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Rescue in the first person

We were visiting my daughter, out of town, about an hour from where we live.  Because of everything going on, we were spending the nights there as well.  Gas prices also contributed to our overnighting there.  And, with the overnight stays, of course our dogs went with us.

During our stay, early one morning, a chihuahua mix male dog showed up.  He wouldn’t leave either.  Skinny and covered with ticks, we suspected he was also harboring a full flock of fleas too.  As the day began to face, the realization that nobody was looking for him sunk in, especially when we started asking around for where this dog belonged.

Two days passed, and the little dog was still there, and we were heading home.  Of course, the little dog, now dubbed “Nemo” because “Finding Nemo” was on the television when I caved in and said that we’d take him if nobody showed up.

I kept remembering a little dog about his size and coloring we’d found killed along a country road early the morning after Christmas when we were riding our bikes.  This little dog was headed down the same kind of fateful road if someone didn’t take him in, and face it…dogs in pounds have only the smallest chance of survival and being adopted in this economy.

We don’t know a thing about little Nemo.  We know his nails aren’t long, that he is really skinny and incredibly food aggressive with other animals, that he is basically good with other dogs, that he craves attention and fears being struck or chased, and is good in a crate.  He walks on a leash too.  He’s also in love with GM, probably because we got him to catch the little dog and put it into a crate to keep him safe until we found the owner after the first day of trying to get him to go home.

Nemo has had a bath.  He’s had his ticks removed.  He’s been fed, given a bed in a crate, and gotten a cheap collar.  Nothing is trying to eat him, chase him, or hit him.  He’s appearing very contented too.

I think letting him come this far has sealed my fate.  I’m now officially a sucker, but in reality, even though we can’t afford another dog, what else could I do?  The sucker status is sealed partly because GM adores chihuahuas, wanted one, but we couldn’t afford a third dog…so what happens?

Mr. Chihuahua shows up, pathetic and starving, and insists on hanging out on the fringes of the yard, sneaking drinks from our dogs’ water bowls and hoping for a scrap of food.

Concerned family members expressed their concerns about the fact that dogs are expensive and we couldn’t afford another one.  Like we didn’t know?

We’ll figure it out, I already know that GM is as happy as a kid to have another little dog.  I couldn’t have slept if I had insisted on ignoring the little guy, and he’d have ended up getting killed like that dog we’d run across that frosty morning on our bikes either.  Every time I tried to be “sensible” and “practical” that image would appear in my head too.  Here I am, with two dogs that hate each other, and now we have a third, and it’s so small that it would be a snack for the biggest and oldest grump…and barely able to hold his own with the most jealous and grumpiest grump of my dynamic duo.

So far, our big girl is content to ignore him, as long as he leaves her alone.  He gets along fine with the smaller of the girls, but its probably a case of as long as GM, her idol, isn’t around, or we don’t give him much attention in her line of sight.  We’re already used to canine rotation…now we are adding a third to our happily dysfunctional household.

I probably am crazy, but I’ll sleep better at night, knowing that a 8 lb. little dog isn’t wandering around searching for something to eat too.  I was also told that there is a movie about Hollywood chihuahuas I should watch.

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Animal rescues include horses

Animal rescue organizations have been around a long time, and they are NOT all created equally.  The big national organizations, like a lot of other large organizations, often have high “administrative” costs, which include some pretty nice salaries for their upper echelon of “staff”.  Most of us would love to have a job with a wage like that!

Personally, my observations have indicated that the smaller organizations are  usually the ones where there is the biggest bang for your buck, so to speak, because they are usually staffed mostly by volunteers, and if there are any paid staff, they are receiving a reasonable working wage, not a bloated pay check.  Even with those smaller “administrative” costs, these organizations are often struggling to raise the funds that they need to stay open and caring for their animals.  In many cases, they have to turn away potential rescues because they lack the funds to take care of the animals in need.

Horses are among the first animals to be “rescued” and have laws passed to protect them, and yet today, we still need to rescue them.  The horses need rescuing for a variety of reasons, ranging from simple owner cruelty to situations where they can no longer perform their original job and need long term “retirement.”  Often, race horses are the “cover story” because of their short lived careers, and very often, these horses are killed at the end of their working life.

Initially, I was simply horrified to discover that most of these horses were destroyed, and then the reasoning behind it was explained to me by a lifelong race horse trainer.  Killing these horses isn’t just because they don’t care about them, but rather the opposite.  Most of these horses are not capable of surviving on pasture grasses, but need a substantial diet combining the grazing with higher calorie (and more expensive) grains.  Without this supplementation, these horses will often nearly starve to death.  After “retiring” these race horses with people desiring a saddle horse, then discovering the horses were kept in near starvation states, many trainers opted to humanely destroy the horses rather than see them in that kind of condition.

Is this true?  From my own experiences with horses, yes.  I knew a number of people who owned former race horses, and often they acquired them in pitiful condition as a result of their nearly starving to death on a diet of hay or grazing alone.  All of these horses required a substantial diet that included grain and often pelleted hay as well.  They were more expensive to feed, and people who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) accept this and provide it would see the horse’s condition steadily deteriorate.  On occasion, horses such as this need rescuing, and without rescue organizations, more of these former race horses would end up being shipped overseas as frozen horse meat.  (Horse meat is not sold in the USA even for dog food anymore, even when the horses are legally slaughtered.)

On other occasions, horses are abandoned or their owners are no longer able to care for them, and these horses too need a safe haven.  Americans have a huge soft spot in their hearts for horses, partially connected to the Old West legends and Hollywood imagery that has romanticized the horse.  The horse is how the West was won, and it is forever connected to the images of cowboys, Indians, and the pioneer.

So who rescues horses?

There are a number of small groups out there that do so.  A few have come to my attention over time, and are both worthy causes if you are looking to donate to one.

Hopeful Hooves happens to be looking for a new home, and needs a small farm to house their charges in a safe environment.  If you can donate, or know of a farm that might solve their issues, please contact them!  Their website can be found here.  In addition to horses, they also rescue other animals.  Hopeful Hooves is also looking for an Arizona bar lawyer to assist them in some legal problems regarding their mortgage.

The Drop In The Bucket Fund has only recently come to my attention, and I know far less about their efforts.  Currently, they are trying to save some “junkyard” horses that were severely neglected by their owner.  Their website is found here.

I realize that many people are already strapped for funds, and that donating to a cause is often very difficult, but most of us can donate a few dollars a year to help a cause.  With the high costs we face every time we turn around, it isn’t getting easier for any of us.  Sometimes, to help out an organization that we deem worthy, we have to get creative.  One example is birthday cards.  To send a card to a friend, family member, or acquaintance used to cost just a few cents.  Now, that card is apt to cost us $3 plus postage.  Instead of sending cards, why not send a postcard to your loved ones with your birthday wishes and a note stating that a $3 donation has been made to your favorite organization in remembrance of their birthday?  Or…if you are the one celebrating, perhaps asking everyone to donate instead to your designated organization might save you the receipt of that “white elephant” from your aunt, and a stack of cards that you have no use for cluttering your home.  Another method a friend of mine uses is that each time she goes shopping for groceries, just before she goes through the checkout lane, she looks at her cart and selects one item as being unnecessary.  Returning that item to its place in the store, she marks down how much it cost, and the amount of that “unshopped” item then becomes her weekly charitable donation.  Over the course of a month, that can add up as a good sized donation!  Another couple donates their “cuss can” (a can where a quarter is deposited for each cuss word spoken) funds to charity when the can gets full.  Another family uses a system of “charging” each family member fifty cents for each bottled or canned drink retrieved from the refrigerator.  Rather than returning these funds to the grocery bill, they are used for their charitable donation.  (I’d have a fortune invested if I charged fifty cents for each cup of coffee served in my house for a month!)  All of these can be used to create a fun way to set money aside to ensure that it is painless to support your favorite charity.

Even better yet, volunteer your time, energy, and attention to a local charity (I obviously have a soft spot for animal rescue charities, but I do support other efforts.)  Foster homes are often desperately needed, and often other assistance is needed for everything from fund raising to internet support.  Get involved and help make our world a better place!