There’s a woman…

Morning all,

I’m trying to get back into writing here first, instead of just posting randomly on Facebook. It’s very easy for me to put writing off to do other things, but writing gives me clarity.

Yesterday was quite the clusterf*uck of random crap, but for the sake of brevity (and the point of this post) I had to drop and zoom my butt over to the animal welfare clinic to get a dog I’m watching for a family a health certificate so she can fly out on today’s rescue flight to Miami to get her closer to her forever home in South Carolina (holy crap that was a long sentence!). One of my favorite people at the clinic is a vet tech that I have been acquainted with for years and the best way I can describe her is that her soul makes me smile. Don’t get me wrong, she has a shit job. But she cares and she tries, and that’s all anyone could ever want. Yesterday she looked wilted and when she saw me she reached for a hug. Not a, “hey, hi, nice to see you” hug, but a “help, I hurt” hug. A little while later she told me the story and while my initial feeling was more HULK SMASH MEAN LADY WHO MADE GOOD PERSON SAD, my brain overrode the impulse.

There has to be a better way to communicate to the general public that the clinic is open 6 days a week and every day that they are open 11+ animals are dropped off. There are not 60+ homes per week looking to adopt pets. The math sucks. Let me tell you all, these people FIGHT to not have to euthanize any animals. Today a flight full of adoptable animals is heading to Miami and then the animals will be heading on to various partner (no kill) shelters throughout the states. Unfortunately, just a few days after that, the shelter will again be over capacity.

I reached out to the master of risk communication, Peter Sandman (via email), in the hopes that maybe he will have suggestions of an effective way to communicate to the people who bring in litters of puppies again and again that everyone does their best to help them find homes, but PLEASE let us spay/neuter your pets. Here’s what I wrote:

Good day,

For lack of a better introduction, I’m a long time listener, first time caller. 😉 I have been studying your excellent risk communication trainings in my career as an industrial hygienist and I find the field of risk communication fascinating.
In addition to IH work, I volunteer with the local St. Croix Virgin Islands local animal shelter and I have noticed there doesn’t seem to be a good way for workers to explain to people that are surrendering animals (over 11 animals are relinquished daily) that the shelter will provide veterinary care and will do their very best to re-home healthy animals, however as a last resort, some animals will end up euthanized.
No one that works there ever wants to euthanize healthy animals but because of shelter size constraints and the never ending influx of animals, there is occasionally no choice.
The spaying and neutering of pets would be a good step towards a reduction of surrendered animals, unfortunately there seems to be a cultural trend against spaying and neutering here in the Virgin Islands.
Would you be able to suggest any communication guidelines I could share with the shelter staff to help increase public awareness and understanding of the importance of spaying and neutering?
Or a better way to inform people that are bringing in yet another litter of puppies or kittens that they are adorable, but that finding homes is an ongoing and exhausting struggle and that there just aren’t 60+ homes looking for pets every week.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration!
All the best,

So, to the mean lady who called one of my favorite people a puppy killer which made her hurt, please remember that people do not work at an animal shelter to become rich and famous (because glamorous it is not); they work there to try to help make a positive difference in the lives of animals and while slogging through both literal and metaphorical crap every. single. day., they also need to be treated kindly.

All my love,

FoodLady

(I’ll update this post if I hear back from Peter Sandman!)

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Well, quandary….

So, thoroughly enmeshed in my first “mid-life” crisis, but there is one issue I have to think through, decide, and resolve pretty much now:

Jane.

No, Jane….I am the FoodLady, not the lady made of food.

She’s confident, intelligent, strong-willed, and just frakking adorable. And about two weeks ago I said,

“yes, I will train this well adjusted little monster to be my next diabetic alert dog. She will be short-legged and not intimidating, so this should work!”

And the universe said,

“Bwahahahaha! Foolish mortal! You have the audacity to make a plan!? Look what I can do!!”

*cue explosion of Foodlady’s life*

I mean, nothing really horrible has happened to me, it was just brought to my recent attention that it is officially time to begin looking into a career change; mostly because my friend/coworker has decided it is almost time for her to leave this program because of our horrible soul-crushing manager (and seriously, if my friend and I aren’t working together, dealing with this horrible manager just isn’t worth it).

So, finding new employment? Not easy at the best of times, and extra not easy with a service dog in training.

And then there is the big scary question: do I stay with my career in health & safety (which I do love) or, do I try working in dog behavior/pet care industry (which I obviously love)? And there are more questions too – if I stay in Health & Safety do I want to go back to work inside the refinery? Part of me misses the excitement, the sense of urgency, and just learning the new and glorious ways in which humans can really frak things up. But a rational part of me also remembers the incredibly annoying, inefficient, and downright stupid belief in that place that quantity of time spent inside equals quality of work being done (it doesn’t), and that I never really fit in (although this is usually true, regardless of where I am and what I’m doing), and that my entire life while working there was that refinery and when it closed, I was left with nothing and nobody and I remember going through some of the toughest times of my life. Conversely though, working in the pet care/training business *really* means working with a lot of people who generally don’t want to learn, listen, or pay.

Ugh. Anyway. Right now, the only decision I have to make is do I begin taking better care of myself by putting in extra effort towards training Jane as my future service dog? Because I am having a tough time thinking about letting her go to just anyone.

The fake-out; why I’m *not* a fan.

Have you ever seen someone playing fetch with a dog and then they mime the throwing of the ball and then laugh when the dog goes running?

Yeah, don’t do that.

No seriously, don’t.

It takes a long time to earn your dog’s trust and, eventually, if this is truly important to you, it can be taught to the dog as a game. But, in general, this is just an asshole move that a dog just doesn’t understand.

So, don’t do it.

Vacation – done wrong; and now updated to be horrifyingly depressing.

So, I had a call on Monday from someone asking if I could adopt their 16 puppies.
*record scratch* “Uh….say what?!”
Now, I remained professional, educational, and helpful – but holy shitballs, the sarcastic commentary actively running through my head during that phone call *really* tried to fight its way out of my mouth:
“Sure!? Who doesn’t have room for 16 extra dogs in their life!?”
“Uh, no.”
“We can try to market them as a crazy dog person kit? But we would need to include a pooper scooper and a dump truck of kibble.”
“Well, behaviorally speaking, I never recommend anyone adopt two siblings at the same time…..but I’ve never read anything negative about adopting two litters at the same time!”
The list of snark and head-shaking goes on.

Anywhoodle, I took vacation time from work yesterday so I could escort the fluffernauts to their big day at the shelter (spayed, etc.) and then hover around anxiously to make sure they were okay. I also took vacation time from work for today because I convinced the person with the 16 puppies to agree to getting their three female dogs spayed today in exchange for my assistance in getting the 16 puppies to the shelter as well as playing taxi for the human to go to the shelter too. I’ve convinced the AWC to meet me there with the transport truck, because I don’t see everyone fitting into the wrangler very well. LOL
Wish us luck!

Also, I think I’m doing vacation wrong.

In other news, how cute are the fluffernauts on the way to the clinic yesterday?! The a/c was blowing ON them but they still clung to the cold beverages like it wasn’t 65 degrees in the jeep!

Updated:

Yep, that was the plan, but as is the case with my life – humans plan and the gods LAUGH.
Waiting at the meeting place to meet AWC person, and the person with the puppies told me on this mornings call that she has given away 5 or 6 puppies yesterday (she told me 6, but told me she still has 11 – so the math is not computing) *sigh*
And she wants to get them all fixed, but now wants to keep them and find them homes……
One step at a time.

And now, depressingly updated:

Depressing update (seriously, if you don’t want to know – stop reading now. It is okay not to know): all of the puppies and one of the adult females tested positive for parvo virus. As you may or may not be aware, parvo is a very contagious and deadly viral disease, especially to puppies. Adults can usually survive but require intensive veterinary care (including meds, IV fluids, and occasionally a transfusion). The owner decided to have all of the animals brought in put to sleep.
I had horrifying flashbacks all night of the young daughter who loved these dogs helping me put them into the vehicle. I know in my mind that this is just a worst case scenario and that I didn’t do anything wrong. That this could have all been avoided if the adults had been vaccinated and spayed. But my squishy middle bits? Yeah, I destroyed a little girl. A sweet, helpful, dog-loving young lady who, through no damn fault of her own, just had all of her friends taken away and killed by some stranger – and this is killing me.
And don’t forget the industrial hygienist public health part of me – that part is FREAKING out because this lady gave away like five of those puppies to people, who probably have other dogs, who might be unvaccinated….
There is a HUGE parvo outbreak on island right now – this will not make it less.

Cue FoodLady Rage

The first time I heard about him was from a friend of mine who runs a vet clinic, she had approached him and begged him to let her give him two collars and two leashes because what he was doing to his dogs was abusive. She explained to me that he had HEAVY chains tied around the two dogs’ necks and was walking them around with long chains on the hot concrete with no water being offered.

I didn’t like him then, but hadn’t seen it.

Then someone else told me that he walks around with these two dogs and declares them to be service dogs. Oooookay? Well, that’s interesting. It can’t be, can it?

I still didn’t like the concept of him, but hadn’t seen it.

Then I saw him and his two service dogs in the post office. The chain made me sick to my stomach but hey, I didn’t want to get involved and start a scene. The dogs were fairly healthy. Sure, he is not doing anything correctly regarding service dog work – but at least they seemed okay.

I still didn’t like him.

Yesterday I spoke with a policeman who wanted to understand the rules regarding service dogs. I gave him the spiel and laws differentiating between service dogs and emotional support animals and he mentioned that they keep having to cater to this person because he says they are service dogs and they keep getting calls because he keeps siccing his dogs on chickens and he is suing a number of local businesses for not allowing his dogs access.

And I now LOATHE him.

He *is* the problem. He is someone who is not following what few freaking rules there are for service dogs AND he is being abrasive and litigious about it. Are you freaking kidding me?!

So, to any business being sued by this human I am happy to work with you, your employees, your lawyer, and even testify in court about the intricacies of service dog law including what you are legally allowed to ask a person with a service dog, what a service dog is allowed (and not allowed) to do, and when you can legally require someone with a service dog to leave your establishment.

Because, as someone who had a wonderful service dog that I still miss every. damn. day.; this miscarriage of justice is unfair, wrong, and just pisses me off.

Child/Toddler and Canine Thoughts

So, I had a bit of a revelation while hanging out with my friend’s toddler and some teeny tiny puppies – SPOONS!

No, I am not using SPOON! as a battle cry.

Tiny little puppies have tiny little super sharp teeth and I didn’t want toddler to get ouchied, but he really wanted to feed the baby puppies.

Enter wooden spoons. I taught George to spoon up some wet food and hold it out to the puppies who greedily ate. Then it occurred to me, Holy. Shit. This is how all children should be taught to give things to dogs. It keeps little hands out of mouths and helps teach dogs that good things come from wooden spoons (this is how I give meds to my dogs too) and it teaches toddlers better spoon control. It’s a win-win.

Now for my standard disclaimer:

Because all dogs, regardless of size, are capable of causing devastating damage to a child even without aggressive intent, I highly recommend all children participate in a dog bite prevention training called “Be A Tree” training and that all families practice and discuss appropriate human behavior around dogs as well as how to recognize signs of a stressed dog. https://doggonesafe.com/Bite-Prevention

Puppies

Shit, they’re exhausting. No, for real – all mothers in the world of all species get credit – that is NOT easy.

So, I wrote a post on Facebook and then, stupidly, didn’t save it before going to edit a photo to attach. I know better than that, btw, but alas…my funny 4AM writings about adorable little monsters was lost.

But here’s some cute photos!

Two Puplets & a FoodLady

So, I (apparently) give the impression that I have done everything out there in regards to animal care, but that is not true in the slightest. I am usually willing to try pretty much anything – but the majority of my experience is with the super sick or extra disgusting cases.

Not orphans.

Orphaned baby animals are THE WORST. Here I am, an ape, trying to put formula into teeny tiny mouths of another species, but don’t let them aspirate any or you end up with pneumonia (which can kill them). So, there was a woman who brought in two orphaned puppies. They were cold (which, btw, will ALSO kill them), so in the traditional Family of FoodLady way, I stuffed em in my shirt:

And then I spent 4 hours trying to get them accepted by a mama dog who still had some milk. Sadly, she was *not* a fan. But she endured it as long as I was providing a lap for them all.

Regardless, it was not a success and I pawned those poor puppies off on to a poor volunteer couple just for the night.

The next day I went to pick them up and desperately asked, are there any other lactating mommy dogs?! There was, but the owner who had surrendered her (and her sadly unhealthy puppies who didn’t make it) had called and asked to have her back; but hadn’t shown to pick her back up in 3 days. I figured, even if the owner does show up, that’s still some mama-dog time and her boobs looked painfully ready to explode anyway. The puppies got filled up with milk in minutes, but mama-dog cleaned them and looked visibly relieved and happy. They were all in a snuggle for sleeping and I felt relieved and happy for them. I kept checking back in on them and they all really seemed to be bonding.

Pictures? Oh, of course I didn’t remember to take any photos during the hours I spent in a kennel, but here are the wee little nuggets yesterday. They are visibly fatter (YAY!).

So, fingers crossed that they continue doing well.

Sadly, every damn cage and kennel is full at the animal shelter. There is NO room. Please spay and neuter your pets!

UPDATE: DAMMIT! The jerk who surrendered his beautiful mama dog and then called and said he wanted her, but then didn’t pick her up – picked her up. *cries*

So now I have the two puplets. Help!

FoodLady’s First Daydream

I’m not really a dreamer.

I never have been. I remember my mother often talking about what she would do if she won the lottery and it was always a difficult thing for me to try to do. I have always let the universe guide (drag?) me wherever it did and I just make the best of it.

I think I just had my first ever day dream and it went something like, “holy crap that sounds amazing! I think I would really like this to happen! Yeeeeeessss!”

Now, please note – I am aware that it would be almost impossible for this to become reality. (Look at me, already killing off my very first “someday!”) But how amazing would it be to have a dog-training facility and dog park like this one?

https://dogsforlifevb.org/our-story/

Besides the training facilty, I would want to put in a self dog wash station, charge $15 or whatever to get the use of shampoo, conditioner, towels, and ergonomic wash the dog sink/tub (and rubber apron! LOL).

The dog park would be critical, I would want a water feature for the dogs to play in, a sand pit for them to dig in, LOTS of shade and seating. We could have a picnic-type area and fire pit area which could be rented out for dog-friendly private parties. Also, a doggie playground with some *very* basic agility equipment.

Inside the training facility there should be a dog training book lending library and reading nook – because that sounds amazing to me.

A comfortable barn-like dog boarding facility and an area to raise puppies to train for balance-assist and blood sugar alert service dog training for those in need, especially veterans and the elderly.

There it is, my dream. It would be a metric crap ton of work. But hey, maybe someday, right?

POOL!

Cleaned and filled up Dobby’s pool. He dove in as I was filling it. Just so happy and thrilled to be in his pool; splashing around and rolling around.

Meanwhile, inside the home: Three of FoodLady’s pack and a fancy foster shiver and quake while pretending they are invisible because they are CERTAIN it is a new and terrifying bath-system.