Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bert and Ernie

Bert and Ernie are our first success stories, as foster parents! These brothers came to us about 6 months ago, at age 6 months. Indianapolis Animal Care & Control (IACC) found them tied to a light pole, covered in bite wounds. It was evident that they had been used as bait dogs. The gal who runs the shelter put out an urgent plea for these pups to get pulled into rescue, so that they could get to a vet (IACC isn't staffed with a full time vet, and does not have the funds to tend to a lot of injuries that animals sustain when brought in), or they would be euthanized, as they were clearly in pain.

The "bat signal" was sent up, and luckily I was still close to my laptop at all times (as I was still unemployed and job searching), and saw the plea, and wanted to help. Wheels were put in motion, and literally while Ryan and I were heading to an event with Spike for Indy Pit Crew, we got the call that if we would take the pups, we'd need to come get them immediately to get them to a vet, or else.

Ryan dropped me off in Hamilton County for the event and flew to the south side to pick up these boys. They were terrified and covered in blood and bite wounds, but still wagged their tails to see him. He remembers carrying them into the vet's office, one under each arm. Here's them in the truck on the way. The pic is blurry, but you can see how swollen and covered they are:

Once we got them home, we had to bathe them with a medicated shampoo, per the vet. Since they were so covered, everywhere, that was their best bet in fighting infection and helping their wounds to heal. This was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do. I was fighting tears and murderous thoughts while very gently trying to bathe them so I didn't cause further pain on their open wounds. Bait dogs are used by dog fighters for their fighting dogs to "practice on." They're usually puppies, smaller dogs, older dogs, really anything these people can find/steal to bring in as bait. They will often tape their mouths closed, so they have no means of defense against being attacked. These boys were the lucky ones, who somehow got away, and with non-life threatening injuries.

We named them Bert and Ernie, and quickly introduced them to our pack, as they would need a lot of socialization with correct dogs, to help them understand that not all dogs would want to or try to hurt them. Bella played a major role in helping these boys, as her maternal instincts kicked in and while she loved to play with them, she often schooled them in what was appropriate play and behavior, but in a gentle way, so they learned to trust and respect her. My pack did at least as much good in helping these boys than Ryan and I did with showing them love, and making them feel safe.

Fast forward a few months- Ernie got adopted by an awesome guy who is a friend of Nina's. He actually owns the sister of Nina's dog, Coal. Dia, his diva dog, loves people, but is pretty selective on who she is friends with in the dog world. I heard he'd been at the shelter looking for a playmate for Dia, and hadn't had a lot of luck with Dia's selectivity. I reached out to him and offered to bring Ernie to meet them, because Ernie's personality turned out to be super laid back, playful, but very submissive and easy going. We met, he walked up to Dia, wagged his tail, and flopped at her feet. The rest is history!

Worth mentioning- Big Ern (who we think may be part American Bulldog, b/c he's HUGE now) got his Canine Good Citizen Certificate a few months ago, and is welcome at Indy Pit Crew events as an Ambassadog!

Shortly after Ernie got adopted, a great family inquired about Bert. They had fostered for the Humane Society of Indianapolis, and their family dog had died a few years ago, and they were ready for another dog. They had many questions about Bert, and I talked to them a lot about his situation, and his continued rehab (as he was still very fearful and apprehensive of humans and other dogs outside of my pack) We decided to let Bert decide. I took him to meet his new family, and while I could tell her was nervous, he seemed to be pacified by the tennis ball he kept running around with in his mouth, their giant fenced in backyard, and the 2 little people who seemed to be the most harmless to him (the family's 2 kids).

Bert still struggles with his fear, and it will likely be a long road for him to recover mentally. Luckily his family is doing everything we advise and Nina and I continue to work with him, to help reinforce that the world isn't such a scary place. More to come on Bert's progress.

For now, I love to look at this picture of them. Happy and safe.

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