Archive for August 14th, 2010

Sixteen years and two months ago I received the first phone call to rescue a miniature pinscher. The girl on the phone said a 3-year old female minpin had been brought into the shelter by her owner, would I be interested? They called me because Scottie and I had been making the rounds of all the area shelters every weekend in search of minpins and offering our help. There was a slight hitch to this particular rescue situation – she had newborn puppies with her! I remember it was a Friday and I was only working half a day for summer hours at the tv station. I couldn’t get out that door fast enough.

When I got to Seminole County Animal Services I was met by their new shelter manager, Mary Beth. She scared me. This is funny since she’s now one of my favorite people. The entire shelter scared me back then but I was such a newbie and had yet to get my eyes opened to the ugly realities of our world. They were about to be, though. She took me through the kennel and we stopped at a run with a laundry basket in it. In the basket was a tiny black & tan minpin with her back to us. I can still clearly see her expression as she turned her head to look up at me. She had those two babies nestled to her and my heart was forever broken. On the shelter paperwork the owner filled out the following as the reason for give-up: “Had babies yesterday, can’t keep.” I still find it hard to fathom a person was able to do that to her and those babies, but they did.

The little family joined us when the pups were about a week old. Their eyes weren’t even opened, yet. When I brought them in the house they were snug in a crate and our minpin, Ramirez, wouldn’t take his eyes off them. You could literally see hearts flying around his head as he looked longingly to the mother, Katie. He spent hours sitting outside the crate door but Katie wouldn’t come out. When she finally did venture out their bond was immediate. So much so, he would go in with the puppies to babysit so Katie could go outside or eat or whatever she needed to do. It was amazing to witness these babies being raised by Katie and Ramirez. They grew fast and were just too stinkin’ cute. We named the black & tan girl Shelby, the sable & white girl Kaley.

When the babies were 8 weeks old both got adopted into new homes. This was difficult to do but it’s what you must do as a rescuer. We had to keep Katie for Ramirez. There would be no debate about that. They even got married in a ceremony at Lake Eola and lived very happily ever after. Katie had his heart until the day she died at 16 from kidney failure.

Shelby went to a lovely family similar to ours, they did greyhound rescue but had a minpin needing a playmate. They still send us Christmas cards even though she died in middle age. She ate a tube of toothpaste and died from the poisoning. Really. We were all devastated.

Part of the adoption contract was that the pup was to come back if anything ever happened and they could no longer keep her. Kaley got adopted, too, but then came back when she was about a year old. I can’t remember why she came back that time. I wanted to keep her, she’d always been my favorite, but that’s not what you do as a rescuer so I found her another home. She was in that home for 4 years before coming back. Yes, she then stayed where she belonged, with us.

When she came back the second time she was sick with heartworms. I was more than angry at her adopter. It wasn’t like I lost contact with them at all, we used to babysit her a few times a year. I was always available for anything they needed. But, one of the kids became allergic and the pediatrician said all the pets had to go. Instead of calling me they banished her to live outside in the yard. She wasn’t happy about this new arrangement and was able to easily scale a 6′ fence. After many escapes and walking the boys home from school they called me about the situation. While she was outside they’d run out of the monthly heartworm preventative and just didn’t get anymore. She was no longer important and had become a nuisance.

When she’d come back the first time at a year old I took her to a dog show. We didn’t walk more than a few feet into the building before the basenji people descended on us asking where my basenji had come from because she was so unusual. Basenji?! When I told them her mother was a purebred black & tan minpin they were astonished. Now we knew who daddy was. I found out there had been a lady in the show world for a while who had both breeds. She hadn’t made a good name for herself and everyone felt strongly that she had to be who dumped Katie.

We were able to get Kaley free of the heartworms but it was an ordeal. It’s expensive and dangerous. The drug used is dangerous, the weeks of worms breaking off into the bloodstream is dangerous and the risk of death is high. Keeping the dog calm, crated and with leash walks only to go potty is the protocol. Well… not realistic for a mix of a basenji & minpin. Kaley could not just walk, she bounced like a pogo stick. Kaley would leap over my head. She couldn’t just walk out the door she had to fly out with her banshee scream at full volume. You’ve heard the term “zest for life”? Kaley was just about as zesty as you can get! Dr. Rick and I had to throw up our hands and declare, “it’s either gonna kill her or not because there’s no keeping this dog quiet.” She was 5 years old when we did her heartworm treatment.

Kaley was an entertaining member of our family. She loved to dance with me. She was always sweet and respectful to her elder dogs. We tried obedience training at one point and that didn’t go too well. Remember the pogo stick thing? She was also very attached to me and would do the banshee scream if I was out of her sight. She behaved fine for us at home so she just was our crazy girl with lots of nicknames – Jungle Dog, Jungle Boogie, Sugar Boogie…

About 4 years ago she began showing signs of kidney disease. She never let it affect her much, always had a ravenous appetite and was pretty much always up for a party. A year ago she had her first major crash and needed hospitalization to attempt to flush the toxins from her kidneys. I told the vet staff this wasn’t going to work too well for this dog but they didn’t really believe me. They wanted her there for at least 3 days. After the first 8 hours they called me to come pick her up. She had sat in the treatment cage hooked up to her I.V. doing her banshee scream for the entire 8 hours! So much so, she lost her voice but she was still in the head up position trying to vocalize. She was so tired she was swaying back & forth but still pushing that scream. I brought her home.

I used my knowledge from watching her mother and another rescued minpin die from kidney failure to make her as happy as possible. That meant I went against what the conventional vets say to do. I used alternative therapies, such as herbs and acupuncture. She ate whatever she wanted and I refused to put her through subcutaneous fluid therapy at home. She was our crazy Jungle Girl for another whole year. Age crept upon her quickly and stole most of her physical prowess. Her tail had always spun around like a helicopter when she was excited (which was almost always!) so her latest and last nickname was The Unstoppable Wobble-Copter.

This past Thursday at the age of 16 Kaley died in our arms. She had always been close to a mirror image of her mother. They died exactly the same. Both shared a crazy energy. Either could walk in a room and it was as if fireworks were going off. The house has been eerily still. Kaley was the last of that special family of 4 pins. Her mother, step-father and sister have embraced her now in what I know was the most joyous of reunions. How I wish I could see it. I will… someday… over the Rainbow.

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