Friday, February 18, 2011

Jumping Back In With Both Feet

Around ten years ago, I was heavily involved in the local animal rescue scene; I volunteered for a while at one shelter, then co-founded another rescue group. My husband and I fostered a lot of dogs (around ten, I think, not all at once, but sequentially). As sometimes happens, I burned out. Inter-personal crap got in the way of what started as a pure desire to help animals, and the right thing for my sanity was to drift away for a while. I busied myself with other things - important things like building a home, becoming a parent, growing a business - and I found new ways to fulfill my need to help animals - I became a strong vegan advocate and helped start a local vegetarian society, and I donated to many animal-related charitable causes.

Years passed, and I was happy. But I missed that hands-on, intimate connection with animals - the fulfillment that comes from knowing you made a difference in a specific animal's life. So a few years ago we started adopting poultry - first a couple of ducks, then some chickens, turkeys, and some more chickens. All were rescues, mostly from Animal Place and Farm Sanctuary. I reveled in the process of becoming acquainted with species that had not formerly been familiar to me. I enjoyed their quirks and I mourned the injustices that were inflicted on their bodies and their souls in the name of cheap food (many of my chickens are 'broiler' breeds, genetically programed to grow large very quickly so as to yield maximum meat when slaughtered at a very young age; when allowed to live a normal life, this causes a myriad of health problems - others are 'spent' laying hens from factory farms). But still I wanted more. I missed fostering dogs.

I am not even sure how exactly I became aware of Dixie - some ongoing conversation with a dedicated worker at the local county animal shelter (Stacie) I guess. I learned that Dixie, a pregnant pit bull mix, was at risk of euthanasia at the shelter because she had growled at someone when they came in her kennel. She was terribly underweight, hugely pregnant, suffering a broken pelvis from being hit by a car, and had been enduring the kennel environment for more than a month already, so who could blame her for growling? Anyways, she needed emergency foster care, and somehow I managed to convince my husband to (very reluctantly) agree to let me foster her and her soon-to-be-born puppies.

So not only was I returning to the foster scene, but I was doing it in a pretty huge way - not one dog, but nine were on their way to my humble abode. I had zero experience with nursing mothers or newborn puppies, but I built a whelping box, did a little reading, and followed Dixie's lead. This bedraggled mom and her brood arrived at my house the day after the birth (which required a c-section due to several of the pups being breech), on January 2nd of this year.

The last two months have been a crazy adventure. Lots of food, lots of puppy playtime, and holy cow, LOTS of poop. But I've learned a lot and had a good time, and we're all still alive and thriving. The puppies will be able to be adopted into new homes in about a week, and I've already started showing them to potential adopters, so that's exciting.

I imagine it won't be too hard to find the puppies good homes; I just hope I can find the right placement for Dixie. She's a sweet girl who really deserves to have the rest of her life be better than what she's experienced so far.

1 comment:

  1. I've loved following the story of Dixie and her pups on FB -- my fingers are crossed that she finds a wonderful home soon!