GIZMO & GIDGET: Two Precious “Antique” Chihuahuas!
Lots of pets cross our threshold. So many cute little puppies, with their whole lives ahead of them. Wonderful cats who may have lived happy lives but through no fault of their own found themselves in need of a new family. Happy-go-lucky dogs that are highly adoptable who lots of folks want to adopt. But then, sometimes, we get Pixie and Nugget.
These two elderly chihuahuas were found astray and were both at least ten years old, most likely, older than that. Nugget had bad glaucoma in both eyes – and a heart condition. Pixie is completely blind with melanoma retinal cancer. It was obvious Pixie had been abused previously, evidenced by former broken ribs and a general fear of humans. Imagine the kind of person who would abuse a little chihuahua. Among other health issues, both dogs have severe dental issues but are unable to have the dental work needed because of their overall poor health.
Enter Ginger Fultz in February of this year.
“I have never fostered before. I had an 18-year old Chihuahua that I lost in May 2017 and swore I would never get another dog until that fateful day of scrolling through the Facebook Mobile SPCA page. Bam, the minute I saw those faces they had me hooked. I wanted to get them out of the “doggie jail” ASAP. My fiancé and I double-teamed on poor Robin at the SPCA until we got the call that we could foster both chihuahuas. Our lives changed that day.”
Ginger changed their given names to Gidget and Gizmo. A mom should be able to name her own kids, right?
“They are both doing absolutely wonderful. They have settled in well. Even with the vision problems they have learned the furniture layout with very little navigation issues. They are both unique in their own way. Gidget wants to eat, sleep and lay out in the sun. She is completely housetrained. She doesn’t do well with a lot of attention. She just wants to be left alone to do her thing. She doesn’t mind being loved on and kissed on but just a little of that is enough for her.
“Gizmo is the complete opposite. She rides around all day in a papoose worn by me or my fiancé. She is the personality of the pair and has me and my fiancé completely enamored. It took a long time to gain her trust. She is absolutely not housetrained AT ALL, but we adore her anyway. I believe that she is nearing her last days.”
Gizmo and Gidget both drew short straws for most of their lives. But as sometimes happens, two angels appeared and wanted to give them happiness and love for however long they have left here on earth. So many pets who have lived happy lives with their families are discarded when they get old or ill, sometimes to a municipal shelter or the streets where their second chance is slim and their last days are spent in fear and confusion. But Gizmo and Gidget got their second chance, and we are beyond grateful to Ginger and her fiancé for giving it to them.
“We have gained a lot more blessings from them than we have given.”
Back in 2017, Cindy Irvine came to the Mobile SPCA. She’d visited several local shelters with the intent of adopting a 2-3 year old dog. But as they walked past a tall, proud Redbone coonhound’s kennel, Robin introduced him: “Red has lived here for five years. He’s 14 now and will probably live here until he dies.” Cindy had had experience with big, old, deaf, unsteady dogs so inquired about fostering him.
And so Red went home with Cindy, where he lived like a king for thirteen more months.
“He did require some special care including ramps over the stairs, but he was AWESOME every day. When it was time to put him down, Robin and Jodi came to my house to get him because I could not get him in a car. We met Krisha at the Clinic and said our last goodbyes.”
Red was Cindy’s first foster dog, and one short week later she reached out to us again, and sweet Sugar was the beneficiary of their love this time. Sugar was an elder-beagle, living at the Mobile SPCA, with medical issues common to twelve-year-old dogs, arthritis, and chronic ear infections. She also had a history of biting if “bothered” – a trait that often means a dog cannot be adopted. But that didn’t deter Cindy who felt she was up to the challenge.
“Sugar is way too strong and energetic for a 12-year old Beagle Hound mix. Once I earned her trust and love, she has been completely compliant – no biting or fighting – and her ears are not infected.
Sugar is protective of our house and yard and has turned out to be quite the guard dog. She is loving and playful and wants to be in the same room with me. She does not like for strangers to touch her head or collar and I believe she may have been grabbed this way by someone in her past. Once she spends a few minutes with someone new, she warms up quickly and will seek their attention and petting. Sugar has never bitten anyone here and loves to take walks and car rides.
“She is a Hound and can be a little stubborn when following her nose but we have worked it out. Her forever family just needs to be patient and listen to her cues. The good news is that she does not have the classic Beagle bark or howl. She is really an all-around good dog with strong loyalties and desire to please her person.
“A favorite activity is to destroy stuffed animals so I bring them home on a regular basis. One evening she was pulling out stuffing and I was grabbing it for disposal. She accidentally scratched my finger and I jumped. Sugar immediately got up and came over to kiss me and check my injury. She showed true compassion and apologized in the best way a dog could.
“During this time with Sugar, we have fostered a 9-week old puppy and a 10-year old Pekingese that needed short-term care. In each case, Sugar was accepting and tolerant of the other dogs. She helped potty-train the puppy and shared her toys. The Peke was very sick and she was gentle and careful with him. Sugar was not aggressive when the puppy tried to help her eat her food, either. After each foster, she just needed reassurance that she is my best girl.
“The fostering opportunities at the SPCA have given me an outlet for my love of animals and the ability to learn breed specifics. At the end of life, these animals deserve to be in a loving home that can provide comfort and special care just like our human hospice system does. I plan to continue to serve as a hospice foster mom.”
SNOWBALL was seized by County Animal Shelter from a couple living in their van with 17 cats and 4 dogs. The Mobile SPCA took Snowball and eventually 15 of the cats. This sweet poodle was originally the couple’s daughter’s dog and she had, in the past, taken care of him. But because she had gone to jail the parents were then in possession of the dog.
Poor little Snowball was blind from cataracts but other than that, in the two months we had him he was in good health for an elderly dog. Eventually, we reached out to Kim Matthews, friend, supporter and previous adopter of Promise the English Springer Spaniel and also Becky Brasington (the “Poodle Whisperer”), Animal Control Officer for the Fairhope Animal Shelter for assistance seeking a foster for Snowball. At the time we had in addition to Snowball another ancient poodle, Itsy, who no one was interested in. Of course, Becky came through for us, as she has in the past.
The day before they were both supposed to go to Becky, one of Snowball’s cataracts ruptured and Snowball was unable to leave. The vet he saw that day said he would not do surgery because Snowball would not survive. Nevertheless, Snowball seemed no worse the next day and didn’t appear to be in pain, so we soldiered on preparing for the worst. We all felt so badly for him because he was a sweet little dog and after everything he’d been through to now be facing Poodle Heaven . . . well, it was a lot.
Not willing to give up yet, Dr. Beth Overton agreed to try the surgery since she felt that though stoic, Snowball was in pain, so we all got ready for the bad news that he had died under anesthesia. The entire day our staff keep asking for any news or updates. But amazingly, Dr. Beth removed both eyes and he was doing so well he got a dental, too! After a recuperation period he was fortunate to leave to spend his remaining days as part of Becky’s huge pet family.
So many times innocent animals are caught up in situations they didn’t ask for and would never choose. But somehow they keep their amazing strength and yes, hope that things will be better. And because there are people in the world like Ginger, Cindy, Becky, Kim, Dr. Beth and so many others, these old dogs are the lucky ones who were able to realize their happy dream.