Was I Not Good Enough? … What Did I Do Wrong?

In the last few months at the animal rescue organisation we volunteer at Aniwell, there have been a number of dogs returned. The first one being Charlie, but more recently there have been 2 others who are now in back foster care. With this in mind I thought I’d share this with you..

Charlie – Nov 2011

 

My family brought me home one day,

All cradled in their arms.

They cuddled me and smiled at me

And praised me for my puppy charms.

 

They played with me and pampered me

And showered me with toys.

With all that fun and laughter

There was so much to enjoy.

 

The children used to feed me,

They gave me special treats

I even got to sleep with them,

All cuddled in their sheets.

 

I used to get their laughs and praise

When playing with that old shoe

But did not know the difference

Between that and a pair of Jimmy Choo’s.

 

The kids and I would grab old socks

And for hours we would tug,

Didn’t I do the right thing

When I chewed the Persian rug?

Charlie – January 2012 (back with us in foster care)

 

They said that I was boisterous

And I had grown far too big

Suddenly I was banished outside

And the boredom made me dig

 

The walks grew less and less

They said they hadn’t the time

I wish I could have changed things

But didn’t know my crime.

 

They returned me to the shelter

My spirit broken and my eyes asking why

They mumbled a bunch of excuses

And then suddenly kissed me goodbye.

 

~ by PetPickings.com ~

Dedicated to all the animals who find themselves being returned to shelters around the country and around the world. Charlie has found his “fur-ever” home with us at PetPickings.com, however Digit his brother and friend Muppet (pictured above) are still looking for their second chance. Email adoptions@aniwell.org.za for more information if you think you can offer Digit and / or Muppet a happily-ever-after ending to their story.

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5 Poisonous & Potentially Deadly Items In Your Handbag

How often have you (or your wife / girlfriend) arrived home, plonked down an open handbag on the floor or couch (within reach of any fur-kids). It’s a perfectly normal and innocent thing to do, however there could be seemingly innocuous items in the handbag that could prove deadly to your pets.

 

Here are 5 items that may be enticing, but harmful to your pets:

1. Sugarless Chewing Gum

If you have sugar free chewing gum, sugar free mints or nicotine gum in your handbag, chances are it contains xylitol. Ingestion of even the smallest amount of xylitol (1 or 2 pieces of gum) can send a dog into hypoglycemic shock, which is life threatening, or worse liver failure. Symptoms include loss of coordination, depression, collapse and seizures in as little as 30 minutes.

2. Hand Sanitizer

These have become fashionable products in most handbags and are used to quickly sanitise hands when soap and a tap are not easily accessible. The alcohol level in hand sanitizers is dangerously high. Whilst that’s good for killing germs, it’s dangerous if ingested by your pet as it could cause hypoglycemic shock (a dangerous drop in your pet’s blood sugar level) which could lead to coma and death.

3. Cigarettes & Nicotine Products

We all know that smoking and nicotine is bad for us; however few people know that a small dog can die from ingesting just 3 cigarettes. This makes nicotine gum extremely dangerous as it not only contains nicotine, but also xylitol.

4. Headache Tablets & Anti-Inflammatories

Most pills come in plastic bottles / containers which when tossed around make an intriguing noise to most inquisitive dogs or cats. Once chewed open the pills inside are sometimes candy coated which makes them palatable and seemingly tasty treats. Tablets containing Ibuprofen are EXTREMELY toxic and emergency medical attention will be required. Symptoms include vomiting, loss of co-ordination and balance, stomach ulcers and liver failure.

5. Asthma Inhalers

If your dog bites into an asthma inhaler it will result in life threatening poisoning. When the inhaler is punctured it dispenses a large dose of albuterol into the dog’s mouth and nose. This massive dose causes toxicity by quickly elevating the heart rate to life-threatening levels, drops potassium levels dangerously low and leads to extreme weakness, lack of coordination. If not treated urgently by a veterinarian, death could result.

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Weighty Issues : How Much Should I Be Feeding My Pet?

The label on the bag of pet food provides a guideline on the amount of food recommended for your pet. However that is just a start, as you also need to take into account your pet’s age and activity level. For example pets that are highly active, pregnant or nursing young have higher requirements than the average couch-potato.

Puppies and kittens require food at more frequent intervals than their adult counterparts. They therefore need to be fed three or four times per day, depending on their age. Keep in mind that in winter the energy expenditure of your pets is likely to drop, especially with indoor pets, as they’re less active. This means that you would need to feed slightly less than you would during the summer months to maintain your pet’s current body weight. An outdoor pet however would be burning off more energy just to stay warm, thus requiring a slight increase in food portions.

In the PetPickings.com household we typically feed one-third of the daily ration in the morning, and the remaining two-thirds in the evening. Since pets have a tendency to sleep after meals, this technique works especially well for us as our pets sleep with us, so they are less likely to become restless during the night.

Dividing daily rations into 2 or 3 meals is especially important in dogs, more specifically large dogs (although not exclusively), as it lessens the chances of your dog developing ‘bloat’ / gastric torsion, which is a potentially fatal medical emergency.

Some people can get away with letting the dog decide when and how much she eats by constantly keeping a supply of dry pellets available (free-feeding). In our household however this would never work as Kira (our Jack Russel) would simply eat herself into a diabetic coma. Free feeding also rarely works in a multiple dog household, as it often creates competition and food issues.

Another reason not to free feed is that it becomes difficult to pick up when your pet’s eating pattern changes or appetite drops, which could be an early warning sign of illness.

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Boomie Boy Charlie – Learning The Ropes

Charlie’s first night with us has gone surprisingly well, considering he is only 5 months old, in a new environment with 2 new foster siblings who still aren’t too sure who this stranger is in their midst.

Having a puppy again in the house after so many years is a bit of an adjustment – lots of toilet breaks. Luckily my job is being made easier by Kira and Bruno who are eager to teach their underling a  thing or two, like sitting quietly before their supper is put down and peeing quickly when asked to ‘pee-pee’ so that play-time can ensue. Charlie, being a bright boy, is a quick study and is catching on quickly.

Learning to wait quietly and patiently for supper with foster brother Bruno.

Putting their plates down for supper was a bit of challenge last night, as I had to make it clear to Boomerang Boy Charlie that diving into foster sister Kira’s plate and then foster brother Bruno’s would be potentially life threatening and just plain rude!

What has become clear through the day is that Charlie hasn’t been taught anything during his time with the other family. In fact he doesn’t even know his name. The saddest part is that his reactions tell us that he has been beaten, rather severely and most often by the man of the house. To see a puppy cower and collapse in a quivering heap with a simple verbal reprimand is just gut wrenching. When my husband first witnessed it last night, he scooped Charlie up in his arms and just held him close whilst soothing him. Charlie’s reaction was to nip and mock bite at his hands in initial panic, until he realised that no one was going to hurt him and that he was safe.

We made it through the night with no toilet “accidents” and absolutely no interruptions. Boomerang Boy Charlie slept soundly through the night. The breakfast round this morning went a little easier than the supper round last night. Before I let the cats out, I had Charlie burn off some energy in the garden.

Well rested and full of energy!Kira having fun with her new buddy, but not sharing her tennis ball! Notice our Boomerang Boy Charlie sporting a new collar.Kira still not sharing her tennis ball despite Boomerang Boy Charlie’s cute little dance.Giving up? … or tired?

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Our Foster Pet Blog

My husband and I have been fostering rescued pets on an ongoing basis for over a year now. I had fostered some years ago, but wasn’t able to continue due to my work travel commitments as I worked for a global IT company at the time. Having left the IT industry it made sense to get back into foster mode.

Fostering is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience, that allows us to provide a safe home to abandoned, abused and unloved animals, some of whom have never felt the loving touch of a hand. We offer them a place where their rehabilitation can begin and trust re-established before they move onto their adoptive homes.

Whilst fostering is rewarding it can also be fraught with it’s challenges at times, but there’s always those special moments that makes it all worth while. We thought we’d start sharing our foster stories to shed some light on what it takes to be a foster parent and what exactly happens behind the scenes – the good, the bad and the sometimes challenging!

To read stories / updates on our foster fur-kids, hover your cursor / pointer over on the “Our Foster Pet Blog” tab on the menu bar at the top of the page and select the story you want to read. Enjoy!

 

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Boomerang Boy Charlie’s Arrival Home & Introductions

There is a reason we choose to foster kittens and not dogs. For one, kittens are easy. They can be litter trained in less than a week and as long as they have enough toys and things to amuse themselves with, they can be happily contained in the kitten nursery (one of our spare bedrooms). Another reason is that we have a house full of our own fur-kids:

  1. Kira our dominant female Jack Russell (aka Duracell Bunny)
  2. Bruno our dominant male rescue “Pet Bull” (aka Brunocerous)
  3. Smokey, Elliot, Chewbacca, Sylvester and Sweetpea our five rescue kitties
  4. Fiona, Yoda, Liewe Heksie and Momento our four rescue tortoises
  5. A myriad of Koi fish

Adding a dog to this mix, albeit temporarily, is tricky and requires some vigilance. Despite this, when Charlie’s plight was brought to our attention this week during a time when all of the registered Aniwell foster homes are full, I didn’t hesitate. My thoughts are that we can manage or make a plan, even if it is just for a few nights, until we can find a suitable foster family to take him in.

I first introduced Charlie to Kira and Bruno through the security gate. I knew Kira, being a well socialised Jack Russel, wouldn’t be a problem. Charlie is merely be a new novel toy for her. Bruno on the other hand, as a rescued Pet Bull, doesn’t have the same outlook on life having missed out on those precious puppy socialisation classes. If this isn’t a challenge enough, at 5 months Charlie isn’t yet neutered which I knew Bruno would not take kindly to. What happened next however surprised me. There was no barking, no growling, not even hackling. They all sniffed eachother through the security gate bars and in no time I had them together in the back garden with Bruno in his harness in case I needed to pull him off! Sure enough, Bruno was doing his usual dominant male posturing which Charlie thought was a bit of a game and was submitting to each and every time – a good thing!

This was my update to the rescue organisation today:

“Charlie is gorgeous and settled in at home with us. Even our Pit Bull doesn’t seem too disturbed by him. Charlie’s not used to cats … or anything that moves for that matter, so he’s being introduced slowly to the cats and the tortoises on a lead. Poor thing hasn’t been socialised at all and is frightened of any sound, movement, foreign object and strange people. He has his heart in the right place so I think he’s going to be easy to rehabilitate. He just needs some structure and discipline … and he’s a quick learner.”

After an exhausting day, we are all settled for the night with Charlie loving his new bed kindly supplied by his foster Granny who had it lying around unused. One has to wonder how anyone could return a special little guy like this!

Our exhausted Boomerang Boy Charlie.

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Charlie The Sweetest Dog

After receiving the very disturbing email regarding Charlie’s list of ‘sins’ yesterday, I headed out this morning to rescue him for the second time in his short life. As I was not sure what to expect I took our housekeeper with me – just in case Charlie proved to be totally uncontrollable in the car on the way home. On arrival my heart shattered into what felt like a thousand pieces. What I found was a confused and very frightened puppy who lacks confidence, has been physically abused in the two months he has been with his adoptive family and whose wish list of just 2 items is to understand what is expected of him and to be loved. On the drive home, I felt a wave of relief wash over me knowing that Charlie was not going to be subjected to that man nor his appalling family any longer and my maternal instincts have kicked in to heal his emotional scars.

The drive home

As you probably guessed, the drive home was uneventful although I had a million questions running through my head. How could this happen? How could this be avoided with future adoptions. The rescue organisation has a strict screening process which includes a home check when homing the rescues. I was the one who did Charlie’s home check, which has been weighing heavily on my mind. In rescue work, our biggest fear is having to rescue an animal twice. What did I miss? I missed meeting the husband and the children during the home check. Needless to say the policy has now changed to include meeting the ENTIRE family that will be living with the adopted dog or cat, which will hopefully shed more light and narrow the margin for error.

In the meantime, the introductions into our rather large family are happening!

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Boomerang Boy Charlie Intro

A lengthy email was received by the rescue organisation we volunteer for Aniwell South Africa. The mail was from an irate adopter claiming that the puppy named Charlie he had adopted 2 months previously hasn’t turned out anything like he’d imagined and that he wanted to return him – pronto. Other than not appearing ‘pedigreed’ enough, the list of wrong doings and ‘crimes’ committed by the now 5 month old puppy painted a picture of an uncontrollable and aggressive dog that was putting the man’s children in imminent danger. The mail landed in my inbox in the late afternoon of 26th January and as Charlie had been homed in our neck of the woods, I volunteered to fetch him.

This is his story!

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The PetPickings.com “No Kill Revolution” Starts With YOU!

Animal overpopulation is everyone’s problem. Nothing happens without leadership. Achieving no kill success in your community depends on individuals like yourself willing to take responsibility. This does not mean looking for “someone to do something”.

That “someone” is you!

 

Stop thinking that there’s nothing you can do to assist the thousands of homeless animals. We all live busy lives, but we can all do something. Here are some things you can do:

  • Set the example first. Spay and neuter your all of your pets!
  • Chose to adopt a pet from a shelter instead of buying one from a breeder, back yard breeder, pet shop, puppy farm.
  • Strongly discourage friends and family from allowing their pets to breed. Where are all those puppies and kittens going to find homes? If they are all homed, that’s fewer homes available for the shelter pets that face euthanasia.
  • On your birthday, instead of gifts, ask for bags of dog or cat food and donate these to the local shelter.
  • Donate some bedding or money to purchase much needed items for a rescue organisation near you.
  • Share the pictures you see on the internet and Facebook of homeless animals that so desperately need a home. You’d be amazed how many rescued pets have found loving homes this way.
  • Spend just one morning a month volunteering at your local shelter. They are always in need of help to spend one-on-one time with the animals. Take the dogs for a walk around the grounds, play with them, bath them, play with the kitties etc …
  • See what repairs or maintenance needs to be done at your local registered rescue organisation and share your handyman talents.
  • Some animals don’t fare well in kennels, which does not bode well for them. Ask about becoming a foster parent. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Some organisations that don’t have kennelling facilities rely solely on their network of fosters to be able to rescue animals from dire circumstances.
  • If you see an act of cruelty report it to the authorities – don’t turn a blind eye. Follow up with them to make sure it has been dealt with.
  • We can all say we love animals, but how often do we contribute to the wellbeing of animals? Stand up for what you believe in. Be their voice.
  • Educate people about what it means to be a responsible pet owner.

If we each individually take responsibility, we can win the “No Kill Revolution”.  Your effort could mean the difference between life or death for an unwanted pet, whose only “crime” was to be born.

 

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PetPickings.com “No Kill” Revolution Starts Today!

Nothing happens without leadership. Current media reports indicate that over 10,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters across South Africa each week due to the lack of homes available for them. This equates to 40,000 per month and close on half a million every year. Simply because there aren’t enough homes to adopt them.

The difference between them being dead ... or sleeping ... is YOU!

So what can be done about it? We all need to quit sitting on the fence and thinking that there is nothing we can do to assist homeless dogs and cats, as there is ALWAYS something you can do. Achieving “No Kill” success in our communities depends on individuals willing to take responsibility. This does not mean looking for “someone to do something.” That “someone” is you. You need to make the decision to take the lead and recruit your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Through this blog and our PetPickings.com Facebook Page, we’ll show you how to become a warrior and most importantly a hero in our revolution.

“Individually we are one drop, but collectively we are an ocean.” ~ Ryunosuke Satoro ~

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” ~ Mother Teresa ~

Due to the lack of available accurate and up to date collated statistics in South Africa, PetPickings.com is currently undertaking a study / research project to consolidate up to date information on the animals across shelters in South Africa. Once the study is complete, this information will be published in this blog.

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