As you may or may not already know, last weekend we welcomed a foster dog into our home for the first time in about eight years. Dixie, a blue-brindle pit bull, was hit by a car about two months ago and taken to a local vet's office, where it was determined that she had a broken pelvis and an out-of-joint hip (the latter problem existed even prior to the accident, and will require surgery eventually). The vet knew who Dixie belonged to, and although they contacted the owners, nobody ever came to take Dixie home. After a month, the vet passed Dixie along to the Humboldt County Animal Shelter.
After arriving at the shelter, Dixie was discovered to be pregnant, and fairly far along already. She failed a temperament test for growling at a shelter employee in her kennel, which put her and her unborn puppies at risk of euthanasia. Through the dedicated work of a shelter employee, and with financial help from American Dog Rescue, Dixie's life was spared, and last weekend, as the new year began, so too did the lives of Dixie's eight puppies, who were delivered in the middle of the night by emergency c-section following a difficult birth in which one puppy was lost. The next day, this little family arrived at our house.
Whether from stress, grief, or pain, Dixie had not eaten well during the two months she spent kenneled, and she is extremely underweight and malnourished. Since delivering her pups, her appetite has perked up and she's now eating high protein/high calorie meals 5-6 times a day; I'm trying my best to get some weight back on her and ensure her ability to produce adequate milk for her puppies.
It's early days here with this little canine family, but I can tell you that all nine members are doing surprisingly well. Dixie is not one to grant trust or affection instantaneously (understandable after all she's been through), but her manners have been impeccable, and she has been a perfect lady with me all week. The last few days have brought more tail wags and an increased enjoyment of receiving affection, which is great to see. I can sense a world-wise and gentle spirit beginning to emerge, and I look forward to getting to know Dixie and her babies as the next couple of months unfold.
Dixie's hip problems are causing her pain, but unfortunately she can't have the surgery she needs until after she's done nursing her puppies, nor can she receive any pain medication. During the course of transitioning Dixie to her new temporary home, I learned that while at the shelter, she - as well as many other dogs at our county animal shelter (and at animal shelters across the country) - slept directly on the hard cement floor every day and night. Some of the dogs receive blankets, but those who chew their blankets (and who wouldn't, given the lack of entertainment options in a kennel?) have nothing at all.
I thought a lot yesterday about this sad situation, heartbroken to think of my sweet, long-suffering mama dog, trying to grow her puppies and heal her hip in such an inhospitable environment. I learned that the situation at our shelter is not unusual at all; in fact, thousands of dogs in animal shelters throughout the US sleep on cold, sometimes wet, concrete floors every day of their undeserved incarceration. I discovered that there is one particular type of bed that is preferred by animal shelters for its easy care and maintenance, and that the company that makes these beds - Kuranda Dog Beds - even has a program that allows donors to purchase one (or more) of these beds at a discount and have it shipped directly to the shelter of their choice.
I've set up a page on the Kuranda website for my local county shelter, and as you may have guessed by now, one of the reasons for this post is to ask you to please consider donating one of these beds so that one of the dogs at the shelter can get a comfortable night's sleep and become happier, healthier, and more adoptable. (You can also check with animal shelters in your own town to see if they are in need of beds, and if they are signed up on Kuranda's site.)
You can donate a large bed for $56.00 plus $16.49 shipping, or an x-large bed for $67.00 plus $20.60 shipping. I know they aren't exactly cheap, but they will last for years, and just imagine how many dogs' lives will be improved by their ability to get a good night's sleep as they endure what is surely an unpleasant and frightening time in their lives.
Here's the web address to donate a bed: http://kuranda.com/donate/5834/
Thank you for taking the time to read my note and consider my request. Now please enjoy some gratuitous cuteness from my home to yours...