Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Foster Dog Wookie Found His New Home….Twice!

By Lauren Gallagher, HSSV Controller and Foster Dog Volunteer

I never knew how much I loved my last HSSV foster dog, Wookie, until he was lost, literally. Four days after he was adopted into his forever home, Wookie bolted out of their slightly open front door, with his leash on. He ran around to the sidewalk on the busy street, and was last seen streaking down the street toward a busy intersection. His new owner immediately contacted me to seek advice and help.

When I heard the news, there was no way I could not go over there and try to look for him. Wookie is a shy dog that strongly bonds to his people, and he may have left to go looking for me. He is afraid of strangers, especially men, so we figured he might be hiding. My husband, the new owner and I walked the neighborhood, calling his name, and searching under bushes with flashlights until midnight, to no avail. The next day, an impromptu search party made up of five staff from HSSV, including me, spread out around their neighborhood and looked for Wookie. We also hung up about 150 Lost Dog flyers and asked people if they have seen him.

While we were out looking for him, it was announced at HSSV that Wookie was lost. The calls, emails and texts came pouring in, everyone wanted to help. We had all bonded to Wookie during his time in foster care, and wanted to do everything we could to help his new owners find him. I went back in the evening to search for him with my two Weimaraners (who are friends with Wookie) and asked them, “Where’s Wookie?” They pulled me all over sniffing bushes, but still to no avail. I went to bed worried about Wookie. I kept having a vision of him running out of the bushes when I called his name. I definitely still had hope. I would look again the next day. Casaundra Cruz, HSSV Regional Rescue & Special Needs Department, had formed another search party, made up of foster dog volunteers, that would join us the next day.

That next morning, I woke up slightly before dawn, and instinctively checked my phone for any news. I had received a text and a voicemail from Wookie’s owner: this could be good news!

I read the text, “He came home! He’s dirty but healthy. I’ll call you in the a.m.”.

My heart jumped and I immediately texted and emailed the update to everyone at HSSV. The news does not get better than that!! Apparently, he scratched on his new family’s door around 1:30 am, and immediately began to play with his new canine family member, L.C. What a smart dog! I am amazed he found his way home after only being there a few days. Wookie knew in his heart that they are his forever family!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cute as a.....

Julia Lewis, DVM

Last week, I took on the joys of fostering a kitten. This was not the usual HSSV kitten that required fostering. Button, as I’ve named him, is a “bottle baby”. He was found as a stray and brought into HSSV by a Good Samaritan. Button was about 2 weeks old and weighed 6oz. I happened to be walking down the hall and heard very loud insistent meows and just had to take a look. What I saw was a grey and black striped bundle of fur loudly protesting about how unfair it was that he was hungry but no one was doing anything about it!

One of the privileges of being a veterinarian at HSSV is that I get first dibs on fostering a too-young kitten. Before I, or Button, knew it, I had a bottle in my hand, a can of KMR (kitten milk replacer) and a screaming kitten in my office. Luckily, Jeanne, our VP of Human Resources was also fostering a bottle baby and I ran to her office to get a bottle of KMR that was already mixed and got to the job of feeding Button. It took a little effort, since Button was so hungry and scared, he didn’t know what the thing being shoved into his mouth was, but he managed to drink a little bit of the formula. We then went through the ritual of stimulating him to eliminate and I put him back into his carrier that I fixed up with clean towels and a fluffy blanket (made available through the generous donations that the public brings to HSSV). He took a short nap and woke up screaming again. Briefly, what flashed through my mind was “What did I take on” and “I should have discussed taking on this responsibility with my husband”. Then, the meows drew me out of my worries and I got down to the task of repeating the earlier ritual.

On the way home, I finally called my husband to inform him that I did a very impetuous thing. This was followed by a dramatic pause to allow my husband to think the worse so that when I sprang on him that I was fostering a kitten, it should be no big deal. It worked! We’ve had Button for almost a week now. I’m a night owl so I stay up until 2am to give Button his bottle. Then my husband, who is an early bird, gets up at 6am to give Button a bottle again. I bring Button to work with me where he gets a bottle whenever he wakes up and feels like eating again. So far, Button has just about doubled in weight. He’s had several baths already to get rid of fleas and clean up, and spends about 5-10 minutes playing and purring on his back after each meal. He also has met lots of the wonderful staff and volunteers at HSSV to get him used to new experiences.

In another week or so, we will start the weaning process. That will be a messy affair as kittens tend to walk in and dunk their faces in the food. Button will also start to learn to use a litter box, and that could be a hit-or-miss affair until he figures things out. I anticipate Button getting many baths a day to keep him clean and fresh. Then once he reaches 2 pounds in weight (wow, that seems like so long in the future!) he will be neutered and then made available for adoption after he recovers. So, in about 6 weeks or so, look for Button on HSSV’s available animals site!

P.S. I just started fostering a new bottle baby to play with Button, and his name is Zipper!