Traveling Dog Lady: It's National Mutt Day

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's National Mutt Day


As the weather gets colder in some parts of the world, we take a "paws" and reflect on adopting our mutts, two of whom just happen to be littermates.

Our dogs, Charlie Brown and his littermate, Cooper, didn't come from a brick-and-mortar shelter.  They were transported to Massachusetts from Tennessee as nearly newborn puppies, along with their other six siblings and their mama dog, Kate, three days before Christmas in 2011.  A wonderful organization, Great Dog Rescue of New England, arranged for their rescue from a high-kill shelter in Tennessee.

The little family had been supposedly found in an abandoned house that was about to be torn down.  The now legendary story is that a worker was doing a final check on a house that was to be condemned and demolished.  As he was going around room-to-room, he heard a squeaking noise and discovered Kate and her pups in a closet.  He scooped them all up, and surrendered them to a shelter, thinking he was doing a good deed.  Unfortunately, as most of us in New England know, "shelters" in the deep south are almost certain to be so-called "high-kill" facilities.  The name shelter is definitely a misnomer in this case!

A pile of pups!


The paperwork we received for Charlie Brown, whom we adopted in January of 2012, said that he was born on 11-11-11!  Cool, right?  I saw Charlie Brown on Great Dog Rescue's Facebook page, and showed the picture to my significant other.  We had lost our beloved hound dog, Hector, very suddenly and shockingly only five months before, and were still reeling from the loss.  Neither of us was ready for another dog, nor was Hobie, our faithful Lab/Shepherd mix, then 12 years old.  But, we wanted to do something in Hector's honor, and we could afford to help a needy dog, so, the next thing you know, we were filling out an application.

Hector, my love


The sad news came back that someone had beat us to it, and Charlie Brown would not be ours.  We asked if any of the other littermates were available instead.  The answer was no, they had all been adopted. The agent casually mentioned that we should check back in about two weeks, just to be sure, as sometimes adoptions don't work out, for whatever reason.

Our busy lives went on.  We enjoyed our time with Hobie as the lone dog, and our three cats.  We missed Hector like crazy.

One morning, I decided to just check in with the rescue agent as she had suggested, thinking nothing would come of it.  To my surprise, she said she was just about to call me, that Charlie Brown's adoption had fallen through, and he was still looking for a home!  Then ensued a home visit to check us out, a questionnaire about our work schedules and so forth, and a trip up to the New Hampshire border, where Charlie was living with his foster mom.
I adopted Charlie Brown almost sight-unseen.  I had no intention of saying no, even though I was given the opportunity.  I spent maybe 15 minutes with him and the foster family's other pets, signed the papers, put him in the car, and made the long trek back home.

Charlie Brown, same car as Hector's pic, above!


The first night, Charlie slipped through the one, and only, hole in the fence, and was trotting around the front yard; ate a piece of rusty metal; and vomited it all up on the leather furniture.  I thought, "Now, I've done it.  He has been poisoned, is going to die, and I will be banished from ever adopting another pet from a shelter or rescue!"  I slept on the couch, with Charlie Brown on my tummy all night.  The next day, he was fine.  For the next several months, this dog challenged me at every turn.  I've had dogs all my life, but this one has been my biggest challenge so far.  Things were about to get even more interesting....

We had Charlie Brown just seven months, when I received an email from the foster mom and rescue agency.  The email was also sent to all of the other people who had adopted the puppies from the litter dubbed "Kate Plus Eight".

The runt of the litter, originally named mini-Cooper, and then known as "Fluff", was being returned to the rescue agency.  He had sustained an inoperable injury to his right, front leg, which would require amputation.  Did any of us want to adopt a brother?

Coop when he had 4 legs, just prior to amputation


Not considering that option for a moment, I re-wrote the email in my own words and broadcast it to my friends by email, Facebook and Twitter.  The number of individuals who wrote back to me and said "YOU must adopt him!" was astonishing.  People who knew me, but did not know each other, were all replying with the same response.  I casually mentioned this to my partner, who was already concerned about the stress I was under raising Mr. Pack Leader (Charlie Brown)!!  "Can you imagine if there were TWO of these?", he asked, and pointed to Charlie who was bouncing around in his early-morning shenanigans.  I laughed.  I had never lived with more than two dogs at a time before.  I would be crazy to do this, right?

Knowing that I was, indeed, crazy, a few days later, I filled out the application to adopt "Fluff", whose name had already been changed back to Cooper.  His original adoptive family had named him Fluff because their other dog is named Peanut Butter.  Peanut butter and marshmallow "Fluff" is a popular sandwich here in New England where Marshmallow Fluff was invented and is still produced to this day.  The sandwich is called Fluffernutter!  The family were unable to afford the medical expenses necessary to either treat, or amputate, Cooper's leg which sustained an injury mysteriously, as no one has ever been sure exactly what happened.  Because the injury had been sustained some weeks prior, and he had been confined to a crate in a well-meaning attempt at rehabilitation, the leg could, unfortunately, not be saved.  We were not the owners of record, nor was the original family -- Great Dog Rescue owned Cooper, and they made the (right) decision to go for amputation.  Experimental surgery was an additional, non-guaranteed, and expensive option.  As the vet so eloquently put it, "I wouldn't put my own dog through that."  The amputation was scheduled, and we donated some of the money to rescue to help pay for the surgery.

And a few weeks later, with the scars still showing, but he's happy


Cooper, who was with his foster mom during surgery and recovery, bounced back from surgery within a day or two.  The most difficult part was keeping this young puppy from jumping around too much while healing.  The first thing he did when he got back to their home was jump up on the humans' bed!

Cooper stayed with the foster family for about two weeks, until his stitches were removed and he was fully recovered from surgery.  We had visited him before the amputation, and brought Charlie with us to be sure they still got along (they are thick as thieves).  I later learned that Charlie and Cooper were the last two remaining dogs to be adopted out the first time -- even their mother, Kate, was adopted out before them.  So, they were more or less a bonded pair.  I often think it took all of this for them to find their way back to each other.

I brought Cooper home in late August of 2012, almost exactly one year to the day from the day Hector died so suddenly a year before.  There often are times that Cooper reminds me so much of Hector.  His demeanor, his cuddliness, his gentle presence in the room.  He even sits in the same favorite spots as Hector did.  If you believe in reincarnation, you might think maybe Cooper is Hector, reincarnated.  Sometimes, I like to think so.

Cooper is an amazing creature.  He does not appear to be "disabled" in any way, shape or form.  He can often run circles around his brother, quite literally.  He jumps into and out of the car, and onto and off furniture, like a champ.  He likes to run on the beach.  People who meet him for the first time usually don't notice his missing leg for several minutes.  He has an active and full life.  He adores his "uncle" Hobie, now almost 15, and all of the cats.

As we surpass the boys' third birthday, they really have turned out to be "great dogs"!  We have stayed in touch with the Great Dog Rescue volunteers, our foster mom, and most of the other adoptive pet-parents of Kate and her babies.  We got together on November 11th for the past three years (which just so happens to be a holiday!) with some of the other pet parents to celebrate the kids' birthdays on the beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

First birthday, 11-11-12

Second birthday, 11-11-13


Third birthday, 11-11-14


Earlier this year, yet another of the boys' siblings was returned to rescue due to the medical situation of one of his adoptive parents.  I thought about adopting Franklin for about five minutes.  Somebody beat us to it.

Franklin!


(Originally written by me in October, 2014 for DoggyLoot's blog to recognize "Adopt A Shelter Dog Month", but never published.  All original material. This  is my intellectual property.)


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