IN THE BEGINNING, January 2010, the phone rang, “hello”, then the question, “are you interested in raising some puppies from a hording situation in Burns Oregon?” The words “you bet” slipped out before I realized what I had said, so the Journey began.
A little about me, if you don’t wish to read about the boring life of a retired old man, I suggest you click on Honey’s Story at the top of blog, otherwise here goes. First and foremost, I’m not highly educated, except from the school of hard knocks and dumb moves, so please excuse the poor quality of my attempt to tell her story.
The call was made by the director of Project Pooch, and if I wanted to use the Pooch Van to also transport another female with puppies plus a male back to Portland along with the female and puppies I was going to raise. This turned out to be a total of 17 dogs and puppies, all packed into travel crates for the long trip. Because Burns Oregon is 400 miles from Portland, I left the house at oh-dark-thirty, (2:30AM), coffee in hand. Not 50 miles out I hit it, being January 29 in Oregon mountain passes and high desert are snow-covered, snow falling heavily on the traffic free road.
Hey, only 350 more miles to go, oh boy. fortunately I found 50 more miles of clear roads after descending the mountain pass, then back on snow-covered roadway for the rest of the trip. I arrived in Burns at 7:30 and called Mike, the contact who was to take me out to the property in order to pickup my passengers for the return trip back to Portland, all in the same day.
When Mike showed up at the meeting place, Safeway parking lot, another 1/2 hour drive following him to the property where the 200 plus dogs were located. (At the bottom of page 2 of this link there are several pictures of Honey and the kids that were added to the rescuers website. There is also a picture of number 3, or should I say Bear the big time Ankle Bitter attacking me, I really miss these pups. )
It didn’t take more than a half hour to load all the dogs and pups up, as the owner had already trapped and crated the dogs for transport. These dogs were running wild on the large homestead a couple of miles from any other homes, out in the hinterlands. Dogs with not much human contact, other than feeding a few times a week by the owner going to the local slaughter-house and returning with cow carcasses as food, dropped on the ground for all to fight over.
I had not known at the time I started this adventure, what dog or how many puppies I was going to inherit, it depended on which of the dogs could be trapped, cornered or found on the snow-covered property prior to my arrival.
Mike and I were met by a gentleman who was helping with the rescue of the dogs wrapped up in this situation, I forget his name. The three of us loaded, first one female with 6 puppies, then the large male dog and finally my new charges. There she was,crated and scared as ever I’ve seen before, soon to be named Honey along with 8 puppies 9 days old. I guessed the puppies age because their eyes weren’t open yet but did start opening the very next day.
Now let’s get going before more snow hits the ground, only 300 miles of snow then 100 miles of dry pavement to go. I was INSTRUCTED to call home as soon as the return trip started. Knowing full well, I had better do as I was told, I called. My wife answered, “is everything okay” she asked. Then the major reason I was to call “what’s coming here and how many puppies does she have?” “8” I replied, then paid for 5 minutes of silence on my cell phone. Do to the silence, I just commented “see you when I get home” and hung up, to save added charges from the phone company. After dropping the one female, later named Smiley” to another rescue group and the large male off to be adopted by a family, I arrive at the house to be greeted by my wife and granddaughter waiting by the window for the great show and tell session.
We transferred Honey and the kids to their new temporary/permanent crate inside a large kennel right outside the backdoor and left so Honey and kids could rest and be fed. The three of us talked about my trip and what I wanted done regarding the brood. We will not name the pups, if need be numbers 1 thru 8 will work and they will be adopted out as soon as they are old enough. Mom on the other hand will, after all her pups are gone, be sent off for training and adoption with Project Pooch, all I need do is make a phone call and I’ll be done.
Sunday morning when I returned from doing some errands I was met at the kennel by my Granddaughter who promptly told me, this one’s name is Molly, this one is Bear and on we went with Winston, Tank, Cotton, Edward,Clementine and finally Daisy, oh well no one ever listens to me anyway. Plus at the time I had made my decisive statement I had no idea what was about to occur, imagine that, within me and my need to follow through with this journey of Honey’s.
Many hours of daily handling feeding and playing with the pups, in order to make sure they had no side effects from Honey’s fear of humans, it was time for them to go and start their own lives with the awesome families who adopted them, I still get to see 5 of them as they grow into adulthood. Honey had been a fantastic mother to her kids and thankfully allowed me or anyone who came to handle the pups to do so without any fuss, I decided to keep one pup, Molly, for an additional 2 weeks to lessen any separation anxiety which she may have.
We watched as Molly and her new family drove off, I think there were 3 sets of eyes a bit blurry, Granddaughter, wife and maybe mine. Things had changed, life had changed, so now what. I went into Honey’s kennel sat down in the chair I had used for so many weeks reading to her and the puppies, looked in her eyes (I know darn well I’m not supposed to) as she glared out, shaking from inside the now empty crate, I simply said “it’s you and me now.” I had no idea my wife was standing behind me outside the kennel watching until she quietly said “I guess we’re in it for the long haul.” “YEP” was my reply…
First and foremost I’d like to thank the many people who’ve helped me with Honey and her awesome puppies, Joan Dalton, director of Project Pooch, without her call and the use of the van, this journey would have never happened. Ruthie and Lester, longtime friends who guided me on how to wean puppies, I had no clue. Jenna owner of Atomic Pizza and neighbor who came by almost daily to handle the puppies, adopted one and helped find deserving families to adopt the kids, the shop has great pizza to boot. This list is not in order of importance, because if it was, Debbie Jacobs of Fearful Dogs would be right at the top. Debbie has coached and suggested how to work with this fantastic girl, a special thank you Debbie. Mary at Mary’s Dogs, my new found inspiration along with Aaron the wonder dog, if I could have Honey read and view the videos on Mary’s blog, she would see what could be in store, but as Debbie says “Honey can’t read until you teach her to.”
I hadn’t planned on doing this blog, journal or whatever you call it, therefore the time line may be a bit off and is not intended to be a “How to Book”, there are many of those available, this is just a “What Happen Here” story and to catch up it’s just a general overall synopsis.
Honey spent the first couple weeks after Molly was gone shivering every time I walked into her kennel huddled in the corner not interested in anything except for me to “GET OUT”, notice the cheese on the floor, no interest. She was still locked down in her kennel all of the time, because I was sure she’d jump, dig under, the fence and be gone. Without any collar or identification if she did, I’d never see her again. Over a few days, by adding some control fencing I did let her out to explore the yard. After 10 minutes or so of freedom she would return to her kennel and crate, at which time I’d lock her in then repeat the freedom exercise again, several times a day Watching her intently, it became clear she was at home and no desire to escape, I opened the kennel and it remains open to this day, she has complete run of place and can go wherever she wishes and at anytime, inside if she so chooses.
I’m not a big fan of medications, but after many discussions it was suggested I think seriously about trying Honey on medications to clam her down. After talking to her vet. she was put on 50mg of Clomipramine and 100mg of L-Theanine daily. These are not a cure all, but she no longer shakes in fear and has become more at ease with the daily routine.
In August, the 23rd to be exact, Honey went into heat and fell madly in love with my other dog Maggie, and Maggie her (what a sight). Prior to the heat thing Honey and Maggie were not big fans of one another, toleration was how best to describe their association. After this wonderful time in Honey’s life, most likely the first and only time she wasn’t bred, being in the place she was with many male dudes looking at the beautiful girl, they now play sometimes, Maggie has an arthritic spine and can’t play much but they are friendly. Honey has become protective of her food and kennel sanctuary which has lessened because of desensitizing and conditioning. (Thanks DJ)
I think one of the most difficult parts in working with My Girl was to find the food and treats she really liked. After many sample and small bags of food we settled on Great Life Chicken smothered in cooked chicken livers. (yuk) Treats were as hard to figure out, nope on cheese, meat, liver jerky or cooked lamb parts. We do, then and now, love Feta Cheese, that never seems to make it from the refrigerator to her, as I love it too. We settled on T/D dental large size, it must be the fat content. Not only does she get excited when I say her second name “cookie” she has the brightest smile on the west coast.
I decided to work on getting her to come inside and to become one of the flock members, so to speak, and we were doing just great until about 10 days ago. She would come in every morning after our required regiment, wake-up, Maggie potty, feed, treat (in that order or the day goes badly) and was inside the day Sid the Cat, who’s boss of the joint, decided he needed to rub against Honey. Honey wasn’t impressed with his way of thinking and headed at mach-miles an hour to the door to the outside, slipped on the rug, lost traction on the kitchen floor then splattered herself against the refrigerator, but did manage to get out of harms way, whew. So now we’re back to square one, in, out, treat, in treat, etc. Then again it’s only been 8 months since the pups left, we have come so far and we have many more miles to travel together, she is so cool, she gave me a big time tail wag this morning at first light.
From here on I plan on posting what we accomplish in the future, not necessarily how we did it, just that some small change has occurred, here at Home Tab Thank you for reading.