So often, we hear of a plea for help for an abandoned or abused dog, but we seldom hear of the outcome.  I am happy to share that Russ, the puppy that I profiled in my last blog post, is doing exceptionally well.  In the video (link provided below) you can see that he looks like a different dog from the last pictures and video.  He is no longer emaciated, his coat looks sleek and shiny, and his back legs look healthy and strong.  It is amazing what love can do in just one short month.  Russ has also learned to play!

Check out this LINK to the Facebook video posted by Canadian Odd Squad Animal Rescue.

Peace | Love  | Rescue

The universe seeks constantly to achieve balance. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If the pendulum swings one way, it must always swing back the other way. Despite what we may feel when watching the news, there is always something good to balance the bad that we witness in this world.   Those who work in dog rescue unfortunately all too often witness the worst that humanity has to offer – the heartbreaking results of heartless, unfeeling, and cruel individuals (I have more colourful terms to describe these people, but I’m too much of a lady to share them here). I have no doubt that those on the front lines have witnessed atrocities that leaves their faith in mankind shaken to its core, but, just as each journey begins with a single step, the path to healing for each rescued dog (and indeed the rescuers themselves) begins with the efforts of kind, generous, hardworking, and endlessly loving individuals.

I am going to share with you the story of one dog. It is a story that is still being written, but it is one that illustrates how dog rescue shines a light on both the worst and the best of humanity.  Russ is a six month old puppy from Texas. Though stillRuss1 a very young dog, poor Russ has suffered far more than any dog should ever have to endure. Do I know the details? No, I don’t. Russ isn’t talking. His physical and mental state speaks volumes however.  The day after he left Texas aboard a transport headed for Canada, I spoke with the lady who was caring for him in the south. I was told that he was very scared and would cry if she reached for him as if he was going to be beaten.  She said he was very thin and needed a lot of love. Well, that’s not good, but we soon learned that it was worse than first thought.  The good folks at an organization called Save Them All South to North arranged for transport for Russ from Texas to Canada.  The transport arrives in Calais, Maine, USA, and then dogs are transported to their forever home, or, in this case, a foster home. As Russ arrived just days before Christmas, foster homes are tough to come by, and so another dedicated rescue organization stepped up to the plate to assist.  Canadian Odd Squad Animal Rescue, based in Nova Scotia, Canada provided a foster home for Russ. When he was delivered to their care, warning bells went off and he was seen by their veterinarian at the earliest opportunity.  Allison from Canadian Odd Squad shared this account of his health with me. “Russ came to us with tape and round worm, Coccidia, an ear infection, Demodex Mange, and a bacterial skin infection. The vet was also concerned about his bone development due to his severe emaciated state.  He had a plantigrade stance, and they were afraid he may need surgery to fix this.  The vetRuss2 felt that Russ had spent most of his short life neglected in a tiny cage. Russ is only 6 months old – this absolutely broke our hearts! Russ was very timid, would spend his time hiding in his crate, and would not eat in front of anyone.  For days he would only come out of his crate at night when everyone was in bed.  Russ did not know how to play, and really didn’t even know what to do with other dogs.”

Is this the worst case of neglect we’ve ever heard? Sadly, not even close.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t terrible.  Little Russ has suffered pain, fear, anxiety, loss of mobility, and hunger.  Some of these wounds heal more easily than others, but thankfully, the cruelty and neglect that led to his poor state, have now been balanced by the love, kindness, and dedication of many folks who are trying to even the score on his behalf. 

What now for Russ?  Allison shared this current update. “When Russ arrived in Canada he weighed 9.8 kg – at his last vet visit this week he weighed an amazing 14.25 kg.  That is an amazing gain in just 3 short weeks.  Russ had a full blood panel, a skin scrape, fecal test and x-rays completed.  Based on X-rays and how far he has come, the vet feels that with supplements, more weight gain, and exercise his legs will fix themselves. With a lot of patience, love, and understanding Russ has started to really come out of his shell.  He enjoyed playing with his temporary foster siblings, and became very trusting of his temporary foster Mama.  He would go for drives without hesitation, and take food right out of her hand.  Russ is currently settling into a new foster home, as he is no longer contagious, and has  to learn to trust more than just one person.  He has already made fast friends with one of his new foster fur siblings, and given time will learn to trust others again. We are confident that he will come out of his shell and find his best forever possible.”

The ancients say, “The man who enjoys well can also be subject to great suffering.  The man who feels little pain is capable of feeling but little joy.” Perhaps this explains why dogs that have been rescued from deplorable circumstances seem to feel such pure joy at being saved, and show such love for those who rescue and adopt them. They have felt the misery to put joy into its rightful perspective.  In his corner, Russ has had his rescuer(s) in Texas, the folks who make up the Save Them All South to North organization, the Canadian Odd Squad Animal Rescue, the dedicated foster who opened her heart and home to Russ at Christmas, the staff at the Amherst Veterinary Clinic, the individuals who donated funds to pay off the substantial medical bill that Russ accrued (several vet visits, multiple medications, x-rays, and other tests), the local business in Amherst, NS (Greco Pizza) that had a fundraiser to help with veterinary costs, and the many people who shared his story via social media.  Now he has a new foster family, and one day soon someone will have the honour of adding him to their family permanently. Yeah, that is quite a few people working to balance the evil of possibly just one person, but the fact is that those people are here, every day, working to make the world a better place for the sweet souls that can’t fend for themselves.  What a wonderful place we live in – one whose people place that much value on the life and well-being, of one little puppy from Texas. One sweet, little Russ. Score one for the good guys!

p.s.
Russ will be available for adoption in the coming weeks. If you wish to make inquiries, you may do so through OddSquadRescue.com using the contact link on their website, or send an email to allison@oddquadrescue.com . To view a sweet video of Russ, please click HERE!

Peace | Love  | Rescue

We’ve probably all felt it…the sense that a problem is so big that there can’t possibly be a way to “fix it”.  This daunting feeling causes many of us to feel overwhelmed, and we choose to walk away from a fight that we see no way of winning. While it may be true that no single solution exists to solve a large, and multi-faceted, problem, it may just be that the “fix” lies in many unique approaches applied by individuals, or small groups, each working to eliminate a specific part of the larger problem.

One such solution was recently reported by Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald. In her article, Ms. Burney describes a high school veterinary science program that is saving unwanted dogs in a local area shelter.  Dogs in shelters are destroyed for a variety of reasons.  One reason is that they may have behavioural issues that make them difficult to rehome. The goal of this high school program was to remove dogs with behavioural problems from the shelter environment, and correct the unwanted behaviour so that they had a better chance of being adopted into a loving home.  Force-free training is a technique that uses positive reinforcement, like treats, to shape dog behaviour.

The high school has partnered with a local Miami-based shelter to bring dogs directly from the shelter to the high school. The six dogs taken from the shelter last  semester lived in kennels attached to the classroom and played in an outdoor area behind the school. For 10 weeks, students trained the animals, coming in early every day to check on the dogs before class and working with them in whatever time they could during the day between classes, homework and their other obligations. On weekends and during their veterinary science class, they worked intensely on the behavioural training.

The students documented the dogs’ transformation, posting pictures and videos on a Facebook page for prospective families. By the end of the semester, the students had found homes for all of the animals. Another six dogs will be chosen by the students in January, and the training will begin again.

Critics might suggest that saving “only six” dogs out of the millions currently living in shelters isn’t making a difference.  Try telling that to the six dogs that are now in loving homes.  Try telling that to the six dogs that have just been pulled from the shelter to spend the next ten weeks with a class of students dedicated to their care and training, and ready to shower them with love and affection.  Every life counts!

“Saving one dog may not change the world, but to that one dog surely the world will change forever.”

I applaud the teacher, the veterinarian, the shelter, the school, and the awesome students that are changing the lives of the dogs that they choose for their program each semester. Do their efforts alone solve the problem that sees enormous numbers of dogs living and dying each day in shelters? No, but IT IS making a difference.  If we all did as much as what these folks are doing (each of us in our own way with our own ideas) the problem would be eliminated. The issue isn’t that the problem is too big; it is that we are so fixated on solving the entire problem with one broad sweeping stroke that we fail to do just what we can in our own little corner of the world.

Do just what you can – it will be enough!

Peace | Love  | Rescue