Short term fostering

I promised my hubby, Ed, I’d take a little break from fostering because we had a pretty big parade of dogs through the house after Yogi was adopted for the second time last spring. (Yogi: Long story. An upcoming post. In short, he’s got it so good right now, and hopefully forevermore.) So we hosted Yaya then Jaci then Louie then Chip then Godiva, and I promised Ed we’d take a month off and let our own two dogs luxuriate in being the only dogs in the house.

About three weeks into that month though, our shelter put out a plea for short term fosters. They were doing a transport of 22 dogs to the Virginia Beach SPCA , a facility that is also open-intake like ours, but has a 90% save rate; the only dogs there that are euthanized are those that are too sick or behaviorally unstable to be adopted.

Short term fostering is a great option for people who want to provide a warm bed and lots of love to shelter dogs but can’t make the commitment to do it until the dogs are adopted. And in this case, it would only be three nights.

So I headed up to the shelter with the goal of walking 10 dogs and giving them some love, and then pulling a couple of small ones who were scheduled for the transport to take home for three days. What I saw first were these blue, blue eyes gazing up at me from her kennel:

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She told me Jensi wasn’t her name. She told me her name was Noodle.

My friend Jacinta said she was very shy but absolutely precious once she warmed up. I figured I’d grab her and something else that was small. That turned out to be this one (who was in a kennel just across the corridor from her):

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Yeah, my name is Mattie. It even says it on my tag right there. The tag I was wearing when my owners surrendered me :{

While I walked the other dogs, I put Noodle and Mattie together in a kennel and let them get to know each other for about an hour. Because the last thing you need is a Little-Doggy-Bloodbath in your house, especially if you wind up with a couple of alpha females.

But as you can see, these were no alpha-females when I got them home. And both “noodled” their way into my heart, and Ed’s too.

EdMattieNoodle

I’ll be honest, usually I am very happy to see my fosters go. I don’t want more than 2 dogs. And I just want to help homeless dogs; that’s why we do this. But on the day that Noodle and Mattie were scheduled for transport, I was very grateful my friend, Morgan, who works at the shelter and lives next door to me, took them to the departure point for me.

My friend, Jacinta, texted me this picture as they were loaded up on the van and ready for the 15 hour drive from Baton Rouge to Virginia Beach: : Noodle&Mattie

Broke. My. Heart.

In the morning, I woke up and I missed those little goons tremendously. Mattie would literally smile at me when I went to get them out of the bathroom (where we kept them all cozy with a dog bed and toys, which were safe there from our own dogs and their thieving ways).  Both Mattie and Noodle were perfectly behaved while they were with us and house trained too. Also, I never heard either of them bark. Not once. That is really unusual for little dogs.

All of which is to say, these perfect little angels are available for adoption at the Virginia Beach SPCA and you can see more pictures on their Facebook page. Please share and send the very best people you know to go and adopt them, either separately or together. If the adopters contact me through my blog, I’d love to do an updated entry on them. We do so love happy tails!

Here’s one more peek at these beautiful girls: Noodle1

Mattie1

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Syrus: Day 4 (Post-Catitude Test)

Were you agonizing over the outcome all day? Because agonize no longer, the verdict is in: Syrus has good Catitude!

Yes, he was interested in Allie’s cat, Moo. He was sniffy and nudgy and just plain excited for visitors period. But there was no growling, no barking, no licking of chops. No giant fangs near any fuzzy little kitty neck. Nothing like that. Just a little nuzzling. At one point, I thought I saw Syrus give Moo the signal for “You run and I’ll chase!” But Syrus was on a leash, so that ended quickly with a win for Moo. We even put them on the floor in a small, closed off area together (while I still held Syrus’s leash firmly) and they were absolutely fine.

I envision Sweet Syrus curled up by a fireplace in the near future with one kitty curled up under each arm pit. Moo, by the way, is so mellow, I’m nicknaming him Cat-atonic.

Thanks for the Dog/Cat Introduction advice, Joseph Tullier at Acadiana Canine Training! (www.acadianak9training.com) and Shelter Adoption Counselor, Lily! And most of all, thanks to Allie, Ken and Catatonic Moo.

Stay tuned for “As the Adoption Progresses…”

Meanwhile, here are some bad pictures of us laying Moo’s life on the line ;}

Syrus: Day 3

Another great day with Syrus. Still a total sweetheart. Still quiet in my kennel. Still delighted to see me and mellow when I go. If I could make a template of every future dog I want to foster, I’d make it out of Syrus.

Don't look so pathetic, Syrus.

Don’t look so pathetic, Syrus.

Don't look so pathetic, Syrus.

That’s a little better, Sweetheart.

So I said I was going to include a recipe today for fattening up an emaciated dog, and I really was going to do that, until I read the ingredients. The problem with the ingredients, as I see it, is that the main ingredient is “raw, cheap hamburger meat (for the high fat content).” Many of my friends in the rescue community swear by this recipe to pack on the pounds and nobody has reported a problem with it. But when I asked a vet friend about feeding dogs a raw food diet once (as some friends of mine do), she simply responded: Ca-Ching.
Translation: Raw meat can lead to expensive problems for your dog’s digestive health. Hopefully, we’ll get a lively debate here in the comments section on that, but to play it safe, I decided not to make the famous recipe, nor to print it here. However, if you google “Satin Balls” and it pops up, what can I do?

Slightly bummed about deciding not to pack the pork onto Syrus’s ribs and watch him expand exponentially (ha,ha), I thought I’d run by a large pet chain where I have been known to score high quality, high protein dog food at 75% off a couple of months before it’s “Best Before” date. The last time I was there, I’d found several giant bags of $60 dog food that had already passed that date and asked if I could simply have it for my rescue dog efforts, but the manager said no, she wasn’t allowed to do that. Something to do with SKU #s. It had to be slashed and put in the dumpster.

Aw, I know.

Aw, I know.

Slashed? Seriously? Can’t they just leave it beside the dumpster? Apparently not. Not unless they “forget” to slash it. I asked if they could “forget.” She said she couldn’t, but she couldn’t speak for the other managers. Long story long, I asked her if I could buy the food for $1 a bag. She checked and said she could only sell it to me for 75% off. You know what? There was A LOT of really good dog food whose primary ingredients were salmon and herring, so I bought it. Several trusted sources of mine say that dry dog food is good for a year past the “Best Buy” date, or unless it smells funny. And as my 85 lb Mastiff mix, Crespo, has skin allergies, this is his stash. There’s no way I can afford to drop $60 a bag on my sweetheart, so I’m grateful when I’m able to find this and I kind of hoard it for him. And I have been known to share it with fosters that have Demodex mange, a bad skin condition that requires a really good diet to heal quickly.

Everything's gonna be alright. (Bob Marley said so.)

Everything’s gonna be alright (says Bob Marley).

Anyway, got to the store and it wasn’t open yet, so I decided to check the dumpster. Let me just say that this is so not my style. I can’t even believe I’m telling you I did this, but yes, I went dumpster diving for dog food. I’m sorry, dear upper middle class friends and relatives who just threw up in their mouths and then worried I got swarmed by roaches and rats. I’m sorry, but I have no regrets and I’ll do it again. The worst that happened was I experienced the heartbreak of seeing an unconscionable amount of high quality Nutro Max dog food in slashed bags. This is the kind of dog food that would really have helped the thinnest and sickliest of our shelter dogs. It just killed me. I picked up the end of one bag and watched all the food slide out. Sigh. I’d been hoping the expired dog food bag slasher was sleeping on the job, but no such luck. All I came up with was a moldy rawhide, which I passed up, and a sealed bag of rabbit litter. (Hey Julie Sheffield: That rabbit litter on your porch? Your welcome.)

So I came home empty handed for Syrus. While the shelter does give its foster homes dog food for foster dogs, its first ingredient is corn. Not ideal. In my mind, a high protein, high quality dog food past its Best Buy date is better than a “younger” food that’s made of mostly corn. I decided to dig into Crespo’s stash and mix it with Syrus’s shelter food. (Did I mention that Crespo LOVES this food, it makes his coat gleam and he never scratches?)  I also gave Syrus leftovers like the chicken and scraps of brisket I keep stashed in the freezer for training treats. Syrus polished off the remainder of the brisket training treats before noon. He sits like nobody’s business now.

Yo, Syrus. Yes, I do want a kiss, but not this very second, okay?

Yo, Syrus. Yes, I do want a kiss, but not this very second, okay?

Wow, I’m really rambling here and I’m sorry but I haven’t even gotten to the absolute best part of Syrus’s day. Here it is: I got an application in this morning from the woman who expressed an interest in adopting him and she and her family are 99.9% perfect. (If you didn’t see my previous blog about Syrus, I was acquainted with this woman and her husband when I lived on Long Island, and she saw my blog in her friend’s Facebook newsfeed and just fell flat out in love with Syrus’s pictures).

So here’s the .9% possible problem. They have cats. Syrus seems interested in cats, but I’m not sure if he’s interested in them as friends or as snacks. So the task at hand is to test him out with my friend, Allie’s cat, Moo and see how strong his prey drive is. Moo lives with two dogs who are her best friends, so we’re hoping he’ll forget the prey drive and pick up the cats-and-dogs-can-be-friends vibe.

I leave you with that hope for Syrus. Can you please just put it out there? Just hope that Syrus wants to be friends and only friends with Moo. Because if so, he’s going to live the most beautiful life in a seaside town in New York with a teenager, two cats, two elderly Ridgebacks, a fenced yard and a really awesome antique store to boot. And getting him there will be another fun blog. And then I can help another Syrus.

How could you not want to help another Syrus?

How could you not want to help another Syrus?

Syrus: Day 2

In today’s Syrus News:

Syrus is still a very good boy. He kept his kennel clean and dry and was very happy to greet me this morning with tail wags and wiggles. It’s kind of funny to see a dog with a head like an anvil and a gigantic skeletal body greet you with wiggles as if he’s a fat little puppy, but he does. He’s happy. Syrus is a lesson to us all in how to be happy.

The good news today about Syrus is that (a) he doesn’t climb chain link fences, as some of my foster’s have and (b) he doesn’t bark when left alone and (c) his bronchitis appears to be getting much better, so his antibiotic is working.

The other good news about Syrus is that someone I know from New York read this blog yesterday and has had the good taste to fall in love with him. Well, maybe that describes more than one of you. But this person wants to adopt him!  I’ve sent her my adoption application, which includes practical questions to help a person decide if she is REALLY ready for the 10+ years of responsibility that come with having a new dog, and I’m hoping she is reading this right now and getting it back to me.  Because Syrus has some other (somewhat vague) interest in him too, but I think this person would be ideal. And I’ve already checked up on her behind her back. So cross your fingers for Syrus, because this would just be great if it all works out. I can just see him now, all filled out, coat glistening and secretly cheering for the Saints on tv in his new home.

I know you want a picture of him today and I promise I’ll go get that later after I get some of my paid work done. And I’ll also be posting a recipe I’ll be making later today that one of my rescue buddies shared for fattening up an emaciated dog. I know most of your dogs are probably as fat as pigs (like mine), but if you ever pick up a stray that needs fattening, it will come in handy. And meanwhile, you can just show it to your own dogs and tell them it’s the dog version of that “food porn” web site. I’m sure you’ve seen the people version, right? If not, here it is: http://foodporndaily.com (Don’t look at this if you’re on a diet or you’ll have to kill yourself.)

Okay, gotta run, but before I do, please brighten our day by sharing your dog’s best quality in the comments below.

About Dog by Dog

Dog by Dog chronicles the lives of shelter animals in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as they make their way from the shelter into foster homes, and then loving, forever homes. In 2007, this open-intake animal shelter had to euthanize nearly 11,000 of the dogs and cats that came through its doors. Today, through a variety of initiatives that include a foster care program, off site adoption events and low cost spay/neuter programs, that number has been nearly halved. Still, thousands of friendly, healthy, housetrained, and highly adoptable animals are put down annually simply for lack of space. We are hoping to change that. The name of this blog is a reference to Bird by Bird, an Anne Lamott book on writing. In it, Lamott advises beginning writers to start small, as her father once advised her 10-year-old brother, who was agonizing over a book report on birds: “Just take it bird by bird.” Working in animal rescue can feel so overwhelming at times that I decided the only way I could reasonably help without burning out was to apply Lamott’s advice and take it dog by dog. This blog shares the heartwarming stories of a few good dogs overcoming the worst. With your help, the blog will network these dogs across America and into loving homes.