Hospice Fosters: A broken heart just means you did your job
Can we please take a moment to share with our hospice fosters how MUCH we appreciate them?
Not many people would knowingly sign up to take in a dog during his last months of life--missing most of his life only to play such an important role at the end of his life. You see, here at the Humane Society, our intake is focused on critically injured and abused animals. So we see our share of terminally ill and/or elderly animals whose health is failing. Their happy endings are just as important as every other animal who enters this building. Dying in a kennel in a shelter is not what we want for any animal in our charge. Nor do we want to euthanize when they may still have some good time left. That's where our hospice fosters come in. These selfless people open their home and, perhaps even more difficult, their hearts, to a dog or cat they know doesn't have much time left. They know their hearts will be broken: A broken heart is how you know you did your job as a hospice foster. But they do it anyway.
There is one couple in particular who have opened their hearts time and time again to ill and elderly animals to give them, as they put it, "a soft place to land." Dave and Deb Eizinger have hospice-fostered many old and ill dogs who they've had to say goodbye to after falling in love. Today they had to say goodbye to GusGus, an elderly, deaf lhasa apso mix who they've had since June 2015.
Here is Deb with Gus on a camping trip a few months ago. Think of how much LIFE GusGus got to live while he was with Deb and Dave! They made up for anything that may have happened to him when he was younger, that's for sure. So today we salute and thank Dave, Deb, and all our hospice fosters, for giving old and terminally ill animals the gift of dignity, love, comfort, and peace in their final days.
P.S. Dave and Deb recently took in another hospice foster, Cardinal the Pomeranian (they call him Bishop). Their kindness never seems to run out.
Why is it so important for you to leash your dog?
Off-leash dog parks are a great space to play for many dogs (not every dog--click here for more on how to decide if off-leash dog parks are for your dog). They provide an opportunity for well-socialized, trained dogs to explore freely and safely (relatively speaking). Unfortunately, we have many dog owners who treat every public space like an off-leash dog park, and it jeopardizes the safety of every person and dog in the immediate area.
The argument we most often hear from dog owners who allow their dogs to roam off-leash is, "But my dog's friendly!" But here's the problem: every dog is NOT friendly. And every person doesn't like dogs, for that matter! There are a number of things that could go wrong as a result of your dog being off-leash:
- He/she could get hit by a car, or even a cyclist. This could result in injury to your dog or worse.
- He/she could approach another dog in a friendly manner, only to find out too late that the other dog is dog-aggressive or dog-selective. This puts your dog in a position of being bitten or attacked, and it puts you, the other dog owner, and bystanders in a position of being bitten or attacked trying to break up a fight or pull the other dog off of yours. This could result in injury to your dog or worse.
- He/she could approach a person who is afraid of dogs or doesn't like dogs, and that person could react defensively, i.e. with mace or any other weapon. This could result in injury to your dog or worse. (Have we driven the point home yet?)
- He/she could get spooked by something and run away, or chase a prey animal away, and get lost.
The bottom line is: it's just not worth it.
Animal welfare journalist Laura Young wrote a great blog post on the Chicago Now blog going into more detail about this issue. Click here to read Laura's post called "Your Dog's Friendliness Still Spells Trouble for Dogs in Need of Space."
We'll leave you with this line from the article: "Even if your dog is the most loveable pup on the planet, always, always, remember you are only half the equation."
Dogs Don't Like Stripes?
Psychology Today published a very interesting article a couple months ago called "The Clothes You Wear Can Affect a Dog's Emotional State," written by Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C., in their Canine Corner feature.
The article suggests that dogs have adverse reactions to strange humans wearing stripes. Arnold Chamove of Massey University in New Zealand published a research report called "Dogs Judge Books by their Covers" in the journal Anthrozoos, in which several experiments indicated that dogs respond to strangers wearing striped clothing with increased fear and decreased friendliness.
When meeting new dogs, you may want to consider avoiding striped clothing!
January is Train Your Dog Month
Did you know that January is National Train Your Dog month sponsored by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers?
At HSMSC, we take proper training of pets very seriously. It can make the difference between a pet living a long, happy life with a family, and the pet owners ultimately surrendering the pet because they can't control them. People returning pets, abandoning pets, or surrendering pets to a shelter is something that happens every single day for a variety of reasons. But one of the most common reasons is that the dog or cat simply isn't trained: he uses the bathroom in the house, he jumps on people, he barks all the time...the list goes on and on. Dogs and cats don't come pre-programmed--you have to TEACH them to do what you want!
That's where positive reinforcement training comes in. This is something you should begin with your pet the day you bring them home, and it should continue on a regular basis for the rest of their life. The APDT has so many great resources on training your dog! Check out all the tips on the National Train Your Dog website here.
If you are interested in working with a professional dog trainer, APDT has a search page here.
Photo: Julie Schmitt, HSMSC volunteer
It's another Morning Milestone for momma chihuahua Lavender, who had a C-section recently to deliver four boy pups.
Lavender is currently "fostering" two 2-day-old pit bull puppies whose mother died giving birth to them. She is happily nursing them like they're her own babies, but at just two days old, they're already bigger than her puppies. Pretty soon they'll get too big for everyone to safely nurse from Lavender.
It's time for a Morning Milestone. Lavender is an 8-year-old chihuahua who was found on the street VERY pregnant and about to pop (as you can see in her photo).
Well, the milestone is that her puppies made their way into the world...via a C-section!
They were just too big for her little body, and the veterinary surgeon found that one of the puppies was breach and had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Fortunately, she came out of surgery successfully with four bouncing baby boy puppies!
Long-Timer Adoption: Zulu
Zulu, a 4-year-old female pit bull mix, had been at the Humane Society since July 2015. She came to us after being confiscated by police from an owner who was not caring for her properly. She was always a favorite while she was here--kennel staff loved how she would take her blanket and pull it up so she could get all snug and cuddly. But as sweet and comfortable as she was here with us, it's just not the same as a forever home. But Zulu found that this weekend! After waiting more than 6 months for her family, the right people finally came for her. Here she is with her new mom and dad who we just know will love her like we do.
It's Foster Friday! This week's featured foster is Yelp Memphis community manager Joelle Pittman!
Joelle has been a great foster and friend to HSMSC. She's a very busy girl, planning lots of Yelp events, volunteering with several other local charities, and even riding in hunter-jumper horse competitions and spoiling her horse! She not only takes the time to foster our puppies, but makes sure they come back with great manners, and most importantly, are happy bubbly little pups. They always learn to walk nicely on a leash and usually come back with great new outfits as well. Her three dogs, one of whom was adopted from HSMSC, also help make sure the puppies get proper home-training. Joelle not only does a great job as a foster but also does everything in her power to find them a great home before they even make it back to our facility. We always know when Joelle takes one of our dogs, they are in the best possible hands. She is pictured here with her most recent foster, Jack Skellington, for whom she found a home! Jack was adopted by a wonderful family in late 2015. Joelle's caring and compassion for animals seems to know no limits, and we are so thankful for her support!
This week, we've sent 12 animals into foster homes: 11 puppies and 1 cat.
It's time for a Morning Milestone!
Seabrook, who we featured for Transfer Tuesday a couple weeks ago, has recovered from his amputation surgery, and he has just moved up to the adoption floor! He is not quite a year old, and he's a neutered male Shiba Inu mix, but with gorgeous brindle coloring. He's only about 30 lbs, so he's a little guy. He gets along with just about everyone! He is pictured here cuddling in his kennel with one of his favorite staff members, Mikayla.
You can catch up on Seabrook's story here: https://memphishumane.org/donate/help-seabrook
It's Transfer Tuesday! This week's featured transfer is Quackers, a 3-month-old kitten from Memphis Animal Services with partial nerve damage to his front legs and one front leg that is badly broken. While the nerve damage appears to be resolving on its own, he will soon have surgery to repair the broken leg.
This week we transferred in a total of 3 animals from other agencies: 2 from MAS and 1 from Olive Branch Animal Control.