Sunday, April 19, 2009


Oh you lucky peoples - two blog posts in a weekend! I have a busy week ahead of me, so consider this a post in advance of the sad pouty little emails I'm going to get for not posting enough ;-)

Shut up Food Lady. You're boring.

Today we went to Bridgeman to meet up with Wendy and her foster dog Sky.

Sky is one of the 7 border collies we picked up from Washington State, after they were seized from a hoarder and spent 8 weeks in the bowels of Animal Control at the heart of a custody battle. In total, AC took 30 dogs from this one piece of property. Only 15 lived long enough to make it into rescue; puppies don't tend to thrive in filthy dirty confinement, and some of the adults were completely unhandleable. Allegedly. That's all I know.

Like the other 6 dogs we brought back to Canada, Sky is trying desperately to fall in love. It's unusual, in my experience, for hoarder dogs to be attracted to people - usually they have had such little contact with humans that they prefer the company of other dogs and shun us scary and stupid Two Leggeds altogether. But these dogs WANT to be with people - they bond close, they bond quick, and they bond hard. It's both beautiful and heartbreaking to see.

Sky is between 1-2 years old and is a petite and athletic little tri-colour female. She has a gentle personality and is glued more or less permanently to her foster mum's leg. Or in some cases, her ass.

Poor Sky had a rough go. Although examined by a veterinarian before she arrived, and handled by many of us, none of us knew she was pregnant. And when they opened her up on the table for her spay, not two weeks after she arrived in rescue, she had a very large litter of pups in her uterus, close to full term. Which we elected to abort. This is a touchy subject for so many people, and indeed we have whelped and raised many pups in rescue ourselves, but we made this choice based on multiple factors - Sky was not even showing so close to term, and certainly she had not received the nutrition and tlc during her pregnancy so necessary for a healthy litter. Underweight, stressed and vaccinated several times while pregnant, we felt that it would be a losing proposition for everyone involved to let her whelp those pups - the pups themselves not withstanding.

May doG forgive us all for the things we do to man's best friend in this world.

Sweet Sky will be up on our website within the hour, as she is now ready for a home of her own.

We also met up with The Boy, and his foster dog Cinder, who is about a year old, a medium sized black and white female who apparently comes from my biggest nemesis - the mythical, and mysterious volume breeder of border collies in the Williams Lake area. Nobody seems to know who or exactly where these people are (the pups are always sent, or delivered, never picked up), yet 1 of every 3 owner surrender dogs I get in rescue originates in this place. One day, I will find it. And when I do ... (insert graphic violence of choice against BYB here)

Cinder is the sort of dog that makes me pull my hair out. Because Cinder is a Problem dog with a capital P. She is fearful, she is aggressive, she has drive up the wazoo and not enough brains or good temperament to direct it appropriately, and along the way she did not get the intensive socialization and leadership she needed to overcome her genetic shortcomings.

Cinder is a Mess (capital M). She is very fortunate to have The Boy as her foster home, because while I have wonderful foster homes, not many would have been able to work with her. The Boy has a gift - the gift of an unflappable temperament in the face of a f*cked up dog. He does, after all, own Jack.

This was the first time I had met Cinder, and my first impression was YIKES. She was showing Mad Teeth(tm) everywhere, and she wasn't too shy about following through. She did relatively well when faced with three strangers, 8 other border collies and Aussies and an assload of other people and dogs in the park, but my blood pressure rose just watching her tense through the outing, like she was going to explode any time. I made friends with her through the magic of Liver Cookies, but it was a tenuous agreement at best.

Cinder makes me sad, because I know how difficult she is going to be to rehome. I know from very personal experience how rewarding it is to work with troubled dogs, and how incredibly gratifying it is to see sucess. I also know that 99.9% of adopters are not looking for a behavioural challenge adrift in a shitstorm of fear and anxiety though, and that it's not going to be easy to find someone who is willing to try. And that's the heartbreak, because like all dogs, Cinder deserves her own devoted person. People give their dogs like this to TDBCR because they trust us to do what they could not. The problem is that while we can do it, we can't always find an adopter who can take it from there.

Which leads to my latest rant: people who apply for dogs on our website who are not yet available, and have no profile up while they are being evaluated. These people are applying for nothing more than a photograph, and I am frequently tempted to give them one and send them on their way. I am not known for my patience, nor my incredible skill in holding my tongue, so I have been known to speak frankly to people who insist a dog in a photo is the dog for them about the FAIL of applying for a dog they know nothing about. About a half dozen people have contacted me through the website about Cinder, and I will bet you one Mr. Woo that they will all fade silently into the hills once they read her bio.

So why do I list those dogs, if they are not yet available, and if the inquiries make me irritated enough to kick the cat*? That's a fair question, and you wouldn't be the first to ask it. I list them because I'm an optimist. For all my cynicism in general, I live in perpetual hope that one day, some person cruising the interwebz while toying idly with the idea of breeding their pretty little border collie bitch, will see not just the 3 dogs we have available, but the 6 or 9 that we have in rescue and are still evaluating. I want people to see those numbers, and see how many dogs we have. I harbour this decade long hope that they will see all these homeless dogs and be appalled, and neuter their dog - thus saving future puppies from winding up with me!

The number of dogs that we have at any given time makes my heart hurt - the number we do NOT have because we had no room for them would make yours explode. We used to be able to take in about half the dogs people tried to give us - now we take in, on average, one of every five border collies someone tries to surrender.

For the 9 border collies I have in rescue now, 30 odd dogs couldn't get a spot in foster care.


Geez, Food Lady. Are you ever a downer!!

It's not all doom and gloom, I promise.

Oh hai! Look at me! I'm an airplane!

Phoenix is a show off. If Mr. Woo and Piper had a love child, it would look exactly like Nix.
Tell me I'm wrong.

We also happened to run into My Puppy, the king charles spaniel puppy.

This adorable piece of snuzzly goodness came from the SPCA (!). What a wicked find. His owners, who were in my agility class, always laugh when I greet them with "Hey, there's My Puppy." I keep hoping one day they will stop laughing, and just hand him over already. I haz a soft spot for Cavs.

Especially when they are this friggin' cute!!!

Ahem. Please to remember Original Cute. Kthx.

Oh hai! Did anyone see me? I was an airplane! Were you watching?

Phoenix is a little bit of a show off.

No wonder her sisteraussie Zena looks so world weary.

*I totally don't kick my cat!


Rossie said...

I can't even imagine the daily heartbreak of running a rescue. I know it has many rewards, but really, you are so brave to put heart out there as you work to save these dogs. I'm astounded.

Just one question, does Nix know she's funny? What a dollface bugaboo!

PoochesForPeace said...

Your Puppy is soo sososo adorable. And you couldn't be MORE right about Piper and Mr Woo's love child.

Thanks for this post- I just blogged about my discouragement of Ohio breed banning. Your optimism is contagious...not to mention the airplane dog. That helped too.

Unknown said...

First off let me say how sad I am that you have to TELL the nut jobs out there that you don't actually kick your cat. Tards.

Second, I agree with every single word you said about rescue. It is sad that the pups were aborded. On the flip side of it, those are pups that are never going to have to go through what mom did.

I LOVE AIRPLANE DOG! You couldn't have gotten a better pic if he was on invisible wires and you asked him to look right at the camera!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the work you do to rescue dogs. I'm a recent follower of your blog, and as the owner of a fear aggressive aussie border collie cross, I can more than sympathize with the heartbreak and overwhelming reward I have faced with her rehabilitation. I know most people wouldn't have tried, and she never would have made it to 2.5 years. Thank you, thanks for the work you do to rescue border collies. I'm a Pacific NW'er, and I look at your dogs on occasion. When I graduate vet(!) school in two years, I'd like to adopt another dog. I imagine I may be getting in touch at that point!

Tristan and Braun said...

I don't know what to say. It's one of those moments where a flood of emotion and words come to the tip of your tongue but then you know whatever you want to say has been said and you wished to doG that if saying it again would make a difference, you are willing to say it another million times.

It's heartbreaking to hear of all these rescue dogs. They deserve so much more. In such times, I wish I could take them ALL (Won't I become the mysterious hoarder then?!?) but I know I can't and that sucks.

It's even more heartbreaking to read of Cinder. For some reason, my heart beats different when I read about her. I don't know why. Maybe it's because she sounds so much like MY dog and I understand intuitively what messed up and f*cked up means. And like you said, it's not easy to rehab or rehome such a dog. Patience and Patience and more Patience!

Nothing is impossible but you need that one person out there to believe that and give the dog a chance again.

Fi said...

You do such an amazing job - anyone who naively has a notion to "want to work with animals" should read your blog to find out the reality...

In the defence of people applying for Cinder on the strength of her photo...she's beautiful. But she does sound incredibly hard to handle. Crossing everything that the right person comes along for her...and the equally beautiful Sky, and all the others.

jane said...

Food Lady, Briggs is smiling down on you and he's pleased with your hard work.

Thanks for the picture of Original Cute. He is, fo' sho, and the Flamboyance is looking mighty fine these days.

Life in vet school said...

Augh!!! Don't bet Mr. Woo! You never know what might happen! There are just too many Woo fans out there.....


LOVE the airplane pic! It's perfect.

StefRobrts said...

We have been looking for quite some time for the perfect dog to add to our home. I think a BC is too much dog for us, though I've considered it carefully. We recently found a nice older beagle who needs a home.

But along the way I found that many rescues and shelters put up pictures on petfinder with little or no information, and seem to think people will run on down to check the dog out based solely on their picture. Often the process is that you see the picture, fill out the long app, have your references checked, talk to someone on the phone for an interview, have your home checked, and THEN you get to meet the dog! I don't understand that. I know enough about dogs to know it's the personality that matters. It's all the little details you need to live with every day. Adorableness will only take you so far. I'd rather have an unattractive dog with a great personality. I was amazed at how many hoops there are to go through before you even meet the dog and say 'oh sorry, he's not really for us'.

When we adopted our first dog from rescue, a dalmatian, the rescue people didn't do any temperment testing, just took the owners word for how the dog would do with our cats. The dog had been badly abused and neglected. He turned out to have serious problems with cats, and after having him a bit longer we discovered he had serious aggression problems with other dogs and people too. We worked with a behaviourist to evaluate him and decided he was too much for us, too much risk to our other dog and our cats, and to ourselves. He was a very big, strong dog with a hair trigger. We sent him back to rescue, and they tried another dog with us. That dog worked out fine and we had him for 8 years until he passed away last year.

But that first dog, he nearly killed one of the other dogs at the rescue, then he went to another home where he attacked a dog and got sent back. Then another. There was no home for him, and no foster home for him. He was finally put to sleep, which was probably the right thing to do for a dog who was so messed up. It wasn't his fault, but we're not allowed to put down the idiots who did that to him.

DDG said...

I am actually one of the people on fb that commented on Cinder.

She reminds me so much of my hell on wheels bc. I deal with a pissy attitude and don't touch my feet temper but there is the love and devotion that I get in return that I don't mind the attitude or temper.

I am my bc's 3rd home and kept the former owners from putting her down due to their own lack of trying to do anything with her but shove her out in the back yard and out of their lives as much as possible. You get back what you give to these dogs.

Paws For A Rest said...

All I can say is thank you for the work you and your foster network does for these dogs. There's a home out there for each dog, even they have to wait a bit.

I'm not involved in rescue myself but hopefully can convert people to look that route.

On a lighter note love Phoenix showing off!!!

happypitbull said...

Rescue work with pit bulls is the same way, but in some ways perhaps worse, because for every one person who is genuinely interested in adopting your foster, there are fifty who are just looking for a cheap status symbol/breeding machine/yard ornament/mean dog. And countless more people who would actually make perfect pit bull owners--responsible, caring, devoted--but are too scared of the stereotype to even consider one.

It's frustrating and heart-sickening beyond words. Millions of *perfectly good* dogs don't get saved. They die alone and scared in shelters without having any chance at a real life.

That's why I always adopt. Our most recent family member came from the shelter, and she's everything I hoped for. I didn't do it based on appearance--in fact, she's a rather ugly pit bull--I did it based on personality. I don't care what a dog looks like as long as it's friendly and attentive.

This was a nice post. I hope people who are thinking of breeding their dog, or buying from a BYB, will see this post and think twice.

The Border Collies said...

I am actually one of the people on fb that commented on Cinder.I don't get annoyed by that stuff at ALL - sorry if I gave you that impression! I am equally as guilty of screaming WANTWANTWANT at foster dogs people post on message boards and whatnot, that's fantasy and it's totally fine to like the way a dog looks. It's just that we put so much work into evaluating dogs, a lot of blood, sweat and tears making sure these dogs get exactly the right homes for them, that when someone actually takes the steps to apply for a dog based on a cute photo, it really makes me wonder why we bother sometimes.

Often the process is that you see the picture, fill out the long app, have your references checked, talk to someone on the phone for an interview, have your home checked, and THEN you get to meet the dog! I don't understand that. I know enough about dogs to know it's the personality that matters. It's all the little details you need to live with every day.I agree! That IS what you have to live with, and that's why we take so much time evaluating the dogs and writing their bios. But the reason we want to do all that stuff BEFORE you meet the dog is important on several levels - it's to weed out the tirekickers (and there are loads - they like to apply for dogs they are not actually interested in adopting) and it's also to protect the dogs (people lie on applications more often than you might think) and also to protect ourselves ... we don't want to invite strangers to our homes until we have some sense they aren't loonies.

Rescue work with pit bulls is the same way, but in some ways perhaps worse, because for every one person who is genuinely interested in adopting your foster, there are fifty who are just looking for a cheap status symbol/breeding machine/yard ornament/mean dog.I can't even imagine the heartbreak for pitbull rescuers. It's like everything is against them. They have my utmost respect.

Emma Rose said...

I came from PNW BC Rescue. I was 18months old and had spent most of my life on a chain in the yard. I was given to my foster home, sight unseen. I tried to bite the new man and the other dog when I first met them. But in a matter of a few weeks, to all of our amazement, the foster home turned out to be my forever home. Never again will I "want" for love. I am properly cherished now and life is soooooo good! Thank you for all you do to save others like me. Someday, when I get a new brother or sister they too will come from BC Rescue.

cruznk9 said...

When you find the mystery breeder, thump the crap of him/her for me too. I admire your work in rescue - it's a very tough job.

BCxFour said...

Sheena, you are so wonderful for taking the Yakima dogs! That whole thing just made me sick to my stomach - especially the bit about putting the puppies down. It is such an incredible blessing they were socialized as well as they were. I would hate to say anything positive about the hoarder - but maybe he was right about trying to hang onto the dogs for so long knowing what AC would end up doing to them. He may be a few bricks short of a full load, but at least he cared for and clearly loved the dogs.

Sky's litter is smiling on you in the great doG-beyond, because now they have a chance to come back to a better situation. (okay that was cheesy as hell, but I couldnt resist).

You know, keep listing the dogs the way you do - some people are just to stupid to breath and it doesnt matter how you change things (picture up alone, bio before picture, blah blah blah)...they will always assume, circumvent the requirements and prove what 'tards they really are - which only goes to weed out the dimwits who shouldnt have any of our dogs. (okay, my rant is over too!)

Again thanks for all the work you do up there in BC - we think you rock!

HA! The word verification for this comment is "Goddog" How freaking FUNNY is that!

Natalie said...

OMG Sky, that poor sweetheart. :(

Rescue can be incredibly frustrating, and most people have no clue the lengths we go to or how bad it really is. It makes sense to put the numbers out there, just in case someone actually stops and thinks about it.

I know the frustration of having people apply for a picture. With cats it's even harder to get people to look beyond that to, no, this cat WILL NOT BE GOOD WITH KIDS, but yes he is pretty. Drives me a little crazy.

Sweet~Ceana said...

If I have any mojo, I will send it to Cinder in hopes of the perfect forever home. That post made me WANT Cinder. -sigh- Working with my little nut job has been incredibly rewarding. A nutty dog is one of the best relationships that you can have, you give so much of yourself and you get 10x more back.

Monique-President NEBCR, Inc. said...

Have loved your blog for ages, but this one hit so close to home I had to write. I've volunteered with New England BCR for 8 years now and everything you just said hit EVERY nail on the head! An app came in last week that was "borderline" at best. And don'tcha know the 3 dogs they were interested in were all young, gorgeous and... (wait for it...) not available. 2 were photos only as they're still under eval, and the 3rd is currently unavailable while we follow up on some health concerns.


And we also run into adopters who are just "shopping," looking to get around the system - which is there for the dogs AND you, folks! - and who just plain lie. (yup - lying to get a dog... who woulda thunk?)

We're an all-volunteer group, although these days it seems many of us spend more time doing rescue than our "real" jobs. And yet we still get people who call the intake/emergency phone line to ask if we ever get puppies, can recommend a breeder, or if we can tell them about dog XYZ (and "no, I haven't put an application in yet").

Sadly, dogs are pouring in here as well - 7 in a 2 week period, foster homes doubled and tripled up, and 70 calls in Feb/Mar alone. Adoptions have slowed to a crawl the past couple of years to boot. We're all just doing our best to keep up and it kills us all to have to turn so many dogs away because there simply isn't room for one more. Add to all that the calls for dogs that have to be gone... today... or this weekend...

So yes, dealing with less-than-serious adopters is WAY down the list of priorities (sorry lady who wants to know how she can come visit all our dogs in their foster homes before she decides if she wants to put in an application!)

I know, I'm preaching to the choir here, but I just wanted you to know you're not alone in your frustration.

You have my empathy, my sympathy and my deepest respect and admiration.

erin said...

I am a frequent doggie-lover at the North Van district shelter - I had knee surgery and can't walk any of the dogs yet but I go play and give them love. I read in your other post that three of the border collies had been placed there so I asked to see them. Unfortunately, they were all so highly strung from being there that they weren't able to have visitors in their runs. :( I could only look at them from the outside, and I didn't stay too long because it was clearly stressing them out.

And as a total non-sequitur: Those airplane pictures are awesome!

StefRobrts said...

"But the reason we want to do all that stuff BEFORE you meet the dog is important on several levels - it's to weed out the tirekickers (and there are loads - they like to apply for dogs they are not actually interested in adopting) and it's also to protect the dogs (people lie on applications more often than you might think)"

Amazing that anyone would waste your time that way. It's shocking how stupid some people can be! When I fill out an app I have put a lot of thought into it to be as certain as I can be (without meeting the animal) that I want to go further. I know how hard rescue people work, and I understand they are looking out for the animals first.

nickelsmum said...

Too bad for Cinder that she has such a beautiful, happy looking, classic Border Collie face and ears. In Aussie rescue, people will want to adopt anything that's blue merle with blue eyes. Cannot see beyond the fancy colors.

And how do you deal with those who are sure that love can turn a dog around, that they can overcome genetics and horrible socialization simply by loving the dog more than the last owner did? That's not how it works.

I wrote a bunch more, but I deleted it. It's nothing new.

Nix is fantastic and does look exactly like a Woo-per love child! Marvelous.

Diamond Girl said...

Keep up the faith for poor Cinder! I had a similar foster - a German Shepherd named Sable (nicknamed Disable for all her "issues"). It took time and patience, but I finally found the right home for her and though still troubled, she is loved and cherished!

Riva said...

I have to say that I too thought Cinder was just the cutest of all the 7 that you brought back...just based off of the pics. Now that I read the bios of the ones today...and look at the pics. I can't see anything but the sweet beauty of Sky. She is drop-dead gorgeous and it's more because of WHO she is than what she looks like.

She's had a tough go, but I know that you guys will find her someplace/someone that will make up for all of the ills she has been served.

And I'm sure you'll find some crazy schmuck like me for Cinder...after all, I have the original Wonder Husky! ;-)

The Border Collies said...

I have to say that I too thought Cinder was just the cutest of all the 7 that you brought back...just based off of the pics.Yes well, that's a great example of the problem I am speaking of. I didn't "bring Cinder back" from anywhere - she is NOT one of the Yakima hoarder dogs, she is an owner surrender. Reading her bio would certainly clear that up since I make specific reference to the reasons she was surrendered in it, among other things. She has been served "no ills' - her previous home loved her, but could not handle her - also mentioned in her bio!!

Riva said...

ha! sorry...I missed the bit about her being surrendered...I was posting on the sly at scanned and read.

good thing I'm not adopting eh? ;-)

however...if I were to ever get serious about adopting a 2nd...I would NOT simply scan and I would make sure I got the right dog for me, Riva and the pal-to-be! it's a lifelong commitment and the last thing I want is for any one of us to be unhappy.

I can't imagine what it would take to surrender a pet...Riva is tougher than tough to handle sometimes, but I could never walk away from her.

MalaysianFan said...

* And I take solace in the knowledge that, if you did, Angry Donut would kick you right back.


Anonymous said...

You've been given an award by Inara over at Pit Bulls Make the World Go 'Round!

Paula said...

Excellent post! And I know you don't kick your cat, either.

I love Sky! Wee, tri smoothie...right up my alley!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures as always. I don't think I have ever not smiled and laughed when I have visited.

Keep up the good work with the photography and your amazing rescue work.


amyinbc said...

I had no idea about Sky and her very sad history. Yes, knew she came from a hoarder/bad situation but no idea she had been pregnant too. Poor dear. :(

I keep coming back to her. She seems like such a sweetheart needing a chance.