I'll just get to the meat of things: Spyder is a little bit screwed up.
Not from fighting, but from her early life in the shelter that took her in after the Vick bust. Her home for six months was in-no-way-ready to have 17 fighting dogs dumped on them. And being understaffed and ridiculously under-resourced, they were ill-prepared to help puppies grow up right in a gawd-awful-crazy kennel environment. While some animal welfare orgs solicited buttloads of money on the backs of Vick's victims, this little place saw penny-zero and couldn't afford an office chair, much less extra kennel help (Literally, they didn't have an office chair!) The two (count: 2) guys that worked there were in over their heads from Day One. They were, essentially, as screwed as the dogs they were supposed to be caring for.
Six Virginia animal shelters took in Vick dogs after the bust. Some were fantastic and the dogs shined in their care. And some shelters, not so good. We're not placing blame...We're just sayin.' When housing abused animals, resources matter.
So, six month old puppy Spyder and her littermate Frodo grew up in a loud, dirty echo chamber with no comforts and no one to take them outside. And yes, it caused permanent damage. Dogs like our Ernie came from this same shelter, but because he was already a stable (and well socialized) adult when he entered, he was better wired to endure the intense stress of confinement.
Suckers-R-Us, our hearts hurt for these funny little yearlings when we met them back in September. We wanted to give them our best, even if that meant they wouldn't be able to be famous or 'normal' like Jonny Justice, Hector, Ernie, Teddles and the rest. So when the courts granted us the opportunity to take dogs home for interim foster care weeks early (designed to prevent stressed-out dogs from deteriorating further) we weighed our options and put the pups on the bus along with the Rock Stars. It was only right; hogging all the Stars when other groups were stepping up would be wrong, and we had room for the siblings, so why not.
Fast forward to Now. Amazingly, Brother Frodo seems to be doing 'okay.' He's no lion-heart, but he's participating in the real world and trying his best to be brave. As stunted as he is, he's full of joy and hope and will be protected and loved by his circle of supporters in BR. But his sister?...Not so okay. Spyder enjoys the world in small spurts. Dogs are her biggest happiness and her play manners are wonderful. She loves her crate, her ball and FOOD - Ohmagod. Food is good. But in total, the world outside is a very scary place for Spyder.
After several months of home care and minor victories, it became clear that city life was causing her more fear than joy. And that's just not fair; We didn't get into this project to cause more stress.
So now comes the good news:...As of yesterday, Spyder went to live at Best Friend's Sanctuary in Utah. The world is smaller there; quieter. A 10x20 pen is her new kingdom with toys and sun and no city noises to rattle her nerves. She'll be able to play with other dogs and smell the fresh air and watch the Utah weather and bark at coyotes and go for walks with her new 'family' - a small circle of people who've committed themselves to her care. In our heart of hearts, we believe she'll be truly happy there.
We certainly considered the option of putting Spyder to sleep. We do our share of 'culling' dogs that aren't right for this unforgiving world and we knew no one would blame us for this sad task. But doing this does take a piece of your soul away each time. We've seen it turn seasoned breed people bitter and ill-tempered towards everything and everyone. I imagine demanding perfection in an imperfect world can have the same negative accumulative effect as living in a small cage with no light or fresh air. So maybe in part for selfish reasons, to protect our hearts from hardening to the point of no return, we voted for Life for Spyder. Thank you Best Friends for giving us the opportunity to make that choice for her. Above: John Garcia of Best Friends greets Spyder.
Vid Clip: Frodo and Spyder (in red collar) Saying Good Bye.
Here's a quick clip of Spyder getting loaded up for her trip to Utah. Big day! Plane Ride Home .... Later, I'll tell-all on the Best Friend's V-dog that came to take Spyder's place in CA. The adventure continues.
PearlI wanted to post a tribute to Pearl (blog below). She graced our Katrina Survivor Calendar cover last year, running like happy gangbusters on the beach in her new land. I was floored by Nicole's initial interest in rescuing Pearl from a sea of pit bulls in the rescue station of NOLA way back when. When asked why she wanted the black scarred up girlie with swinging teats, protruding vulva and chopped ears, Nicole stated matter of factly, "Because this is the dog that everyone else will leave behind." You so rock, Nicole.
God speed Miss Pearl...The beach is all yours now. Off leash, at that!