Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meet My Family

Like I said in the first post, our plan was to be a one dog family. The best laid plans never seems to workout. Spike, unfortunately, would love to be an only dog but he had his year and a half of glory and it only went downhill from there.

I was volunteering at the Animal Welfare Society in Howard County when a police officer that knew the owner of the shelter brought in the most pitiful looking dog I've ever seen. The dog was rescued from a dog fighting bust in Baltimore City where she was a bait dog. She was deaf, had no fur, cuts and scabs all over her body, terrified of people, no social skills, food aggression, and needed extensive vetting. The shelter was uncertain of how much hope there was for this dog and they were lacking funds needed for her care. The dog was brought in during a large open house and one after another, people just looked at her with sad eyes but asked no questions on whether she would ever be available for adoption. I still don't really know what it was that made me want this dog, surely it wasn't her soft fur since she had none, it wasn't her obedience since she had minimal human interaction and what she had was horrible for her, it wasn't that we'd even been considering another dog, we still didn't even have our own house yet. All I could think about was the pain she endured and the life she deserved to have now that she was saved. The only way I could be certain this dog got the most amazing life from this day forward was to take her home myself and give her that life. Meet Piglet.
This is after she finally started growing some fur back..

After putting a months worth of weight on..

Four months later, her gorgeous coat is all filled in! 

Piglet posing for our wedding table number pictures

Piglet was a challenge. Aside from her medical problems she had the worst case of separation anxiety our behaviorist had ever seen. Nick's mom was nice enough to let Piglet stay there with Nick and Spike until we bought our house and I still feel awful for how many things she destroyed! We definitely couldn't have made it work with Piglet if it wasn't for the help of Nick's mom so a huge thank you to her! We're happy to report that after lots of training and work, Piglet does not destroy things anymore *knock on wood* and can be left alone without disasters occurring. Did I mention it was a lot of work?

We bought our house in November 2007 and settled in very nicely with Spike and Piglet. Our course, what house doesn't also have a cat? Our dogs like cats, both of our parents have cats, we had the room, why not? Surprisingly Nick agreed and I adopted Tigger, the biggest cat ever. Tigger was 3 when we got him and we were told his previous owners said he got along great with dogs and other cats. Someone lied. Tigger hated the dogs; he hissed, swatted at them, snarled, and hid. Taking him back wasn't an option, as it was we picked him because he had been there the longest so he clearly wasn't mister popular. We put a gate up at the top of the basement stairs and made the basement "cat zone, no dogs allowed". Tigger loves his basement and has actually warmed up to the dogs enough to sleep on our bed with them, it only took three years!

This was when we first got Tigger. Poor Spike and Piglet were locked out of the room so Tigger could get some cuddle time. I wasn't kidding when I said he's the biggest cat ever. His paws are bigger than Bella's! (Yea, we'll get to Bella in a second..)

Tigger was a chicken for Halloween.

Two dogs, one cat. We were set. We thought. I made the mistake one day of looking at the adoptable dogs on the French Bulldog Rescue Network's website. The home page had a story about dogs rescued from a puppy mill auction in Pennsylvania that were now up for adoption. Reading the story of how these dogs were treated broke my heart. I think we all know where this is going. After a week of emails, calls, home visits, vet and reference checks, we made the two hour trip to PA to pick up Bella.

Spike took to Bella instantly, much more than he did with Piglet. Spike has a big heart and is very nurturing. He loved every kitten we've ever fostered and I think he thought Bella was his own baby (if he could have babies).

They make it hard to get the bed made.

Bella is a thief. For the first year we had her nothing was safe. We have a dog door that we keep open when we're home and she loved nothing more than taking anything she could find out the dog and into one of the holes she dug.

We were done now. Three dogs and a cat. In fairness, the next three cats found us, we did not attempt to adopt them nor we were planning for them to stay permanently. One morning in November our neighbor knocked on our door to tell us they heard kitten mewing outside and found three tiny kittens but they had no idea what to do with them. After sitting in the freezing cold for what seemed like hours about 10 minutes a mama cat came back to the kittens. The mama cat took one look at me and ran. Our neighbor told us he'd tried to pet her for a few months but could never get close to her. Great, a feral mama with three kittens. The county where we live does not have a good trap-and-release program and was full with kittens at the time so I decided I'd trap the mom and kittens on my own. I think my husband married me for the brilliant ideas I come up with, such as this one. 

I got the largest dog crate we had, placed the kittens in the far back on blankets and wait. And waited. Mama cat would come to the crate but not inside until the kittens started mewing. She heard that, went in, and bam! I slammed the door on the crate shut. Have you seen a feral cat react to being trapped? It's so heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time. I took the crate into the basement, aka cat zone, and my plan was to call rescues that Monday to see who could help. I specifically told Nick not to bother mama and kittens. Nick, being an animal lover, decided he'd open the crate door to see the kittens anyways. All I heard upstairs was a loud scream followed by "oh my god, it attacked me, oh my god I have rabies!". Apparently upon opening the crate door Mama attacked Nick and got out. Well, the best thing we could do was bring Tigger upstairs and leave Mama in the basement so she would still come out and tend to her itty bitty, few day old kittens. Eight weeks went by and we never saw Mama. She took care of the kittens, we checked on them all of the time, but she never came out if we were there. We didn't have much luck with rescues so we decided to find them homes with a few friends that were interested. But first, we had to re-trap Mama so she could go get fixed with the kittens and get her shots. I'll spare the details and speed this up... we re-trapped her, all spay/neutering went well, one of our best friends took one of the cats and we still needed to find homes for the other two. Mama came home to recover in the basement with her babies and somehow her two babies and Mama have never left. I couldn't very well do a T-N-R for Mama after she spent a winter in our nice warm house, being fed twice a day. We still can't pet Mama but she loves Tigger and she still cleans her babies daily. She doesn't run from me anymore and only hisses a few times when I hold my hand out. The kittens were named Reed and Lewis (Go Ravens!), Lewis is Tigger's best bud and Reed thinks he's one of the dogs so all is well at the Morabito Zoo. Oh and we are full, no more! 

Tigger loved Reed and Lewis from the start!

Devil eyes! That is Mama  closest to me with Tigger and Reed behind her. She's tiny little thing!

And there you have Spike's family. So much for his dreams of being an only dog child!

1 comment:

  1. I'm a "big dog" kinda girl, and before today, I would have never given a second thought to a Frenchie. That Bella is about the cutest darn thing I've seen in ages... Keep up the awesome work! Look at all these wonderful lives you're saving!