Sunday, June 15, 2008

Meet Strider.

No, not that one.

I picked up a very sweet, very very very large dog yesterday from a very very very kind woman who fosters Pyrenees and other large dogs.

Strider is a close-to if not pure-bred Anatolian shepherd. I wanted a dog who was calm, athletic, not inclined to hysterics, and large enough for Max, the German/Anatolian cross who rules the back yard, to play with. Strider met all of those qualifications, plus he has a very sweet face.

So off I went in the Honda, not knowing what to expect. Strider had been picked up in Houston and had spent some time in a really awful kill-shelter there. He had mange, pneumonia, heartworms, had been underfed, and generally wasn't in the best of shape when he got rescued. The woman who fostered him has done an amazing job: he's healthy, healing, and not the least bit shy or timid. He still needs some more poundage, and his face is a mess (from healing mange and being chewed on by other dogs), but I expect he'll be in tip-top shape in six weeks or so.

His ad on Petfinder said he wasn't a big barker, didn't jump on people, and was generally well-behaved and low-maintenance. 

I think he's blooming already. He remodeled the outside utility room last night (it was almost empty anyhow, and there was nothing in there I wanted), then announced his presence to the dogs next door this morning. He barks like a Great Dane. When I went outside to greet him and Max, he *plopped* both front paws on my shoulders and licked my face.

Good boy. Gooooood boy. Nice doggie.

Max is amazed that there's another dog large enough for him to wrestle with. Strider, thank Frogs, is following Max's lead when it comes to playing and wrestling: 230 combined pounds of tooth and muscle in a dominance struggle is not what I want to deal with on my own. 

Let me say a word here about rescuing animals:

If you want a dog, cat, pig, donkey, guinea pig, chicken, or goat, please consider rescuing an animal from a shelter or rescue group before you consider buying one from a breeder. If you're really wanting a purebred animal, there are rescue groups for practically every breed out there.

The benefits to rescuing an animal are huge. First and most importantly, every dog that's rescued from a shelter or placed by a foster human is one dog that doesn't get euthanized. Animal overpopulation is a huge problem; most shelters have to euthanize not because the animals are unhealthy or vicious, but because the shelter has no more room. 

Second, if you get a dog or cat or whatever from a rescue group, you have backup that you don't get from the guys who sell puppies on the side of the road. Somebody has lived with the animal for some time and can tell you about its personality and quirks. Many times, the foster family will crate- and housetrain the animal, take it to obedience classes, and generally do all the dirty work of socializing the animal for you.

And third, you know what you're getting into with a rescue animal. They're mostly adult, someone has their medical history all there for you, and the dog/cat/donkey has already got a vet. If there's a problem, you can call the foster or rescue group for advice.

Yes, adopting an animal from a rescue or shelter is expensive--the group has to cover expenses at least partially, and everybody there is volunteer or badly paid. Every bit of cash goes to the critters. Yes, it's a tough process--home visits and vet interviews are the norm, because the folks who adopt out critters want to be sure they all get good homes. But think of it like this: these are animals who've already been labeled "unwanted" by some other human, so it's natural that their caretakers would want to prevent that happening again.

I now have three rescue critters: Max, Strider, and Evvie the Cat. I would not trade any of them for the world; rescued critters are the best ever.

And now, since that particular sermon is over, I have to go shower and run out and get some larger dog toys.


shrimplate said...

Black lab. Texas Blue Lacy.

American shorthair. Norwegian forest cat. Gray tabby. Lilac-point Siamese.

All rescues or from PetsMart which has HALO shelter cats.

And a couple dozen koi.

I'm glad to see that you have a new furry housemate.

Katherine said...

And, if it's a purebred you're after, rescue groups are a bargain. We got a purebred greyhound, with tattoos and everything, for $250, which included health exam, shots, neutering, and of course background info on the dog. Our group does an amazing job of matching the dog to the family. A dog that will work with your family and lifestyle is worth more than any pet store dog!

Ellie Finlay said...

I LOVE your blog!!

And I love your sermon.

I have four rescues: three cats and a dog. And my dog is a female Anatolian that I got about 11 years ago. She was abandoned with her puppies and was an absolute wreck when I got her. But after a lot of rehabilitation and love, love, love she has turned into the best guard dog in the universe and passionate guardian of all cats everywhere!