Growing Family Gallery — we proudly introduce Lili — RESCUE #12

Lili (named by me as ESRA's Coordinator for the Carolinas) was owned by a man in eastern NC who "just loves bird dogs." His idea of loving these dogs however didn't include much in the realm of caring for them. He just watches a pack of various bird dog breeds and mixed mutts multiply in his dirt lot until there are so many of them that he dumps a dozen or so at the local high-kill shelter. Lili's "time to go" came up in mid December 2013. The photo posted by the shelter certainly looked like she was a Springer so off ESRA went to rescue her from certain doom.

First order of business was a bath and haircut but the little girl that emerged from her first ever spa treatment turned out to be not a Springer after all, but a clear "Heinz 57" mixed breed. At this point, her long skinny shaved tail suggested she might even be a plain ol' hound dog! It was also clear that she had probably spent most of her first 3 years adding bird dog puppies to that man's ever-expanding pack!

Healthwise, Lili came to ESRA not only needing to be spayed but also testing positive for heartworms — a case so severe that her lungs rumbled when she breathed and she coughed and gagged incessantly. She soon came down with kennel cough from her stay in the shelter. She also suffered from an extremely bad case of recurring "gastric distress" which lingered for several months. You can be sure Lili was also not housetrained at the time so that ongoing unsettled stomach was a double challenge for me as her foster mom and certainly a discomfort to Lili!

Personality wise, at first Lili was extremely quiet and timid and a little wary of her new surroundings. She was uneasy and restless inside the house and preferred to dig a shallow hole in the dirt or build a nest of fallen leaves outside to rest in. Although from the very beginning she was comfortable finding her place among the numerous and very respectful resident dogs in her foster home, inside the house she often took refuge all by herself in a small out-of-the-way closet. She was gentle and submissive around people but clearly wished they would just leave her alone and let her sit quietly in the background to observe life going on around her.

But as Lili's health improved, the transformation began. In a household with ten other dogs, Lili became the one voted "Most Likely to Bring Full-Blown Outright Giggles into the Home!"

Lili discovered toys! Squeaky toys, plush stuffed toys, bouncy ball toys, chewy toys! I'd be willing to bet her previous life wasn't much fun — maybe a stick or a rock to toss around, but certainly not the treasure trove of dog toys she found in her foster home at the King house. The delight she finds in playing with toys is hysterical! She romps, she tosses, she rolls, she romps some more — this is the stuff that brings that full-blown laughter to everyone who watches her. Now every once in a while she may also consider a shoe or a garden hat a toy, but the remarkable thing about Lili is that although her games can be raucous at times she rarely damages the toy she has chosen! And she also requires no assistance from anyone for her fun — no human or other dog is ever involved in her play. No need to tug with her or toss a ball for her to fetch — we all just sit back and watch the fun she creates all by herself!

Remembering that she's come from bird dog stock, you'd love seeing her "point" when she is alerted to the presence of a bird! And she can monitor a birdhouse filled with baby birds for hours on end — just anxiously listening and waiting!

Lili's enthusiasm at mealtime knows no equal! First thing to remember is that she truly prefers to be out in the yard as much as possible so the likelihood of her being out through the dog door at both breakfast and supper is about 98%. The household mealtime ritual consists of preparing bowls for 12 dogs (and how ever many "extras" might be in my foster care at any given time), then opening the door to whistle — just one clear shrill whistle — for Lili. Like a streak of lightning she bolts out of nowhere across the yard, through the door and into her private dining room where she twirls and bounces and dances with delight until her bowl is set in front of her. We try the "Sit" thing and she does get it, but it's admittedly just a token "Sit" before she bounces back up in anticipation! She's a whirlygig, a twirling dervish, a spinning top! She's a hoot! As soon as she finishes eating, she wants to get right back outside to her appointed bird duties!

Once Lili's coat grew out from her initial haircut, she no longer had a "hound dog tail" — she has a beautiful fully-plumed long tail that swishes happily all day long. She has rather coarse hair, primarily black and white but with a tiny tinge of brown on her sides that you'd notice when the sun hits her in just the right way. Reluctant at first, and still not a true fan of sitting patiently long enough to be brushed thoroughly, Lili does realize that a little grooming from time to time feels really good. She has even discovered that human beings give something they call "a belly rub" that is downright delightful to endure! Forever gentle, meek and unassuming, Lili still bows her head in submission, however, any time a person reaches down to pet her.

By the way, Lili's early penchant for nesting outside in dirt and leaves has been refined to include the luxuries of a indoor cushy dog bed, a nice sofa to stretch out on or a comfy easy chair and occasionally a leisurely nap on a patio lounge chair. Her "junkyard dog" days are far behind her and she is enjoying the perfect life of an ESRA dog — even a "pretender" like Lili — a safe, clean, happy life filled with adoration and love.

In a nutshell, Lili is NOT a Springer Spaniel but we don't regret one minute the fact that we saved her life. She is a sweet, happy, delightful dog bringing much joy to her family despite the fact that she embodies not one definite Springer trait.

When she was introduced on the ESRA website, we discussed the following list of her personality characteristics with every potential adopter:

Foster dog Lili was a much loved and very special welcomed guest in our household, so I was being very strict as I looked for her new Forever Home. Then one day it hit me — there was no reason to continue to look for a new home for Lili. She was home already!

Assigned birthdate: 12/10/2010