Tag Archives: St. Thomas Dog Blog

Dallas, a Shepherd

Dallas was on the All Breed Canine Rescue website under “Mature Dogs.”  I had been looking through rescue sites, hoping no dog would Dallas, a Shepherd cross, at home on the couch‘speak’ to me.  This gray-muzzled, sharp-faced, squat-bodied Shepherd-type did.  It was way too soon.

Our German Shepherd Jack had just died.  He’d been with me for 9½ years, rescued at 14 weeks from neglect.  He was my friend and touchstone.  No other dog could replace him or compete for my affection.  But the house seemed so empty.  The cats missed him. My husband said no new dog, he needed time to mourn. I missed Jack and the presence of a dog. I took ‘match yourself to a dog breed’ questionnaires.  I checked ABCR’s site again – Dallas was still listed.  My husband still couldn’t think of another dog in Jack’s place.

It was a cat who changed his mind. The “boss” cat, she ceased harassing the others and just lay in Jack’s favourite spots, staring vacantly.  After a week of this, my husband said “maybe we should get a dog for that cat.”  Dallas came for a visit.  The cat ran up to her, delighted.  Then realizing this dog wasn’t Jack, she hissed violently and stalked off.

When ABCR got Dallas from the pound, she was not spayed and had arthritic or injured hind legs.  Most dramatically, she had no hair on her back.  “Her skin was like raw hamburger,” I was told.  Allergy treatment and special food had cleared up the hair loss.  Still, no one really knew what was wrong with her. We were recovering financially from vet bills for Jack and our elderly cat Henry, and emotionally from months of caring for chronically ill animals and the loss of them.  Was taking Dallas asking for more expense and sadness?  Quite possibly.  But she looked like home, like she belonged here.

After a few more visits, Dallas came to stay.  She had enjoyed visiting, but expected her foster mom to be waiting to take her home.  The day her foster family left without her, she clawed at the door howling inconsolably.  I was in tears.

A few hours later, after a good long walk, Dallas looked around and seemed to decide that, if this was now home, she’d make the best of it.  She glued herself to me and is very protective.  She doesn’t trust men, dallas and elsiebut is realizing that the one in her new house isn’t a threat to her or me.  The cats have warmed up to her.  Her extended human family welcomed her.  My sister seems resemblances to her late Shepherd/Husky.  My mother sees our old Shepherd in her.  I have taken her to Jack’s grave and to his favourite walking places.  I tell her about him and she wrinkles her nose and listens.

She takes pills for hip dysplasia and allergies. A lump on her rear end was easily removed and was benign. Sometimes her legs are creaky, but she plays and chases balls.  She’s not Jack, but she is Dallas, a dog who, like him, has adopted us for life.  My sister said, “You needed her as much as she needed you.”  It’s true.

(Part 2) Dallas died almost three months to the day after we got her.  One morning in July she threw up. She seemed ok later, but didn’t want to chase her ball and really just put up with  our walk for my sake.  That evening, she was listless.  Late at night, she was feverish and chilled.  I should have called her vet.  I didn’t.  I took her in first time in the morning.  I had to help her out of the car.  They couldn’t see anything obviously wrong, so kept her in for observation and tests.  She died in the night.  No one knows why.

Her gift to us was to fill the void left by the deaths of Jack and Henry.  I hadn’t known if I could open my heart fully again to another dog.  But Dallas showed me I could. She reminded us of Jack and other Dallas with Dorothy at Jack's grave, Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery, 2008dogs in our lives.  But she was also her own dog, with her own ways of doing things and funny habits.

I was devastated at losing her.  A friend said maybe she was a messenger whose purpose was to translate love of, and from, Jack to other dogs for us. Losing a dog is heart breaking, but the loneliness of no dog is worse. We’ll be adopting another, probably a Shepherd type, soon.

(Part 3) A few months passed. We adopted Charlie, a little terrier mix, then Leo, a weird Standard Poodle puppy mill survivor.  We didn’t so much adopt Leo as he adopted me.  He later saw his way clear to adopt Jim too.  They are absolutely nothing like Jack or Dallas or any dog that’s gone before them in our lives.  I still “see” Jack and Dallas in the house and backyard. I tell Charlie and Leo about them.  They don’t much care about my stories, but they love to run and play and snuggle.  They’re both part of my heart now.

I started this story in July 2008 for an online dog story competition but didn’t submit it after having to add Part 2. It was posted on the St. Thomas Dog Blog Nov. 19, 2010.

 

Rodeo Kings

From St. Thomas Dog Blog July 8, 2011. Sadly in this year’s Stampede, 2 horses died in chuckwagon race crashes.

William & Kate open 2011 Stampede Parade (ctv pic)William and Kate opened the Calgary Stampede and attended the parade. William even took part in a chuckwagon race. I’d wondered what they’d do. Before their visit, there was a furor about their endorsement-by-attendance at what some call an event about animal abuse.

But wait, doesn’t Vancouver Humane Society have abandoned and abused animals in its own city? Doesn’t it receive calls about horse starvation within its jurisdiction? Isn’t there factory farming in the Lower Mainland?

And the UK’s RSPCA and League Against Cruel Sports? Isn’t there abuse and neglect within the UK? What’s happening with fox hunting? That can pretty hard on horses let alone the fox, if there’s Horses in Old National steeplechasestill hunting of live foxes. And polo. Show jumping, eventing, steeplechasing, hurdling: all involve horses as active partners under the control of a human.

The protestors made a lot about the UK having banned rodeo in 1934 and that it was William’s “great-great-grandfather George V who signed [it] into law.” Funny, I had no idea rodeo was part of British culture and history. Not like Canada and the US where the activities that comprise rodeo have been part of the national landscape since the beginning.

Stampede and all horse sports

Prince Philip 2005 driving competition Lowther wikicommonsBut there are horse sports that William, his father and brother, his aunt Anne, his cousin Zara, grandfather and other members of both sides of his family actively participate in. Polo, show jumping, eventing and driving. His paternal grandmother and late great-grandmother have huge stables of Thoroughbreds and have long been active in “The Sport of Kings.” How many horses are killed yearly in Thoroughbred racing alone?

In Los Angeles, where William and Kate headed after Calgary, he is participating in a polo match. Not one peep about animal abuse in anything I read about that. Why weren’t the Vancouver and UK animal rights people all over that one?

I do not want to fuel activism against polo. It is a beautiful sport. But, like any sport involving animals, it has a lot of Prince William playing polo (commons.wikimedia.org)room for abuse in treatment of horses and in training methods. Read Jilly Cooper’s Polo. She explains the game and the training. There are good trainers and players, and bad. There are selfish, egotistical, win-at-all-costs brutes who take out their frustrations on their horse partner. Some training methods rely on infliction of pain to “teach” the horse. There can be individual and systemic abuse of half the polo team. The description of the training by the world-champion level Argentines is so horrific that I flinched at the mere word Argentina long after finishing the book. And that’s just the world of polo.

Look into the spikes and sticks used by some show jumper trainers to get a horse’s feet lifted high. I’m not sure that the flank strap used to cause bucking by rodeo broncs is worse than many tools used by horse trainers unwilling to practice patience.

Priorities for animal activists

Windsor_2009_Limelight-detail-don-carey-kersti-nebelsiek-wikicommonsShould we ban show jumping and polo? No. But abuse should not be permitted in those sports any more than it should be permitted in rodeo or any sport or event that involves animals. Also maybe UK and Canadian animal rights people ought to clean up their own backyards first. Feeding and fixing ‘stray’ cats, stopping the supply of puppies on Kijiji: that’ll keep you busy right there.

Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles are sequential so start at the beginning, with Riders.They are wonderful books, with horrible people and lovely animals and some nice people. Here’s a link for all Jilly Cooper books on Amazon.

 

Hot Cars, Hot Dogs

My brother and I conducted an experiment recently on heat build-up in a car. We didn’t plan to, but what happened while he was waiting for me in a parking lot proved instructive. It was a pleasant summer trees shading roadway so hot cars, hot dogsday, a nice breeze, no humidity and a temperature of 22o Celsius.

The dogs weren’t with us but, with that temperature, I wouldn’t have worried about leaving them while I went into a store. Instead, I left my brother in the car. After maybe 20 minutes, when I was leaving the checkout, my brother came in. “Too hot to sit in that sun” he said. He had been in the driver’s seat and the sun was hitting the windshield. Even with the windows completely down, it got unbearably hot. “When I got out, it was 10 degrees cooler outside.”  Wow.

My dogs ride in the backseat and stay there when I’m not in the car. If I have to leave them in the car on a sunny day, I park so the sun is not hitting the back window. But it doesn’t really matter, I suppose. If the front can heat up quickly enough to bother a full-grown man with windows wide open and a decent breeze blowing through, it must be just as hot in the back seat.

sun shade in windshieldSo it’s not temperature alone, humidity, breeze or lack of, it’s sun hitting glass. I wonder if windshield shades help keep the interior temperature down? I’ve thought people use them just to keep the front seats from getting burning hot. If they do that, do they keep the whole space cooler?

Never leaving your dog in a car on a hot day is not a realistic thing to ask all the time all summer. You are going to combine dog park outings or walks with other errands. Nothing wrong with that, I think. So instead of having police time occupied with releasing dogs from overheated cars, change the attitude to parking spots.

Trees give shaded parking at edge of parking lotMall lots often have trees along thoroughfares for the sake of appearance. Redesign the lot so the trees are in the middle of the parking area, not along the roadway. One side of the tree or the other will have shade. They can be anywhere in the lot. If you have no room for trees, make parking spots by the side of the building and build a canopy.

Most malls and streets already have areas that could easily provide shaded parking spots. But usually they are marked as “no parking” or “loading zone.” I’m sure there are easy ways of converting part of those areas to shaded parking. Mark them “for cars with dogs”. Unlike other special needs spots, they don’t need to be near the  Afternoon building shade at Sussex Co-opentrance or have special curbs. We just need the social will. That, after all, is how we got “handicapped” and “expectant mothers” reserved spots. There’s no point in making dogs suffer and charging good owners with animal cruelty when simple design changes can alleviate a real problem. Shaded parking isn’t a complete solution; summer heat and dogs in cars still don’t mix well. But it would help.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Aug. 22/12

Dog Gone

Eileen Key’s Dog Gone is about dogs disappearing from a boarding kennel.  Cleaning lady Belle wants to help her friend, the kennel owner, keep her business alive so she enters the world of dogs and dog shows.

Amazon link for Dog On by Eileen Key
click for Amazon

It’s a well-intentioned story about dog breeding and showing as well as dangers posed by a black market in purebred dogs.  But I felt important issues about pets and show dogs and breeding were muddled in their presentation.  Puppy mills, research labs and dogfighting fodder were mentioned as possible fates for stolen dogs.  The value of microchipping was stressed, as was the fact that chips are not like a GPS that track the dog.  You must have the dog in order to read the microchip.

My biggest problem was with the dog owners.  All the dogs were from champion bloodlines.  All were used for breeding and were beloved family pets.  The expected revenue from the central dog’s puppies was the means for financing the college education of the dog owner’s daughter.  Yick, I thought, are they concerned about losing their pet or an income source, one that they stress cost a huge amount to acquire?  So visions of backyard breeders recouping the cost of an overpriced puppy danced through my head.  The people who say “I paid $2000 for that dog, you know”,  “I can sell those puppies on Kijiji for $800 each, you know”.

Dog Shows

The owners enter their dogs in major AKC shows.  But they all have just one or two dogs who are family pets. However, nice as that thought is, I’m not sure it’s realistic. The amount of money involved in dog shows is made clear by Key, both the outlay required to participate at the top level and the rewards for having a champion.

Ok, there are people in the hobby or business of dog shows and breeding that do not have large kennels.  But they are pretty few and far between at the top championship levels.  Living and breathing dog shows is what most reputable breeders do, and Key’s dog-owners don’t do that.  So I wasn’t sure if I was being asked to care about pet owners who enjoy competing at dog shows or who see their purebred as a money-making machine.

Belle, our sleuthing heroine, is a self-confessed non-dog person.  Ms Key does not mention any dog in her acknowledgements, which seems de rigueur in doggy books. But she thanks kennel owners and vets. I think they gave her a good crash course in dog shows and pet care.

There is a strong Christian message in the book.  Rereading the publication details, I saw Barbour Publishing’s mission is to provide “inspirational products offering… biblical encouragement to the masses.”  It fits in easily with Belle’s characterization as a Christian and pastor’s wife.  It’s a good light read.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Sept. 16, 2012.

 

My Dog’s Arthritis

my dog runs at Clearville beach, Lake ErieMy Standard Poodle Leo has arthritis in his spine and left hip. Joint degeneration. His running, jumping and dancing on hind legs must be curtailed. I am sad and furious.

He’s maybe 9, no longer a young dog. So you might say: he’s had good years, aging happens. I’d agree – but. He only had 3 “good years.”

Leo spent 5 years of his life in a cage, not running, probably not even walking much. When he came to us, he had trouble climbing a step. At first, he just didn’t know what to do, he’d clearly never seen steps before. But even when he figured out how, he didn’t have the strength in his legs to do it. He gained strength. He loves to run fast, climb hills and dance.

He’d been a breeding dog in a Georgia puppy mill. That’s why I don’t know his exact age. I know from the record that came with him that he’d been purchased December 12, 2003. He was at least 6 months at that time, I figure. I doubt they get them until they’re of breeding age. Why feed unproductive mouths?

Poodle running at Conservation Area, St. ThomasHe got out in September 2008 via a rescue group and came to Canada. He and his Labradoodle cellmates were not seized in a raid that closed the puppy mill. The rescue group bought them. They were old breeding stock, used up, and young dogs who hadn’t sold. No one put the miller  out of business, he just got cash to buy new stock. I know it was a man, white-haired. They’re the only people that Leo was truly scared of when he came to us.

So his joint degeneration makes me angry, angry at that white-haired man in Georgia and all puppy mill operators. They use up animals’ God-given vitality without care about what quality of life those generations of dogs will have. They abuse animals in order to make themselves “a living.”

Joint degeneration ends agility

The note on Leo’s rescue assessment says he’s “a really nice friendly Poodle doing agility jump at Moore Water Gardens Port Stanleyboy. He would do great for agility or obedience.” He loves agility.  I took him to a horse show once and he jumped the low bars set up for kids and ponies.

Now he eats ‘joint health’ kibble with glucosamine and omega fatty acids. He takes anti-inflammatory and pain pills. The medications are his for life, as worry is mine when he slips or limps. I hope only to avoid surgery. He can still run, his doctor says, just don’t overdo it, watch for signs of pain. Get in the habit of nice walks.

Puppy mill or not, he might develop arthritis at his age. My other dogs did. But they had more than three years of healthy freedom before bone and joint degeneration afflicted them.

Here’s a simple thing I did: put his dishes in flowerpots. The higher one is for Leo’s bowl raised in flower pot for dog with joint degenerationdog bowls raised with two sizes of flower pots photo D Stewartfood so he doesn’t have to lean down, thereby avoiding strain on his joints. The lower one is for water that he shares with smaller pets. Here are more good hints for arthritic dogs.

Country Club for Pets in London ON set up the agility course that Leo tried near Port Stanley at Moore Water Gardens. Since I posted this (St. Thomas Dog Blog Dec. 30/11), Leo’s arthritis has worsened but he still gets around. We tried laser therapy but his condition is too bad for it to help. For younger animals or less severe arthritis, it’s well worth a try.

 

Living “Equipment”

canine members of armed forces -Augustine G Acuna, Scout Dog, Vietnam Combat ArtArmed Forces Day in the US is the 3rd Saturday in May, honouring those who protect and defend. But what of Military Working Dogs, important contributors to any country’s defence?

Below is a May 2012 email from the ASPCA. With so many touching photos online of present-day K9 teams, who knew this was still the case? I thought the US Armed Forces long ago stopped treating military animals as equipment to be left behind or destroyed. So, please, if you are in the US, email your senators*. If you aren’t, please publicize this and also maybe check into your own military’s practices. I couldn’t find much information on the Canadian Armed Forces, only a couple interesting articles on bomb-sniffing dogs in Afghanistan here.

(ASPCA) Help the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act

Each branch of the Armed Forces uses military working dogs (MWDs) in service to the country. Many of these intelligent, loyal animals serve alongside our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they have prevented countless injuries and saved lives.

Unfortunately, these heroic dogs are currently classified as “equipment” by the U.S. Department of Defense. This classification not only trivializes these animals’ contributions, it also makes it difficult to transport dogs serving in foreign lands back to the United States for adoption once they’re ready for civilian life.

The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act will remedy this issue by reclassifying MWDs as “canine members of the armed forces” and instituting programs to assist with their placement and veterinary care after retirement from service—all without using federal funds. This legislation seems like a no-brainer, and yet the bill has only seven cosponsors in the Senate.

Dogs for Defense Save Lives logoWe need to generate greater support for the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act in the U.S. Senate. Please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online right now to email your two U.S. senators in Washington, D.C., and urge them to cosponsor the bill.

Thank you, advocates, for standing up for America’s military working dogs.

*Looking for updates on the Bill, all I could find was that it passed, in part, in early 2013. The part reclassifying MWDs as Armed Forces members rather than ‘equipment’ was deleted. That means costs of returning them to the US must be borne by adopters instead of their military service branch. (Republished this US Memorial Day from my St. Thomas Dog Blog, May 24/12.) 

 

Lost and Found

Amazon link Lost and Found: dogs cats and heroes by Elizabeth Hess
Click for Amazon link

Lost and Found: Dogs, Cats, and Everyday Heroes at a Country Animal Shelter is a wonderful book. Elizabeth Hess, a New York City arts journalist and author of Nim Chimpsky, writes about volunteering at the Columbia-Greene Animal Shelter near Hudson, New York. She and her family were among the “weekenders” who travel between this rural area and the city. When her daughter wanted a dog, they found one at the shelter and Elizabeth found a world that she hadn’t known before. She volunteered and kept notes.

I’ve had this book for a while, but put off reading it. I thought I would cry too much. I did, and got angry, but not as often as I feared. That’s due to Ms Hess’ writing. She is empathetic but analytic. She acts as a camera, showing us a whole picture from her perspective. She records events and puts them in a larger framework. She says what she thinks about it but lets us draw our own conclusions.

One story stood out for me. A “week-ender” came into the shelter one hot summer day, saying he’d found kittens and couldn’t keep them. Elizabeth knew him from gallery events in New York City, so they chatted about new shows and gossip in the artsy crowd. Finally he remembered the kittens and said they were in a box in his car! But the heat inside a sturdy box with only “a few pencil-sized holes” had done its job. The kittens were already nearly dead. “While Fitzgerald was chatting with me… the cats were in his car baking.” She doesn’t need to say that clearly this urbane man didn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain (or bring kittens out of the sun) or that she felt guilt for not asking the cats’ whereabouts. Both things are there, between the lines.

rescue dog Max before and after picturesThe Columbia-Greene Animal Shelter was a county operation, and therefore responsible for cruelty investigations as well as taking in owner-surrendered animals and strays. It adopted animals out and it euthanized.* It had animal quarters in the shelter and used foster homes and farms. Knowledgeable people committed to the well-being of animals staffed this shelter, fortunately.

Grim circumstances for heroes

Ms Hess talks about puppy mills and describes a raid on one. She talks about euthanasia of animals for no reason other than homes have not been found for them. She takes us into the euthanasia room and introduces us to the people who do the killing.

A story from a euthanasia technician: just after euthanizing a young dog sick with pneumonia, she saw the young couple who had surrendered her. She overheard them excitedly talking about going to the pet store and what kind of puppy they would buy. They asked how their other dog was. “She’s such a good little dog.  You’ll have no trouble placing her.” The Columbia-Greene Animal Shelter, poster for Animal Art at 2012dog’s illness was curable, but this couple evidently didn’t want to be bothered, and the shelter was full. The “good little dog” had been killed.

You become engaged in the stories and you think long and hard about the issues. This book is neither fluffy animal tales nor a diatribe.  It’s a valuable ethnography of our society’s treatment and attitudes towards pets and those who clean up the mess. And, yes, it’s also about heroes.

*At the time of the book’s writing. Their website home page states: “We do not euthanize animals for space constraints.” (From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Jan. 13/12)

 

Track Royalty

Entrance to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky DerbyThis coming Saturday, May 2nd, is the Run for the Roses, the first leg of the Triple Crown.  The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby. The young royals of mainly North American horses will be there. Both connections and horses dream of winning it and going on to win the other two jewels of American Thoroughbred racing.

No horse has done it since Affirmed in 1978. It’s the longest gap ever in Triple Crown history.  I didn’t see Secretariat’s spectacular runs in 1973, but I certainly knew about them. With three Triple Crown winners in the 1970s, I thought it was something that would happen like clockwork every few years. Little did I know.

looking up at twin spires from seating areaChurchill Downs, even without horses there, is magical.  In the tunnel and trackside, you almost see the horses and jockeys. Inside the viewing salons, you feel the money and the excitement. In the betting lounges, the tension and hope for the big win and desperation over the big loss surrounds you.

What’s wrong

There’s a lot wrong with the horse racing industry, just as there is with any sport business that involves animals. Too many horses are bred in order to find that elusive ‘superhorse’. What happens to the foals that don’t make it to the track, and those that do Thoroughbred great Ferdinand racingmake it, but aren’t good enough for the big time?  What happens to those that are good enough but, like any athlete, get past their prime?

The great Ferdinand, 1986 Kentucky Derby and 1987 Breeder’s Cup Classic winner and 1987 Eclipse Horse of the Year, was slaughtered in a Japanese meat-packing plant in 2002 after his career at stud was deemed over. He earned over $3.75 million.  His reward was to become steaks and dogfood.

What’s right

There’s also a lot right. Running faster than the wind is in the blood and bones of a Thoroughbred. Most racing people love horses. They ought to. It’s the horses who run the race and win the glory and the money. The jockey, trainer, groom and exercise rider help the horse, but they are support staff. A jockey can cause a horse to lose a race, but he can’t make a horse win. It’s the horse’s mind and heart that runs the race. And that’s all the people need to remember. Look after Cat at Barbaro memorial stone, Kentucky Horse Park 2007the horse and the horse will look after you. And remember, when that horse no longer wins the big purses, that it was his or her effort that got you where you are.

That’s where owners, owner syndicates, trainers and jockeys can go wrong. They think it’s them – their handling, their business decisions that are key. People who believe in their own centrality in horse racing should instead invest in NASCAR or motorcycle racing. The thrill of speed and winning is the same, and it is solely your care and handling that makes a car or motorcycle win or lose. It might be cherished by you, but it’s inanimate. It will not feel anything if you junk it at the end of its career. If you’ve done well in horse racing, thank the horses that did it for you by treating them right in retirement.

Thoroughbred Retirement

In 2005 NY racing groups began the Ferdinand Fee, a voluntary $2 per race charge with girl petting horse at Old Friends Equine Retirement Farm 2007proceeds going to Thoroughbred retirement farms. Old Friends Equine Retirement Farm near Lexington is the only one that takes stallions. Because of their often-difficult personalities, they can be hard to handle. Most rescue and retirement farms are not equipped for them. Mares and geldings stand a better chance than stallions of having a good post-race life. (Updated from my St. Thomas Dog Blog, May 5, 2011.)

 

Raining Puppies

Four years ago, I wrote about emails I received about a litter of puppies, and a swamped rescue group. I doubt the situation has changed much. I just checked Kijiji – still lots of pups for sale for high prices.

“Jesus, it is raining puppies! Here’s  pictures of the 10 puppies All Breed Canine Rescue oliver, one of the rescued puppiesgot.  Three of the litter went to another rescue group.  ABCR is just about going crazy.  They already had the pair of Shelties and 2 other dogs (one with severe runs) just pulled out of the pound and at the vet’s.

When the hell are these ‘breeders’ going to figure it out?  The economy in this area sucks! There is no money to buy all the puppies backyard breeders are producing. It just drives me insane to think about all the little guys we don’t know about that end up ‘out behind the barn.’ Every time we get one shut down another pops up.

Kijiji should be banned from advertising puppies for sale. It has become the new ‘pet store’ for selling puppy mill dogs.

I have to think – at least we saved these guys!  But we need to find forever homes for them, as quickly as we can.  The quicker we can get these puppies adopted the better, Puppy, rescued by ABCR Feb 7 2011then ABCR can use the adoption money to pay most of the vet bill that will be run up with the medical treatment that they need. This addition will make 16 to 18 new puppies in ABCR’s system.”

Puppies who didn’t sell

An email from a person who rescued these pups:  “There was 13 puppies in this litter. The farmer was going to ‘dispose’ of them if we did not take them.  When they were picked up they were all in a horse stall that was covered with feces.  They had no food or water.  They all need medical attention – neutering, deworming, flea treatment and all vaccinations.  So if you can possibly help out with any sort of donation it would be greatly appreciated!”

The pups were being ‘disposed of’ because they hadn’t sold.  They probably were Sophie, one of 13 rescued puppy mill pupsadvertised for a few hundred dollars, probably without any shots. Without takers, the farmer/backyard breeder isn’t going to keep them.  So they die, and when he figures the market has picked up again, there will be more puppies for sale.  If they don’t sell either – well, bullets are cheap.

Kijiji is a wonderful resource for puppy millers.  It needs to stop.  When pet stores, for the most part, stopped selling puppies (other than providing space for shelter animals), it dried up the major market for commercial puppy millers.  Kijiji has filled that gap.  It’s time to stop.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Feb 9th 2011

Barn Cats

Frank Moore, a farmer north of Belmont who my parents knew, always had lots of barn cats.  He said one year, years before, there had been an explosion of cats – so many that 3 barn cats on stepsall the farms were overrun.  So that year he, like the other farmers, got rid of many of them. “Then the next couple years, it just seemed like there weren’t any cats.  Some died, some just disappeared, kittens didn’t live.  The mice and rats were everywhere, and you couldn’t find a good mouser in the whole county.  I never got rid of another cat after that.  They come here, they’re all welcome.”

His barn and house cats were well-treated.  They drank milk straight from the cow, all lined up in a semi-circle, waiting, at milking time.  He’d shoot milk out toward them, and they’d lap it up then lick off their faces.

Being a barn cat, in a good barn, is a pretty good life.  You can chase all the mice you want.  You’ve got cozy places to sleep.  There’s always something to do.  Barn cats have to learn to navigate around animals much larger than themselves.  Some don’t, so there are always some losses.  Most horses like cats and take care stepping around them.  Cats sometimes will sleep right in a stall beside a horse or cow.

It used to be that few barn cats were neutered.  With a high attrition rate, due to large hooves and farm machinery, the farmer wanted to be sure he always had enough mousers.  barn cats looking at henBut many farmers now get their barn cats fixed.  There are generally cats available if you need more.  Usually more than enough. So each farm does not have to be a “cat factory,” producing its own supply of cats.

The bane of most farmers are people who dump off their unwanted pets at their gates, assuming they’ll be taken in by the nice farmer.  Then the “nice farmer” has to pay for the spaying and neutering of these additions or look for other homes for them.

St. Thomas Barn Cats project

The City of St. Thomas has started seeking farm homes for some cats at the Animal Control Centre.  The idea is to neuter suitable cats and adopt them out as barn cats.  It’s an innovative way to decrease the number in the pound without euthanasia and, especially for semi-feral cats, provide a well-matched home.

Some cats prefer a life more or less on their own; they don’t want to be housecats kept indoors.  They want to mouse and explore.  It’s always saddened me, seeing those ones in shelters.  Looking out a window if they can get to one, or sitting sullen in the back of a cage.  You know they would rather be outside living life according to their own rules.  And that’s what barn cats do.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Jan. 27/11