2006-11-09 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

...by Joanne Anderson

Creamcicle Creamcicle Dog is my co-pilot. Heaven, help me. Rescue folk, like me, transport shelter dogs that they barely know to vets, kennels, and foster homes. You can't gauge canine car manners 'til you start your engine. Sometimes you're in for the ride of your life. Pooch passengers can be unpredictable. If you're deflecting a bouncing Bowser, defensive driving starts inside the auto. The only way to be safe in the motorized mutt mosh pit is to secure the pup in a crate- that is, if your vehicle is big enough.

Actually I was semi-trained for dog distractions because, eons ago at Massapequa High, I had unusual Driver Ed teacher. He'd throw paper at us or put our gloves over the rear view mirror while we merged onto the parkway. He said that his students had to be prepared for every eventuality. I guess that included psycho driving instructors.

Over the years there have been many crazy dogs in my car. When I volunteered for League for Animal Protection (LAP), we were always moving the fosters around. About 20 years ago, there were a few that decided to make early exits. We had a Beagle that bailed out on Southern State, but luckily she jumped on to the grass, and we were able to grab her. During the "Miami Vice" days we fostered a "Crockett" (a yellow Lab) and "Stubbs" (a unique Scotty/Basset) from Babylon Shelter. I brought Stubbs to visit a prospective family, and as I pulled up, he jumped out my window and ran up their stoop. Not a good first impression. He wound up going to another couple who lived in Mitchell Field military housing.

Gypsy Gypsy I had a dynamo rescue friend who used to deliver dogs- large and smallin her Porsche. Somehow she roped me into going with her to take a pair of Rottweilers out east. I left my pocketbook in the back with them, and the female decided to help herself to my brush. I turned around to confront her, and then reconsidered. In such speedy, cramped quarters, it seemed wiser to let her chomp on the brush, rather than me.

Long before the Internet and Petfinder, this same friend got me involved with an informal network of people who advertised desperate dogs, mostly purebreds, in various town shelters. Stays were not as generous as they are in many shelters now, so we were always working against euthanasia deadlines. We'd split the cost of classified ads and boarding on certain dogs that some of us had never seen. One volunteer's Mom, a Holocaust survivor, was the contact person in many of the ads. With all due respect, she hadn't met these dogs, in fact I'd coach her about breeds, but she could convey an urgency that convinced many responders to adopt them from the pounds.

When we ran out of time, we'd board some of the dogs. This is the most expensive way to do rescue. There was a no frills kennel in Island Park owned by a nice guy that many groups used. We were forever shuffling dogs in and out of there. Many pups were understandably anxious enroute. They had no idea what was about to happen to them next. "Garbo" was a petrified Afghan that I took out of Brookhaven Shelter twice. I don't know how she did it, but she managed to disappear completely under my seat while I drove. I swore she had escaped, though the windows were closed. Yep, I finally caught on after that wayward Beagle and Stubbs.

I went on some weird "first dates" with dogs. The dynamo, who always arranged to be in 5 places at the same time, twisted my arm to pick up a young Lab at Oyster Bay Shelter. He kept throwing himself at me as I ventured onto the LIE. Nothing I did soothed his hysteria until I started singing. Don't know why- but I thought he'd like show tunes. We got through much of the score of "Porgy & Bess" with "Summertime" as his favorite. By the time we reached the kennel, he relaxed. He may have been faking, just to get me to stop.

A Standard Poodle once disguised himself as my mink stole, as I chauffeured him from a vet to the boarding kennel. A fashionable look, but wearing a live dog does kill your peripheral vision.

Nowadays, when flying solo, I come equipped with a few gimmicks- a bottle of Bach's Rescue Remedy to soothe the savage beast and the leash knot trick to keep out-of-control dogs from lunging at their driver. You tie a huge knot in the end of the leash; then close the window on it. This limits the trampoline to the back seat. So far, no maniacal mutt has shattered or pulled out the window. Enough said. Better not jinx it.

Some wonderful cats and dogs are waiting to be discovered by the right person (you) at Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset. "Creamcicle" #859 is a handsome and sweet, bright orange polydactyl cat. His extra toes make his front feet look like baseball gloves. He was quite patient when I put a wig on him as a fancy cape. "Gypsy" #709 is a slim Rottie/Shepherd who has been at the shelter since July. See more photos on Petfinder.

Female: "Kelly" #860- a gold Collie/ Shepherd; "Dee Dee"- #1010- a Pointer mix.

Male: "Sebastian" #771- a mature German Shepherd (ears down); "Joltin'Joe" #893- a cream Shepherd; "Bob" #919- an ultra-friendly tabby and white cat

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