Friday, July 18, 2008


A few weeks ago, Gudrun asked me about adopting an older dog. She's only ever had cats but decided to bring a dog into her household and she knew that it was the older ones that had a harder time finding homes.

I showed her a few candidates at Toronto Animal Services and she went out to other shelters and perused Petfinder but for one reason or another, things hadn't worked out.

Last weekend, a 9 year old female pointer was brought into TAS.

Hi Gudrun.

Just let me know when I start sending too much old dog stuff your way.

There's an old, mid sized pointer cross at the pound. She (I think it's a she) is 8 - 9 year and has a very sweet disposition, great on a leash but she's also not doing so well right now so that may affect her personality. James thinks she may have been hit by a car. She's a bit of a basketcase actually, so that's something you'll want to really think about before you decide on her. She's got an eye infection, a bandaged foot (from the car accident?), possibly some kidney illness and just generally unhealthy. James thinks that with some TLC and vet money, this might all go away. Then again, she might not last a month.

I don't know if you're up for taking a dog home just to watch it possibly get sicker and die because that's the risk here with this old girl. End of life care, in other words. If you're concerned about vet bills, and I would be because of the possibility of kidney infection, I'd say she needs a check-up at which point the vet will give you a bunch of options, some of which will run upwards of hundreds of dollars just for testing, but in this case, the best option would be to just do a blood test then put her on antibiotics for a couple of weeks if necessary and see what happens. So, for something like that, you're looking at about $300. I suspect James may forego making you pay the adoption fees in this case so you'll save there, but don't quote me on that. Of course there may be no infection at all, in which case, no worries.

I'm giving you the worst case scenario because I don't want to mislead you into adopting a dog you can't take care and then feeling bad about it. Of course, she may very well turn out like Rocky and make a full recovery. Either way, she'll appreciate being in your company more than in a kennel. If you decide you're interested, give me a call (or James) because animal services won't be putting her up for general adoption so a special arrangement to see her will have to be made. Later, Fred

Well, I'd like to meet her. I'm not sure if I can deal with such a sick dog but I'd like to help if I can. Do you think I could go meet her today at lunch or around 3:00? Should I call James or do you have time to introduce me to her? Gudrun

I'm not sure if James is in today so I can take you over at 3. Meet at the same place in front of N...? In the meanwhile, here's her link. Fred

Sounds good - see you at 3:00 at the same place. She looks cute and sad. Gudrun

The pointer was already looking better than when I first saw her on the weekend. Her lacerations were healing well; her eyes seemed to have cleared up a bit; and, she wasn't limping as much. In fact, I was mistaken about her not pulling on a leash. Now she was pulling - not much but leash training would be a necessity.

After a walk around the block, Gudrun and I sat down on a bench with the pointer and checked her out a bit more. Fatty lumps and bumps in a few places, dirty ears, bad teeth. The pointer was fine with the poking and prodding. She was a bit distracted by the outside sights, sounds and scents but eventually warmed up to us and came over for a head nuzzle.

Back inside, I told Gudrun that the pointer came in as a stray and so would be classified as lost for 7 days which meant there would still be a few days to think about it.

"And what happens to her after that?" she asked.

I thought about what I should say. I didn't want guilt to be the determining factor in her decision but then I couldn't think of a way to gloss over the truth. So I didn't.

"There is no after," I said. The policy at TAS is to euthanize dogs deemed too old or too sick and this one was both.

Gudrun decided to take the dog. She filled out some forms while I took the pointer back to her kennel.

A few days later:

Hi Gudrun, I talked to James today and he says that he can let you take the old gal home for a couple of days to see how it goes if you'd like. I think she can be released anytime now (although he'll hold her for you for a few days if you're not ready for her yet) so you might give James a call to work out the details. Let me know what you decide.

James just called me, so yes, I guess I'll be fostering her. I'm going to take her home with me after going to the airport to pick up those other dogs. This will give me a chance to get some supplies for having a dog in the house. Gudrun

Sounds good. I'm really glad you'll be taking the pointer home.

Still, I felt uneasy about her decision. Guilt is no way to start a relationship with a dog. Later that evening, I called her and left her a message saying it was never too late to back out.

Got your message from last night - not to worry I still want to take care of Gretel (the old pointer - Julian's idea for a name because James said we needed to fatten her up before she gets fixed). I picked up some things for her last night when I went to get one of the film submissions from Jola's store, the Good Catch, some biscuits and a bone, some biodegradable poop bags. I'll get some other things at lunch from the store by xxxx. Gudrun

I talked to her after helping her with the car seats and she was getting enthusiastic about the pointer. She was trying to decide between calling it Gretel or Granny. She'd gotten a bunch of dog supplies already and that evening was going to pick up a couple of duvets at Valu Village to fold up and use as dog beds.

The following afternoon, I was with Gudrun when she went to pick up Granny Gretel. She told me she had already gotten a couple of duvets and a bunch of dog food, treats, a collar and a leash.

When we arrived at TAS, Granny Gretel was more spirited than ever and the bandage was off her back foot. GG came along for a long car ride as we went to drop someone off. Very well behaved in the car. We stopped off at my place so I could pass along some doggie shampoo and a muzzle (just in case - Gudrun's got cats). I took a couple of photos and then Gudrun and Granny Gretel got back in the car and drove off.

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