Someone has to clean up this mess.
First, I love you all.
The concern that readers world-wide have shown for the plight of the English shepherds in Billings Montana has been heart-warming.
But please understand, I can't tell you everything I hear and see and know.
Inclusion comes with the expectation of discretion. And the volunteers here are not public figures; they are just hard-working folk who are doing all they can for the animals, with no expectation of any extrinsic reward.
Second, here's what's up:
There are no more of these ES being held at the Billings animal shelter, and few at the veterinary hospital. Most of the special needs dogs -- including pups, new Mommas and those about to be -- are now being housed in an old veterinary hospital on Moore Lane in Billings that the county has gotten the use of.
So it has been several hectic days of moving dogs around, cleaning, reorganizing, pipes bursting, and fires (metaphorical) to be put out.
I have to conclude that the bitches were on synchronized heat cycles (think women's dorm during PMS week), as we are having a bit of a puppy boom, with a litter every day now. Mostly small litters, for which we are thankful.
True to their breed, the Mommas are devoted and attentive.
Also at the Moore Lane facility -- one Momma pug and two babies, several cats, and a flock of cockatiels.
Today the seven pups formerly at the Metra took a trip across the parking lot to the new hospital for baths. Then we let 'em rip.
They swarmed. The volunteers deserve a bit of puppy fun. They work so hard. The scores of volunteers who missed this moment will get many opportunities for puppy fixes in the days ahead. Some are fixing up part of the old lobby as a giant puppy dayroom.
Here's our IC from the sheriff's department, Mike, falling under the spell of the little girl pup I think of as BP:
BP = Baby Pip. She reminds me of my SAR partner at that age. Cocky little thing.
While some of the grown dogs have advanced quickly, other handlers have had to count their victories in the most patient increments. Every hour, a handler will come to me to tell me about the dog who touched him today for the first time, the one that is coming just two feet out of the corner, the one who will creep up behind the chair and lie quietly while listening to her handler read aloud now.
Here's a first for this guy:
Which brings me to a question that keeps coming up in emails and comments on news sites -- why did the dogs in the news photos look, you know, kind of okay in the pictures?
The news cameras were catching the dogs who free-ranged -- about a third of the total -- not the ones chained or penned in their own waste.
English shepherd coats are not only naturally full and care-free, naturally shedding junk and resisting mats, they cover up a multitude of sins -- ribs, hipbones, wounds, scabs. They are like chows in that last regard; by the time the neighbors know that a yard-chow is starving, he's already dead.
Most of these dogs are still not at the point of function where we normally begin rehab with a neglected pound dog.
Many people have expressed such worry about Harry, the dog who would not take his head out of the corner.
He has two handlers who are working hard with him.
I made it a goal of mine to get Harry to just look at me before I leave Montana.
Talk about a baby step. But he has taken it. Proof:
I was shocked to see that he looks like Gary -- Gary my foster dog, who was launched to his new home just yesterday by my better half.
Feels better, seeing his face, doesn't it?
Finally, I'm getting inquiries about adoption.
First, remember that these dogs are still the property of Linda Kapsa, and are being held in evidence.
We have no way of knowing if and when they may be released for adoption, or how, by whom, and with what strings attached.
I can almost guarantee that the majority of these dogs will require rehabilitative foster care before they are adoptable -- including the ones that have advanced the most at the Metra. They've never lived in a house with people.
National English Shepherd Rescue is making lists of potential foster and adoptive homes. If you are interested, please contact NESR to start the paperwork.
The volunteers at Operation New Beginnings are also taking names and numbers of those interested in adoption, particularly those who live in the Billings area.
Finally, all dogs will be spayed or neutered prior to any placement, no matter who places them, or with whom.