Daisy’s Sweet Disposition – The Love of a Senior Dog

1 Jul

Many people find themselves unwilling to adopt “senior” dogs because they fear that the time spent with their new best friend will be closer to reaching its painful end. This is true in most cases, but what most people do not recognize are all the reasons why adopting older dogs is so important for the dog and the owner.

Here is a story that may alter your perception of elderly dogs and encourage you to adopt them more willingly:

Jill, a professional dog trainer who has been with Eleventh Hour Rescue since 2004, has been one to look past age as a factor in determining what dog fit her and her husband best. Three years ago, there were 11 dogs that were rescued from a hoarding/neglect situation in Georgia. An e-mail was sent to Eleventh Hour Rescue asking them if it would be okay to take in Daisy, a 7-8 year old dog who they considered to be the “least adoptable” due to her age. Of course, this didn’t prevent Eleventh Hour Rescue from taking in the “senior of the group.” Jill offered to foster one of the dogs, but was asked by her foster coordinator to take in Daisy. The night she picked up Daisy, she found her extremely shaken up by the process of her transport. Although she had that initial disposition, Daisy leaned into Jill and her husband Mark for affection.

It was interesting that this was Daisy’s reaction after hearing what she had previously been through. She had surgery for inverted eye lashes from scratching, food aggression, and was filthy with an awful stench. On top of those issues, her puppies were aborted due to emaciation. Jill and Mark knew that they had a lot of work coming their way. They started with an immediate scrub down, followed by a good meal and this comfort made her feel right at home.

The temperament of Daisy was unbelievable and unexpected after her previous harsh and very poor living conditions. She amazed Jill and Mark with her wonderful spirit and love for pretty much all things besides of course, cats and squirrels. When Jill asked her husband what he wanted for his 50th birthday, he said he wanted Daisy because he was in awe of her disposition. From that day on, the least adoptable dog turned out to be the love of the household.

Jill always asks herself why she never adopted a senior dog after her experience living with Daisy.

“If you have never loved a senior, you don’t know what you’re missing. Daisy taught us that no matter what has happened in the past, you can choose to embrace the good things given and love unconditionally. And love her we do!” –Jill Makoujy

The senior dogs at Eleventh Hour Rescue need homes just as badly as younger dogs. They make for instant companions and are not necessarily the “problem dogs” as many tend to think. The act of adopting may even save their life and help them know that they are loved.

If you would could picture yourself with one of our “seniors,” please check out www.ehrdogs.org for more information on adopting or fostering.

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Falling In Love with Your Pet Project

7 Jun

I always wanted to volunteer but I was always too busy with work, the house, my family and all other aspects of life that I never did anything about it.  For me, I believe Hurricane Sandy brought me the courage to join Eleventh Hour Rescue. After the dust settled from Sandy and life returned to ‘normal’ I started visiting Eleventh Hour’s website and in January, I signed up as a volunteer. I jumped in with both feet, but my passion is the kennel. The kennel is home to many special needs kennel kids that need the special care to heal the hurts they are not able to tell us about. As volunteers, we can see and feel them.

At my kennel orientation in February, I saw Gracie for the first time and found her to be such a beautiful and unique looking dog. My first few pack walks I took the dogs that were recommended to me by the leads of the walks because I did not know which ones I would be able to handle. Zeb was my first then he went into foster. Next, I moved on to Diesel, brindle, and then he went into foster. So on one particular pack walk, I wasn’t sure which dog to take and the leads suggested Gracie. That is when I fell in love and from what other volunteers tell me when they see us together, I think it is mutual. I mean look at that face – what’s not to love?

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Gracie’s story should be a simple one but like many of the special needs kids at the kennel, it is not. Born on February 8, 2012, she came to EHR with her siblings as a 3-month old puppy on a transport from Atlanta, Georgia. She went into foster and her foster mom and family took amazing care of her. She was adopted by a family with young children that she loved and was loved by them. Gracie can sit, stay, and shakes paws on command. She loves treats and responds positively to treat rewards. Unfortunately, for her, she had an incident with another dog in her home and in November, 2012, had to be returned to the kennel. That incident along with her manners at the kennel had instilled fear in some volunteers, so Gracie spent less time outside the kennel and more time inside.

After my first pack walk with Gracie, I decided to make her my pet project and dedicate myself to learning everything I could about her so I could help her. I have learned what she likes as well as what she does not like. She loves water, I mean really LOVES it. I have never seen a dog dance in the water, but she does and it is quite comical. She loves grass. She does the slow roll, snout first followed by a full body fall and continues to roll around in the grass, seeming to feel every single blade she rolls over. She loves to be touched and rolls right over for belly rubs. She has no problems with getting her coat brushed or with brushing her teeth or trimming her nails. And as a thank you for anything you do for her, she gives big fat sloppy kisses.

In the short time I’ve known her, her fears seem to stem from human behavior. She does not like to be rushed at by people and seems to be threatened at being stared down upon.   I have found that approaching Gracie has to be on her terms and is most successful with a treat. She does not like hands shoved in her face or pets on the head from strangers.  Coming to her from under her chin or letting her make the first move is the secret to a successful meeting. She does not like loud or high-pitched noises and does not appreciate being left alone in the car, even for a minute. She takes correction very well and that is why I believe her fears can be overcome.  Thanks to the many volunteers at EHR who have helped me by meeting Gracie her way… I believe her confidence is building and she is becoming less fearful. I am dedicated to continuing to help her build that confidence and find her furever home.

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Why did I choose Gracie as my pet project?  I don’t think I did, I think she chose me and I feel very lucky that she did. Take the step I did, log onto www.ehrdogs.org and find out how you can help a special needs kennel kid at Eleventh Hour Rescue.  You won’t regret it and it will give your Pet Project the opportunity to find you, like mine found me.

-Anne Parsons

She Adopts, Rescues and is Rescued in Return: Elaine’s Story-

4 Jun

In 2005 I wanted to adopt a dog after Hurricane Katrina, as I used to live in New Orleans and wanted to help somehow.  I looked on Petfinder.com and somehow came across Ralph the Beagle’s ad…  he was reportedly fighting the “battle of the bulge” and it said, “If you too are watching your carbs…trying to go for walks more… could be that you and Ralph are a good match”.  I was trying the Atkins diet, and my doctor had advised that I walk more, maybe even get a dog to walk around with. Although he wasn’t a “Katrina dog” and lived two hours away, his ad made me feel that he was my match! I went to Linda’s house, where the rescue dogs were in her living and dining rooms when I finally got to meet Ralph. I was approved, and went up a second time to pick him up.

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Unfortunately, Ralph had seizures, one in which that I was witness to one on the car ride home from Linda’s house. It didn’t seem so bad, and the vet didn’t feel he needed any medications, so we went about on our way getting to know each other.  On 12/7/05, I came home from work to find that poor Ralph had been seizing and was not very responsive.  My friend rushed over to help me get him to the vet, and he died in my arms on the way.  I couldn’t believe I had him for only five weeks, and he was gone. The Eleventh Hour Rescue team took it hard too because everyone loved him. It was a rough time for me. But for some reason, I tortured myself by looking on the website again the next day…

And there was Chance. “You wouldn’t be taking a chance with Chance, he’s perfect!”

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I felt he was my “second chance” to be a dog mom.  So up I trekked to Linda’s to meet him, and brought him home. He had heartworm and was treated, but was doing fine. I wanted to get him to the vet that day after all I had been through with Ralph, so we went to our appointment and then left to check out his new home. The vet said it was ok to give the heartworm preventative, but evidently it wasn’t and around midnight, Chance had labored breathing. I was so scared that I had another friend come to get us to take him to the ER. It ended up the extra medication caused an embolism, where the worms clogged his lungs making him unable to breathe.  They weren’t really sure if that was the cause, but it was their best diagnosis. He had to spend four days in an oxygen box, and I was devastated. He almost didn’t make it, but when he was cleared after four days, EHR took him back to heal. I felt terrible that the vet I took him to did this, but the team was very kind and cared for him while I got myself together a bit after both traumatic experiences. I just wanted to be sure he was healthy, and I wanted to seek out a new vet. On January 20, 2006, Chance came back to live with me.  We had six and half wonderful years together full of car rides, the beach, eating, walks, playing, sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating, eating, eating… he really was no trouble, listened, and was a very happy dog.  In 2012, we found he had anemia caused by a spleen hemangiosarcoma.  After all the medical attention he had been through by the age of twelve, I didn’t see the sense in torturing him with surgery, especially since it likely had spread by the time we realized what was going on. All I could do was just pray for mercy and peace. I managed his declining health until it was clear he needed to go to Rainbow Bridge to be with Ralph. The vet came to my home on July 2nd and he peacefully passed on his favorite spot, the sofa.

I wasn’t sure how long I would wait before getting a new dog. Chance had big paws to fill.  I lost my best friend; the house was so different without him there.  I did not know what kind of dog I would get, but I was not in a hurry and figured Chance would help guide me. I looked at dogs online, but didn’t feel much for any of them even as cute as most were. About one or two of them I tried to adopt fell through because they didn’t come up from the south or they were taken quickly. Then there was Preston. He seemed cute, almost similar to Chance. I knew he could not replace Chance, but also knew I needed to take my dog for walks and have a happy face around again. I’d like to think Preston has some of Chance in him, as he was born shortly after Chance died.

Preston did not come up for a few weeks. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not and did not want to get my hopes up too fast, until I finally got the call that he was on his way. I went to see him on October 18th at the Mt. Olive Pet Smart, again two hours from where I now live at the Jersey Shore. I went up to the crate, where he was with two of his four siblings. As the other two slept, he came right over to me. I asked, are you Preston?  And when I saw his collar, I laughed knowing he was my dog. We played in a room, and went through the updated adoption process, which was very different from being in Linda’s kitchen.

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All three experiences were great as far as the adoption process itself; the volunteers were friendly and helpful.  You can tell they are invested in what they do, and care about the adopters as well as all of the animals. The worst part for me was the long drive, but it was worth it to be able to have these three special boys in my life.  I often wish I could attend all the special events, but it is too difficult with the commute.

All three dogs adapted very well. There were never any issues as far as them being destructive or aggressive. Chance had several friends and a girlfriend, and was no trouble anywhere I took him. My family and friends never minded looking after him when I had to travel because he was so easy going. Preston has grown from 18 lbs to 80 lbs and is a ball of energy, but has come a long way and keeps on learning. He loves to be outdoors to play and walk or just lounge in the yard, and he has fun chasing a red laser light around the back yard. He even made it through Hurricane Sandy like a trooper. I think he would love a big snowstorm, and some more big-dog friends that he could roll around and play with more often. We have worked on training classes, and plan to take more. He is a rock star at my Pet Smart – They all know his name, even though they don’t know mine!

I did stumble online across sites that sold dogs, but it did not feel right.  Not only was it expensive, but also you were unable to meet the dog first. There are just so many dogs in shelters that need a happy home. EHR volunteers were always very understanding and helpful with all of the situations I encountered (ie. the vet), and with the adoption process in general.  They like to get updates and hear how we are doing, and I love sharing pictures, because I tend to take “a few”…

They say we rescue the dogs, but really the dogs rescue us. Even though they are not here with us long enough, I cannot imagine my life without any of these special babies.

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-Elaine Galante

You can also read about Preston’s journey to New Jersey in our previous blog, “Transport Tails: My First Transport”

The Beautiful Imperfections of Honey

30 May
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In early November 2012, I received a phone call from the Mount Olive Pet Smart Adoption Center. I had just recently fostered an animal and found his forever home, yet gave in almost immediately to foster again. A girl from Pet Smart informed me that there was a female hound mix that was underweight, not eating, extremely depressed, and experiencing a skin issue. I told her that I would come and see the dog, but could not promise her anything else. I only had experience fostering smaller dogs in the past, and questioned my ability to handle one of her size. After one look at the sad girl that was given the name Gonzales Girl by others, I knew it was time for me to take her home and fix her up.

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At home, she continued in her state of depression and was incapable of acknowledging any of the attention that she was given. She only weighed about 42 pounds when at her age she was expected to weigh at least 60. Although her current state at the time was fairly poor, she reacted fine to my dog and two cats. Her poor skin condition and the fact that she was already about 6-8 years old lessened her chances of adoption. My first tackle at her skin problems was a bath lavished in oatmeal shampoo and conditioner to soothe her itchy skin. Also, I changed her food to a grain free diet but unfortunately the itching still continued. The vets determined the cause of her itchy skin to be a yeast problem. Unknowingly, the oatmeal wash I believed to be helping the issue was making her skin worse.

After the yeast problem was controlled and she was fed a good quality grain free diet, things starting looking up for Gonzales Girl who I eventually renamed Honey. Why? Because she finally came out of her shell. She began playing with my little Dixie dog, ate her whole meals, and you could see life re-entering her eyes. One night I put her on my bed to sleep and she slept there every night there after.

Once the seventh week reached, Honey was a new and improved dog! She was well behaved, full of love and life, and her skin issue had been resolved. I took her to her first adoption event and spoke with a woman that had adopted a puppy with us two years earlier. She said that she wanted an older companion for her dog that would help to calm her down. I gave her my contact information in hopes of her calling. After leaving the event, I brought Honey to her new and forever home. She arrived in her beautiful home three days before Christmas. I was immediately brought to tears on Christmas morning after receiving a picture of her and her new sister relaxing on the couch. This is one of the many reasons why I foster these wonderful animals that are neglected and left behind.

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-Geneva Soule

If you are interested in fostering, please fill out a foster application at http://www.ehrdogs.org/info/display?PageID=10971

Adopting Special Needs Pets- Karen’s Story

29 May

Karen Smith, who has adopted two dogs from Eleventh Hour Rescue, sent a meaningful message to those considering the adoption of a pet. “Don’t ever be afraid to adopt a dog or cat with special needs, they need a furever home too. I think they know you saved them and they are forever grateful.”

In June of 2012, Karen found her soulmate, Casey, a 9 year-old golden retriever at Eleventh Hour Rescue. Casey was abandoned by his previous owner and placed into foster care in search of his forever home. Over the next seven beautiful months spent together, Karen and Casey formed an unforgettable companionship. Tragically, Casey suffered a brain aneurism on January 22, 2013, and died within minutes. Karen had trouble coping with the harsh reality of Casey’s death.

Several months passed, and Karen began to think about adopting again. She checked the Eleventh Hour Rescue website and one of the dogs that she was interested in was Sam. When she read the biography and found out he had a history of seizures she knew that he was meant to be with her. Karen attended the adoption event and when she saw Sam for the first time, she immediately knew that she was taking him home. She is very grateful for the happiness that Eleventh Hour Rescue brings to the animals they save as well as the people that adopt them.

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Through the adoption process, Karen has the Eleventh Hour Rescue volunteers to thank especially, Mary Jo Conley for fostering Casey and providing guidance through her search for a loving companion.

100KChallenge: There’s No Place Like Home

29 May

We work hard to find the perfect, fulfilling forever home for every animal we rescue. We couldn’t do this without our amazing community of adopters and supporters. We are extremely grateful to be a part of a community that cheers us on every single day. We need your help now more than ever.

We are pleased to announce that we are the only New Jersey finalist in this year’s ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge. The ASPCA is challenging fifty shelters and rescues across the United States to save more lives and find more animals homes this summer. We are in the running for over $100,000 in grants: money that we can use to build our new, permanent kennel, pay the incredible medical expenses for our animals, and continue to rescue until all the cages are empty.

Help us show our rescue animals that there really is no place like home. We appreciate your support in any way: adopt, foster, volunteer, donate, advocate.

Follow along via Facebook and our website.

Foster Families: The World of Cat Fostering

23 May

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Most people are surprised when they enter my home.  I live with my boyfriend and our two very close friends in a three bedroom house, there are three personal cats who are there permanently.  Normally when people walk in they chuckle at the signs on the wall; “Home is where the cats are,”  “beware of the cat,” the standard kind of signs that garnish a home filled with fur-ball love, the only indications that there are kitties in our home.

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Out of the corner of their eye they see something dart across the living room, then look up at the bookshelf and see eyes peeking down.  Looking around the corner, they notice there are cats plopped here and there – two in the window, three on the couch, five in a pile on a tiny chair.

Wandering into the “dining room,” they realize the room isn’t meant for dining at all but is instead a cat paradise with toys, scratchers, food, chairs and beds galore.

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As they turn to me and say “how many cats do you have?” they continue to stare as I give them a number anywhere from 5 to 19.  Yes, 19, there have been three or four occasions where we have had 19 cats at once, more than our adoption facility holds.

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To answer some immediate questions:  No, my house actually doesn’t smell like cats.  Yes, I am out of my mind.  No, I am not some weird old woman who lives at the end of a cul-de-sac, I’m actually only 25 and no, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  We have saved 80 lives in 10 months – that’s 80 cats (and maybe 5-6 dogs) who would have died if we had not opened our home to them.  At times it is stressful but the majority of the time it is simply beautiful and fulfilling.

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Fostering cats has to be one of the easiest things possible to make a difference (unless you have 19.)  If any of the cats are sick, they are kept in large kitty condos in separate bedrooms as to not spread illness or infection.  Because of this, sometimes you’ll only actually see five cats, all the others are in quarantine.  I always tell people if you have a spare bedroom or small bathroom you can keep the door to closed, you can fosters cats.  All they require is some clean litter daily, some food and water and of course as much love as you’re willing to give them.  They repay you with purrs, tail swishes and leg rubs, the best forms of payment out there.

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There are so many stories I want to share with everyone.  The time we were given frightened, shaved Persians out of a hoarding situation and how good it felt the first time we got them to purr.  Or maybe the kittens that were taken from a meth lab who had been abused but immediately knew they were safe in our arms.  Perhaps I would tell you of another rescue that pulled a nursing mother and 9 seven week old babies from a high kill shelter right before they were going to be put to sleep, only to find out they had ringworm and thus wanted to take them back to be euthanized but instead we opened our hearts and our home to them.  I would tell you about the 9 month old cutie who was being given away on free website because he got too big, the playful girl abandoned at a local barn, the babies and moms we saved an hour before they were going to be put to sleep at a shelter in New York City, perhaps even the baby boy who was so sick and infected that he had to have his eye removed.  There are so many stories to tell but only so much time.  Each and every foster holds their own story and at the end of the day, when you say goodnight to each and every one of them, you can see the trust and love in their eyes and know that without you, they would no longer be alive.

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Fostering cats is the easiest thing in the world.  Yes, there are hardships, but that is expected when you’re making such a huge difference.  There is absolutely nothing better than watching them get adopted and getting updates, because more often than not, the adopters stay in touch.  Years later I still get updates from my first fosters, it shows me that not only did I make a difference in the cat’s life, I made a difference in the life of that family and the experience made a difference in me as well.

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If you’re interested in fostering cats or dogs with us, please fill out a foster application. To view our adoptable cats and kittens, please visit our website.