Right now we’re fostering two sisters for the rescue, Medical Animals in Need (M.A.I.N.). They’ll be with us for a while so I figure it’ll be kind of fun to do a progressive story with them as the stars! Come on, you think it’s a great idea too. These girls were turned in as “strays” to one of the local shelters. I say “strays” with a bit of sarcasm, ok fine, a lot of sarcasm (That’s a real shocker, right?). You see, the strays that come into the shelters, in the most horrible physical condition are often turned in by their true owner who is posing as the dog’s finder. This dismisses the owner’s responsibilities and who knows? Maybe the fact that they are dropping them off at a place that will give them the medical attention they need, eases the idiot owner’s conscience. What they don’t know is that every County shelter throughout the U.S. is running in or very close to, the negative. They don’t have the means to take care of a major medical-need girl and certainly not two. These girls need a lot of attention to just begin getting better and shelters don’t have the manpower OR the time and money. This is why so many dogs (and cats) get forced onto the e-list. You may question how I know the whole owner lies thing, and I definitely wouldn’t blame you for wondering. The answer is simple: The owner always, always, always, slips up when turning the dog in as a “stray.” It just never fails. I don’t mean to imply that I think the finder/owner should keep the dog. Obviously they suck as caretakers and turning their dog over is a great step for the dog. My complaint is that, not only are they liars, they’re careless, irresponsible, pieces of crap, and idiots that the law says I’m not allowed to punch in the face. I don’t think that’s fair!
Now let me introduce you to our foster sisters, Diamond and Ruby. Get it, they’re sisters, the names go together, they’re both jewels and gems…are you with me here? Oh come on; those names are cute and better than say, table and chair or peanut butter and jelly. The names, not the sandwich. The sandwich is fantastic!
One problem with strays is that we have absolutely no way to know how old they are and what they’ve been through. This is why the girls were originally said to be three-years-old, then eight-months old, and then one to two-years old. It’s so difficult and especially with my girls and their skin condition and size. All that can be done, is some educated guessing. We’re going with 1½ to 2-years old. Honestly it doesn’t matter what their age is; it’s just nice to have an idea. We aren’t positive of their breed but the vet thinks they are Shar pei-pit mixes. So that’s what we’re going with. Gotta do some guessing here too.
When Diamond & Ruby were turned in to the shelter, they were in absolutely horrible condition. They were heading to the euthanasia list (e-list) and protocol for such sickly dogs is that the shelter only allows a medical outlet to save them. The commitment to these girls would be for a long time since both needed medical attention and a long-term committed foster. Enter, M.A.I.N..
I had been watching these girls on the County website because I had every intention of asking the M.A.I.N. President (who I’ll just call Pres) to save the two girls and let us foster. The girls were being held because there’s a law that “strays” have to be on “stray hold” for a certain amount of days before anything can happen with them. This is another thing with owner “strays” that just infuriates me. Anyway, I contacted Pres, who was already all over the situation; which I absolutely should’ve known, so…major “duh” to me. All she needed was a long-term foster. Enter, Marc and me. Now that we and Pres had a plan, it was amazing knowing that the girls were getting saved. They would not die! They were coming to us. We got them from the shelter the next morning with the help of our (M.A.I.N.’s) shelter coordinator uh, hmm let’s call her Mason.
The photos that were on the shelter website did nothing to prepare me for what these girls’ life must have been like up to that very moment. Mason tried to prepare me as we walked to the girls’ kennel but words just couldn’t do it.
Ruby was underweight and had Demodex Mange (something I’ve never dealt with nor seen). At first sight, it looked like Ruby’s mange was mostly on her legs, belly, and paw pads, and just starting to spread to her head. Yea, not so much! She was covered with the mange. Every area that you felt and looked at, you could see it. It just wasn’t as bad (yet) as Diamond’s so I think Ruby’s was kind of shadowed so-to-speak. Ruby was very shy and timid. When we got near her, she tried her damnedest to disappear into the floor. When we leaned over to pet her, she did the same thing and also turned her head. Marc put her on the back seat of the truck and when we got home 45-minutes later, she was in the same position he lay her down in. She cringed when Marc (or anyone) picked her up; she was so damn scared. She was scared of everything and everyone, except Diamond. They were close and security blankets for each other.
Diamond was in horrible condition. It made me cry when we walked up to the kennel. I cannot explain how advanced her mange was. OMG, was pretty much all I could say. She had almost no fur. The fur she did have was so thin you could see through it and you could literally watch it falling out. We quickly learned that touching Diamond meant she’d bleed. She had scabs all over. Big, thick scabs. Now when I say “all over” this isn’t an exaggeration; I mean it literally. She itched so very badly and every time she’d scratch, she’d bleed. When she set her chin down on anything, it bled, her paws bled, as she would scratch there’d be blood. When we’d touch her, she’d bleed. When she ate there would be blood all over the inside of the bowl. Her skin was so inflamed and thin, that she felt like she had a very high fever. In fact, I took her temperature to be sure she wasn’t as hot as I thought she was. She didn’t even have a fever. It was just from the inflammation within her body, her lack of nutrients, and how hard her poor little body was fighting. Her whole situation was so absolutely horrible and sad. Also, my poor Diamond girl was grossly thin. You could LITERALLY see the bones in her legs, hips, back, and shoulders. You could count her ribs and vertebrae.
So we have this little string bean that is bones and skin but she has rolls at her ankles! Yea; the swelling was so bad that she had cankles! You know, that’s when a calf and ankle are so fat that they blend together (wow that sounds so much worse out loud); but Diamond’s cankles were just, so way beyond the typical. Here’s my best analogy for this: In the ‘80s, there were leg warmers. They could be worn over pants, over leggings, or just be worn on the lower leg; they were cool (only at the time).
To get a mental picture, think about the movie Flashdance. Alex, the welder, dancer, and lead role, wore them. Most guys are probably thinking, “Wait! What? Legs? She had legs?” I know, getting so off topic. Anyway, poor Diamond looked like she was wearing leg warmers.
This tiny girl of only 27 pounds had huge legs and feet because her body just couldn’t process the destruction that was happening within her.
We brought the girls home and set up the office-little room (as you’ve “read” me call it) for them. It works perfectly for them. They can see us through the glass doors; so they know we didn’t abandon them. I do feel bad that we have to separate them but it’s definitely best for all the dogs. This is giving the girls a chance to recoup, gain some weight and strength, and have lots of time to rest. I think they most enjoy the room because they have discovered the recliner in there; and have definitely claimed it as their own. Also, they can play in the yard when our crew is in the dog run and vice versa. A sad note here is that when we brought the girls to the nice green grass, they didn’t like it touching their feet. They kept lifting their legs up; I don’t believe they knew what it was. That made me cry.
It’s been two weeks since they came home with us. They eat often, have meds to take, need baths a few times per week, whine at times, bark at times, pee on the tile, poop on the tile, sleep in the chairs, listen to their radio, and enjoy the sunshine. They seem pretty happy so far!
To be continued…