This is the story of a sad little five-year-old Cockapoo named Teddy. Last October, Teddy found himself at an open-intake Baton Rouge shelter called Companion Animal Alliance and yesterday, he got the happy ending he so richly deserved.
These are the things that happened to Teddy:
Yes, this is a lot of reading, but seriously, it’s a good story, so don’t ruin it by reading the ending before you have all the juicy details.
Go get a cup of coffee and we’ll wait for you to get caught up.
Also, if you read these other entries about Teddy already, you might want to refresh your memory. Just a (pushy) suggestion.
Okay, so from where I left off, at “Teddy V,” I was very sad that the lovely older couple didn’t adopt Teddy after his hip surgery, though I did understand. And we were committed to finding him a home and not foster failing.
In the weeks that followed, a slew of people with children wanted to adopt Teddy and that was frustrating. Teddy loves kids, but he wasn’t going off to a home with them. (You read the other blogs, right?).
I took him to adoption event after adoption event, including this one at the Mystic Krewe of Mutts Mardi Gras parade where he had a great time, got a lot of attention and I gave my contact information to more than one interested prospective adopter. But none ever called.
Teddy also spent several days a week at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House, an amazing place open to the public in Baton Rouge, where foster dogs can go for “Doggy Day Care” while they are available for adoption. The Dog Adoption House not only looks like a decorator showroom, dogs there get excellent glamour shots taken by generous volunteer photographers like Holly “Bird” Harris and Cheryl Smith Dispenza, who runs a program called Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender (PASS) that helps keep dogs out of the shelter in the first place. Cheryl took these of Teddy in November:
Teddy loved it at the Dog Adoption House. It’s cozy, immaculately clean, and the dogs there are given a lot of love from staff and volunteers who let into play yards hourly and give them treats like Kong toys stuffed with frozen peanut butter in their kennels. The Dog Adoption House adopts out dogs at a rate of 1-2 per day, seven days a week. Several of our fosters have been adopted there, but Teddy was passed up again and again. I just didn’t understand it. Maybe it was my sign on his kennel saying he was sensitive and delicate after hip surgery and he needed to be in a home without kids. Who knows.
And then at the end of January, a month after Teddy’s surgery, I got an adoption application from a woman named Claire who lives in Boston.
I have sent fosters to New York, Maine and Chicago, so I have nothing against shipping dogs thousands of miles away for a great home. But a month out from surgery, Teddy was still occasionally limping around. On very cold nights, he seemed really uncomfortable and would sometimes cry out while getting in and out of his dog bed. And he was taking arthritis medicine that he might possibly need to take for the rest of his life.
On paper, however, this Claire person looked pretty wonderful. And she didn’t have kids. Also, she had gone to college at Tulane and was extra excited when she saw that Teddy was a Louisiana dog. Claire loved Louisiana.
I sent her an email expressing my concern for Teddy’s health in a cold climate, because Boston has been slammed with freezing temps and blizzards all winter. I told her about the arthritis meds and about my concern that if she adopted Teddy and wasn’t happy with him, I couldn’t easily get him back, like I could if he were adopted locally. My biggest fear for Teddy was that he might end up at another shelter.
Claire wrote back, saying the arthritis meds weren’t a problem and assuring me that if she adopted Teddy he would never end up in a shelter. Worst case scenario, she said, she would make sure to get him back to me. We agreed I would ask Dr. Salmon what kind of impact the cold might have on Teddy’s pain, and I said I would call Claire the next day to speak with her further.
I never did.
And I didn’t call her the next day either. Very unlike me, but at that time, I just could not envision it. Plus, a really lovely friend and neighbor was letting me rehab Teddy’s hip in her indoor pool and hot tub and he needed more of that. Doing this at a dog rehab facility would be very expensive. Here is the pool where Teddy and I worked out together:
I apologized and emailed Claire again, saying Teddy needed more free pool rehab time. I also told her about the snapping. He hadn’t done it in a month, but I was concerned if he did it to Claire, she might freak out. I signed off saying if she were still interested, I would touch base with her in a month if he hadn’t been adopted locally. I never expected to hear from her again.
But she was still interested. Oh, did I mention Claire works with children who have special needs? Did I mention when I told her about the snapping-but-not-biting, she said, she worked with kids all day who lashed out at times and she felt confident she could handle it?
Thirty days ticked by and the kind of home I wanted for Teddy still wasn’t coming along in Baton Rouge. In that month, he grew stronger, healthier and happier.
He didn’t cry getting in and out of his bed on cold nights. He no longer needed arthritis meds. He let me massage his hips and gently tug his tail in a game that I instituted which at first he found puzzling and later found hilarious. And after three months of watching my dogs play with each other and never joining in, Teddy started awkwardly trying to roughhouse with our 85 pound Mastiff mix, Crespo. This was previously unimaginable in his formerly delicate state. Crespo obliged, allowing Teddy to pummel him, like he does with our 30 pound Beagle mix, Luna.
By the end of February, Teddy was feeling like a million bucks, and although I was sure Claire probably had adopted another dog, I gave her a call.
She had not adopted another dog. She was waiting for good news about Teddy.
Seriously, one of the best things about fostering dogs for me is getting to meet amazing people like Claire. You think they don’t exist, and yet they keep showing up, again and again, making fostering dogs so addictive.
I asked Claire for two references and called them — they were Perfect and More Perfect.
I made a Skype date with Claire and met her via video-conference — she was lovelier than I had even imagined.
My friend Deborah, who lives in Boston and had adopted my friend, Laurie Lynn Drummond’s CAA foster Sally the previous month, did a home visit at Claire’s house for me.
Deborah’s verdict: Claire is as great in person as she was on the phone, by email and Skype. Claire clearly understood what she was getting herself into. She was planning to take Teddy to obedience school, not for him, she said, but for her. What Deborah liked best about Claire was how she “lit up” when she spoke about Teddy. If a person could fall in love with a dog over the internet, Deborah said, Claire had done that with Teddy.
It was a done deal. I approved Claire for adoption, she booked Teddy a ride north on the Rescue Road Trips truck and paid for it.
Teddy was Beantown Bound.
For moral support, my friend Laurie Lynn drove me to the Love’s truck stop in Port Allen, Louisiana, where Teddy was being picked up at 9 am on a Thursday. I kissed him goodbye in the backseat of her car.
Was I a little nervous that Teddy would be scared or naughty and snappy with his handlers on the bus? A little. Was I worried he wouldn’t want to leave me and get into a tractor-trailer lined with 60 cages of dogs and think he was in a strange moving animal shelter? A little.
But it seems Teddy’s experiences at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House made him see kennels filled with other dogs as happy places. Teddy also loves riding in the car, so when he saw the truck, he started wagging his tail like he was about to go on the best ride of his life. He hopped on board in two elegant leaps and let the driver/owner, Greg, lift him without objection, for a picture.
Over the next 48 hours, Teddy let perfect strangers in Alabama and Pennsylvania walk him. And he got to see his first snow. (Unimpressed with that white stuff…Lemme back into the truck!)
Forty-eight hours later, Claire and her sister drove to get him in Putnam, Connecticut.
I’d be lying if I told you I don’t miss Teddy this morning as I sit on the sofa typing this. He would be pressing his feathery little body into my side trying to get closer than close and encroaching on my keyboard. And if Crespo got too close, he would be turning around and giving him the stink-eye.
But the fact is, although Teddy liked Crespo and Luna well enough, he is more of a People Dog than a Dog Dog. And in all the time he was here, he never gave up his hope that he could one day have me, or any woman, all to himself. I am a foster dog mom though, and no dog is ever going to have me all to himself. After everything Teddy had been through, he deserved a woman all his own.
It took a few months to find her and more than a thousand miles of traveling, but Claire, it turns out, was Teddy’s woman all along.
If you would like to donate to help dogs at Companion Animal Alliance, the open-intake municipal shelter in Baton Rouge where Teddy was housed when I met him, please click here: http://www.caabr.org/#!donate/ctzx
If you would like to help dogs at Friends of the Animals in Baton Rouge, a rescue organization that holds offsite adoption events and has the amazing Dog Adoption House where Teddy spent many happy day time hours over the course of many months, please click here: http://friendsoftheanimalsbr.org/donate.html
Both of these organizations have my heart. Thank you!