Friday, October 27, 2006

Rescue Puppies

I don't think I've written about this before, which is surprising given how much of our time is spent on it, but Annie is a big-time dog rescuer. She takes dogs from local shelters who face death, cleans them up, then finds them a new home. Sometimes we "foster" them at our place, while other times we place them in other temporary shelters, but the goal is to get them out of harm's way and into a permanent home as quickly as possible.

For the most part Annie focuses on dogs that the shelter has deemed "unlikely to be adopted" for one reason or another, because those are the animals most at risk of being killed. And the toll is high -- the Austin animal shelter puts down more than 12,000 animals a year. Every dog we bring into foster care and eventually place would almost certainly have been killed otherwise.

Animal rescue sometimes feels like trying to hold back the tide. There are so very many dogs in need, and you can only ever hope to save a small portion of them. It's easy to think you're not making enough of a difference, but I'm pretty sure it makes a huge difference to the actual dogs you save.

We don't take puppies out very often, because puppies are inherently more adoptable than adult dogs -- they're built to be cute, and a random person walking through a shelter is naturally drawn to them. But in the last week we've taken in four pups, which is definitely a record for us. I've posted pictures of them to the right. Three came in one litter, all from the same mom, but as different as can be. With staggering originality we named them Blackie, Whitey, and Brownie. I sense a Pulitzer for "Temporary Animal Naming" in our very near future.

Whitey looks just like the dog in "Little Rascals", right down to the black spot over one eye. She was the only girl of the three, and full of energy and spitfire. Brownie looks for all the world like a Dachshund, with short stumpy legs and the same short brown fur, but you can definitely see his terrier mom's influence in his face. And finally, Blackie is a ball of long fur, shy and reserved, much happier to snuggle up with a human than running around with the dogs.

The other newcomer to the ranch is Pancho, the longer-haired terrier. He's got light brown eyes, which is pretty unusual, and is very small and snuggly. His expressions remind me of a mini poem in a doggerel book we have around here:

I'm as small as the cat.
What's up with that?!
Annie has gotten so good at finding new homes for our foster dogs that we end up not having them around for very long; I'll be surprised if Pancho lasts the day, in fact, he's so cute. You fall in love with them so fast, but you have to keep a little back because you know you're only a temporary waystation in their journey. We've almost lost count of the dogs we've rescued over the years, but -- sadly -- there are all too many still out there waiting for their own angel to come and pull them out of their misery.


Anonymous said...

I love that ya'll are active in this. We're having a big problem and debate going on in Greensboro right now because our animal shelters are over-crowded and tons of dogs are being put to sleep. If we had the room, we'd have a hard time not taking them all home. It's just a sad situation, but thankfully people like you can save some of the lives.

Anonymous said...

That little Pancho is adorable. If I didn't have 2 dogs I would want him. He is so cute!!! Thanks for all you both do to help with this problem.