I decided this morning to take a little time to assess the residents of the sanctuary. So much of our time is devoted to the medical needs of our babies that I like to step back once in awhile and look at the other aspects of what makes our pack the unique group of babies that they truly are. Any assessment must include medical needs but there are so many other characteristics that provide the variety of babies we live with and love.
Often I am asked, “Where do all your babies come from?” Backgrounds of our dogs is somthing that Rick and I often ponder. The backgrounds can tell us so much about what our little guys need, and they can help us understand who they are. Currently there are 56 dogs residing here at the sanctuary. 21 of those babies came to us from a shelter somewhere in Texas or surrounding states. 18 of our babies came to us directly from an owner. The reasons for these dogs being relinquished varies as much as the owners. Only one of our current dogs came directly from a breeder, and one of our babies was a birthday gift for Rick years ago. That leaves 15 of our residents that came to us directly off the streets. Rick picked up quite a few of these babies himself over the years, and a few came from people who found a dog on the streets and brought them to us so they would not be exposed to a shelter. We almost never know the entire background of any of our babies, but so often their behavior and their health status tells us what we really need to know.
We concentrate our efforts here at the sanctuary on rescuing Dachshunds. But because our babies come from so many different situations we often find ourselves with babies that are not Dachshunds. Currently we have 29 Dachshunds, 4 German Shepherds, 9 Chihuahuas, and 14 mix breeds. Some of our mixed breeds have some Dachshund blood in their veins, and their attitudes will attest to that heritage. The Chihuahua is one of the breeds that makes up a huge number of the dogs in need in our area, and many of our shelters have more Chihuahuas than any other breed. German Shepherd dogs were a huge part of my childhood and I have rescued all four of our shepherds myself.
While we do not decide from the sex of a dog whether we can take them into our care, life has a way of balancing things out. We currently have 29 males living at our sanctuary, and 27 females. The one area where we do consider the sex of the dog is when we decide which pack they will do best in. All of our dogs are altered immediately but as we all know some males will forever remain more dominant. Bossy females are also part of our decision on where one of our babies will reside. And occasionally we are forced to rethink a decision in this area as we have underestimated the dominant or bossy traits of a particular dog.
Several other factors can be even more important when we decide which area of the sanctuary a new baby will join. We have 14 babies that have special needs, such as missing limbs, blindness, severe arthritis, dementia, etc. Many of these babies need lots of extra supervision and that determines where they will be placed. Only 2 of our babies have special dietary needs and it is obviously much easier for me for them to reside with the kitchen pack. Daily medications are given to 15 dogs here at the sanctuary and these babies are spread out over the sanctuary as are their medicines. Another 13 of our residents are bonded with another resident here at the sanctuary and of course those babies are always placed in the same area as their bonded partner. 9 of our current residents are adoptable and because they are normally short-term residents we put them where there is an empty spot if possible.
Because our mission concentrates on the senior babies in need we have 23 dogs currently that are over ten years old. Dexter is the oldest baby here and he is 18 years old. 27 of our residents are between six and ten years old. Some of these babies are older than their years because of the hard life they have lived. The babies of the sanctuary which are under five years only make up 6 of our pack. We have 3 dogs that are only two years old. Two of these babies are large mixed breeds that Rick pulled off the streets, and one is a Chihuahua who is on our adoptable list.
Among our babies that need daily meds there is one statitistic that surprises me. We currently have 8 babies that take daily thyroid medications. I’m not sure why the occurrence of thyroid problems seems to be so large in our dogs, but all of our babies that need these meds are seniors. Currently in addition to the thyroid meds, we treat 2 dogs everyday for seizures, 1 for diabetes, 1 for severe acid reflux, 1 for recurring eye pain, 1 for IVDD, 1 for severe obsessive tendencies, and 1 for aggression. Some of our dogs that require medication fit into more than one category of medication, Trooper for example takes two daily shots of insulin for his diabetes but also requires thyroid medication.
While these statistics are interesting for us to examine, Rick and I are well aware of the chances of these numbers changing before the week is out. Dogs will get adopted, dogs will join us here at the sanctuary, others will be diagnosed with new medical needs, and a few may overcome their need for medication. And sadly because of the nature of our pack we face a higher risk of one of our babies traveling over the Rainbow Bridge.
The things that remain constant from year to year is that there will always be more babies than we have room for. There will always be more vet work than we can afford to pay for in any given month. There will always be babies that would flourish in a home of their own, but those homes are sometimes hard to find because of the nature of these characteristics. Every day I receive a phone call or an email from someone who is looking for a Dachshund puppy. I don’t blame these people because we all know there is nothing cuter than a little, floppy eared Dachshund puppy. Every once in awhile I get an application for an older baby because someone fell in love with their little silver face, and that is reason for celebration. Only twice in our almost 17 years of running our sanctuary have we received an application for bonded seniors. The commitment there is huge and very few people are in a position to make that leap. That reality is unfortunate but understandable.
Rick’s days here at the sanctuary start out at 6am when Trooper barks for his breakfast and then needs his shot. My days end at around 1am when I walk thru our sanctuary covering up babies, adding logs to the wood burning stove in the doggie room, and making certain that all babies are safe and sound for the night. Each night we both pray for the strength and support to make it through tomorrow. Thankfully, that prayer is always answered. This is our life, and This Is Us.