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Carmen wasn’t looking for a special needs pet. Her first thought was that she wanted a fun-loving pup who could go swimming at the lake with her family in the summer. But when she held Myrtle for the first time, she started tearing up immediately.
Myrtle is a Pekingese, also known as the “lion dog” for their resemblance to Chinese guardian lions. Pekingese were favored by royalty of the Chinese Imperial court as both a lap dog and a companion. True to her breed, Myrtle is the perfect companion.
When Myrtle came to the Pixie Project her eyes were injured and the only solution was to remove them, leaving her blind. Despite the trauma and pain Myrtle had obviously endured, she remained sweet and trusting, which melted Carmen’s heart.
“She has the sweetest disposition and I swear her snuggles are magical,” says Carmen. “She is a little warrior that has been through so much but is still so trusting and loving. When I first held her, I didn’t want to let her go!”
Initially, Myrtle was depressed. Her blindness can be challenging, both to her and her caretakers. When the texture of the ground changes she can get very nervous. But with time and patience, Myrtle has become more confident and relaxed.
“She is learning how to get around, and more of her spunk and personality comes out every day,” reports Carmen. “She is the perfect snuggle bug, loves to prance around at the beach, and can make anyone smile.”
Carmen experiments with different kinds of toys to stimulate Myrtle’s natural curiosity. Blind dogs have to rely on senses other than sight, so they are more apt to engage with toys that have bells inside, toys that squeak, and scented toys.
And Myrtle loves to explore! In new places it takes her a while to get used to the layout so she bumps into things a lot, but she is spunky about it. She seems to enjoy finding her way around and sniffing at new smells.
Everyone loves Myrtle! “She is a complete game changer,” exclaims Carmen. “Even people who do not particularly like dogs love her!”
Myrtle loves to roam and prance on the beach, but Carmen was nervous about letting her swim because she’s not completely sure what Myrtle is capable of and comfortable with. On a trip to Kelly Point, however, Carmen let Myrtle down near the water, and to her surprise Myrtle went right in! Still feeling a bit protective, Carmen held Myrtle while she got her “water legs,” and in no time at all Myrtle was off and swimming in circles!
“I had no idea she was so fast!” says Carmen. “I was so excited I could hardly stand it. My cheeks hurt from smiling that day, and Myrtle was exhausted from the rare workout. As soon as we got home she was out for the night!”
When asked about her adoption experience, Carmen couldn’t say enough about the Pixie team. “It was smooth and seamless. They provided all the help and information I needed. I even had questions and issues come up post adoption and they were available to email/call for help!”
Thank you, Carmen, for giving Myrtle the blind Pekingese the loving home she deserves!
A huge thank you to the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation for their recent grant to the Pixie Project! This grant will allow our Pixie Care Clinic to provide services to to low-income pet owners in Portland, keeping more cats and dogs happy, healthy, and in their homes.
Scott Provan is keen on scrappy terriers. His wife, Sheena, wanted a young dog to ease her sweet, but sometimes grumpy 16-year old cat’s adjustment to living with an uncouth canine. Hmmm…how to make everyone happy…
Pixie Project to the rescue!
Sheena began volunteering with the Pixie Project in 2013. In August, 2014 Sheena was helping in the dog kennels and taking the small dogs out for their potty walks.
Sheena wasn’t specifically looking to adopt a dog that day, but there was “George,” a 5-month old scrappy black terrier. He was such an affectionate goofball, Sheena fell in love with him right away. She ran home to tell her husband that he was “the one.”
Sheena and Scott began to get excited about the possibility of bringing George home. Their cat, “Moggy” (short for Mogdalana), wasn’t so sure, but in typical feline fashion feigned aloofness, hoping beyond hope that her humans would come to their senses and realize that there really was no need to introduce a dog into their heretofore peaceful existence. But alas, fate had other plans for the Provan family.
Pixie takes matching people and pets very seriously. They realize that when a family brings a pet home it’s a lifetime commitment, so it’s important to make sure that they know what they’re getting into, and even more important that they choose a pet that fits their lifestyle.
Pixie gets to know the personalities of the dogs and cats in their care, recognizing that an animal’s emotional needs are just as important as their physical needs. And of course, Amy had gotten to know Sheena through her volunteering, so when she heard that Sheena and Scott were interested in George, she knew instantly that it was a good match.
Moggy the cat wasn’t so sure, but George was smart enough to stay out of her way, and occasionally Sheena has caught them giving each other sneaky sniffs. Eventually they worked through their species-centric differences and settled in nicely together.
And George? Well, he thinks he’s died and gone to heaven!
“George is one of the happiest and friendliest dogs I’ve ever met,” says Sheena. “It takes an hour just to walk around the block because he has to say hello to EVERYONE! He does a full body wag when he sees people and never fails to make them smile.”
George is on a first name basis with most of the local pet stores and neighbors. He’s an affectionate guy who loves to cuddle and give kisses. Even if he saw you only a moment ago, seeing you again is occasion enough to justify a full on excited run, wag, lick, and snuffle!
Apparently, George has a penchant for legs and finds Portland’s hot, summer weather grand entertainment, as he has frequent occasion to lick the lower appendages of unsuspected café goers during the family’s afternoon strolls.
George has a sensitive side too. His favorite toy is a stuffed fox, which he’ll nibble on, but never hard enough to make it squeak. On the rare occasion the faux fox has given a squeaky “yip!” George looked super concerned, as if he’s hurt it and feels contrite.
George LOVES the sunshine and summer is his favorite season! “Often when we go out for a walk he will reach the corner by the house, see a sunspot, and just lie down in it,” reports Sheena. “No matter where it is – sidewalk, shop, patch of grass, someone’s foot, next to someone’s table – he’ll just lie down and refuse to move. Treats and tugs do nothing. If you go to pick him up he rolls on his back and just lays there with his legs in the air. No amount of cajoling will get him to budge, so we often just hang out there until he decides it’s time to go home.”
The Pixie team check in on George, Moggy, Sheena, and Scott occasionally to make sure everyone is healthy and happy. “Puppies are hard work!” says Sheena. “But the Pixie Project answered all our crazy questions and were just so amazing. They gave us everything we needed to help George integrate into our family. I can’t thank them enough!”
By Tamara Anne Fowler
Edited by Cynthia Ryan
Daisy Maisy has super powers: this little Minpin can walk across tables and counters tops and leap to the highest summits of fences in a single bound. She can open magnetic screen doors to let Edward and Nancy, a wild duck couple, into the house.
And, thanks to Pixie Project, Daisy found herself a forever home.
Daisy was adopted in 2011 by Michelle-Shari and Steven Kruss and their children, Tova and Noah.
Michelle-Shari and Tova started their relationship with the Pixie Project when they decided to throw Tova’s 11th birthday party at Pixie and asked party guests to bring donations in lieu of presents. Tova became a Pixie volunteer the following year, but eventually the entire Kruss family began volunteering. Amy asked the Kruss family to foster Daisy the Minpin in order to evaluate her for future placement. As soon as they took her in, the Kruss family formed an immediate bond with Daisy, even though they tried to keep in mind that she was only with them as a foster.
It was near the 4th of July when Michelle-Shari made a personalized ID collar for Daisy. She was concerned about the noise of fireworks frightening Daisy and didn’t want to risk her running out and getting lost. “We put our own phone number on it,” Michelle-Shari laughs, “which immediately made her ours and not a foster. She is such a great dog!”
No one said life with Daisy would always be easy. A wooden backscratcher was innocently placed up against the front door and ended up in shreds. Michelle-Shari remembers when she came home, “It looked like a beaver had entered the kitchen,” she said. But there’s a warm side to Daisy, too. Daisy Maisy loves to sun herself on the backyard rocks. Steven says, “She just plops herself down and lies as flat as she can. It looks like she was dropped from 30 feet!”
The Kruss family also had another dog, Peekachoo, a 12-year-old Alaskan Husky the family adopted at 10 months of age. After working through the transition with Amy and a behaviorist, the two dogs became buddies. Three years after adopting Daisy Peekachoo began to get sick, so the family decided to adopt another dog to help Daisy with the process of letting go. Amy recommended that they get a male dog smaller than Daisy, so the family began looking at a litter of Chihuahua/Papillon puppies at Pixie.
As the Kruss family got to know the pack of pups, Noah noticed that while the other pups would be fighting over a toy, Heally, a small male, sat quietly off to the side. Noah remembers, “Heally just walked up and took the toy while the other puppies were fighting over it.”
Michelle-Shari was initially was drawn toward a female named Piper. However, upon Amy’s recommendation they chose Piper’s male littermate, Heally. Thanks to the special care the Pixie staff gives to each and every adopter, Pixie has an extremely high success rate for adoptions. The Pixie staff makes a personal connection with the animals that come through their doors and they take the time to really know what the adopter is looking for in an animal.
Michelle-Shari recalls, “Amy was right. She’s extremely intuitive about the animals. Heally and Daisy are perfect companions.”
As before, Amy helped transition Heally to his new home. Heally and Daisy have become great friends who love to go on long walks together, bark at the squirrels, and talk to the dogs on TV. Amy insists on all dogs taking puppy classes, and Tova reports that Heally did great. “He was so tiny compared to everybody else that it was hard for him to play. It was a great class though! And we continued training him at home.”
Humans and animals have a special bond. Pets fill our lives with laughter, comfort and unconditional love. And yet, their lives are too short, and eventually we face the inevitable moment when we have to let go. How do we know when that moment has come? Many times, our pets will tell us—and it was Peekachoo’s time. Michelle-Shari and Steven knew it. Peek has lead a full life, and at 16 years old it was time to let him go. The vet they had been going to for a number of years was not available, so Michelle-Shari got in touch with Amy at Pixie.
Michelle-Shari recalls, “Amy always told us that if it was an emergency we should call her. Amy, Shannon, and Zack were all there, and they made Peekachoo, Tova, Steven and I comfortable. They laid out warm blankets. They gave Peek the wet food that she loved, and slowly and gently made it possible for her to rest.”
Steven was so indebted to Pixie for helping his family that he donated the LED lighting for the Pixie lobby in Peekachoo’s honor.
Thanks to the Pixie Project, Heally and Daisy are happy because they have found their forever home with the Kruss family.
The Pixie Project was selected by The Huffington Post as one of the nonprofits that will help shape the next decade.
As part of their ten year anniversary, the Huffington Post chose the causes and organizations they think will make the biggest difference in the next ten years–and Pixie made the list!
Help Pixie change the face of animal rescue!
Make a donation to Pixie as part of the Next Ten campaign!
Ophelia walks slowly across the living room to the kitchen. She gives me that stare that says, “Feed me now!” So I open a new can of food – a different flavor than yesterday’s food, which she decided she no longer likes – and put it in front of her. A cursory sniff and she starts to walk off, then comes back and glares at me again. “Don’t tell me that’s all you have?” she seems to say.
So I heat her food in the microwave, stir it up, and try again. This time she takes a tentative lick at it and eats about three or four mouthfuls, than slinks off on arthritic limbs to curl up on her heating pad, which is where she spends about 23 hours a day.
Ophelia is my sick, old, cranky cat. When I found her as a feral they guessed she was 11 months old, but my current veterinarian thinks they underestimated by several years, possibly because she’s so small. She tested positive for feline leukemia (FELV), so I knew no one else would want her (not to mention the cranky part, which was more pronounced in her immediate post-feral days). So I took her in, and we’ve had a wonderful love/cranky relationship for the past nine years.
But about a year ago Ophelia started throwing up a lot and becoming really picky with her food. We ran every test under the sun and they all turned out great, with the exception of a minor heart murmur (we went to the kitty cardiologist to get that checked out, and $1,000+ later he assured us that her other health issues would catch up to her before her heart gave out). So with a tentative diagnosis of irritated bowel disease or lymphoma, we started to play the “wait-and-see” game to watch for any changes that would give us a better indication of what was going on.
I kept buying different kinds of foods and finally found that a grain-free canned food seemed to help the throwing up, but she still couldn’t eat too much at a time so she had to eat frequently. I found myself getting up two to three times a night to feed her. I’ve been pretty tired for the past year.
Maybe because it’s been so slow I haven’t noticed it, but she seems to be eating less and less, and at her last annual exam she’d lost another half a pound (she was only six and a half pounds to begin with). So every day I open can after can of cat food trying to find something she’ll eat, and I end up throwing out most of it because if it sits there for more than an hour or so she doesn’t want it anymore (same if the can’s been open for a while).
And all this while I ask myself, “Is it time? When will I know if it’s time?”
I think most compassionate pet owners ask themselves that question at some point. Their beloved friend is getting old, maybe they have some health issues and they just don’t seem to have the same pep they used to. Are they just slowing down or are they in pain? How can we know the true extent of their suffering?
We can’t, so we have to watch their behavior for changes that indicate they may not be feeling well, and trust our veterinarian to assess their health and be honest with us about their quality of life.
Quality of life. It’s a term we use to assess our pet’s well-being and decide when and whether to help them by ending their suffering. It’s a subjective analysis because we all have different feelings about how much suffering is “enough,” and even whether it’s appropriate to intervene to end a pet’s life humanely.
My approach to humane euthanasia has changed over my lifetime. When I was 28 my cat, Snowflake, was diagnosed with kidney failure. He was 18 and I’d had him since I was ten. He was the first cat that my family adopted that was “mine,” so you can imagine how special he was to me.
I left Snowflake at the vet’s office so they could give him IV fluids. I would do anything to keep him alive so I didn’t have to face losing him. I couldn’t even ask that question, “Is it time?”
My veterinarian had to remind me that Snowflake was suffering. He suggested that we put him to sleep while he was still conscious enough to recognize me. I balled and balled and balled, for hours and for days. It was so hard to say goodbye.
I’ve faced this decision many times since then, and while it never gets easier, it has become more clear to me when the time is right to let go. I don’t like to see my pets suffer, and I recognize that by holding on to them for one more day or week or month I’m being selfish. I’m the one who is going to feel the loss when they’re gone, and I don’t want to face that. Sometimes letting go is the kindest and most selfless acts of love you can give to your pet at the end of their life.
Ophelia is still hanging in there. She’s a fighter, which is probably how she survived so long as a feral, despite her petite size. Sometimes I stop my busy-frantic-have-to-get-things-done running around and just sit on the couch so I can spend some time with her. Her motor starts running when I pet her – gently, because of the arthritis – and sometimes she starts to drool (did I mention that she had all her teeth removed due to gingivitis?). I want to spend as much quality time with her as I can, so that when the time comes I can let her go and we can both be at peace.
Author: Cynthia Ryan, Pixie Volunteer
– Grant Will Enhance Pixie’s Veterinary Assistance Program –
Portland, OR (June 16, 2014) – The Pixie Project (@ThePixieProject) announced today that they have received a $7500.00 grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust. The funds will be used to enhance The Pixie Project’s Veterinary Assistance Program.
In addition to their work as an animal adoption center, The Pixie Project provides veterinary services to Portland’s low income and homeless communities at The Scott Wainner Pixie Care Clinic. This grant will help ensure that The Pixie Project can provide these services on a regular basis for the rest of 2014. It will help cover the costs of surgical supplies, veterinarian technicians and the occasional veterinarian when volunteer veterinarians are not available. Services will range from emergency care, such as stitches and amputations, as well as basic veterinary care, including teeth extractions and tumor removal. They will also provide preventative care.
“We are incredibly grateful to Banfield Charitable Trust to partner with us on this project. Veterinary care is expensive, and very often people are asked to surrender their animal if they want it to receive care” says Amy Sacks, The Pixie Project’s Executive Director “We believe that helping animals and keeping them in their current homes helps the already overloaded shelter system from becoming even more burdened.”
The Pixie Project offers support for local over-crowded under-funded county shelters by bringing animals into Pixie’s family friendly adoption center and matching them with forever families. Pixie also offers free and low cost veterinary services including spay and neuter surgeries for the pets of Portland homeless and low-income communities.
About The Pixie Project:
The Pixie Project (@ThePixieProject) in Portland, Oregon is a non-profit animal adoption center and rescue. We love pets and people through personalized pet adoption and low cost veterinary assistance. For more information on the Pixie Project, visit www.pixieproject.org.
Media Contact: For Pixie Project: Brian Berger | firstname.lastname@example.org | 503.701.2215
510 N.E. MLK Blvd.
Portland, OR 97232
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Adoption: (503) 542-3433
Fax: (503) 542-3437
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