Friday, November 9, 2007

The latest and last update on the puppies

Well, the last of the puppies - the last of the dogs, as a matter of fact - has just left with her new owner. A brief history:

Jen had a dog before, Mojo, who had contracted mange, possibly from a snake bite, and had to be put to sleep shortly after I moved out here. Then Mojo's mother had another litter, and Jen and I picked out Sammy. A few days later, her mom brought Sammy out, and the stuff to build a pen. We put the pen up, and Sammy had a home outside.

A year or so later, we felt Sammy had outgrown the pen. We bought a chain so she could run around, but still reach her doghouse, though she never used it, even in the rain. (Please don't misunderstand, for some reason she loved the rain.)

In mid-August 2007, our friends, online and off, convinced us that it was wrong to keep Sammy on the chain. We decided that it would be in her best interest to find her a better home, but nobody would take her. We put an ad on Craigslist, a free personals/classifieds site, but nobody there was interested, either.

On September 14, I was crippled by a plantar wart and in bed under doctor's orders, when Jen reported that Sammy was pregnant. That night, we heard howling, and Sammy had given birth to eight puppies. Four of each gender.

We lost one puppy in the first week. All we know is that one got stuck in the fence and might have been hurt. We broke our shovel trying to bury him, so we put him far out in the field.

A friend from work got the first puppy, but had to bring him back the next day, unable to keep him.

We put ads on the Craigslist and Freecycle sites for the puppies, and for one week in the Carolina Bargain Trader. We got a few calls, but once they learned the puppies weren't pure Rottweiler, they lost interest (even though we said in the ads that they were mixed). One guy even came out, drove an hour, saw them, and decided he didn't want any. We updated the Craigslist posting with the urgency that the dogs had to go by mid-November, or we would have to take the remaining dogs to a shelter (we had looked up no-kill shelters on the ASPCA website and said as much).

Within an hour of updating the Craigslist ad, I was contacted by a woman in Raleigh, 2 hours away. She wanted two males - one for her and one for a co-worker. We agreed to meet her halfway, in the town of Wilson. She told us if we had problems getting rid of any of the puppies, to let her know.

We were contacted via email by a lady from the Outer Banks (a few hours away, right on the coast) who wanted one, said she was going to a wedding on Saturday and would be passing through on Sunday, and would like the last male. We said we couldn't promise anything, so she said she has a brother-in-law in Blackjack (about 10 minutes away) who could take one and hold it for her. I told her I'd meet him at the Blackjack Store (where I occasionally shoot pool) any time and give him the puppy.

A few days later, we were contacted by a couple in Kinston, 45 minutes away, who wanted the last remaining male. I gave them directions and they said they'd be on their way and would call us when they got close. A few minutes later I got another call, this time from a couple on the road, who happened to be real close by, wanting the last male. I told them he was being picked up, so they said they'd look at the females.

While waiting for these two couples to come, I heard someone at the front door. I was still getting dressed, so I didn't make it there right away, but got there perhaps a minute or two later. Someone from Animal Control had stuck a note on the door, saying Sammy had bitten a neighbor's dog. I tried to call, but of course they were already closed.

The "closer" couple got here first. I put the male in the pen and let them choose from the four females. They fell in love with one almost immediately and took her. As they were leaving, the Kinston couple called, and couldn't find our driveway! I directed them to where a minivan (the other couple) was leaving. They took the male, and seemed happy with him. That brought us to three females.

On Monday, I called Animal Control right when I got up (early afternoon - hey, I work nights). They said that our neighbor was coming home, had her dog on a leash, and Sammy ran up and bit her dog, and then ran off. I knew the story was fishy and told the guy so. He said regardless we'd have to get a rabies shot for Sammy, and the neighbor wanted $45 for her vet bill, but AC wasn't going to enforce it, simply suggesting if it happened the way she said, we ought to pay it. When I talked to Jen, the truth came out. Sure enough, Sammy had been on her chain the whole time. If there was a bite, it actually happened on our property. What probably happened is her dog got away from her, came back to see the puppies, and got bit. Being a "responsible pet owner", she didn't let the vet know the whole story, who probably suggested we contact Animal Control and try to stick us with the bill. The lady's been avoiding us, even avoiding looking at us, ever since - either she had a conscience attack or realized we weren't fooled.

We contacted the Outer Banks lady to inform her the last male had been adopted, but we had the females. She consulted a vet, and her family, and said that would be acceptable - but still no concrete time to meet her or her brother-in-law.

Monday night, a lady from Jacksonville (about an hour and a half away) called and said she wanted one of the girls. Normally I would go watch Monday Night RAW, but this was more important. She actually didn't get here until about 11:30pm (so I didn't have to miss it, really), fell in love with one, but needed a can of dog food, not being able to go shopping until the morning. We gladly gave her one (being as that we wouldn't need it before long).

The next day, Jen transferred one of her contacts to me, being as he sounded serious. (A few people had contacted her, via Freecycle, but weren't really serious.) I had him meet me Wednesday. He wanted both of the last puppies, but I told him about the Outer Banks lady. She sounded flaky, but something told me she was more serious. I offered him Sammy, since we'd need to find a home for her, too. He warmed right up to Sammy, and left with Sammy and one of the girls.

Yesterday (Thursday) we got an email from the lady in Jacksonville. Her puppy had gotten worms. It was pretty sad, since we had heard great things from most of the other adopters. She wasn't real clear, whether the puppy would live or die. I wish we would have known, but there wouldn't be anything we could do here. We certainly wouldn't be able to afford to take it to the vet for that - she said treating it was/would be costly. But, y'know, a free puppy... You can't expect someone to have fixed it, given it all its shots - else it wouldn't be free. We didn't charge for the extra dog food we were out. You get a free puppy, it gets sick and needs special care, well, you have a choice. You spend the money and get it well, or you don't, and get another free puppy the next week, they're always available. Sad, but that's the world. If more dogs were fixed, there'd be fewer unwanted puppies, and the ones there were would be valued higher... But then the same could be said about humans, though nobody would like to.

Today, the Outer Banks lady hadn't written back (I gave her until today, since the last puppy was real lonely) and she hasn't written back. I can only assume she found a puppy closer, or has lost interest (or might be having computer problems, I guess that's possible). Either way, we couldn't keep the last puppy any longer, so we called the guy who'd taken Sammy and the other puppy, and he just left with her an hour or so ago.

So now all we have left is the pen. Which I plan to take down in the next couple days. And I guess that's that.

We've learned a fair bit from all this. First of all, we learned that we really aren't the best people to have a dog, certainly not one Sammy's size. She wasn't big, but on the bigger side of medium. We didn't have the room for her. We're not allowed to have dogs inside, and we don't have a fenced-in yard. The animal rights people got on us for having her on a chain, but unless you got some good money, you gotta face reality. A dog's got to be on a chain or in a pen, or you can't really have one. So we made the hard choice to not have one.

We also learned it's important to get an animal fixed. Our cat came fixed, that's great. If we'd have gotten Sammy fixed, sure six puppies wouldn't have made people happy - but they could have found other puppies, easily. One wouldn't have made my wife cry (the first one) and one wouldn't cause such heartache for a couple we don't even otherwise know.

We'll get another dog, down the road. We'll buy a home, either a double-wide trailer or a modular home, with some land. We'll have a fence, and then we'll get a dog. We won't take the first one that comes our way, either. We'll think about it, we'll talk it over, we'll shop around. We won't limit ourselves to the freebies, either. We'll probably pay for a dog. We'll probably take it to the vet within a couple days, make sure it has its shots, make sure it's fixed, make sure it's healthy. We'll definitely keep it inside and housebreak it, so it goes out (or gets us to let it out) when it's got to "go". We'll learn from this, and next time we'll do things right.

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