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Treasurer of Hickory County, Missouri's animal rescue and support site.

When We Can’t Help and When We Can

WHEN WE CAN’T HELP:  A property owner called, asking if we would trap and have destroyed several feral cats that were killing their birds and destroying the feeders. As you know, we are an Animal Welfare Group that supports Trap, Neuter and Release programs.  Unfortunately the property owner was not interested in that option. It is even more unfortunate that we were unable to help them. Clip Art - TNR Logo

When you find feral companion animals surrounding your property, it means that the conditions are better there for their survival than any other option.  Maybe you have uncovered trash.  Maybe you have bird feeders that provide feral cats with an instant access to birds.  Maybe you have outbuildings and cover that provides shelter.  Maybe you have other animals that the feral animals can smell, or you feed your animals outside, so feral animals have a chance of getting a bit of what is available.

In any of these cases, nature abhors a vacuum, so even if you remove the feral animals that you find, unless you also change what drew them to your property, more will follow.

Our stated mission is to help keep all companion animals in the area safe, not to euthanize them.  A responsible Trap, Neuter and Return program could have helped make sure that the kitties this person wanted to put down would have been  much less interested in the bird feeders, since they wouldn’t have been hungry.  But under such a program, feral cats are trapped, fixed and returned to where they came from.  And without such a program, even if the original cats were removed, others would likely move in, looking for a birdie meal too.

We are happy to help you set up a TNR program by offering food, housing and the spaying or neutering.  Otherwise we have no assistance to offer.

Diane Venancio’s students at Hermitage High are Tops!!!

Rescue - Teen Outreach Club members 2One of Four Legs & Fur’s board members, Berta Bryner (in blue on the right), got a great surprise when she visited the class.  And we just want to say how wonderful we think the class members of Diane Venancio’s T.O.P.S. class at Hermitage High are!  Not only did they work to donate money to Four Legs and Fur, but as you can see they also contributed food, toys, bowls and much more,  All of these are being put to good use with new adoptive pets, and to help those who could not afford to feed their own animals.

It’s great, selfless and generous contributions from kids like these that give us much hope for the future.  Big puppy snuggles to each of them — the furry friends are truly grateful!

Planning for the Future Welfare of Your Pets

PLEASE PLAN AHEAD:   I know none of us wants to think about death, disability or an extended stay in the hospital, but if we love our companion animals, we simply have to do so.  Four Legs and Fur has recently been calledClip Art - Feeling Sick upon to help people who were going into intensive care for an extended time period figure out what to do with their pets.  We also know of a situation where a person passed away with young animals in their care and no one to take them.

From your pet’s perspective, it’s bad enough to lose you, the person they love.  Just imagine when they’re left out in the cold to fend for themselves?  That happens more than you know.

Please have that talk with your family members, friends, neighbors or whomever.  Think through what would happen if you could no longer care for your animals, or if a disability causes you to be unable to walk them as you once did.  If you want to discuss options or how to make plans, we’re happy to do so.  We even know of a reliable dog walker who is available to help with that chore.

On a similar front:  I know that we want to make sure our animals are mainly bonded with us and will protect us and the home when needed.  But please remember that they also must be socialized enough that someone else can keep them from chasing animals, pick them up, get a leash on them or get them in a carrier.  Clip Art - Dog Chasing Squirrel

Otherwise, it becomes a traumatic experience for your pets when it happens that someone (often a stranger), needs to step in to help you take care of them, get them into boarding facilities or send them to foster care while you recuperate and/or if you can’t come back.  I even know of several animals who were lost simply because no one could catch them after an owner died.  And that can’t possibly be what you would want for the pets you love.

Moving On

Two of the dogs I’ve adopted were simply abandoned when their people moved out. The first was one t of a litter of puppies left when the people were evicted, and over half the litter died before someone finally came to inspect the house.  She suffers from medical problems because of that miserable beginning to this day.
The second was a loyal dog that was left at a farm when her people moved.  Presumably they thought whoever would buy the property would take her, but the sale wasn’t scheduled for months!
Now, in the past two weeks I have received four calls from people simply abandoning their animals at their old property and/or asking us to re home animals that have been loyal to them for however long because they are “moving,” “got new carpeting,” or some similar reason! Worse still, they’re expecting us to do so within the next twenty-four hours!
Excuse me if I sound harsh, but how would it be if your boyfriend, husband or wife decided to leave you behind because the new place they were moving to didn’t “match” your look?  Repulsive, right?  And we don’t kick our kids out because we’re moving and they’ll be inconvenient.  That would be called abuse and abandonment. 
Well, it’s no less repugnant to leave an animal you’ve adopted behind because you don’t want your new floors dirtied or didn’t plan for a yard to hold them.
When you take on a pet, it’s no different than having a child.  They have every reason to believe that you will be their life-long companion, pack leader and protector.  And in return they give you their unconditional love, devotion and attention.
So please, when you plan a move, think ahead and consider the needs of your pet. Yes, it may take paying a deposit or getting a different place, but it’s what you agreed to do when you chose your kitty or pup.
If it is indeed impossible to take your pet, don’t wait until the last minute to address this. Start early to find a good and loving home in which to place your pet. Because when you call us and tell us you’re moving in 24 hours and the animal has to go — there are precious few resources to place that animal, but even more so, it’s a huge betrayal to an animal who has considered you his or her best friend.

Thank You Hickory County!!!

Our First Annual Purses for Paws fundraising dinner and auction was more successful than we could ever have hoped!  To all the volunteers and people who attended, you were awesome.  In fact, the funds raised were sufficient to allow us to start our building fund, a vehicle fund to transport to the vet for whatever reason and STILL continue providing low-cost spay & neuter services and food support to those needing the help.

Shown below are some of the photos taken at the fundraiser – where good food was enjoyed and happy winners enjoyed their prizes, whether from the silent auction or the purses.

And Kudos to Sara Marie Fukula – Photography by Sarah Marie – for doing such a great job of covering the event!

Picture - Fundraiser - Won a Bunch Picture - Fundraiser - 2 happy winnersPicture - Fundraiser - Getting Fed




Picture - Fundraiser - Purses to AuctionPicture - Fundraiser - Pat & Jeff performing



Picture - Fundraiser - Pastor Hoff & FriendsPicture - Fundraiser - Looking over the Crowd 3



Picture - Fundraiser - Looking over the Crowd 4Picture - Fundraiser - Door Prizes 2



Picture - Fundraiser - Auctioneer workingPicture - Fundraiser - Margaret winning a purse




Picture - Fundraiser - Won the Guitar

Pet Sitters Wanted

We regularly are receiving requests for in-home pet sitting, where someone reliable comes to a vacationing person’s home and takes care of their animals as if they were their own.  If you are bondable, love animals and want to have your own independent business, this could be a lucrative niche in Hickory County that would also be providing a service.  We’d be happy to help you think through how to set this up if you like.  Just email us at

And if you’re already set up to do this sort of thing, please let us know ASAP.  We’ll list you on a resource page, and there are several people we know actively looking for help.

Missing Pets

Having been through it myself, I know there’s absolutely nothing worse than the uncertainty of wondering where one of your beloved companion animals has gone.  I posted flyers all over within a 10-mile radius, and never did find Bear.  Sadly, it’s likely that he was shot by a person who didn’t like dogs and/or had cattle that needed protecting and couldn’t deal with his rambunctious “herding.”

To aid in finding these animals, we suggest the following:  Make sure all of your pets have a name tag with your contact information on it. Home Again, the microchip tracking company, says that over 50% of the animals recovered happen because of such a name tag.  There are many on-line companies from which you can order it, or if your pet has been microchipped, then you usually can get one from them.

Secondly, post the missing pet on our Facebook page, to the main Hickory County chats page, and I also suggest you consider taking out a lost-pet ad.  Putting flyers at the local post offices, gas stations, the cafe on the square in Hermitage, etc. also gets the word out.  Lastly, if you have a picture, send that information, a description of the animal and where it was last seen to and we’ll also get it posted up here.

Solve the Dog Nail Trimming Nightmare

Anyone who has a dog knows their nails keep growing no matter what you do, and one of our least favorite activities is trying to convince them to let us trim their nails.  You can either take them to the vet or groomer and pay for it to be done, or try and do it yourself.  Often we spend the money in frustration, because who needs the hassle of your dog having a nervous breakdown.

Recently I heard of a nifty trick.  Part of the problem with us trimming our dogs’ nails is that we are doing it the wrong way.  Either we’re taking too much off at a single time or we’re asking them to become unsteady on their feet by lifting up their paws, which is uncomfortable.

Instead, get a trimmer that has an open end, so you don’t need to lift up the nail or paw.  Kneel down in front of your dog.  Don’t lift the paw.  Just put the trimmer under the nail with the paw still on the ground, bring it up slightly and snip off just a small amount.  Doing so will let your dog stay stable and avoid the possibility of cutting too much or hitting the quick.  This lets you quickly get each paw done.

If you have one of those dogs who hates the sound of the clipping, do a paw, then go away.  Come back another time to do another one.  If your dog’s nails have grown super long, take them down a bit at a time, and you’ll get less resistance from your pet.

What My Scaredy-Cat Dog teaches Me

Dog - Twist 1-28-13This is Twist.  As you can see even from his home-coming picture, he is a timid soul, poor baby.

He was left at a no-kill shelter as a pup with the rest of his litter and his mom.  Apparently, he didn’t get adopted and the shelter decided to go ahead and put his mom up for adoption.  Based on my experience with him, I wish they’d wait to adopt out the mom until ALL the pups are gone.  Maybe another month or two with her might have upped his confidence.

In any event, he ended up living there for nearly five years — stuck in a 4′ x 8′ chain link kennel day in and day out.  Don’t get me wrong.  This is an EXCELLENT no-kill shelter doing the best they can with the funds they have available.  But the reality is that unless a bunch of people go volunteer at these places to play with, walk and just generally socialize the animals there, the staff is limited to cleaning, feeding and doing what is needed to keep the pups and kitties alive and healthy, not much more.  You could liken the experience for most of the longer-term dogs and cats to prison without the possibility of parole.

Twist (short for Twister since he spent his days spinning in his little area) has been here for almost three years now.  He still can’t stand to be petted.  He will come up to lick your hand if he likes you, but runs away any time someone actively tries to touch or grab him.  Needless to say, getting a leash on him is a challenge.

But because Black Dog Sanctuary is located on 9 acres, during good weather we’ve been able let him out onto the land without a leash, and you’ve never seen a happier pup — running with the rest of the pack, sniffing and enjoying the earth.  And interestingly, when outside his wariness and constant vigil make him a truly excellent watch dog.

Twist doesn’t get the same snacks as the rest of the pack.  He’s just learning to come to enjoy special treats.  I’ve learned that we can often hold ourselves back from getting the best in life because of our own fears, and so I try to remember Twisty when I’m confronted with the possibility of stepping out into a new situation.

Twist also doesn’t get loved on the way the rest of the dogs do.  I’d love to, but he won’t let me.  For the five years he was in the shelter, humans meant being sprayed with water to clean-up, pushed from one side to the other and dosed with medicines in a variety of not-so-comfortable ways.  Even those days are over, he can’t seem to bring himself to try and feel any new touch.  I try to remember that sometimes love and good feelings may not come our way because we’re the ones pushing them away.

Twist sees the world as a scary place out to get him.  He thinks that every noise, dropped item and/or flashing light is an attack of some kind, and often runs in the opposite direction and far away, even when it had nothing to do with him and wouldn’t have hurt him.  I try to remember that maybe we put too much emphasis on what we’re feeling and so hold ourselves back in fear when there’s no need to.

Despite all of his problems, however, Twist has come a long way.  When he first came, he couldn’t play with another dog; couldn’t enjoy chewing a bone; would give up his food to just about anyone who even asked for it, let alone challenged him; and had his tail tucked between his legs 24-7.  Now he’ll stand up for himself more; plays with the rest of the pack; loves to throw bones in the air (whatever works for him is fine with me) and his tail is proudly wagging much of the time.  Twist teaches me that no matter how decimated and depressed we may feel, with time and the right attention and love, we can all move forward into a better place — maybe not the perfect place another might want for us (which teaches me to be patient and accept his limitations) — but at least into a place that feels a  lot more like wahoo than boo hoo.

Dog - Twist Oct 2015Twist enjoying his time outside in the sun.


1-Black & White Cat - LorriI’m a puzzle because I have different colors all over my body, and because although I’ll come and play with you when you have food, I’m also perfectly happy being an outside cat and on my own.

I’m male, have been neutered and am a few years old, and happy now sleeping in my mom’s garage.  But she has a number of cats already, and I need someone with patience to teach me to be an inside/outside cat.  I should get that quickly, because I learn easily and have a sweet temperament.

Time is Running Out!

We are so grateful for the support of all of you for our super Purses for Paws Prime Rib Dinner and Auction.  However, time is running out to get your tickets, since sales end Monday, and there will be none at the door.  We’re doing that so that we get an accurate count and make sure everyone can enjoy the succulent food Dick Rose is providing.  You still have time.  Get your tickets at:

  • Gynemia’s Floral and Gifts, Wheatland
  • Hickory County Library, Hermitage
  • Index, Hermitage
  • Terry’s Designs, Galmey
  • The Trading Post, Hermitage

And thank you to all of these locations for helping with the dinner!

Great New Auction prizes have been added

We are so lucky to have such wonderful support for our upcoming Purses for Paws Auction.  Tucked into some of the purses and tool box are wonderful, high-value prizes, including:

  • Antiqued Cast-Iron King-Size Headboard (see PhotPicture - Snowmenos below)
  • Custom Bird Feeder
  • Custom Snow Men with dogs & Cats
  • Dremel Moto Tool with over 30 bits
  • Dog Blankets (see samples on our Sales pages under our Donate / Shop Now page)
  • Dog Bed made of faux fur
  • Dremel Moto-tool with over 30 bits & tools
  • Grocery Gift cards
  • Hair cut
  • Hardware Gift Certificate
  • Jewelry (see samples on Lynn Leigh Design’s Web page and others
  • Massage Roller and Cream
  • Professional Photography Gift Card
  • Rare Sophie’s Choice Victorian Chintz Tea Set (see photos below)
  • Restaurant Gift Certificate
  • Shark Light ‘N Easy Steam Mop (see photos below)
  • Subscription
  • Warm Fleece Scarves (see samples under our Donate /Shop Now page)

And more donations are being offered every day, so check back to see the updated list!  Please do visit our sponsors page post and support them when shopping.  Having these donations helps to make the auction fun and rewarding!

Picture - Headboard 1







Picture - Headboard 4 Picture - Headboard 3


Picture - Tea Set 2







Picture - Shark Steam Mop 2Picture - Shark Steam Mop 1

Our Wonderful Sponsors

We want to thank all the wonderful sponsors and volunteers who made the fantastic First Annual Purses for Paws Dinner and Auction possibly by donating time, gifts, publicity & drop-off locations for donations!!!  If we have inadvertently forgotten someone, please DO let us know. (Posted in Alphabetical order)


  • 254 CAFE: Janice Waters & Craig Kohler, Wheatland, MO 65779
  • 5-STAR GROCERY: Sid Kingston, Hermitage, MO
  • ALPS GROCERY: (Always Low Prices!), Pittsburg, MO
    Facebook page:
  • COUNTRY COTTAGE HAIR CARE: Carol Butler, Wheatland, MO
  • DIAMOND S AUCTION COMPANY: Cody & Devon Stutenkemper & DaKotah Stutenkemper-Lear, Bolivar, MO –Website:
  • FAITHGALORE: Sandy Rice, Pittsburg, MO —
  • GYNEMIA’S FLOWER GARDEN: Gynemia Walker, Wheatland, MO
  • INDEX NEWSPAPER: Trevor Vernon and Tabitha Pursley, Hermitage, MO.  Website:
  • JACK & VIRGINIA’S RESTAURANT: D, Clark, Hermitage, MO —
  • KREATIVE LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY: Kyla Hunzinger, Cross Timbers, MO
  • LIGHTFOOT HARDWARE: Terry and Anita Turner, Hermitage, MO —
  • LYNN LEIGH DESIGNS: Ginger Hammond, Wheatland, MO
    MAPLES BED AND BREAKFAST, Ricka and Doc Bill Matthews, Humansville, MO  — Website:
  • MC CARTY SENIOR CENTER: Mark Swigert, Wheatland, MO —
  • POLK SALAD ANNIE’S CAFE: Ricka and Doc Bill Matthews, Humansville, MO — Facebook page:
  • POMME DE TERRE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: Pastor Ellen Hoff, Carson’s Corner, MO — Facebook page:
  • S & C ACE AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR: Steve and Carrie Brown, Wheatland, MO —
  • SNOW DAZE: Donna Bulmer, Wheatland, MO
  • TNT QUICK SHOP: Randy and Cindy Gilmore, Flemington, MO. Website:
  • TERRY’S DESIGNS: Mabel Davis, Wheatland, MO
    Facebook page:
  • THE TRADING POST: Chip Shaddox, Hermitage, MO
    Facebook page:
  • WHITE TIGER TAEKWONDO: J.R. West, Hermitage, MO — Facebook Page:


  • Mike and Pat Alexander
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bill Arnold
  • Mike and Liz Baumgarden
  • Kent and Linda Boettger
  • Traci Brown and Michael Brown, Hickory County Prosecuting Attorney
  • Berta Bryner
  • Julie Campbell
  • Pat Clinton
  • Dianna Donnelly
  • Tracie Faigenblat
  • Sarah Marie Fukula
  • Jan Gerstlauer
  • Ginnette Gunnels
  • Debbie Gordon
  • Brenda Gould
  • Jeanne Graves
  • Judge James Hackett
  • Margaret Hastings
  • Corrine and Carroll Johnson
  • Debbie Jones
  • Lori Keyes
  • Jason Kindred
  • Crystal Lang
  • Melinda Leslie
  • Mary McCoy
  • Linda McGinnis
  • Jeanne Menard
  • Jo and Dick Rose
  • John Smith
  • Donita Stanley
  • Kamia Taylor
  • Gene Thomas
  • David and Cheri Tippets
  • Connie Truelove
  • Amanda Walker
  • Deputy Barry and Madonna Walker
  • Dakota Williams
  • John and Linda Woodruff

My Shadow Box is Gone

Her name was Box, and her passing reminds me of the joy and the sadness that rescuing feral cats always brings.
I know you’re asking yourself why anyone would name their kitty Box and I’m not sure I can explain it fully, but I’ll try….Originally I called her Shadow. She was one of a litter of four kittens that Mama Cat, who resided in our neighborhood when my husband and I moved into our house, presented to us. Upon arriving home from a short trip back east, these four ceremoniously appeared, one by one, from under our nearest neighbor’s house, unoccupied at that time, and promptly moved into our home and our lives.
Our back screen door had a small hole in the bottom part of it, and these kitties soon learned they could come and go as they wanted from there; and so they did — cavorting about on the deck amidst the flower pots during the day, and wreaking havoc inside at night while we slept. Many the morning I woke to find curtains pulled down and lamps overturned. All survived this growing-up period, ourselves includedCat - Smart kitties enjoying a warm electric blanket, as you can see:
In the evening, when it was time to come in, I would call out “Bee Jay, Button’s Baby, Sophie, Shadooooo Box”, and in they’d come. Soon the Shadow part of her name was dropped and she became simply Box. And it really did seem to be a perfect name for her.
Even before these kitties moved in with us, I had seen Box once. Sitting in my small morning room, I looked out the window and there was Mama Cat walking down the road towards the neighbor’s house with a small dark bundle in her mouth. I’m sure it was Box. Each of the litter-mates is uniquely marked: Bee Jay is mostly gray with some white, Sophie is a calico, Button’s Baby mostly white with some dark gray markings, and Box has theRescue - Box dark tortoise shell coloring.
Of the four kittens she was the most timid and frightened. The day I took her to the vet in a neighboring city to be spayed, I had not even returned home when the vet’s office called to say she had gotten loose.  They had gone through one hard time corralling her, and would I please come right away and get her?  This was before we had a cell phone, so I didn’t know the situation until I’d already returned home. They had managed to catch Box and spay her, so I went back and brought her home and put her in a small room by herself to recover. Several times I would go in and speak softly to her and cuddle her – something I had not been able to do before (and probably only something she allowed because she was still groggy from the anesthetic) and this was, I’m sure, our bonding period.
Box was also quite stand-offish, not only from people, but even from her litter-mates. The other three often cuddle and play and sleep together, but not Box. But she cuddled with me and over time we became the best of friends.
At first the kitties were all inside/outside cats, free to come and go. Eventually the three girls became inside-always cats, and only Bee Jay comes and goes. Box had about three terrifying episodes outside:  once I had to go up the street and coax her out from under a porch; two other times she was either up a tree or on the roof, howling with fear, and it was only with great difficulty that we were able to get her down and inside to safety.  After the third time, it became clear she had decided that being inside safe and sound worked better for her.
She was, while my husband was alive, our bed partner, sleeping between us. After my husband’s death, she continued to sleep with me. It was a very rare night that we didn’t go to bed together.
And then she became ill with liver and kidney disease – and things changed, including some of her habits. She distanced herself and stopped coming to bed with me. She began to meow pitifully when she wanted to be fed, and she seemed, strangely, to be more accepting of someone else in the house.
Before becoming sick, she rarely appeared when I had company. My bedroom was her sanctuary where she spent most of her time. Occasionally, if one of my children was visiting for several days, she would come out briefly, but never to stay long. After getting ill, things were very different….
Wednesday, January 6th, I had to make the hard decision to let her go.  After I did so, I realized I had probably waited too long…She was so thin and so ill. Although she had distanced herself from me somewhat, during those last days she often came onto my lap and purred and stayed. Was she saying ‘goodbye’?
The very worst aspect of having a pet is knowing we may have to experience eventually what I experienced, which is making the awful decision to end a life and say ‘goodbye’ to a sweet being who has shared our lives over the years. But, when we take a pet into our lives, we are making a commitment to them …to care for them and be responsible for them until the end, and so, if they live long enough, the end may be very sad indeed.  I had more than ten years with Box, and wouldn’t trade a minute of that time. Nevertheless, I miss her.

Sparkling White Teeth

In the last ten years or so it’s become somewhat of a fad belief that pet owners need to brush their cat’s or dog’s teeth.  This is laughable to me.  These animals, and the wolves before them, survived perfectly fine with no one to brush their teeth for literally thousands of years!  And I know of no pet that enjoys having you manhandle their mouth regularly, no matter how livery the toothpaste may taste!

So why is it recommended now?  Because, in my humble opinion, it takes advantage of the trend to convert your cat or dog from an animal to a living doll and provides the pet-supply industry with yet another way to make you spend your hard-earned money foolishly.

What’s really the best way to get your pet’s teeth clean:  In most cases, uncooked bones.  I have had animals rescued from shelters and puppy mills with gum problems and black teeth.  After a few months of regularly giving them real bones to chew upon, their gums are good and their teeth end up white and clean. Not to mention that chewing and consuming these bones is exactly how nature intended for them to get enough calcium.

If you have hunter friends, ask them to save the leg bones for you.  Rib bones cut off the spine work well too.  Or contact a local butcher shop and ask the same thing.  Farm supply stores often have real bones, although they have been dried and flavored, and I’ve even found those at the local Walmart from time to time.  Avoid the greenies, kongs and other similar items.  They accomplish nothing close to what real bones will do.  And whatever you do, please, please, please! avoid the rawhide chews and/or pigs and cows ears, whether or not they are twisted into the shape of bones.  You’re simply asking for bowel obstructions, especially with larger animals that bite off huge pieces, as well as dirty, germ-filled slobbery messes after they have been chewed on for a while.

If you absolutely can’t find them anywhere local, then is a great option for a wide variety of bones starting as low as $1 each for bones for small dogs.  Since I have so many pups at home, I like to take advantage of the option to buy multiple bone packs at a time at a lower per-bone cost.  At 24-pack of pork femurs, which all my dogs (even the little one) love, love, love is $44, so less than $2 each.

No matter where you get them, please do let your animals have the satisfaction of chewing on real bones.  They’ll thank you for it.

The Adventure of Rescuing Feral Dogs

Rescuing large Dog - Foxiewild dogs that have remained outside of captivity for too long is truly an adventure. Often small animal societies get calls from the local shelters, since they will not take any dog that is has not been socialized, since it is considered un-adoptable.

The call that gave me four new animals came after a sheriff had been sent to a farmhouse by someone hearing nearby gunshots and screaming.

Apparently druggies had taken over the vacant property. When we arrived at that farm, there were five small puppies lying in the snow – – shot to death for target practice by whatever drugged out crazy had found them. Also left were four dogs. Two older ones appeared to be partially tame and were maybe former pets. The other two appeared to have never heard a kind word from anyone. This was a mother and the only puppy she had been able to save. It took us hours to round these two up. I could see why they were still alive. The mother, who we named Foxie, was just that—smart, cagey and determined. The pup, who we named Zeus, was a strong, suspicious, wiggly kid who was impossible to corner. It was only after we had successfully gotten Foxie into the trucDog - Zeusk that Zeus came close enough to grab.

Feral dogs can take months to tame, and it feels like a major accomplishment when then finally even come to you. They often try to get out and break free, because humans don’t represent safety. We had Foxie for nearly a month, and I thought she was becoming accustomed to being on a leash. So I was completely depressed when she pushed past me and headed off into the forest near our home for parts unknown. Left locked inside was Zeus, his nose pressed to the glass door, howling continuously for his mama.

Despite spending several hours chasing after her, I had no luck. Finally I had to leave for work. My job didn’t permit same-day call-ins, and I needed the check to pay for dog food. When I left for work, Zeus began howling even more, as if to say he couldn’t believe I’d leave with his mom out there in the wild and him alone. But I had no choice.

When I came home, I began calling for Foxie—hoping that her time in the cold December woods might have convinced her to return. But there was no response. Imagine my surprise when I walked up the second-floor stairs to find her proudly bouncing around the deck. Looking beyond where she stood, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Apparently she had been the provider for her pack. While I had been away, she had found what remained of a hunter’s butchered deer carcass. It weighed several times what Foxie did, but somehow she had dragged it from the adjacent property, over or under barbed wire and up 15 stairs. There she was, wagging her tail, as proud as could be, basically saying, “Look what I brought home for dinner!” Zeus was looking out the door with obvious enthusiasm, anticipating a great meal!

I wasn’t sure what to do. Every time I made a move for the deer or opened the door to the house, Foxie would either crouch over it, trying to drag it inside or Zeus would try to get out. Quite a dilemma! Eventually Foxie let go and pranced inside, assuming I was bringing the delicious feast in. Imagine Zeus and Foxie’s consternation when they realized the deer was going back down the stairs. They both looked shocked. If dogs could talk, Foxie was clearly saying,”Hey, wait a minute. You’re taking my dinner and bones, there. What’s going on?!!”

After her “catch” was properly dealt with, both of them became suspicious of humans again for a time. It took several more months of my plying them with beef jerky—sitting on the stairs and tossing little bits down to where they gathered, before Foxie finally again began to come and be part of our family.

Zeus, on the other hand, wasn’t having any of it. He bit my daughter when she tried to walk him; pulled the leash back under the stairs so no one could get him; and generally made himself as scarce as possible—only coming out to eat when everyone else had left—and spending little to no time with the rest of us, staying downstairs in the basement nearly full time.
I was shocked, therefore, when six months after adopting them, I felt a cold wet nose on my elbow as I sat looking at my computer! I knew that all the other dogs, including Foxie, were comfortably snuggling together on their beds in another part of the house. Since Zeus had once again become our ghost dog, I couldn’t figure out whose nose was chilling me. Before I could turn to see, the shadow was gone. So I went back to reading.

Later, I was in my bedroom to change my clothes, and saw Zeus peek just his nose and eyes in the door. I couldn’t help but laugh, because not only did he move forward even more, but if a dog’s mouth could have fallen open, his did that night. He stood there, rocking his head from side to side, one ear lifting, then the other, as I took off my jeans and shirt. He ran to his mom, who was lying next door. It was clear he was saying, “Hey mom, she’s peeling off her fur!” You could clearly see it was made no sense to him. He even began sniffing his own paws and legs—to see if there were something he’d missed. When I put on new clothes, Zeus totally went nuts! “Mom, now she’s got different fur, what’s up?!” I swear dogs communicate with telepathy, because after some nose to nose between Zeus and mom, he settled down beside her.

We’ve had both dogs for years. But until the day Zeus passed over the Rainbow bridge, every morning when I would change my clothes—Zeus would come to watch the ritual—trying to figure out how I can peel off my fur and he couldn’t. And to this day, we have to be careful that Foxie doesn’t roam too far during hunting season. And anytime we got a package of meat out, she and Zeus would both look at us, as if to say, “So do we get any of it this time?”

It’s always Interesting Adopting a Shelter Dog

When I was younger, my parents insisted that our dogs be purebred and purchased as just-weaned puppies from breeders. They were beautiful, to type, babied when young and, I assume, any developmental tangles we had were the sole result of my diligence or folly.

As I got older and noticed the stray dogs in the neighborhood, I decided it was time to quit encouraging the addition of new dogs through my buying dollars, and to do something to help resolve the over abundance of abandoned animals at our local no-kill shelter. Since we had just purchased a rather large farm, and I was comfortable raising larger dogs, instead of lap-mice, when I walked in and saw that there were over 200 animals on the adoption availability boards, I decided to offer my services in adopting one of the larger breeds.

You would have thought I had just offered the shelter a million dollar donation! Four separate shelter supervisors descended and dragged me back to walk row after row – pointing out first one then the other. Apparently, smaller dogs are far easier to get rid of than larger ones, especially if they have remained on-site for more than a few weeks. The bigger the puppy becomes (and the more obvious it becomes that those over-sized feet will one day match that cute little body), the harder it becomes to find a willing recipient. The shelters will use every trick in the book to try and get you to accommodate their need to place these animals.

The first dog I adopted was a beautiful fawn-colored Mastiff-mix. We were told that it was full grown at around 60 pounds – that its light weight was solely due to it being severely malnourished while lost in the woods for several months. Since you could see the bones in its tail and hind quarters, the explanation made sense. Sam, as he came to be called, showed little personality, except that he paid close attention to every food bowl going back and forth, and would perk up a bit when a man came into the shelter. The personnel literally begged me to take him, waiving half of the adoption fee. Should I have been wary? Maybe.

As it turns out, SamueDog - Faithful Saml Adams (so named because his coat matched exactly the color of one of their better ales), was not full grown. Over the next several months, and long after we had fallen in love with him, he not only put on the other 30 pounds I thought he have should been carrying, but he grew another 12” and added another 60 pounds more! He is now a barrel-chested combination of Mastiff and Red Coonhound, weighing in at over 110 pounds. Although the shelter swore he was at least 18 months old when we adopted him, I now feel fairly confident that he was only about 7-9 months old.

When we first got him home, he whined constantly. Not just occasionally, but when we were in the room and when we were not. When he was in his kennel and when he was out. He could not be let out without a leash – even though we had 9 acres, because he would immediately bolt. He couldn’t be taken on a car ride, because if we opened the window even a few inches down, he tried to get away. As we drove him around once or twice, it became clear he was looking for home – that he had a place to go. Only since he was by now over 50 miles from the shelter from which he had been adopted, and over 150 miles from where he had been found – home could no longer be where he expected it to be.

He wolfed food in huge gulps, and spent every unsupervised moment trying to get into any available food left foolishly either sitting out or in lower cabinets. Cereal boxes, refrigerators – anywhere. He is a smart dog, but his experience being left to scavenge had taught him that finding food was his primary mandate in life.

That and going somewhere – anywhere – I don’t know where. His every effort when out the front door was to get away and go. Who knows what he thought he might find. On several occasions my now ex-husband became the butt of jokes at the surrounding farms when seen running down the road, or chasing after him in the ATV. Sam could do a good 3 miles without even becoming winded.

One of the things we noted as the fall wore one was the he naturally stalked the ducks, rabbits and coons that populate our property. Without our showing him anything – he would follow and then take a point. Gunfire didn’t bother him at all, but rather served as enticement to go wherever the shots were heard. It became clear that he had been someone’s beginning hunter trainee.

In fact, unraveling what had happened to him in his past became one of our great pastimes, and is one of the biggest differences between raising your own puppy and adopting a shelter dog. If you choose an animal that has any age at all, they will have already gone through something, possibly something horrible or traumatic, before you get them. Instead of being able to affect their impressionable puppy heart, they will have their very own, sometimes difficult idiosyncrasies you have to learn to live with.

Ultimately another hunter living nearby confirmed he had learned some of the beginning signals, but had apparently been lost before the training was complete and the command to return firmly fixed. That, coupled with the fact that he apparently didn’t have a great sense of direction, had probably resulted in his being lost in the woods. Knowing this didn’t lessen our family’s frustration with Sam continually trying to run off. After all, you would think that as good as we have been to him, he would want to stay near. But no, Sam had been taught to track and apparently felt he had failed in not getting what he was supposed to find for his first owner. For the first six months we had him, I am convinced that every open door represented an opportunity to Sam to redeem himself.

After a late February snow, my ex-husband slipped on ice, releasing his leash. Off Sam ran into the nearby woods. We spent several hours looking for him, but he had disappeared into the still-dense underbrush and was nowhere to be found. We waited and waited; called and called; and then resigned ourselves to the fact that he was lost again. Since he had a chip in him, we hoped someone might call to say they had found him. No such luck. As the temperature plummeted to below 0, our entire family became more and more depressed.

Two days later, at 6:00 in the morning, when the door was opened to go to work, there sat Sam on the front stoop. We didn’t know it at the time, but a neighbor had heard him scratching on his foreman’s mobile-home door at 4:00 in the morning, recognized him and brought him back. How he survived till then no one will ever know.  Even after that experience, Sam continued to try to pull, run and chase until we gave him an incentive to stay closer to home. That’s the nature of a shelter dog – no matter how much training and discipline they are given, they also have a long memory regarding another life, and you simply have to learn to meet somewhere in the middle.

Dog - Missy so shinyHow did we get Sam to stay home? Aha – we next adopted Missy, a black Bull Mastiff / Lab mix. Her name originally was Angel – but she was no angel. One of five litter mates left locked in an abandoned house that was up for sale, she had somehow survived for as much as 5 weeks – exactly how or how long no one knew.  What we did know was that she was starving; losing her hair; completely afraid of any human being; and would often try to eat her own defecation. Doing so probably kept her alive during those horrible weeks.

It took us several months to get her enough nutrition that she began to put on weight.  However, the damage to her system was done, and to this day, nearly ten years later, she still has nutritional and allergic issues to wheat and corn.  Initially she had to be treated for demodetic mange numerous times before her hair quit falling out.

It took us months to get her to quit urinating and defecating in the house. Apparently being free to do so for so long as a puppy ingrained in her that habit, so the standard methods of puppy pads and newspapers simply didn’t work. Patience, and frankly, withholding water until certain times of each day, finally did.

As the largest pup in her litter, she had become the bully to survive. So this 50 pound terror began to terrorize all of Sam’s 90 pounds!  At first he thought it was cute, and having his own pack to run slowed him down a bit. Once she grew as large as he was, she began laying or walking on top of him, stealing his bones; eating his food and pushing in front of him when treats were being doled out.  That stubborn pushiness and determination – which helped her to stay alive as an abandoned puppy – had become real challenges in dealing with a 120 pound nearly-adult dog. She’s not a biter. In fact, she’s very lovable, but she’s just determined to have the first and most of everything and anything.

Some six months later, Missy (short for Miss Mischief) was suffering nightmares several times each evening – howling, whining or growling even though she’s was still asleep. And heaven help you if you want to take away her bone, her blanket or her anything. She’ll run, hide, crouch under impossibly low tables and chairs, and just about do anything to prevent it. Makes sense – what was hers was so little when young that just like an abused child – she holds very dear what she gets now.

Have we given up? No, but when adopting a shelter dog, unless it is only a few days old – you need to be aware that their survival of whatever ordeal they went through will most likely result in a fairly stubborn, and poorly started and highly idiosyncratic animal. There will probably be health issues, behavioral problems; training lapses and, the older the animal, just plain areas where you will no longer be able to have as much of an impact as you would like.

On the other hand, once I had Sam for over a year, he became one of the most loyal and attentive animals you could hope for. Missy eventually got there too, although she retains a strong stubborn streak when deciding she wants to stay out for just a few minutes longer. When she wags her tail – her whole body wags – happy to see you and lay in your lap for hours just being stroked.

So, if you can live with the quirks, the extra efforts, the unknowns that will inevitably crop up, shelter rescue can bring with it joys you never thought you could have, and the satisfaction of knowing that you have truly made a difference in an otherwise hopeless situation.

Your Cats & Dogs feel the Cold too.

We’re now officially entering colder weather, and while you’re cozy inside, remember that all of your outdoor companion animals, feral kitties and dogs, and even your chickens and other poultry need help to stay warm too.  Sadly, over the last several winters we here at Four Legs and Fur have received too many reports of animals literally freezing to death.

Most regular dog houses and outdoor cat condos are not insulated, so they provide little in the way of shelter from biting winds, freezing rain or snow.  It’s relatively inexpensive to fix this.  Hermitage Lumber and farm stores sell bales of straw, which have an amazing insulating value if stacked against the walls and even over the ceiling of the house.  And a warm four-inch layer of straw inside keeps your pet from being exposed to as much of the cold coming from the ground.

If that doesn’t suit you, and especially if you’re dealing with feral cats you want to try to help, here’s a great link for instructions on building a variety of feral cat cold and all-weather shelters:

Also keep in mind that it benefits outside animals to have a bit more flesh on them during the winter months than you would want during the summer.  You can accomplish this by feeding them a bit extra and adding more fat to their rations.  Doing so helps them generate more heat.

Lastly, please remember that your outside companions continue to need water (not ice) to keep them hydrated.  If they have to resort to eating snow, it often results in their getting hypothermia.  A stock tank heater, or a metal water bowl put up on a brick, with a heat lamp below it can provide water in the coldest of temps.
And if you’re wondering whether or not your animal HAS hypothermia, here’s how that is defined:  There are three phases of hypothermia: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild hypothermia is classified as a body temp of 101.3°F-97.7°F, moderate is 97.7°F-93.2°F, and severe is a body temperature under 93.2°F.
Because animals have a higher normal temperature, they can suffer the results of hypothermia that much earlier.  If you suspect your companion has become too cold, supplemental heat can be provided through the use of warm IV fluids, a fluid line warmer, insulation on the feet, circulating warm water blankets, and/or warm air circulation systems.  If it seems severe, an immediate trip to the vet may be the only solution.  Better to prevent the problem if you can.


Any of you who have lived very long in Hickory County have probably enjoyed the succulent prime rib dinners that Dick Rose and friends cook.  Well, Four Legs and Fur is hosting one of those just before Valentine’s day.  We’ll be enjoying great food, good music and a fun evening auctioning off beautiful purses and tackle and tool boxes for the gents with super surprise gifts inside.  See Details Below:

Four Legs and Fur Animal Society cordially invites you to our pre-Valentine’s Purses for Paws Auction & Prime Rib DinnerDog - Mini Valentine

Tickets: $25 per person

Come out for a fun evening! Over 30 beautiful purses, tool and tackle boxes with special prizes inside will be up for auction. One lucky winner is guaranteed to receive $100 cash!

Proceeds provide low-cost spay and neuter services and to help those in need to feed their companion animals.

January 29th
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
McCarty Senior Center, Wheatland
Tickets available until 12:00pm, Monday, January 25
at the following locations:

  • Terry’s Designs (Galmey)
  • The Index (Hermitage)
  • Hickory County Library (Hermitage)
  • Gynemia’s Floral and Gifts (Wheatland)
  • from Jan Gerstlauer, Berta Bryner, Jo Rose or Traci Brown
  • By sending a check to PO Box 173, Hermitage, MO 65668,
  • or by calling (660) 553-1980 and leaving a message.



Are You Part of the Problem Or Why to Spay or Neuter Your Pets

  • If you like male cats yowling around your house every 10 days, then don’t spay your female.
  • If you love both sexes marking everything with their urine, inside and out, then keep your male and female intact.
  • If you think having male dogs come from literally miles around to sniff out your female in heat is a good thing, then don’t spay her either.
  • And if you think that killing over 141,000 animals in Missouri every single year is what you want to be part of, then keep your animals fertile and reproducing.

My grandmother drilled into my head the saying, “You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.” In the case of companion animals, the myth that allowing them to become pregnant because it’s “natural” and/or keeping a male dog intact because he’ll be happier are just that, and contribute to thousands of animals EACH DAY being put down because no one wants them.

Ask any mother you know if going through pregnancy was easy and blissful, and you’ll probably get an earful. Your female cat or dog doesn’t “enjoy” being pregnant. It strains her body, makes her more apt to have joint problems when older.  One of my rescued dogs is a puppy mill survivor.  She’s as sweet as can be, but you can see her pushed out hips and bowed legs from having litter after litter.  I’m sure she would have preferred a different life.

And every time you place the pups or kitties your pet produced, you are contributing to over-population. Why? Because every free kitten you place with friends is one less home that can take an animal already in a shelter.

As for keeping a male dog intact, doing so just contributes to their roaming away from home in search of love, being much more aggressive (can we spell liability issues?) and having bone and cancer problems later on down the road.

Spaying or neutering your animals just before they come into their first heat (in the case of females), or around 6 months to a year (for males) allows their bones to grow at the correct rate, prevents many cancers, and gives you a calmer and happier pet.

Four Legs and Fur has a limited number of vouchers for low-cost spay and neutering of both dogs and cats. Apply now and do your best friend the best favor you can.

A Big Thank You to Hickory County Community Wellness Foundation!

We are deeply grateful to the folks at Hickory County Community Wellness Foundation for choosing Four Legs and Fur Animal Society to be the recipient of one of their grants, which was awarded this past Saturday.

Every dime we raise is spent on helping animals to be spayed or neutered or people to receive the pet foods they need so they can keep their pets in their home.  We all know that especially for those with a disability and/or who are seniors living alone, often having a companion animal is the way they avoid loneliness and isolation.

So this grant is a huge help, and since a single spay or neuter can cost up to $85, I’m sure it will be quickly consumed.  Remember that without your continued support and donations, we won’t be able to keep helping as we now are.  You can send anything you like to PO Box 173, Hermitage, MO, and the animals will thank you if you do.

Seniors Getting the Help They Need

As we all know, one of the best ways to ensure that seniors avoid the isolation that is so common is for them to enjoy a companion animal.  But living on a fixed income often places them in the position of having to choose Rescue-Food for Srs 2whether they get to eat or their pets do.

So Four Legs and Fur has been proud to volunteer at the McCarty Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program to provide their participants with pet food as well as meals.  To-date, over 800 pounds of food have been bagged by our members and distributed to those with animals in need.

Rescue-Food 4 Srs 1

Hundred of Pounds of Food

We’ve been busy distributing food to seniors who could no longer feed their pets, as well as others.

Through both partnerships with Meals on Wheels and direct purchases, nearly 1,000 pounds now!  See our more recent post for how we’re helping the McCarty Senior Center’s seniors keep their pets fed.

We’re hoping to get a direct contact with food manufacturers so we can do even more.

Rescue - Bagging Food 2

Be MY Angel

Rescue - AngelMy name’s Angel and I’m a laid-back cuddly sort of Himalayan that survived a difficult illness when little.  The only effect is that I sometimes walk off the ends of things because I don’t see well there, but it never hurts me, just makes my humans laugh.  I get along well with all sorts of dogs and cats, and would just like someone to cuddle with.  Is it you?

I was sent to the Polk County Humane Society so that I could be seen by more people, which was scary, but within a week a loving family adopted me and I’m a happy kitty now!

Chocolate Man

1-Chocolate 4 - LorriI’m a retired puppy mill papa that would LOVE to have a family teach me how to enjoy being a pet.  I love snuggling; have been neutered and have all my shots for now.  I get along with other cats and dogs just fine, so please take me home.

1-Chocolate Face - Lorri

I love running until I’m tired, because I was in a kennel for so long.  So it’s probably better if I’m out in the country where I won’t run into traffic.  Or even better, I’d calm down some with a human who wanted to love on me a lot!

UPDATE:  Chocolate was adopted out of his home with many other pups into an older lady’s place that is giving him lots of individual attention and loving.  He’s lapping it up LOL!