Monsieur BaRU

Much time and several wonderful foster dogs have passed through our house since my last entry. Here’s the boy who came to our house next:

Monsieur BaRU

Rex6

 

When I met this fella at the shelter, his name was Rex. I was there to see the vet with my foster Teddy and while Teddy waited his turn, I cruised the aisles of kennels. If I set my sights on the next dog, I figured, Teddy would find his perfect home sooner. (I’d had him close to four months at the time – and it worked! Or I like to pretend it did.)

The first thing I saw as I walked those dimly lit aisles was an incredible, half blue eye. I walked to the kennel door, and Mssr. BaRu tip-toed up to me and gave my fingers a little lick through the chain link. So gentle. So tender. I picked up the kennel card and read that he had been a stray caught in a trap placed by Animal Control. Just then, a staff member turned the corner and told me Mssr. BaRu had a really sweet personality but was heart worm “smear positive” and didn’t have long there. (Translation: He would be euthanized if not adopted soon).

Let me take a moment to tell you that the staff at Companion Animal Alliance is among the most compassionate of all the people I know. In fact, the person charged with making the euthanasia decisions has 10 dogs of her own and told me when she makes the dreaded weekly list she vomits. Literally.

It’s for this reason that I cannot stand it when people demonize those who work at so-called kill shelters. (Read this fabulous blog on the topic by my friend Abby Knight who works at the shelter.)

The people putting these animals in the line of fire are not those who have to “pull the trigger” so to speak, but rather those who breed dogs for pets, those who choose to buy a pet from a breeder rather than adopt from a shelter, and those who do not spay and neuter those pets, who can unintentionally get out and multiply.

If you fall into any of the above categories, I don’t mean to be a jerk by telling you that. I’m telling you in the hope that you’ll just make a different choice next time, now that you know. I have a dear old friend and a dear new friend who just adopted their first dogs from a shelter rather than buying from a breeder after reading about my experiences here. I would love to hear from them – and anyone else who has recently done the same – in the comments.

But back to Mssr. BaRu, whom I was not able to take home while Teddy was still our foster. Fast forward a few weeks, Teddy had been shipped to his new Mama in Boston, and I was at the shelter choosing my next foster. I headed to the aisle of long timers to make my choice. I had put Mssr. BaRu out of my mind, as I often do when there’s a dog there I like who doesn’t have much time and I can’t take him. But there he was!

Rex at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House in Baton Rouge

Rex at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House in Baton Rouge

 

I brought Mssr. BaRu home and he was as calm and wonderful as he was beautiful. When I posted his first picture on Facebook, I said, “Look: I found a Border Collie who’s not nuts!”

This is an inside joke for dog people who know that the Border Collie is a working breed. Highly intelligent, focused and intense, if there’s no work to do, a Border Collie will often make his own work. (My friend Laurie was fostering a Border Collie when her iphone went missing. She had turned the house upside down looking for it when she heard a muffled ringing sound and found the phone in her foster dog’s kennel, tucked beneath the dog bed. There wasn’t a scratch on it. The dog had just had a ball stealing, hiding, and now lying atop the phone).

Not long after, I got a private message from Nancy, a Facebook friend I had never met in real life, but who is also a writer and a friend of my cousin’s. Nancy had lost her Belgian Shepherd to cancer a year earlier, was heartbroken, and yet she was really missing having a dog. She was thinking she and her husband Frank might be ready to love again. Could I tell her more about this blue-eyed boy?

Suffice to say, that Mssr. BaRu was the perfect dog for Nancy and her husband. And while his heartworm status concerned her, she later told me that being unable to save her beloved Belgian was so rough that in a weird way adopting a dog with a disease that was curable felt like it would help her heal.

I am truly at a loss for words over the Nancys I have met in this world since I began fostering shelter dogs.

Nancy, who lives in Pittsburgh, wanted to speak with her husband and think about it for a few days. Meanwhile, I asked my Facebook friends if they would be willing to donate to the shelter’s sick and injured animals fund so I could get Mssr. Baru stated on doxycycline, which helps to weaken existing heart worms. I was so grateful to the people who did that, and leftover funds were used to help other dogs at the shelter. And then a very generous Facebook friend who is a friend of my parents’ messaged me saying she would like to pay for the costly immiticide injections that are part of the fast kill heart worm treatment for Rex. I could not believe what was coming together.

A few weeks later, Nancy bought a plane ticket and flew to Baton Rouge to adopt a dog named Rex who Frank would rename Mssr. BaRu (BaRu short for Baton Rouge). I picked up Nancy at the airport with Mssr. BaRu in the car. He sniffed her then wagged, she smiled then patted him. Their first meeting was gentle and sweet, just like both of them. A perfect match, I thought. Then we went to the shelter so Nancy could fill out the paper work and pay the adoption fee. Then we got a glamour shot of Nancy and her new boy:

 

Nancy and Rex 3

 

Nancy spent the night at our house and the next day she picked up her rental car and she and Mssr. BaRu headed home.

Rex&Nancy2 Rex&Nancy

From a heart worm riddled Louisiana stray caught in a trap by Animal Control, to a cherished pet living heart worm free in Pittsburgh in just a few months.

 

Rex at home in Pittsburgh surveying the wildlife out the window of his mom's study.

Rex at home in Pittsburgh surveying the wildlife out the window of his mom’s study.

 

How do you like that?

 

Rex in Pittsburgh looking beautiful and possibly up to something mischievous.

Rex enjoys a bone in Pittsburgh where he lives the good life.

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Teddy: Home at Last

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.

TeddyEnRouge

 

These are the things that happened to Teddy:

1. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/teddy/

2. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/teddy-ii

3. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/teddy-iii/

4. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/teddy-iv/

‎5. https://dogbydog.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/teddy-v/

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.

 

 

 

 

Ready?

(Don’t cheat!)

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.

ReneeTeddy

 

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:

Teddy4 Teddy3

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.

 

Teddy_SundayMorning

 

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:

 

Can you even believe our luck that this was blocks from our home and my friend had no objection to letting a DOG swim in it? Let me add that she fostered a pregnant terrier for Companion Animal Alliance. The dog had more than seven puppies in her bathroom, all of whom found homes. And my friend adopted the Mama.

Can you even believe our luck that this was blocks from our home and my friend had no objection to letting a DOG swim in it? Let me add that she fostered a pregnant terrier for Companion Animal Alliance a couple of years ago. The dog had more than seven puppies in her bathroom, all of whom found homes. And my friend adopted the Mama. You really do meet the best people doing stuff like this…

 

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.

Crespo, Luna and Teddy

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.

WHAT?

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.

My husband, Ed, is from Massachusetts and we met at UMass, Amherst. Ed couldn't wait for Teddy to learn how to root for the Sox and the Pats.

My husband, Ed, is from Massachusetts and we met at UMass. Ed couldn’t wait for Teddy to learn how to root for the Sox and the Pats.

 

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.

 

Teddy20140319_3

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.

Teddy20140319_1

This is Greg Mahle, who owns and operates Rescue Road Trips. He’s an gentle, kindred spirit who loves dogs as much as we do. Every two weeks Greg drives from his home in Ohio down through the deep south to pick up and deliver homeless dogs  to New England.

Teddy20140319_2

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!)

TeddySnow

Forty-eight hours later, Claire and her sister drove to get him in Putnam, Connecticut.

TeddyArrived1

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.

Anyone see a photo- bomber trying to disguise himself using the wrong camouflage against my pajama bottoms?

Anyone see a photo- bomber trying to disguise himself using the wrong camouflage against my pajama bottoms?

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.

Happily. Ever. After.

Happily. Ever. After.

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!

I Wish I Could Foster, But My Dog Would Be Jealous

Anyone see a photo- bomber trying to disguise himself using the wrong camouflage against my pajama bottoms?

Anyone see a camouflaged photo-bomber waiting his turn for snuggles?

When you foster dogs and bring them to adoption events, there are a few things you hear constantly from those who stop by to visit. One is, “If I could take them all, I would.” (Yes, so would we. But we don’t want to get arrested, so instead we do this.)

Another is, “I wish I could foster, but my dog would be jealous.”

Let’s address the latter, because sometimes it’s a legitimate concern. But oftentimes, it’s not. I mean, no dog ever died from being jealous provided he has a strong pack leader in the house.

I’ll start by saying that my dogs were absolutely jealous of foster dogs at first too. Three years ago when we brought home our first Companion Animal Alliance foster, Rosie, we kept her in the backyard and never even let her sniff our two female dogs unless it was through a glass door. Rosie was definitely a dominant dog — I could tell by her growling at my girls through that glass door — and both of my dogs would have fought back if she started something. Fortunately, Rosie was quiet and very easy going in our backyard and there was shelter out there for her and the weather wasn’t cold. When my husband took Stella and Luna out for a walk, I brought Rosie inside and carried her up the steep steps to my office where she spent a few hours a day with me while I worked. When my husband took our dogs outside again later, I brought Rosie back outside to our fenced yard. In two short weeks, Rosie was adopted by this lovely woman:

Rosie, our first foster for Companion Animal Alliance, with the beautiful woman who adopted her two weeks after we pulled her from the euthanasia list at the shelter.

Rosie, our first foster for Companion Animal Alliance, with the beautiful woman who adopted her two weeks after we pulled her from the euthanasia list at the shelter.

It wasn’t the ideal foster dog situation, but it all worked out. And Rosie has been living a great life for more than three years now.

As I trotted another 30 or so foster dogs through the house, I realized I needed to hone in on some criteria for who we would foster. This way they wouldn’t all have to stay in the backyard and could be integrated into our home, which makes it possible for me to tell a potential adopter whether a dog is house trained. And that’s a big deal for many adopters.

Unless you have a dangerous, dog-aggressive dog, chances are your dog will do just fine with foster dogs in the house. You just need to establish your criteria for which types of dogs you might foster most easily. Our criteria includes the following:

  • A submissive dog
  • A dog who will be mostly quiet if left outside
  • A dog who can’t or won’t climb our fence
  • A dog who is calm and happy in a crate
  • A dog who is ideally more than two years old and won’t run laps around our house and tempt our dogs to join in that fun.
  • Absolutely no puppies. A lot of people LOVE fostering puppies. We, however, are too cranky and we value our sleep too much.

We will take dogs who are injured or sick, depending on the illness or injury. We will take shy dogs, because our confident dogs often bring a shy dog out of her shell, and shy dogs are usually really low maintenance. We will take pit bulls, because our dogs have never met a pit bull they didn’t like, nor have I. (I won’t take a male Rottweiler because for some reason Crespo wants to pick a fight with every big male Rottie he meets).  We will take 100 pound dogs. We will take dogs that we personally think are ugly (and I’ll never, ever tell which) because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Plus, a dog who unveils a beautiful personality very quickly becomes a movie star in our eyes.

We introduce the dogs through a variety of methods. Sometimes I put them in the backyard kennel and bring our dogs down to investigate:

Crespo, Luna, Stella and Kahlua (an overnight foster).

Crespo, Luna, Stella and Kahlua (an overnight foster)

Sometimes I’ll come home from the shelter with a new foster and have my husband meet me out on the street with our dogs leashed. We immediately go for a walk around the block together because dogs hunt in packs and going on a walk together is a dog bonding experience. If there is growling, we correct with a yank on the collar and pick up the pace. After about a half a block, we let them sniff, nose to butt, which seems to be less of an affront than nose-to-nose.

Crespo and Big Bear.

Crespo and Bear, a 100 lb. Lab. I was reluctant to take Bear home to foster because Crespo can be reactive to very large male dogs. But my friends at the shelter assured me that Bear was very, very chill. And he was. 

Usually it all works out just fine. Once Bear was back at our house, however, he began to shove my other dogs out of the way to get loved on first. But when Crespo reacted by going after him and pinning Bear to the ground, Bear was so easy-going about it I was able to pull Crespo off, correct him and put him in time out. (He has never bitten any dog, but he will make a big show of his machisimo at times). In fact, it improved my dog’s behavior overall, and I have Bear to thank for that! They got along swimmingly after I made it clear who was the boss: Me.

Crespo and Big Bear

Crespo and Bear

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Crespo and Bear

Crespo (again with the camouflage) and Kahlua, wet, stinky and on the way home from the dog park in my car.

Crespo (again with the camouflage) and Kahlua, wet, stinky and on the way home from the dog park in my car.

Sometimes, Luna’s not the most gracious hostess.

Luna telling Big Bear who was boss. Luna weighs 30 lbs. Big Bear weighed 100 lbs at the time. Fortunately, he agreed with Luna about who was boss and he didn't bother her.

Luna telling Big Bear who was boss. Luna weighs 30 lbs. Big Bear weighed 100 lbs at the time. Fortunately, he agreed with Luna about who was boss. With one tap on the butt and a look in the eye, I set Luna straight on who the real boss is though. 

Yogi giving Luna a little kiss. They got into it over a very delicious bone that she tried to take away from him once. I had put him outside with it and Ed unknowingly let her out to pee. Bam! Fortunately, Ed was there to save her life when she tried to rip it from his jaws. To be on the safe side, don't leave your fosters and your dogs alone unsupervised. And especially not with yummy treats.

Yogi giving Luna a little kiss. Once time, they got into it over a very delicious bone that she tried to take away from him. (I had put him outside with it and Ed unknowingly let her out to pee. Fortunately, Ed was right there to break it up when she tried to yank the bone away from him and he went back at her). To be on the safe side, don’t leave your fosters and your dogs alone unsupervised, especially not at feeding or treat time. We make every dog in the house sit, stay, and wait their turn before they get a treat. And we feed them in closed crates so we don’t have to supervise, which makes them associate that space with food and like it better than they might otherwise.

Luna, Crespo and Yogi

Luna, Crespo and Yogi

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Luna and Ty (formerly Tiger)

Luna and Bebop

Luna and Bebop

Crespo and Ty (formerly Tiger)

Crespo and Ty (formerly Tiger)

Crespo, Mattie and Noodle

Crespo, Mattie and Noodle

We do try to take breaks between foster dogs, and to give our own dogs a lot of individual love and attention too.

Yes, we've had a lot of fosters around lately, Luna. Sure, you can try to slip me the tongue (but I've got these lips locked).

Yes, we’ve had a lot of fosters around lately, Luna. Sure, you can try to slip me the tongue (but I’ve got these lips locked).

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Hold still, gorgeous boy. I need a selfie with you.

I could hug you all day long too, Crespo.

I could hug you all day long too, Crespo.

Crespo, Luna and Teddy

Crespo, Luna and Teddy

Ultimately, working foster dogs into our pack has made them less jealous not more. It has also improved their training, socialization skills and it reminds them of their roots every time I have to refresh their memories and say that they were once foster dogs too.

DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL DOG TRAINING CONSULTATION OR MEDICAL ADVICE ABOUT THE PETS YOU BRING INTO YOUR HOME.

The Top 10 Dogs of 2014 (AKA: Our Fosters Last Year)

One of the things I like most about fostering is that it allows those of us who really like dogs to try out various breeds, sizes, ages and fur types we never thought we would want for our own. Sometimes I take dogs just because I’m not attracted to them; that way I think the temptation to keep them will be less. Other times, I take dogs because I’m so attracted to them it tears me up to leave the shelter without them (See Izzy, below. She looked so much like my beloved dog, Tick who passed away in 2001 I almost couldn’t stand it.)

Here are the dogs from Companion Animal Alliance who lived at our house for a spell last year.

Yogi, a pathologically shy (sweet) guy, was our foster in the spring of 2013. He was returned to me  in November 2013 because he was really afraid of men and would submissively urinate inside every time the man of the house tried to put a leash on him to take him for a walk. He was adopted one more time and returned to me again after a day (another guy problem). And ALMOST adopted a third time, but he made a break for it on his overnight trail with the adopter which led to a harrowing chase and, well, it didn't work out. In the interim, Yogi and I became quite attached all while he really wanted nothing to do with the men in my house. And they left him alone. At last, in the spring of 2014, his princess came along: An LSU student getting her PhD in psychology. YOGI GOT HIS OWN PERSONAL PSYCHOLOGIST! Seriously, they are so incredibly happy together and I could not be happier that he found the person of his dreams.

Yogi

Yogi, a pathologically shy (sweet) guy, was our foster in the spring of 2013. He was returned to me six months later because he was really afraid of men and would submissively urinate inside every time the man of the house tried to put a leash on him. He was adopted one more time in 2013 and returned to me again (another guy problem). He was ALMOST adopted a third time, but he made a break for it from the yard of the prospective adopter on his overnight trial with her which led to a harrowing chase and, well, it didn’t work out. In the interim, Yogi and I became quite attached. He really wanted nothing to do with the men in my house though, and they respected that and didn’t engage him, so it all worked out fine while he was here. At last, in the spring of 2014, his princess came along: An LSU student getting her PhD in psychology. YOGI GOT HIS OWN PERSONAL PSYCHOLOGIST! Seriously, they are so incredibly happy together and I could not be happier that he found the person of his dreams.

Yaya

Yaya

Poor Yaya didn’t work out at my house. We fostered her through her spay recovery, but my dog Luna didn’t like her and I was afraid one of them was going to get hurt, so I had to return her to the shelter. That’s always the tough part about fostering for me: If a dog doesn’t work out with my pack, they have to go back. It may sound cold hearted, but with a shelter that houses 300 animals, I can easily find a dog there that does get along with my pack and I can’t endanger my animals or the foster (Luna did bite a foster once and it cost me $100 at the vet to fix that). Fortunately for Yaya, a volunteer named Susanna met her at an adoption event and was very smitten with her. Susanna went back to the shelter after Yaya had been there for several weeks and brought her home as her foster. Yaya is still available for adoption. Susanna is her hero.

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Jacy

Jacy and her litter mates were born under a house, had very little contact with humans and by the time they were brought into the shelter most of them were terrified of people. Translation: Unadoptable. Two of her siblings were euthanized and she was slated to be next. My friend, Jacinta, who works at the shelter begged and pleaded for someone to get her out of there, so I gave it a shot. I wasn’t hopeful, because she was just so shut down and wack-a-doodle when I met her. But after a couple of days at my house she totally came out of her shell and became the normal, spunky puppy she was always meant to be. It was kind of a miracle. I brought her to the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House where she was adopted by a lovely young woman after I’d had her for only about a week.

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Louis (now Lazlo)

I put in my orders for dogs with my friend, Jacinta who works at the shelter. This time I said, “Kooky (that’s my nick name for her), get me something that’s practically in a coma.” I really don’t have a lot of patience, energy, time, etc. at the moment (or ever). But I do want to help. I just can’t have a dog that’s going to wring me out (or my husband, Ed). That was Louis. You see how he looks in this picture? That’s how he looked at the shelter most of the time. And he was incredibly sweet and well behaved when he managed to wake up. I brought him to a dinner party with me the first night I brought him home because he was so impressive. The hostess, my incredibly big hearted friend, Author Laurie Lynn Drummond, said she would foster him so I could pull another dog from the shelter. I had him a day, Laurie had him a week, and my yoga teacher, Janene, adopted him and he lives happily ever after with her and her husband, Mike and their two other dogs (and so many cats I’m not allowed to tell you the number).

Chip

Chip

“Hey Jacinta, get me another Louis,” I said. That would be Chip. Both Louis and Chip had languished at the shelter for months. Why? No clue. Both were fantastic. Chip stayed with us a few months. Everybody loved him, but nobody adopted him. Finally, a really nice couple from outside New Orleans saw him on the Friends of the Animals Facebook page and came up to their dog adoption house with their dog to meet him. Their dog was his girl twin. They adopted him and he lives happily ever after. At Christmas, they sent out the cutest picture of the two dogs snuggling like an old husband and wife.

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Godiva was also on the long timer list at Companion Animal Alliance. They call it the Lonely Hearts Club. Isn’t that the saddest thing? I was at an adoption event with another dog and she was there on a day trip with a volunteer. She had a squeaky toy in her mouth that she was enjoying very much and I watched another dog reach over and take it away from her. She gave it up so willingly, I knew she would fit in just fine in my house (with our holy terror, Luna). That day, I pulled her from the shelter to foster and later Friends of the Animals took her on as a rescue. Godiva too was with us for several weeks.  Again, no clue why it took so long. Is she not the most gorgeous thing? Google “Dutch Shepherd.” That’s what I think she might be. She too was adopted at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House. She lives with a lovely family that includes an old dachshund, an old cat, at teenager and a pre-teen who just worship her — as she deserves.

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Noodle (L) and Mattie

Noodle and Mattie were short term transport fosters. They were being transferred to a shelter in Virginia Beach and needed a place to stay in the interim to make room for more animals at our shelter. It was only going to be three days, so although I’m pretty adamant about fostering only one dog at a time, I thought it would be fine. They were perfect angels. Mattie would peel her lips back and give me a full blown smile whenever she was excited to see me. She and Noodle liked to perch on my husband’s chair or curl up in his lap while he read on his I-pad. They were adorable. Both were adopted quickly at the Virginia Beach shelter.

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Teddy

You’ve heard enough about my darling Teddy already, haven’t you? Well, for this week anyway.

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Izzy

Like I said, we don’t usually foster more than one dog at a time, but while we had Teddy, I could not resist taking home Izzy too. She looked just like our dog, Tick, who passed away in 2001. She has a hilarious personality and is a hard core snuggler who also likes to burrow. We’d wonder where she was and then find her under a pile unfolded clean laundry. A police officer and security guard at the produce stand where I shop adopted her at the Friends of the Animals Dog Adoption House. Have I mentioned how much I love Companion Animal Alliance’s partner organization, Friends of the Animals? I foster for them as well. (Godiva and Yogi were both Friends of the Animals’ rescues). Izzy now lives in a home with four humans and three other dogs. Her dad reports that she fits right in.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015. Raising my water bowl to you and your dog(s)! If you’d like to make a donation to either of these fantastic rescue organizations, both of which could really use the help, please click here their names here: Companion Animal Alliance and Friends of the Animals. I love them equally, and both help so much on the local level.

Please leave a comment and tell us about your rescue dogs. Did you adopt or foster in 2014? I’d love to hear their names and stories, please!

Thanks, ASPCA!

 

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Thanks to a generous $4,000 grant from the ASPCA, Friends of the Animals in Baton Rouge (FOTA) has been able to spay/neuter 50 dogs at the shelter. Thanks to FOTA volunteers, these dogs have been placed in loving foster homes where they are safe and secure until adopted.  FOTA has $643 left, but it must be spent by November 1 or we lose it. And we need more foster families to make that happen so we can help save another 6-12 dogs with the ASPCA grant. Won’t you please consider fostering a dog for FOTA? They make it so easy, especially with their beautiful, new dog adoption house on Highland Road near Staring Lane. Here, you can drop off your foster dog on your way to work in the morning and pick it up by six if it’s not adopted. And if it IS adopted, well isn’t that nice? What do you say? FOTA can find the perfect foster dog to fit in your home, whether it’s a chihuahua, a pit bull, a great dane, or maybe even a hilarious mixture of all of the above. Please email Paula Schoen at pbschoen18@gmail.com for more information. And thanks!

Oh, p.s. See that cutie on the bottom right? That’s right, it’s my foster boy, Knightly (now named Yogi) who was adopted last month and is living a wonderful life in a wonderful home with a mom and a dad and two little girls who adore him, as well as a lovely chocolate lab for an older dog brother. 

 

 

 

 

Rocco: Whoa

It has been a crazy few days in Rocco-land. The good news is, I was able to raise the money for Rocco’s surgery and he had it last Friday. And it went well, though we are waiting for the pathology report on the tumors removed and hoping everything is benign.

The morning of his surgery last Friday. A little early for Rocco to rise and shine, apparently.

The morning of his surgery last Friday. A little early for Rocco to rise and shine, apparently.

The bad news is, two days later, we had terrible thunderstorms here and while Rocco’s foster mom, June, was out, Rocco had a little freak-out. He squeezed himself through a cat door, busted through the screened in porch, and escaped while June was away. She was distraught and searched the neighborhood with friends, but no luck. It was a very sad and restless night that June spent with Rocco on the lam.

We posted signs all over her neighborhood, including in the park near the state capitol where I was starting to think, on day 4 of him missing, that Rocco was gone for good. I imagined him trapped in a drain pipe or caught under bushes by his harness. I imagined all sorts of things I won’t share because the world is sad enough without my horrible fantasies. Although he has a microchip, Rocco wasn’t wearing tags, because he’s a foster dog (and let me tell you, neither June nor I will ever make that mistake again; we’ll have tags made up that say “foster” with our respective phone numbers on them for our respective foster dogs. By the way, read this  article on how to make sure you don’t lose your dog in the first place, and how to get him back if you do).

Most importantly, I posted him on the Lost Pets of Baton Rouge Facebook page, describing his blue harness, his shaved back (he’d had a hot spot and the vets thought it best to remove the hair) and his incisions. And today, after I’d left a lunch meeting downtown, I got a call from a woman named MaryKay. She said she’d seen Rocco outside of her office (which was about a mile or two away from his foster home) but hadn’t been able to catch him. Then she saw his picture and description on the Lost Pets of Baton Rouge Facebook Page, where she’d gotten my phone number. She gave me the address of her office, and I was five minutes away, so I drove right there.

When I arrived, she met me downstairs and pointed to the areas where she’d seen him on the street. “I knew he had to be someone’s dog because of the blue harness,” she said, “But every time I took a step towards him, he ran away.”

Poor boy was still afraid, four days after that thunderstorm. I thanked her and did a lap around the block, calling his name and looking in bushes. I asked a little old  man taking out the garbage if he’d seen a dog and he shook his head. No dog. I turned the corner and asked a middle aged man doing construction on a ramshackle cottage alongside the interstate if he’d seen a dog. He pointed to an alley between the house he was working on and the house next door to it and I said, “Really?” My heart was in my throat. I took a couple of steps in that direction and called, “Rocco!” And guess who popped right out from under that house and throttled me with love and kisses?

Rocco.

There is nothing happier than the abrupt ending of horrible fantasies. I clipped the leash I was carrying in my bag onto his harness and took him to meet MaryKay and say thank you. And snap their picture:

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MaryKay, you made my freakin’ day! Rocco’s too! Oh, and you have extremely cool cowboy boots.

Then I gave the boy a treat from my bag (yes, my bag is like a mini-Petsmart), loaded him up in the car and took him back to June’s house. I have a key to June’s house, because part of our deal when I asked her to foster Rocco was that I would help with stuff like getting him to vet appointments and out for walks on her long work days. Fostering is great but it can also be time consuming, as shelter dogs are often sick, and so fostering partnerships like this can be a great way of saying yes when you might otherwise have to say no.

Anyway, neither of us ever knew what Rocco’s journey might entail (repeated vet visits for kennel cough and surgery and then a great escape and great reuniting). But I can promise you that neither of us regret stepping up for him for even one minute.

And the adopter who was interested in him a month ago? Still interested! In fact, this great guy is putting in a doggy door at his house and then wants to have Rocco over for an overnight visit in a few days to see how it goes. Of course, we will make sure his fence is secure, and we’re going to try out Rocco with a Thunder shirt  so that next time there’s a storm, he remains calm. In fact, I wish they would make those for people because next time there’s a storm, I think I could use one myself after this.