31 December 2008

Meet Mistral and Mama Mia

Meet Mia and Mistral. They were called Maya and Miss but for their new lives here, they have new names - but names that sound similar.

When they were taken out of their Hell Hole yesterday, the owner had to sign papers and apparently he shed a tear when they left! Oh really! As my best friend, Candy, in America wrote:

"I truly think the guy who kept them in that condition should bloody well be put in a pen and forced to live on top of his own shit for 8 years. Punishment fits the crime. Asshole." Too right!

Within about 15 minutes of their arrival, they seemed to know it is 'OK' here and since then have followed me everywhere. A miracle! Their temperaments are absolutely superb. Mistral (the blacker one in last pic below) is confident with everyone. My neighbour came to visit them yesterday evening and she went right up to her. Mia on the other hand is terrified of people, but as I said, now trusts me. They freely wander the garden, even tho, they wobble a bit. They have absolutely no muscle and when they wake up, they have some difficulty in getting up. Hardly surprising as they've been confined to a 2 metre square area of excrement for 8 years.

Both are in bad physical condition, particularly Mia who continually scratches and bites herself, poor dog. Her skin as you'll see in the lower photograph is very bad. Both are on antibiotics, have had special baths after the flea infestation was removed and tomorrow, they get more baths. It will take time. They have a bacterial skin infection caused by the conditions under which they have lived for so long. They have both had loads of litters too, as is obvious by their large nipples - particularly Mistral.

Feeding time is crazy - both are frantic for food, even tho Mistral is actually quite fat - fat with bad quality food tho. They are used to eating out of the same bowl but I've learned I have to separate them - and then encourage Mia to eat. She is the timid one and it is Mistral who has eaten most of her food in the past.

I woke to two enormous puddles this morning - tonight I'll let them out in the middle of the night, which is no big deal for me as I wake up anyway. And Mistral is in full heat today. Wot fun! Once they are in condition, they will be sterilised, of course.

Tomorrow, pictures from the garden and more progress - and a big thank you to everyone for their encouragement. It will take time but really the main thing I worried about was their temperament with other dogs and it's perfect. They totally accept and interact normally with other dogs. Just people are a problem for Mia. As for letting them out free in the garden - they love it, wander about and come back in when they are ready.

30 December 2008

Out of the Hell Hole

Today is going to be a big day at Pension Milou. Two new dogs are coming to live - forever - at Pension Milou. And no, that's not Pension Milou in the photograph - that's the hell they've been rescued from. (Thanks to Michele for the photos)

The dogs - two female hunting dogs around 8 or 10 years of age - have been living (if you can call it that) in the Languedoc - around Beziers (about 4 or 5 hours from here) - in a roughly 2 metre square run for about 8 years. Never let out of this small area, never cleaned out and living on top of 8 years of their excrement, estimated at about 2 or more feet of it. Can you imagine?! Their food and water bowls filthy with poop too. The food was simply thrown over the top of the fencing and was mostly stale bread and I suppose some dog food, else they'd be dead. Look at the photos and look away - happily they were taken out of here yesterday morning.

Let me explain how it is they are coming to live, for the rest of their lives, at Pension Milou.

Two nights ago I got an email with the photos you see here. I nearly didn't open the email. I can't bear to look at suffering animals and we all get dreadful emails, don't we? This was addressed to me though (not spam) by a great lady called Michele, who runs an animal rescue organisation (Comite de Soutien a la Cause Animale) in this part of south -western France. She'd been told to write to me by another organisation, Sans Collier Provence, who knew I already had a rescue hound.

Well life is good or bad timing, isn't it? First of all, I had several trips away this year and even though I had a good time, for the first time in my life, I found myself missing home. Old age? Anyway I'd made the decision I don't want to travel again. To say never, is a long time, but that's how I feel at the moment. In addition to this, I missed out on saving an Old English Sheepdog last Christmas. I still think about that and regret it dreadfully. With hindsight she could have been saved, although at the time circumstances didn't allow it. Hindsight is a fine thing! She was put to sleep. One day I'll write about but it's still painful to think about and caused me sleepless nights for months. 'My breed' too, as I used to show and breed Old English, which made it even worse somehow.

So when the email arrived, with photos of these poor dogs, I had to do something. Not just for them but for me.

After one phone call, Michele said she'd arrange to get the dogs out the following day - that was yesterday. I had one proviso tho - they must be tested for mange. There is no way I could take a dog with mange, particularly sarcoptic mange, as it is highly contagious and difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate properly.

Getting the dogs out and into a car was not easy. The dogs were traumatised. Imagine living in such a tiny space for 8 years, never let out. They were taken to the vet immediately. Just think of the smell in the car? The vet treated them for their massive infestation of fleas. He took skin scrapings and after checking under a microscope, confirmed there is no mange. Thank goodness. They do have a dreadful bacterial skin infection tho. Later they were taken to a dog grooming salon where they were bathed in an anti-bacterial veterinary shampoo and again in a special gel to help rid the skin of bacteria. This must be done twice a week for a month. They are on antibiotics for their terrible skin and also they've been wormed and this morning, apparently, they passed loads of tapeworms (hardly surprising with all the fleas on them as the flea, of course, is the host for the tapeworm). Thankyou so much to the ladies who coped with getting these two dogs out of this hell and into the vet and later to the grooming salon and then back to one of their homes.

The story of these two dogs is that they used to belong to a hunter who gave or sold them to a woman in the area. She wasn't cruel as such (meaning they weren't beaten and they were fed) - although I would definitely consider these conditions to be cruel. NO question. She recently died and her son wanted the dogs OUT. Either he would kill them or send them to another hunter, who apparently keeps his dogs in even worse condition. The mind boggles. There are four other dogs left behind but living inside the house. Apparently in dreadful conditions too but at the moment, he won't allow them to be removed. I've been involved in these situations before and whilst there are veterinary authorities, too often the attitude is, 'Oh they are country dogs' and so it's OK. It's NOT.

The brown and white hound is an Ariégeois and is called Maya. The black one is called Miss and I'm told is a Basset Bleu de Gascogne but I think her legs look too long to be truly that breed? I may change their names just slightly - so they recognise the sound but so they have a new name for their new lives here.

Of course I'm a little worried. I've been told to walk them in the garden on lead as they don't understand the concept of space and would freak out. I'm also told they are very strong and I have an arthritic neck and shoulder (caused by an untreated whiplash injury forever ago) - so I worry I can cope with strong dogs on a lead - but then someone sensible said 'Worry is interest paid on trouble before it becomes due.' Try telling that to a worrier... In fact, I plan on walking the dogs around the whole garden tomorrow and hopefully it won't be long before they can go out off-lead and be FREE.

I had a call about an hour ago and they are en route. Should be here mid-afternoon. Come back tomorrow and I'll show you photographs of them living in a bit more comfort than before... I've been cleaning for them all morning although this place at its worst would be the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo for these poor dogs.
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