October 30, 2008

Shadow Begins Exercise

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Shadow ~ First


It's been almost two months since Shadow began the long road back. I still look at that first photograph of him, and remember how uncertain I was that he would even make it. I just didn't realize the inner strength this horse had. He amazes me everyday.

He has a healthy appetite and is starting to fill out in just the right places. This week we began the muscle-up program, which means a slow walk on the flat along the trails that are conveniently in front of his paddock.

His hind quarters are very weak, but Dr.Secor assures me that keeping things slow and steady, Shadow should be able to develop the muscles to solve that problem.

My real worry is a strange rotation of the left hind leg. Sometimes it seems that he could possibly go down. At present, I'm avoiding turns towards the left, as that is a challenge for him.

He does fine on the straight for about 20 minutes, and then the leg seems to give out. I hope it is a muscle thing and not some old injury that will be permanent.

Here are some photographs that show the left hind leg rotation.
Would greatly appreciate opinions, suggestions, advice.

Beginning of walk on the straight

Turning left ... beginning rotation of left hind leg.

Turning left ... rotation and lack of support
The severity seen in last photo is generally after about
20 minutes of walking. On a good day, there is no rotation.
I try to remember it was only
8 weeks ago he could hardly walk.
It's a day at a time.
(Shadow is a Fox Trotter about 25 years old.)

October 26, 2008

We Live In A Dog House

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Katie and Charlie


Every now and then Charlie has a good idea. In fact, this time it was a terrific one. He wanted a sister and that's sure what he got. These two kids were meant to be together.

I just don't know why it took me 48 hours to see that Katie was not going to be temporary.
In fact, when I think about that phone call from Carole describing this "perfect girl" ... I think this whole thing was a set up, ... this was no "foster for a few days"! This was a done deal, I just didn't know it.
Carole knew I'd keep this little girl and she also knew I'd say "no" if she mentioned my adopting another dog.
I'm such a push over once they get in the house!

The cat test was a breeze .......
But, there is no doubt ... life has changed around here!

The nightly romp

and ... so much for those toys.

Later, it's time for races.
This is when mom says ... "take it outside!"
Then it's back for TV.

Is this just one big pile of fur, or what?!

October 18, 2008

Katie Comes To Visit

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Katie ~ The New Foster Child


As you know, Charlie wants a sister and I want a trial before adding another dog to our collection of animals. So, we're trying the fostering idea. Never done this before.

I called Carole at the Golden Retriever Rescue to tell her that I would possibly, maybe, think about fostering an older Golden Retriever, but none of the puppy stuff.
Somehow, with Charlie, our house has become his ... meaning we live in one big dog house. And now we were considering another?
Carole knew I was still in recovery from my breathless training adventures with Charlie. He had been a large pup when we brought him home to a place filled with ducks, geese, cats and horses.
What were we thinking?

At the time, we had been looking for an older female with perfect manners and then we saw Charles. Well, you know the rest of the story.
He behaves perfectly now, but I'm still in recovery.

So, in my conversation with Carole, I told her that this new foster Golden would have to be an older lady that would fit into our zoo.

I figured that would take quite awhile to find ... and maybe never, then I'd be off the hook.

Only a few days later the phone rang. It was Carole. She was all excited about having found the most perfect, sweetest, most adorable 8-9 year old female Golden that she had ever seen. This girl would be a perfect foster child for me. It went something like this ...

"Oh believe me, she is wonderful. You'll love her and she'll only be there a few days before she'll be adopted by another family."

We dashed over to pick her up. Carole was right. Katie was a sweetheart. She politely jumped into the back of the car. I later turned around to check on her.

It looked like we were driving "Miss Daisy". She was sitting so perfectly in the middle of the back seat, looking straight out the front car window. All that was missing was a flowered bonnet.

It is hard to mention, sad to say and difficult to fathom, but this lovely lass had been left at the dog pound by her former owners and then they drove away. I only hope they at least said "good-bye".

But now, she was at our house and our girl ... until she found her forever home.

Charlie was simply overjoyed! I don't think his tongue stayed in his mouth for more than a few seconds. He hauled all the toys out of his toy box pretending he would share.

Katie was patient with all the activity and tried her best to keep up with the road races up and down the hallway.
We found these two kids entertaining as we watched the rugs being rearranged into clumps and piles, along with toys being thrown in the air.
Charlie was in his glory and Katie was a sport.

The two became instant friends. There were car rides together, long hikes on the trails, ball chasing in the back yard and outings along the beach.

My responsibility, other than caring for Katie as a foster child, was sending Carole daily reports as to how Katie was adjusting to her new environment, did she like cats, did she like Charlie, did she bark? All these details were necessary in order for her to find the home that would fit perfectly for her.

A few days later, I wrote up the ad for Katie, along with a photo. It was late at night when I clicked "send" and the write-up was off to Carole to be placed on the Golden Retriever adoption site, so Katie could find her new parents.

The ad went like this:
Katie is a sweet, gentle older girl that came from a local shelter. Sad to say, she was turned in by her owners who could no longer keep her. Katie is the ideal companion. She has perfect manners, is calm and quiet. She does not bark. She enjoys greeting people on her walks around the neighborhood and loves rides in the car. She gets along with other dogs and doesn’t mind well behaved cats. Katie would love to find a new home where she can pal around the house, stroll in the backyard or just watch TV with her new forever parents. If you are looking for a foot warmer that is sweet and adorable, Katie just might be the one.

Early the next morning, I checked the Golden Retriever website and saw ... our Katie!
I quickly called Carole and said ... "take the ad down! Katie already has a forever home."

Katie is a keeper and I'm a foster failure!
Katie is here to stay.

October 14, 2008

About That Sister For Charlie


When Charlie said he needed a sister, I wasn't real jazzed on the idea. But then I remembered that I've been called a soft touch and knew that I needed to uphold my reputation.

For sometime, we've been helping with the Golden Retriever Rescue in the Southern California area. For the perfect dog, this is the place to go.

We adopted wonderful Kayla from them ...

And, of course, .... Charlie.

If you happen to be in the Southern California area, please check them out. They are wonderful people. At the moment, there are 49 adorable Goldens looking for a forever home.

Here is a photo of one recently adopted.

Some dogs are found running along the streets, some in dog pounds, some turned in by their owners for various reasons. This is a sad time, now, as people are losing their homes ... so are their pets.

The dogs are picked up by volunteers and are placed in a hospital clinic where all their needs are taken care of before being available for adoption. It is truly remarkable.

If dogs need surgery or medical procedures ... it is done. I remember one dog that had been hit by a car. He was literally put back together. What a wonderful dog he was and eventually he found a wonderful home.

We have been volunteering at the rescue center and have the official title of ... Dog Walkers. Since the dogs are kept temporarily in kennels, they need to get out several times a day for a healthy walk. I thought it was a win-win situation. The dogs got exercise and so did we.

A few came home with us for a "play date" where they ran around the yard and had a jolly good time.

It was always difficult to take them back to the clinic, but I knew that somewhere there was a perfect family searching for that very dog. It was a wonderful feeling to see them jump into the back of a car and head home with their new family.

Some dogs are sent to foster homes where they get to sleep on the couch, play with the kids and chase balls while their photo is on the website. Before long, they are found by their new family and finally move to a home of their own.

Now, with Charlie's request for a playmate of his own, I contacted my friend at the rescue center and suggested that we might foster a girlfriend for Charlie, while I decide if two dogs are too many.

Well ... you know where this story is going.

October 13, 2008

Meanwhile, Back At The Farm

Charlie and Dad ~ Story Time
"... and the wolf huffed and he puffed ..."

Now that things are under control with Shadow and we are mostly standing around watching that sweet horse eat and put on weight ... I'll bring you up to date on Charlie.

As you remember, Charlie was a Golden Retriever that we rescued last February.

He has now reached the age of two and has pretty much finished chewing up our shoes, counter surfing for food and chasing cats.

He has actually turned into a regular gentleman ... well, almost, most of the time, gentleman.

He's dad's pal. They have regular routines, such as early morning walks and late evening story hour. They are rarely apart.

The car is now a dog mobile filled with Charlie's toys. You've already heard about his shopping escapades.

Lately, I've heard this rumor circulating around the house. It seems Charlie wants a baby sister. At the moment ... I don't think so.

It's a busy place around here ... and at this very second it's time to scoot back to check on my rescue boy. That sweet horse is ready for another feeding and perhaps a very short walk along the horse trail.

And then when I get back home, there is handsome Royal to groom.

Another dog? Hummm .... do we really need two?
I have a feeling there will be another dog chapter in the near future.

October 4, 2008

Four Weeks Later ... Part 5

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A Day At A Time

This heroic boy is on his way!

With four feedings a day, lots of grooming and a tremendous amount of love ... changes are happening. Here he is only four weeks since that first photograph.

So far, he doesn't have a new name. I've saved all of your great suggestions. Thank you, so much! I'm not sure which one will fit. I'm thinking in time his personality will emerge and perhaps he will name himself.

At the moment, it is the sound of my voice and the bucket that gets his attention.

During the past few weeks, I've been leaning against the fence watching in amazement as this boy has gradually lost his depressed, starved appearance. I now see a handsome, sweet horse starting to emerge and growing stronger each day.

The first major change I noticed in him was ... trust.

I'm not sure why he would ever trust a human being again, but that seems to be what he is all about. He is forgiving and simply loves people.

Since I'm at his paddock several times a day, I've discovered he now has a fan club. People stop by to admire his progress and give him words of praise.

There is the little 3 year old carrot girl who waits to give him a hug.

Then there is the van of young school kids that stop, roll down the window and give him a cheer. The mother says this is the best part of the day for her girls.

It is a wonderful sight to see my boy putting on weight, filling out between those bones and seeing strength gradually building up in his legs.

Being very clever, he has learned to walk faster from the gate to the feeder. In fact, he seems to have acquired the energy to be a little too eager at times.

I said, well, look at you ... you're in school now.

We've worked on patience, no pushing at feeding time and a quick learner, he is! Now, he politely steps back and waits for me to add the food and all the healthy things that go with it.

He seems to honestly believe there will be more food coming, again, in a few hours. What a wonderful thing that must be for him.

In a few weeks, he will slowly start his exercise program. This means walking a short ways up and down the horse trail in front of his paddock. Dr. Secor wants to build muscles without burning the fat we are working so hard to put on him.

Speaking of my vet, let me say he is a gem. Being one of the best vets in the area, he is much in demand. He works with the top competitive horses, as well as some child's favorite pony. He is an expert, efficient, thorough, and very compassionate.

When he heard about my rescue horse, he came as soon as possible. He spent nearly 2 hours going over this boy, building my hopes that we could save him and establishing an on going plan for the years he had remaining.

I knew the vet bill would be a big one. And when the bill arrived, I braced myself, but knowing it would be worth every penny.

Much to my surprise, at the bottom of the list of procedures performed that day, there was written ... N/C. I was stunned ... no charge!

Yesterday, I printed a card for my vet showing the first photo taken of one starved horse. On the inside I printed the "4 weeks later" photo above, with the following message.

Dear Mark,
It is difficult to find words to describe how much we appreciate you.
We always know that we can count on you.

You've been a part of the best times and the tragic times with our horses,

but you've always been there as a source of trust and comfort.

We want to express our gratitude to you for your generosity

in helping us with our most recent addition.

It is our hope to give this poor soul a few more years,
only this time filled with care and love.

With gratitude and countless thanks to you!


On the way to the vet's office,
I picked up a big bouquet of red roses,

not from me, but from our boy.