Some of you dear readers recall that we adopted a rescued doberman a few years ago, summer of 2007. I found her through a favorite bird blog; where else would you expect to find information about adopting dobermans? 🙂 The blogger posted a sweet picture of the doberman his family had taken in, and linked to a favorite rescue group, Special Needs Dobermans. Powerless to resist, I clicked through. I ended up writing to the group to ask if they had any senior dogs they were trying to place – someone who could be a nice companion for Baxter.
Longtime readers might remember Baxter. He was a “NYC street dog” who attached himself to me and my other dog, Bear, one evening in 1994 as Bear and I walked to Fort Tryon Park. He was malnourished, banged up from a fight, and dragging a dislocated leg (yes, his own). He was about 1 year old, and was gracious enough to hang around with us for another 15 years. Baxter seemed quite lonely after Bear died in 2005, and eventually we thought it might cheer him up to have another companion. But since he was getting on in years, we wondered if he would prefer someone close to his age and temperament. Hence my inquiry about senior rescue dogs.
Special Needs Dobermans put me in touch with another rescue group, Doberman Pinscher SOS here in California. We didn’t start this process thinking, “we’re going to adopt a doberman.” Never really crossed our minds. But the photos I saw, and the profiles I was reading, and the information both rescue groups provided about how hard it is to find homes for adult dobermans, were sucking me in. I wandered around the Dobie SOS web site, still intending to look for an older dog. But suddenly I saw “Tia’s” picture and was captivated. I called the Better Half over to look, and we decided we had
to meet her. Eventually, we learned Tia’s story: an LA county shelter called Doberman SOS to alert them that a doberman had been turned in. That dog was not Tia, but the rescuer took a quick walk through the shelter while she was there, spotted Tia, and decided to take her, too. Just like that, Tia’s luck changed: she went from almost-certainly-doomed, into the safety of an amazing rescue group that will take care of its charges all their lives if they never find a permanent home. Would that millions of other dogs a year get this lucky. We drove 3 hours to meet Tia, fell in love with her, made sure Baxter approved, and adopted her.
She instantly bonded with Baxter. But when Baxter died in 2009, Tia had to get used to being an only dog. We fostered a rescued hound for several months last year, but he couldn’t stop chasing the cats. With the help of Beagles and Buddies, Cooper found a more appropriate home. And Tia was alone again.
Then last summer, the Better Half read a story about Muttville, a Bay Area-based group that specializes in rescuing and placing senior dogs. Once again, I scoured the web site reading sad stories and looking for cat-friendly dogs. I spotted this wonderful guy – a (then) 10-year old miniature poodle, “Sheppy,” who needed a new home. We met for a play date, Tia seemed to like
him, and we adopted him.
All’s well that ends well… except for one weird complication. Tia is a worrier by nature – a “stressbot,” as her vet says. She needs lots of exercise to burn off the energy that she would otherwise devote to worrying. Before Sheppy moved in, Tia and I had developed a pretty good running routine in McLaren Park. Sheppy is in great shape, but he has to do a lot of work to keep up with a human and a doberman, so he couldn’t run with us. But if he’s not coming, Tia won’t go! I leash her up, take her outside, and as soon as she figures out that I’m actually thinking of leaving without Sheppy, she sets her parking brake and refuses to budge. If I get too insistent about it, she will actually collapse to the ground – dead weight.
Lots of it. As a result of her firm “I won’t go anywhere without Sheppy” stance, Tia has put on at least 5 pounds in the last year. That’s a lot of poundage for a dog, the equivalent of a nearly 30-pound weight gain for you or me. I was desperate to figure out a way to get her running again. “What about a jogging stroller?” I asked the Better Half, who looked at me like maybe I wasn’t quite grasping the connection between running and weight loss: how would a jogging stroller help Tia lose weight? “To put Sheppy in! We could strap him in, and Tia can run alongside!” We both know it won’t be THAT easy; Tia – who is near-phobic about novel objects – will need to be introduced and then gradually habituated to the stroller before team-running is possible. But it seemed worth a try. Now… to find a stroller.
Enter Freecycle. Last night, a Freecycler posted an offer for an 8-year old, well-loved jogging stroller! I wrote and told her my plan, and she gave it to me.
Now I just have to fix the brake (although, at 20 pounds, Sheppy won’t exactly turn this buggy into a runaway train) and make certain that Sheppy can be securely strapped in. Then we begin habituating Tia to her big blue running companion. THEN we’ll make our maiden voyage. I’ll keep you posted.
Each of the rescue groups I mentioned here is doing amazing work in very trying economic times, and can really use your support: