Thursday, May 30, 2013

Furry Friends & S'Wheat Rescues

Never in a million years would I have thought I would be the dog lover.  We had dogs when I was little but then when we moved to the city, Papa Smurf said we couldn't have dogs, it wasn't fair to keep them pinned up.  So, we didn't have dogs.  I will have to say it is funny now that Momma Bear & Poppa Smurf now have two dogs, of course they live in the "country" now.  I remember when they got Bailey and she was an outside dog and has gradually wormed her way into becoming an indoor dog. 

Fast forward 27 years later and enter Guinness, my first Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.  Yes we saw the breed in the puppy store and just fell in love.  The Ex and I had to have one.  Plus as a hypo-allergenic breed, they don't shed which would be perfect for my allergies.  Oh, now naive we were and what little we knew about the breed.  So, instead of the puppy store, we bought Guinney from a breeder, what I have since learned wasn't the most reputable breeder in the world, but far better than one that supplies the puppy stores!

As Guinney grew, so did the issues.  Hundreds and hundreds of dollars were spent on allergy testing, steroid shots, ear infections, IV's because she was so dehydrated, allergy shots because she was allergic to everything, so the Vet said.  One day I googled Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and that is when I found S'Wheat Rescues and loads of information.  In a short period of time...allergy shots became a thing of the past.

S'Wheat Rescues is located in Kansas City, MO but rescues Wheaten Terriers and other "Wheatables" across the US.  You can learn more about them by clicking here.  I started out in just the email groups trying to learn all I could about the breed and quickly learned I was not alone on the ear infections and allergies.  What I soon learned is that Guinney was allergic to the food that I was feeding her.  Well, with changes, there are no more shots and few and far between ear infections and other complications.

Fast forward to last year in which the rescue needed more volunteer "staff".  I was pretty much home bound by the boot and needed things to do to fill my free time so I volunteered.  I am now a "Transport Coordinator" for them.  For every adoption, we ensure that the current owner never meets the previous owner.  Enter transport coordinator.  Our job is to find a volunteer that can assist with picking up the dog in one location and dropping off the dog in another location in the same town.  We also do transports for mill dogs in which we make every effort to do a car relay of getting the dog from its current location to within 300 miles of its new home.  I have just done one of those and it was a Kansas City, MO to New York leg.  There is a lot of logistics that go into it besides just finding volunteers.  You have to find routes that work, find volunteers on those routes, calculate driving times, meeting locations, finding volunteers willing to host a dog overnight, ensuring everyone has a driving contract with the rescue and then making sure everyone has vehicle/phone information and confirmed meeting times.  Don't forget those changes in time zone. 

I truly love what I do and being able to give back.  I work with a great group of people.  We have a whole host of volunteers to make the rescue work.  We have the founder, the in-take coordinator, adoption coordinators, foster coordinators, transport coordinators, microchip coordinators, web designers, the vet consult and may other roles that individuals serve.  On a daily basis there is 21 of us that work behind the scenes to help save dogs that have come from some of the worst places you have ever seen.  All of us have some type of other full time job and the rescue is just a side gig. 

I can assure you the next time you see the cute puppy in the me and ask me about where that dog came from.  I'm sure our fearless leader would love to tell you the horror stories of the lives of the mom's and dad's that created that dog.  We have acquired countless dogs from Puppy Mill auctions and secretly freed them from their life of hell.  The dogs rescued from there spend the rest of their life learning how to be a dog and just trust a human.

And that is the story of how I then became a foster mom.  There was a "wheatable" that was in bad shape in San Antonio shelter.  It was a kill shelter and he had 24 hours left on his life.  Our intake coordinator contacted me to see if I could help.  Of course, I said yes.  Clearly I had no clue what I was getting into or what was even involved.  We knew the dog had mange and was determined to be noncontagious.  In the process of getting the dog ready for me to pick up, the shelter discovered he was chipped and tried to contact the owners.  Sadly the owners didn't come and it was a Sunday trip for me to San Antonio.

I traveled with Guinney's crate thinking it fit nicely in the car not knowing what I was picking up, they said he was about 40 lbs.  Well how wrong I was?  See the picture at the right.  He was clearly a big boy and smelled terrible.  I assure you, he was not friendly to the new car smell!  I drove back to Austin with the windows down because it was so bad.

Once I got back to Austin, the next step was finding a name for this big guy.  It had to be something perfect and I came up with Vito which means "life giving".  I can only hope the family that adopts him agrees and keeps it.

Well in short order, the next step was a visit to my Vet's office.  I love Hometown Animal Care and cannot say enough good things about them.  I mean, they did save Finn's life after all!  Well, they agreed to provide a discount to the rescue to treat Vito.  I have to say the picture to the left is not for the weak stomached but it gives you an idea of what poor, poor shape this dog was in.  He had such horrible skin and yeast infections.  They pulled out plugs of hair and crud from his ear that was leading to his ear infections.  This boy was so sick, they gave him pain pills to help manage all the pain associated with the infections, itching and mange.  NoDIY was at least helpful in giving him baths while he was around.  He had to be bathed two to three times a week with special shampoo to help with the mange.  My house smelled terrible for weeks, terrible to the point it was embarrassing.

But today, Vito's fur is growing back in and you would never know that he had issues, that he was facing a death sentence or that his skin was that bad.  Today he is a dog with his own personality.  He doesn't get crated during the day.  The free one I picked up from a free-cycler he has a tendency to break out of.  So, rather than risk an injury, I let him roam.  Of course, with him being so young and liking to chew, it also means that I keep things picked up and the closet doors & pantry doors are closed when I leave home.  Let's just say that he likes decorating the rooms with pasta noodles and chewing on shoes. 

To the right is a recent picture of him.  How long will I have him, probably longer than most fosters.  He is not a pure bread wheaten and he weighs in at 85 lbs so most are passing.  All I can say is those that pass, miss out on a wonderful dog.

Click here to read more about Vito.

Since fostering Vito, I have fostered two more dogs.  Clancy (to the right) has since moved to his foster to adopt home.  He is home check status which means a volunteer goes to the new home for Clancy and gives their gut opinion of those looking to adopt and the place he will be living in.

Click here to read about Clancy.

Murphy (to the left) was another rescue that was considered "unadoptable" and more than likely would have been put down and has been with me not quite two weeks.

Murphy is a very scared, timid puppy but I have not seen any of the aggression issues that the shelter said he suffered from.  I don't think he will be with me long and will be off to a new, loving family.

Click here to read Murphy's story.

So from being a non-dog person, I have graduated to walking four dogs every day.  A quick 15 min walk in the morning to stretch the legs and then another 2.5 mile walk at night to burn off some energy.  I'd almost 100% say I wouldn't have it any other way but feeding 4 (really 5 since one eats for two) dogs can get expensive.  But I couldn't think of volunteering for a greater group or work with a better group of volunteers.

You can see all of the dogs available for adoption at:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The thing that affords me the fun the things

In other words, work. 

I think that in some ways, it is easy to get jaded.  You forget why you took the new job.  You forget why you thought this was the best job ever when you took it.  You get jaded.  You think you need to be paid more than you do.  Let's not kid ourselves, we all believe we deserve to get paid more for what we do.  I have yet to meet that person that says, nope I get paid exactly what I deserve. 

But, today is a remind of why I love my job. 

First and foremost...summer is creeping in and we are averaging 90 degree days.  But the beauty of the new job...yes that's right, I have shorts on today.  I assure you all of my previous jobs, that would never, NEVER, ever happen.  But today it does, tomorrow it could and next winter if I wanted it to, it would.  Jeans are even okay.  Sadly, I am finding my dresses only get used on Sunday's now for Church.  I could dress up for work but whenever one is so casual, then you feel over dressed.  So, not really a bad thing.

But most importantly is my special visitor today.  Yes, that is right, Mr. Finnegan is hanging with momma at work.  He had a groomers appointment today at 9:30.  So, he came to work with momma before hand and then is here to hang until it is time to go home.  The best part, no one cares. They want to come in and give him love.  He wants to give them love. 

Really, if it wasn't for his whining, they wouldn't know he was here.  He gets pissed if they walk by without saying hi and starts whining.  It's cute but annoying.

Guinness has also had the privilege of having a work day too.

So, I have those things going for me at work.  I have the great pay and the benefits that no one gets in today's economy...aka the company covers me and my family 100%.  I have the casual attire, I get to bring my dog to work on occasion, a short commute to work and I have zero of the stress that any of the other jobs afforded.  Yes, I had the boss get cranky on me once for something that was out of my control but unlike my old boss...he apologized and was far, far less scary and cranky.  If that was him at his worst, I'll take it.  Plus, a few of us have Red Solo Cup Friday's.  It isn't every Friday but it happens and it is the Friday's of the most stressful weeks!

And so today I am reminded of all the reasons I love this job and not the pain in the ass sales guys that annoy me with their other stuff. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Hmmm, didn't I just blog about the best laid plans?  Wasn't that just yesterday?  Weird.  It feels like it was just yesterday but today is May 21st. 

How should I say it, life went to hell in a hand basket it a matter of minutes of that last post.  There was so many changes, so many moments of personal hell, tears, doubt, self failure and then happy times, a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Clearly I have a lot of catching up to do.  I almost want to say that since the start of May, a lot of things were just a reboot to my mission and goals in January.

Stay tuned as I update on what has transpired the past few months, who ATM is and how life is in a much better place.