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A change in venue for a Rez Dog in need meant a life change for the Andrews’.

The crucible that is the Rez produces strong, smart and loving dogs.  Generation after generation of RezDawgs face starvation, abuse and plain old bad luck.  But nature provides and when a Rez dog faces a problem, they overcome adversity by depending on ancestral knowledge passed down by true survivors.  Good mamas explain, “when you’re hungry, bees are an option but leave the wasps alone.”  Rez dogs know which grasses sooth an upset tummy and how to identify bad water.   They come to us with knowledge we couldn’t possibly understand and an ability to heal in a totally natural way.  As impressive as this might be, a RezDawg’s ability to heal themselves isn’t their most impressive trait.  Their true superpower is their ability to heal us.

And some of us need healing.  We had parents that didn’t know how to parent.  We viewed the world differently and were ostracized because of it. Some of us suffer unspeakable tragedy because ultimately, the world isn’t a fair place.  Barbara Andrews knows this better than most.  But she also knows the healing power of a Rezdawg and has graciously allowed us to share her story.

Details don’t matter: Barbara and her husband, Dennis, lost TJ, their youngest son, too early.  It nearly broke them.  The day that changed their lives left them listless.  They didn’t go out much and the word fun became just another adjective.  Successful careers that  fed their soul began draining the little energy they had left and over time, both retired.  But they’re strong people.  They, like RezDawgs, aren’t quitters and they still found beauty in the world – in nature, in their children.  They tried to get through it… and anyone that’s dealt with anything similar knows how heavy that lifting can be.  They kept their eyes and their minds open but there’s no denying it.  Life had lost it’s flavor.

A while back, Barbara and Dennis joined their daughter Christina and her friend for brunch to celebrate what would have been TJ’s 21st birthday.  I’m sure you can relate:  nobody cared where they went and nobody really expected to taste the food.  They ended up at Turley’s.  They ate and told stories… how TJ loved nature… how he’d loved his dogs.  Even the dogs were memories.  Neither Barbara nor Dennis could be motivated to replace TJ’s dogs when they passed.  They left brunch full and smiling but painfully aware there was still a big hole in the family dynamic.

Do you know where Turley’s is located in Boulder?  It’s right next to Whole Pets (owned by great human and huge RezDawg supporter Carol Kuzdek.)  As fate would have it, a Whole Pets/RezDawg adoption event kicked off as brunch ended.  Dennis, in his role as American dad, would normally play the role of curmudgeon.  “Let’s just go home,” he’d say.  “What do we need a squeaky toy for?”  For reasons even he didn’t understand, he said nothing.  I think Dennis’ cooperation was a sign the universe was telling the Andrews’, “Enough is enough.”

Unknown to Barbara or Dennis, two months before brunch a feral 30 lb. black lab mix was rescued pregnant and brought to the Gallup Shelter.  From there, she jumped a RezDawg transport and landed at Sara and Chris Woodworth’s place in Longmont.  She settled in and soon gave birth to nine very lucky Rez Puppies.  They thrived in foster and were quickly ready for adoption.  The event at Whole Pets was their first exposure to the public.

Tico didn’t stand out at first.  He was content to let his brothers and sisters hog the glory and attention because life was good at the Woodworth’s.  He preferred to nap.  Perhaps he already knew the plan because RezDawgs are weird that way.  Whether he knew or not, his and the Andrews’ lives were about to change for the better.

Tico became their first RezDawg and his effect was huge and immediate.  I asked Barbara to explain the profound effect Tico had on their lives.  Barbara’s reply came firm and fast.  “It’s the serendipity of it,” she said.  “The odds of an adoption event happening next to restaurant we didn’t know we’d visit.  That we’d been talking about TJ and how into nature he was…  Talking about the dogs TJ grew up with… the fact that Dennis didn’t protest walking across the parking lot.”

Barbara became animated as we began talking about Tico. “He was a great dog from the start but he was still a puppy and needed lot of training, love and attention.  That he needed these things just as we’d retired and had the time to give is amazing.  Dennis and I suddenly had a reason to get out of the house – to the dog park, or for a hike. Tico loves the trails and was a fantastic travel companion from the first road trip. But what’s special, and what made Tico special, is the way it was all meant to be.  He’s perfect for us and I’m pretty sure he feels the same way.”

Tico created change in the household.  Fallow ground became fertile and the Andrews were ready when Sara-the-RezDawg-foster called last October and said, “I’ve got three unrelated puppies ready for their forever home.  Want to meet them?”  They did and a cattle dog named Juniper took her place next to Tico, making the foursome complete.

RezDawg Juniper at Coyote Buttes area, Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness… showing his folks “the Rez” but glad he’ll be returning to Boulder at the end of the day

Tico and Juniper get along famously.  Barbara, Dennis, Tico and Juniper travel (the Wave in Utah was a recent highlight) and intend to travel more as time goes by.  They bought a place in Kanab that will become home base.  “It’s an amazing part of the world,” Barbara explained.  “We can’t wait to explore every nook and cranny and experience new things with Tico and Juniper by our side.  Barbara and Dennis are already valued donors to RezDawg but Barbara still wants to do more.  She intends to become a transport driver for RezDawg and make Rez Rescue an even bigger part of their lives.

Tico and Juniper, chilling at home (ie, looking like they just got away with something…)

Nothing can replace TJ.  But through the pain of recounting her story, I heard optimism in Barbara’s voice.  She and Dennis are great people – the kind you want to be happy and healthy and have the strength to endure the unendurable.   Over time, I have no doubt they’d have been fine.  I’m glad, however, that Tico’s mom was rescued, that the Gallup Shelter had space, that Sara wanted to foster, that Whole Pets was open to an adoption event, that Turley’s became the restaurant of choice… and that a RezDawg named Tico has the power to heal.  They all deserve it.

TJ, Pug and Lab napping at home… and unwittingly laying the groundwork for a life of Rescue (and being rescued) with/by RezDawgs.

We offer proof:  the healing power of your RezDawg awaits…

Please comment.  We need to know if you like the blog as-is or would like to see something different.

For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)

Your donations are critical for helping RezDawg Rescue save lives. Every donation can make a difference…here is what your donations can do:

  • $15 pays for a microchip
  • $25 pays for a rabies, distemper, or bordetella vaccine
  • $30 feeds a dog or cat for a month
  • $50 pays for a veterinary exam
  • $85 pays for neuter and $105 for spay procedures
  • $120 refuels our van for more transports from the Four Corners area of the US
  • $250 readies for adoption by providing a wellenss exam, spay or neuter, all vaccinations, deworming, microchip and a month of food
  • $500 sponsors an entire interstate transport
  • $1,000 sponsors one month of transports
  • $5,000 covers veterinary expenses for all animals in foster for one month
  • $10,000 covers transport and total adoption costs for six months
  • $150,000 provides down payment on RDR’s future rescue and boarding facility

Every dollar makes a difference!


The post Natural Born Healers by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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Danny was fostered by Carol Kuzdek – and it wasn’t a simple endeavor. Danny came down with panleukopenia (equivalent to canine parvo) but with LOTS of intervention, she survived… and was adopted to a young girl who wanted a kitten so badly she watched YouTube videos on how to take care of kittens.  They’re best buds these days…

When we started this blog, we promised we’d “toss you over our shoulder and take you on a tour of Rez Rescue.”  The mission is simple:  to share information about what we do, how we do it, and introduce you to the amazing people who make it all happen.

Carol Kuzdek, President of Whole Pets in Boulder, CO, is one of those people.  She’s a RezDawg donor, sponsors adoption events, fosters cats (recently added puppies to her skill set) and has been an advocate for animal welfare her entire life.  It’s difficult to assess how many Rez Dogs and Rez Cats are alive and thriving because Carol got involved – and she’s not one to count totals.  Numbers like that aren’t important when you’re the kind of person who judges achievements by focusing on what can be done today and tomorrow rather than looking back at what happened yesterday.  In the way of all things Rez, it was her direct nature (plus a bit of pure chance) that hooked her up with RezDawg in the first place…

Carol met Angela Cerci, the President of RezDawg Rescue, in a “normal course of life” way in Boulder.  Carol was a vet tech for Longmont Humane before opening Whole Pets and Angela is, well, Angela.  As you’d expect, it wasn’t long before they started talking about rescue – and an important partnership quickly formed.

As Carol puts it, “Effective animal welfare work – particularly on the Rez – only happens once you’ve gotten to the root of a problem.  Once you understand what’s happening and why, long-term results come from providing educational opportunities to prevent that problem from happening in the first place.  But if the problem already exists, it’s key to support programs that stop the suffering – while you’re working on those long term solutions.  That’s why I’m such a supporter of the “transport” part of what RezDawg does and feel it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle… and even that wouldn’t be effective unless you include low cost/no cost spay and neuter in the mix.  It really does take a variety of strategies to deal with situations as complex as the Rez Dog problem in the Four Corners Region.”

Carol’s most recent foster, Sammie.  This Maine Coon mix was “sweet as hell” and went to a home with two dogs and another Maine Coon

Angela Cerci couldn’t agree more.  Whole Pet’s is a valued rescue partner because Carol personally and Whole Pets as a business match so well with Angela tries to accomplish with RezDawg.  In Angela’s words, “Carol gets rescue.  She understands what’s involved in running a busy, safe and effective rescue operation.  That’s why Whole Pets is such a perfect partner for RezDawg – because Carol doesn’t have to ask ‘why?’  She just knows what we’re trying to do and whether it’s opening her business to an adoption event or donating masses of dog or cat food, she’s always there for us.”

Carol’s understanding of animal welfare goes beyond the day-to-day logistics that make rescue work.  She believes that, “All too often, rescues like RezDawg want to do more – the need is certainly there – but too many people either lack empathy for the problem or they don’t know what steps to take to become involved.”  She’s a big believer that kids have an innate ability to feel empathy and it’s important we encourage their natural bond with animals whenever possible.  The sooner the next generation comes to appreciate and value animals, the sooner we’ll resolve situations like the Rez Dog problem.  “Plus, rescue work is just fun.  You get to spend time with people who love the same things you do and the sense of achievement when you impact the life of an animal in need is awesome.  To be able to do this kind of work with people you like AND that it’s a cool activity you can do with your kids?  It doesn’t get any better.”

I asked Carol about her motivations in life… her work at Longmont Humane as a vet tech, opening Whole Pets, the animal welfare work  that has always been part of her life and making sure her daughter is exposed to the beauty (and hard work) of rescue.  Without hesitation, she said, “Having a successful and unique store was great, but as busy and successful as I was, the piece that was missing was being as actively involved in animal welfare as I had once been. Providing second chances to lost, abused and neglected animals strikes a chord with me because I was also adopted.  On an innate level, the idea of adoption just made sense and I always want this to be part of my life… to be able to offer second chances because I got a second chance myself.”

That’s why Carol is such a hard core RezDawg.  She sees the work we do, philosophically relates to the how/why we do it and is one of those people that pushes a bandwagon rather than jumping on. She’s a natural fit for the RezDawg family and we’re glad to have her company on the wild ride we call rescue.

Bubbles was carol’s first puppy foster. Mangy, scabby, skinny, lethargic… she took awhile to heal and then was adopted to customers from Whole Pets.

Please comment.  We need to know if you like the blog as-is or would like to see something different.

For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)

Your donations are critical for helping RezDawg Rescue save lives. Every donation can make a difference…here is what your donations can do:

  • $15 pays for a microchip
  • $25 pays for a rabies, distemper, or bordetella vaccine
  • $30 feeds a dog or cat for a month
  • $50 pays for a veterinary exam
  • $85 pays for neuter and $105 for spay procedures
  • $120 refuels our van for more transports from the Four Corners area of the US
  • $250 readies for adoption by providing a wellenss exam, spay or neuter, all vaccinations, deworming, microchip and a month of food
  • $500 sponsors an entire interstate transport
  • $1,000 sponsors one month of transports
  • $5,000 covers veterinary expenses for all animals in foster for one month
  • $10,000 covers transport and total adoption costs for six months
  • $150,000 provides down payment on RDR’s future rescue and boarding facility

Every dollar makes a difference!


The post RezDawg People – Carol Kuzdek by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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Frodo. We took a vote: more cuteness isn’t physically possible. Find him at http://www.rezdawgrescue.org/adopt-a-rescue-animal/adoptable-cats/

Rescue requires a higher level of customer service than retail, banking or the restaurant business.  In simple terms, rescues need to maintain a higher attention to detail because our clients are also our bosses – and because we have so many of them.

We work for the dogs/cats we rescue and owe them the best possible experience.  We’re directly responsible for making sure our volunteers have a great time while making the world a better place.  Our donors and rescue partners expect that we’ll be smart about how we go about the day-to-day of rescue.  What makes rescue great is that sometimes, we’re the customer too.  Quite often, other groups go above and beyond the call to make sure we’re as satisfied with the experience as anyone.

Maddie’s Fund is one of these “other groups.”  Maddie’s Fund® is a family foundation created in 1994 by Workday® co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl.  They’ve endowed their Foundation with more than $300 million to support increased community lifesaving, shelter medicine education, and pet adoptions across the U.S.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve received a $5,000 grant from Maddie’s Fund to help keep our Rez Cat adoption program rolling. It breaks down like this: Dave and Cheryl Duffield founded Maddie’s Fund to honor their sweet yet feisty and spirited Miniature Schnauzer. They made her a promise that if they ever had any money, they would give back to her and her kind so that other families could experience the immense joy they have with her. Dave and Cheryl kept their promise and to date, the Foundation has awarded more than $187.8 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter medicine education, and pet adoptions across the U.S.

Gavin asks the age old question, “Netflix and cuddle?” http://www.rezdawgrescue.org/adopt-a-rescue-animal/adoptable-cats/

This $5,000 grant will support RezDawg’s Kitty Prep Program by subsidizing 100 cat adoption fees of our choice by $50 each. The reduced fee will allow folks who might not have otherwise been able to experience the joy of pet ownership to participate – exactly what Dave and Cheryl had in mind.  Our goal is to rescue, foster and adopt out as many Rez Cats as we possibly can.  The grant from Maddie’s Fund is intended to help adopters take advantage of our work.  In short, RezDawg and Maddie’s Fund are a perfect match.

Angela Cerci, President of RezDawg Rescue, believes “It truly does take everybody working together to affect the companion animal overpopulation problem on the Rez.  Working with groups such as Maddie’s Fund allows us to focus on the hands-on of rescue while gaining from the experience and guidance of a well-known national organization that understands how rescue works.  This grant will enable more people to adopt Rez Cats which helps us accomplish our mission of finding homes for Rez Animals in need and enrich the lives of adopters through the sheer joy that is pet ownership.”

Dee is a kitty who was born with that one sensitive spot where her jaw meets her chin… if you can find it and get her rolling, the neighbor may well call to complain that the purring is too loud. http://www.rezdawgrescue.org/adopt-a-rescue-animal/adoptable-cats/

Even though our name rightly puts the focus on dog rescue, RezDawg has always been heavily involved in rescuing Rez Cats.  Since our inception, over 1,500 cats have been rescued through RezDawg and the number of Rez Cat foster homes have increased over 300% over just the past three years.

Jayma Wessling, our resident cat lady, puts it like this.  “Don’t let the RezDawg name fool you – there are plenty of cats in need of help and we haven’t left them behind. The cats of the reservations need just as much care and support as our dogs.  I may have become the face of this program but there is a huge team of people who champion for these wonderful creatures, who know the value in saving the lives of both the canines and felines.”

So where does that leave you?  Go to our adoptable cats page (http://www.rezdawgrescue.org/adopt-a-rescue-animal/adoptable-cats/.)  If you see a ball of cuteness that immediately strikes you as your new best friend and know it was simply meant to be, great!  You can jump to our cat adoption form and we’ll take it from there (http://www.rezdawgrescue.org/adopt-a-rescue-animal/adoptable-cats/)  Cats eligible to receive the Maddie’s Fund grant will have that listed clearly on their profile – and we’ll automatically apply the grant dollars from there.

We’re grateful for the opportunity and want to thank the Duffield Family Foundation, the Board of Maddie’s Fund and most importantly, #ThanksToMaddie.

Moonshine is available for adoption – and would love to become your new best friend : http://www.rezdawgrescue.org/adopt-a-rescue-animal/adoptable-cats/

Please comment.  We need to know if you like the blog as-is or would like to see something different.

For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)

Your donations are critical for helping RezDawg Rescue save lives. Every donation can make a difference…here is what your donations can do:

  • $15 pays for a microchip
  • $25 pays for a rabies, distemper, or bordetella vaccine
  • $30 feeds a dog or cat for a month
  • $50 pays for a veterinary exam
  • $85 pays for neuter and $105 for spay procedures
  • $120 refuels our van for more transports from the Four Corners area of the US
  • $250 readies for adoption by providing a wellenss exam, spay or neuter, all vaccinations, deworming, microchip and a month of food
  • $500 sponsors an entire interstate transport
  • $1,000 sponsors one month of transports
  • $5,000 covers veterinary expenses for all animals in foster for one month
  • $10,000 covers transport and total adoption costs for six months
  • $150,000 provides down payment on RDR’s future rescue and boarding facility

Every dollar makes a difference!


The post New Grant from Maddie’s Fund by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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RezDawgs come in all sizes, shapes and unique dispositions.

RezDawg is gearing up for puppy and kitten season and the only limiting factor on how many Rez Dogs and Rez Cats we can save is the number of spaces available in our foster network – now over 100 strong (and growing.) If we want to rescue more Rez animals in 2017 than we did in 2016 (and we do,) we need more foster homes for both dogs and cats. We hope this basic information will give you a flavor of what’s involved and convince you to give it a try – at least once.

What does it mean to “foster” a RezDawg?
Fostering with RezDawg means inviting a rescued dog to live at your house as one of the family – on a temporary basis. While they’re with you, your foster dog will receive appropriate vet care and vaccinations, learn important socialization/behavioral skills and generally transition from rescued dog to “someone’s best friend ever.” RezDawg will walk beside you during this journey making sure you have all the information, training, support and resources you’ll need to ensure a successful outcome/adoption.

A foster failure (or forever foster) in the making. A forever foster is a dog you’ve fostered but when the time came for adoption, you’ve realized they are part of your family and couldn’t possibly part ways. Ever.

How do foster homes fit into the RezDawg mission to “Save. Heal. Adopt?”
Our foster network is the heart and soul of everything we do. We couldn’t exist without a network of people and families willing to open their homes and hearts to help save lives that desperately need saving. More importantly, we believe placing rescued Rez Dogs and Rez Cats in foster homes provides them with the best possible chance at a long, happy life. Shelters are a necessary and beneficial cog in the rescue wheel, but the one-on-one attention and care a rescued dog receives in a home environment is far superior to what that dog might experience at a shelter (where the dog-to-person ratio might be 10 to 1 or higher.)

Is this a cat that gets along with RezDawgs or RezDawgs that get along with cats? Important information either way.

What’s in it for the dog?

  • A high quality of life until they’re ready to meet their forever people. This quality of life includes safety, nutrition, shelter, vet care and most importantly, one-on-one love and attention from a human who wants nothing but the best for the dog (you.)
  • Lots of exposure to potential adopters such as your friends, neighbors, the mailman, co-workers, relatives or anyone in line next to you at Starbucks.
  • An accurate picture of who the dog is, what they like, what they don’t like, etc. Just like people, no two rescued dogs are exactly alike. Do they like kids? Can they tolerate cats (or more likely, can the cat tolerate them?) Being able to answer these questions for a potential adopter helps ensure we place the right dog with the right people.
Puppies from different litters learn socialization skills while hanging out under the shed… but I think the white one needs a break.

What’s in it for you?

  • All dogs need exercise and mental stimulation in order to live a happy, long life. You do too. Accepting responsibility for a rescued dog will get you off the couch and whether that means an evening walk or a trip to a National Park, you’ll both benefit from the experience.
  • Sheer, unadulterated joy… from bonding with your foster dog and knowing you played an important role in saving your foster dog’s life
An important part of fostering is instilling confidence in your RezDawg. This young lady is well prepared to meet the world head on.

Risks of fostering

  • You might end up adopting your foster dog. “Foster failure” is a term describing what happens when you find the dog you’ve welcomed into your home on a temporary basis is actually indispensable to leading a fulfilling and satisfying life. The word “failure” has no place in a wonderful exchange like this so the new phrase is “forever foster.”
  • You might be sad the day your foster dog leaves with their forever people. This sadness will be replaced with pride when you realize that you – and you alone – are responsible for turning a scared, starving and bewildered dog into an energetic and enthusiastic lifetime partner for someone who will love them as deeply as you.
“Is this OK, dad? Can I bite his face off?” We all know it was a kiss in the making but George has a reputation to maintain.

What’s so great about fostering a dog?
The sloppy kisses after a long walk or a rousing game of fetch. The tail-wagging every time you walk in the door. The pride you’ll feel being part of saving a deserving life… But wait! There’s more! Here some additional reasons why every person on the planet should think about fostering a dog.
• Fostering gives a dog a second chance at life
• Fostering a dog is a wonderful, life-affirming project for the entire family
• Fostering a dog is fun
• Fostering a dog is rewarding
• Fostering can be done anywhere – in a city or suburb, a house or apartment.  We match the dog’s needs to your lifestyle/family
• Fostering a dog can take place whenever you are ready
• Fostering a dog offers the company of canines to those unable to make a long-term commitment

If you think there is even the slightest chance you’d like to foster a RezDawg, please reach out.  We have regional foster care coordinators who will walk you through the process, talk about the day-to-day and answer any conceivable question you might have.  Fostering is where the proverbial rubber hits the road at RezDawg and we couldn’t do what we do without people who want to ACT, and make the world a better place.  We say this a lot because it’s true:  Fosters are a higher form of human.  I’m pretty sure you are too…

Warning! When you foster, you may become overwhelmed with the cuteness and curiosity…

Please comment.  We need to know if you like the blog as-is or would like to see something different.

For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)

Your donations are critical for helping RezDawg Rescue save lives. Every donation can make a difference…here is what your donations can do:

  • $15 pays for a microchip
  • $25 pays for a rabies, distemper, or bordetella vaccine
  • $30 feeds a dog or cat for a month
  • $50 pays for a veterinary exam
  • $85 pays for neuter and $105 for spay procedures
  • $120 refuels our van for more transports from the Four Corners area of the US
  • $250 readies for adoption by providing a wellenss exam, spay or neuter, all vaccinations, deworming, microchip and a month of food
  • $500 sponsors an entire interstate transport
  • $1,000 sponsors one month of transports
  • $5,000 covers veterinary expenses for all animals in foster for one month
  • $10,000 covers transport and total adoption costs for six months
  • $150,000 provides down payment on RDR’s future rescue and boarding facility

Every dollar makes a difference!


The post Gearing Up for Puppy and Kitten Season by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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RezDawg Rescue by Steve Sable - 5M ago
Puma and one of her people. You’d never know she had such a hard time of it…

In conclusion:  Puma found her forever people (in a one-pet household), endorphins were released and rescue is easier and more rewarding than you think.

There is irony in being the de facto cat lady for a dog rescue.  It loosens a bit when you consider that Jayma has/does rescue dogs and RezDawg Rescue has saved thousands of cats from an “uncertain fate.”  The fact remains:  Jayma is an animal person.  This matters to Puma.  It matters a lot.  As an example of living life with a big heart, a passion for animals and the patience of Job, Jayma sets the standard.

Puma’s rescue was a long drawn-out process that actually started in 1998 – seven years before she was born.  This is when we cut to the scene showing Jayma sneaking into a kennel in the back corner of the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita.  Cue the foreboding orchestra music with lots of sad woodwinds because this cage is the rescue version of being banished to the gulag.  It’s where the unadoptable, sick or terrified dogs are sent because most people (even animal-loving volunteers) don’t have the patience, instinct or knowledge to heal the shattered souls that have been banished there.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Pay close attention:  Jayma didn’t look at the dog.  She closed the kennel door behind her and sat down, doing her best not to look at anything.  And she sat.  And she waited.  And she killed time, maybe balanced her checkbook in her head or concentrated on breathing through her navel.  The specifics aren’t pertinent.  What matters is the dog in the gulag had time to evaluate Jayma, to realize she wasn’t a threat.  A connection was made, a hand got licked.  Then a face.  A life was saved and while that dog may no longer walk the earth, the excitement Jayma felt when this dog responded fills her heart to this day.

In the next scene, Jayma stands next to a guy who wants to adopt a cat but has great fear about what might happen to his furniture if he brings home a grey tabby.  Jayma asked a few questions and learned about the guy’s Norwegian sensibilities… and how they resulted in a home filled with smooth, stark white furniture.  The solution seemed obvious.  “Why not adopt a white cat?” she asked.  No fur problems then.  At least no obvious ones…

Per Jayma, “The guy looked at me like I invented plutonium or something.”  He left with a white cat and Jayma learned that common sense is a crucial cog in the rescue wheel.

Jayma eventually moved away from Wichita but she carefully packed her Common Sense and her Animal-Loving Heart.  She’d need them later on.  Unknown to all, Puma was that much closer being rescued.

And Puma moved even closer to rescue because of a senior dog named Oso.  Oso was a 16-year-old German Shepard/Husky mix who needed a new home.  Animal rescuers, volunteers and fosters lead the same busy lives you do.  They sometimes have health problems, annoying neighbors or competing priorities that cut into their propensity to volunteer for the local Humane Society.  So Jayma skipped the Humane Society and adopted Oso off a Facebook post because Oso got the raw end of the deal.

Oso was adopted as a senior dog who lost his home. His last nine months were filled with fantastic fun and unconditional love.

And boy, did Oso’s bad situation get better.  As a senior dog, he didn’t get around as well as he used to but he did love his new people.  He loved playing with the kids, sleeping and generally winding down a long life as we all do:  with aches and pains that didn’t matter much when you considered Unconditional Love was again part of his everyday life.  One day at the dog park, Oso ran around with his buds and Jayma’s daughter asked a simple question.  “How long will Oso live?”

Cue the sad woodwind music again because Oso passed a few days later.  Jayma thinks this part of Puma’s rescue story is about the satisfaction she (and her family) felt from ensuring Oso’s last nine months were happy ones.  During the edit, I’m going to change out this scene’s sad music for something inspirational.  Not quite as annoying as trombones and trumpets, but something that escalates to a crescendo… a harp may well be involved.  I think this part of Puma’s rescue story touches on the fact that Jayma’s daughter was clearly in touch with Oso on a level available only to young children and clairvoyants.  This part of the story is about how love, empathy and a connection to animals can be passed to future generations.  Good People raise Good People, and in this day and age, we need all of them we can muster…  Puma is about to be rescued.

Puma finally makes her entrance at the start of Act Three.  Puma was a new mama in a bad mood.  The scratch marks on Jayma’s arms, echoes of panicked hissing in her ears and the common sense earned in Wichita resulted in Puma being moved to a quiet corner in the spare room to do her mama cat thing.  Despite this, Puma’s behavior grew worse and worse.  She began to abuse her kittens.  One of them didn’t make it.  Puma was all but unmanageable.  Something needed to be done as The Question approached:  Kill, No-kill.  All rescuers fear the moment when The Question becomes pertinent, but Puma was miserable and her quality of life was deteriorating quickly.

Jayma found another nursing mama who accepted Puma’s kittens.  She moved them from one room to another one at a time, slowly and patiently.  But Puma was having none of it.  Jayma couldn’t get near Puma without protective clothing.  They may not have been welder’s gloves, but they should have been because Puma still managed to injure.

As The Question rolled around in the part of Jayma’s mind she prefers not to visit, a thought occurred.  “This cat is going to die if I don’t do something.  I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing and I’m out of ideas on how to help…”  Of course, this is when inspiration strikes.

Jayma donned the gloves (and maybe a helmet and shin-guards as well – I would have,) got a good grip on Puma and gave her an injection of Clavamox.  And she did it again the next day.  And the day after that.

And Puma responded.  She looked better, her aggression dissipated and she slowly became the cat that Jayma saw the whole time.  Puma’s behavior resulted from an illness we can’t define, but who cares?  She responded to treatment.  All we know for sure is that Jayma’s refusal to give up on “just another cat” resulted in a successful outcome.  Puma was soon ready for her forever people.

And the people came.  Puma is now the only pet in the household and if you didn’t know her backstory, you’d never know she had such a hard time of it.

There are other details about Jayma and how she lives her life that help explain why her story is worth sharing.  RezDawg Rescue works closely with the Highlands Ranch (Colorado) PetSmart.  Jayma grew that relationship from a point where there were no cats available to where they maintained a dominant presence in the cages at the front of the store, the middle and the back.  We don’t know how many cats are alive because Jayma became involved in rescue, but we know that whether rescuing one at a time or facilitating relationships that save herds of cats every month, she’s extraordinarily deserving of a badge that says, “Good People.”

The badge will be huge.  It’ll look like an All-Access Pass to the Super Bowl.  On it, we’ll place pictures of a dark kennel in Wichita, a happy senior dog running at the dog park and one of her daughter.  Jayma’s daughter represents the next generation of Good People and frankly, I can’t wait until the day she crawls into a kennel with a scared dog and looks at nothing.  Until a hand gets licked…

Now that Puma is operating at peak efficiency, she’s considering going back to school… but first a little brushing up on her ancestry.

Please comment.  We need to know if you like the blog as-is or would like to see something different.

For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)

To support more cats in need like Puma, please donate!


The post Cat People by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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In the words of Polly (Gertie’s original rescuer,) she has a face only a mother could love. That makes us all mothers…

From Part 1 of Gertie’s story:  “Gertie had been rescued but wasn’t out of danger. She was in much worse shape than Polly knew…”

Polly knew Gertie’s obvious problems were alarming enough.  Good nutrition would eventually rejuvenate her immune system and that would allow the wound on her cheek (that refused to heal) to heal itself.  But her crooked snout could be a big problem.  Was this a “beauty mark” that had healed and allowed Gertie to thrive or was this a pending surgical issue?

Fortunately, Gertie’s eating and breathing weren’t compromised by her bent face.  She would soon become known as “the face only a mother could love.”  Unfortunately, there really was a surgical issue lurking in the details.

Gertie had a dime-sized hole in her upper palate.  The cavity impacted with food at every meal and that lead to incessant sneezing and relentless infections.  This would have to be addressed and it would not be cheap.

Polly had performed the rescue and handled Gertie’s immediate health issues.  During her time at Polly’s house, Gertie was fed, loved and eventually gained enough weight to move to a foster home.  This is when, in the fated way of all things Rez Dog, the Universe reached out to an animal person in Denver who prepared Gertie’s way to her forever home.

An animal person named Bridget always liked the idea of cat rescue and now that she had the time and inclination, she went looking for a rescue group to support.  Just about the time when Gertie was stabilized enough to move from Polly’s to a foster home, Bridget (coincidentally?) decided that rather than rescue a cat, she wanted to foster a Rez Dog for RezDawg.  She and her husband had discussed their current two dogs many times and because of those conversations, Bridget knew she’d have to plan the fostering conversation with great care because, “Two dogs are enough.”  Pffft.

Bridget approached her husband and despite her best efforts, he laser-focused on the crux of the matter.  He said, as both a statement and question, “You’re not getting another dog.”

But he knew.  Even then, he knew.  She explained she wanted to try fostering a dog for a Rez Rescue and that while a new dog would be moving in, it wouldn’t be “moving in.” She went on to explain how important this was to her.

He ignored the semantics and like good men everywhere, he supported his partner despite genuine reservations.  Then he forgot all about it.  Until he met Gertie.

Gertie quickly became one of the pack – as a foster. Then she became one of the pack, forever.

Bridget’s first foster was not a simple case.  Gertie passed through the front door a Rez Dog but quickly became one of the pack.  I’d imagine it was a drag to clean the hole in the roof of Gertie’s mouth every day but then, I’d imagine it sucked for Gertie too.  According to Bridget, Gertie quickly understood the uncomfortable process was good and necessary and went with the flow.  Gertie quickly made peace with Bridget’s other two dogs, deferentially went out of her way not to be a bother and seemed to rather enjoy a regular schedule.

Gertie and Bridget developed a habit of attending adoption events every weekend.  Bridget set up a comfortable bed in a high traffic area and Gertie would lay, sit or walk around looking adoptable.  Soon enough, Bridget, RezDawg and the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF) had raised enough for Gertie’s surgery.  The two had formed a bond during those months.  Bridget feared the next dog-conversation with her husband.   She fantasized asking, “What if we kept Gertie?”  Naw.  Bridget would throw her shoulders back, stand straight and repeat, “I’m a foster, and we’re going to find Gertie a great home.”  She didn’t really believe it either.

A few weeks ago, I sent Bridget an email that contained six words.  “Isn’t Gertie’s surgery scheduled this week?”

The response arrived the same day:

“Hi Steven!

Gertie had her surgery yesterday and came home at the end of the day. The Vet said the tissue around the hole was not very healthy and so he had to remove some of that before using some of the healthy tissue from parts of her mouth to close the hole. She is doing well and is on canned food that has to be hand fed to her in little meatballs for the next 3 weeks. This way she’ll gulp it down vs. need to chew the food and allow her mouth to heal better. She is taking pain meds and seems to be doing fine…she’s a real trouper! She has a bloody discharge from her nose and the vet said that’s normal for the first few days. All toys have been put away and low activity per the Vet orders. Today she’s hanging with me in my work from home office in her favorite chair.

My husband finally caved in, he’s fallen in love with that special girl and is so impressed at what a good girl she is, especially knowing what she’s been through…”

Did you catch it?  Just now?  That stuff I wrote a second ago…

That last paragraph represents the point of the story and exemplifies the strange powers wielded by Rez Dogs everywhere.  Bridget’s husband acquiesced to a third dog and Bridget’s first foray into fostering Rez Dogs goes down in the record books as a “Foster Failure.”  That’s when a Great Human opens their home to a dog in need and rather than put them up for adoption in a few months, the dog stays forever.

Gertie went from the Giant gas station to Polly’s to Bridget’s.  During that time, she regained her health, focused on naps rather than survival and became the dog she was always meant to be.  I have a hard time calling her a failure on any terms:  how about we call Gertie a Forever Foster instead?  Because she’s right where she was always meant to be…

This previously neglected, abused and starving Rez Dog is now indistinguishable from any other happy dog.

Please comment.  We need to know if you like the blog as-is or would like to see something different.

For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)

To support more dogs like Gertie in need of medical attention, please donate!


The post Gertie’s Story, Part 2/by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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Gertie is a Rez Dog from Thoreau, NM. Her story is typical of some of the worst you’ll read about, but she’s a survivor and is doing very well in foster.

Gertie is a Black Lab/Boxer mix from Thoreau, New Mexico. If she were human rather than a Rez Dog, you’d find her at a place like Woodstock: long, lustrous dark brown hair barely restrained by a Native American headband while she shared a twist of some calming substance with her many admirers. She’s THAT laid-back and pretty.
But her good looks aren’t conventional. Her nose points to the left when her face is looking straight ahead and the beauty mark beneath her left eye is actually a barely-healed scar. Trust me when I say “conventionally attractive” is boring. Boys like “character” and Gertie wears hers like the badge of courage it represents.
And don’t doubt that the boys do indeed like Gertie. She lived at the Giant gas station in Thoreau and her pack consisted of herself and two brown males. The “boys” may or may not have been responsible for her multiple litters. One good look at her puppies would confirm or discount paternity but unfortunately, we have no idea what her puppies looked like. The food vendors that worked next to the Giant confirm that she’d been pregnant several times but nobody knows what happened to any of the puppies.
We aren’t even sure she was able to carry her litters to full term. Gertie’s main water source was the sudsy runoff from the car wash. When the garbage had been picked clean and begging wasn’t working, she survived by eating food wrappers that collected against the fence. Not exactly the nutritious diet needed to survive, let alone nurse multiple puppies.
Gertie was a long-time resident of the Giant. That’s both good news and bad. Gertie is smart, tough and able to thrive in conditions that would kill suburban pets. We know this because she survived multiple High Desert Winters. The bad news is that eventually, all Rez Dogs run out of luck regardless of strong genetics or learned scrappiness. Gertie’s clock was running down and without intervention, a bad outcome was inevitable. The good news is that the Spring of 2016 arrived about the same time as Gertie’s rescuer.

Gertie’s nose points in a different direction than her face, but she’s a cute, lovable Rez Dog anyway.

Polly first noticed the emaciated black dog while gassing up at the Giant. Polly is an angel in human clothing and I’m here to tell you, Polly knows how to rescue. Each time she passed through Thoreau, Polly stopped by the Giant to deliver a big bowl of dog food or a special treat to Gertie. As time passed, Polly began to move closer and closer to Gertie before setting down the food. By inching closer during each visit, Polly began to earn Gertie’s trust. Over the course of three months, that trust allowed Polly to touch Gertie’s head. This soon lead to long compassionate strokes down Gerty’s side. Soon after, Polly made her move.
A friendly local helped Polly corral Gertie but it was a tough fight that took weeks. Each failed attempt started the cycle of earning and losing Gertie’s trust all over again. While Rez Dogs are bright by nature, they aren’t accustomed to confinement of any kind and the gentle petting of the week before came across as a death-grip to this Rez Dog that had earned her fear of humans the hard way. But Polly persevered and managed to get a terrified Rez Dog into her truck for the ride home.
Gertie’s panicked response to “rescue” quickly subsided. Not long after beginning the ninety minute drive, Gertie slipped onto Polly’s lap and pressed her face against Polly’s chest. Gertie’s fleas migrated from her head to Polly’s. Polly quickly realized that Gertie had spent part of that morning wading in the sewage lagoon down the street from the Giant. As I said, Polly is an angel and to her credit, she didn’t flinch. Mission accomplished. Gertie truly had been rescued.
But Gertie wasn’t out of danger. She was in much worse shape than Polly knew…

Please comment.  We need to know if you like the blog as-is or would like to see something different.

For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)


The post Gertie’s Story, Part 1/by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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Spoiler Alert! Edgar made it to AAWL&SPCA safe and sound. Here he is hanging with Michael – a documented “fantastic human.”

Continued from last week’s blog:

I tried to meditate while waiting for Edgar to return so we could finish our interview.  No go.  Rather than popping the interfering thought-balloons that came to mind, my mental jujitsu made them grow quicker and stronger.  OK, open your eyes then, Steve.  Take a deep breath.  Tendrils of stress clawed up the back of my neck like they always do when I’m unsure of what to do with my hands, or worse yet, when I don’t know how to tell an important story.  So I opened my eyes, fidgeted a bit and looked around for something to distract me… something to divert my mind from the possibility that the words I wrote about Edgar wouldn’t affect people.  The fact that my storytelling might not save a dog or two or a million hadn’t formed until that moment but now that the thought was here, it’s presence was overwhelming.  So… I sent my mind back to the last moment I still had confidence.  What did Edgar mean when he said:  “Rescue was scary for a Rez Dog?”

More importantly, what did I know about Rez Dogs in the first place?  The first Rez Dog I ever photographed was dead, lying in the middle of the road.  I blew by that dog doing 85 in a 65 and didn’t slam on the brakes for ten full seconds.  But stop I did.  Then I argued with myself.  Left brain said, “Dead dogs might have disease or smell bad.”  Right brain chimed in, “If you’re going to tell the Rez Dog story, you have to tell the whole story – the good and the bad.  Suck it up, Sunshine.”  (CNN and FOX, you listening?)  Then came the U-turn and thirty horrible minutes while I took pictures of a beautiful dog that wasn’t able to cross the road.  I am here to tell you, Documentary Photography isn’t as romantic in practice as it is on TV.  How did this dog die on a road without traffic?  Not a single car, truck or bicycle passed the entire time I was there.  It didn’t make sense.  Eventually, clarity took hold.  I had forgotten… “The Rez” has a weirdness that can be experienced but not explained.  That first Rez Dog taught me that my white man world view doesn’t apply on the Rez.  Maybe that was it… maybe I needed to lose all my preconceived notions and listen more actively to what Edgar said about being a Rez Dog.  Maybe then I’d understand well enough to tell a compelling story.

That did the trick.  I was able to meditate for a full fifteen seconds before Edgar returned with a friend in tow.

EDGAR:  Steve?  This is Bessie.  Bessie, Steve.

Bessie is an eighty-five pound Rottweiler and she walked with the comfortable stride of an Alpha.  I remembered the days when Rottweilers were the Dogs from Hell before Pit Bulls became all the rage.  Some of that fear remained.  Bessie smiled but the gesture didn’t provide the comfort she intended.  Her teeth were in excellent shape except for the pointy one on the bottom that was cracked in half.  It gave her an evil genius kind of vibe.  We sniffed each other with wary politeness and shook paws.

Bessie is a foster dog that the foster mama couldn’t part with. She’s worked her way up to Alpha and is a benevolent but strict leader.

EDGAR:  Bessie is a foster dog who has lived on this property for years.  She was rescued from a schoolyard in Crownpoint, NM – a cute puppy tied to a cinderblock… with bailing-wire.  Bessie, I’m trying to convey to Steve what it’s like to be a Rez Dog.  Assuming he’s bright enough, he’ll hopefully come to understand why rescue can be scary as hell.

Bessie evaluated me with wariness but this was to be expected.  Rez Dogs learned their fear of humans the hard way.  As a result, they’ve become the best judges of human intention in the world.  Maybe I was giving off a scent of hesitation or outright fear because she smiled again and climbed onto my dog bed and made herself comfortable.  Her tongue was warm and wet on my ear and I wasn’t at all sure of proper etiquette.  Could I wipe off the spit or should leave it to dry?  I wiped it off and Bessie sensed that I wasn’t going to be scared away from her or her story under any circumstances.  She smiled with sensitivity, and that’s a big trick for a Rottie with a broken tooth.

BESSIE:  My story isn’t entirely unique.  I was born into a dog fighting family.  The Alpha human got a huge rush from watching us destroy each other.  He made money from it as well and I was training at eight weeks out of the womb.  My puppyhood?  Pffft.  This man was super poor and I was super strong, so I was sold to a buddy of his that lived a few hours on the other side of Crownpoint.  Distances are long on the Rez and no matter where you go, it’ll take a minimum of two hours to get there.  People learn to be efficient with their time and gas money and the only way the handoff would work was if I was dropped off in the morning by my first human and picked up in the afternoon by the guy who was supposed to be my second.  The weight and the wire were their way of ensuring I’d still be there for the pickup.

EDGAR:  Put yourself in Bessie’s situation.  Life was miserable with the first guy and she had no idea whether the next guy would be better or worse.

BESSIE:  I was afraid of becoming a bait dog.  Maybe four hours later, some lady comes around the corner in a pickup, but at that point I didn’t know it was a lady.  I thought my time had come and I was scared.  I barked and clawed and tried to look as tough as possible thinking this was my audition to avoid a horrific death.  The weight trailed behind me as I charged the truck and when I got to her door, the lady tossed me half of a bagel.  Onion, if I recall.  Stumped the hell out of me.  I didn’t trust her but I hadn’t had food or water for hours.  Still, I couldn’t eat with a dry mouth so I put on the show of my life.

STEVE:  What happened?

BESSIE:  She got out of the truck – through the opposite door – and set a bowl of water down by the rear bumper.  She backed away before I could get to her but man, that water was amazing.  So was the bagel.

EDGAR:  Trust comes hard and sometimes it’s better to look tough.  Sometimes that’ll get you shot and sometimes it’ll get you rescued.  It got Bessie rescued.  Just because a dog looks mean doesn’t mean it is… but the smart humans know it’s better to leave the rescuing to the people who do it every day.  Leave food or water if you want, but don’t try to rescue a dog at the gas station in Kayenta unless you know what you’re doing.

BESSIE:  Yup.  I chilled out with the food and water while the Truck Lady untwisted the wire.  The sense of relief was amazing and I soon found myself wagging my tail and jumping into a truck with a total stranger.  Kind of humiliating, but clearly she wasn’t the dog fighter from the south.  Karma happens a lot on the Rez, and I try to return the Universe’s favor by showing the new arrivals to this foster home the do’s and don’ts of getting along with a pack whose members are constantly changing.  I’m sort of a Foster Home Ambassador.  Most dogs move on but for whatever reason, my person decided to keep me here.  I can’t explain the loyalty that instills, but know that it’s massive and permanent.  I show the new arrivals the ropes… where we can romp and play and where we can’t.  What neighbors are cool and which ones aren’t.  Mostly, I just talk to them as they arrive, let them know they made it.  They were rescued.

STEVE:  What was Edgar like when he arrived?

Edgar arrived weak, unsteady on his feet and suffering world class mange. If this picture doesn’t motivate you to get into rescue, then rescue might not be your thing.

BESSIE:  Oh, man.  A more pathetic Beagle mix you’ll never see.  He had hardly any fur on his back – sarcoptic mange, you know – and you could see his ribs beneath his sunburned skin.  He was a mess.  “Moth-eaten” is a fitting term.

STEVE:  Edgar?

EDGAR:  My rescue wasn’t as scary as Bessie’s but “scary” is a subjective term.  As I’d said earlier, I was born in Canyon de Chelly, near Chinle, AZ.  I am from the Four Legged Clan and for the Brown Water Clan.  I was doing really well for a long time and suddenly, I started to lose fights.  I’d lost ownership of the dumpster at the Visitor’s Center and without that, I wasn’t finding enough food.  Water became hard to come by.  Rez Dogs are the ultimate optimists and I kept telling myself, “tomorrow will be better.”  Tomorrow got worse and worse.  The Lady Park Ranger would leave food and water for me but if I wasn’t there on time, some other dog stole it.  She’d stand in the parking lot and stare at me.  She’d squat down and try to pet me but I thought I had life aced.  No way did I want to leave.  I stayed a foot out of reach for the better part of a month.

STEVE:  What happened?

EDGAR:  A humane trap, that’s what happened.  I was getting weaker and weaker, not nearly as sharp as I had been.  Like all Rez Dogs, once any kind of infection or disease sets in, our chances for survival plummet.  I was in denial, thinking I was still the stud that emerged from behind the dumpster during that storm eight months ago.   The truth was that I was going downhill.  Fast.  The Ranger Lady started crying every time she saw me and I didn’t know why.  Like I said, denial.

STEVE:  How did you end up here?

EDGAR:   Desperation and hunger.  I showed up at the Visitor’s Center at the usual time and the red bowl was out and loaded.  Cooked hamburger meat… oh, man.  That smell makes me misty to this day.  I’d never considered the White Ranger Lady a threat and I was so hungry I just went for the meat without thinking… and slam goes the trap.  Not sure if you’ve ever been caged, but that is freakin’ horrifying.  A total loss of control.   Rez Dogs are an independent breed and we hate to lose even a small amount of control over our own destiny.  I was angry and not bashful about showing it.

Edgar choked up a bit and looked away.  Bessie smiled her scary smile and continued her thought.

BESSIE:  He was a total maniac while the Park Ranger Lady drove him two and a half hours to St. Johns, AZ.  She had to sedate him with a mild tranquilizer.  Our pack at the foster home was nine strong when he arrived and every one of us cringed when we saw him.  Pathetic little runt that he was.

That smile again, directed at a silent Edgar.

Edgar and Rebel saying goodbye before Edgar’s trip to the big city.

BESSIE:  He was so starved for so long that malnutrition may have stunted his growth.  Time will tell but when he arrived a month ago, Edgar was the same size as the two-month-old Rebel.

Edgar smiles big and wide.

EDGAR:  In foster care, food was left laying around in bowls in front of the house, in back, near the horses… it was everywhere!  I ate my fill and ate some more… became a pooping machine.  But I also started to get healthy.  Those annoying baths, like every three days.  The shots.  I hated it for the first few days I was out of that trap but I quickly started to feel better.  I’ve loved it here ever since.  Rez Dogs know when they’re rescued.  We read people pretty well and I knew I was in the right place.  Karma, baby.

BESSIE:  It was hilarious.  Edgar annoyed the people to no end because he hadn’t yet learned to dog very well.  Our foster mama would laugh while Edgar would run around the photographer’s legs, lick his ears or generally ruin any shot he could.  Total brat.

STEVE:  Is that what happens here?  Free-for-all playtime?

EDGAR:  In a perfect world, Rez Dogs who are rescued would all go into a foster home rather than a shelter.  These sanctuaries are run by people who don’t mind opening their home to whatever number of strange, new dogs.  They take responsibility for our vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery.  They evaluate us to see if we can tolerate cats, if we get along with other dogs or how much we like kids.  Eventually, we’re adopted directly or sent to a facility where adoption can be arranged.  As soon as we’re gone, another Rez Dog takes our place.  Foster people are a higher form of human.  Simple fact.  The healing that happens here is magic.

STEVE:  That’s for real.  What’s next for you, Edgar?

EDGAR:  I was supposed to leave for the Arizona Animal Welfare League last week but the lady who drives the transport picked up her fourth mama and puppies from the side of the road near Gallup.  Can you imagine the work involved in taking care of four nursing mothers?  If left on the Rez, they’d all have died from predators, starvation, disease or worse.   Like I said, foster people are the better form of your natures… Huh?

STEVE:  Four mamas and how many puppies?

EDGAR:  It’s puppy season on the Rez, so there are a lot.  By the time my transport leaves, there will be twenty-seven of us going to Phoenix and the AAWL & SPCA.  The four nursing mamas and their puppies need some time before they’re ready for their road trip.  They’ll be traveling as a group of forty-five.

STEVE:  Holy crap.

Bessie and Edgar laughed at me without reservation.  I immediately knew what to do with my hands and scratched behind their ears with as much ferocity as I could manage.  Suddenly, I was a more informed white guy – no longer clueless – and they were regular old happy dogs with really scary stories to share.

STEVE:  What can I do for you guys?

EDGAR:  Spread the word.  There are too many dogs on most Native American Reservations and too many are suffering.  Some are working dogs, and they’re doing great.  Some are pets, and they’re as well loved as your dogs.  But there are dogs out there in desperate need of help.  There are Rez Rescue groups out there who are doing amazing work, but the problem is overwhelming.  Solving it isn’t cheap.  Use your camera.  Show people what’s happening out here but more importantly, share the happy stories.  Lots of us survive because there are lots of great humans in the world.  They rescue, they donate and they adopt.  Spread the word.  And come visit me in Phoenix.

As always, I cried when I watched a Rez Dog disappear in my rear view mirror.

Edgar is undergoing evaluation at AAWL & SPCA, and he can’t wait until he can play with the gang. And meet his forever people.

Please comment.  We need to know if you like the blog as-is or would like to see something different.

For more information about what you’ve read here or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)


The post Conclusion – Edgar’s Interview/By Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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Edgar and his buddies take a break from playing and head out front to… play some more.

January wind blows cold at Canyon de Chelly.  The gusts of January 4, 2016 blew particularly cold, driving mean clouds across the sky and sending locals and tourists alike to huddle around their fires in as many layers as mobility or fashion would allow.  The threat of rain became a reality as the Park Ranger locked the Visitor Center and double-timed it across the parking lot to her battered old pickup truck.  She sat in the cab and rubbed her hands together in a hopeless quest for warmth while motor oil came to temperature and SiriusXM streamed her favorite song to ancient speakers.  She’s Good People, and I have no doubt she’d have climbed out the truck and into the rain if she’d heard the pained whimper of a Cattle Dog mix birthing her sixth litter behind the dumpster.  But good music should be played loud and the Rez Dog mama knew sounds of distress would attracts predators from miles around.  The dog swallowed her pain as the Ranger turned left and exited the lot.  Mama was left alone in the cold and dark to bring five more Rez Dog puppies into a dangerous world that didn’t want them.

One of those pups, a Beagle/Cattle Dog mix named Edgar, was kind enough to meet with me at his foster home in St. Johns, Arizona last week to discuss life, rescue and the plight of Rez Dogs everywhere.

Edgar is short and skinny and nearly died from the malnutrition that marked his seven months on the Rez.  He’ll always be the smallest guy in the pack but despite his rough start to life, his brown eyes sparkle with optimistic intelligence and humor so bright it’s impossible not to like him from the start.  A raging case of mange cost him a significant portion of what should be a lush rust and black colored coat.  The question of whether or not it’ll grow back is still open and the wispy fur that remains moves gently in the breeze like the insubstantial hair of a tow-headed Norwegian kid.  Unlike other Rez Dogs in the same situation, he chose the “wash and wear” look rather than the comb-over popularized by dogs with low self-esteem or something to hide.

His foster home is located on several rural acres of relatively flat land surrounded by other homes on parcels of similar size.  There are few fences and they offer only token resistance to Rez Dogs eager to push their boundaries.   The open prairie look was calming and the unobstructed views of sandstone cliffs thirty miles away was gorgeous.  Word is out on the street:  this particular foster home is the place rescued Rez Dogs want to go.  Hundreds of Rez Dogs (perhaps a thousand or more) found peace and healing here and left rejuvenated physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Credit for these miracles goes to the foster mama – she knows dogs better than you know yourself.  She offers Universal Healthcare.  She provides Single Payer as intended.  It’s where Rez Dogs go to prepare themselves to be the best friend their forever people ever had.

Edgar’s near starvation diet on the Rez left him severely malnourished and developmentally, he’s well behind his peers. But he’s a survivor, a Rez Dog and will fight Rebel to the death to get the last bit of antler horn.

Edgar wasn’t home when I arrived for the interview.  Turns out he’d been exploring the neighborhood with his best buddy, a three month old bundle of mischievous energy named Rebel, and punctuality isn’t a Rez Dog strength anyway.  They loped through the gate a few minutes past noon and Rebel peeled off to tend to other business while Edgar approached me directly.  “I’m so sorry to be late,” he said.  We shook hands/paws and sniffed each other in a vague but important way.  “I’m Edgar,” he added.  “Thank you for coming all this way to speak with me.”

We settled in the shade of an enormous weeping willow with an amazing view across the valley.  Edgar offered typical Rez Dog hospitality by giving me the K9 Ballistics Chew Proof Dog Bed (with Bolstered Ripstop Nylon Cover) while he gingerly lowered himself onto the Coolaroo Elevated Pet Bed (in Desert Sand.)

STEVE:  Edgar, I want to thank you for being available for our talk today.  As I discussed with your people, my people are deeply affected by the companion animal overpopulation situation on Native American Reservations…

EDGAR:  Sorry to interrupt, Steve, but you need to cut that sanitized bullshit.  Right now.

STEVE:  Uh.  Ummm.

Nap time for Edgar still means a quiet place in the bushes where a predator couldn’t sneak up on him. This is the sleep of the just…

EDGAR:   It’s the “Rez Dog Problem” not the flippin’ “Companion Animal Situation.”  Sugar coating the issue with diplomatic language rounds off the edges and I can’t think of a less productive way to have an adult conversation.  If we’re ever going to reduce the suffering, we need to act like adults, not politicians.

STEVE:  … reduce the suffering… Don’t we want to eliminate it?

EDGAR:   The causes of the Rez Dog problem are cultural, economic and yadda yadda yadda.  We may never find a permanent solution but we most definitely can create and implement programs that will improve the lives of Rez Dogs today, right now.  Low cost/no cost spay and neuter clinics, educational programs, improved adoption programs…  These are things that on-the-ball Rez rescue groups are already doing and some of them are achieving measurable results.   Rather than trying to solve the problem today – something kind rescuers have been trying to do for fifty years – let’s address the misery directly… and let’s do that with programs that have the strength and focus to eventually deliver a long term solution.  In the meantime, let’s take a close look at what’s being done in the name of these dogs (and cats!) and… I don’t know… let’s try something crazy such as increasing the efficiency of these programs.  You might consider looking for ways to minimize costs.  It might be wise to put a stop to the infighting and pointless competitions you silly humans can’t get enough of…  Look, no two rescuers or rescue groups view the situation the same way but it’s critical that people work together despite their differences.  Are you a no-kill person or not?  I don’t care.  If you have a nursing mama without a litter and I have eight puppies whose mother was hit by a car, damn right you should be able to put your differences aside to save those puppies.  You’ll rescue more dogs for the same money and speaking for Rez Dogs everywhere, we’d appreciate the effort.  Aw, man.  Sorry, dude.  You touched a nerve.

STEVE:  Apparently so.

EDGAR:  Humans just make things so much more complex than they need to be.  Then you throw greed and ego and personal animosity into the mix… you folks are the most screwed up mammals I know.

STEVE:  You’ll get no argument from me on that one.

EDGAR:  Tell you what… I’ll shut up now.  I see you brought a list of questions with you.  Let’s start with those and…

STEVE:  No.  Please don’t shut up.  I’m here to spread the word about Rez Dogs and I can’t talk about the problem without offering a solution.  Who knows the problem better than a dog like you?  Besides, you seem to know people better than people know people and I could always use good advice about women.

EDGAR:  Amen to that, brotha…

STEVE:  Oh, please Edgar.  You going to break into some gangster rap about stupid humans?

EDGAR:  If I could carry a tune, I might.

Edgar and Steve both stopped talking and stared at the belching smoke stacks belonging to the Coronado Generating Station across the valley.  Neither of them needed more or better proof that humans were at least a little stupid.  Maybe a lot.  The conversation hadn’t gone the way either had imagined it would and somehow, that made them both feel a little better.  Edgar leaned over and held up a paw.  Steve smacked it with his hand and they both held their serious pose for about a second and a half before breaking up in the uncontrolled laughter of new and sincere friendship.

STEVE:  So what’s it like to be a Rez Dog?

Edgar and Rebel, still working out visitation for the last piece of antler

EDGAR:  Scary, man.  It’s scary.  I was born during a storm behind a dumpster at the top of Canyon de Chelly.  Mom was born in Minnesota and slipped out the back of her human’s camper on the proverbial family vacation.  She just went cruising around the campground and when she came back, her people were gone.

STEVE:  Harsh.

EDGAR:  Well, yea.  Mom was a tough old bird.  The good news was that this happened in Spring.  Warm days and slightly chilly nights.  By the time the snow fell that year, she’d hooked up with the pack that hangs at the White House Ruin parking lot.  Lots of traffic, lots of garbage.  I guess the begging back then was off-the-charts good.  A short jog and she could be back at the Visitors Center where they watered the plants more than they needed to so she was pretty well set for resources no matter what the season.  Then she started getting pregnant.  Like, all the time.

STEVE:  You have brothers and sisters?

EDGAR:  Fifty or so.

STEVE:  Yikes.  Makes birthday shopping a challenge, no?

EDGAR:  Not really.  The slow pups were hit by cars or couldn’t master thieving from coolers or begging for scraps.  I know a few went back to their roots and are living the dream out in the bush… hunting rabbits, eating bees, chewing on grass, puking, and chewing on it again.  Most just feast on roadkill.  A bunch died in the Parvo outbreak a while back, but most were the Corgi’s offspring.  They had weak genetics or something because that whole line died out in just a few weeks.

STEVE:  That’s awful.

EDGAR:  What a silly human thing to say.  At least a two-hundred-and-fifty died that year.  For those of us that remained, the competition for resources nearly disappeared.  I only had to bite a few of the dumber Rez Dogs to remind them I owned the dumpster at the Visitor’s Center.

STEVE:  How did you end up here?

Edgar stared at the distant cliffs, lost in thought.  I wondered if he’d fallen asleep with his eyes open.

EDGAR:  Rescue is terrifying, at least the way it happened to me.  I had my routine down, life was good.  I knew what family threw away half their Sunday chicken dinner.  I could pick out the easy marks at the White House Ruin parking lot by the car they drove or the way they walked.  There was no reason to ever go into town so cars weren’t a threat and I didn’t have to worry about getting blindsided by the psycho progeny of the locals who drank.

He stared at the stacks across the valley some more.   It’s difficult to determine when a stoic Rez Dog smiles or is sad but Edgar was obviously re-living something awful.

EDGAR:  I got greedy, you know?  Too full of myself.  But I was sick and lost my edge.  Turns out a white girl was the “problem I didn’t see as a problem” until it was too late.

Edgar stood and ambled over to the neat stacks of juniper firewood.  He marked a log and came back, but he didn’t sit.

EDGAR:  Would you mind if we took a break?  I need a minute.

STEVE:  Sure.  I could mark a log myself.  Back here in ten minutes?

Actually, we’re all going to take a break.  Hear the rest of Edgar’s rescue story when we publish Part 3.  The best way to make sure you don’t miss the conclusion to Edgar’s Story is to sign up for our blog at:  rezdawgrescue.com/blogsubscribe

Please find the conclusion to Edgar’s interview here.

__________

For more information about what you’ve read here, in previous editions or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to fill out our quick form or update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)


The post Edgar’s Interview/by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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Canyon de Chelly from the air. This was Edgar’s neighborhood…

This is a true story about a Rez Dog named Edgar.  We have a fair amount of information about his early life but as with all Rez Dog Rescue Stories, we’ll need to make some assumptions if we want to finish with an accurate biography.

Let’s just say Edgar has the look of a Heeler/Beagle mix.  If the Rez Law of Random Interbreeding holds, he also has the blood of other breeds running through his veins:  from Corgi to Chihuahua, from Cattle Dog to Yorkshire Terrier.  Each breed contributes unique characteristics that increase a Rez Dog’s ability to survive.  Does Edgar have a Catahoula bent that will help him dig for bugs to eat?  Is there any Lassie courage in Edgar’s heart that will give him the strength to battle a coyote?  He most likely has those traits and more but we don’t know where they came from.  The fact that Edgar is alive at all proves he has some kind of genetic and behavioral disposition for survival.   Fortunately for him, cuteness is one of the traits he inherited from some long dead ancestor.  Rescued Rez Dogs with his cuteness and charm are adopted quickly and these traits may be the most powerful survival-related characteristic Edgar has.

Edgar during the early days. He was sad, scared and wasn’t quite sure of his role in the smooth running of his foster home. He was a quick study and the fun is nonstop now.

Not only is he adorable, but Edgar is small – another plus that tends to result in quicker adoptions.  From a distance, Edgar looks like a run-of-the-mill super-cute Rez-Puppy.  On closer inspection, you’ll notice his adult teeth have fully erupted.  We believe Edgar is about eight months old but malnutrition throughout his short life has limited his growth and development.  He will always be small, slightly less coordinated and less able to compete for resources than his peers.  But Edgar is a product of the Rez and as such, there is more to this little guy than meets the eye.

Edgar and Rebel, still working out visitation for the last piece of antler.

Think of it this way:  dumb Rez Dogs don’t survive so we can assume Edgar is intelligent.  Actually, I can attest to the fact he is – he’s outsmarted me on several occasions.  Whether a slow Rez Dog is hit by a car, infuriates the pack Alpha or fails to consistently find water, the High Desert has a way of clearing out the gene pool.  Edgar is a bag of bones with patches of exposed skin who looks like he’s never enjoyed a full meal… but he is smart enough to distract bigger/stronger Rez Dogs long enough to steal their dinner.  He’s a survivor.

Edgar arrived weak, unsteady on his feet and suffering world class mange. If this picture doesn’t motivate you to get into rescue, then rescue might not be your thing.

This is also true of Rez Dogs:  the weak ones don’t survive.  Poor nutrition is a common problem for Rez Dogs and malnutrition leads to other, more severe problems – any of which can kill.  Your dog wouldn’t think twice about the wounds they received while fighting that Pit mix for the mouse carcass behind the dumpster at Basha’s.  Your dog gets to go to the vet.  A cut on a starving Rez Dog will quickly become infected and infection is an efficient killer…  as is Parvo or the Distemper virus.  Weaker dogs die but some Rez Dogs fight off infection and survive with a stronger constitution than before.  They pass that constitution on to future generations.  Well, Edgar won’t because he’s already been neutered – but I digress.

Edgar also has the scratches and scars of a veteran Rez Dog and a gnarly case of mange that left only the thinnest whisps of hair to protect his skin against sunburn.  All in all, that he made it this far stands as proof that he’s a prototypical Rez Dog.  To look at him, you wouldn’t think he has much chance at a long and prosperous life but he’s one of the lucky ones.  Not only did he survive eight difficult months on the Rez, he was rescued and delivered to a foster home where he could chill out and get healthy.  Looks rarely tell the story about a Rez Dog and Edgar is no exception.

The thought occurs that stories such as Edgar’s are best heard directly from the source.  Our next blog explores what rescue is all about… from his side of the conversation.

Please find Part 2 of Edgar’s story here.

For more information about what you’ve read here, in previous editions or about RezDawg in general, please visit RezDawgRescue.org, The Rez Dog Biographies, or stevensable.com.

Want to be notified when we post another blog? Please sign-up for our mailing list. (And for those of you who are already on our RezDawg mailing list, we encourage you to use the form below to update your settings so you can receive the blog notifications too!)


The post Edgar’s Story, Part One/by Steven Sable appeared first on RezDawg Rescue.

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