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.