It's not just about the dog itself, but the relationship you have with it!

ForPaws Helps Corgis and Corgi Mixes

Dedicated to Bart, who had the Most Beautiful Tail

"It's very simple. Dogs and cats and other talented animals have tails; their tails, with their thousands of flourishes, provide them with a wonderfully complex language of arabesques, not only for what they think and feel and suffer, but for every mood and vibration in their feeling tone. We have no tails, and since the more lively among us need some form of expression, we make ourselves paintbrushes and pianos and violins..."

Hermann Hesse

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wilson makes the Social Scene

Wilson proved a bit more hesitant when it came to meeting new people and new dog pals. At first he didn't want to walk on a leash, but with a bit of encouragement he managed. All the new sounds in the Outside World were overwhelming. 

Strangers were initially too intimidating, but after ten minutes or so that Corgi Curiousity just got the better of him and he chose to approach cautiously. He seemed to especially like Amy and the feeling was mutual, as you'll see from the photos.

When it came to meeting new dogs, Wilson walked right up to Eko (Anatolian Shepherd) and they were fine together.

Though he wasn't quite as gregarious as Charlie and Kelly, Wilson's social confidence was still much better than anticipated for a first outing. This is a really sweet little guy and his Foster Mom reports that his confidence is growing noticeably each day. Wilson learns very quickly and we're starting to see that he's got quite the sense of humor! Wilson, you're a Winner!

Wilson took a real liking to Amy!

For those who say dogs don't smile...think again!

Not only is Amy friendly, but she has the Ear Scratch down to a science. Ahhhh!

And, as an added bonus, a picnic table! Any self-respecting Corgi is always alert for a Food Opportunity! I'll just take a little look-see up here!

These new folks are really nice, but you're still my favorite Foster Mom!

Eko is really TALL! Good thing he's a nice guy.

Hi Teresa! So nice of you to come down to my level! 
It's so much nicer when people don't tower over me. 
Charlie spoke so highly of you! Thanks for making me feel at home here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kelly's Turn to Meet & Greet!

Today it was Kelly's turn to meet new friends and show us just how well his social skills are honed. Up to now Kelly has a been a bit more reserved than Charlie or Wilson and we thought he might be a bit shy.

Well, surprise us...this little fellow held his own nicely with all of the other dogs and humans that he met. He seemed quite comfortable and was the typical inquisitive corgi. 

Our special thanks to Pat, Teresa, Amy, Chris, Chopper, Eko, Teah and others who've made themselves available to help us test and socialize these four fellows!

My goodness Chopper - you're a big fellow!

You're about the same size as a sheep - I bet I could herd you!

I like being the Center of Attention!

You guys are both taller than I am, and you're laying down! 
Nice bandana Eko! Where do you shop?

Friday, July 25, 2008

A First for Charlie - Meeting New Friends!

This was a very big day for Charlie. For the first time since leaving the shelter, and arriving at his foster home, he got to go out into the World. He met some new friends, both human and canine. 

Charlie's behavior was outstanding - far better than we could have hoped. Many times dogs coming out of puppy mills are severely under socialized. Such does not appear to be the case with Charlie. He was confident, happy and got along famously with everyone. 

Way to go Charlie!

Meeting some of his foster mom's friends at obedience classes.

Charlie had no problem finding a nice lap and making himself comfortable!

Wow...a nice new girlfriend, Teah, (she's gorgeous!) - look at that smile!

I'm so happy, I could just dance!

And dance.....

I just LOVE the Real World!
(Look close - you'll see a tiny kiss!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fun Facts - As we Learn More!

Charlie - Great table manners: He lays down with his bowl between his feet when he eats. Also does the Frog Dog - too cute!

Wilson - Is showing himself to be quite a character. The most serious of the group upon arrival in foster care, this fellow is now showing that he's playful....and VERY smart! Each dog has his own kennel area and his own outside run area. Wilson has already figured out whos is whos!

Nolan - Asked his foster mom if "Clean Sheets" came with room service. He is kenneled next to a couple of cats and doesn't like the way they stare at him. Quiet up to now, his first bark was at the cats. From now on he gets a "privacy sheet" hung between him and the cats!

Kelly - The diplomat: Gets along with everyone - even the cats!

And we're told that they all like Country Music and Oldies. When I asked K.D. how she knew this, she said: "That's what they listened to all the way home from the shelter - and they didn't HOWL at it! " 

OK, I'll take that for now! But we will have to see just who likes Shania Twain and who votes for Mick Jagger, as we get to know them better!

Monday, July 21, 2008

This Week's Activity: Healing Body & Soul

This evening I received an update from the Cast Away Rescue's Foster Person, "K.D." She said:

The Cast Aways are enjoying the down time to rest and heal. Not just their external hurts, surgery etc. but their hearts, minds and souls.  They like their new individual runs (dens) as their own and not having to share everything.  They also like being clean.

Charlie is like a puppy with his inquisitive nature. He gets into everything if I give him half a chance.  Then he races around and chases back and forth when he comes inside for the night.  I attempt to catch him like a game but let him make a few passes running past me before I finally catch him. (Hmm...could this be an agility dog in the making?)

Kelly is the most mellow.  He is sweet, friendly, outgoing, and has kissed my fingers and cheek. Tonight he rolled on the grass about half a dozen times.  When I asked him "what are you doing Kelly?  You goofy dog!" He got up and just looked at me, like "What do you mean? or who me??"  He is So cute.

Wilson is the surprise as he keeps changing daily.  Mr Wilson as I call him.  Sometimes gruff with the others as they are being taken in or out, he has "words" for them.  I think he is trying to tell them he is in charge, but not sure. I do tell him that he needs to knock it off or stop and he does!!
When I go to his pen and want to bring him in, he is starting to play. Bouncing up and down, runing around, me acting like I am chasing him, bent over, butt in the air, hands closer to the ground and he is so happy.  He even runs between my legs from behind.  Since he is such a chunck I try NOT to pick him up anymore than I have to. I have not tried the "On the back thing yet".

Nolan is the quietest one.  Although this morning, he spoke his mind to Tramp (the cat).  He did not enjoy having Tramp meowing at him.  Tramp just sat in the corner of the kitty run and stared at Nolans food. I did not realize at first that they could see each other.  Nolan definitely told Tramp to back off because it was his food.  Tramp however felt that since the dogs were in his "Former" extended kitty fun and run area, why shouldn't he share that good smelling chicken dog food!

You all take care and stay tuned for more.  They love the outside runs and enjoy just laying on the grass or ground and watching and listening to everything around them.  I am sure it is just a "TAD" overwhelming!

Thanks K.D. You're doing an awesome job with these nice boys. They're obviously becoming much more relaxed and are starting to show us who they really are. Sounds like more fun than a Barrel of Corgis!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Back to Basics - Getting them Healthy!

A big day today as our four Cast Aways all had their first vet visit. For Kelly, Nolan and Wilson, this meant saying goodbye to some beloved treasures...time for the neutering! Charlie had that experience just before we pulled him while he was still in the shelter.

Everyone was tested for heartworms and found to be negative - Yahoo! This is a Big Deal, as heartworm treatment is quite $$ and not easy on a dog.

Other fun stuff included rabies shots all around (other vaccinations were done in the shelter), plus fecal tests, ear cleanings (a couple have ear infections). And another cleanings! Sadly, due to neglect of their dental health, three of the four dogs required tooth extractions. Nolan won the prize needing to have 5 teeth removed. Lesson: Brush your dog's teeth!

We suspect that we will see an upsurge in energy level, particularly from Nolan and Kelly who had multiple infected teeth. This is extremely draining, as the dog's immune system is fighting to control infection and it can really sap a dog.

And...then there was the bill! Funny how none of these canines pulled out a checkbook when it was time to pay the $1,344.00 bill! (And that was with the Rescue Discount applied!).

But, other than the dental work, there were no issues - they're all basically very health fellows and it feels good to know that they'll be in good shape when they're ready to find their permanent homes!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rehabilitation and Socialization - It's a Long Road

After only a couple of days, our four new Cast Away Boyz are starting to relax. We're seeing more interest in exploring their new environment, more smiling, more interest in food, etc. But these fellows have a lot ahead of them. If you've never owned or fostered an "undersocialized" dog, it is an experience unlike what you'd expect. It requires time and patience beyond anything you can imagine.
Wilson's First Bath - Grooming Table? What's That?

Consider what you'd be like if you'd been born in prison, raised in a cell, then released on your 25th birthday! That's right. You turn 25, the cell door is unlocked and you're ushered to the front door. The door opens, you step out onto the dirt road in front of the jail. You've been given $50 and and a clean suit of clothes.  Now you're on your own! You've never seen a blade of grass. You've never eaten a really good steak. You've never been to a party. You've never ridden a bicycle....starting to get it?

Nolan's First Bath - Hmmm... I'd rather be out there on that Green Stuff

This is exactly what a puppy mill dog, now in foster care, is experiencing. In some ways many of these dogs do amazingly well. They learn to trust their new foster person within a couple of weeks. But figuring out the rest of the world....that takes a lot longer.

When we take dogs like this into foster care, we assume they will be with us for a minimum of 3 months. It isn't uncommon for them to need 6 months or more before they're ready to go to their permanent homes with their "real" families.

The key is trust. With the right foster person, an individual who can show them infinite patience, these dogs can slowly adapt to all of the new stimuli that awaits them in a typical home environment. 

Overcoming fear is the biggest issue. Everything is new and strange. They missed out on learning about the noise that a telephone makes, what it means to ride in a car, how to play with the spray from the garden hose. Not to mention how to accept people of all sizes, shapes, genders and hairstyles! (Yes, I had one that did NOT like baldness...go figure!)

They start out not knowing what a leash is, let alone how to walk around the block without being overwhelmed by all the new things they encounter. After a number of weeks/months, they become sufficiently acclimated to move on to Phase Two. That point at which a knowledgeable new owner can take them into their new home and continue the process.

We know that all four of these dogs are going to make it to Phase Two. We just don't know when. As of today, Wilson's big accomplishment was going outside to the yard on his own. He stayed out for just a few minutes, and then was ready to come back to the security of his new digs. For any normal dog, this is business as usual. For Wilson, this took a big leap of faith and a lot of courage! Hooray Wilson! 

There will be a lot more leaps, and some mis-steps too, as these dogs expand their horizons. Stay tuned! Given time and space, they will amuse, delight and snuggle their way into our hearts!

Monday, July 14, 2008

First Observations - Really Nice Personalities!

Now that our Cast Away Crew of Rescue Corgis have been in foster care for a couple of days, their personalities are already starting to emerge. All four are responding far better than we'd imagined; not as shy as we'd expected. Clearly these boys know that something BIG has happened. They seem to know that K.D., our foster mom, represents a ticket to a real life and they're determined to make the most of the opportunity. Here's what we've seen so far.

Wilson- Our tri-colored fellow is the shyest of the group, and the most serious. At times he shows a gruff exterior, but underneath there is a Teddy Bear. We don't think he has ever been on grass. He doesn't seem to have had too much human attention, but responds quite positively to it.  Our Foster Mom said: "Petting him and praising him does work as he will walk a little with me.  We sat on the grass and he crawled in my lap!!  Then he lifted his "BIG" head and licked my chin a couple of times." Quite a handsome boy, probably about 4 years old." I think we'll see more of the "Teddy Bear" side as this guy discovers his new world.


Charlie - A happy red/white boy, seems to be the alpha of the four. He also seems to be the most well-socialized and the one that was probably considered the most eligible for adoption by the shelter staff. Our Foster mom said: "He's very friendly and met my neighbor on the tractor as they were going to the garden to do some plowing. He was not intimidated by the noise at all.  He went up and met "Mary" and she petted him." Charlie's foster mom has also branded him the "comedian" of the group. Happy, bouncy and smiling, this is a nice fellow! Charlie was born in January 2004, according to shelter paperwork. We don't have any DoB information on any of the others, but we're pretty sure that Kelly is a littermate to Charlie, making them both about 4.5 years.

Kelly- A handsome red/white boy, Kelly is a little softer than the others. We think that Charlie and Kelly may be littermates. Like Charlie, Kelly is extremely friendly and outgoing.  He was not afraid of the neighbor's tractor when it was his turn to be out with his new foster mom. She said that he was "...running ahead of me and racing with the grass and checking out every spot under trees and flowers. He completely finished his dish of food before everyone else...and wants to be outside. I can lift him with no problems and hug him."


Nolan - A lovely red-headed boy, Nolan is extremely sweet. He seems like the oldest in the group, perhaps 5-6 years old. Was a bit hesitant at first, but within 24 hours, he's coming out of his shell nicely. Our Foster Mom said: "He is very outgoing and runs ahead of me on leash.  Not afraid of anything and very inquisitive with everything especially the grass and trees."  Nolan has a bit of a glamour coat and allowed himself to be brushed without any resistance. This is pretty significant for a dog that we've had less than 2 days! Foster Mom said: "I was able to rake out the pants.  While I was raking the underside very slowly and carefully, I held his right paw up so I could see and have access to this part of him. Nolan reached down and licked my hand that was holding his paw! I really like this fellow!"


Sunday, July 13, 2008

More photos of the Cast Away Rescues





Ottumwa Rescues - Our "Cast Away Crew"

Having made it safely to foster care in Minnesota, our four new rescues are settling in. They're already showing signs of recovery. Foster person, K.D., says that "The light is back in their eyes."
The Ottumwa Four now have their names, inspired by the film, "Cast Away," starring Tom Hanks.
In the film Tom's character, Chuck Noland, is stranded on a tropical island, the sole survivor of a plane crash. Chuck remains alone on the island for about four years, coincidentally, about age of our four dogs.

To combat loneliness Chuck creates a "friend" with whom to converse. Using a volleyball, washed up from the wreckage of the plane's cargo, he creates "Wilson." Wilson figures predominately as a treasured companion, advisor and confidant throughout the remainder of Chuck's stay on the island.

Ultimately Chuck is rescued. He returns to find that his former girlfriend, Kelly, thinking Chuck to be dead, has married another man and moved on with her life. The film illustrates the transformation Chuck must endure to first survive his long hiatus from civilization, and then the bigger challenge in finding out who he really is and what is truly important as his life continues.

It struck me that there are many parallels in the journey these dogs have taken up to now. They've been Cast Away since birth, with no exposure to the outside world. Having just been rescued they now have a big challenge ahead as they see what real life has to offer and how they fit into the grand scheme of things.

Accordingly, their names are:

Charlie (better than Chuck for a dog)
Nolan (Noland, without the "d" on the end)
Wilson (a trusted companion)
Kelly (a piece of Chuck's heart that will remain forever)

As we learn more about the Cast Away Rescues, we will be updating this blog. Stay tuned to see how they navigate their way!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Puppy Mill Rescues from Ottumwa, IA

Today a ForPaws Corgi Rescue foster person made a 6-hour (one way) drive to Ottumwa, IA to pull four male purebred Pems from the Heartland Humane Society Shelter. The shelter was 25% over capacity, desperate to relinquish dogs. 

About six months ago local authorities in Ottumwa became aware of a massive puppy mill operation - over 250 dogs; all being housed in unbelievably deplorable conditions. Gradually they've been able to get some of the dogs out. They've taken about 50, but there are well over 200 remaining. As the shelter has room, they try to get more out. The four corgis we pulled all came out of that mill.

We talked to Sandy, one of the most knowledgeable and level-headed shelter officers I've ever dealt with.  She was awesome. She said that these boys were all basically nice, no aggression, displaying varying degrees of under-socialization. We know it is a long road for them, but at least now they have a chance. Local people know about the mill situation and  won't consider adopting the dogs. Candidly, most owners are lacking in knowledge to deal with dogs with this lack of socialization. In the shelter, it these guys had no chance. Sandy was really touched that my foster person came all that way and was willing to take all four dogs. I am pretty touched by her efforts myself!

Thankfully, the foster person involved has an incredible gift with these "shy" dogs. She has worked similar situations for ForPaws before and the dogs transform from frightened creatures, unwilling to let people approach, to confident, grounded dogs, ready to make their way in the world with the right adopter. It is truly astonishing. 

Obviously, four is a lot to take on. We already know that one of these dogs is reasonably outgoing, so we may be looking for some other foster options for some of them. For this next couple weeks we will just let the dogs show us who they are and we will know what to do. 

Updates will appear on this blog as we learn more about the dogs. For the moment, we haven't even decided on names for them. The shelter had assigned names, but they don't respond to them. We will come up with something suitable. We will also be posting photos on the ForPaws website.

This marks the first time we've ever taken on four at once. Our veterinary costs are going to be "meaningful." We are an independent rescue operation, completely self-funded and not affiliated with any regional or national breed club. Should you wish to make a donation on behalf of these dogs, The Ottumwa Rescues, please contact Kathy Miller for more details. Our main rescue website is

Stay tuned for more...there will be some Big Adventures ahead for the Ottumwa Four!