Rescuing large wild 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 truck 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?”
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: http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/feral-cat-health-shelter-cats-how-to-build-diy
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.
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:
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
We want to acknowledge an extremely talented young Hermitage High School Art student who developed the Four Legs and Fur Logo: Sareena Yates.
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 whether 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.
All of us old Luddite ladies at Four Legs and Fur are excited about the idea of becoming bloggers and letting you know the great things we’ve been doing to help Hickory County’s companion animals.
In the last three months, we’ve helped get over thirty cats and dogs spayed or neutered; distributed nearly 1,000 pounds of cat and dog food to seniors and others who would otherwise not be able to keep their pets; and found loving forever homes for thirteen cats and dogs. Whew! A lot of work, but so totally worth it!
The only way we can keep doing what we do is when great people like you donate. Every dollar helps. So please send your donations to PO Box 173, Hermitage, Missouri 65668. We are a 501 (3) c organization and you will get a tax-deductible receipt from us at the end of the year, and a LOT of thanks from the animals right away!