Stella and KC Host a Pittie Party

Stella and KC had themselves a pittie party this weekend, inviting a few of their closest pit bull friends over for a Memorial Day swim.

Most had attended doggie daycare – so we knew everyone was dog friendly – but just like with kids, the introductions were slightly awkward.  Once they met (sniffed each other’s butts), got over their shyness (ran away), and established ranks and set boundaries (growled), everyone relaxed and had fun.

KC only showed her true (mean girl) side once…when claiming her outside couch-throne.  A few minutes inside for a time out, though, and she got the message.

Nancy and her recent foster fail, Big Kahuna (with a name like that, you know he’s from Stray Rescue) get used to the water

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And he’s off!

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Tot, rescued by Stray Rescue with her brother Tater and adopted by my friend Nicole, brought her own pool to the party.

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With help from her mom, Tot tries out the big girl pool

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Despite prodding from his mom Kelly, Zeus wants noooo part of that wet stuff

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Big Kahuna and Chomper became fast friends

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Chomper and Tot in a neck and neck race

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Cockapoo KC has no problem partying with the pitties.  Here she passes by Niki, who chooses not to follow the crowd.

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Nicole, Tot and KC enjoying the sunshine

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Totter Tot

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Zeus – biggest momma’s boy love bug ever

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Nancy and her handsome boy BK

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Nicole rethinks her snack time idea. Actually, they were all very well-behaved 🙂 To her right (besides me laughing my head off) is Mia, a pugador (pug-labrador), whose dad Brad works with me at the Watering Bowl.

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Tot getting a leg up on Chomper to get to the cheese

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Mesmerized by the cheese, Zeus tries to will it into his mouth

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Stella, almost 11, made an appearance until nap time; then we never saw her again.

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We had one minor mishap. Tot, whose legs are as short as a Basset Hound’s, took a flying leap from the 4-foot wall to the pool deck and landed on her chin. We don’t know how she didn’t break a leg or her jaw.

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Our hope for the day was to hang out with friends and watch the pups run around and wear themselves out.

Based on the pictures sent to me later…

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…I’d say the party was a success.

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Making a Difference…A Day to Remember

I have to write about yesterday. Not because I’ll forget – I’ll never forget – but so I’ll remember the details.  
Stray Rescue, through a grant from Humane Society of the United States and PetsMart Charities, held a free vaccinations and spay/neuter event at a park in North St. Louis City.  This is the neighborhood where Randy and his team find most of the 500+ stray dogs (and cats) currently available for adoption, some of whom live at the shelter and some in foster homes.
Many people in this neighborhood do NOT spay and neuter their pets, nor do they take great care of them. But they cared enough that 650 dogs and cats got vaccinated, and for that I must celebrate.
I was one of five or six data collectors who went through the line and helped people fill out the forms necessary for their pets’ to get distemper and rabies vaccinations.  We also were told to encourage those whose pets weren’t already spayed and neutered to accept the offer to sign up for these free services to be done at a later date. 
Hundreds of people were in line.  One form had to be filled out for each dog. Most people had more than one dog, many had four and five dogs.  One lady had six small dogs, including a tiny Yorkie and a one-eyed dachshund in a stroller. 
Forty or fifty volunteers participated in the event. I’m sure everyone has stories to tell of what they saw and experienced. These are mine:
A man and his wife had three or four dogs, including an 8- or 9-week old puppy that squirmed in his arms and fell to the concrete while I filled out their form.  The puppy seemed okay, but I heard his head hit the concrete!  With so many people still to collect info from, I had to move on. That was the beginning of the day. My friend Sandy and I huddled together at one point and said we didn’t think we could do this again. 
One old man had four big dogs. I filled out his forms for him, since I could tell he was illiterate (we were told to watch for this). Someone was with him to help handle the dogs, but the old man held the leash of one big dog that tried to lunge at someone walking by and the dog pulled him to the ground. He held on to the dog, and he wasn’t hurt, but he obviously has his hands full with four big dogs. 
I saw a pit bull puppy with bright blood-red eyes, with the bottom lids bulging out. He had something called cherry eye.
One couple had two male pit bulls with them. The woman was holding a two-week-old pit bull puppy whose eyes were barely open. She said that Animal Control had taken away the mom (I didn’t ask why), the rest of the puppies were at home and this was the runt. She didn’t want to leave him at home. She said she had to bottle feed the puppies every few hours.
I only saw one or two really skinny dogs with their ribs showing.
My friend Nancy told me this story:  One man said his dog had had diarrhea and vomiting and hadn’t eaten in a while. She was completely lethargic and could barely lift her head. Randy Grim was at the event, and when Nancy brought this dog to his attention, he had someone drive back to the shelter for a parvo test. The dog tested positive, and Randy told the guy that without emergency treatment the dog would die. Randy offered to treat her for free, and she was whisked off by one of the Stray Rescue staff to the specialty hospital they use. Randy even gave the guy his personal cell phone number. (I LOVE RANDY!)
Many people had huge, heavy chains on their dogs instead of leashes. One boy had a chain and padlock on his two- or three-month-old pit bull puppy.  Another young guy’s dog’s collar was so tight that he could barely breathe. We told him it was a “little” too tight. He said, “Oh, sorry.” He didn’t know any better.  It’s so sad 😦  One of our volunteers cut the collar off with a pocket knife and we replaced it with a new one.  Some people used belts as a collar- and leash-in-one.  Some used electrical cords.  Some had no collars or leashes and carried their dogs through the line. A few dogs escaped their owners and were corralled by volunteers. One man’s two pit bulls fought each other as he tried to hold them apart.  I saw lots of people carrying sticks to hit their dogs with if they misbehaved in line.  And they used them. And we weren’t allowed to say anything except maybe suggest a different way of getting the dog to behave.  It felt kind of hopeless. Like they’re just going to go home and treat the dog any way they want regardless of what we say, so what’s the point? I know that’s not the right way to think, but it really was overwhelming. After the fourth of fifth hour you kind of just want to give up.
One young girl I saw was higher than a kite, probably on heroin. She was definitely in another world. She moaned and groaned and her eyes were not focused. She picked her small dog up off the ground by the leash when he didn’t listen to her.  I saw this out of the corner of my eye down the line, but I had to keep going.
We were told to be understanding and nonjudgmental. It hurts to see dogs treated like that for seven hours.  It’s shocking. I was in disbelief. My heart hurt. It was traumatizing, really. I needed to go home and recover. Another day or two of that and I think I could be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I couldn’t get the sad state of the dogs out of my head.  I know the people love their dogs, but they show it in the only ways they’ve been taught, which in itself is sad to think about. 
Okay, for all the bad (I feel better getting that all out), let me tell you about the good.
Thankfully the weather was beautiful…sunny but not too hot. 
A lot of people had little foo foo dogs – shitzus, yorkies, cockapoos, pomeranians – that were perfectly and recently groomed, with little hair bows and outfits.  The volunteers laughed about the extremes  – there were either little foo foo dogs…or pit bulls. Nothing in between.
One well dressed man told me his dog, a beautiful, healthy, happy, 8-year-old black and white pit bull, was his “son.” We talked for 10 minutes about how he hates the bad rap that pit bulls get and that he likes to use his dog as an example of how friendly and well behaved they can be.  As they walked to their car after going through the line, I ran up and said goodbye.  I met several people I chatted with in line that I said goodbye to as they left, and I thanked them for coming. 
A young man with a pit bull puppy wouldn’t let him drink out of the water bowls we provided along the line. He asked if he could have a bottled water for himself. We had water for volunteers, but I told him I would get him one if he gave his puppy some of it. After I got it, I said, “You don’t want your puppy to drink out of the bowl?” He said, “No, it’s dirty.” I thought it was cute that he was so concerned, and probably rightly so, about his puppy drinking out of the same bowl so many dogs had used. He asked if he could throw the water in the bowl out. I said yes, and he rinsed it out with the clean water from the bottle a couple of times before finally filling it for his dog. Very sweet.
Good and bad:  Some people (mostly men but a few women) who did not want their dogs spayed or neutered were adamant about it.  They wouldn’t look at me and just said “NOPE,” or “I want her to have puppies,” or “I breed them.” I wanted to drive them to the shelter 10 minutes away to see the hundreds of little, pleading pit bull faces staring up through the cages and ask them why. But I didn’t spend a lot of time on those people. I gave my little spiel, but I could tell the ones who weren’t going to be swayed and I don’t have the persistent personality it takes to continue with them any further. There were volunteers specifically assigned this task, so I left it to them. BUT… I had quite a few I DID talk into spay and neuter! It felt so good. Some were on the fence about it, but with a free offer worth $100 to “fix” their pet, which included a free microchip and nail trim, how could they pass it up! I got one guy to get all four of his dogs spayed and neutered. 
Although it was tough to see how some of the pets were treated, all of the people were polite, friendly, grateful, and patient, despite the long lines and hundreds of restless, barking dogs. Which is probably the only reason I would consider volunteering for this event, held every six months, again. Well, that and the chance to pet dogs all day. 
And feeling like I made a little difference in a little corner of the world. 

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday – Farewell to Funnybone / Romeo Turns 2

My friend Donna’s dog Funnybone passed away last week. Funnybone had knee surgery not too long ago but was doing great and running around like a crazy woman.  After her morning potty break, she got back in bed and at some point passed away cuddled right up to her momma.

Blue and Donna comforting each other…

Scout misses her sidekick sister desperately, and finds comfort in sleeping in Funnybone’s bed

 Funnybone was rescued from the streets by Stray Rescue. After some time she was able to be paired with another dog. It’s exciting when dogs are paired because it means they can get along with other dogs.
Here is Funnybone just after meeting her new Stray Rescue roommate…
Donna started taking Funnybone on hikes with Four Directions Hiking, and she may have taken her home a time or two…more than likely for a bath. 
But that’s it. Donna had too many dogs already, and she certainly didn’t want a dog as bad as Funnybone.
In this picture on her Facebook page, Donna’s comment says “I ordered her not to get into my heart!”
Funnybone’s typical rebellious reaction was to do just that.
And Donna brought her home. 
For good.
And that’s when she became kind of famous. 
Donna posted pictures of her on Facebook.
She was a riot.  
 Because of People Donna’s postings, people who had never met Funnybone felt they knew 
her and were saddened by her death.
She was an absolute character. And it wouldn’t surprise me if her mom wrote a book making Funnybone the star. 
She would love that. 
Being the center of attention was her mission in life.
That and taking a piece of our hearts.
She always did get what she wanted.
I love you, sweet Bone.

  A 6-year-old boy said this:  “People are born so they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice.  Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

The very next day after Funnybone passed away, Donna wanted to proceed with plans she’d had to host a birthday party for Romeo, the dog she rescued that lived outside his entire life. Donna decided Romeo’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day, so she wanted to celebrate his turning 2.  It’s not easy to muster up a smile when you’ve just lost your best friend, but I suspect seeing this cute face made it a little easier.
Is this not the face of a dog happy to finally live inside? We all cringe to think he would be in his wooden doghouse in these snowy, below zero conditions we’ve had.
He has got to be one of the happiest, friendliest dogs I know.
Emilee and Sandy

Nancy, Romeo’s grandma, and Kelly

Donna and her baby Scout

Romeo did great with our friend Kathleen’s baby Emily

Kelly and Romeo

Romeo opened a few birthday presents

Yep, crazy dog people and proud of it

Donna, Romeo, and Kathleen’s little boy Max

Alyson, Emily, Romeo’s grandma, and Kelly. I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of Romeo’s mom, Becca!

Max fell asleep sitting up

Bittersweet week, to say the least. 
Life is that way.
Love while you can.

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday

How do animals in cities with temps below zero survive without someone like Randy Grim and Stray Rescue?
On Saturday night and into Sunday, St. Louis got 10+ inches of snow.  Teaming up with the Mayor, Randy made a plea on the news to bring pets inside.  Any pets found outside, even in backyards, would be confiscated and the owners fined. I think only a few people were given citations, but Randy and his staff were busier than ever rescuing stray dogs. On Monday morning the temperature was -8 with a windchill of -20.

(You know you’re an animal person when in extreme weather all you can think about are stray and missing dogs and cats. It breaks my heart.)
Thank you, Randy, for what you do.
Here are pictures from some of his rescues:
Larry can’t believe that entire packs of stray dogs are running around and living in abandoned houses, but in some areas (especially East St. Louis), believe me, they are.
This poor guy, Francis, was not rescued in time; he passed away soon after.

One grateful pup
This poor guy had to be sedated and muzzled. He got into the car easily when rescued, but at the shelter he refused to get out, growling and baring his teeth. Apparently he liked the warmth of the car and thought he was being forced back out into the cold.  No worries, little dude, you’re safe! 
This boy, named Zero, was picked up off the streets by a police officer, who has since decided to adopt him for his little boy.
These babies, and their momma who was tied up, were all rescued.
And then there’s this….
OH
MY

GOSH

GET

ME

INSIDE…QUICK!

I wish all dogs had such a choice.

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday

The Stray Rescue staff started a wonderful system to track enrichment time spent with the shelter dogs to ensure each gets equal time. It’s not a perfect system, since some dogs are more popular with volunteers and hence they have more “fans,” but this way the love is spread more evenly as the staff fills in the gaps where needed.
There’s a key for us to follow. W = extra walk / E = enrichment outside of the shelter (park, home, etc.) / CR = car ride / A = time in apartment / Y = play time in yard / R = run
The red colored marker is for volunteers and the black marker is for staff, but the red pen got lost and the volunteers started writing “vol” next to the letter.
Some dogs are not allowed extra enrichment for various temporary reasons.

I love that Paul, an enrichment staff member, encourages staff to spend time with red collar (staff only) dogs by offering lottery tickets. These dogs don’t get a lot of enrichment time because volunteers aren’t allowed to take them out. The goal is for the dogs to become purple collar so anyone can enrich them.

My own dogs fight over enrichment time with me. Here’s how it goes:  Stella comes and sits on my lap first. KC immediately comes over, plops herself right on Stella and squeezes her out as if she’s not even there. “What? Stella? Where? I don’t see a dog.”
Poor Stella. And she’s so submissive. She quietly backs out and walks to the other end of the couch. 
And waits for her daddy to get home.

Raise the ‘Woof’ Wednesday

This past weekend we hosted our 2nd annual Santa Paws Party.
Here was the Facebook invite so you can see what it’s about:
Welcome all to the 2nd Annual Santa Paws Party!! 

My awesome co-hosts and I first want to thank all that attended/donated last year, we were able to raise over $650 cash for CIC as well as a TON of goodies to help them through the winter! We are hoping this year will be an even bigger success!!

As many of you already know, winter is quickly approaching and many of our four legged friends will be out wandering the streets trying to find shelter. We would like to help ease the burden for one lucky rescue and provide them with some cash donations and/or new and gently used items. We will place several small independent rescues into a Santa hat and at the end of the night one lucky rescue will be drawn. That rescue will receive all the donations gathered that night.

We ask that you bring an item or two or three or MORE from the list below, and in lieu, the Food, drink and fun will be provided! (scheduled to reappear are the Apple Pie Shots!! YUMMMM) 

Rescues that will be placed in the hat are: 4 Paws 4 Rescue, Gateway Pet Guardians, St. Animals Pet Adoptions (SAPA), Act Now!, DCAWS, St. Louis Senior Dog Project, Partners for Pets, & 5 Acres.

 (A list of suggested items for dogs and cats was provided in the invite)

So, guess how much we raised this year? A total of $1,250 plus all of this…

For a large rescue like Stray Rescue, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but for the smaller rescues this really helps. The amount of money they spend on vet bills when rescuing, say, a heartworm positive dog or a cat hit by a car is astronomical. So I know the winning rescue this year – Gateway Pet Guardians – appreciates our efforts.  And I say “our” because Kelly lists a few of us as co-hosts, but the party is at her house and she really does all the work. I’m honored to be her friend.  She’s shown time and again that people are capable of doing a great deal more than they think they have time for. 
I can just picture her face if someone says they don’t have time for something.  She’d be like…
Three of Kelly’s four dogs and one of her five fosters (yes, nine total, not counting the boarding clients she had that night)
“Santa, is that YOU?”

Kelly’s fiancee John giving Heidi some love before the party starts

Kelly’s own pup Zeus (left) and Wilson, one of two boarding clients 

Sally and Titus, two of Kelly’s fosters

Twelve-week-old Titus struttin’ his stuff for the guests

Old man Lee, a boarder

My friend Sandy holding Stassi, one of Kelly’s newest fosters 

Kelly and Stassi
Some of the gang
Gateway Pet Guardian’s Jane Posen demonstrating her gratitude for winning this year’s “haul”

It was a great night, with many wonderful rescue people coming together, enjoying good food and drinks, and supporting each other in their efforts to save animals. May next year’s Santa Paws Party be an even bigger success!
Another positive outcome from the night? It looks like Titus and Stassi, two of Kelly’s fosters, are going to be adopted by party attendees! LOL

Our Month in Pictures – October

You know it’s a slow month when I post pictures of myself with friends at a hookah bar. But it was such a fun experience. Have you ever been? My friend Katie is the best at making people do things outside their comfort zone. So when Katie, Jan and I had lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Ranoush, we ordered things like shish tawuk, chicken shawarma, and baba ganoush. Then Katie insisted we try a hookah. I thought she was nuts, but all of a sudden the waiter was telling us the flavors and bringing the hookah to our table. We were cracking up.
“Is this even legal?”
“We’re not really doing this, are we?”
“Take a picture of us!”
By the way, it’s molasses, fruit flavoring (we picked watermelon and bubble gum) and a little tobacco. It’s actually pretty good. It’s like having dessert without the calories, since it leaves a fruity flavor in your mouth.

We ended up having the best time…eating great food, laughing, and trying something new. We even did a little shopping afterwards. Who would have thought lunch could be so fun. Thanks Katie! Crossed off “Experience a Hookah Bar” from my Bucket List.
My niece’s (Larry’s sister’s daughter) teacup micro Maltipoo, Phoebe, came over for a visit. Stella absolutely adored her and was sad when she left.

KC, who wanted to eat Phoebe at first but eventually tolerated her for the hour she was here, had surgery last week to remove the mass on her back. It was about the size of a silver dollar, but to get clean borders, they made the incision big.
Biopsy results:  Grade 2 mast cell tumor
Translation:  On a scale of one to three – one as benign and three as malignant – KC’s tumor is a two, and it’s actually a low grade two so it’s closer to a one. This means she’s likely to get more masses, so we’ll keep a close eye on her and remove any new ones right away. If it was a grade three they would send her to an oncologist. If it was a one it would be totally benign and they wouldn’t worry at all. Her stitches come out on Wednesday, and otherwise she’s doing great.
I wanted to share this picture I took of Stray Rescue pup Nelson Hull. He is just the sweetest!  Apparently Brett Hull found him somewhere and brought him to the shelter, so they named the dog after him. Nelson Hull must have been adopted already, because I can’t find him on the website. I knew he wouldn’t be there long.

My last enrichment dog, Phycox, is still available.

He’s so sweet. I’m going to take a break in November. I can’t stand having so many of my enrichment dogs still at the shelter. Madame Butterfly, one of my dogs from last year, is still there. So are Kiddo and Phycox.

And my dog for this month is Barry White…

Even though most of my former enrichment dogs are assigned new enrichment buddies, most people work full time and aren’t able to see them as often as I did. Plus, I’ve made a connection with the dogs and feel I should visit them. That’s four dogs worth of guilt right there!
So next month I’m not going to get a new dog; I’m going to focus on the ones I already have and just hope they get adopted. Soon.
Eric…remember him?
He had 16 points and 10 rebounds in his scrimmage yesterday in Tampa, FL. Larry and I are going to see him play in Ocala on November 13, and then he’ll be home for Thanksgiving. 
He’s doing well in school and has made friends. He likes his basketball teammates, but he’s become good friends with guys on the baseball team and with girls on the volleyball and softball teams.
Yep, that’s Eric in a shopping cart. 
I don’t ask questions.

Defending NJCAA National Champion CF Men’s Hoops 2013-2014 schedule set

The defending NJCAA National Champion College of Central Florida men’s basketball team had its 2013-2014 schedule announced recently.
The Patriots will kick off their regular season home slate with a game against Pasco-Hernando on November 2.
CF’s non-conference home schedule also includes games against State College of Florida-Manatee (November 5 and December 14), St. Petersburg (November 13), South Georgia College (November 16), Hillsborough (December 4), Pensacola (December 13), Palm Beach State (December 15) and Polk State (January 11).
From there, the Patriots kick off conference home slate on January 22 against Daytona State.
CF will have a pair of conference home games against FSC-Jacksonville and will face DSC and rival Santa Fe one time apiece at Patriot Gym.
The Patriots have five home games against teams that made the state tournament last season, with two of those matchups coming against Manatee.
CF rallied from a 23-point deficit to knock off SCOF 105-103 in Ocala last year, before rolling to a win over the Manatees in the opening round of the state tournament.
SCOF, along with another state tournament team from a year ago, Palm Beach State, will be CF’s foes during the Florida Colleges Men’s Basketball Shootout.
Meanwhile, the last team to knock off CF at home back in 2011, Pensacola, returns to Ocala for a game this season, as does Polk, a state tournament squad from a year ago.
As far as road games, CF will make out-of-state trips to South Carolina and New York for games this season.
The Patriots will face USC-Salkehatchie, a national tournament team from a year ago during their trip to the Magnolia State and will also embark on a trip to the Big Apple for the second consecutive year.
I’m going to make a separate post for this later because I have a ton of pictures, but today I crossed off “Attend a Woodchopper’s Ball” from my Bucket List. 
Let’s just say it involved tractors, chicken shit bingo, baby donkeys, pie contests, and moonshine samples.
Only in Missouri.

And I can’t go without posting a picture of baby Will, who’ll be 7 months on Halloween.

Scrumptious.