Archive for September, 2011

Baby Harper Beats The Odds

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village…” well it has taken a tight-knit animal community to see to it Baby Harper had a chance to beat every odd. When this now famous pup was brought into Seminole County Animal Services a mere 4 weeks ago, no one thought hers would be a happy ending. Shelter Supervisor, Mary Beth Lake, had seen pups like her before. They call them swimmer puppies for the fact they look as if they’re swimming. Pectus Excavatum causes some newborns to become stuck, legs splayed and unable to get up off their chests. Most develop pneumonia and die within a few weeks or the mother, sensing the defect, kills them herself. But here was Harper, 2 months old.

photo courtesy Dolly's Foundation

When Mary Beth looked into Harper’s eyes she saw an incredible will and determination. She made a phone call to Erica Daniel of Dolly’s Foundation. She was afraid of setting Erica up for heartbreak but felt the pup deserved a chance, especially after being discarded like yesterday’s trash. The woman who brought Harper into the shelter claimed a man was selling pups on the side of the road and that he had Harper in a trash bag. No one has come forward with his identity.

Mary Beth snuggles Harper

Erica did what any fellow dog rescuer would do. She took the deformed pup home to show her at least one night of love and affection, while knowing she was probably going to have to euthanize her the next day. According to Erica, Harper’s stiff limbs felt as if they were in rigor mortis so she off-handedly began massaging them. It wasn’t too long after Harper began to lift her head and trying to move her legs! Erica was floored and knew the next day’s appointment was going to be canceled. Instead she made arrangements to have her seen by the specialists at the University of Florida.

Erica & Harper. photo courtesy Pit Stop Bully's Rescue

In the meantime, our animal community began gathering troops to help in Harper’s fight. Patti Dillingham and Stephanie Moore, owners of Louise’s Pet Connection put together the necessary supplements and food from their market. A call was made to Bev McCartt, hydrotherapist at Hip Dog Hydrotherapy to have her teach us how to properly massage and do range of motion exercises. Swim sessions were arranged once the doctors gave the ok. Amy the electro-stimulation therapist happened into the store as we were all discussing Harper’s game plan and she began treatment on her immediately. A baby’s pack & play was purchased to be her safe haven. Several harness type contraptions were tried to get her off her chest. Erica’s husband, Grant, began building a sling walker. Lots of research was done on the Internet where we saw dogs that had successfully learned to walk despite their condition. We became inspired and hopeful.

Amy doing electro-stim therapy, me holding Harper! photo courtesy Dolly's Foundation

Bev & Harper in the pool. photo courtesy Flyin Fur Pet Photography

Thanks to social media, Harper has become an inspiration to the world. Her story has spread like wildfire reaching from our little Florida town to the U.K., New Zealand and Russia. Articles are running on too many websites to count, and her story that was shot by our local WESH-2 News has been picked up by all the media outlets. Her foster mom, Erica, is getting hundreds of emails daily and just that many Facebook postings asking about Harper. Ellen has called. People magazine has called. Erica & Harper are heading to New York City for the TODAY SHOW this coming Monday!

While everyone has been moved to tears, Twittering and Facebooking, amongst all the hoopla, Harper has been working hard. She has become a master of all she tries. She mastered carpet. She mastered grass. She mastered concrete. She has even been caught running (yes, running!) across the tile floor. She has been able to play with a puppy twice her size. She has proven the experts wrong. Harper is no longer defective or homeless. She will stay with Dolly’s Foundation and help them in their mission. That mission being to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome homeless, neglected, and abused American Pit Bull Terriers and other bully breed dogs. They strive to preserve, promote and bring positive awareness to the breed and the negative stereotype bestowed upon them. Did I fail to mention Harper is a Pit Bull? Breed shouldn’t matter. She is a sweet miracle who has given us all some much needed inspiration and possibly even motivation.

Mastering the tile floor while stealing eyeglasses!

Dolly & Harper are going to change the world! photo courtesy Dolly's Foundation

What is my part in all this? I’m proud to say I’m an honorary Auntie! Erica is a friend of mine from our work together at the shelter. And yes, I’ve smooched that adorable Harper face 🙂

If you’d like to participate in Harper’s Fundraiser and get the coolest photos of our little superstar, please check out Flyin Fur Pet Photography! 

photo courtesy Flyin Fur Pet Photography

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Our weather is still saying HOT but the sun is sneaking to bed earlier and earlier, hence my girls are already growing their winter coats. Not the best thing when it’s still pushing the 90’s! When we first moved to Terri’s place a couple years ago we attempted to clip Cass w/electric clippers to give her some relief from the heat. That also happened to be the first time I ever saw Cass rear – and right in front of me! I have been reluctant to use the clippers ever since. But the past year of working with and learning from Gary has given me great insight and Cass much needed confidence. So, we gave it a go!

If you look closely at the picture you can see where I’ve clipped her belly, shoulder & neck! The folks on my fjord list had recommended I just do a trace clip on her and that’s what I was going for. I’m not the best at straight lines but I think we did ok! I was literally on my knees underneath her and she didn’t move a muscle. I was more than proud of my girl, I was overwhelmed by her trust in me. I’ve been able to give her peace and comfort and she repays me by trusting I won’t hurt her.

Cass’s hair grows fast so her mane was in need of a trim, too. We’d already accomplished using the clippers for that a few months back. Makes a big difference from using hand scissors. We’ve broken quite a few since her hair’s so thick.

Love. This. Girl.



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The shelter named her Karma… which made me immediately start singing Karma Chameleon… which then made me think of Boy George… which then set the name Georgia on my mind! But on her shelter paperwork, this gal’s name is Karma.

She’s a red, speckled Australian Cattledog also called a Red Heeler. I met her today and she’s pretty fantastic. She was a stray and no one’s come to claim her, which is sad. She must have been loved by someone.

They estimate her to be around 5 years old and already spayed. She’s that good, medium-sized 40 lb. or so dog. That’s really perfect size. Big enough, but not too big.

Her adoption fee is a whopping $16 and that includes all vaccinations, worming & a microchip! I didn’t have to spend a lot of time with her to know she’s a good dog. She likes to give kisses and hugs. Australian Cattledogs (ACD’s) are not meant for everyone, though, and are smarter than a lot of folks. It takes a good 2 years to humanize an ACD so she’s past all the nonsense. These dogs are instinctively herders but can be just as happy sharing the recliner if that’s what you desire. They are not for the passive, they will master the passive. An ACD solves problems with their mouths. If an ACD outsmarts you, and they will, you must get smarter. You must also show them kindness, for they never forget. Karma will reward you by being a loyal companion that will look deeply into your soul with her intense, yet soft eyes not missing a thing involving you – for you would be her world.

Karma is waiting.

Seminole County Animal Services

232 Bush Boulevard Sanford, FL 32773-6198

(407) 665-5201 

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When I Hear That Whinny

When I drive up to the barn it’s always in anticipation of hearing the magical sound. The sound of Cass calling to me. Sometimes Becca is the one that greets me but 9 times out of 10 it’s Cass. No matter what may be on my mind or how tired my body is, that sound makes everything ok. My world is complete. Since we’re getting a bit of a break in our heat wave lately, that whinny has been accompanied by a trotting Cass and that is really special! She can be all the way at the back of the property, hear me whistle (which is fairly lame!) and comes running. I love it!

My girls have gotten into a very lax schedule over the past few months. Here they await me opening the doors to the stalls so they can eat their breakfast and relax under the fans.

Yep, Becca’s got her head on momma’s butt! Cass is imploring me to hurry up already 🙂

Becca’s trying to see what her momma’s got.

She just won’t share!

Once Becca goes into her stall I open Cass’s and she can roam at will. She eats her breakfast grain and nibbles hay while I do my clean up chores.

Both girls love their Himalayan salt blocks. Becca’s last longer than her momma’s.

Becca almost always naps when she comes into her stall. Sometimes she even lays down. Must be hard to still be a growing baby. Don’t her ears look as though they’ve been dipped in paint? She’s a funny girl and doing well in remembering her manners. Fall means her serious training will begin!

The donkeys trudge along after the girls to get their breakfast. They aren’t officially mine but I sure love them like they are. Mathilde (momma) has come so far in her trust of humans.

Clementine is still holding the position of barn manager. Cass will even share her hay and I often find them in the stall together.

Eva (cattledog) loves going to work at the barn! We usually have our breakfast while the big girls have theirs. Here she’s making sure Clem doesn’t get any crazy ideas!

Yes, Australian Cattledogs are smart… note where she’s parked herself.

Clementine and Eva have a love/hate relationship. Eva gives a half-hearted chase and Clem gives a half-hearted kick. Neither have ever hurt the other.

Cass does enjoy her grazing time.

She also enjoys her grooming time. Can you tell how much bigger than momma Becca is?

Becca is on the right. Crazy to think I once could carry her in my arms!

This was a beautiful day… look at that sky.

And this… is a beautiful face… Becca has become a breathtaking horse. How lucky I am to be theirs.

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I just read over 30 sympathy cards that were lovingly sent to Scottie & me over a 3 month period of time. In those 3 months we watched as 5 of our beloved dogs died. All were old, all were sick. It was the end of a wonderful era. The end began with the most important one, Ramirez… my Ramirez. Oh, what a story he will help me write one day! September 1st, 2009 was the day we had dreaded for longer than I can now remember. I will let Scottie’s eulogy tell our story:

Ramirez, my friend, it is truly an honor tho have lived and loved with you by our side for the past 17 and a half years. When our eyes first met in the summer of 1992, it was pure magic. We were young and newly married, with no pets and you were already completely full of yourself at 4 months old. Oh, the challenges you brought us… jumping over kitchen counter tops to escape confinement, eating pencil sharpeners and scaring your mom into an emergency vet visit, guilting your dad with a sad little cry that made him take you out of the crate and put you under the covers in our bed… which was where you chose to sleep every night for the rest of your life.

Then came the day you discovered your love of racing, when I had to chase you around the little lake by our apartment. No other miniature pinscher would dominate the Orlando doggie derbies like you did. Ribbons, trophies, you even won a grand prize cruise! You owned those race tracks no matter what dog stood in your way.

At only a year old you were gracious enough to tolerate us bringing home a stray, a big goofy dog named Jackson. And soon thereafter, you yourself selected Rebecca the cattledog for adoption. The Holy Trinity was now complete, the doorway to our future had been flung wide open. And it was because of you.

As the rescues came and our family grew, you were always King of the Castle. Even when there were 18 dogs living under our roof, you towered above them all. And each and every rescued dog we helped, was because of you.

We learned so much that we were able to start our own pet sitting business. And 12 years later, thousands of people trust us to care for their pets. It’s all because of you.

You have changed not only our lives, but those of countless others around the world. Everything we have, everything we have done, is all because of you.

You are an icon. You are a legend. You are the greatest there will ever be.

We miss you, my friend. There is an ache in our hearts that is as deep as the oceans. We hurt so very much without you by our side. But we know that you are now young and strong and mighty once again… standing tall with Jackson and Rebecca, the Holy Trinity has at long last been reunited. And that gives us peace, as we know we will all be together again.

Into the freedom of wind and sunshine

We let you go

Into the dance of stars and planets

We let you go

Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the star maker

We let you go

We love you, we miss you, we want you to be happy

Go safely, go dancing, go running home 

Prince Ramirez of the Highlands was so named for Sean Connery’s character in the film “The Highlander”.  (From Wikipedia – Although their training lasted for a very short time, Ramirez left an indelible impression on the young Highlander — the value of fine skill over brute force, a taste of the theatrical, the wonder of the world beyond Scotland, and most of all, the connection between “all living things.” ) It’s amazing how our Ramirez would mold into that very description. Yes, we definitely humanize our animals! He could demand our undivided attention and ignore us at the same time. His namesake was an immortal and my boy certainly lives on thru the incredible bond in my heart and soul.

Ramirez lived and loved… he loved his sister, Rebecca. She always had his back.

He loved birthday cake.

He loved the sunbeam.

He loved winning doggie derbies.

He loved his friend, Rocco… the only dog who could truly beat him in a race.

He loved his always expanding wardrobe.

He did not love his hurricane wrap but if we were gonna blow away we were gonna blow away together!

He loved Thanksgiving.

And guarding his dad’s food.

He loved to be up on things…

He loved his daddy.

He loved laying in front of a fire.

He loved his wife, Katie.

He loved saving other minpins… as long as they realized the world revolved around him.

He loved baby cats… oh, how he loved baby cats!

He loved me.

He made me a better person. He brought out all my unknown talents and passions and for that I am forever grateful. He was that once in a lifetime love. The dread I lived with for so long, knowing we would someday lose him has been replaced by my grateful heart. When he died it was unbearable pain but how fortunate that we were the ones chosen to be his family. I will never love another as completely and deeply as I did this little man. My heart cannot and will not allow it. He was meant to be. To be the one, the one that began it all… the one that changed it all. There can be only one. Ramirez 02.07.92 – 09.01.09.

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