Photos Of Us

Photos Of Us

Saturday, May 17, 2014

We Threw Mama To The Wolves!

Do you see the wolf in this picture?
 BOL! Actually Mama threw herself to the wolves. Our mama found out that there is this place in Lockport, Illinois, that takes care of wolves and other animals. One thing they do is take care of "exotic" pets, which we figured out means animals that are not usually pets but that some people want as pets anyways. You know how people get rid of their dogs and cats and other animals? People also get rid of their bears, skunks, porcupines, coyotes, and cougars! 

The other thing this place does is teach people about wolves. See, in a way wolves are kind of like pitbulls, because they have a really bad reputation that they don't really deserve.

Mama learned a lot of sad things about wolves. Before Europeans came to America, 250,000 wolves lived on this continent, and had been here for millions of years. They coexisted with the Native Americans. But when Europeans came here and started farming, they didn't like the wolves that started coming around to eat their livestock. They started killing as many wolves as they could. In fact, there were people whose entire living was based around killing wolves. They got paid by the government for every wolf hide they brought in. Some of the ways people killed wolves included feeding them carcasses laced with poison or glass, clubbing them, and gassing their dens or setting dens on fire with wolf pups inside. Another method was to trap one wolf and infest it with mange, and then release it in hopes that the mange would spread to other wolves. Mange is terribly itchy, and the wolves would go crazy scratching themselves. They'd literally scratch themselves bloody and lose all of their fur. When winter came, the wolves would freeze to death. 

By 1918, about 465,730 wolves had been killed. 

The mass killing of wolves kept on going. By 1970's, there were only a few hundred wolves left in the United States. And even though they were one of the first animals to be added to the Endangered Animals list, many states continued to offer a bounty on wolf hides or to encourage people to kill them... and they still do this today. 

Mama learned something else very interesting about wolves. They are very important to our ecosystem. It makes Mama sad to think about wolves killing other animals, like deer and elk, because we all hate to hear about animals dying. But then Mama learned that, when wolves were brought back to Yellowstone National Park, the grass, plants, and even rivers started returning to the way they used to be. See, wolves hunt a lot of animals that eat grass and plants. If nothing is hunting these animals, there starts to be so many of them, that there is not enough grass and plants to support them. Soon there is not much grass or plants left. Grass near rivers helps to prevent erosion, so when the grass is gone, even the course of the rivers change. Plus, with the elks and deer eating all of the grass and plants, there is not enough left to feed other animals to eat and to live in. 

Also, when wolves kill large animals like deer, other animals such as foxes, coyotes, and eagles, which cannot take down large animals on their own, get to feast on the leftovers. So when a wolf kills an animal, it is actually feeding the entire forest. 

But at Yellowstone, where wolves have been brought back, locals still don't want them around. Not only do they worry about wolves getting their livestock, they also worry about wolves killing too many deer and elk. Not because the people care about the deer and elk and want them to be safe... but because they, themselves, want to shoot the deer and elk as trophies! People still shoot and kill wolves. In fact, even if a wolf is wearing a radio collar, which is used by scientists to track their movement and to learn more about them, people will shoot the wolf on sight, and then just get rid of the collar. 

There used to be a very popular alpha female wolf that lived in Yellowstone with her pack. She was a beautiful wolf who seemed very intelligent. She actually had "fans," people who would come to Yellowstone to wolf watch, in hopes of catching a glimpse of her. Researchers studying wolves in the park had seen her start out as a pup, grow up, and raise pups of her own. She was known for being quick, strong, and decisive, and very protective of her pups. 

In 2012, this wolf wandered out of Yellowstone, and was quickly shot and killed by a hunter. Her partner (wolves generally mate for life and raise their pups together) had been shot and killed earlier that year. 

When Mama learned all of this, she had some mixed feelings. On one hand, she is scared of wolves just like many people are. Even though she knows that wolves rarely attack humans, she also knows that they do, obviously, attack other animals. Mama is afraid of coyotes for the same reason. She's afraid they'll attack us dogs... especially tiny Lily! And Mama feels sad for the animals that are killed by wolves. 

On the other hand, our Mama was interested in everything she learned about wolves taking care of nature. She was interested in learning about how wolves stay together in families, including aunts and older siblings who help to take care of the pups. And she was upset about how many people wanted to kill wolves, in as painful of ways as possible. 

At any rate, Mama is glad she got to go and meet the wolves and learn all about them! When she came home she told us that we are actually related to wolves. Can you believe that?

What do you think? Are you afraid of wolves? Can you teach us anything else about them? Let us know in the comments!

With love,
from Trixie and Lily

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Birthday Lily!

Hi everyone! It's me, Lily, and it is my turn to write in the bloggy! Last time, you got to read about my sister Trixie's rescue story. My story is a little different, but Mama still calls it a rescue story.

Mama used to live with some people who had a female dog that they did not want to get spayed. Then they got their son a male dog because he wanted a chihuahua. They did not want to neuter the male dog. And you can probably guess, the female dog got pregnant, and an accidental litter was born!

Mama was actually there at my birth. It was very early in the morning, the day after Mother's Day. My mother dog gave birth to nine puppies. Mama was there, with her roommate's mother and younger sisters, to comfort my mother dog and to help take care of my brothers and sisters and me. She put some of us in her hoodie pocket to keep us warm while the others were still being born!

When we were born we were all wet and slimy and squeaking. But by later in the morning, we were looking a little bit cuter. We were so tiny, we could fit in the palm of a person's hand! Here is me, a few hours old.

Time went on. We puppies got bigger. Soon we were old enough to stop drinking our mother's milk, and start eating regular dog food! The humans would water down puppy food with warm water, mash it up really good with a fork, and serve it to us on a plate. I'm the one someone was holding... I kept losing interest and wandering off, but I needed to eat before my brothers and sisters hogged it all!

When we were eating on our own, we were old enough to move to new homes. Mama's roommates had found homes for most of us puppies. The roommates had promised their children that they could keep one of the puppies. (They had ended up "getting rid of" the male dog who was our father, but they still had my mother dog.) The kids wanted to keep me. Mama was happy, because secretly, she loved me the most! A big reason for it was, because of my pink nose and the color of my fur, I reminded her of Trixie. 

A mother dog will often push her puppies over on their backs, to teach them to roll over and submit if they are confronted by an older or more dominant dog. My mother dog taught all of my brothers and sisters to roll over on their backs. But my (human) Mama said she saw my mother dog trying to push me over, and I just would not fall down! My mother dog scooted me all the way across the room and I stood my ground, with an irritated look on my face. Mama said she thought I had a lot of personality and spirit!

In the beginning, I didn't really think about my situation much. I mostly slept a lot. I would play for short amounts of time, and then fall asleep! 

But after a while, I started to have problems in my house. For one thing, it was a very busy household. There were four children living in the house, and a parade of teenagers and kids always in and out. Everyone in the household was loud and boisterous. And the parents believed that the children should be allowed to do whatever they wanted to animals, and that pets just had to learn to deal with it. 

I had a lot of trouble getting potty trained. I would leave little puddles of pee and piles of poop all around the house, even though the humans regularly took me out in the backyard. I would go to the bathroom outside, but I would save a little something to surprise everyone with later. I also had a tendency to pee on the floor whenever the oldest son talked to me! 

As I got older, I also started to bark a lot. The adult humans in the household would get very angry at me. They wanted me to be kept in my cage all day long, and only taken out to go outside to use the bathroom or to eat! My mama hated that. But the roommates always reminded her that I wasn't her dog. 

Even though I wasn't Mama's dog, she often took care of me. I started sleeping in her bed every night... except for when her roommates insisted that I sleep in my cage. Mama also liked to take me places with her, when the roommates would allow it. 

The tiniest collar Mama could find in the store was too big for me!
Sometimes Mama would take me on overnight visits to her parents' house. I got to know Trixie. Trixie was a gentle big dog, and we played together all the time! When we first met, Mama had brought me to the house riding in a carrier. When she set down my carrier and opened the door, I peeked out at Trixie. Then I ran and hid behind a chair and peeked out at her again... and then raced back into my carrier and peeked out some more! This became a fun game for both of us! 

Meanwhile at my house, things were getting worse. I still wasn't housetrained. I still barked a lot. And Mama's roommates were talking about getting rid of me. They even put an ad on Facebook asking who wanted me! Mama would hold me in her arms and cry, praying that she could find a way to keep me. Mama couldn't afford to move out and get a place of her own. She tried finding someone she knew to take me, like her friend or one of her aunts, so she could at least make sure I was in a safe home, and so she could see me still. 

One day while I was still a puppy, I was in my cage, chewing on a bone. Mama's roommate's youngest child, who was a toddler, crawled into the cage and tried to take my bone away. I nipped at her hand, and she started to cry. I didn't mean to hurt her... I just didn't want someone to take my bone away! But Mama's roommates both grabbed me out of my cage and started hitting me over and over again. 

Another day, when the roommates came home in the middle of the night, I started barking. One of the roommates started kicking my cage and yelling at me.

The roommates were going to take me to the pound. In the mean time, they went out and got another puppy... a boy dog. So then there were three of us dogs in the house, and a whole bunch of kids, and it was crazy a lot of the time!

Just as the roommates were a day away from dropping me off at the pound, they made Mama an offer she couldn't refuse. They said I could be her puppy! 

Mama and I still lived at the house for a while, with me now being Mama's responsibility. Mama was very happy about that. But we were both getting more unhappy about where we lived. So Mama moved to the only place where she knew she could stay for free, for a while, while she finished school... her parents' house! And that is how Trixie officially became my sister!

Within a few weeks of living at my new home, I was completely housetrained. I still bark a lot, but I am getting better at stopping barking when I am asked to. I am very close to my Mama, and am almost always in the same room as she is, when she is home. Mama takes me for walks on my leash, but she says technically she could probably leave the leash at home, because I always walk very nicely beside her, and I always come when she calls me, and I pretty much do anything she asked me to do. People compliment Mama on how well-trained I am... but the funny thing is, Mama never actually trained me to do any of these things, except for being housetrained. I just do it naturally, because I want to be near my Mama! 

Yesterday I turned five years old. Mama says she can't believe I'm five! She says my becoming her dog was one of the best things that ever happened to her. And we will never be separated again!

I hope you like my "rescue" story! It is more of a "gotcha" story maybe. But either way, I am happy that Mama and Trixie and I are a family. 

By the way, Mama's book, The Best Dog In The World, has a Facebook page, and Trixie and I are the spokesdogs! We just made it, and we don't have many "likes" yet, so we'd be happy if you'd check us out! 
The Best Dog In The World

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Trixie's Rescue Story

       Have you ever read a blog written by a dog? How about two dogs? Well, there's a first time for everything, right? 
       My name is Trixie. I was found living in a forest in southern Illinois, along with my litter of puppies. (I was only nine months old but I already have puppies!) When I was found, I was brought to a very crowded municipal animal shelter. All of my puppies got adopted. But with all those cute little puppies to look at, nobody seemed to be looking for a slightly older puppy like me! And you know what happens in shelters like that, to dogs who don't get adopted quickly enough. Nothing very good.
      Then I got lucky. A pet rescue organization sprung me from the shelter! They always tried to rescue as many "end of the line" dogs as they could. Once I was rescued by the organization, my future looked much brighter. Even if I still couldn't find someone to adopt me right away, I'd have a foster home to live in, and I'd be safe.
      A few months earlier, another dog, named Chopper, had died. She was an older dog, and her family loved her fiercely. They were so sad when she passed away! The people who had owned her were a husband and wife, and their two children who were now adults. One of the kids lived far away, but the other was living at home while she finished college. The young woman who was in college loved dogs so much, and her life felt empty without one in the house... but her parents said, "Sorry! No more dogs!"
       But the young woman's mother worked with someone who volunteered at the organization that had rescued me. The co-worker convinced the mother to try fostering a dog, for a short while. And guess who the dog who they chose to foster was? ME! 
       At the municipal shelter, they had not done much with me other than feed me and give me water. So when my new foster family brought me home, I was in bad shape. I was really dirty and stinky from the months of living in the woods. My skin was rashy and itchy, and a lot of my fur had fallen out or gotten matted. I had such a bad infection in my ears, that the vet said I probably couldn't even hear.
      And also, I had worms!
      But I didn't care about any of that. I ran around the house, and got everyone to pet me. I wasn't sure what was happening, but I knew that I was being taken care of, and played with, and petted, and loved. And that felt so good!
      Here is what I looked like when they brought me home. (At least I'd already had a bath by then!) Ha-ha, I look so skinny in this picture, don't I?

      Can you guess what happened by the end of the first week? The family was supposed to bring me for an adoption show on Saturday, where I might find a permanent home. But by then, they were in love with me! And they didn't want anyone else to have me! So they adopted me themselves. In the rescue world, this is called being a foster failure. But it sure wasn't a failure to me. I was glad to be able to stay.
       Here's a picture of my Mama with me during that first week, when I was still a foster dog. It's not a very good picture. I had never been in a selfie before, so I was not sure what to do. 

       When I was first living with my new family, whenever we were taking a walk, I would get excited when I saw a mini-van go by. I would start barking and wagging my tail as I watched it. My family thought maybe I had been owned by people who drove a mini-van. They also noticed that I was already housetrained, knew a few tricks, and was great with kids. They couldn't understand how I had ended up homeless! But at least, I got a happy ending. 
       If you read The Best Dog In The World, you'll probably see a lot of similarities between my story, and the story of Pixie, the dog in the book. Even our names rhyme! The reason is that I was the inspiration for the story. But there is one big difference between my story and Pixie's story. Let me know if you figure out what it is! 
       I am also part of the reason why my Mama decided to donate half of the profits from The Best Dog In The World to pet rescue organizations. After her family adopted me, Mama started volunteering at the organization that had rescued me. She has volunteered there for several years now. She's met lots and lots and lots of homeless dogs. Many came from municipal shelters, like me. Some were found as strays. Some were handed over by their owners, who didn't want them anymore. Some were taken out of unsafe homes, like houses where the owners had 100 dogs! 
        Mama felt like she couldn't write a book about helping dogs, without sharing some of the proceeds with organizations that do a lot to help dogs like me. 
         I'm really proud to be one of the spokesdogs for Mama... who you know as Nicki Mann, the author of The Best Dog In The World
         The other spokesdog is my little sister Lily. But you can hear from her later. 
         Thanks for reading my rescue story! Remember...
 Don't shop, adopt!  
If you can't adopt, foster.

If you can't foster, volunteer. 
If you can't volunteer, donate. 
If you can't donate, educate, network, and crosspost...
Everyone can do something, large or small, to help save a life.