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2017 Christmas Newsletter
Topic Started: Dec 12 2017, 09:15 PM (239 Views)
Poplar Farm
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From Rachel, Dave and all the team here at PFK

And now, on with the dog news……………………

Rehoming this year has not been great as we have very few dogs in that are easy enough to be suited to a normal home. We did think we might have struck lucky when a friend of one of our volunteers was interested in adopting Loco but in the end it didn't work out as he was just too big and powerful for the gentleman's girlfriend to manage.

Most of our rehomes this year have been our new intakes, starting with Jack, a 5 year old Staffie x Patterdale who came to us at the request of one of our less local volunteers. He had come into her local vets to be put to sleep due to his owners being unable to manage him. The vets declined to pts and one of the vet nurses took him home to foster short term but when she was unable to keep him any longer we were asked to take him. Jack proved to be a lovely lad apart from his tendency to growl at people but everyone here quickly fell in love with him. He made the biggest impact on one of our newer volunteers, Sadie, who eventually decided to foster him with a view to adopting later in the year (after her wedding). Once the wedding and honeymoon were over, the first thing Sadie and her new hubby did was to officially adopt Jack. I did say that they had no choice. When one of your wedding presents is a portrait of your “foster” dog you can't really not adopt him, can you?

Another intake was Bradley who came from the same vets as Jack. A few weeks into Jack's stay we got a call from a vet nurse at the practice Jack had come from asking how he was settling in and what was happening with him. I was delighted at that point to be able to tell her that he was due to be going into foster with Sadie within the next few days. She said it was great news and she would pass the info on to the nurse who had fostered him. She then said that there was a second reason for her call. They had just had a 5 year old Cairn terrier cross brought in to be put to sleep due to his owners being unable to manage his behaviour. They didn't think he deserved to die and wondered if we might be able to help. Having just told her that we had Jack going out in a couple of days, it was quite clear that we would soon have a space so I said that we would be able to take him. Bradley duly arrived, a very cute but rather nervous little lad. His medical history revealed a very sad back story which probably had a great deal to do with his nervousness and other issues. His first owner had been sadly killed in an accident whilst out on a bicycle with Bradley in a carry basket on the front. His second home managed him for quite a while but due to personal circumstances they reached a point where they were unable to deal with his issues any longer and took him to the vets to be put to sleep. Bradley was a dog who, based on his size and looks, would have been very easy to rehome but it was clear that he had another side to him and I felt that we needed a proper assessment of his less desirable traits before we put him up for rehoming so I asked one of our volunteers who was experienced with small dogs with issues if she would consider fostering him for assessment. Her previous elderly dog had recently passed away so Sarah agreed to take Bradley home and see how she got on. Bradley settled in well and both Sarah and her husband fell in love with him. He did, indeed, have a number of issues and an attitude that would make him difficult to manage in many homes but Sarah and Lewis have worked hard with Bradley, taking him to training classes and ironing out his rough edges and I am delighted that he now has a permanent, forever home with them.

We next got an urgent request from one of our local vets. The senior nurse there is the sister of one of our volunteers and she called me one day to see if we could help a dog that they had had brought in to be put to sleep. Diesel was a 14 month old German Shepherd x Malamute who was brought in by his owners, who had only had him a fortnight, because he had bitten their granddaughter. Further investigation by the vets revealed that the bite had not been serious enough to break the skin and that the granddaughter was not a young child. We all felt that the dog deserved a chance so we agreed to take him. Dave went to collect him and arrived back here with the most adorable teddy bear of a dog. Whilst waiting for Dave to collect, the vet nurse had been trying to trace Diesel's history and had discovered that this poor dog had already, in his short life, had FIVE different homes since leaving his breeders. Clearly he had been passed from one unsuitable home to another, being taken on by people who were attracted by his gorgeous teddy bear looks but who just had no idea what they were taking on. Once here it was clear that he had no manners and had had very little training. He pulled like a train, could easily jump a five foot fence and took absolutely no notice of any commands. He also had a tendency to bark at every dog he saw and to growl at any person who came near him apart from me or Dave. Dave took charge of his training and we made arrangements to get him neutered as soon as we could which turned out to be a bit of a memorable event for everyone concerned. It all started off well with everybody admiring Diesel who behaved fine up until the time that the vet stuck a needle into him for the pre med. At that point Diesel decided he wasn't having that and tried to eat the vet. Dave was able to restrain him and luckily Diesel didn't try and turn his displeasure onto Dave and eventually the premed was done and once he was safely asleep Dave left him to have the surgery. He is now much better behaved and a fair bit calmer, goes out happily with a large gang of other dogs and no longer hates everybody he sees. He is, however, still a dog that will clearly be a bit of a liability in a normal home so for the moment his training continues and it will be interesting to see how his next vet trip for his booster in March goes but at least for that one Dave will already be prepared for the possibility of trouble.

Buddy arrived in September after we received this email appeal :-
“I have a puppy that has fits ( about 1-3 a day) they only last about 10-30 seconds and is not able to see very well unfortunately I am no longer able to look after him as I work long hours and don't think it's fair as he loves company and needs someone to be around when he has a fit. He is a maltipoo boy and is very loving and friendly. He loves cuddles and to play he is very good with other animals and loves being around them. I was looking on the Internet and saw about you guys and your fantastic reviews and all your recommendations and was wondering if you would take him. I would help with donations to your company as much as I can. I just want him to go to somewhere that will have time for him and be around a lot more so that he gets all the love and attention that he deserves. Please let me know if you can help.”
Seizures are something that we have plenty of experience with and this little lad clearly needed help so we agreed to take him as soon as we could get him here. We have dealt with a pup with seizures before and also a blind dog so I thought we were prepared for what we would be dealing with but I was wrong. This poor little dog was very clearly in a bad way and his neurological functions were obviously being badly affected by the extreme frequency of the seizures he was having. To be honest, at that point I didn't think he would see Christmas no matter what we did but we had to give it a try so the following day I took him to see our vet and we got him started straight away on Epiphen for the seizures. The vet also recommended giving him vivitonin just to try and give his brain function a boost and also vitamin B tablets as vitamin deficiency can sometimes be connected with seizures. For the first few days he was on quite a high dose of Epiphen as the tablets only come in two sizes and the smaller one was still a bit much for his weight but it was just a loading dose whilst we were waiting for the vets to get us some liquid Epiphen so we could get the dose right for his weight. Miraculously though, after a few seizures on the day of his arrival, once he started the tablets we saw no more seizures for over a week but as he settled onto the slightly lower dose of medication when the liquid arrived we noticed a few seizures starting to creep back. I went back and spoke to the vets and we agreed that as long as he wasn't showing any adverse side effects or being overly sedated by the higher dose then we could go back to that as it had been controlling the seizures fairly well. Buddy continues on that level of medication and although he still has seizures they are very brief and he doesn't seem to notice them as, luckily, he seems to recover instantly once the seizure passes so we don't get any of the post ictal pacing. Apart from the seizures he seems like a happy little chap. He settles nicely in a large crate in the house to keep him safe from the other dogs and enjoys pottering round in the garden where he seems to have little trouble finding his way around and he certainly knows where the door is to come back in. He really enjoys flinging his soft toys around, particularly his favourite star shaped one which is now looking decidedly the worse for wear. Also, in the search for (non rawhide) grain free, natural and preservative free chew treats suitable for an epileptic puppy, one of our kind volunteers treated him to a pack of dried sweet potato chews which I had never seen or heard of before. His initial response was complete lack of interest but he soon changed his mind and now loves tucking into one of them at bed time. I still suspect that his life expectancy is not anywhere near what it would have been if he didn't have the issues but we will continue to do our best to keep him as happy and healthy as possible for as long as we can.

The next request was from our own vets and was a very sad case. One of their regular clients, an elderly lady, had been taken into hospital and her dog put into boarding kennels. Our vets got a phone call from the lady's son saying that she was sadly not going to be coming home and asking for suggestions regarding what could be done for the dog as the son was not able to have the dog himself. Denise at the vets called me and once I heard the story I said we would fit the dog in here.
Patch was a 10 year old Lab cross, fit, active and very loving. It turned out that one of our friends who is a dog walker actually walked him for a short while so she was able to confirm what a super lad he was. For a little while we hoped that Patch would be able to go and live with a lovely friend of ours and her other dogs but before we could sort it out, one of her dogs was diagnosed with a spinal problem which meant that it was not suitable to introduce a lively, ball obsessed Lab x when her dog was needing to stay calm and quiet. Luckily though, another of our volunteers was able to introduce us to a lady she knew who was looking for a new dog. She came and met Patch and it was love at first sight so Patch now has a super new home.

At around the same time as we took in Patch we also got a request for help from a lady involved with a rescue for Greek dogs. As this lady was a friend of a friend who had done quite a bit of work here at various times we felt that we would like to try and help her out so we offered her our last space. She needed help with a dog who had come over from Greece and been placed in a home in Essex. Sadly it had turned out that the dog, lovely and sweet though she was, was very nervous of visitors to the home and tended to bark at them. The new owner had health issues that meant that visitors were a frequent occurrence and the issues the dog had were having a detrimental effect on her health so reluctantly she had made the decision that a new home had to be found. Rachel turned out to be a very sweet little dog who bonded immediately with me and settled in quickly. We were hopeful that needing to meet a different volunteer each day would help convince her that strangers were not something to fear. Each day I would arm the volunteer with some nice tasty treats before letting Rachel out to meet them. The first couple of days it took a few minutes and a little bit of barking before she would feel brave enough to approach and take the treats but after a couple of days she got the idea and was soon happy to approach each new person. As she got to meet people for the second or third time she very quickly showed what an adorable and friendly little thing she really was. One thing that we also did was change her name. Normally we don't change names but for obvious reasons it was very confusing and, since she didn't really seem to answer to it anyway, Rachel quickly became Cleo. A couple of weeks after Cleo arrived I was contacted by a lovely sounding, semi retired, gentleman who had been given my number by one of our foster carers as he was looking for a new dog. After a bit of a chat I told him that the only dog we had that seemed to fit his criteria was Cleo but I explained her history and told him that she wasn't really ready to go on the rehoming list at that time as she needed more work on her socialising. He went away to think about her and a few days later he called me back and asked if he could come and meet her. Everything he had told me about himself and the home he could offer sounded like it would be a good match for Cleo so I arranged a visit for him. That first visit we spent almost an hour just sitting down in the yard letting Cleo come and make friends. Jim was very smitten with Cleo and she also seemed to have taken to him very well on that visit. Jim understood my feeling that Cleo would need several visits and he was more than happy to do that so over the next couple of weeks Jim made a further five visits to meet Cleo, working up to taking her out for walks and very quickly Cleo was greeting him like a long lost friend on each visit. Whilst this was going on we also arranged the home check and Jim rearranged his work schedule to allow him to take two months off completely so that he had plenty of time to get Cleo settled in. Cleo has now gone off to her new home with another name change to Maiya and she is settling in very well as this photo received 24 hours after arrival shows.

Cleo going to her new home should have been almost the end of the comings and goings for this year but instead turned into the start of a really crazy 24 hours. A week before Cleo left I took a phone call from a gentleman who needed to rehome his seven year old Labrador as he was moving to accommodation that didn't allow pets.
Harry is a very handsome black Labrador with no issues and as Cleo was booked to go out I said we would be able to take Harry in the day after Cleo left and we duly arranged for him to arrive. However, in between Cleo leaving and Harry arriving, Dave took a call from a young lady in a real panic as she and her partner were having to leave their current residence that day, completely out of the blue. They had managed to arrange somewhere for them to stay but they were unable to take their dog, a 2 year old Collie. Dave was obviously suffering with an attack of Christmas goodwill to all men as he agreed that we would take the dog in as soon as they could get him to us. It turned out that they didn't have their own transport so went away to arrange a lift. A short while later they called back saying that they had managed to arrange a lift but was it OK if they arrived at 10pm that evening. So there I was at 10pm meeting a very lively, very handsome and VERY friendly Border Collie called Jack and signing paperwork with two very upset owners. That, plus Harry's planned arrival at 11am the next morning, meant that we had one dog out and two in between 2pm Friday and 11am Saturday. Not something I would like to repeat too often.

I am sad to report that Spanky's nine lives finally ran out and a sudden and rapid deterioration in his condition meant that we had to let him go to Rainbow Bridge. It is a much quieter place round the kennels without his happy barking.

Houdi, our Saluki Lurcher is really showing all of his 14+ years these days and a little while ago gave us a real scare which resulted in an emergency dash to the vets. Luckily our vet is great and was happy to try for us so after various assorted injections Houdi was hooked up to a drip and had fluids. By the next morning the combination of fluids, steroids and antibiotics had picked him up quite a bit and he has continued to toddle along since, slow and steady but still going.

Marley, the elderly mastiff that we took in last year gave us quite a scare in March. He was fine in the morning but when I went down at tea time he didn't get up when I got his kennel mates out. I went into the kennel and he did eventually get up but totally ignored his tea and wandered slowly out into the yard. Out there he was just standing around with his tail tucked under and then he went to poo but nothing happened. I noticed that he was drooling a little and then he tucked his tummy up and had some sort of abdominal contraction. I was concerned it might be the start of bloat so I called Dave to come and have a look. Marley again squatted to poo but only managed a tiny bit of runny stuff. He was clearly very unhappy so we rang the emergency vet and took him over. Luckily it was Andrei, our regular Chatteris vet, who was on call. He examined Marley who kindly demonstrated his tummy problem by producing a little bit of very runny poo in the waiting room, followed up a short while later by vomiting some bile. He was running a temperature of 40.4 and was also showing traces of blood in his urine. His legs were a little swollen so there was some concern about heart failure but on examination Andrei felt his heart was ok for a dog of his age and size. For the record he weighed in at 43kg. The initial diagnosis was for pancreatitis and I left Marley at the vets to be admitted and put on a drip to administer antibiotics, pain killers, anti sickness meds and gastric protectors. The plan was for them to run blood tests, initially just the one to test for pancreatitis but if that is clear then they were going to run full bloods to look for other problems. Blood tests ruled out pancreatitis and by the morning he was no better so they did an ultrasound which showed an enlarged prostate full of cysts. The initial prognosis was not good and after 48 hours in the vets on fluids, pain relief and two different sorts of antibiotics, Marley was still not responding and still refusing to eat. In desperation I cooked some sausage and went to the vets on the Sunday morning armed with the sausage, cooked chicken and ham in an attempt to get him to eat something but he still refused to even look at it. It was clear that we couldn't continue to leave him like that and it seemed that the only option would be to let him go to Rainbow Bridge. In a last ditch effort I convinced the vet nurse to let me bring him home, just in case being back in familiar surroundings with his friends would get him to eat. I agreed that if he was no better I would take him back the next morning and let him go but I needed to try.

We packed up all his medication, injections as he wouldn't take tablets, and loaded him into the car. That first afternoon he still wouldn't eat but by at bedtime I got him to eat half a tin of meat and he had more at breakfast so I phoned the vet nurse to tell her the news. She was delighted and admitted that she had been dreading my call as she had really thought it was hopeless but Marley had other ideas. It was a slow recovery, lots and lots of expensive antibiotics and a great deal of TLC but in the end he was well enough to have the castration to help deal with the prostate problem and he has continued to do well ever since. He moved from the kennels to a recovery kennel in the house to get over his surgery and has now made the move to a fully fledged house dog. His bill came to £1,149.74 but worth every penny.

It has been a very sad year all round this year as we have lost a number of our older residents. Henry, Poppette and Joe, our Labradors, as well as our Foxhound sisters Annie and Katie and the German Shepherds Thunder and Cookie. Of all of them, Cookie was the biggest shock as she passed away very suddenly at home literally three hours after being seen by the vet on one of our home visit sessions.

We have also learned of the passing of quite a number of our old friends which is sad as we remember them all coming through our care and going off to their new homes.

Other news
Dave managed over the course of the summer to install the new solid fuel central heating boiler in the house which means that the dogs in the house (and us of course) are now lovely and warm but it also means another fire to keep supplied with wood so Dave and I both seem to be spending a large part of our days filling and moving wood bins and feeding fires but it's worth it.

One interesting thing that happened recently was the arrival of an escaped Harris Hawk who decided that he liked it round here and stayed around for over a week. He had escaped from his owner in Sutton in the middle of August but didn't show up round here until November. For a couple of days I kept hearing bells, like sleigh bells, at odd times during the day and night and couldn't figure out why until I had a flash of inspiration and connected it with the missing bird. Once I had made the connection, it wasn't long before I was able to follow the sound the next time I heard it and eventually spot this magnificent bird sitting in our conifers. Over the next day or so I started to see him more frequently and by the third day he had got nicely into the habit of perching in various trees around the house and yard with a particular favourite being one of the willows over the top of the chicken run. This caused much consternation at first, both for me and for the chickens who were not at all convinced that they liked their new visitor. I had quite a fright at one point when I went to feed the chickens and saw a Harris Hawk sitting on the ground at the end of the chicken run.! Once I had got over my initial fear that he would take the chickens, it was wonderful to be able to watch such a stunning bird at such close quarters, particularly as he had no fear of people or dogs and was happy for you to get relatively close to him. It got to be quite a routine, listening out for his bells and looking to see where he was sitting and I do miss him now that he appears to have moved on again.

And finally
I will once again close this newsletter with my usual hope that we can continue into 2018 with the same wonderful support that we have received in the past and that, despite advancing age and our increasing need to reduce the number of dogs and the workload here, Dave and I along with our wonderful volunteers and supporters can make sure that Poplar Farm Rescue Kennels can continue to do its best to make a small difference in the work of Dog Rescue
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