Managing a makeshift homeless shelter for pets is a challenge. We have nine dogs and one cat. I'm going to write all of their names; Miss Nellie, Benicio del Toro, Delilah, Jessie James, Michelle, Fern, Pepper, Charlotte, and the young Mr. D'Arcy. Miss Junie is the much put-upon cat. Three dogs have health problems of some sort, Miss Nellie, Pepper and Charlotte.
Michelle loves me the most of all. She follows me with her eyes, body and heart.
Pepper has a skin condition and the personality of a beaten homeless cunning wild dog. Pepper Pot runs away when you reach for her but comes up close with sad yearning eyes when you are petting another. She will let you pet her when everyone else is getting love. She has a skin condition from allergies, I think. Her hair grows a bit back then falls out some more. So far her skin does not respond to treatment.
Charlotte has the most problems. She was born with beautiful rust and white fur and then got an attack of mange (the kind street dogs are born with) and I started her on treatment. I learned how to give injections, bathed her with a strong poison and then she started to recover. She got another secondary infection and I put her on antibiotics. She recovered a bit and then got a stomach illness and (some other discusting problems) which I treated. She has nearly died four times.
We call her "Poor Charlotte" from the movie version of "A Room with a View," EM Forester. Right now her hair is growing back and she looks at me shyly as if to acknowledge all the trouble we both have gone through. She tilts her head to the side and down and timidly hopes I will pet her (but not too much because it hurts). Taking care of 'street animals' is extremely difficult and often heart breaking. Delilah adapted to street life by learning to kill live animals. If a cat comes into the fenced in yard-she will try to kill it. She has taught Pepper and Jessie to join her. We're taking her in to be 'fixed' this week. I hope she calms down.
We have a large space for all of the dogs and they have also helped us. One time a person broke in the yard by taking apart the fence and road a scooter around back to the side entrance. It's quite isolated. I imagine that as he was driving around to the back of the house, the dogs woke up from their afternoon nap. They must have chased him; he ran into the white wall where tire marks still remain, and escaped out of the yard. When we came home, the top part of the fence was dangling but the bottom was secure. After a bit of investigation, we realized what had happened and understood that the fence was put together upside down so that it could be opened even when it was locked and chained. Probably, the house was 'cased' for a while but they didn't notice the dogs. What a surprise!
Recently, I discovered that dogs can get addicted to gasoline. They chewed the tube that runs out of the gas tank on our second car and were sipping, licking and finally drinking gas. I was home alone one night, when I smelled a strong 'dangerous' smell. Was it lighter fluid, or poison? I emptied out all of the cupboards in the kitchen but couldn't find anything. The smell was strongest by the kitchen window and it was open. I went outside and thought maybe someone is painting and the smell is paint thinner. I found the dogs acting strange and a little crazed. When I looked for the rest of them- they were fighting to get under the car.
Then I realized that the smell was gasoline. I got the hose and sprayed forcefully under the car, finally they moved out and away from the car. I rinsed the driveway and contained the gas with a metal pan. It was held in place by being pressed up next to the gas tank. Later, the dogs kept returning to the scene. Elizabeth must have been successful in drinking the most gas before I discovered the problem. She died.
I've never heard of it before but now I know that dogs do get addicted to gasoline. When my husband W started up the car recently, some fluid came out and the dogs were after it again. Strange. He was able to repair the tube with a material made to harden against metal. I hope it holds! (He’s teaching a night class this month.)
This year we had three cats die from leukemia, combined with old age, and finished off by dog terrorization. But I'm mixing the tales (tails!) together-the California cats, Tierra and Playful were 14 and 15 years old. Both contracted leukemia from our Mione cat- a beautiful black intelligent cat who strolled around the house like a demanding toddler who constantly raised his voice for attention. "I want that! Let me sit there! Where's my snack!?" He died when he was 4 and we all suffered over that one. The disease process was-first occasional 'colds' fever and sometimes a hematoma (blood clot bubble) because the immune system starts to fail. Then they' recover' with antibiotics until the next bout of infection. They eventually lose a lot of weight and give up eating and drinking. I had to use a dropper for Playful but he just couldn't make it. He was the largest black and white cat with a generous trusting personality. He died first. Then Tierra got so confused. She started wandering toward the dogs. She was the oldest and 'wildest' cat; she could balance on a thin fence with all four paws. She was loyal to me but clearly toward the end, it was her time. For most of her life her fur was like the earth of New Mexico or Scottsdale, Arizona; so rich and multi-toned, accented by an earthy red shade. We found her on the driveway. Licked clean. The dogs had that guilty," I'm sorry don't be mad at me look." They didn't tear her up but I'm pretty sure that they killed her and also Mione. (Since then the
dogs have killed two cats who wandered into our yard.) It's shocking but you start to realize how a life of survival can make a dog give in to instinct, especially when there is no one around to give them food. That was a stressful time.