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The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary

This is the post excerpt.

I’m a new blogger. I hope to use this blog to inform dog lovers of our mission here at The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary. This picture is Christy Vaughn Eicher V. She is the reason we rescue Dachshunds.

You can donate to the sanctuary or purchase our book, “The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary” by mail or money order to The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary, PO Box 826, Gardendale, TX 79758. Or you can use your credit or debit card with the link on this page. The E-book is also available now and you can purchase it through Amazon with the link on this page.

If you prefer you can donate directly to our  vet account at: A-Z Vet Clinic, 8535 W. Hwy 158, Midland, TX 79707, 432-520-8387

The book is $14.95 + $5.00 shipping and packaging. E-Book is $9.95.

Snakes in the Grass

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Living in the desert of west Texas forces a person to be aware of the possibilities of rattlesnakes in the area. It took me 28 years after we moved to our country home to find the first one and only a week to find the second. I stepped on the first one in the dark one night and thank goodness he was as afraid of me as I was of him. The second one was discovered in our garage by my German Shepherd, Jake. One frantic squeal from me when I heard the rattle of his tail brought Jake immediately to my side. Luckily Rick was able to dispatch both snakes without much problem but the impression on my brain was deeply ingrained.

This time of year when the weather is turning warmer and the plants are all beginning to blossom makes us all want to be outside more. It also forces those of us who live in an area known to have dangerous snakes to be alert to the danger. They are coming out of their dens looking for food during the spring time and our canines babies can be especially vulnerable to the risk.

Our dogs are naturally curious and want to dig around rocks or sticks and explore the deep grass that no doubt carries a multitude of information for them about who has been in the area. Unfortunately, that puts them right in the path of a snake looking to find food or just sun itself on warm days. Having your baby on a leash is even more important this time of year so you can gain control of them quickly.

A vaccine that can be a life saver for our dogs is now available, and your vet can recommend when it is wise to use this vaccine to protect your dogs. The vaccine is most powerful about four weeks after the shot so timing can be very important. The effects of the vaccine can wear off after about six months so that is also a consideration for those of us who live in areas where the weather is warm for longer than a six month period. Dogs that are ill or have had previous reactions to vaccines might not be candidates for this vaccine. It is important to note that this vaccine does not make your dog completely safe from snake bites. It does reduce the pain and swelling they experience but does not change the fact that they need immediate vet care.

Other precautions that will help protect you and your babies is to keep the areas where you walk your dog or where your dog generally roams free of debris and brush. Wood piles are especially dangerous as they harbor rodents that draw in the snakes looking for food. Keeping grass cut is also very important as it minimizes the ability of the snake to remain hidden, and they do want to be hidden. It is also important to note that rattlesnakes are excellent swimmers and may appear in the water as a floating stick. So if your baby likes to fetch sticks thrown into a pond this is a risky time of year for that. In our area where rainfall is minimal this danger is less likely to affect our babies. But because water can be scarce, the likelihood that snakes will wander closer to humans is increased. The year I encountered two snakes was an exceptionally dry year for us and those snakes were no doubt looking for water.

If you do encounter a snake the best advice is to control your dog and back out of the area as quickly as possible. DUH!! Jake and I did not need to do any research to know that was the best plan. One thing important to mention here is that you need to watch your step backing away as you may encounter yet another snake that is close by. Be advised that rattlesnakes can strike silently so you may not receive a warning.

Hopefully, you have had the forethought to know which veterinarians in your area will be stocked with antivenin. If your dog gets bit in the neck area you should remove the collar or harness because swelling of the area is likely. Do not try to apply a tourniquet and DO NOT try to suck the venom out of the wound. Keep your dog as calm as possible and contact the vet while on the way to the clinic to prepare them for your arrival.

The most common victims of snakebites are young males who feel they can “handle” a snake with no problem. False “bravado” is dangerous! In our area the most common animal victims are outdoor cats. They seek out the rodents that are the favored food source for snakes. This puts them in closer proximity to the peril. The year I encountered two snakes we lost several barn cats to what we now fear might have been snake bites. That same spring our son and daughter-in-law who were living close by had a large rattle snake on their lighted porch one night. My daughter recommended they get a donkey as they can and will run snakes off your property. My son’s reaction was classic when he said, “Yes but then we are exchanging a snake problem for a donkey problem!”  My daughter replied, “Pick your poison, Bubba.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legacy Fund

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This picture was taken in 2002 about a year after the sanctuary opened. Rick and I felt like at the time that we could continue rescuing senior and special needs Dachshunds forever. But as we get a little older each year we have realized that there will come a time when we are unable to continue the work that we cherish so deeply. We hope that time is still a long way off, but life can be so very fragile.

Recently we have been over-run with babies that have come to us because their families could no longer care for them because of health needs or the passing of their primary care-giver. I wrote a blog several weeks ago about this very subject. While that blog helped us understand the need for providing for our babies once we are gone, it was aimed more at the families that support us. Our thoughts have now turned inward and we feel it is our obligation to begin to make plans for our sanctuary after Rick and I can no longer care for our babies. Now that is a daunting thought! Anyone know someone who can take in 40+ senior and special needs babies? We certainly don’t. And what a shame it would be for all of our work over the past 16 years to just end when something prevents us from going on. After much thought and discussion with each other and our Board of Directors we have come up with a plan that we hope can insure the legacy of The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary.

The first thought we had was finances. How can we possibly provide for our babies after we can no longer promote our sanctuary? Several times over the years we have had people discuss with us the possibility of leaving part of their estates to the sanctuary. Rick and I are very seriously considering rewriting our own wills to leave our land and home to the sanctuary. We believe this will require a Trust Fund of some kind to be set up that can manage the property we, and perhaps others, will decide to leave to the sanctuary. So we are seeking out the advice of an attorney to educate ourselves about the possibilities of making this happen. We want this Trust to be able to employ a director that would carry on the work that we began so many years ago.

But there remains one more big problem that must be addressed. Our home, which houses the sanctuary now can only hold so many babies. We have been over our limit of 40 dogs for several months and it does not appear as if we are going to be able to get back down below that limit. Babies just keep popping into our lives that need a secure home. For each senior, special needs, or bonded pair of babies we take in our number of permanent residents rises. Certainly some of these dogs can be adopted out to good homes. And we see a much greater interest in adopting these babies than what we saw in 2001 when we first began to rescue. But there are still many that garner no attention in the realm of adoption. Bonded pairs of seniors, seniors over 12 -13 years of age with major health issues, and hospice care dogs are not going to be adopted. What we feel we need to do is expand our capacity.

Our home sits on 18 acres of land that we own outright. So a place for an expanded facility is not a problem. What we need now is the funds to build another building with our sanctuary philosophies in mind. The major philosophy that we built our sanctuary on is the pack therapy theory. We believe our dogs live longer and happier lives if they not only have all the care and love they need from us, but from each other. So any new facility would have to be built with that in mind.

The sanctuary would also benefit from several other ideas that we have for our new facility. We need more isolation areas for new babies, especially the ones that come directly from a shelter or off of the streets. Our fragile seniors must be protected from every possibility of health risks that new dogs can bring. That starts at the simple problem of pests both external and internal, and expands to include things like kennel cough and parvo. We are also reaching a crisis of storage. The extremely generous following of the sanctuary has provided us with blankets, beds, toys, collars, and treats that are wonderful. But storing these supplies in the home we have lived in for 33 years is an ever increasing challenge.

A separate facility would also enable us to make more use of volunteers who want to come and help care for the dogs. We could have bigger and better Open House events, adoption events, and visitation from the many people who would truly love to be able to come and sit with or play with the dogs. This would definitely extend the time that Rick and I will be able to continue to oversee the everyday needs of the sanctuary.

Rick and I see the future of the sanctuary as an ever expanding refuge for the dogs that need our care. With a new, larger facility we would not have to say no so often to babies that may not have a lot of other options. Currently we are forced each week to pick and choose the babies that we can take in. What a heartbreaking situation that is! We would be able to assure the many people that have come to us hoping to secure a place for their dogs in a time of need that there is room for them at our sanctuary. We would, in fact, be able to secure the legacy of the sanctuary that we have devoted the last 16 years of our lives too.

We know that many of you love the fact that seniors dumped on the streets or in shelters can have a wonderful home again. We know that each week we hear from several followers who are hoping we have a spot for the baby in their sight that needs us desperately. We know that what we have built is worth preserving and that we cannot do it on our own.

So we have set up a savings account for the Legacy Fund. That savings will grow over time and eventually will have enough money to lay the foundation of our new facility. It will continue to grow until each and every part of the new Promised Land will be funded. I am going to seek out grants from PetSmart, Petco, and any other foundation or organization that might be interested in helping us make this new facility a reality. We hope that each of you will help us make this dream for the future of The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary come true. Please continue to donate to the care of our babies, and maybe you could add just a little each time and designate that for the Legacy Fund. Together we can make this happen!

There is a donation button on this page that can be used to donate to our everyday needs. It just takes another minute to indicate on that donation that a portion of your money should go into the Legacy Fund. I will set up a Legacy Fund counter on our Facebook page so anyone that is interested can tract the progress of that fund. Rick and I will begin to seek out estimates on the costs involved in building the facility that we dream of.

 

 

 

 

Canine PTSD

Over the years Rick and I have rescued many dogs that suffer with Canine PTSD. I found a quote from Dr. David J. Hellerstein that I feel verifies what we have discovered about how the brain works in dogs that have suffered abuse, neglect, or abandonment. He said, “PTSD, depression, and other psychiatric disorders cause what is called ‘negative neuroplasticity,’ including activation of abnormal circuitry in the brain, and strengthening of those circuits over time. They also cause shrinkage…and decreased connectivity between parts of the brain.” He believes that stress changes the brain physically in humans and in dogs.

Our experience tells us that post traumatic stress disorder is more common in dogs that people think. It doesn’t have to be caused from violence or physical abuse. We rescued a long haired beauty years ago that lost her front leg to a recliner incident. Her owners loved her dearly for the fourteen years of her life before the accident. But after the accident her entire demeanor changed. And after months of trying to help her recover emotionally, they gave her up. Perhaps watching her sadness and inability to interact with the family after having one of her front legs amputated was more than they could bear. Or perhaps they felt she carried a grudge against them. The sad truth of her story is that she suffered damage that her family did not understand how to deal with.

Many of us have heard the stories about soldiers that suffer from PTSD. Their symptoms can vary as much as their pasts. The one common ingredient seems to be fear. That fear manifests itself in many different forms in dogs as well. When a dog has suffered stress from abuse, abandonment, or even a one time incident, their reactions to that trauma can present a wide spectrum of behavior.

A perfect example of the differing reactions to the same trauma has been part of our lives for the last few weeks. On Christmas Eve we took in a family of Chihuahuas. Their “Mom” had to be placed in assisted living because of Alzheimer’s. Each of these dogs dealt with the stress of losing their mom and their home in very different ways. Dani (5 year old female) did not show any signs of trauma. She wanted to be loved and held from the first minute they arrived, and she could lay down in her bed and sleep like a baby. Howie (3 year old male) sought out attention to the point that he had a difficult time relaxing at all. And Rowdy (3 year old male) became increasingly aggressive over the first week after they arrived. They all suffered exactly the same stress factors, and they all reacted in different ways.

Because of this difference in reactions it can be difficult to know how to help these babies overcome their PTSD. Rick has always felt and my research seems to confirm that significant progress can be made by reprogramming the dog’s brain with affection and play. Sometimes that is obviously easier to do than others, but the goal is always positive, consistent interaction with the dog.

One of our recent puppy-mill rescues not only did not want us to touch him, he didn’t want any of our pack around him either. Most emotionally damaged dogs in our experience have drawn comfort from our pack. We count on that happening, and it is the basis of the success of our sanctuary. But this one baby was not having it. Rick spent quite a bit of time each day just getting this dog into a position where he could be picked up without trying to escape. But Rick was persistent, and today after two months here with us that baby seeks out attention from Rick and cuddles in the beds with several of our other babies.

The actual physical touch helps to reprogram the damaged circuits that Dr. Hellerstein was speaking about. Depending on the depth of the emotional damage, dogs can sometimes come out of their “depression” on their own. But in our experience, the benefits of the chemicals released in a dog’s brain when they are being loved on or played with far exceeds the likelihood that a dog will eventually get over it on their own.

A few times over the years we have needed the help of medication to help ease a dog’s mental pain long enough for us to connect to them physically. Rowdy from the group of Chihuahuas falls into that category. Because his aggression continued to escalate over the first days of his stay here with us, we were unable to handle him without causing him extreme distress, or getting bit ourselves. After only a few days on the meds we were able to hold Rowdy for short periods of time. Now after two weeks on the meds, he wants to be held. We are hopeful that once Rowdy settles in to his forever home his need for the meds will reduce.

We have had dogs that seemed exceptionally damaged come out of their shells very quickly, and we have had some that required months of physical love to begin to enjoy their lives again. And sadly we have had a few that nothing could repair. So when I am asked for advice on how to handle a shy, fearful dog I encourage people to take the steps necessary to get that baby in their laps. Scratch them, massage them, touch them everyday even if you have to corner them to pick them up. If this fails for a period of time then seek out medical help.

Lee Charles Kelley, a noted dog trainer in New York has written several wonderful articles on exercises, play activities, and behavior modification techniques that can help with the extreme cases. There are answers to the behavior issues our dogs suffer from, and we as owners and care givers should seek out those answers. We can be the therapists our babies need.

 

 

 

When I’m Gone – Feed Jake

A few days ago I received word from a family who had just made the heartbreaking decision to put their grandmother in an assisted care facility. The grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and is not capable of caring for herself or her beloved pets any longer. These four Chihuahuas belonged to her, and no one in her family was in a position to care for them. So this family was also faced with the gut wrenching decision of what to do with the dogs that belonged to their grandmother.

Rick and I decided to take these babies into our sanctuary. These four little ones had few choices and very little chance of finding a loving home. So Rick and I are now in a position to do the impossible. Placing all four of these dogs in one home is not a realistic goal for their future. Goldie, the oldest of these four is 19 years old. She will remain here at the sanctuary as a permanent resident. The other three are between 3 and 5 years old and could be easily placed in forever homes one at a time.

But what about the bonds they share with each other? They have already lost the “Mom” and the home they knew. The prospect of them losing each other now is tragic. But bonded dogs are extremely difficult to place. We have had several bonded pairs up for adoption this year, and we have received NO applications for them. Also among our now permanent residents is a threesome of Dachshunds that came from the same home. I didn’t even advertise for them to be adopted together because I knew there was no chance of that happening. Now they are bonded to us and our pack, and we could not consider adopting them out individually.

So where does that leave us where these Chihuahuas are concerned? We basically have two choices. We can keep them here in the hopes that someday someone will be interested in having all three join their families. In the mean time, they get more and more attached to us, the other residents here at the sanctuary, and this new life that will be wonderful but difficult to accept in the short term. If it were to take many months or even years to find that home, how could we possibly put these dogs, our other dogs, and ourselves through that trauma? The answer to that question is we would not allow that to happen. The second choice is that we break them up now, find wonderful homes for them, and know that we did our best for them.

The sanctuary, obviously, only has so much room. Rick and I only have so much time and resources. If these babies stay here with us, the room we would have for the next senior or special needs dog is no longer available. Because we take the dogs that even most rescues can’t take, that means those future babies would be left without any chance of placement. Spliting this family up now, before they become bonded to us and our other residents is definitely the better (although not perfect) choice for us to make. Sometimes our goal of preventing any further heartbreak for the dogs that end up in our care, is impossible.

Many of our followers have begged us to keep these babies together. They know that is our policy and our goal for bonded dogs. But when the whole situation is spread out in front of them, would they still make the choice to keep these dogs together? Would they allow a blind, senior Dachshund in a shelter to be put down because we made the choice to keep these babies together no matter what? Rick and I don’t think anyone would make that choice, and we are forced to face the facts ourselves. These babies will have to be adopted out one at a time. They will no doubt suffer in the short-term from the loss of their siblings, but they will be in wonderful, loving homes. And the senior or special needs dogs that need the sanctuary in the future will have a place to live out their lives in comfort and love. That excruciating decision has now been made. This is a first for our sanctuary but will most likely not be the last time we have to face that decision.

Rick and I are working hard to insure a permanent place for all of our residents here at the sanctuary in the event we are unable to care for them ourselves. This has become priority one for us, and we owe it to our dogs to make the sanctuary function without us should the need arise. We would like to encourage everyone that reads this blog to reach out to your family and friends. Make arrangements for the animals in your care should you become unable to continue that care. Talk with your grandparents, your parents, and your children to work out plans for the babies that have enjoyed your love or the love of your senior family members. Make the plans and the hard decisions ahead of time so rescuers and sanctuaries don’t have to make those decisions when the need arises.

Find someone you trust to feed Jake – when you can no longer fulfill your obligation to do so.

 

 

Giant Leaps for Canine Care

docjessOver the last few days we have all spent lots of time with family and friends, talking about the things that we are thankful for. Rick and I are thankful for the many blessings we have received from above. We are, of course, thankful for each other and our combined devotion to the mission here at the sanctuary. Our families and our health are also very high on that list, along with the many people that continue to help us keep our dream alive. We are forever in debt to Doc Jess for her devotion to our babies. And certainly not least of all the things we give thanks for are our babies, our entertaining companions, our dogs.

So I was thinking about what our dogs have to be thankful for. They show their thanks to us each day with lots of kisses, tail wags, and playful activities. Although they don’t realize it, I believe if they could tell us what is in their minds they would be thankful for Doc Jess, as well as everyone that helps pay the bills to keep them safe.

That brought me to what Doc Jess must be thankful for concerning her passion to save animals of all species. I have done a little research into the advancements she now has access to that help her do more for all the critters she cares for.

I personally have witnessed, and have heard Doc Jess talk about the huge progress in pain management for animals. At one time several decades ago it was believed by many that pain management was unproductive for dogs. It was thought that if they didn’t feel pain they would move around too soon, and that would hinder their recovery rather than enhance it. We now know that dogs feel pain just like humans, and relief from that pain is very important to their care. The many medicines (Ketoprofen and Tramadol) that are now available in that arena are first on my list of advancements in veterinary care.

MRI technology was developed to benefit the medical care of humans but has proven extremely beneficial in the diagnosis and care of dogs with neurological, cardiac, orthopedic, and soft tissue issues. One obvious drawback to the use of MRIs in veterinarian practice is the fact that the patient must remain very still during the procedure thus requiring anesthesia. An additional problem is the tremendous expense incurred for an MRI. Ultrasounds, while not as powerful, are helping to fill the gap when MRI technology is unavailable or unaffordable. The potential for ultrasounds to become universally adopted by vets is a very exciting move forward in the care of our dogs.

Another exciting adaptation from human health science to animal care is the use of Laparoscopic procedures. This process involves a camera and light to be inserted in the thoracic cavity to allow the veterinarian to see inside the animal’s body. This is obviously less invasive than exploratory surgeries, and provides more specific information for the diagnosis and treatment than is possible with x-rays.

Stem cell therapy, cancer vaccines (for melanoma), laser therapy, pet supplements, probiotics, Palladia (new drug for treatment of mass cell tumors), water therapy, herbal therapy, arthritis medicines, rattlesnake vaccine, prosthetics, joint replacements, acupuncture, and even aroma therapy provide many new exciting avenues of advanced care for our babies.

The benefits of all of these evolutionary improvements flow through our trusted veterinarians to our animals, and to all of us who love our pets like family. Therefore, the lists of things we all have to be thankful for is longer than I realized a few days ago!

Apples and Oranges?

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Apples and oranges are the same in that they are both fruit. Yet they are very different when you get under the skin. The same analogy applies to rescue groups and sanctuaries. The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary is a little bit apple, but mostly orange. By that I mean we are in fact rescuers, but we are more of a sanctuary than anything else. To explain what I mean I need to go back a bit.

In the beginning of the sanctuary in July of 2001 we did a lot of rescuing, and we adopted out a lot of dogs. We worked with different rescue groups across the state of Texas, and they helped us place our young, healthy, adoptable rescues. In turn we helped them out by taking their senior and special needs dogs that were unlikely to be adopted. We also had a large website with adoptable dogs presented to the public for adoption. This process continued for four years.

In August of 2005 when I became ill, we had to discontinue our official rescue status. We took down our beautiful web site and stopped taking in dogs from other rescue groups. At the time we had 31 permanent residents of the sanctuary. We cared for those dogs just like we always had. And as fate demanded we rescued other dogs here and there that we found on the streets, or pulled from a local shelter. We did not have a website or any other public access, so those dogs became part of our permanent pack. Sadly, we also lost some senior dogs during these years. We did not conduct any fund raising activities during that period of time. Rick worked hard to pay all the bills to care for our pack, and we managed just fine. I regained my health in 2008 and life was good for us all.

Right after Christmas 2015 I began to write my book, “The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary”. Then in February 2016 Rick lost his job when the oilfield in our area took a serious downturn. At that point we knew we needed to do something to help keep the sanctuary going. We were very blessed when so many wonderful people on Facebook helped finance the publishing of my book, purchased the book, and donated to our sanctuary.

We felt we had the wind at our backs, and we began to actively rescue again. We have adopted out quite a few dogs since then, and we have also added to the number of permanent residents at our sanctuary. As most of you are aware, we are averaging 40 – 43 dogs here now. The largest percentage of those dogs were already residents at the sanctuary before we resumed our official rescue status.

One of the most frequently asked questions in my email and messages is, “Why do you have so many dogs, but you only have a few available for adoption?” The answer is very simple; some of our dogs have been with us for over five years. We could never consider letting them go, and would never even dream of turning their world upside down by allowing them to leave the home they have come to love. We are bonded to them and they to us.

Regular rescue groups (apples) save many dogs across this country. They place every one of those dogs up for adoption and work miracles at placing them in homes. But once in awhile they come across a dog or a pair of bonded dogs that they cannot place. That is where the sanctuaries (oranges) come in. They provide a permanent home for these babies where they can be safe and secure to live out their lives in peace.

The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary is an orange with apple skin. On the surface, we rescue a few dogs here and there. We try our best to find wonderful homes for those dogs as well a few rescued by our friend, veterinarian, and supporter Doc Jess. But our purpose in the nationwide army of people that give their hearts, their efforts, their money, and their tears to saving dogs in need, is a to be a sanctuary. That is what we are best at, and that is what we feel we have been called to do.

A healthy diet will probably include apples and oranges. A successful rescue community will include rescuers, fosters, transporters, advocates, and sanctuaries. Rick and I rescue and transport as well as advocate for dogs in need. But what we really do is run a sanctuary, The Promised Land Dachshund Sanctuary.

Quilt Raffle

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We are raffling off this quilt during the Fall Open House to raise money for improvements to our sanctuary. The pattern is titled “Foreshadowing” and was designed by our daughter Jessica JE Smith. The quilt was pieced and quilted by me. It measures 68″ square and is made of the finest quilt fabrics. Tickets for the raffle are $10 each and can be purchased here on my blog thru the donate button, or by sending money to promisedlanddachshund@yahoo.com, or by sending check or money order to The Promised Land, PO Box 826, Gardendale, TX 79758.

The drawing is on Nov. 5th at 6pm so get your tickets purchased right away. Please make a note on your donation that you are purchasing quilt raffle tickets, and make sure I have a current address for you. I will post raffle #’s on our Facebook page under the Quilt Raffle thread that contains this picture of the quilt. We will also post a video of one of the kiddos at the Open House doing the drawing. You do not have to be present at the Open House to win. I will ship the quilt to the winner if need be.

Good luck everyone!!!