Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dream a Little Dream for Them

Here we are in the final week of the I <3 Dogs Blog Tour. The theme this time: If I had a dream ... What would you do for rescue dogs if you could?

Don't forget to visit Tour Host Small Town Rescue for links to other blogs participating this week and to see how you can win prizes!

I'm also sponsoring a challenge there: I'll price-match small donations to Pawsibilities Are Endless, so you can double even as little as a dollar to help rehabilitate and rehome the dogs these generous-hearted volunteers work tirelessly to support.

The easy answer to what I would do for rescue dogs is, of course, to take in as many as possible to foster. With that, though, comes the responsibility.

I bought my little farm, Rainbow's End, with the express purpose of fostering -- or of becoming a perennial foster flunkie for  -- neglected and abused critters, be they any species. I expected to take on only a handful in the beginning since I had a full-time-plus job, then ease my way more fully into it after I retired. It started out promising enough: 2 dogs, 2 goats, 5 cats and a couple of chickens came wandering in and stayed. I strung a bit of new fence, added a couple of barns and brought in some little horses.

Then I retired earlier than planned. And jumped into a second, part-time-ish business I also hadn't planned for. Many of the practicalities of adding kennels and a common play area for dogs and additional pastures for equines and llamas and whatever other large animals might come are still needing answers, such as what to do with all the waste? With our high water table, can I put in a septic system capable of handling more than a dozen dogs? (My breeder friend thought she'd found a way to deal with the problem by letting her dogs use my front pasture. Um, no.) And how many grazing animals can 27 acres really support?

Right now I don't have enough permanent dog-containing fencing to be able to keep a dog separated from the rest of the critters while it adjusts. While I keep my smaller animals, including the goats, penned in at night as a first defense against coyotes, they also free-range during the day and intermingle with one another. One doggy door in the house leads to a backyard that's home to 5 ducks and a rooster. That means accepting only animals who can get along with others. And while I did rehabilitate one dog that thought the chickens were here as part of the daily buffet, I don't want to lose any more friends to any more misunderstandings.

I also would love to take in a wild burro or mustang; however, the fencing I have (T-posts and a mix of 4-foot-high wire strand and no-climb horse fences) won't pass the minimum standards for the Bureau of Land Management to consider me as an adopter.

I've budgeted well enough to take in several more critters and be able to keep them in food and medical care. But the money needed to build the accommodations I dream about just isn't there. Writer though I am, and dealer in dreams in that regard, I'm a pragmatist in most other matters. The hordes of animals (though never hoarding!) I envisioned caring for simply will not be -- yet. But I can still make a difference one life at a time, taking in a critter here and there and ensuring they understand the rule of tolerance we have in place.

In fact, I'm thinking it's time to expand our family once I get back from the book convention I'm at this week.   I'll be on the lookout for a shelter dog come May. I also have a neighbor who has two goats that belong to a daughter who'll be off to college in the fall. They'll likely come my way in a month or so. And if we fall into another drought this summer, I have a couple of horse rescues I'm ready to contact in August.

Of course, I'm open to a change in circumstance. One day, I may still have the kennel of homeless dogs and barn full of horses and other larger critters that once I dared to dream about. For now, we'll take it one wiggly butt at a time.


Sarah Laurenson said...

The plight of the senior dog & cat has always drawn me. I'd love to open a retirement home for them, but I'm a bit of a realist and know first hand how much time and care they require (not to mention $$).

Then there's the space and having them get along and lots of other stuff that you mentioned. Sometimes I think I'll wind up working for such a rescue rather than opening one of my own, but you never know.

Of course, if I'd won the Mega Millions, then this would be a different story. With enough money, you can hire all the help you need.

My wife wants to rescue horses and alpacas. So we've got the larger sizes covered as well.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Sarah, you and your wife would make excellent foster parents beyond what you do now for the lucky cats and dogs who've wormed their way into your household. Time and money - with enough of either, we could change at least a small part of the world.

Landra said...

See the abandoned puppies are the ones that always draw me in. How you can cast out a litter of sweeties in a box. They need a temporary homing/nursing unit for those puppies that have been carelessly put aside. If I had the funds that's where my money would go. With tons of high school and middle school volunteers to help assist and teach the fundmentals of treating animals right and taking care of them.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I always thought it would be great to get senior citizens, foster kids and abandened animals together so they could take care of each other.