Is the Timing Right to Adopt a Rescue Dog?
A key to any successful dog adoption is timing.
When Marina’s health took a turn for the worse in November 2016, I was mourning the unexpected death of my brother two weeks earlier.
Having to make the brutally difficult decision to help free Marina from her pain just about broke me. We knew it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t the first time we’ve had to make that decision, but it never gets easier.
After that, I felt numb and knew I needed time to heal.
The following May, I received approval for a total hip replacement. Like some of my previous companions, I have bilateral hip dysplasia. The surgery on my right hip took place in August 2017. The surgery and recovery exceeded my expectation.
It was during my physical healing that the first twinges of the search for a new companion started. My body still needed to recover, but my heart was getting closer.
My husband stayed home with me during the first week of surgery. I felt good about where I was in the process by the time he went back to work. Accepting help from others isn’t one of my strong points – something I’m working on.
There were humbling moments along the way like getting used to using a walker while making three trips to get coffee, yogurt and fruit, to the table.
This was when I missed Marina’s companionship the most. When she entered her golden years, she laid by my side while I wrote. Her presence was always calm and soothing. As soon as I could sit longer than 15 or 20 minutes, I was looking through dog rescue sites.
It wasn’t until November 2017 that the timing felt right to move from looking at companions online to meeting them. My birthday was just around the corner when I booked an appointment with The Barking Lot (TBL) to view potential companions.
Two things in particular I like about The Barking Lot is that they make home inspections before you meet any dogs. If you pass the home inspection, you’ll schedule an appointment to meet potential matches. The beauty of this is the ability to leave with your new companion on the same day.
For rescue groups, this weeds out people that may not be the best fit and attracts people that understand the process, time, and commitment required for success. Rescue organizations like TBL work hard to make sure they’re putting dogs into the best environment possible when they’re adopted. To stay around and find forever homes for dogs in need, they have to run a tight ship.
The application, interview and inspections can be a turnoff for people that in the past may have walked into a local shelter paid a $40. fee and left with a pet. I’ve always been an advocate of saving a life, however it happens.
For our family, adopting through a rescue organization has been the first choice. The organizations we’ve worked with have always given us valuable insight about the companions we were considering. When they were young, they took into consideration the ages and activities of our children and how it might impact a particular dog’s temperament. Now that our children are adults, the suggestions for a good fit are based on our lifestyle.
When we adopted Petey, we forged a bond with the wonderful people from Forte Animal Rescue. We’ve stayed in touch over the years, even after Petey’s passing. I’m sure it will be the same with TBL.
It’s that level of caring and commitment that creates success stories. It brings absolute joy to create a safe space that allows your companion to flourish.
Yes, it’s hard work and a commitment and it’s a lot easier when you know that it’s the right time in your life to do it.
I’d love to hear your success stories – leave us a comment below.
In a previous Post, I briefly mentioned MDR1 Testing for herding dogs because of Marina’s hind-leg weakness. I ordered a test kit this week from Washington State University (College of Veterinary Medicine). According to the order confirmation, I should receive the test kit within two weeks.
Treating Marina’s seizures and balancing the side effects of her meds has been a challenge at times. Once she was off the Potassium Bromide which causes an increased appetite, her interest in food dropped dramatically. She is still taking 125 MG of Zonisamide twice a day, and one of the side effects is decreased appetite. This poses a huge issue with getting her to take her pills. I’ve tried every trick in the book, and she’s way too smart for all of them. The bad thing is that she has spit her meds out so many times now that she ended up with the first seizure in three years.
As soon as the test kit comes in, I’ll need to take two cheek swabs from her and mail them in for testing. I’ll write a follow-up post when I receive the test results and any changes to her meds if she tests positive.
I would love to hear any stories about your experiences with the MDR1 results – please share in the comments below.
The bond with a true dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth will ever be.
Life with our fur-kids is a constant learning experience. The picture on the left is Marina’s adoption photo. It’s hard to believe she’s been with us for over eleven years. She was a feral dog – most likely abandoned by her owner, and thankfully saved by San Diego Pet Rescue.
She was a handful, not fully house-broken but as smart as as they come, and very food-motivated which made working with her much easier. She is now a sweet girl, still with a bit of a wild streak I hope she never loses.
A month ago, I thought our journey together might be nearing the end and it was brutally painful. Over the period of a few weeks, her arthritis seemed to be getting worse and worse. It was harder for her to lay down and she stopped jumping on her favorite sofa. When we took her on short walks, she had a hard time controlling her hind legs. It had happened once before, but not nearly as severe. Her hind legs seemed to be getting weaker by the day. I made an appointment for her with Dr. Peter Slusser, the miracle worker that saved Petey from IMHA and gave us several more years with him.
At the time of our appointment, Marina was taking 1 Yunnan Baiyao capsule twice daily to control a tumor, 25 mg Tramadol twice a day for her arthritis pain, 125 mg of Zonisimide twice per day to control idiopathic epilepsy, and 2.5 ML (500MG/ML) of Potassium Bromide once per day that was added approximately five years ago when the Zonisimide alone stopped controlling her seizures. She has been seizure-free for at least three years.
I did a lot of research prior to our appointment. I learned that many herding breeds have a gene mutation known as the multidrug resistance gene, also called MDR1. In short, the mutation allows certain drugs to build up in the brain. Side effects can be as mild as tremors and severe as death. As soon as I read about the mutation, several things came to mind. Marina’s seizures first started years ago when her flea medication was changed. She became lethargic, and I switched to another type suggested by one of her vets. She still had a reaction to that one – lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Our vet even called the manufacturer to see if there were any other known or reported side effects – nothing. Both of the flea medications contained Ivermectin – one of the drugs that can build up to toxic levels in dogs with the MDR1 gene. The side effects are ataxia (muscle weakness), seizures, and even death.
During our visit, Dr. Slusser ordered CBC and Potassium labs. He let me know that Potassium Bromide can build up in the system to the point that it causes hind-end weakness. I also mentioned that she was a rescue and she was listed as a mixed breed of Cattle Dog, and possibly Australian Shepherd. I let him know that I didn’t know about the MDR1 gene until recently, and was wondering if that might have been the cause of her seizures to begin with – they seemed to start and stop with the use of flea medication. I started to taper her from the Potassium Bromide after that visit. There was a significant difference within a matter of a few days. Within a week, she was jumping up on the sofa, and is now back to jumping on “her” sofa, and running home from the park. As I told Dr. Slusser, when I took her in, I felt as though she had aged years in a month – and now that she was off the Potassium Bromide, it was as if she was five years younger.
There is always the chance that her seizures may return, but for now, we’re keeping her off the Potassium Bromide. I’m happy to say that she’s doing beautifully and we couldn’t be happier or more grateful. Once again, Our Miracle Worker came through.
I know I’ve been MIA, it’s been an intense six months. I miss my Petey Boy, and hold on to the fact that we gave him a great life after such a rough start. As a reminder, we didn’t lose him to IMHA, so if your fur kid is battling, there is hope. It’s a challenging road but a long happy life is possible.
This post is to help out Koda’s Mom. I’ve been there and know how helpless IMHA makes you feel. It’s a roller-coaster, but knowing that there are success stories, help us get through a lot. Whether it’s through donation, sharing her link, or offering support and success stories, I know your help will be appreciated.
Marina is adjusting to being single, and is letting her playful side show again. She’s enjoying the extra attention and even tolerates me brushing her endlessly shedding coat.
Wishing you all Success Stories.