Friday, August 21, 2009
Meet the new guy. Baxter, this is my woefully neglected (of late) but wonderfully supportive and faithful blog reader base. Woefully neglected (of late) but wonderfully supportive and faithful blog reader base, this is Baxter.
Here's the story.
On August 11th, The Kaufman County Sheriff, along with the Humane Society of the US, the local Humane Society, and a host of other folks, raided a puppy mill in Prairieville, TX. They seized over 550 dogs (plus 9 cats and a goat). The United Animal Nations, of which Caryn and I are volunteers, were called in to assist in the care of the animals in a temporary shelter until their final disposition could be decided.
Caryn went down almost immediately and stayed until the shelter closed on August 19th. I took a day off of work and came down to assist during the weekend. The heat was hot and the wind was most certainly not dry (America's "Horse with No Name" for those who missed the reference). But the puppies, cats, and goat were well cared for in the hands of some amazing volunteers from about a dozen organizations.
Daily life for a temporary shelter worker in a situation like this involves getting in around 8:00am, running around and feeding/watering the animals, waiting about 10-20 minutes for the food to be eaten and the bowels to start moving, then sweeping back through to clean up the combined overnight and additional morning mess. Rinse, repeat for the afternoon.
One one of the morning cleaning runs, I was working with a woman with huge heart and some amazing reserve of stamina named Dallas. I was taking the top cages and she was taking the bottom ones (did I mention that Dallas had a huge heart and an amazing reserve of stamina?). As she reached in to a cage with 2 yorkies, she suddenly stopped and asked me to run and get one of the disposable cat litter pans with a puppy pad to line it. When I got back with the requested supplies, she stood up and gently plopped a little shivering ball of fur on the pad. One of the yorkies had just given birth.
Shortly thereafter, the Vet arrived (Dr. O'Bryan from Tyler -- a hero of Beowulfian proportions in this endeavor). We had summoned him because we weren't sure which dog had given birth, and we needed to seperate out the mommy and get her to the maternity area. Dr. O'Bryan reached in and pulled out one of the yorkies, turned the little doggie towards the light and pronounced in his remarkably knowledgeable and assured manner that "I don't think it is him".
We placed him into a cage of his own and moved the mom (who was now nesting in preparation for another pup) off to the maternity ward.
That afternoon, as we made our cleaning run, it was my turn to visit the bottom cages. When we got to the seperated yorkie, I noticed that he had basically not moved from the position we put him in that morning. He had not eaten, not drank any water, had not messed his pad, and was basically just shivering in the back. I reached in to pull him out, and even though he was scared to death, he licked my hand. My heart was FULLY touched at that point.
The next day (Sunday) I did the morning run, then I had to return to OKC to be fresh for Monday's work. I made sure to visit the little guy, who had, by now, finally relaxed a little and had eaten, drank, and left a small present for us on his pad. He was still scared, but he actually wagged his tail when I reached in to clean.
The Judge ruled on Monday, revoking the mill owner's rights to the animals, and authorizing the HSUS and UAN to distribute the dogs to the various breed-specific rescue groups and humane societies that had lined up to recieve them. As they were making the preparations, Caryn called me and told me that my little guy had not been claimed, and we decided that we would go ahead and ask to adopt him outright.
The woman who ran the puppy mill had been boarding 8 dogs at the time of the raid, and the Judge had given the owners of those dogs until 6:00pm on Tuesday to reclaim them. At 5:45, a woman showed up looking for her yorkie. She had the paperwork, she knew the microchip number. My little guy, "Matthew" turns out to be 3 months old. He was matted to the skin, as if he had never been brushed before. He had been boarded in this awful puppy mill for 1/3rd of his little life. But he was legally hers, and she was claiming him.
So, plot twist -- the dog that I had developed the connection with is not the one in the picture.
The other volunteers at the shelter were well aware of our connection with Matthew. The cried with us when he was taken. But they also knew that there were other yorkies, other guys who needed us as much as he did. Caryn found Baxter and connected with him. He is (we think at this time) about 2 years old. He was found in the whelping room and is intact, so we suspect he was a breeding male (the puppies from the story above could well be his). He has some serious dental issues (read: his breath stinks to high heaven), but he seems to otherwise be in good health. His first grooming is today, and his vet appointment to discuss both the teeth and his "fixing" is tomorrow.
We don't know much about his history, but he recieved his vaccinations at the shelter. All of the dogs in the seizure tested negative for heartworms. This wasn't because she actually medicated them, it was because the conditions at that horrid place were so bad that mosquito larvae couldn't thrive (all together now: EWWW).
Clem and Ziggy have been awesome in welcoming him. Ziggy showed him how to use the doggy door and the two have them have been engaged in peeing wars ever since. Queen Clementine is happy as it doesn't look like he will be challenging her "alpha" status any time soon.
I'll post tomorrow with post-grooming pic, plus details from the vet appointment.