Patches: Our Journey From Failure To Success

Patches was born in a shelter on April 13, 2013.  Her parentage was unknown so the veterinarian questimated she was a Feist/heeler mix. This cute little puppy was adopted  on July 22, 2013. Sadly she was returned to the shelter on November 7, 2013. People have asked me why would someone do that? Just give up a family member without looking back?  In her case Patches was returned due to her growing size and rambunctiousness as she frequently caused the elderly woman who had adopted her to trip and fall. Patches has no fear aggression so I believe she was well cared for, she had simply become too much to handle.

I Couldn't Say No

Fast forward to the last week of June, 2014. Kirby was at the vet for a quick check-up and nail trimming.  Talking to his vet, who also runs the local shelter, we learned about Patches. I try to foster only small dogs but her story pulled my heart strings so I agreed to come back later in the week when they would bring her to the clinic. When they called I drove over still thinking of how I could help her without taking her into my home which changed when I saw her. The sad eyes, the head hanging down, the ribs showing, She weighed in at 28.6 lbs when she should have been at least 35 lbs. The thought that I could bring her homemade meals went right out the door when they told me she probably wasn't getting enough food because the other dogs would push her out of the way.

We brought her into our home on July 1, 2014 to foster. She was very quiet and hungry so first things first.  I started her on a high calorie diet of homemade food along with a vitamin mixture provided by Dr. Rita.  She also had a bacterial skin infection which required meds to clear up. 

I wasn't working during this time so I was able to keep a fairly good watch on their interactions.  Patches easily took to the large crate in Kirby's playroom so that's where she slept at night. During the day they spent equal time outside in the backyard as they did inside. We have two cats she was curious about but was never threatening with either one only getting close enough to sniff. She did learn the hard way that Chelsea would scratch causing a painful yelp. Patches kept her distance from that point on. 

She was eating four meals a day in the playroom so she knew no other dogs would take her food. At first she would gulp it down but began to eat slower. She knew when it was mealtime and, as soon as I had her bowl in my hand, she would race to the playroom to wait. She never learned "sit" but I could hold my hand in front of her, say "wait", and she wouldn't move. Once the bowl was on the floor I would say "ok" which was her cue to dive in. Within weeks she packed on some pounds along with a renewed energy. Her poop firmed up and lost that horrid smell which told me she was getting the nutrients she needed.  The skin infection was gone and her eyes were bright.

Back to the shelter

Alas, this is when Kirby began to have problems with her.  Play times became rough as she would shake a tug toy literally sending him flying across the room. Kirby stopped playing tug with her. He would let go the second she grabbed a part of any toy in his mouth and walk away. This didn't phase her as she then began jumping on him. It was obvious she was only playing but her size caused him to yelp or get snippy with her in his attempt to get away. Patches always backed off so I didn't worry about any bites. Kirby then began hiding under furniture or jumping onto chairs which gave him an even level with her. The chairs worked for awhile until she figured out how to easily knock him off. The first few times concerned me. I always tried to intervene but the time she sent him flying onto the tile with a loud yelp was enough to frighten me as I helplessly watched him hit the floor on his side and quickly limp away.     

Forward To A Rescue

During the first week of August I reluctantly returned her to the shelter. Almost four months went by as she waited for the family that never appeared. It was a devastating time which filled me with angst at my failure to foster this sweet girl. I was told she was not doing well at the shelter which only added to my worries.

Then on Thursday, November 13th, a friend of mine who knew my concerns, Diana, called to tell me she had found a place for Patches in a newly established rescue run by Alice Gill in Macon, Mississippi which is only about 45 minutes from us. Patches would go there on Monday. Thrilled, and not wanting her at the shelter a minute longer, I called the clinic. That same afternoon I paid her adoption fee and brought her home. She was starting the next phase with an MSU pullover, her information packet, and a brand new collar.

The hard part was seeing her sad eyes once again and that she had lost all the weight we had put on her. She easily fell back into our routine remembering her earlier taught commands and, hallelujah, was still potty trained.  Kirby, however, immediately became highly agitated which was unusual for his normally laid back attitude. It was as if he was on high alert - jumpy and snippy.  It didn't seem fair but I decided he would have to deal with her until Monday. He did have moments of relaxation during my bath time and when we went to bed since I made Patches stay in the playroom. 

When Alice came to pick her up I again felt bad because Patches just looked at me with those big sad eyes probably thinking she was once again headed back to the shelter.  Had she trusted me again to no avail? Did she think she had found her forever home? My heart was heavy since I couldn't simply explain to her what was happening. I told her it was ok, that she was safe and would never be hungry. I had to half carry her out because she didn't want to leave. We threw the quilt she had been sleeping on at night in the back of Alice's car which seemed to encourage her to jump in and then they were gone.

Photos courtesy of Alice Gill

Photos courtesy of Alice Gill

I can't even begin to explain the happiness I felt when I saw the pictures Alice sent me and then posted on Facebook. Patches had that sparkle in her eyes as she relaxed on a comfy chair or played with the other large dogs. My two favorite pictures were of her with her head on the forearm of another dog and stretching her body across the grass which she had done in our yard to show her complete contentment. She will live at Alice's rescue until the day she is adopted into her forever family. She has other large dogs to play with, a big yard to run around, enough good food every day, and a woman who cares about her safety and well-being. 

"This little girl is a doll! She is catlike, the way she brushes up against furniture, other dogs, and people. She is puppy like in play, but also maturely responsive to a pack. She does not try to assume the top dog role. She is content and good natured, affectionate, companion oriented, and is enjoying her foster experience, with plenty of grass and space to run around with other four legged friends, but she is definitely deserving of finding her forever family. Please stay tuned as I post updates on Patches. If she tugs at your heart, as she did Diana's, Debby's, and mine, please contact me with more information. And please share. Once her story and smiling face reaches the right family, you will have been part of creating Patches's happily ever after....”  Alice Gill

An Application To Adopt

On January 18th, we got word a couple who had recently lost their family dog had applied to adopt her. They live on a large farm in Maine with lots of room for walks, hiking trails, and visits to their family beach house. Patches would be with them 24/7 along with the resident horses, sheep, turkeys, hens, and ducks.

Photos courtesy of Passion for Pets Rescue

Photos courtesy of Passion for Pets Rescue

Passion For Pets Rescue checked out everything, including references, and said it was a go!  Patches would soon meet her forever family. On Friday, January 31, Alice and Patches began the long drive north. Alice drives a transport up north every month so she and Patches were joined by a few other rescues who had been successfully adopted. I heard Patches remained calm treating the journey as an adventure since she trusted Alice.

February 2, 2015

This is Patches forever "Gotcha Date" for this is the day she was united with her forever family! This girl will be spoiled and blessed as she begins this lifelong journey with her pawrents.  

Photos courtesy of Alice Gill

Photos courtesy of Alice Gill

Yes Patches there is a God who loves us and helps us in our times of need. My heartfelt appreciation goes to my friend, Diana Crabtree, and Alice Gill for making my foster failure an adoption success story.

For further information about adopting other deserving dogs or to donate to help current rescues, please contact Alice Gill on her Facebook Page.  Donations for dog food and supplies can be made through the Noxubee Farm Supply at 662-726-2833.