Casanova had cancer. This one wasn't a surprise. Cass and his dad were both diagnosed with cancer within about a month of each other. When his dad passed suddenly this summer, we offered to take Cass and his sister April. Neither were originally SHUG dogs, but their dad had volunteered with the Reyna search and we'd come to know them all well. We were honored to be able to offer his dogs a foster home together after his death. Despite Casanova's illness, he was a handsome, sweet gentleman. Everyone who met him fell in love with him. Cass touched many lives before he joined his father over the Rainbow Bridge on November 19th.
Goodbye, 2016. Most of us are quite happy to see you go. For many in the SHUG family this year has been especially rough. Personally, globally, no matter how you look at it a lot has happened this year. SHUG saved 100 dogs in 2016 and that's definitely the good. No matter what else this year has brought, that fact is enough to keep us going.
But the bad this year was really bad. We lost three dogs in foster care. SHUG has been around long enough that some of the dogs we've placed over the years have begun to pass away and that's bad enough. But to lose a dog while still in foster care--before they've found their Happily Ever After--is a blow to everyone.
This year we lost Ghost, Tonka, and Casanova.
Ghost bloated. Bloat is one of the dangers of deep-chested breeds but this was our first encounter with it. But his foster parents were sighthound savvy and recognized the signs right away. They got him to the vet quickly and he was in surgery before we knew it. The surgery went well, but as they were wrapping up he went into cardiac arrest. Ghost was gone before we could do anything.
Tonka died in transport. He'd been examined by a veterinarian before setting out but he was an older dog and severely overweight. He died suddenly. The only comfort was that they were less than an hour from the driver's home and she was able to take him to her own vet. We didn't have to leave him with strangers. The volunteer who was with Tonka when he passed adopted him posthumously.
Like Casanova's dad, many of SHUG's volunteers have been active with other groups. It is not uncommon for our foster parents to also volunteer and foster for other rescues--for sighthounds, other breeds, and even *gasp* cats! We try very hard not to judge. The reality is that no one group can do this alone. One of the common threads throughout our history has been the wonderful network of sister organizations we have worked with over the years, both at home and abroad.
And that brings me to the ugly of 2016. Let me say clearly and from the bottom of our hearts that we truly love the men and (mostly) women who make up this global support network. You guys have moved mountains. You are doing important work under difficult conditions and you are awesome. And sometimes you are also really, really bitchy. I know this job is stressful and everyone has an opinion and there are days you just want to throw in the towel and walk away. And I know that you don't. That you don't give up and you always have a soft touch and a kind word for the dogs in your care. But some of the words you use toward each other are not so kind. If there's one thing I would wish for my fellow rescuers in 2017 it is that they all know that we are in this together. We need to support each other. Our work is already hard. Trying to do it alone just makes it harder.
Together we have survived 2016. It was rough, but we made it. Together we will survive 2017.
Michael Owens, Director
The Sighthound Underground