Bittersweet Part II

Where to start? First, I guess, with an apology! I have been feeling not-so-great lately, the flu bug seems to be flying around here… but that is no excuse for going such a long time without posting! Sawwy 😦 In other news, Georgia serves as a great bed-side nurse!

Second, with the title. I wanted to come up with something a bit more clever, but I figured that this was most appropriate.

Let’s talk about our meet and greet. I have been rolling this over & over in my head… what is the most fair and truthful way to explain our meeting? We drove about two hours with a well-exercised and squeaky clean Georgia girl on Sunday evening. I guess I should start with the positive; the family was wonderful. They lived in the country, and were practically ideal as far as adoptive families go. They were very kind, honest in their application, and eager to add a female dog to their family. They had one well-behaved young son, and a very sweet and submissive, rescued, female pittie.

What didn’t go as well? Unfortunately, Georgia’s introduction to their dog. While their dog was displaying lots of positive body language, it was clear that Georgia was nervous around her. I tried to explain Georgia’s experiences, both before the meeting, and during it. I told them how slowly we had taken introductions between our female, Gaige, and Georgia, and that while she had never gotten aggressive, she was certainly uncomfortable around her. She had lived happily with other small female dogs, but the larger, more active dogs seemed to make her nervous. I made sure to discuss proper ways to pursue a successful introduction between two dogs. While I felt like I had done my best to explain her perspective to the potential adopters, as well as ways to approach the dogs’ introductions, somehow there must have been some miscommunication. I felt like I lost control of the meeting, and the introduction between the dogs was certainly rushed past my comfort point… and obviously Georgia’s. Ugh.

Don’t let your minds run away with you. The ‘breaking point’ was honestly no big deal. Just a little bit of growling and an open mouth… Georgia was not trying to bite the other pooch, or hurt anyone, and it ended as quickly as it started. But she did make it clear, for those of us that weren’t paying attention to her more subtle signs (stiff body language, ears pinned back, straight tail, etc) that she was not comfortable.

I felt so defeated after this introduction. I felt like I had betrayed Georgia by not having more control of the meeting, and allowing it to put her in an uncomfortable position. I knew she was becoming nervous, but I didn’t want to make the adopters feel awkward. I was more concerned with being gentle with the adopters, than I was with protecting our girl’s sanity. After all she has been through, is it really that much to expect that we take intros slowly?

On the ride home, after kicking myself emotionally, Foster Dad was, as always, the voice of reason. He had said a prayer that this meeting would end with a clear outcome; either they would be the perfect fit, or they would clearly not mesh. He certainly got what he asked for! The sweet part of this whole story? We got to take our girl home! She was coming back to a safe place, and we had learned more about what would work best for her.

While this family was fabulous, I think they were looking for more of an ‘insta-fit’ dog. A dog with special needs, or that needed a slower approach to training and socialization, was probably not going to fit into their lifestyle. But that is okay! They will find a great dog to fit their requirements. However, Georgia deserves a family that understands her needs, and will not hold them against her, but look at her training as an opportunity to improve her life and their bond together.

What does all of this mean for Georgia’s future? Well, we could give her a blanket statement that says ‘good with male dogs only’. However, I don’t think that would be fair to her. Of course, she will be pretty comfortable living with a male dog. But I feel confident that given a family that understands her discomfort around females, she would assimilate successfully given slow and respectful introductions. We are going to pursue some time with a local trainer to improve her socialization skills. We are looking forward to the achievements that we know she will make! And of course, we will keep you all posted on the improvements. Thank you for being a part of her journey. We know she wants so badly to make all of us proud!

11 thoughts on “Bittersweet Part II

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. ❤ I can pretty much guarantee that everyone who has ever done a meet and greet (esp with a pittie) has gone too fast and not felt able to stand up and say, "No, we have to do it this way." It's part of the process. You'll know that next time you will take a longer walk, or keep them further apart, or heavily suggest that they do the two week rotation themselves. But the bottom line is, it's happened to me and I'm sure it's happened to others. They weren't the perfect fit and next time you'll feel more prepared. 🙂

  2. You are right, you know. It was simply a matter of that particular family not being the best fit for Georgia. It’s nothing against her and certainly nothing against you or the way you handled it. You are doing a wonderful thing for Georgia and this way you get to spend more time with her, helping to grow her confidence. When the time is right, the perfect family will be there for her.

  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself! I have been in almost identical situations and it is very difficult to make everyone feel comfortable. When the family isn’t as familiar with this kind of stuff as we are, we just gotta be tough and even though it’s uncomfortable, stand up for the dog. I think you are an amazingly wonderful foster mom and I KNOW the perfect person/family will come along for her. And until then you get to enjoy her 🙂

  4. Even though the adoption didn’t work out, now you know even more about Georgia to pass on to her forever family when you find them. She is such a sweet girl, I just know she’s going to find them very soon!

  5. I can totally relate. My two dogs do AMAZING with my foster dogs. They can eat in the same room as them, they never bug dogs that don’t want attention, they play with ones that do. So I tell potential adopters “oh this foster is great with other dogs”.. because they are getting along with mine just fine, but the meetings dont always go as well. I tend to let my dogs meet new fosters thru the fence and then let them meet off leash and be right on hand watching to see how things go. I think that leashed meetings can be tense, and I think maybe I make the dogs nervous. It’s hard to say, but I have had many instances where people act like I was misleading them because of how the meet-and-greet went, which isn’t fair. Maybe THEIR dog is not handling the situation well, or maybe I’m nervous sometimes, it’s hard to tell.. But no matter what, in most cases theres going to be an adjustment period when bringing a new dog into the house. People never seem to understand this. When you do find the perfect family they WILL understand this, and Georgia will be made comfortable 🙂

  6. Perhaps you can prepare a little document/spiel that explains what meeting her will be like, then how and why things will be handled by you, because….. Perhaps forewarned will make them feel more secure and less likely to balk at something you want, or that she requires.

  7. I know exactly how you feel! The first person who came to meet Shaka I thought would be an amazing adopter her for her. He had pit bull experience, a lot of land and was really nice and understanding when I explained that she was slow to warm up to people. And the meet and greet went terrible. She stood stiffly in the corner and even growled a little bit in fear. As soon as he left I beat myself up that I could have handled it differently and kept her from being scared.

    And though this was a people issue and not a dog issue, I too felt maybe I should stipulate that she has to go to a woman or she has to got to a home with another dog(she took comfort in having other dogs around). I feared she would not acclimate to any other home or person! But once the perfect person came along for her, I knew it right away and realized all my worry was for nothing.

  8. I don’t think it’s unfair to make certain blanket comments if it means setting the dog up for the best possible long-term success, honesty. I don’t think it’s unfair, it’s being protective and wanting your dog to stay in the home they are placed in. And I don’t mean a blanket statement for any female but if you feel that dog’s best match is a male, is it so wrong to say that? We’ve had three fosters, all female and only one do I believe should have (and did) go with a female even though they lived with and loved my female. Bottom line it may be limiting, but if it’s in the best interest of the dog, I think that’s okay.

  9. Pingback: One-Year Anniversary | And Foster Makes Five

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