Monday, December 24, 2012

A Letter to My Dad

Dear Dad...

Tonight, I texted you to come clean about the FOURTH addition to my fur family.  As you know, I'm not good with words... unless I can write them down.  You didn't respond to my text, and I'm worried that you disagree with my decision.

I just want you to know that I didn't make this decision without much thought.  I never thought that I'd have a fourth dog.  When one passed for one reason or another, I figured I'd add another needy dog at some point... not to fill the void... but to save another life.

My future dog... would be of mixed breed... and HE would be a dock dog.  I'm far too involved with the sport to adopt a dog that might not have dock dog potential.

But something silly happened.  A timid Shepherd mix came into my life shortly after a very special hospice dog left.  This little, nervous Shepherd mix... was a GIRL.  God forbid I ever adopted another female dog.  NO MORE GIRLS.  That was my demand... even for future foster dogs.  Lyla got along with males... but she was very particular about her female friends

After we sent Pager off to Rainbow Bridge... and off to a world much different than the one we live in, we went straight to animal control.  We were devastated and saddened as we walked up and down the aisles of homeless canines.  There were a few that caught my eye... and Paige was not one of them.  However, I walked into the kennel... and settled.  I settled.  I didn't look at her and say, "I want to save this dog."  But I knew that I needed a distraction... and I trusted Jessica's opinion.

Within days, I knew that this little girl belonged with me.  She was MINE.  Paige got along well with the dogs - even Lyla.  The cats?  They were great friends.  Toy drive?  Eh, barely.  The love of water?  Not that I know of.  So... as for her being a future dock dog... I have no idea.  I guess we'll have to wait and see!

To give up fostering to adopt another dog... that's a big deal.  I love this dog.  She belongs with me.  So... there it is... no more fostering.  No more dogs.  This is it.  I just hope that those who think I'm crazy for adding a fourth dog can find acceptance in this addition.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Thursday, December 20, 2012

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

Fifty-eight days ago I saw this very same picture, and I heard the story about a stray dog that truly seemed to have run out of luck.  His name was Pager, and he was homeless.  He ended up at PAWS of Hertford County where the staff and volunteers took the time to find out what his story was.  Pager was a big, sweet boy with a smile that could make anybody fall in love with him.  It was this very picture that I had seen posted on their Facebook that captured my heart - and my heart refused to let this image go.  The story that followed this picture was a sad one.  Pager's lymph nodes were swollen, and it was thought that he probably had cancer.

50 days ago, Pager went to the vet for a biopsy.  I was following his story like a hawk.  There was something about this dog that I couldn't ignore.

44 days ago, I heard the news.  Pager had cancer, and his prognosis was grim.  He was to be euthanized that afternoon.  His cancer was a death sentence.  On top of that, he was high heart worm positive.  Pager didn't have a chance, and it wasn't fair to make him live the rest of his days out in a shelter environment.  My heart sunk... and while I already had four dogs in my house, I had to do something.  Even though one of the PAWS volunteers was going to take him to the vet to be euthanized rather than having it done in the shelter, I couldn't stand to let it happen.  I frantically texted K9 Justice League, the rescue I foster for, begging for permission to bring this dog into my home.  Apparently I didn't need to beg.  The rescue understood how important this was to me.  I wanted to do something for this dog that otherwise didn't have a chance.

39 days ago, I met the dog that would change my life forever.  He was awesome - and we all the knew this the minute we met him.  One of my fellow K9JL foster parents/friends came and photographed our first meeting.  She has a hospice dog... so she knows just how important it is to have plenty of pictures of a life that might not last all that long.  After we went shopping with Pager in Petsmart, it was time to bring him home to the clan.  He was a little nervous with the initial meeting, but can you blame him?  With four dogs and four cats in the house, it's a little intimidating for a newcomer!  It wasn't long before he settled in, though.

Pager spent the following 8 days living life to the fullest.  We fed him whatever he wanted - whipped cream, bagels, bully sticks, and mass amounts of treats.  When he wasn't visiting pet stores, Starbucks, and parks, Pager was getting loved on at home by me and my pack of dogs and cats.

Pager enjoying a Puppy Latte at Starbucks!
Kisses for Aunt Bethany!
32 days ago, Pager looked me in the eyes and told me that it was time to go.  He had spent eight amazing days with me.  Eight good days... full of happiness, love, and anything he wanted.  That last night, Pager slept in the bed with me.  He had this option since I had brought him into my home... but it wasn't until that night that Pager decided to spend the night in bed... right next to me.

31 days ago,  I had to make a very hard decision.  While I'd like to say it was the hardest decision of my life, it wasn't.  The night before, Pager looked at me with these eyes that said, "I just lived a lifetime in eight days.  It's okay to let me go now."  I woke up the next morning with him next to me, and I looked him in the eyes and knew what I had to do.  It was an easy decision.  Pager and I gave each other what we needed... and it was only fair to release him from his pain.  Overnight, my happy-go-lucky boy had declined greatly, and I simply couldn't stand to see him in that state.  We had to do right by Pager, so we brought him in to the vet that morning to send him across Rainbow Bridge.  Pager was surrounded by three people who loved him very much.  His crossing was quiet and peaceful... though very sad.  In just a short amount of time, Pager had captured the hearts of hundreds.

That very day, we thought that it would be a great tribute to Pager to pull another needy dog from the shelter.  I already had a foster dog, but it only seemed natural to add another to the mix to help distract me from the sadness that ensued from the loss of Pager.  She was a Shepherd mix with a widow's peak similar to Pager's.  I had already sworn off female dogs in my house... but Jessica, the founder of K9JL, thought I'd like her.  She was a little timid and quite underweight.  I wasn't blown away when I first met her, but I did like her.  I took her home that very day, and she met the rest of the clan without an issue.  I had already decided earlier that day that "if I ended up with her", I wanted to name her Paige.  I was fostering her in remembrance of Pager, so I figured that naming her after him made sense, too!

Days later, I couldn't imagine life without this little Shepherd mix.  She was sweet and goofy and got along extremely well with my "difficult dog", Lyla.  Lyla's personality doesn't always mesh well with those of others, but she and Paige got along as if they had lived together forever.  Trust me, there were no plans to adopt a fourth dog.  Ever.  I love fostering.  I've been doing it for two years.  But... there was something about Paige that I couldn't let go of.  I kept thinking, "What are the chances that another dog like this will ever cross my path?"

I like to think that this all happened for a reason - that I brought Pager into my life for those eight days to learn what I learned from him - and perhaps to help me find my way to Paige... and to help Paige find her way to me.  Yes, it's official... and the paperwork has been signed.  Who knew that life would bring me in this direction?  I sure didn't.

Welcome to forever, Paige.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Love is patient, love is kind."

Because tomorrow is a special day... a day that I want to write about... I'm trying hard to catch up on what I haven't written about in the last few months.

That brings me to Trixie.  Honestly I can't remember if Trixie came when I still had Hallie or if she came after Hallie had been adopted.  There have been so many "double fosters" in the last six months
that I can't remember when I've had four dogs or five dogs in the house.  It all kind of blends together these days.

Trixie wasn't supposed to end up staying... but I feel like half of the dogs that have come to my house "to visit" have ended up not leaving until they were adopted!  Long story short, Trixie stayed.  And Trixie has yet to leave.  She's been in the rescue since mid-September, my house since the end of October, and really hasn't had much interest.  I'm not sure why.  She's sweet, beautiful, a good size, and a GREAT snuggle buddy!  On top of that, she gets along well with other dogs and cats!  I guess that perfect home will come along eventually.

I love her.  I really do.  However, I suppose after fostering for so long, I've found a "type" that I prefer in my house.  There's nothing wrong with her.  She's house-trained and crate-trained... and under proper supervision, she doesn't chew inappropriately and is simply happy to snuggle up on the couch or get crazy out in the yard with the other dogs.  However, with five dogs in the house, I cannot give Trixie as much attention as she would like.  She gets what she needs and is happy... but I'd love to see her in a new foster home soon... or even better, a forever home.  Trixie wants to play with toys out in the yard.  She wants to snuggle up next to someone on the couch and sleep in the bed at night.  She wants to go for long walks... and maybe even a swim once in a while.  However... my house is full.  Brody doesn't want to share his toys with her.  Lyla doesn't want to give up her spot next to me on the couch for Trixie... though they enjoy nothing more than a good romp outside together!  She's happy... but I think she'd be a lot happier in a home where she can get more attention.  I try to enhance the lives of the dogs in my house as much as I possibly can... and I truly feel guilty that I don't have the time or resources to give Trixie the attention that she deserves.  Clearly she's not deprived... but I know she wants more.

So, please spread the word about this sweet, young lady and help us get her in a home in which she CAN curl up on the couch and snuggle, play with toys, or go on a long walk with her family.  Trixie would love nothing more than to find a forever home for the holidays.  She truly deserves it.  I can't put into words how sweet this little pooch is.  You have to meet her to get it.

And... like I said... tomorrow is an important day.  There will be a lot to write about... and even more to catch up on.  I'm not even sure if I'm ready to write about it... but I'll try.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage."

It seems as if the last couple months have unintentionally brought on this hiatus from blogging.  It's been a busy time in my life... between work and pets and the rescue and dock dogs and taking on new responsibilities that allow a lot less time for anything else.  I'm not complaining... especially since I choose to take on all of these tasks... but I am attempting to offer an explanation for my lack of blogging!  I love blogging.  As most of you know, I love to write.  I can write a lot better than I can speak.  In what I cannot say out loud, I can certainly put into words on a computer or on a piece of paper.  So... I'm back.  I'll push the writer's block aside and make an attempt at writing again.

We left off with Hallie just joining my pack.  Believe it or not, just a couple months after welcoming her into my life, a family mourning the loss of their dog came across her picture.  It was love at first sight, though I was skeptical of what they would think when they actually met my shy foster dog.  Shy dogs are difficult... because while they might come out of their shell in their foster homes after being there for a couple of months, they revert back to their almost feral self in any new situation.  It's like starting all over again in anyplace other than where and whom they are used to.  However, Hallie's savior was right around the corner.  A mother of three, whose husband was currently deployed, was on the search for a new canine companion to fill the void of the beloved dog she had recently lost.

We dotted the i's and crossed the t's and did a home visit as soon as we could.  We were concerned that Hallie would be in a home with three young children and as the only dog.  Shy dogs learn how to act from other dogs.  We weren't sure how she'd do without the guidance of other canines.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that Mom knew exactly how to treat a shy dog.  The children did as they were told and didn't even get up from the table when we came into the house with Hallie.  I'm not sure if I could have that much restraint with a new dog in the house... even as an adult!  Mom even noticed that the ceiling fan was making Hallie nervous, even before any of us did, and she quickly got up to turn it off and make Hallie a little more comfortable.

Before we knew it, the papers were signed... and Hallie joined her new family with a new name of "Roxy".  I've kept in touch with her new family, and I love seeing pictures of her in her forever home.  They've had their struggles... but that's expected with such an under socialized dog.  However, Roxy's family has worked hard and has done an amazing job striving towards having a strong bond between them.  I couldn't be happier that I get to see her on occasion and that her family is willing to work so hard to make their relationships stronger.

I'm still not caught up, though.  I still have to write about the dogs that followed this brindle beauty.  I'd combine it all into one post if I could... but there's far too much to write about.  Because between Hallie's story and now... there was/is Trixie, Pager, and Paige.  For now, I'll leave you with this story of a shy dog finding her forever home... something that probably would have never been possible if she had never left the shelter.  Shy dogs are good dogs... just misunderstood.  I'm so glad that I've been able to  contribute to the lives of a handful of a few shy dogs... and have been a piece of their journey to finding their forever homes.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints... Emily

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Invisible threads are the strongest ties."

It was just another Saturday in the life of Emily... and for some reason... I didn't have to work, I didn't have a K9 Justice League adoption event to attend, and I didn't even have any Tidewater Dock Dogs commitments.  That's a first!  Don't get me wrong - I love my job, I love the rescue, and I love dock dogs!  But for me to have a free day?  That's just strange.  Naturally, I offered to help another shelter set up at Petsmart and handle and hang out with their adoptable dogs and cats for some of the day.  PAWS of Hertford County is a shelter I hold near and is dear to my heart.  Not only has K9JL worked closely with them to transfer dogs from the PAWS shelter to our rescue, but they are also the reason that my sweet Lyla and her siblings ever found their way to myself and their other adopters.  Some of my favorite foster dogs have been from PAWS!

I already had a foster dog... and little did I know... I'd have another unexpected foster join my life about a month later.  My three-legged girl, Lucille, spent a little over 3 months with me.  It baffled me as to why she wasn't adopted sooner.  I suppose the whole "tripod image" threw some people off.  I'm not sure why... because Lucille could outrun ALL of my dogs.  She was house trained, good with dogs, good with cats, and had looks to kill.  People fell in love with her through my pictures of her... but nobody actually put an application in on her.  It wasn't until our Petco adoption event... at a location that we only visit once every couple months... that a married pair walked in the store and looked at Lucille as if they had come to the store specifically to see her.  Apparently... they had.  They saw through Lucille's nervous nature and put in the paperwork that day!  Within the week, Lucille was living happily in her forever home with her new parents and her THREE dog siblings!  Lucille waited so long to find that perfect family, and over 3 months later, it finally happened.  She found her PERFECT match.  It was the first adoption that I actually cried in front of the family.  All of my foster dogs are special... but Lucille taught me a lot about loving life in spite of her "disability"... if you can even call it that.

At some point, though, when Lucille was still a part of my life... and Peaches wasn't part of it yet... I met Hallie.  She was there at the PAWS adoption event at Petsmart to "socialize".  This was probably 3-4 months ago.  She had some treats outside of her crate for people to offer her.  She was hesitant about taking treats from people, and she was huddled in the back of her crate.  I'm a sucker for the shy dogs... and as I chatted with a PAWS volunteer tonight, I realized that maybe I'm such a sucker for the shy dogs... because I used to be painfully shy myself.  I know how it feels to be in a new situation and simply want to shut down.  I know how scared they are... how much they wish that they could just be invisible.  So I sat in front of Hallie's crate and offered her treat after treat after treat... and she continued to take them from me... but she still remained huddled in the back of her crate.  Still... we connected.

However many months later... after both Lucille and Peaches were adopted... K9 Justice League headed down to North Carolina for another pull.  We came at a time that they needed it most.  The shelter was overcrowded and needed to transfer some dogs to rescue badly.  The shelter is basically an animal control facility run by volunteers that offer their blood, sweat, and tears to help the unwanted dogs and cats of rural North Carolina.  I knew who I wanted as my next foster dog before we even traveled down there.  Hallie was STILL there.

So... welcome to Hallie - and seven other needy dogs!  She's not as shy as Audrey, but she exhibits many of the same characteristics.  I highly doubt that she's ever lived in a home before.  The ceiling fan and the standing fan threw her for a loop.  The television intrigued her... and it's obvious that she's never seen or heard one before.  She fits right in with the dogs and is BFFs with Lyla already!  The cats make her a little nervous, though.  She has some threshold issues when it comes to coming in and out between the house and the backyard.  I have to prop the door open and hide around the corner... then sneak behind her and shut the door once she's come in.  She will walk on a leash, so that's a plus!  She's really been a joy so far!  Hallie has only pottied outside... and has remained quietly in her crate when I sleep and when I went to work.  She eats well, too!  You all know how stressed out a finicky eater makes me!  Hallie takes time to settle down in the house and actually sleep, but she's figuring it out.  She needs a lot of socialization with people... but doesn't have a mean bone in her body.  I'm excited to get to know her better and continue working on getting her socialized with the human kind.  So far, so good.  I'm glad that we made that connection a few months ago... and I'm even happier than I'm able to help another dog that would have otherwise been overlooked time and time again.  Get ready, Hallie... you're life is just beginning!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Those who are meant to be together will always find their way to each other in the end."

Whenever I tell people that one of my foster dogs is getting adopted, the most popular response is, "You must be sad."  But I'm not sad.  The tears that I cry are tears of joy.  I've been fostering dogs for almost 2 years now, and I've loved every single one.  Some more than others, perhaps, but I've truly loved each and every soul that has passed through my life.

Why be sad?  Because I was able to offer my time and a place to stay, this dog that would have never had a chance got one.  And in the end, that dog that never had a chance ends up in a forever home with the person/people who were waiting for them all along.

You might have to see it to believe it, I suppose, but every dog I've fostered has ended up with the perfect family.  You have no idea how many times I've heard potential adopters say, "I've been looking for the right dog for so long."  You know what?  My foster dog has been looking for the right family for so long!  And then they find each other.  It's that moment when you see the connection between human and dog... and you just know that it's meant to be.

Three days ago, on Sunday, at the K9 Justice League adoption event at our local Petco, I saw that spark between child and dog.  A very excited little boy with parents in tow came into the store for the second day in a row to look at our adoptable dogs.  Reese, the boy, instantly gravitated towards Peaches.  He walked her around the store, and she followed.  She didn't mind that her legs were tangled in the leash... or that he was walking much faster than her typical, slow pace.  Peaches seemed happy as long as she was tagging along with him.  They looked at fish together and made their rounds through the store... quite a few times!  He'd bend over and wrap his arms around her and exclaim, "She's cute!  I like her!"  I had a hard time not tearing up just watching them together.  These two were meant to be together.  I think mom and dad noticed the connection, too, because they eventually came to us with their decision.  They wanted to adopt Peaches.  We set up a home visit for Tuesday.

I spent the next couple days extremely excited over the potential adoption of Peaches... but also thinking it was too good to be true.  Peaches had spent nearly 5 months in the rescue... almost 4 of those months with me.  Her calm nature wasn't an attention grabber when it came to adoption events.  Nearly 5 months... and almost no interest in this sweet, older girl.  She had been passed up by so many people... it was hard for me to believe that her day had finally come.

Peaches joined me at work on Tuesday and had a spa day.  I probably could have given her a bath at home, but I liked the fact that she was there with me all day on what would be her last day as my foster dog.  When I arrived at the home, her boy excitedly ran to the back of my car where Peaches was.  He was clearly excited!  First we checked out the backyard, and I'm pretty sure that Peaches was in heaven.  She has a huge backyard to explore and plenty of space to sunbathe!  She joyously followed Reese around and even ran back to the house with him!  Peaches isn't a runner.  She's more of a slow walker, but she was clearly happy to follow her new best friend wherever he went!  She explored the house with Reese and has some new kitty siblings to get acquainted with!  They weren't exactly thrilled about their new canine companion, but I know that cats take time to adjust.  Heck, I have 4 cats... so I'm all too familiar with the process.  They signed the papers and made it official.  The quiet, calm hound mix that was passed up so many times finally found the right family.  There truly is a perfect family for every dog - it's just a matter of time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's not about one dog...

It's not about one dog.  It's about the thousands unfairly killed because of BSL.

While I realize that my blog is named "Foster Dog Diaries", I can't help from straying from the stories of my foster dogs to address this issue...

Breed Specific Legislation, commonly know as BSL, and fondly known by many of us as BS.  That's what it is.  It's bullshit.  If you're not up to par on your BSL knowledge, check out Wikipedia's definition.

What sparks this recent hatred, you ask?  If you're a dog lover, you've probably heard about Lennox and the 2-year battle to free the innocent "pit bull type" dog.  However, in Belfast, a UK owned territory, "pit bull type" dogs are banned.  Any of these dogs are to be euthanized... though I hardly think it's far to use such an innocent term.  These dogs are being murdered.  Forget the fact that the dog might just be the sweetest and most harmless dog in town - it doesn't matter.  Don't you know?  It's not about personality - it's about looks - about the breed.  Hmmm, sounds kind of like racial profiling, doesn't it?

Even though there were many other options for Lennox, including Victoria Stillwell's (famous dog trainer of It's Me or the Dog) offer to pay the expenses and rehome the dog in the U.S. where BSL exists... but not as strictly as it does in the UK.

Unfortunately, Belfast City Council refused to take anyone up on their offers... and insisted on murdering Lennox early this morning.  My heart goes out to the family that wouldn’t give up, and I only hope that Lennox’s story will reach the ears of millions and show them exactly how wrong BSL is.

  I am the proud owner of a “pit bull type” dog... as well as a German Shepherd mix.  Both are as sweet as sugar and would never pose a threat to humankind... yet both are banned and/or restricted in many places.  We must continue to fight BSL... because YOUR dog might be next.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"We will either find a way, or make one..."

Yes... I fell off of the blogging bandwagon yet again.  But if you knew how chaotic and busy my life was, you'd understand why.

I'm on month three with Lucille as a foster.  She goes to nearly all of the adoption events, gets shared on Facebook, and has even been featured in a video blog by our local country station.  I couldn't tell you why she doesn't have a home yet.  Not to mention the fact that she's house trained, crate trained, good with dogs, good with cats, good with kids, and - well - just good all around.  I just don't get it.  I've had fosters that aren't good with other dogs... fosters that are so under socialized that they are petrified of EVERYTHING... fosters that have medical issues... and they've ALL been adopted.  But what about Lucille?  What is it about her that has kept her from finding her forever home?  Yes, she only has three legs... but I honestly can't imagine that the lack of a leg is what is keeping people from being interested in her.  She keeps up just fine with the rest of the pack.  I'm truly baffled.  I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Lucille finally finds her forever home someday soon.  As for now, she's happy and healthy where she is.

Then... as you all know... along came Peaches.  I'm on month two with Peaches.  I've had some difficult dogs throughout my fostering career... but Peaches has been a hard one to figure out.  She's as sweet as sugar, but she's had a very hard time adjusting to life as an indoor dog.  Between house training and crate training, it's been a struggle.  As for getting along with the other four dogs and three cats in the house, she's adjusted quite well!  She attends adoption events and also participated in the video blog with Lucille that our local country station, 97.3 The Eagle, put on for us.  From what I can tell, Peaches was probably a dog that never lived in a house... and never had to be confined.  Two months later, I'm still trying to crack the code with this dog.  She's one of the sweetest dogs I've crossed paths with... but I still have some figuring out to do when it comes to house training her.  As for getting her used to living in a house... well... let's just say that she has taken kindly to curling up in a ball on the couch.

Oh... but as if two foster dogs, three of my own dogs, three cats, two ferrets, a snake, a horse, and work, dock dogs, and rescue events weren't enough... some newborn kittens wiggled their way into my life.  I'm sad to say that two of them passed away... but I'm thrilled to announce that the little boy is alive and kicking 6 weeks (almost 7 weeks) later.  And, of course, after spending every waking moment with this kitten... I've become rather attached.  I'm desperately hoping that Gunther, the kitten, will be the new addition as a "hospital cat" where I work... but we'll have to see how it goes.  I still haven't talked to my boss about it, though I've caught him multiple times taking Gunther out to visit with him.  Too cute!  My boss is pretty awesome.  I'm just going to keep bringing him to work with me... and go from there.  If he's a terror that annoys clients, swats at dogs' noses, and tears bags of food open... it's a negative... but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he's a good boy and settles in.  Just have to play it by ear, I suppose.

Yes, so... basically... I'm insanely busy, my house is a mess, I don't sleep much, yet I'm pretty damn happy.  And I guess that's all that matters.  Right?

Friday, April 6, 2012

"With love and patience, nothing is impossible."

At some point in the last couple of weeks, I acquired another foster dog.  Funny how that happens, huh?  The more, the merrier!  That's what I think!

I first met Peaches at an K9 Justice League adoption event at Petco.  I was attending the event with my current (and still current) foster dog, Lucille.  We set up camp as usual and made ourselves comfortable at the table with our dogs in hand.  Lucille was very social and did a great job drawing the attention of people passing by.  After all, those three-legged dogs tend to do that!  Peaches, however, spent her day trying to wander at the end of the leash... and sleeping.  When people did pay attention to her, she'd offer a wag of the tail and was very tolerant of anyone visiting.  She did especially well with children!  Peaches was nothing short of sweet, though she didn't appear to be very entertained at the adoption event.

Lucille, myself, and Peaches
 Little did I know, this picture would be a picture of myself with my future foster dog, Peaches.  While I'm still not sure if she'll end up as my "permanent" foster dog, she's spent enough time with me now to be a temporary foster dog, at least!  How did Peaches end up with me, you ask?  Well, I have a 6ft privacy fence, and I'm the person who can't stand to see a dog down on her luck.  While we don't know what Peaches' past consists of, I can only assume that she was never kept indoors.  Her first foster home, while perfect in every other aspect, didn't have a fence that could contain this wandering soul.  As for the second foster home, Peaches required more training and time than they could give her at the time.  Dogs who have never lived inside before take a little extra time and patience when it comes to house training and manners... not everyone is up for it.  Even though I already had Lucille, I was more than willing to hang on to Peaches until another foster home opened up... or indefinitely... until she's adopted.

 It didn't start off like that, though.  The first couple of days with Peaches went well.  She was fine with all of my dogs... and just kind of existed amongst them.  She's older and gives the occasional kiss and tail wag to the other dogs, but that's about the extent of it.  She did well with house training, too.  There were a couple of days later, however, that you would have thought that Peaches was looking to get the heck out of my house!  And she was driving me crazy!  She looked out of the windows, paced in the yard, tried to climb over and crawl under the baby gates, and attempted to dig her way out of the crate.  Peaches wanted OUT.  Following this episode, she also had a couple accidents in the house.  Honestly, I expect accidents.  Dogs who have never lived in a home environment have no idea that just going when you have to go - whether it's on the tile or hardwood floor or carpet - is not proper house dog manners.  They don't know any better... and nobody ever taught them.  It was the constant attempt at escaping that had me confused.  She just seemed so anxious and just couldn't settle down.

At some point, Peaches gave up.  I don't know what it was.  I'm not sure if she just got into the swing of things... or if she saw that the other dogs had to deal with exactly what she was dealing with... but Peaches finally settled in.  She's given up on trying to 'get out'... whether it's under or over gates or digging out of the crate.  She goes outside with the rest of the pack, sleeps in a crate adjacent to Lucille, and eats when the others eat.  I think she's probably gained a pound already - and she's a picky eater.  However, she seems content enough in the household to eat dry food without the bells and whistles.  I add canned food once a day for the extra calories... but Peaches doesn't hesitate to eat her dry, plain kibble anymore.  And while I won't hold my breath, she's been accident free for the last few days!  She's a good girl and refuses to have accidents in her crate, and we experienced a milestone this morning!  She scratched at the door to go outside!  And when I let her out, she tinkled right away!  Peaches is nothing short of incredibly sweet... and she's trying so hard to learn the ways of an indoor dog.  She's going to make someone an amazing companion if she keeps this up!  Her name is perfect.  She's as sweet as peaches.

As for Lucille, she's been doing great.  She looks like a totally new dog!  She's gained weight and has a shiny, beautiful coat!  Lucille event had a meet and greet the other day with a family!  Fingers crossed that they are her future forever family.  I had to work, so I didn't get to meet them... but apparently they are a very nice family!  I'm going to miss Lucille very much when she does leave.  She fits in well here... and has made an awesome playmate for Lyla.  But... I've said it a million times... and I'll say it again... a foster dog going to a new home means another homeless dog gets a chance at life.  As much as I hate to let them go, it's all for good reason... and I can deal with that.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Being different is one of the most beautiful things on earth."

First of all, do you remember that family that loved Audrey so much?  Well, they adopted her!  She's doing great with her new people and new doggie brother!  When I saw them with her, I could just tell that they were her future forever home!

It wasn't long after Audrey's adoption that another special Hound mix came into my life.  She wasn't shy like Audrey, but she had recently had her front leg amputated.  She was found as a malnourished stray... dragging her bum leg along... and entertaining four pups of her own.  Paws of Hertford County in Ahoskie, NC took Lucille into their shelter and got her the medical attention she so desperately needed.  Her four puppies were quickly adopted... but Lucille still needed surgery to have her bum leg amputated... and, of course, to be spayed!  In the midst of all of this, Lucille also tested positive for two tick-born illnesses!  Those are a quick fix with some medication... and she was fortunate that she wasn't heart worm positive!

It's kind of funny how Lucille ended up as my foster.  She originally was meant to be a temporary guest while I kept an eye on her incision site after the amputation surgery.  I wasn't even sure if I wanted to keep her as a foster at first!  At first glance, it appeared as if she wasn't going to get along with my other female, Lyla.  Come to find, Lucille doesn't like face to face greetings.  It makes her uncomfortable and defensive.  After all she's been through... can you blame her?  Within the week, she settled in at my house and with my pack.  I even took her to work with me to the vet office and used the healing laser on her incision site.  It healed up wonderfully, and we were able to remove the stitches about 14 days after the surgery.  Lucky for me, I've got amazing bosses and amazing co-workers who are willing to lend their expertise and a helping hand when it comes to my foster dogs!

In the end, we decided not to stress Lucille out by moving her again to a different foster home... and left her with me.  She's doing amazingly well... and does great with my dogs and my cats.  She sleeps contently in her crate while I'm at work and at night when I'm asleep.  Lucille even walks well on a leash!  She doesn't have accidents in the house either!  She's truly been a joy to have.  She's adjusted extremely well to only having three legs.  Honestly, I'm sure the bum leg was a nuisance, and she was happy to get rid of it!

I've had her for almost a month now, and I'm honestly shocked that nobody has adopted her yet.  She's a good dog - a trooper - and super beautiful with her gorgeous eyes and sweet demeanor!  She certainly doesn't let the fact that she has three legs slow her down.  However, I continue to live by the fact that true love will happen when it's meant to.  I know Lucille's forever family is right around the corner...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

I'm 10 days shy of 2 months with Audrey, and I'm very happy with the progress she's made!  She's really blossomed into a great dog!  For such a fearful girl, she's been extremely tolerant and sweet.  Audrey sleeps in the bed with me and the other dogs, hangs out on the couch with me, plays great with the dogs out in the yard, and pretty much mimics everything her canine friends do.  They've really taught her a lot!  I'd like to credit myself... but it's my dogs who have done most of the work in teaching her how to be a great companion for a family.

She had a meet-and-greet with a family a couple weeks ago and really surprised me in how well she did.  She was totally out of her element... but wanted so badly to meet these two people.  Audrey would walk into the living room where we were sitting, then dart away.  Rinse and repeat.  Eventually, though, Audrey walked in and lied down and fell asleep next to them.  She wants, so badly, to be a part of the family - but she's just not sure what to expect.  Who knows what happened to her in her youth.  We really have no idea what caused her to be so fearful - whether it was being left alone and the lack of socialization or the possibility of someone hurting her in the past.  But... Audrey is learning... and she has come such a long way in a short amount of time.  That particular family decided against adopting Audrey... simply because she's probably going to take a little extra work.

However, Audrey went to her first adoption event this last Sunday... and a couple people had inquired about her the previous day.  I arrived at Petco a few minutes earlier to let Audrey get settled and walk around the store.  Apart from going to a couple unfamiliar places, Audrey hadn't been anywhere like Petco before.  She walked on a leash and did pretty well walking through the store.  She never ceases to amaze me!  The first family who came in to visit Audrey loved her for who she was.  They weren't concerned with the fact that Audrey wasn't interacting with them.  They understood that she was scared... and took our word that she's totally different in an environment in which she's comfortable.  They put an application in on her and have since set up a meet-and-greet with Audrey.

I know this might sound ridiculous, but I think they might be it.  Audrey has been acting differently since she met them.  She's been more outgoing at home and extremely lovey dovey.  She wants to sleep right next to me... and is constantly going in for kisses from me.  Fingers crossed that these people are Audrey's forever family!  It's nice that some people can see through the shyness and believe that there's a totally different dog in there.  Good people are out there!  I hate to get too excited... because you never know what's going to happen... but we'll see!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say."

Long time, no see.  I've been suffering from writer's block, I suppose, because writing is one of my favorite things to do - especially writing about dogs.  I actually typed a post up a few days ago... and deleted it.  So... here I am...

I totally skipped a chapter of the "Foster Dog Diaries" when I failed to write about Boris, my last foster, and all of my experiences with him.  Perhaps I didn't write because he was one of my most difficult fosters... that happened to come at a time in my life that was fairly new and busy.  You see, around the same time Boris came into my life, I started a new job at vet hospital as a vet assistant/kennel caretaker.  I've never worked at a vet before... so I had a lot to learn!  I STILL have a lot to learn.  But... that's irrelevant.  Boris was a good dog - obedience trained, crate trained, good on a leash, etc.  However, Boris didn't really know how to act around other dogs.  He got on well with Brody and Lyla at first... but he and Jackson butted heads quite often.  I really had to keep an eye on those two.  After a couple weeks, though, Brody and Lyla decided that they didn't really want to tolerate Boris as much as they had at first.  This made life a little bit difficult for all of us.  Lyla's used to having a playmate... and she started to act out when Boris didn't suffice as such.  We stuck it out, though, and Boris eventually found his forever family.  While it was difficult, I'm glad that I was a part of helping him find his perfect family.  He really is a good dog... but Mr. Boris certainly seemed to prefer being an only dog.

Once Boris was adopted, I spent a few weeks without a foster.  Lyla was going crazy without a playmate!  So was I!  But... K9 Justice League had it all planned out.  We were headed down to Paws of Hertford County in North Carolina on January 31st to pull a handful of dogs to bring back home to Virginia for the open foster families of the rescue.  I eagerly awaited the day that I'd meet my new foster!

Of course, I scoured the website day and night to see which dog I might just want to pick.  But... you know how that goes.  You pick one and end up with another!  We made the trip early in the morning and were greeted by the amazing volunteers of PAWS who we have come to know and love.  They are truly amazing people... who work hard and give these animals love when nobody else will.  Talk about a small shelter rising above the rest!  They have done a fantastic job getting the word out about their dogs and cats!  I really adore them.

Once we got to the shelter, we went to work.  My eyes were peeled for my new foster... and Jessica and Tiffany worked hard to pick dogs that matched up well with the available foster families.  Of course, I wanted the dog least likely to be adopted.  There were two shy dogs, Florence and Olivia.  Florence had been in a home for a trial... but do to her extreme shyness, it didn't work out.  I adored both of them from the start... but Florence showed the most potential... so that's who I left with.  We left with a total of 11 dogs.  Ten went into the rescue, and one was transported to a breed rescue.  We renamed my foster dog.  Her name is now Audrey.  The first day was rough.  She was so scared that she would barely move.  While she was petrified, she wasn't aggressive at all.  I could pick her up and pet her... although she really didn't enjoy it!  She curled up in a ball and was like a statue while my three dogs greeted her.  When she came home with me, I don't think she was expecting to be in a house with a whole pack of dogs!  And that's what will save her.  My dogs have already helped her in so many ways... and they are doing their job by showing her that humans give food, affection, and playtime.  It's going to be a long road... but she's already made a lot of progress.  I can't wait to see what the future holds for Audrey's life.

Peace, Love, and Paw Prints