Monthly Archives: November 2011

Break These Chains

Stick your arm straight out in front of you.  What’s that, about two feet?  That’s how long a chain Kaylee was padlocked to when she was found.  Her entire existence consisted of small circle, no bigger than four feet across, with nothing but a rotting dog house to shelter her from the blazing Nashville sun, beating rain and relentless insects.  She did everything in this tiny space – slept, ate (when she was fed), went to the bathroom, paced…and waited.

Kaylee waited every day for the first seven months of her life for someone to come and save her from the hell she was living in.  When Kaylee’s “owner” surrendered her to Dogs Deserve Better the Middle Tennessee Pet Resource Center, she was utterly defeated.  At only seven months old, she had no life in her beautiful honey colored eyes.  She was filthy and covered in bug bites.  She had never felt the warm touch of a loving hand.  She had never gotten the chance to run, never had her ears scratched or belly rubbed, never played with a toy.

She didn’t even have a name.

Keeping a dog on a chain, or “tethering,” is a widely accepted practice in some parts of the country.  In the South, it is especially prevalent.  There are plenty of reasons why tethering a dog is a bad idea.  Here are three:

It’s cruel…all you have to do is look through these pictures – or maybe out your own window – and look into the sad eyes of a dog on a chain. As pack animals, dogs are social creatures.  They long for the companionship of their pack, their family.  Since dogs have been domesticated, their “People” have become their “Pack.” Over hundreds and hundreds of years, the desire to please their pack leader (that’s you, by the way) has been bred into them, so that it is now among their most basic instincts – to please their master.  Being separated from their master, being able to see them through the window but not be with them, is torture.

It’s dangerous…A dog that’s lived its life on a chain hasn’t been socialized, and don’t know what their Pack wants from them.  They bark, they get yelled at to shut up.  They whine, they get ignored.  With no clue how to behave, they turn to destructive or neurotic behavior, like obsessive chewing, barking, scratching, or pacing.  They have such a small “territory” to call their own, that they can become extremely territorial and aggressive to anything that gets too close to them. This could include a neighbor’s dog who got out of the house, or a child who wandered into the back yard.

It probably doesn’t have the desired effect…Ask people why they chain their dogs outside, and I’d bet you a years supply of dog treats that 99 out of 100 people would say “for protection.”  Um, OK….these dogs are chained.  Meaning they can only chase an intruder as far as the end of their chain.  How is that going to stop someone breaking into your house?  Personally, I think that you’ve got a much better chance of your dog “protecting you” from an intruder if you bring him  into your home and show him unconditional love and compassion – just like he has for you already.  Kinda like this.

The pictures included in this post show a small sampling of dogs that live their entire lives on chains.  They have been documented by Dogs Deserve Better all around the Nashville area, in effort to help gather ammunition to request an anti-tethering ordinance be enacted in our county (for more information on this initiative, click here, or click here to sign the petition.)

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Right at Home

Kaylee enjoyed her first night at Foster House, and is making herself right at home.  She’s been getting to know her new foster brother:

She’s doing her part to keep the Dog Chair nice and broken-in and comfy:

And she found Her Spot:

 She spent the night in her crate with little complaint – after about only 5 minutes of letting us know she was not ready for bed yet, she quieted down and went right to sleep for the rest of the night.

What will you teach us about yourself today, Kaylee-girl?

To adopt Kaylee, contact Agape Animal Rescue.

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Meet Kaylee!

And the next tenant of Flaherty Foster House is……….Kaylee!

This gorgeous girl began her young life tied up on a chain in someone’s back yard – a pretty common occurence in the South.  Fortunately for Kaylee, a concerned neighbor reported her situation to Dogs Deserve Better, a national non-profit organization dedicated “freeing the chained dog, and bringing our ‘best friend’ into the home and family.”  When DDB approached the owners about bringing Kaylee inside, they decided they didn’t want her anymore and surrendered her on the spot. (**please see “correction” below**)

Not having somewhere to go right away due to lack of available immediate foster families, Kaylee has spent the last several months in an outdoor kennel in a volunteer’s back yard – not too very much better than being on a chain, but at least she was loved.  The good news is that Agape Animal Rescue offered to help find her a foster family – that’s where we come in.  Lucky for her, we were able to get Tucker adopted to open a spot for her just in time – Kaylee will get to spend the winter months snuggling on a warm couch instead of in a cold lonely backyard kennel!  How else would she ever learn how to part of family??

Kaylee has been featured on StubbyDog as a Rescue Dog of the Week.  She even has her own video already:

Kaylee is a young girl, just under a year old and a bouncy bundle of energy.  We don’t know too much about her yet, but volunteers describe her as very friendly and good with other dogs.  We’re looking forward to learning more about her! 

**CORRECTION** While Dogs Deserve Better did get the original call on Kaylee’s situation, they actually asked the Middle Tennessee Pet Resource Center to step in to assist.  MTPRC is credited for rescuing Kaylee off of her chain. 

To adopt Kaylee, visit Agape Animal Rescue.

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Tucker Wrap-Up & Looking Forward

As we say good-bye to Tucker and reflect on our first foster experience, we realized that we learned a ton in those seven short weeks.  We learned that while, yes, it IS hard to let go, it is – like they say – also extremely rewarding.  We learned how fast is “too fast” to trust a new dog loose in the house unattended. We learned new ways to keep dogs entertained on rainy days.  We learned to stay on our toes.  We learned that no matter how much you think you have a dog figured out, it will always do something to surprise you.  I even learned that I was able to hold back my tears until after we left Tucker with his fabulous Furevers (but not before we made it out of the driveway). 

There are, however, some things we need to revisit to tie up some loose ends, and some “half posts” that never quite blossomed to maturity.  Might as well share those with you now!

Tucker Does Dog Park….sort of

During the first few weeks we had Tucker, I mentioned that due to his nervousness around other dogs, that he may never be a “dog park dog.”  Well of course I just had to give it a shot anyway.  This was shortly after Tucker’s first family who had shown interest in him decided Tuck wasn’t for them, so I was bound and determined to get him some new leads.  So I dressed him up in his “Adopt Me” vest, loaded him in the car and off we went to the dog park.

Tucker did…..sort of….OK.  We brought Oscar with us of course, and Oscar is a dog park pro – it is his second most favoritest place in the whole world, next to The River.  So when we got there I let Oscar go right away, bounding around to say hello to his friends.  I kept Tucker on his leash and did a few laps around the perimeter, letting him get used to smells, and used to dogs coming up to him just a few at a time to sniff and say hello. 

After awhile I let Tuck off the leash.  As you can see in the above picture, there are no other dogs in the frame.  That’s because once Tucker was left to his own devices, he spent the majority of the time in a corner of the park as far away from canine companionship as possible.   Barking at Oscar.  And…other stuff…on Oscar…

Hey, it was only the first attempt.  Maybe Tucker’s new parents will have better luck!

The Training that Wasn’t

A few weeks ago, we had it all set up for Tucker to go through a mini doggie boot camp, a week of intensive training with an Agape volunteer, Cathy.  The timing was perfect – we were going to introduce Tucker to her pack right before foster dad and I were set to go out-of-town to my parent’s house for a long weekend.  Oscar was coming with us, but due to Tucker’s youth and “enthusiasm” we thought it best he didn’t come along, 1) so he didn’t drive my parents’ dog bat-crap crazy and 2) to give Oscar a little break.

You might wonder why I never wrote a follow-up to the training to talk about how Tucker did that week.  Well that’s because it never ended up happening.  The day we were to deliver Tucker came around and it was raining – badly.  Cathy’s process starts with a good long walk with the new dog and her current pack, and needs a lot of time at the beginning outdoors.  This process sets the dog up for the best chance of success with the training in the long run.  Unfortunately, the weather that day didn’t allow us to start Tucker’s training that day.  So, Tucker went into boarding for the weekend instead, and that next week we just couldn’t get schedules coordinated to get Tucker back to Cathy to try again. 

This turned out to work out for the best for two reasons:  First of all, Tucker got an experience in a boarding facility, and the staff reports did wonderfully.  Secondly, since Tucker wasn’t sequestered in boot camp, he was available to attend the adoption event the following weekend where he ended up meeting his People.  Serendipity! 

Unfortunately, however, my blog-rookie-ness had struck again, as I had already posted that Tucker would be attending boot camp before the week got canceled.   Lesson learned: nothing is certain dog rescue – best to keep posts in “draft” form until the subject matter is confirmed!

 I thought Pits were the point?

It is true, we started fostering dogs with the goal to focus on pit bull type dogs, and that is still our intent.  But, as first timers, our foster rep thought it might be a good idea to get our feet wet with a dog that might have a quicker “turn around time” – that is, a dog with an easer time getting adopted, than a pit bull.  It’s no secret that the pit bull breeds carry a stigma around with them simply by being born with certain physical characteristics – a blocky head, muscular build, and a big goofy grin.  Type “pit bull” into Google you’ll find links to anything from rescue groups to media reports of “vicious dogs” to articles about a certain NFL player. 

Whatever the reason and however it started, pit bulls drew a short straw in the public eye, and have an extremely low adoption rate.  Here in the South, where “spay and neuter” can be a foreign concept to a lot of dog owner, shelters are over run with pit bulls.   Our local Humane Association refuses to take them in, and our County Animal Control will euthanize them if they pick them up. Those lucky enough to get pulled by rescue groups often spend months, if not years in rescue before they are adopted. 

We have a soft spot in our hearts for pit bull type dogs and we knew we had to do our part to help them out any way we could.  But, we started with non-pittie Tucker for two reasons: a) the idea that he might not be with us very long made us think we wouldn’t get as attached and it would be easer to say good-bye (yeah, right) and b) TWINS! 

We knew that as soon as Tucker got adopted we would continue our quest to do our part to help save pit bull type dogs.  By taking them out of the shelter environment, they’ll get the chance to blossom into the dog they were meant to be, and have a better chance at being placed in loving, furever homes where they can fulfill their roles as cherished family pets. 

So who’s the first lucky pittie houseguest going to be……?

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Thankful.

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How Tucker’s People Found Him

Tucker and his new People seem so very meant-to-be, that I just had to ask them what the process was like from there end, and how exactly they found Tucker, and decided that he was the one for them.  I was so excited to get this note from Tucker’s mom, written the day he joined their family forever.  Enjoy!

I had wanted a dog since Daniel and I were married last October. However, I was still in grad school and barely had time for myself much less a new addition to our family. I promised Daniel we wouldn’t start looking for a dog until I finished school. During that time I researched breeds and decided a Boston Terrier dog would work best for us. I also didn’t think we’d be ready for the responsibility of a puppy, so I decided that we should try to adopt a young dog who had already been house trained. Now all I had to do was finish school…

We started looking at dogs on petfinder.com in October. I put in our search criteria and Tucker showed up on the first page. We read his profile and decided he was too high energy for us – I specifically remember Daniel saying “Nope!” after he read his profile.  We moved on, but I couldn’t help thinking how adorable Tucker was.

We kept looking for suitable Boston Terriers but there were few in Nashville. We decided that our best option would be to just go to some shelters to see what was in our area. We were getting ready to go to a shelter on a Saturday when Daniel found out about the zoo adoption event happening that day. We felt like it was meant to be that the first day we decided to go out there was this huge adoption fair just waiting for us!

The second we walked into the event, I spotted this adorable little Boston Terrier mix who was just chilling out on his leash. When I heard his name was Tucker, I knew immediately who he was.  But he wasn’t this crazy excited doggie I’d envisioned in my mind. He was perfect. We started asking his foster parents tons of questions to see if he was right for us. We took Tucker on a walk and I knew it was over…we wanted Tucker!

A week later and here we are… Tucker is coming home tonight! I can’t help but feel that it must have been fate in how everything fell together for us to find Tucker. We feel so lucky to have him become part of our family. Thank you guys so much!

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Oscar’s Pals, Part II

Hey guys, it’s me again, Oscar!  As you probably know by now, Tucker moved out and is now living with his new People.  I’m really happy for him!  He was fun to have around, but I’m glad to have Mom & Dad back all to myself – at least for a little while.   

Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I think one of the reasons he got such amazing People to adopt him is cuz I helped him become such an awesome dog!  Remember when he first came home?  We was real scared and nervous and barked all the time…it was soooooooo annoying.  Enter: Oscar!  I helped him realize that we could have fun together and play and play and even share the couch together. 

Mom & Dad say that I helped “socialize” Tucker.  Well, DUH!  Obviously that’s cuz I’m so sociable myself.  Maybe this is a good time to introduce everyone to the rest of my bestest buddies, who helped me get all “socialized” as I was growing up.  Let’s see, where did we leave off?  Oh yeah….

Barney!  One day Mom got up and went out real early.  It was too early for me, I didn’t even get out of bed (I loooooove sleeping in the bed!).  So when she came home, she had this guy with her:

Mom said Barney jumped in her car after she saw him running down the road.  I asked him what he was thinking, running down the road like that, didn’t he know that was Danger?  He said he didn’t know, that he didn’t have any People to teach him about Danger.  *GASP* no people??  Well, I knew right away that I had to share my People with him to teach him about important things, like Danger, and Treats, and Cuddles.  And I could teach him Play!  Well turns out Barney already knew what Play was, and boy he was good at it! 

Barney had some things to teach me, too.  Like Wrasslin’:

Barney only stayed at our house for a week, cuz Mom & Dad found him some People of his very own. They still talk to them and they tell me that he is soooo happy with his new People and new Lab-sister Bella.  Round about that time is when I heard Mom & Dad start talking about bringing Foster home.  I don’t know what they’re waiting for, I can’t wait to find out what Foster is!

So, I saved my most favoritest bestest friend for last.  His name is Bandit…

(*sigh*) Bandit….Bandit’s People went on something called Vacation which means Bandit had to come and live with us for a week.  It was the BEST week! We had so much fun together. 

We Played:

We Snuggled:

We went to the Park:

And we just hung out.  Did you know that a Dog can have only three legs??  Well Bandit does, but he kept up with me just fine.  Mom called him the “Wonder Puggle,” whatever that means.  Man do I love Bandit.  I wonder when his People will go on Vacation again?

Of course I have some other friends too, who you already know about.  There’s Libby & Bailey, and of course, Tucker!  But you already know all about him since Mom blah blah blah’ed about him so much.  I wonder if Mom & Dad will bring anyone knew home anytime soon?  I love making new friends….

Find out soon!

 

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