Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"The Ebony and Ginger Project"

In a new effort to assist non-profit, charitable and individuals seeking to assist the re-homing of cats and dogs in the Central Texas area, I have launched what I am calling "The Ebony and Ginger Project."

Because of the events in January 2009, my wife and I have come to appreciate how difficult it can be to re-home great pets, when circumstances require it. We had the unfortunate need to re-home our dog, Ginger, and had very little time to do it. Ginger had injured our cat, Ebony, and we needed her out of our home by the time Ebony returned from the vet. When we adopted Ginger almost 4 years ago from the Austin Humane Society, she was listed as "likes to chase cats and squirrels" but we suspect the prior owner had not honestly disclosed her as "cat aggressive" in efforts to try to help her (based upon pretty valid analysis I think). By not being honest with the Austin Humane Society, the owner put Ginger at mortal danger, since she could have ended up in inappropriate homes - and most new owners would not have worked with the situation so thoroughly to save Ginger and find her a home that would work for her.

We found that one thing that helped Ginger after the event was great photography of her, which I had taken. (See photo above and this one).

We human animals can be visual creatures, and the need to "see" something is often more significant than the mere description of the thing or being in words (i.e. a picture is worth a 1000 words ..."). We also found that often the best pets, those that are most sensitive, sweet, intelligent, and personable, are the ones most difficult to place - for those very reasons. Such pets understand and feel the loneliness and isolation when they lose their owners/parents more deeply and profoundly, and are most affected by shelters or new circumstances. For them, being surrendered is often literally as "heart-breaking" to them as it is to their owners. It is then hard to see their "real" personality in the shelter ... as they might be in your home.

Because of these issues, Ginger was deemed un-adoptable at the time by the Austin Humane Society because she was so distraught when we were not around her. When we had first adopted her from there, she had also been so distraught that she would barely eat, did little to "market" herself and just laid in the kennel. Part of what drew us to her was the personality we sensed, but since then the shelter has apparently and understandably had to select for pets that will be sufficiently responsive to their new surroundings that they will be "adoptable." As a non-profit, the shelter has to make sure to allocate its resources in the most effective place. While we all would want all pets saved, there is more need than resources often in the system. The Austin Humane Society, however, were very kind to us and helped us review all potential options to help Ginger. Given that Ebony was also an alumni of the Society, they were particularly interested in finding situations that would work for both Ebony and Ginger.

While I might not be able to save every pet, I am allocating a good amount of free photographic services in this venture. As a very-skilled amateur photographer, I spent 3 hours on Friday at the Austin Humane Society on this project, and an additional 15 hours editing the photos (which is common with good photography - a 5 hour post-production to every 1 hour photographing). I look to do more as my time permits for the Austin Humane Society, Austin Pets Alive!, Blue Dog Rescue and others as I can.

For Ginger, we have a happy ending after all. My parents decided that they would take Ginger temporarily to help us get her immediately out of the home, and ensure that Ebony survived her injuries. Although Ginger really missed us, we put some "dirty" clothing in her crate for the first several nights and she could go in there and "smell" our scents and be comforted. She did - and was. In a short amount of time, my parents fell in love with Ginger, and she with them, and Ginger is now well integrated with their other pets, two elkhounds (also rescues; one is Zarko, pictured below, who is as noble in spirit as appearance). Ebony has fully healed and happy being an only pet again. She has also earned that sole status for the remainder of her years, hopefully many!

For such Grace, I am now committed to helping other sweet pets also find happy endings in homes that will best suit their needs! Consider adopting pets from rescues and shelters - although they may be older pets, have some issues, often you will find that they are extremely wonderful. I hope that The Ebony and Ginger Project will both help achieve ends in themselves (placing pets), and also help others understand the difficulty of such pets more thoroughly.

1 comment:

James T. Parsons said...

As an update, Heather and I have been visiting Ginger regularly since January at my parents' house. The joke is that we probably visit Ginger more than some divorced parents visit their kids. Ginger seems to be my parents' dog now, and while she is always happy to see us, she seems at home there, and that is a good thing. She really seems to be part of a pack now, and seems to like the attention and time that my parents have to give to her. Really, really good ending to the story that began as a likely tragedy.

I have to give it to my parents, they have a real skill at integrating dogs, and are now on their 8th or 9th rescue dog at this point, over about 20+ years. If you believe in the Hindu belief in coming back as another life, those that come back as a "Parsons" dog with my parents are truly blessed.