Thursday, March 20, 2008

Home Sweet Home for V-Dog Ten

This is Spyder - affectionately known as Maya by her foster mom, Kim. She's got quite a story, altho' you might've noticed that she didn't get air time during the V-dog celebrations.

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.


I 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!


Kara said...

Nicole's comments brought tears to my eyes. You do rock!

Anonymous said...

Spyder will have a terrific life at Best Friends, and I wish her the best of everything. They're doing a great job with the other "challenging" dogs from VA, and I'm so grateful you chose Life for Spyder. Nice to see John Garcia in your video... and was that Juliette's plane?

PS - I've never posted here before but I've grown to love your site and blog. Thanks for everything you do for these great dogs.

Donna said...

Hi Linda. Thanks for your support and for commenting. I think Juliette's plane is downed for repairs.

It was great to meet BF people finally. And what a great reason to meet.

No BSL said...

Being from Ontario,I can tell you that the world is a (little)lot screwed up.
But we`re still not giving up on sorting things out.
I see a lot of tail wagging in that goodbye video.
That doesn`t look like a dog that needs to or should be released from this screwed up world.
This is exactly the kind of dog I would take for you to let her take baby steps then retreat when she had to.
Like you say, there are dogs that need to be "culled" and I would certainly understand that decision if you felt it was the right thing to do.
It really is the world that is screwed up, not these dogs.
No offense Jonny(We love ya) but this little girl and her littermate Frodo are the real stars.
Always watch the credits right to the end.

Donna said...

Hello MG. We were happy to capture a video of Spyder at her happiest ... Near her crate with her brother and everything's okay. Unfortunately the world outside those boundaries was full of demons for her.

But I agree with you -- a life where she gets to take all the baby steps she needs is exactly right.

I look forward to seeing Ontario pull its ban down so we can send Frodo up to live with you. He'd benefit from your special brand of sensitivity and optimism. Let's work on that!

No BSL said...

I`m holding you to that!

No BSL said...

I imagine it`s sad around BadRap today.
Spyder,Frodo and BadRap folks this little smile is for you,courtesy of Caveat in Ontario
Dawg Bless Caveat

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping you get Lucas.. that big lover (brother of Hector??) who seems to deserve his own home and family out in the "real" world.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! Your last 2 blogs have been so bittersweet. Dearest Pearl, RIP.... and to Nicole, thank you for honoring us with Pearl's story. I wish Spyder a long, happy life with Best Friends. Rescue can be so hard guys made such a noble decision. Finally, I might just have to wrestle MG for Frodo. What a cutie...Hang in Frodo, the world will soon be your oyster! keep up the great work------------W

Anonymous said...

Uh... I want Frodo...

Anonymous said...

I call dibs on Teddles(well if he is able to survive the AK winters)! I know if must have been so hard to give Spyder up but it shows just how much compassion you have for these amazing animals to give her to a sanctuary that will allow her to live in peace as she works on her fears.

No BSL said...

Ahem,I believe I`m first in line for Frodo.
You guys can come and visit him in Ontario.
I have his bed all made up and I`ve told Tupper she won`t be lonely once Frodo gets here.
I`ll pay for Frodo`s flight.
Top that one.

Donna said...


Actually, Frodo has some nerd-style competition with the new kid just delivered to CA from Utah. We think* it could actually be his daddy. Beat that.

No BSL said...

Now we just have to figure out the Ontario thing.
Who is the new kid?

No BSL said...

Just a question,if anyone knows.
Can dogs graduate from Sanctuary life to foster,then adoption?
I know 1 dog from 1 particular case was court ordered to stay for it`s natural life but I was just wondering about others.

No BSL said...

I was just reading your adoption policy and then I went to google Maps and checked directions.
We really are cross Country from each other.
The scenic route
5,089 km – about 2 days 20 hours
Is car sickness an issue?
I know there`s medication available.

Unknown said...

MG if you go to the Best Friend's website it says many of them will be adopted to experienced homes. I prey for the best for them all

No BSL said...

There`s a post up today about Spyder/Mya on BF but no comments allowed over there.
I just have a feeling about her from that last video.I think she`ll blossom(in her own way) in time.
Maybe not for city living but I know how she feels about that.
I begged for a little dog once that was off the adoption list and in the end of the road room.
I named her Corker because she just popped out of that final cage into my arms when I opened the door.
Someone at the shelter asked why on earth I would want or choose that dog(which had always cowered at the back of the cage) and I answered I didn`t choose her, she just chose me.
Corker did blossom and lived with 3 dogs and multiple farm cats.
I`m hopeful that many including Mya will choose their owners when the time is right.