DREAM Dachshund Rescue

I am amazed every day by the capacity of dogs to love and forgive the human race. I hope to give people a better understanding of what rescue is and why rescue is needed. The road is heartbreaking and frustrating. I meet so many dogs with such sad histories. And then I see them turn themselves around, with love and stability, and I think this is the happiest road there is, as well as the saddest. For the doggies, always the doggies. www.dreamdachsierescue.org

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hal's foster mom remembers his last months

The volunteers of DREAM Dachshund Rescue mourn the loss of each dog that we cannot save.
There are always dachshunds who get euthanized in shelters when we are not notified in time or all our of foster homes are full. We cry because the rescue system doesn’t always work in time.
There are some dachshunds who are too sick to save even though we try our hardest through the best vet care the Atlanta area has to offer. We cry because we weren’t able to show them what true love was.
And then there are the dachshunds who we bring into our homes as fosters and grow to love, only to become sick and the only option is to euthanize. We cry because we lost a family member who didn’t get a chance to find a forever home.

Elori, Dupree.

And last week we lost a family member named Hal.
For those of you who follow the blog, you already know Hal’s story. His terrible condition when he came to DREAM. But you haven’t heard how he lived and his wonderful, steady personality that made him such a great dog.
Hal loved to chase squirrels. They are small and furry, just like cats, and both species need to be banished from his world. Hal’s hip injury did not slow him down one bit as he raced around the backyard and stared up at the trees. His true hound bark made sure everyone around knew he was outside protecting his yard.
Hal loved to tear up stuffed animals. He seemed to take such delight being surrounded by the “fake snow” and sleeping on top of his “kill”. His foster granddad gave him a stuffed duck at Christmas that he loved to throw for himself and give chase. I would sit and watch him for several long minutes and call him the “self-entertaining” dog. See the video of Hal playing with his duck at
Hal loved to cuddle under a blanket by a crackling fire. He would wrap up so tight that he would look like a plaid dachshund, complete with plaid nose and wagging plaid tail. He would protest being put in his crate at night by doing a half grunt-half sigh that sounded like a grumpy old man. He wouldn’t go to sleep until he knew his humans were in the bed with the lights out.
He loved food as if he hadn’t had enough in his lifetime.
He always wanted to be in the same room as his humans.
He would nose your hand if it wasn’t petting his head.
He loved to have his face mushed so he looked like a wrinkled old man.
He loved to wrestle with the other dogs in the house.
He would spin in circles when he was excited.
I have the knowledge that Hal lived a better life while he was in DREAM’s care. And that he was loved until he passed to the other side. That we knew we were there to mourn him. That he was not alone.
There will always be another dachshund who needs rescue, but Hal will always hold a special place in my heart.



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

PETA's videos about breeders and rescue

You know, I'm not always the biggest fan of PETA, although I think they play an important role in animal welfare generally. It's not my style to be so confrontational (at least most of the time, when I can help it).

People learn through stories, though -- and these 2 videos tell good stories, with a fresh approach. I hope people will watch them. They have a twisted sort of humor about them.


I don't believe breeding dogs is inherently immoral. I do believe it is immoral to breed dogs at the same time we are killing so many that are homeless. As soon as we've taken care of the homeless dog problem, I'd like to breed little dachshund babies myself.

And you gotta love the suburban mom's quip at the end: "Little girl's gonna get some!" Priceless.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hal is at the Rainbow Bridge

Hal went to the Rainbow Bridge tonight.

Ashley and David were there to hold him, kiss him, and tell him it was okay -- there would be plenty of squirrels and cats to chase, and ribeye steaks to eat that wouldn't hurt his tummy. He knew that they were there, and wagged his tail.

From George E. Odell:
We need one another when we mourn and would be comforted.
We need one another when we are in trouble and afraid.
We need one another when we are in despair, in temptation, and need to be recalled to our best selves again.
We need one another when we would accomplish some great purpose, and cannot do it alone.
We need one another when we come to die, and would have gentle hands prepare us for the journey.
All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us.

Ashley and David were Hal's "gentle hands" tonight.
He has had other gentle hands along the way: Debbie, who got him out of the shelter, Theresa, who fostered him and first identified the chronic bowel problems, Heather and Derek, who brought Hal down to Atlanta, and all the people at Village Veterinary Hospital in Decatur.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sweet gentleman Hal - now a waiting game

Our sweet foster dog Hal, who has captured every heart in DREAM, came to us from an animal control facility in LaGrange, Georgia. He had been struck by a car and found by the road. Although he had a friendly, gentle personality, he limped from a dislocated hip, and the shelter didn't think anyone would adopt him. They also had him tested for heartworms, and he was positive. Not a good result for a limping, frightened dog in a shelter with limited space and resources. He was a prime candidate for being killed to make room for other lost or abandoned dogs, with better “adoptability.”
A kind woman who works in LaGrange, but lives in Atlanta, knew about DREAM and asked if she could bring Hal to us. We took one look at those soulful eyes and said yes!
When Hal arrived, he was in sad shape with several health issues. He was extremely thin, and every vertebra in his spine poked out. He had a lopsided gait from the hip injury. And, of course, the heartworm infection.
But his face -- his dear, handsome, richly red face. His eyes: clear and trusting. His tail wagged in greeting, even though he felt terrible -- sick, weak, and frightened at so many new places and people in only a few days. We can only imagine that he thought feeling terrible was normal!

We took care of Hal's standard vetting first (vaccinations, fecal test) and discovered that he also had an infestation of almost every intestinal parasite you can think of. He was dewormed three times and pooped out mounds and mounds of various worms. Whew! What a mess (and what a parasitology lesson!).

It was time to address Hal's more difficult problems. We decided to take care of the heartworm first. Hal stayed at the vet for three days, enduring the painful injections. Luckily, his side effects were minimal, and off he went to his foster home to recover. While he recovered from heartworm treatment, we had to keep his heart rate down so that the worms would not break off as they die and cause further injury or death. So: strict crate rest for 60 days. We wanted to use this time for him to gain some weight and fully heal from all the invasions to his heart and tummy. We planned to take care of his hip injury after he was generally healthier. It did not seem to be causing him pain.
Our well-laid plans did not come to pass. Hal had trouble with diarrhea. We originally ascribed this to all the worms, but even after the worms were gone, he still had issues and sometimes did not seem to know that he was "going." The vet diagnosed a neurological issue, probably related to the injury that hurt his hip. Somehow the nerve signals were not always making it through their pathways, and although Hal was housetrained, he sometimes could not control himself and small amounts would leak out. The vet said this was probably permanent. We decided to try to control this with diet, so that his stools would at least be firm. His foster mom tried several different foods, and some worked better than others. Hal seemed on the road to recovery again. Through it all, he was loving, gentle, cuddly, and (when he felt well) very playful! What a spirit.
On Christmas Eve, Hal had a severe bout with diarrhea and became dehydrated. His foster mom rushed him to the emergency vet, where Santa gave him fluids and kept him warm until he could regain some strength. The vet now wondered if Hal also had food allergies that were complicating everything, so Hal began a bland diet. He went home Christmas Day and did well for a couple of weeks. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe we had finally found the solution for Hal's tummy troubles, and we could get him healthy enough to address everything else.

Not yet.
On January 7, Hal's foster mom returned home from work to find him unable to walk. He had vomited several times and had lost all of his food to vomiting and diarrhea. His gums were pale, indicating dehydration. Most frightening, his body temperature was cooling. Foster mom and dad rushed Hal back to our wonderful emergency vet, with Hal cradled in Ashley's lap and David battling the rush hour traffic at breakneck speeds. They arrived, covered in Hal's "liquid souvenirs" and breathless with worry for our handsome gentleman. Hal's temperature was too low to register on the electronic thermometer, and he had lost 3 pounds. He lay on the table awake, though, accepting our kisses and reassurances that we'd do everything we could to make him feel better. The vet advised a night of fluids, a heating pad, and antibiotics to stabilize him, and a reassessment in the morning. As they carried him into the back room, he watched us over the vet tech's shoulder.

Sometimes I just hope that our foster dogs can sense that we have their best interests at heart, even when what we humans do doesn't make any sense to them. Surely what happened that night couldn't have made sense to Hal.

In the morning, the vet reported that an X-ray revealed what might be a foreign body in Hal's stomach. Possibly a partial fish skeleton. We were horrified and gave the go-ahead for surgery to remove it. Maybe this was the answer -- he had somehow been carrying these bones around all these weeks, and they had caused all these problems, perhaps even perforations, a vicious cycle keeping him from ever getting well.

Hours passed. We waited for word.
The vet called with surprising (and weird) news. The "foreign body" wasn't foreign. Part of Hal's intestinal tract was necrotic -- dead -- and had begun to calcify, so it showed like bones on the X-ray. There could also be a rare, but deadly, fungal infection going on, but only a biopsy would confirm that. And of course, cancer is a possibility. We had a decision to make while Hal was still under anesthesia.
Poor boy is only 4-5 years old, and has never had a break. Yet he is one of the most gentle souls I have ever known. If he weren't so thin, I'd think he was the Buddha. We said, "Do what you need to do. He deserves his chance."

Dr. Miller and Dr. Stacey removed the dead pieces and sewed the remaining ends back together. They cleaned out all the leakage in his abdomen. Hal made it through surgery, and he made it through the night. We became cautiously optimistic.

Samples of the offending parts were sent to UGA for analysis. Hal woke up and wagged his tail.

When you volunteer with rescue, it is inevitable that you will lose a few dogs in your care. Sometimes they come to us with such advanced disease, we cannot help them. Luckily we have had only a few of those in the past 7 years. Each one broke my heart. I don't want to add Hal to that list. But if we do, I know that we gave Hal a few months of feeling safe. A few months of feeling loved. A few months of not worrying about where dinner would come from.
Without DREAM, Hal would have suffered alone. And I am proud, I am honored, I am GLAD to be a part of Hal's not being alone, even if it is painful.
Albert Schweitzer said, “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”

Today, Hal's foster mama visited him. He wagged his tail and he rolled over for a tummy rub.
Now we wait. We wait to see how Hal will respond, and we wait for the results from the lab. Apparently, days 3 - 5 are critical days.

And we keep our eyes wide open, along with our hearts.