Northern Dogs Update: Home for the Holidays
The Northern Dogs Project was contacted about a unique looking dog in one of the communities we worked in. Could we help by finding Gracie a home? The Northern Dogs Project works at multiple levels from community to individual so yes, get her down and we’ll find her a wonderful forever home! And so after a drawn out trip from northern Quebec to Montreal to the Toronto area, Gracie showed up all safe and sound. She is definitely a unique looking girl – part shepherd, part terrier, part dingo… just like they said! She’s not very big but she runs and plays like someone four times her size! Before I took her to the vet, I wanted some background information for myself and I wanted some info for the vet on Gracie’s condition when she was found. This is what I was told by the Good Samaritan who found her and took her in:
“Gracie started showing up around our house with a couple of other dogs sometime around the end of October. She was always with a beautiful pup and the pup’s mother but she was skin and bones compared to them. We asked people if she belonged to them or if they knew where she came from and everyone said “she’s nobody’s”. I started leaving some food out once in awhile and she would gobble it up -- what ever I left for her, she ate it all. She started sleeping next to the house and wouldn’t go anywhere else. This went on for about 10 days then it started to get really cold. For a few days she wouldn’t come in, then when she did come in, she would only walk on carpet, not the floors. But once she was in, she wouldn’t go out! She slept and slept and slept and slept.
There was a big lump at the top of her leg and she wouldn’t put any weight on that leg. Once she started living inside, the lump got significantly smaller but I don’t know when she started using the leg more. She always seemed stiff after sleep and favoured that leg but then would go for a good run and you’d never think anything was wrong with it. Sometimes she’d yelp but I could never really understand why or what led up to it. She falls down sometimes too as I’m sure you’ve noticed.
She didn’t look like any of the other dogs in the area but then I found this dog in mid-December. He reminded me a lot of Gracie but he doesn’t have a beard. He was the same age but bigger. Is he her brother?! They got on really well together like they knew each other --she was only into him and he was only into her. It was strange.
The other dogs left her alone and didn’t pick on her as they do the weaker dogs. I found that really interesting. Kids were not interested in her -- too ugly I guess. She had a really big head for her skinny body and she seemed top heavy. Also her ribcage was huge and hind was very small. After a few weeks inside, she started to get a little prettier. Her fur improved and she was more proportional. I always thought she was cute but a lot of people were not interested because of her looks. She didn’t seem to have any other problems.”
So after Gracie’s humble beginnings, she’s here and she’s happening! This is Gracie in a nutshell: she bonds quickly and follows me around -- but remember, this is common for these displaced dogs. She likes the other dogs and loves to be near big Toby, licking his mouth and initiating play. When she’s off leash, she checks back regularly just to make sure you’re still there. She comes when she’s called – but only when she wants to! She is high energy but will settle. She doesn't bark (very nice quality) and she loves to cuddle. She’s a surprisingly fussy eater for someone who didn’t have food in the beginning : ) And the most interesting characteristic to me is that she will disappear and find a little quiet time upstairs or in another room where she’ll snooze happily on her own. A nice mix of loving and independent.
While she may have been considered ugly up north, everyone down here loves her! Yesterday she was spayed and the x-rays show that she had good reason to favour her leg – it was broken! Her femur was snapped in the middle but hasn’t healed properly. This means it’s still tender and it’s shorter than the other three which leaves her with a little waggle in her walk. I will take her to a specialist for a second opinion on how to proceed but for now she’s enjoying herself on the couch, running in the fields, gaining weight and being showered with human and dog love. Welcome home Gracie.
ORIGINAL POST 12.23.10:
While this time of year is one of my favourites -- all that snow, the lights and the good cheer -- there are still a few things to organize before I close the door to my office for a few days of family time. First things first... Dingo Girl -- who's real name is Gracie now – is enroute to Montreal as we speak for pick up and delivery to my house tomorrow.
Skinny and cold, Gracie had what looked like a badly twisted hind leg when a Good Samaritan picked her up off the street and promised to make her better (and find her the home she deserves -- stay tuned for that part of the story as it's still pending). I called her Dingo Girl because she was described to me as the most unique looking pup ever... part shepherd, part sharpei, and part dingo (not likely). Gracie has recuperated some and now plays with the other resident dogs although she still won't put any weight on her back leg. I'm told she could use some more pounds but has put on enough to hide her ribbiness. Thankfully a friend was already headed to Montreal on a dog mission of her own and she was happy to ferry Gracie back to the Toronto area. Gracie arrives tomorrow and will spend the holidays romping with the home dogs, visiting the vet and finding herself her own perfect family.
I'm also really excited about our first ever holiday "Myrtle and Family" hike. Myrtle is the short legged wonder who lived on the street for almost 2 years, making her living by going door to door begging for food from the nurses and teachers in the community. She was rewarded for her persistence though because they took care of her and thanks to them, she survived. She had two litters of pups that we know of but in reality, she probably had more. The Northern Dogs team brought Myrtle and her very colourful and interesting looking batch of pups south in June of 2009. Unsocialized and very scared (essentially wild things), the pups were rehomed by IFAW and by ARF into loving homes after gaining experience with people, houses, and the normal every day comings and goings. Myrtle, Atiquala (the remaining pup from her first litter), Peapoddy, Ollie, Huddy and Emery are set to meet up once again for a walk (with their people) over the holidays. I'm sure I'm more excited to see everyone than Myrtle is!
And finally, a small team of IFAW staff and volunteers, are flying with Ted -- of Cloud Nine Rescue Flights -- to visit the community where we did the July dog rescue. We are doing a very quick up and back trip but everyone is pumped about their tasks for the couple of days we are in the community. I will be meeting to discuss a plan for moving forward with the ongoing comprehensive and humane dog management model, Ann will be taking her northern dog Dallas into the elementary classes to talk about dogs and dog care, and Sue and Ted have the very cold (but important) job of carrying out a dog survey on foot.
No matter what you are celebrating, this is the time of year to consider those less fortunate than we are. If you can, don't forget to donate a little food, fun or time to a shelter (four and two legged) so that we ensure as many as possible have a happy holiday.