My Unbelievable Six Rescue Dogs
By Andrea Carr
When I was around fourteen years old I lived in Sheffield, England. This is when I first started to rescue dogs. Along with my cousin, who was the same age, we would spot dogs that were being abused. I was given a little badge from the Royal Society of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
In Canada, I have still continued on with my animal rescuing.
Around the time my daughter moved out, my fifteen-year-old dog died. I called up a dog rescue group and told them I would be interested in adopting a small dog. I had a home visit done but didn’t hear from them.
Then one day, I received a phone call. They needed a foster home for a small dog. I agreed and they brought over a Yorkshire terrier. He looked ridiculous with a blue bow on his head. After they left, I discovered he was covered in fleas. Years ago, I took an animal assistant course and worked for vets. So it was off to the vet for flea medication. I named him Toto from of the Wizard of Oz.
He had been thrown out of three foster homes. He was a toy breed and he was left outside in all weather. He was removed from this family because of neglect. He had never been taken for a walk, and on his very first one, he yelped and cried as if he had been shot by an arrow. My neighbour saw me and asked me what was wrong. I tried to yell back over the howling. I had picked him up by now and was holding him, as he seemed to be in mortal pain. As we came near busy traffic, he lunged at every car going by like he was attacking them.
A few weeks later I received a call from the rescue agency. “How is it going?”
“Great,” I replied. “I carry him for walks!”
But each time I took him near traffic, he began to get better. Toto sleeps every night with his back against mine. He is the greatest back warmer. When he is at the dog park, he is a star. He is the world’s best Yorkshire Terrier retriever. He looks at you with his big brown eyes and laughs. There is no feeling in the world like that. Did I adopt him? You bet. Could I turn down a Yorkshire man? I’m from Sheffield, Yorkshire.
I had always wanted a Dachshund, a sausage dog. I had mentioned this to the owner of the rescue society. No sooner had I said those words when I received a call. “Could you foster a mini Dachshund now?”
“Sure, bring her over,” I said.
I was handed a roly-poly little piglet of a Dachshund at my front door. “She’s a real cuddle bug,” the rescuer said. She was brown, around six years old. Her owner had relinquished her. I could tell that the owner must have really loved her. She came with her own pillow and dogs clothes, as well a current file from her vet. I didn’t like the name she was given; when I looked back at her records, I discovered her birth name was Clara, and that’s what I renamed her. Her little tail had been broken at the end from abuse. I took her for a walk in a field of buttercups with Toto. Toto planted a big kiss on her.
Month’s later, I learned Clara’s owner was being abused by her husband. He had also threatened to take Clara out into the woods and shoot her. She had relinquished the dog in fear. I hope she leaves that man, I said. Later I learned this woman finally broke away from her abuser.
My passion for fostering Chihuahuas began with Chiquita who made the journey to me from a breeder who was not breeding anymore. I now realize that the right dog will come to you.
Later, I learned the rescue agency was bringing in around thirty Chihuahuas from Mecredi, California. In Mecredi, they are overrun by Chihuahuas. People get them as a fashion statement, then throw them out on the streets like garbage. They are put down after only two weeks if no one adopts them. I told them I would foster a couple. It was such an exciting evening. I loaded up my car with two dog kennels. My mother and I had gone to the thrift store earlier and bought blankets. “This one is for you,” the volunteer said as I poked my head into the back of a van of dog kennels. It was January, and it was cold out. We were told to keep the Chihuahuas as warm as possible.
I stared at an adorable red smooth-haired Chihuahua. She looked weak from the journey. I put her in my dog kennel in the car. I looked at a pretty black and tan Chihuahua with a black mask across her face. I agreed to foster her too. Soon she was snuggled up next to the red one. I was asked to foster another dog. This one was a Chihuahua cross around fifteen pounds with huge brown eyes. They had all been travelling for a few days and were very sick. I named the red Chihuahua “Baby,” and “Bambi” for the black and tan. The other one was already named Bonny. Bonny was so ill she had to be rushed to a vet for intravenous. Later she thrived and was adopted by a family from Victoria.
My Chihuahuas were in rough shape. Their ears were ragged with missing pieces and covered in blood and dirt. I bathed them and put little doggy coats on. The next couple of days were trial and error. They were not eating. Back at the vet they were given shots for kennel cough and antibiotics. Bambi’s weight was 4 lbs and was decreasing. She too had to go on intravenous.
It was then I realized Bambi was dying. I went to the vet each day and asked her weight. She lay in her kennel, her tiny paw connected to the intravenous line. “Bambi, I love you. I promise to keep you safe. But you have to fight Bambi,” I pleaded. “You have to fight to live.”
I realized that the medication they were getting was not working. I began to do my research. I emailed the Mecredi Animal Rescue and told them they were not thriving. I got an email back informing me that the strain of kennel cough in California is different from Canada and must be treated with different antibiotics.
They were on Baytril but they let me know that I should have the vet use Doxycline. I went to the vet with this information. He quickly ordered the Doxycline and then we waited. Would Bambi live? Was it too late?
I held her little paw at the kennel and spoke to her again from my heart. “Come on Bambi, fight girl…I love you Bambi.” It wasn’t much but the next day she had gained a few ounces. “She’s coming back,” Dr. Bassi, my vet said from City Care Animal Hospital, said.
The next day I went to fetch her. She was snuggled in her blanket in my arms. Each day she began to eat up a storm. She displayed more energy then all of the dogs and would leap up the stairs as if she had tiny wings on.
I looked at all the dogs sitting on the stairs. We were a family. A family of dogs!
A year ago, I fostered a black Pit Bull cross that had been severely abused and chained up. The rescue group and I had chosen the adoptive parents. We had a home visit done. So Chase was sent to an adoptive family out of town. A year later, I received an email from Mexico. The owner had broken up with his girlfriend. He wanted to make arrangements to get the dog back to me. When I brought Chase home, he had a cut on his head. It was clear he had been neglected and abused a second time! All the work I had done in getting him to trust would have to be redone.
Months went by. I could not find anyone that would love him the way I did. Also I had let him go to another home where he was neglected and caged up. I decided to keep him. I held his big black head in my hands and kissed him. I promised him I would never allow him to be abused again. I contacted expert dog trainer, Ken Hamilton from Tsawwassen , to help me with Chase’s rehabilitation.
So there I was with five happy rescue dogs.
I had been suffering with acute arthritis and it looked liked rheumatoid arthritis. I had to quit my job. I could have fallen into a deep depression. Or worse, taken up drinking.
But now I had too much to concentrate on. My dogs. I believe they helped with my healing. They give back to me everday.
This summer in July, I was putting the Chihuahuas in their grassy run. When the phone rang, it was the lady from the animal rescue.
“Andrea….I really need a place for a Chihuahua… I’m driving around and I have no place to put him. Can you help?”
“Bring him over,” I replied.
I must be crazy, I thought. But there was room for one more and it was just to foster him, I reasoned. When I saw the brown Chihuahua with the long dangling legs, I wanted to laugh. He was a tall Chihuahua! He looked like a cross between a coyote and a jackrabbit.
“He needs a name,” she said. “We’ve just been calling him Lucky. But he was tied up for two years on two feet of chain. He’s never been walked and he’s lost muscle tone in his legs.”
He had a skinny body but a really pretty face. I decided to call him Tequila. I thought probably by the end of each day I could use a Tequila!
The rescue group paid for his vet work. He was neutered two days later, he had shots and his teeth were cleaned. I left him howling at the vets. “It’s amazing that he has already bonded to you,” said the vet. As soon as I picked him up, he stopped howling. I hugged him and said, “You’re coming home, Tequila.”
The next couple of days he tried to walk on the leash. He could only go a short distance and his dangly legs would give out. I thought we would make quite a pair; if I had an arthritis flare-up, I was on my cane, and he could barely walk.
I picked him up and carried him. “You’ll get stronger Tequila, don’t worry,” I told him. Soon his personality began to blossom. He liked to warble. He makes the most unusual noises especially when he is separated from me. In the beginning, I had him sleeping with Clara so he could learn to detach from me.
The warbles began to reach such a crescendo that he sounded like a symphony. He is very clever and knows that the sadder the warble, the more my heart would break. Then I would bring him into my room.
Toto and Tequila like to scrap with each other. Sometimes Toto and Tequila fight over their favourite carrot toy. As Toto chases after him up the stairs, Tequila swoons and plays dead. He lets out a piercing agonizing shriek. Tequila is a born actor. Sometimes, Tequila will put on such a performance when Toto is nipping at his heels up the stairs. Tequila does his piercing yelp, pretending to be viciously attacked.
“Look Tequila, don’t you think you’re overacting a little? After all, Toto hasn’t even touched you.” Tequila then swoons and plays dead!
I also discovered that Tequila was a born retriever. Whatever I threw to him, he returned. He is also a sock stealer. Every night, he brings my black socks to me on the bed. Sometimes they have a small hole in the bottom.
I bought several sturdy baby gates. So I don’t always have the dogs in one big pack together. Chase has an indoor/ outdoor run. At night he comes in and lolls on the couch snoring. Clara has her own room and wraps herself into a blanket like a sausage. She snores loudly.
I believe they were meant to come to me. I like to think my deceased pets sent them my way.
Each dog has given me a gift of the spirit:
Toto: Gave me wisdom. He is an old soul who knows all things will happen in the right time.
Clara: Gave me fortitude. That no matter what, you can will yourself to survive.
Baby: Gave me courage. She is only 4lbs but she is fearless.
Bambi: Gave me knowledge. Using the right knowledge can save your life.
Chase: Gave me understanding of the dangers of prejudice: All large black dogs are to be feared and must be vicious, and Pit Bulls should be destroyed.
Sadly there is so much prejudice against dogs based on look, colour, breed. People make assumptions before they have even met him.
Tequila: Gave me counsel. He is quite supernatural. He has this intuition and knows how to act when the going gets tough.
I call them my six-pack; they are my six-pack of joy.
All animal rescue organizations desperately need foster homes or forever adoption homes. If you can help our local “A Better Life Dog Rescue”, please contact me and I will gladly forward them your information.
Andrea Carr Bio:
Andrea has performed at venues in Vancouver and Calgary’s 2010 Funnyfest with her sketch “Cowslip Corners”.
She has written a book titled: “Single Parent Voices.” She has also written and directed several one act play comedies. One won her a B.C. Fraser Art’s Festival Award.
She also received the Canada 125 medal Governer General’s Award For Surrey.
Andrea’s current project is to start a dog rescue charity. For more info email: email@example.com
To view Andrea’s performances go to YouTube, “Cowslip Corners ” “Sexy Cougar Lady Get’s Shots Down.” Andrea will be entered in this year’s Canadian Comedy Awards for Best Sketch that people can vote on.
She was interviewed by CHEK TV.