Monday, July 16, 2012

Millie the Magnificent

If you follow me on Facebook, you often see desperate pleas for help regarding the overcrowding at the city animal shelter where I volunteer. I always encourage friends (and strangers who will listen) to adopt before they shop. We have some really great animals at the shelter who so desperately need homes, and Facebook has been one of the ways I have been able to spread the word about adoption.

Well, on Friday I had to put my money where my mouth is. It didn't seem right to ask everyone else to help if I wasn't doing all that I could. When Hunk and I first started discussing moving in together, the subject of fostering was one of the things we had to talk about. Combining households meant that we would have 2 dogs and 2 cats, and that seemed like quite enough. So I said that I would save fostering for emergency situations only.

With the recent storms in Austin, the shelter has reached intake levels that we never dreamed could happen. I got a message that on Thursday we had started the day with negative 27 kennels for dogs, and 28 more had come in that day. Dogs were literally everywhere, and a round of euthanizing had to take place. Typically, only dogs with severe medical or behavior issues are the ones to go, but when we're that overcrowded, they have to make space however they can. It's a tough pill to swallow, but that's just the hard reality of public shelters at times. We've worked miracles every month this year just to maintain a 90% or higher live outcome rate.

Knowing that Friday would bring more of the same, I chatted Hunk that it was emergency time. We discussed what we could take that would make sense for our already crazy animal kingdom, and decided that taking a more highly adoptable dog would be best for us. It would mean a shorter foster time (hopefully), but it would also clear out a kennel. Ultimately, that was our goal! I felt a little guilty about taking the easy way out, but knew we were still making a difference. We both looked at the available dogs online, weighing options for size and sex. Having all girls at home, a female dog (who could fit through the doggie door) seemed like the best fit. And then Hunk sent me this:

I'll be honest- I wasn't really looking at puppies. Puppies=potty training, and I just wasn't sure I was up to the task. But then I saw that little bitty face, and thought about how scary it must be for her in a noisy shelter. I read her information and it said that she had just been brought in that day. I didn't know if she was owner surrender or stray, so I emailed the foster coordinator to find out. Turns out she had been picked up by animal control that morning in a not so great neighborhood. No one knows if she had been in a home, or wandered off from her mom and litter. But she was little (5 pounds) and young (barely 2 months old) and had no business being in the shelter by herself.

Typically all dogs must complete a 4 day stray hold before they are available for adoption, in case their owner comes to reclaim them. The foster coordinator made an exception for us and said we could take her home. BUT....if someone called to reclaim- we had to give her back no questions asked. 

Once we got to the shelter and saw her in person (shivering like crazy), we just knew that we could not leave her there. Even if she went back home the next day, we knew we could make her comfortable for that short time. So we got her checked out and made it to the car. It took all of 3 minutes for her to fall in love with her foster dad. We had to give her a name, and wanted to stick with the "M" theme of the current dogs (Marley and Maddie). Something a little old fashioned seemed just perfect. Meet Millie the Magnificent rescue pup. 

She's a blue merle Daschund/Beagle mix, and is the cutest thing I have ever laid eyes on. She has those big Beagle ears, and beautiful coloring. Plus tons of personality. It just doesn't get much better than this! We got her home, briefly introduced her to the other pups (everyone seemed fine), bathed her, and then hit the road for a house warming party. If Millie was going to stay at our house for a bit, she was going to learn very quickly that we lead busy, social lives!

I had called my friend on the way home just to let her know our sudden change in plans, and she said it would be fine to bring Millie to the party. We wrapped her up in a blanket and took her carrier just in case. She was a big hit at the party, and we hardly ever had to watch her (except for potty breaks). Everyone else there wanted to hold her. She did great, and seemed to enjoy the attention. But the crazy day wore her out, and this was how she was on the ride home.

We put her in her carrier for the night (potty training begins) and though she whined for about 15 minutes, she slept through the night. I took her with me for errands most of Saturday and I think that wore her out again. We met a friend for breakfast at Whole Foods, where she charmed anyone who spotted her. We went back to the shelter to help with kitty transport for an adoption event, and finally made our way home that afternoon. Hunk was happy to see her, and she was happy to get in a good nap.

She is officially available for adoption starting Tuesday, and I will work on finding the best home placement that I can. In the meantime though, I'm happy to have her staying with us. She seems to fit in just fine. Stayed tuned for more on Millie's story.

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