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After Irma — Update From The Kennel — by Michelle

I am hijacking John’s blog this week but we’ll get him back to you next week. Settle down with a cup of coffee or a beer – this is a long one…

I hope all of your came through Irma with flying colors. But judging by the news and our own home, chances are there was damage. I hope it was minimal. Trees will re-grow but a roof won’t. We lost our roof in Wilma but are pleased to report only some slight shingle damage this time. At least, that’s what we think it is but our roofers haven’t been by to inspect us yet. Our impact windows faced their first test with flying colors although we cheated and put down a big old metal awning over the largest set of windows in the back. We had left it there for the shade it cast, so why not.

Weathering the storm: First challenge – We have had a generator for years and we pulled it out of storage. Jerry worked on it for two days and it refused to cooperate. One evening (Thursday night, maybe? I wasn’t sure what day I was in!) as the storm was coming closer, the 11 pm news said that Rick Case Honda had a truckload of generators arriving in the morning. I got up extra early and was about 20th in line. We got a new genny but it was very pricey. I am very dissappointed with the Rick Case companies. I appreciate that they brought in the gennys at the last minute but they really raised the prices.

Later that day, Jerry left to go man a ham radio at a County shelter. He had picked the animal location at Millenium School. He had no phone unless he hung out a door which was against the rules. So for three day of the hurricane, we touched base half a dozen times by phone. He used most of his calls to tell me about the school cafeteria food he was getting. He had a blast.

Our house didn’t lose power until about half way through the storm. The last hour or so was the scariest as the heat in the kennel and the house had built up and I was very worried about the dogs overheating. Towards the end I was cheating and opening the side sliding windows a bit to get some relief and fresh air. We made it through. Once the storm was over, we set the genny up. By evening, we were listening to it’s rumble and counting our blessings as the media began to show us what we had missed.

We had a couple of neighborhood adopters bring their dogs over in the evening so it was a greyhound hurricane after-party at our house. We started the genny once the storm had passed and about 11 pm it ran out of fuel. We needed it for the fridge and the kennel air conditioner and a light or two. We were speculating about taking shifts to watch it and keep it running during the night when we saw a flicker from above. It was not an angel, but close enough. The family room ceiling lights were coming on! We had lights and refrigerator and air conditioning! We all slept well that night, grateful to FP&L.

I Miss the Fencing: The giant swamp that was in our yard is finally drying up a bit. There wasn’t much foilage to begin with. BUT – – – The biggest and toughest impact for us has been the loss of our fencing. We have seven dogs in the kennel and four family/ house dogs. The back fence stayed up and we are able to prop up the short side for now. It won’t last much longer. The longest side, where they run out the door and down the side of the house to get to the backyard, is trashed. We have two panels precariously standing on their own. The rest were pushed down by the storm. The posts were snapped off cleanly at ground level. There will be no “jury-rigging” those. On the plus side, it created a nice boardwalk for a while as long as you didn’t mind the snap of the boards as you walked over them. The dogs were not pleased either with the boardwalk or with leash walking! And when leash walking this many dogs, you feel like you just got finished and it’s time for another walk!!

Once Jerry was released from the shelter he was staffing, he remembered that Steve Holloway was storing some portable fencing in his attic for us, leftovers from an old event. We brought that over so we could walk the dogs. It has been a godsend!! We used the rolls of plastic net and the metal posts, added some miscellaneous pieces of orange plastic fencing found in our warehouse and the three Jerrys built us a semi-secure fence. You’ve heard of “The Three Amigos?” We had our own. Jerry Deitch (the President of FoG), Jerry Deitch (the son of the President of FoG) and Jerry Berlin ( Webmaster and boardmember of FoG) pounded stakes into Sunrise’s “ground” made of the coral boulders they dug out to create 595. They created a temporary fence. It has been helpful but definitely not the permanent answer.

I heard the dogs barking at one point (all the days have run together for me) and I stopped an FPL supervisor from cutting away one section of the fence. It was a worker and a supervisor and they said they had to cut the fence so they could walk into the yard to inspect the area at the base of the pole near and facing our yard. I told them not to cut the fence any further and I would bring them through the house. They said they were not allowed to enter the house. We started arguing and another (apparently higher ranked) guy came around and told them don’t worry about it, they could see everything they needed just fine. No one said “sorry about that cut section in your fence, lady” But they KNEW we had dogs and we needed that fencing.

Jail Break!! The first breakout was the four housedogs and our one girl from the kennel, appropriately named Stormy. We did not see that FPL had pushed down the temporary fencing at the back of the house to work on a pole. And they just left it like that! They never even tried to set it back up or let us know. The dogs trotted out to the back yard and right across the pile of plastic sheeting that used to be the fence and away they went!! Thank goodness we had other people here and the pack was gathered up in a short time. We did learn that five dogs escaping will seem to have pre-planned their routes to go in five different directions!! Our 12 year old lady, Mitzi, was just as excited about leaving but she ran a different way than the pack. She went around and sat on the front step to wait for us! No injuries on anyone and they thought it was great fun. I was just about in the cardiac unit!!

From that point, the dogs ALWAYS had humans in the yard and except for the four house dogs, not more than three kennel dogs out at a time. You’d think we could watch three dogs. Not so. We had three other breakouts after that but all by the same dog. Mr. Jagger, an 8-year old brindle boy (returned because dad had to go live in a nursing home) is an escape artist and it took a while to figure out how he was getting out. He would be there and suddenly he was gone! Turns out he was sliding underneath the edge of the orange fencing and it was right at a point where he could run between two houses and be on a completely different street. One time he was picked up (muzzle and all!) by a lady taking kids to school. I had run into the house to grab a squawker and get help and when I came out she was pulling her car onto our swail. Momma just said “Are you looking for Jagger?” (His name was on his muzzle and collar.) Jagger was sitting proudly in the front seat and the giggling girls were in the back. I however was having a meltdown! Needless to say, I thanked momma and the girls profusely. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She was a brave lady putting a big strange, muzzled dog in a car full of little girls!! Apparently the whole neighborhood knows we run a greyhound rescue from the house. We really love our neighbors.

Once we figured out that he was going underneath the fence, Dusty’s dad, Scott, helped me block off the exits. We zip-tied downed sign poles, lumber and an assortment of construction debris left at our ongoing FP&L projects in the neighborhood to make the bottom of the net fencing less flexible. We still walk Jagger on a leash and he hates it. Too bad. He still works his way to the escape area and tests it regularly. But, me, overweight and sweaty, running around this neighborhood chasing a greyhound is not a pretty sight! No one deserves that, especially not my good neighbors.

Repairs for the Fence: We had the fence guy out the day after the storm. He accepted a large check from us and said he’d be back when he could get materials. We haven’t heard from him again, yet. The “boardwalk” was promptly stacked up on the swail on Tuesday and within an hour our amazing Sunrise waste management people had loaded it up and taken it away! They are awesome! Scott (of ) has been a big help with the walking and handling dogs. I’m getting really worn out and wish the fence was fixed. This is not helping my bad knee.

Help Wanted – Adopt! : So, people ask “what can I do to help?” Well, this is a time when people are just concentrating on re-establishing what they had and are not throwing parties or taking trips or adding to their lives unnecessarily. Everyone wants to get “settled” again before they make any more moves. Many businesses will come to a screeching halt soon as we all focus on rebuilding. One of our good friends is a caterer and expects the next few months to be a real nail-biter for them. Landscapers, roofers and movers will be busy. But adopting large dogs will be put on the back burner.
That’s a problem. These kennel dogs need real homes. We have six handsome boys and one shiny black girl. Is there room for just one hurricane orphan to come live at your house? Let me be perfectly clear – I’m talking adoption, not fostering. Greyhounds get attached to their owners and fostering is just setting them up for heartbreak. Of course we are here for our dogs if they are not right for you. But we hope to find them good, permanent homes.
Our current adoption fee is $225 and we all agree that these dogs are worth it. BUT. . . I will certainly be generous with discounting the adoption fee and will entertain offers of less – even way less – if it means getting one of these great dogs into a permanent, loving home. Please come visit them and hopefully, fall in love! (PS – none of them are cat tolerant. Sorry!)

Other Helping Ideas: We still have dogs and dog food still costs money. I don’t really expect much movement in the adoption field for a while (please, please, prove me wrong!!) But we need to keep the van moving, get the fence up and feed the dogs. If you can send a check, small or large, we would appreciate it. Of course there are online ways to donate, too. If you shop online, sign up to let FoG be your “Amazon Smile” charity. Every penny counts.

If you have a small group of teens with nothing to do, arrange to bring them over to wash dogs or brush dogs. We could use some better photos of our dogs if you have some talented photographers. (but you should wait until the fence is up or the background will be yucky.) We have Greyhound Calendars and date books for sale. If you’re in the area, stop and pick one up. ($15 & 20 respectively) We don’t have much scheduled as far as events for a while. That could change at any time so keep tabs on us. If you have an idea for a place we can gather, let me know!! We won’t be gathering at Flamingo Road Nursery for a while as they have a huge Oktoberfest event that runs from now until Nov. 5th. It’s a fun time – but no greyhounds!

Are they still running ?? Just prior to the storm, Flagler/ Magic City Casino had come up with a plan which the state had approved. Magic City (Miami) would use the license for it’s Jai Alai fronton to keep the casino license intact. They would play Jai Alai at the Magic City Casino and the dogs would not be required to run. That’s thinking out of the box!! But with the hurricane came some major damage at Mardi Gras (Hollywood) casino and track. I hear their roof structure is badly damaged and they may relocate their racing to Flagler’s track to meet their legal requirements and maintain their parimutuel wagering license. I don’t know the details and don’t know how it’s going to work but that’s one to watch, isn’t it!! I feel bad for the Hollywood employees that will be out of work but I am hoping that they too find a unique way to keep their slot machines and poker tables without running races. We’ll see.

That’s certainly enough of my rambling to make you feel like you know what’s going on at FoG. We’re a mess but we are still here. Hope you’ll come by sometime. I miss seeing all of you and the dogs get lonely. Stay dry and stop by if you’re in the area!!

Love, Peace & Greyhounds,
Michelle (& Jerry & all the dogs!)

This is the area where the dogs run out from the back door of the kennel, down the side of the house and out to the yard area.

This is the area where the dogs run out from the back door of the kennel, down the side of the house and out to the yard area.

This is the area where the dogs run out from the back door of the kennel, down the side of the house and out to the yard area.

This is the area where the dogs run out from the back door of the kennel, down the side of the house and out to the yard area.

The gate.

This area adjoins our neighbor and we have managed to prop it up with the bench (that used to be down at the kennel!) But it is slipping a bit every day.

The sandbags we used to hold the backdoor closed – It worked!!

This is the area where the dogs run out from the back door of the kennel, down the side of the house and out to the yard area. This is another angle taken a couple days later when things were dryer.

How we lashed the garbage cans down and protected them. After all, we couldn’t put them in the garage! I thought it was pretty inventive. You should have seen me out there standing on the back bumper of the van tying down trash can lids in the wind and rain! (Just the start of the rain!)