised since she flooded our West Elm rug.

She gets along amazingly with Maggie and Sabrina, though play must be supervised because it has escalated (with Sabrina) into fighting once or twice- and they're easily broken up with verbal correction. She's still going to need a lot of help and reinforcement at [her next foster home], particularly with the food aggression because it took her quite a while and different techniques to finally get her calmer, and she still does it on rare occasions (wet food, petting her muzzle with pressure).

She is mushy and delicious and such a lap dog! I love her and am so jealous of Ruth- now that we fattened her up, and turned her from a sad dog into a bad dog into a great, healthy dog she gets to enjoy her at her funnest. No fair!

Still not sure how Mabel will do with the transport- she'll be stressed and meeting a whole lotta peeps. She'll also be much stronger than she was initially- praying she doesn't bite anyone! She is doing well with strangers who are already in her house when we let her out, but not as well with people on the other side of the fence (still growls, and hackles up) or on the other side of the door (like the Chinese food delivery guy).

When she gets her health cert. tomorrow we're going to ask about dosing her with Benadryl to help her sleep and we'll send a bottle of Rescue Remedy on the way. I got her a name tag today and Andrew needs to buy her own collar and leash. I'm so excited for her and so nervous too- I want everyone to make it in one piece but I'm going to miss her!

Hopefully she'll get over her kennel cough and can head up to [her next foster home] in Chicago this weekend- I know she is so excited to get her! She is a GREAT dog but will need to go to someone with bully experience- she is developing a strong/protective personality (of us, she loves us), though we're working on her food manners and her leash manners with strangers we encounter on walks. We have gotten great advice from friends and others in the dog world.

Mabel has not had even one accident in her crate and she takes her wound scrubbing (ouch) and hydromassaging in stride.All in all, things are going well :) I am planning to call the AC facility and let them know how she's doing and to send them a letter. Andrew is pissed at them because they said they had her for 6 days but the pictures you've seen of how much she improved in just six days makes him think they hadn't been feeding her enough."

Mabel's amazing vanishing leg wound

When Mabel first arrived at Michelle's we were all pretty sure that she would need a skin graft on her leg wound. On July 17th 2008 she had her last surgical consultation in SC and Michelle reported that the surgeon told Andrew, "You must be feeding her super food, because I have never, ever seen a wound like that heal so quickly and without assistance in my life. It would be stealing money from you to do surgery on this dog."

So yay, Mabel doesn't need surgery, her kennel cough is gone and she is ready to start her journey to me in Chicago. I am more than excited to meet her finally, and have had butterflies of nervous anticipation in my stomach all week.

Mabel Week 2 and 1/2!

As the days pass at Michelle's, Mabel continues to make astounding progress. She is now gaining weight like a champ, her wound is healing, her abscess is gone and she is amazing us all with her quick transformation.
Below is her foster mom's update from July 14th 2008. The scared, timid emaciated puppy has vanished and has been replaced by a dominant, confident (most of the time) love of a dog.

"Well, today is July 14th and Mabel is not remotely the same dog we pulled from Savannah/Chatham AC on July 1st. Instead of the sweet, timid, unsure, wiggly and defensive pup that we've had for the first week and a half, she is now a strong, pushy, dominant AW of a dog!
She is still sweet as can be with us, but make no mistake- she wants to be top dog in our house. We finally introduced her to Maggie and Sabrina [our French Bulldog foster] on Saturday since Maggie came down with [kennel cough] anyway, and immediately Mabel started trying to mount and hump her. Maggie never cares but we corrected and redirected her. She and Sabrina have an issue and need to be monitored extremely closely when interacting- I'm not 100% who is starting sh*t, but Mabel makes her displeasure known. This morning Mabel was the one clearly instigating Sabrina and trying to entice her to run, but Sabrina was having none of it and didn't move from in front of the door.

Mabel's tail is always up and wagging and her ears are now always forward and perked, intstead of back and flat like they have been previously. We have confirmation that she is not housebroken (our poor West Elm rug may not survive the river of urine she flooded it with before my eyes yesterday). She now barks when crated and whines when she has to be separated, since Andrew can't always keep a close eye on the dogs during the day and we don't trust her for a minute!

She is always moving and getting into things, like a typical puppy. It seems she knows her name and she is a total lap dog- as in, when I'm on my laptop on the sofa, she jumps up and sits right on my hands. She loves Andrew and they chase each other in the yard; she has a problem jumping up on us (I have three big welts from her claws this morning) but we're correcting when she does it and she seems to oblige for a minute or so.

She goes back tomorrow morning to have her bandage removed and we'll hopefully find out what the recommendation is about surgery. She seems to be over her kennel cough though we're finishing out the meds, and Maggie doesn't have it badly at all so far- just a cough/hack once in a while as opposed to the constant coughing Mabel was doing last week. Right now, Mabel is supposed to head to Chicago on Saturday and that's still the plan as far as I know. I'll work on posting pics of Mabel from this morning so you can enjoy her progress."


As Mabel was working hard to get healthy at Michelle's house people all over the country, who had seen her picture on the internet, were asking if there was any way they could help her. Most people were looking to donate in some way to Mabel's recovery.

In light of all the requests that I received I decided to set up a fundraising website for Mabel. I felt a little uncomfortable about the whole thing because I had agreed to cover Mabel's medical costs personally, and did not want people to feel obliged to contribute in any way.

This of course was not the case and people came out in amazing numbers to offer support to Mabel. I am still overwhelmed by the generosity that was shown to her, and me, by so many strangers and internet friends. Mabel's fund has been a confirmation of the kindness of strangers, and a true example of humanity.

Before I set up the fund my husband asked me how much I was hoping to raise and I said my goal was $250, and my wildest dream amount was $500. Here is the link to Mabel's page so you can see how far it exceeded my expectations:

I will forever by truly grateful to have felt such kindness in such a personal way. I cannot express how much it has all meant to me.

Mabel Week 2

Below is an update from Michelle at the start of Mabel's second week with her. Mabel was having some behavioural issues at this point and we were all worried that she was going to end up being both human and dog aggressive.

"So it's not really week 2 yet, as it's only Sunday and week 2 technically begins on Wednesday, but I needed a marker to label these photos. I guess you could call them "Day 6" photos. She is definitely putting on weight! It's impossible to get good shots of her face because she's always in motion and my fastest shutter speed is waaaay too slow.

"Mabel is doing great physically- she's eating, playing with us, being goofy, and her abscess is almost completely gone!! Her leg wound, I'm not sure, but she has a follow-up appointment this week and her surgical consult.

Psychologically, though, I'm not sure. She growled at me Friday morning- my routine has been to hand feed her and to pet her while eating from the bowl, and while petting her in the AM, she growled and curled her lip at me. I just kept petting her, and she got over it. We're only hand feeding from now on, I will absolutely not tolerate food aggression. We're still strictly crating and rotating with the dogs and she has so far ignored the cats in the house. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I've been getting the feeling that as Mabel gets stronger and more used to the house, the more possessive of it she's getting.
So yesterday I took her for a super short walk, maybe 100 feet, if that, and we came across two guys who were walking to a neighbor's house (we live in a great neighborhood, lots of young couples and stuff). She started growling and lunging at them. I explained she was a rescue but the guy reached out his hand (we were still four feet away) and she kept growling and lunging, I tried to calm her and was able to pet her and to hold her while she was growling and until they left, but I'm worried that I maybe reinforced the behavior by doing so.
I think it's important to keep trying to socialize her but I've never had experience with aggressive dogs and want to make sure I am helping more than hurting. She is in love with Andrew and I and snuggles and plays with us and has not growled at me once, even with food involved, except for yesterday morning. But, just now, while I was playing and petting her in the guest room and Andrew was coming home and walking in the back door, she started to growl. The behavior is completely foreign to me

Mabel's 1st Day of Freedom

Mabel's first 18 days of recovery were spent in the loving care of Michelle and Andrew in Charleston, SC.

Here are some pictures taken on her first day at their house. At this point she weighed 33.7 lbs and we were all pretty convinced that she would need a skin graft on the hideous wound on her leg. She was sad, scared, meek and struggling to survive. That was all about to change...

Scary skinny Mabel on her first day at Michelle's.
Ribs, hips and spine on display. It doesn't get much skinnier than this.

A view of the size of the leg wound.

Up close and personal.

The Mad Dash to Save Mabel

On July 1st 2008 we quickly, and somewhat frantically it has to be said, put the wheels in motion to save Miss Mabel.

Bridgid scrambled to get all the documents that we needed from LSAS to proceed with pulling Mabel from Savannah AC. Michelle waited anxiously in Charleston, SC for the documents to arrive so she and her fiance could get on the road to Savannah to go get Mabel. I spent the day frantically emailing the two of them, giving progress reports and making sure that they both had everything they needed.

The AC was scheduled to close at 5 pm and if we did not have Mabel out by then she would be euthanised before they opened the following day. At 3 pm ET Bridgid managed to get everything faxed over to Michelle, who then began the mad dash to get to Savannah in time to get Mabel. She made it by the skin of her teeth, and whisked Mabel away to freedom and a hamburger from McDonalds!

They went straight to the vet. Here is Michelle's report from that evening:

"Long story short, she is HW- (yay!) parasite free, and was so infested with fleas, ticks, and maggots in her ears that the vet needed to bathe her- we just couldn't do it at home, especially with the leg wound. Her leg wound is old and we're going to scrub it with blue solution daily, per the vet's instructions, along with hydrotherapy to promote healing (shower massage). She also had some kind of large tumescent growth attached to the muscle on her chest, which burst when the vet aspirated it. We have to massage it repeatedly with a warm washcloth to get the fluid out. She is being dewormed tonight despite her direct and float fecals coming up clear, just in case. She needs to be separated from the other animals in the house for a week, per the vet, just in case. She is one of the sweetest dogs I've ever met and is SO hungry and SO weak. She just put her little head on my lap and tries to lean on you. The vet thinks she's 1+ because of tartar on her teeth but she looks all puppy to me, with ginormous paws. She only weighs 33.7 lbs and should weigh 50+."

The Mabel Story

My journey in the world of dog rescue began on June 30th 2008 at 5.48 pm when a friend posted a link to a petfinder page entitled "Saddest ever" on a dog-related forum that I frequent.

The images that I saw broke my heart. An emaciated, injured, dejected "pit bull" scheduled to be euthanised on July 2nd. I decided that now was my time to step forward. If I could help it there was no way that poor dog was going to die in that place, never having known love.

I emailed Bridgid, the wonderful woman who owns the daycare that my dogs go to, and asked her if there was anything that the rescue that she was affiliated with could do to help. I said that I would pay Saddest ever's medical bills if Lakeshore Animal Shelter would agree to pull her. She immediately agreed and we began the race to get the dog out before she was killed.

Here are Mabel's petfinder photos from Savannah/Chatam Animal Control.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My doggie family

I have started this blog in the hopes of chronicling my journey through the sad, rewarding, frustrating, fulfilling world of dog rescue. I am just starting out on this path, and I hope that it will be a journey that will last the rest of my life.

First though I should probably introduce myself, or rather my dogs! I am the proud owner of 2 fabulous pit bull terrier mixes. They are the doggie loves of my life.

My husband and I adopted Izzy from a local rescue group when she was 8 weeks old. She was a tiny 9 lb puppy and we fell in love with her the second we say her. She is a pit/lab mix who now weighs in at 48lbs at 13 months old. She is a chocolate and white, red-nosed, wiggly, smiley, people-loving, fetch machine. She has never met a person that she didn't like nor a ball that she didn't want to chase.

Izzy at 8 weeks. Her first day home.
Izzy at 1 year. Tired and happy after a good game of fetch.

I first saw Dudley on a dog-related forum that I frequent. A wonderful woman was fostering him after he was surrendered from a less than ideal situation. In June my husband I drove to AL to meet, and adopt, Dudley. He is an 8 month old, 42 lb, snuggly, cuddly, gentle, patient, goofy, clumsy pit bull/boxer mix, and one of the most easy-going dogs I have ever met. After a somewhat shy start with strangers Dudley is now a confident, people-loving dog. Dudley truly loves love!

Here he is at 7 months old. Just before we adopted him.

Having a 2 dog household is wonderful! Izzy and Dudley are completely in love with each other and my husband and I couldn't be happier. They have quickly become best friends who follow each other everywhere, and mirror each others actions.

Two peas in a pod 2 days after they met!

So that is my doggie family. Now onto the real story...