Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Toast to Luda

Two years ago, I took a trip to Minneapolis to pick up Ludacris.  Like most rescue dogs, he didn’t really have any history.  All I knew was that a family had rescued him from a kill shelter, but couldn't keep him and surrendered him to MSIR.  I fell in love with him instantly.  Maybe it was his toasted ears, or his pink pig nose, or maybe because he would keep nudging me with his head trying to get petted...he has so many qualities that make him loveable.  So I would like to toast to Ludacris, on our special day, for always being such a great MSIR ambassador.
For always tolerating the foster dogs that comes into his home
With foster Snowy
For allowing Piper to use his tail as a chew toy
For letting Thor snuggle in bed with him
For dealing with the ninja, aka Ginger
For sharing his toys even though Yoshi takes all the stuffing out
For always going to pet expos and letting everyone pet him
With foster mom Cindy
For dressing up as a pig while passing out candy on Halloween
For being a co-pilot in numerous transports
Between Bubba and McGee on their way to Michigan
For never eating the treats in the goodie bags
For getting SO excited to greet me that you run into walls
For being my amazing shiba boy.
When people aske where I got him from and I say that he is a rescue dog, I generally get a “oh that’s great that you saved him”.  The reality is, the rescue dogs save us. They teach us so much about life;   to be excited about the little things, to enjoy life,  to wag your tail a little more and worry a little less,   and how to unconditionally love someone above yourself.  More importantly, rescue dogs teach us to be resilient.  They demonstrate that no matter how bad their past life was and what struggles they endure, they will always overcome and find their happiness.  So here’s a toast to Ludacris and all other rescue dogs – thank you for saving us!
Joahnna Osmena, MSIR Adoption Coordinator

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Day in the Life of Rogue

Meet Rogue! At six years old and a petite 17 pounds, Rogue is one of six shibas recently rescued by MSIR from a commercial breeder. Rogue came to us, her foster family, earlier this week. Over the next few posts, I would like to introduce you to Rogue and allow you to follow along as she begins her life outside the "puppy mill". In the short time that she has been with us, Rogue has been faced with many challenges, and there will surely be many more in the weeks to come. These challenges, however, will be lessons learned not only by Rogue, but also by all other commercial breeder foster families and adoptive homes out there. 

Commercial breeder releases often make for the most difficult fosters because their prior exposure to humans, if any, is usually very unpleasant. It quickly became apparent that Rogue had not spent much time outside of a kennel. Upon arriving at our home in Minnesota, Rogue choose to stay in her kennel for the majority of the first few days. Her time was spent napping and observing her foster siblings. She did not eat and did not allow any human touch. While we were anxious to let her roam and get to know her personality, we have learned that it is often easier on a mill rescue like Rogue to just simply watch for a while. This allowed Rogue to adjust to everything from the sound of the dishwasher to the movement of others and the smells of her new home. All of these things have caused Rogue some stress, but the improvement she makes each and every day is simply remarkable.

Rogue also struggled with eating early on. While this was partly due to anxiety, it was amplified by the fact that Rogue is missing several teeth. She is still not eating as much as we would like, but she nibbles on rice and some irresistible meats (bacon appears to be her favorite) every few hours. She is not trusting of humans, yet, so we've found the best success with feeding her in her a separate part of the house. This allows Rogue to eat without her shiba siblings watching her.

Of course, there have been additional challenges for Rogue these first few days in her foster home. There is no doubt this new life will take some getting used to, but watching her progress reminds us every day of why we rescue and foster these dogs. Despite her heartbreaking past, Rogue has a sweet temperament and is interested in EVERYTHING! There is simply no doubt she will make some lucky family very happy one day soon. Until that time comes, Rogue will continue to explore and uncover what life outside of the mill has to offer.

While we aren't sure what the weekend will bring for Rogue, tonight she is conquering the couch!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

WANTED: Minori

Meet Minori (AKA The Damsel in Distress)! Minori is guilty of enjoying being a spoiled little princess. However, this little damsel deserves being pampered considering the life she led before rescue.

Minori was released to MSIR by a commercial breeder because she was not producing puppies.  When brought to the vet, it was found that Minori had an extreme case of endometrioci and her uterine wall was on the verge of collapsing.  Luckily, because Minori was able to receive quick medical attention and a spay this issues was resolved before it could cause her further damage.

In addition, Minori's gums were infected and she had to have several teeth removed.

Minori was also being treated for hemmorraging of her eye. Initially thought to be glaucoma or some other disease it was later found that the cause of damage to her eye was from some form of physical trauma. With proper medical treatment, Minori is recovering well and her eye has been treated for an infection.

If not for rescue, dogs like Minori would die due to neglect. See her "Before" and "After" photos below.

Minori, upon coming into rescue.

Minori, in her new foster home after receving medical care and a little TLC.

After the generous discount by the veterinary clinics, The Wisconsin Four's initial vet care costs total $3482.76.  We need your help to cover the costs of rescuing these very worthy shibas.  Minori, along with her co-bandits: Gibbs, McGee, and Finn, are ready to start this next chapter of their lives as forever friends.  Thank you for helping them get there.  To donate to the Wisconsin Four, please visit

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Badness is the spice of life! (by Jen R.)

On Sunday I went grocery shopping, and bought a bunch of ingredients to take to a friend's house for dinner Monday night. I prepped as much as I could ahead of time, leaving a bag of spices, cooking spray, & other non-perishables pushed to the back of the kitchen counter. Safe, I thought...

Taylor is notoriously hungry (as his dog tag, "Chow Hound" professes). So I should have known better. "But he's been so GOOD lately," I thought. I left for work Monday morning.  At 3:00 pm I was sitting in a meeting, and my phone buzzed. I was getting a call from my own home phone, which I knew meant that my pet sitter had stopped by. She only calls when it's important. She informed me that she came into my house to find the bag of food dragged into the living room, with the spices' lids chewed off... garlic, salt & pepper, onion powder blends. Ugh.

Taylor may be a shorty, but I figured out how he gets on my countertops, because my oven door handle is scratched: he jumps up & does a chin-up to get up there.

My friend Susan heard about this, and sent me a photo of a collie wearing a sign stating, "I eat trash". I thought it was so funny that I had to do my own version... here's MSIR Aki & Taylor, telling it like it is!


Thanks Jen R. for sharing MSIR Alum Taylor and Aki's shenanigans!  Readers, if you have shiba stories to share please email!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wanted: Finn (aka Pip Squeak)

Finn is one of the Wisconsin Four and is asking for your help to cover the costs associated with his patella surgery.  Finn was rescued from a commercial breeder.  He was released to rescue as a pet store reject because his "legs were bad". 

Finn was diagnosed with grade 4 advanced patellar luxation with angular limb deformity, this is a condition that left untreated would make it near impossible for Finn to walk, let alone run, play and enjoy a life without pain and discomfort.

Bascially, what this means is that Finn was born without a groove for his left kneecap to rest in. The ligaments surrounding his left knee are not holding the bones or patella in the correct location. Therefore, the tibia and femur have been growing out at an angle. Due to the severtiy of the angular limb deformity surgery was recommended immediately. With cases like this there is a very small window to correct the situation before the bones have grown out at too much of an angle to fix with surgical correction. As you can see in the video taken at 10 weeks, he was already having issues running, walking and supporting his weight on his back legs. Without surgery, he would lose the ability to support any weight on his left leg.

Even with the generous rate reduction from Dr. Lyle and Crest Animal Hospital in Kansas City, MO the vet bills for Finn's care will exceed $1,000 to date, he may require additional surgery and care before he is given the "all clear".  Your donation to MSIR will help cover the costs of the vet bills associated with Finn and the rest of the Wisconsin Four.  We are raffling off beautiful handmade Shiba Inu pottery:

Please click here to purchase your raffle tickets for the Wisconsin Four! 

Tail wags and puppy kisses from Finn!

Finn will be available for adoption after he is released from medical hold.  For more information on adoption from MSIR please visit

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wisconsin Four Fundraiser

A few weeks back we posted about four dogs MSIR was rescuing from a commercial breeder whom we have nicknamed the Wisconsin Four.  Even after the generous discounts from the vetrinary clinics the Wisonsin Four's initial vet care costs total $3482.76.  They will also need ongoing care to treat a variety of neglected medical conditions.   Each day this week we will be highlighting one of these very special dogs. Please check back for more information! 

To help cover the costs of the Wisconsin Four's vetrinary bills MSIR is raffling a beautiful handmade shiba inu tea cup and 3 chopstick rests. This pottery is hand made by Mariko Yatabe in Tokyo, Japan. Mariko makes traditional Japanese pottery from scratch, and hand paints it.  She does not use anything that contains lead or other poisonous chemicals. They are food safe and made to be used.

Go to: for more information.

The raffle winner will be drawn once we reach the fundraising goal.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Tale of Three Shibas

For over 20 years, there has been a Shiba Inu ruling the household.  Prior to my entering the picture, a six-month-old Shiba Inu puppy named Sadie stole the heart of my husband.  The little ball of fluff was an escape artist from the beginning.  Even a 6 foot chain link fence couldn't contain her, as she climbed and scaled to get where and what she wanted.  A time came when the lifestyle of my husband no longer fit the needs of a young dog.  Sadie was given a new home TWICE, each time finding her way back to her original home.  My husband gave up trying to find her a new place to live.  From that point on, man and dog were an inseparable team.  She taught him many life lessons:  compassion, how to care for another being, and unconditional love - all necessary lessons for this single male.  When I met my husband, I found out in short order that to get a second date, I had to be accepted by his Shiba Inu companion.  Lucky for me I passed the test.  Sadie was 7 at the time, and we were granted 7 more years to be owned by this intelligent, very demanding dog.  Our fun included the "Shiba 500" all over the house, up and down stairs, and around the fenced backyard.  We shared long walks with her on a daily basis.  She traveled everywhere in the car and loved those outings.  She sparred with the cat, and the two of them became so adept at the game, we would hysterically laugh at their antics. Finally, at 14 years of age, Sadie's body began to fail.  When it came time to say goodbye, it was the most devastating experience yet for my husband to face.  He grieved for months at the loss of his beloved Sadie.


8 months later my husband was on business in Chicago.  While talking with one of the local employees, he discovered the young woman volunteered for an organization called Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue, and she currently was fostering a Shiba named Rusty.  The young woman brought Rusty in her car to the hotel where my husband was staying so they could meet.  It was instantaneous love at first sight.    He phoned me and acknowledged that we must fill out an application, have a local home visit, and then head back to Chicago to bring this new Shiba to Minnesota.  Within a week I met 2 year old Rusty, who with his brother (or father, not sure) Pablo was found running the countryside of northern Wisconsin.  It was believed that the two must be related.  Both had serious heart conditions, Rusty's worse than Pablo's.  Rusty had already been prescribed and was taking a special medication for his heart.  The young Shiba was scared and unsure as we rolled out of Chicago, he and I in the back seat of the car together.  We arrived home, and found out quickly the cat was not keen on sharing space with another Shiba Inu.  So it began. 


Our Rusty boy was such a gentle soul.  He loved being petted, and would place his face on a knee and just watch you.  He loved daily walks, albeit short ones due to his heart.  The first time we realized his limitations was in our backyard.  He took off into a Shiba 500 run, and by the time he reached the fence, he collapsed.  Very scary to see for the first time.  Rusty had his own cardiologist at the University of Minnesota Veterinary School.  Here we learned that the collapsing was caused by a faulty, leaky aortic valve (Grade 5/6 heart murmur) and a ventricular stenosis (narrowing in the area just below the aortic valve).  Oxygenated blood was unable to get to his brain fast enough, causing the fainting or collapse.  We tried a special experimental procedure with the U of M to relieve the stenosis to no avail.  But even this serious condition could not stop Rusty.  We just had to moderate how much he was allowed to do.  During our 2 1/2 years with Rusty, we were able to attend one MSIR picnic in Chicago.  At the picnic we met many of the MSIR folks that transport and foster and do what MSIR does so well to help Shiba Inus in need.  We were able to reunite Rusty and Pablo, plus meet the people that had helped transport him from Wisconsin to Chicago.  As Rusty began his decline with congestive heart failure, we did everything we could to let him live the life a Shiba, or any dog deserves:  walks, car rides, playing with toys, snuggles, cuddles and treats.  It was difficult at the end to let him go.  He was less than 5 years old.  Yet we knew he had made a huge impact on our lives.  We believed we had given him the best life possible, although to us it seemed way too short.

Once again without a Shiba Inu, we volunteered any way we could for MSIR. Understanding how valuable transporters are to the organization, we volunteered several times to help transport dogs to their foster or forever home. Most memorable was the rambunctious female puppy that jumped all over the car if not kenneled. It was my first experience with a young, energetic Shiba Inu. I also volunteered to do a home visit for a potential adopter, which turned out to be easier than I had expected. One day we received an email concerning a possible transport out of Minnesota to Chicago.

Scooby never quite made it on his transport!

An older male Shiba Inu  fostered by the Minnesota Humane Society had been in their system for over 5 months and still had not been adopted..  The Humane Society contacted MSIR for help in placement.  After passing a temperament test given by a local MSIR volunteer, the plans for transport were set in motion, and we were contacted to help.  So begins our story of Scooby.  We went to visit him at the doggy daycare that was housing him.   Scooby looked so ragged and thin.  With curly tail at half-mast, he was chewing his fur off his haunches, and my heart just ached when I got sight of him.  It was my turn to make the ultimate decision, transport or adopt.  We knew so little about him.  He was thought to be 8 years old.  He loved walking on a leash.  He screamed constantly if left in a kennel.  Everyone believed his age was a huge factor in lack of adoption interest.  I made the decision, and we filled out the paperwork on the spot.  We headed for home, knowing that another adventure with a special Shiba Inu was soon to begin. 


Our vet did an evaluation once Scooby was in our home.  His age was believed to be closer to 10, evidence of that confirmed by his many broken teeth.  His eyesight was also quite cloudy, another age factor.  But most interesting of all was how he kept checking back to look at me while on a walk.  I suspected he might be deaf, and our vet confirmed it.  His ear canals were filled with scar tissue, perhaps evidence of untreated ear infections.  We will never know.  But I can say I would take a deaf dog again in a heartbeat.  Scooby became our "velcro" Shiba Inu.  We began working on signs for sit, come, food, etc.  He would also respond to very loud clapping when out in the fenced backyard.  Scooby and I learned quickly together.  With help from the University of Minnesota Veterinary School once again, root canals and extractions provided pain relief for our boy.  With yearly dental appointments, healthy food and nutritional supplements, Scooby gained weight and his fur became soft and thick.  The chewing on haunches also ceased.  Scooby and I got into a daily routine of morning and afternoon walks.  It was the only time his tail was up and curled. We could be found rain or shine, snow or sleet, below-zero or above on walks of 1 to 2 1/2 miles.  Our boy could not get enough walking.  The only time we heard Scooby bark was in his sleep (or an occasional dispute with the cat).  He came to us with a special look in his eye when he had to go outside.  It was amazing to me how we adjusted to subtle signs and what they meant.  Scooby loved rides in the truck, especially when we stopped at our local pet food store for his favorite beef tendon spiral chews.  He learned to play with a large, green, squeaky plush bone.  When we would come back in the house from even five minutes away from him, he would grab that plush bone, shake it from side-to-side, and throw it into the air.  Such was his excitement that we were home!  Once in a while, we might even see a Shiba-500. 

With a heavy heart, on May 30, 2012 we released Scooby to the Rainbow Bridge after
 months of weight-loss and a missing spark in those beautiful brown eyes.

Over the past six months we began to see a decline in the dog we knew and a real difference in quality of life.  Are we ever ready to say goodbye to a loyal companion, friend, and family member?  With a heavy heart, on May 30, 2012 we released Scooby to the Rainbow Bridge after months of weight-loss and a missing spark in those beautiful brown eyes.  Regardless of age, the love and joy given to us by our Shiba Inu companions cannot be replaced by anything else.

Will we begin yet another adventure?  Will we have more to add to our "tale"? 

(Jan Z, MSIR Volunteer, Minnesota)