Thursday, January 29, 2015

January 29, 2015 - A New Beginning

In the shelter world, there is one constant.

Need.

For every cat or dog that is adopted...
there is always another one...or two...that need you as well.

No matter how distraught we all were about Tebow, the shelter is still full of others that need us.  
And, not just need us...but depend upon us.

They don't have time for us to grieve.
They trust us and have learned to look to us for comfort, love, reinforcement, redirection, guidance, walks, food, comfort, a kind word or pat, a treat...everything.
No matter how bad I have felt...how much, at times, I have wanted to walk away...
I can't.  

A lot of people are afraid of spending time at an animal shelter because of all the emotions involved...but honestly, you just don't have time to waller as my grandmother would have said.  
You have to tighten your belt and keep moving.

This one needs me now:



Brittany came into the shelter one afternoon...dehydrated.  Very young...and taken away from her mommy way too soon.
We gave her water from a dropper and she perked up slowly.
At 4 pm though, I couldn't leave her there.
Would she make it from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning.
I wasn't sure, but I wasn't about to test it.




After a quick trip to PetSense...for the basics...





I put my best foster assistant on the job.

Ed came home and Reagan asked, "Are we going to tell him?"
Ed said, "Tell him what?"

Brittany was only supposed to stay one night, but she's almost been here 2 weeks :P 
Ed: "Why are you doing this to me?" 




I was thinking the same thing after being up every 2-3 hours for the first 3 days we kept dear Brittany.
Good thing she's really cute ;)






We are big dog people, so we are a little unsure what to do with little dogs besides love them and help them survive.  




But, I'd say we're making progress.




Belly rubs are nice too :)

Keep on keepin' on.

That's my motto.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January 28, 2015 - Saying Good-Bye


After we left Tebow last Wednesday night, we found out the next morning that he had had an even more violent seizure after we left the vet. 
He was hooked up to a Phenobarbitol drip at the time.
Our vet did not expect him to live through the night. 

When Tebow did live through the night, our vet almost doubled his current Phenobarbitol drip, added a new medicine called Kepra, and then began a round of Doxeycycline.
When we visited Tebow, he was very doped up...but not seizing.

Our vet conferenced with us and shared his concerns.
While he had the seizures stopped for the moment, there was no guarantee they would not start again.
The new seizure medicine, Kepra, must be given in 8 hr. intervals exactly...
and the Doxeycycline was for a possible brain infection.
Tebow also very likely would suffer some brain damage...it's difficult to suffer through 7 seizures in a 2-3 hour span without some damage.
And, the words that no one wants to hear:
"He's suffering terribly."

We knew we had a devastating decision to make. 

We took the day Thursday to process what we knew had to be done.
We went back and forth and discussed every possible, minute option.
We realized Friday morning that there was no other option.

"He's suffering terribly."

We made the appointment for later that afternoon.  
3 of us from the shelter were there. 
I had to ask our vet once more if we were doing the right thing.
"Yes," he said.  "I believe you are."

When the vet techs brought Tebow in, he looked like his old self...except he was walking in circles. 
We talked to him, patted his freckled nose, told him how much he was loved, and told him all about the bridge he was getting ready to cross.

The vet techs lifted our buddy Tebow up onto the table and gave him a sedative so that he would not be afraid. 
The sedative started working very quickly...and our tears began streaming.
The medicine that ended Tebow's life went in next. 
There was no drama...no struggle, no pain...just a quiet peaceful sleep.
Our hands were on him, and our manager whispered secrets into his ear as he slipped from us. 

It took a couple of days to prepare a gravesite appropriate for our big Tebow, so our staff picked him up on Monday.
They buried him quietly...just them...and Tebow.  Their special time together.

The rest of us visited later. 
After walking around all day as if we were in a fog, with the weight of the world on our shoulders, the perfect family showed up and adopted one of our other special dogs.
We finally smiled at one another.

I'm pretty sure it was a sign...a message from our pal...
"Keep moving forward, human friends...I'm good now."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 21, 2015 - Tebow


At the ARL, we have more than a few special needs dogs.

Tebow was surrendered to us as a young adult 2 years ago after stealing a turkey off the neighbor's front porch.
No comment.

Over the last 10 months, Tebow began having seizures...and they've steadily grown worse. 

Today he had 5 in the course of an hour.  

Tebow takes medication every day to control his seizures...Phenobarbitol and Potassium Bromide.
The medicine works for a while and then has to be readjusted...there are never any warning signs...the seizures just happen.
Sadly, we've come to the shelter in the mornings more than once and have found him after having seizures in the night...all alone...at the shelter.
That's the stuff of nightmares for rescuers.
Knowing that one of our own...who should be safe with us...was alone when he needed us.

Tebow's seizures are violent and disconcerting...the other dogs also know something is wrong, and they get upset as well.
We now have a surveillance camera right on Tebow so that he and the others around him can be checked on periodically by board members and staff during the night. 

But, today was the worst.

Tebow weighs 83 pounds...so getting him to the vet in the middle of repeated seizures is not an easy task.

Thankfully, we have a staff from heaven.  
We called for help...and help came.
Help that was off the clock...already home...possibly laid back in their recliners.
Help came in 10 minutes and loaded our Tebow into a crate so that if he seized on the way to the vet, he would not hurt himself.
I headed to the vet with 3 cars of support behind me. 
See what I mean?
Staff from heaven.

After we arrived, Tebow had one of his most violent seizures right in the exam room. 
He slammed his head onto the floor and we saw blood.
It wasn't until the seizure was over that we were able to see that blood was from him banging his lip on his teeth as he fell.

The only positive to this experience was that our vet was able to see the seizure and study it. 
Tebow is hospitalized tonight so that our vet can re-examine the situation and contemplate if possibly there is an underlying issue causing Tebow's seizures. 

Tebow also needs rest tonight.
I personally will replay his exam room seizure in my mind all night tonight.  

God bless Tebow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 20, 2015 - BarkBox - "I got a neck!"

Yesterday was nuts.
There's a new foster pup in our house...so everybody is still in an uproar...including Layla.
(*More on the foster pup tomorrow.)


Perfect timing for the new BarkBox to come in :)



"Mom, something smells good in here...can I check it out?"




"It like...it like smells good all around...what could be in here??"




"There's something...something I can't quite place...all mixed in with other crazy smells."






Me: "Layla, look at the new toy!"
Layla: "Huh??  What toy...there's something else here...forget about the toys..."





"If I can just get my snoot down in this box a little further..."




"Oh my.  Oh my. Mom, it's a...it's a..."




"A NECK, MOM!! I GOT A NECK!!!"






"Hey, Mom...why don't you go play with the foster pup..."
"Love you, Mom" :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January 18, 2015 - Tebow's Walk-Through

I headed home from Birmingham today after lunch, stopped and visited with my mother-in-law in Meridian, and then headed to the shelter. 

One of my favorite times at the shelter is Sunday walk throughs.  
We have a dog named Tebow who has seizures, similar to a person with epilepsy.  
Whether it's Monday, Sunday, or Christmas Day, Tebow has to have his medication, so two board members (myself and our former president) started sharing the afternoon responsibilities.  


I give Tebow his medicine first (so that I don't get distracted by everybody else and forget).  
Then, I take my time, walk around each kennel, check water bowls etc. but also speak to each resident.
I take my time and look into their eyes.
I get into the kennels with most of them.
Many of them are wary, not necessarily of me...but of life itself, I think.

Archie and Cooper don't trust anybody...they cower in fear when people are around...even though they've lived at the shelter their entire lives. 

Dee Dee is also fearful, and from time to time, I get the idea that she not only is afraid of people but harbors some kind of hurt against people. 

Penny is a little fox.  She flips her cot and gnaws on the legs...and then, looks at me like she has no idea who did it.  

John sometimes has an accident in his kennel and I clean it up for him because I can't stand the thought of him not having a clean place to rest. 

Juliet and Prudence are starving for attention; they are both black lab mixes and are frequently looked over.

Girl is a black/chocolate lab mix, is a little shorter than the others, and has been known to stand her ground with the other dogs.  

Herb is a broken soul...adopted and returned just recently...He hasn't been the same since he came back.

Fee Fee is another black lab mix who has a pure heart...she wants to please me...and wants to give me kisses.

Chance is a goober...and probably the most unpredictable of the bunch.  He's also loud.

Honey is another scared, small dog.  The fear in her eyes just kills me.  If I could only convince her that we want to love her.  

Aurora is the loudest of the bunch and is the most hyper.  I can get in most of the kennels with the dogs...but not hers, nor Chance's.

Hank is a sweetheart.  I try to give all of them a chest scratch since most dogs love that. 

Asher is one of our newbies...a gentle giant who tries to climb in my lap and I swear hug me. 

Lillie is a "hound dog" who's spirit is also breaking. Sometimes she doesn't get up anymore when we walk into the back room.

Lonnie is a nut.  Seriously.  He spins around everywhere he goes...he doesn't want a treat.  Just love.

My Boomer waits as patiently as he can for me to get to him.  I get in his kennel and we talk.  He is as happy to see me as I am to see him...so much so that for the first time I can remember, when I get out of his kennel to go on to Sienna next door, he cries.  My heart breaks a little more.

Sienna is another newbie...an incredibly gorgeous chocolate lab...used as a puppy making machine...and then thrown away.

Pacino and EmmyLou are in quarantine.  I don't get them out but talk to them just the same.

Donovan, Apache, and Sissy are all in the "puppy" room.  
They are not puppies...they are just younger dogs and the newest of the bunch...we hate to just throw them into the back with the old timers. 
I can let these guys out one at a time since their kennels are in a smaller area of the shelter...but I always have to put them back in.

I can't tell you how many times I'm asked: 
"How can you do it?"
"Doesn't it just break you heart?"

It does break my heart.  Every day.
But, if I don't do it, these gentle souls are punished even more than they already have been.  
What if my touch, my chest scratch, my head pat, my voice is the only one they heard today directed at them individually?
No matter how much it may hurt me, I won't take that away from them.