If you have a few minutes, I have a story to tell you about rescuing a couple of our Kerry seniors - Andy and Emma. It's a story about the value of networking, the power of caring people, and that indomitable Kerry spirit!
In mid-December, we found out about two 10 year old Kerries who had been taken to a shelter. The shelter called and asked for our help, otherwise both would be euthanized. The shelter was beyond capacity. Andy and Emma were considered old and would be among the first to go.
Andy and Emma had been together all their lives. They were surrendered because they kept bursting through an electric fence and biting other dogs (or so we were told!). The shelter had not noticed any dog aggression and both were fine with people. No pedigrees, health records, or any papers were provided. The owner wasn't even willing to complete an animal profile on them and only gave the shelter this sketchy information.
Fortunately, Karen, our volunteer in this Michigan community, volunteers at this shelter and stepped in to help. Karen got both of the dogs out of the shelter and into a local kennel. Of course, this meant kennel fees, but at least they were safe 'till we could find homes for them. Then Andy got sick - very sick. Karen took in Emma as a foster, but Andy was at the Vet clinic. It was Christmas time. On December 21, after talking to the Vet, Jan Joers and Tracey Fulmer conferred about Andy's situation. Andy was non-responsive. They decided the only humane course of action was to put Andy to sleep. I got their message and cried.
But Jan called the Vet again the next day to ensure there was no absolutely hope. This time she talked to the first Vet who had seen Andy. Vet #1 said Andy was given a sedative the night before and that was why he was totally non-responsive. Apparently, Vet #2 wasn't aware of that for some reason, probably because of holiday season craziness. But thank goodness Jan called Vet #1 before giving the okay to have Andy PTS!
Meanwhile, we found a home for Emma with an experienced Kerry owner. Karen and Emma's new family drove for hours to an agreed upon meeting place in Michigan City. Apparently Emma didn't stay in the crate too long. She was more comfortable sleeping on the hand-made afghan. Last report, she was settling in very well: "She is an absolute gem and we are so thrilled for a perfect transition to our home!" Oh, by the way, Karen told us: "Emma was by far the easiest and most loveable foster that we have ever had."
Meanwhile, Andy was not out of the woods, but his temperature had stopped spiking and he was responding to the high doses of antibiotics. It was touch and go. Fortunately, Vet #1 was incredible and drove for hours over the holiday period to check in on Andy.
Andy did pull through, but he couldn't stay at the Vet clinic indefinitely. We had no foster home for him. So Andy went back to the kennel. While the people at the kennel were doing their best, Andy was deteriorating. He had been at death's door, pulled through, but now he was back in a kennel and his life long buddy was gone. Karen was checking in and things didn't look good.
We doubled our efforts to find a foster situation. We got the word out and John cross-posted Andy's plight to other rescue groups. We had a lead through Airedale and Wire Fox Terrier rescue. Maybe we could get Andy out of the kennel . . .?
Meanwhile, January 5th, we got an email from Karen:
Andy has absolutely no energy. He eats very slowly. He does not seem sick but just acts like he is 100 yrs old, where as before he acted more like two years old. He goes to the bathroom in his kennel and on his blanket - before he did not at all - he will just stand up and go right where he is standing and lie back down. He does not like to go outside anymore. He does not respond to other dogs. When Mark goes in to vacuum and clean, Andy will sleep through it all. Andy does not respond to being petted. He stands there like a rock.
Wow - we HAD to get Andy out ASAP! I was talking to Linda G., Jan and Tracey. What could we do? Jan was convinced Andy was depressed and that if we could get him into a positive place, he would respond. I was in tears (again) - we couldn't lose him now!
Lots of phoning . . . and sure enough, Fred, an Airedale/Wire Fox Terrier foster home was willing to take Andy, despite his condition. I explained the situation, but this experienced foster home was up for the challenge, if we could help with the extra expenses that Andy would bring. But, of course, they were a few hours away. Fortunately - once again! - Karen came through. Despite a family celebration, she drove half way to meet Fred and transfer Andy to his care.
Andy was a mess. But Jan was optimistic. As she wrote to Fred: "Kerries are the most people-oriented breed I know. While some dogs live to herd, or run, or track, Kerries live to love their people. Love him oodles, and I think we will see a remarkable change in him over time."
Well, Jan was right and Andy has improved! Fred's had blood work done and Andy's toileting issues do not seem to be physical. He is much better on that front, but he is still re-learning. Fred's groomed him - "got all the crud out of him" - and has bought him a snazzy red winter coat. It's been pretty cold lately in Michigan.
But here's the REALLY good news. Fred told me this week: "Andy's awfully friendly and as gentle as can be. He loves to be patted. He never tries to pick a fight with the other dogs. He's a lot more bouncy. Then he does this thing when he's excited and knows it's dinner time . . . [I laughed because I knew what he was going to say - can you guess?] . . . he spins!" A spinning Kerry sounds like a happy Kerry to me!
So, we still need to find Andy his forever home. It needs to be a special place where he'll get the love, caring and attention he ought to have. He's a very special guy! And many people have worked hard to give him another chance.
Andy's story not only points to the power of the terrier network and the warm hearts of many people, but also to why donations are SO important. Despite the time and expense the volunteers in this story have contributed, Andy's story comes with a significant financial cost. Think about the days of kennel fees and vet bills, including the professional fees, drug costs, and boarding!
We believe every Kerry's life is valuable, regardless of his or her age. (My 12 year old Kerry girl would certainly agree!) So if we want to support Andy, and more seniors like him, we need to continue our financial donations of the Foundation. Please support our deserving seniors! Watch for Andy on the web-site and become one of his Kerry angels!