The Vow

As we approach February 14th, whether single or otherwise attached, it can be automatic for our minds to wander to the mystery of relationships. When a couple gets married, they are pretty clear on what kind of commitment they are making. (I consider myself an expert, considering it was only about 9 months ago that I said my own vows!) They know that they are agreeing to love, honor, and cherish, in sickness or health, and for richer or poorer. They commit to being faithful, all the days of their lives.

Photo courtesy of Jenni Grace Photography

Photo courtesy of Jenni Grace Photography

Somehow, some people seem a little bit confused about this, and 50% of marriages sadly end in divorce. (Stick with me here, dog-lovers, I’m not attempting to start sharing marriage advice on this page!) However, as much as some individuals in our society have a problem with loyalty in human relationships, there is an equal (or greater? certainly more deadly…) problem with our commitment to animals. I thought that perhaps, if we wrote out the commitment being made, both by the animal and the adopter, that it would be a bit more clear. It will certainly bring me some peace of mind in giving up our girl. In this case, I will define the promises I know Georgia is willing and able to make to her adoptive family, and, in exchange, the commitment that I expect the adopter to uphold.

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I am sharing my sweet baby girl with a family, giving them a big chunk of my heart, because I believe she will bring endless joy to them. It is a truly unselfish act, and because of its worth, it does not come without expectations.

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Georgia:

I promise to gobble up any crumbs you drop, before they even fall to the floor you try to clean up. I promise to protect my family from loud noises and dark shadows, including the scary, noisy, tall, moving box that tries to eat the floor and all of my crumbs.

I promise to try my hardest to remember everything you teach me, especially when it earns me treats or pets. Please try to be patient with me. I will try to be gentle when you are quiet, and playful when you are active. I will try to remember to play with my body, and not with my mouth, like dogs do. Even though off-leash walks are my favorite, I will try to remember that you are busy, and not always able to entertain me. In those times, I will learn to entertain myself.

I will always kiss you, especially if you have salty water spilling out of your eyes, or food on your face. I’m a good friend that way. I will always be able to tell when you are sad, or when you have had a bad day. I will respond appropriately with quiet cuddles and snuggles on the couch or bed… I’ll even let you choose which! When you tell me all of your deepest, darkest, secrets, I will never, ever tell anyone. Not even that nosy poodle down the street. I will love your human puppies just like I loved my doggy babies, and I will teach them how loyal the best dogs really are.

I promise to always look at you like you are the Best Person in the Whole Wide World. Because you are. And I will always love you more than anything. Even more than my elk antler or nylabone. Please remember that you are everything to me, and that when you are not here, my world seems empty. Please don’t leave me for longer than you really have to, or lock me up for long when I misunderstand. Know that I am convinced that my presence is necessary in the bathroom, but I will try to be patient if you disagree.

I will trust you to protect me, and to finally give me my real, honest-to-goodness, forever home. Please trust me, too. I am a good dog. I know because my foster mom told me so, every day. If you lose your temper with me, I will never retaliate, and I may not forget it, but I will always forgive. Please remember that when I make mistakes.

When I get old and gray, please don’t grow tired of me, or frustrated with the conditions age brings. Remind me that you love me, and of all of our fun times together. Carry me outside to enjoy the sunshine and green grass, and maybe even the water now and then… you know it is my favorite. I will join you on all of life’s journeys, as a willing and loyal partner… please be the same for me. Everything in life is better for me if you are there too.

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Adopter:

We promise to bring you into our home as our forever friend. We will never leave you for long, and will always provide for you as a member of our family, even if our lives get hard. We will always remember that your life has been hard before, and we will never again let you know hunger, fear, pain, or loneliness. We will always remember that our commitment to you is as important as any other we have ever made. We will teach our children how valuable your presence is in our lives, and show them how to be kind and caring toward you.

We promise to keep in touch with your foster family and blogging friends, and let them know how wonderful your life is with us. We will send pictures when we can, and maybe even arrange for reunions whenever possible. We will remember that were it not for an army of individuals, we may not have been blessed with your presence in our lives.

We will bring patience to all of our endeavors together, and use training to improve our relationship. We will become careful students of your body language, and work to communicate on your level, not our own. When it is obvious that you are not understanding our requests, we will remember your want to please, and look first to our own actions for miscommunication. We will never use force or isolation in an attempt to convey our requests.

We promise to offer you as many cuddles and tummy rubs as you could ever want. We will let you snuggle up on the bed or couch, at least some of the time, or we will crawl down to the floor to join you for a cuddle session. We will never yell at you for the millions of kisses you might try to offer to us, even if we are on the way out the door and you are covering us in slobber. We will understand that you just wish we wouldn’t leave again, and want other dogs to know we are ‘yours’. Even when we are busy, we will remember that you have needs in terms of social interaction, physical activity, and mental stimulation. If we do not provide for you in these ways, we will be prepared for repercussions of chewed pillows.

We promise to speak to you like a friend, because you are that for us. All we ask in exchange is a wag of your tail or your protection by our bed. We will always remember that for what we offer to you in shelter, food, and water, we are more than repaid in your endless love and loyalty. We will always be indebted to you. When you remind us that we are your whole world… please remember that while we may fill our lives with other things, you are what makes our lives whole.

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“The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take the wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens . . .”

Three’s a Crowd… Or is It?

We are lucky to be involved with LCPO, the rescue that saved Miss Gia from certain death. We foster through their organization, and they in turn offer us endless training advice, in addition to other crucial resources. LCPO brings a lot of experience to the table, and therefore they require that each dog placed into a new home, whether as a foster or a permanent family member, completes the two-week de-stress upon entering the new home. To put it simply, this is a process in which the new pet is kept separate from any other pets for at least two weeks. Sounds fun, huh? It may not be easy, but this is to help ensure success and happiness for all family-members; both two and four-legged! Utilizing the advice from LCPO, as well as tips we’ve picked up along the way, we wanted to share our experiences in achieving peaceful interactions in a multi-dog household.

1. The first step to happy interactions in a multi-dog household is to understand your dogs’ personality and tolerance levels. Every dog is different! It is vital that we be receptive to our dogs’ reactions around other animals, even when it comes to the most subtle body language!  This bell curve, designed and described by BAD RAP, is used to show the varying tolerance levels of the pit bulls that they encounter while rescuing. However, in truth, it can apply to many breeds of dog.

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  • “dog-social” : These are dogs that truly enjoy and seek-out the company of other dogs, including housemate dogs. These pups are very easy-going, willing to forgive even the rudest of dog manners, and are often happiest when in the company of other dogs. This category would include most puppies, and a smaller percentage of socially mature dogs (14 months+).
My sweet boy Tonka falls into this category

My sweet boy Tonka falls into the first category

  • “dog-tolerant”: These dogs are typically non-reactive on leash, and either indifferent or friendly to other dogs. They show relaxed, easy body language in the presence of new dogs. While these pups may not ‘love’ dogs that they don’t know, they would have decent tolerance for rude behavior (a long fuse). It can be gathered that these types of dogs enjoy known dog friends when properly introduced, and in general, succeed with housemate dogs.
Gaige's designation can vary, but she is mostly dog-tolerant.

Gaige’s designation can vary, but she is mostly dog-tolerant.

  • “dog-reactive”: In this case, the dog would likely have some dog friends, but be more selective in their pairings. He or she may dislike certain ‘types’ of dogs (male/female, large/small, hyper/mellow) and be easily offended by rude dog manners. Can be described as grumpy or sassy, dominant. This dog likes to be in charge and dictate the rules during playtime, and must be reminded by their human to use good manners during play. This dog can succeed with housemate dogs, with supervision.
Because we manage Georgia carefully, she probably can also be placed in the same category as Gaige. However, without careful training, she could fall into one of the latter categories.

Because we manage Georgia carefully, she probably can also be placed in the same category as Gaige. However, without careful training, she could fall into one of the latter categories.

  •  “dog-aggressive”: These pooches may have a limited number of dog friends, or even none. They may be leash reactive if the opportunity arises (weak handler, no training). This dog may have a short fuse during play, even with dogs that it knows. This dog requires heavy supervision during player, and a good leader when out on leash. Many live successfully with housemate dogs (typically opposite sex) with proper supervision and management.
It can be easy to read these descriptions, and draw hard conclusions. However, it is important to note that with proper training and management, which includes structured and slow introductions, most dogs can still be safe members of multi-dog households; it just requires more knowledge and effort on the part of the owner. A dog that has been dog-aggressive, may be managed to be dog-selective. Also, as dogs age and their environments change, so to may their tolerance classifications. Additionally, these traits only apply to interactions with other canines, and in NO WAY guarantee a dog’s attitude toward children, small animals, or people. Those are all separate traits, and must be evaluated separately, in order to set the dog up for success. It cannot be assumed that a dog that is aggressive with dogs will also be that way towards children, and likewise, a dog that behaves well with other dogs should not be guaranteed to be gentle with small animals.

When looking at our own dogs, it can be difficult to place labels on them, but it is imperative for the sake of peace. For example, I would probably put Tonka in the first category. He enjoys the presence of other dogs, has excellent manners around them, and is willing to overlook almost all negative behavior. However, there was a period of time where he was twice attacked by a male labrador. It took many months and positive experiences before we were able to build his confidence back to a friendly level.

Gaige and Georgia (typical women!) can be a bit more difficult to categorize. Gaige enjoys other dogs, but has terrible manners with them. She likes to be in charge, but is submissive to Georgia. While she treats Tonka like she rules the roost, often stealing his toys or chewing on his limbs, she defers to him when he does stand his ground. I would probably consider her to be dog-tolerant. Georgia, on the other hand, is even more of a challenge to define. She is not aggressive, but has a low-tolerance for lack of manners (ahem, Gaige!) She is happy to be around other dogs, and cries when separated from ours, but doesn’t seek out the company of new animals. She is not leash-reactive, yet will defend herself if she feels particularly threatened. However, when she ‘defends’ herself, it is nothing more than a retreat, loud growl or snap… she never tries to bite or fight.

2. The next step in dog-integration is a slow introduction. In the case of multiple puppies, this may be as slow as a few minutes, but when it comes to mature dogs, it may take months! We are in the latter category. Why so slow? When integrating dogs, prevention is key. What I mean by that, is that once dogs have had a serious altercation, it can be very difficult to repair the relationship. Most pups aren’t big on ‘forgive and forget’. If two dogs have had a rough introduction, you may not be able to achieve successful interactions without lots more effort, and perhaps some professional intervention. For us, we decided that it was better to be safe than sorry, and have decided to take things as slowly as possible.

  • The first step to dog introductions is for each dog to have a ‘safe’ place. For most homes, this is a room or secluded kennel. It should be comfortable, and free from many distractions (a sheet or blanket over the top works well). Most importantly, the dog should be allowed to be somewhat protective over this space… it is theirs, after all. Children and other animals should never be allowed play near or inside your dog’s kennel. When not together, the dogs should be placed in their respective kennels. This shows them that while their crate is safe and comfortable, it is not as much ‘fun’ as being social around the other animals.

OUTDOOR INTRODUCTIONS

  • The next step to the introductions, occurring once the dog has begun to feel comfortable in the new environment, would be group walks. These walks should begin by walking the dogs parallel, with humans and a significant distance, placed in between. This allows the dogs to get used to the sight and scent of one another, without the pressure to interact. As the dogs become more comfortable, the distance between them will decrease. Any positive behavior, such as calm tail wags, should be praised by the handler. It is important to be aware of subtle cues of stress, such as yawning. These signs can vary between dogs, but a low tail with a steady stare can indicate aggression. In this instance, you should redirect the dog without rewarding their behavior, perhaps by turning them in a circle, or stepping in front of their stare. These walks may need to continue for a few days or a few weeks. They can be considered successful when neither dog is overly-excited at the presence of the other, nor aggressive or fearful.
  • Following the group walks, it is important to again evaluate your dogs’ comfort levels around other animals, before proceeding. At this point, we had learned that Georgia liked other dogs. She was not aggressive with them, but was also not completely comfortable. We knew that if she was faced with an uncomfortable situation, she would first try to flee (the term fight or flight is important here!). Gaige had no discomfort with other dogs, but lacked proper manners. Therefore, we decided to keep Gaige leashed while walking, but allow Georgia to be loose. If the dogs were to get stressed, Georgia could retreat, while we retained control of Gaige’s behavior, and could correct her whenever necessary. (Of course, evaluate this step at your own discretion. It is ideal to be in a fenced area for this step, or at least to have a strong recall cue on both dogs.)
All three pups collaborate for group 'hunting' in the bushes.

All three pups collaborate for group ‘hunting’ in the bushes.

  • Once you can be sure that all dogs are comfortable in the presence of the others, and that you also have retained control over the animals, it may be time to graduate to off-leash interactions outdoors. During this time, it is important to watch for warning signs, and manage triggers. For example, many dogs will display issues when another dog tries to take their toy, eat something yummy, or approach their favorite person. You can manage these interactions to avoid confrontation (hello, put the toys away!). We know that Georgia becomes uncomfortable when Gaige rushes toward her, and so we try to manage Gaige’s behavior in approaching Georgia. Not only does this show Georgia that we will protect her, allowing her to let her guard down and not stand in defense of herself, but it also is teaching Gaige how to have more polite interactions with other dogs.

We will be back to continue this subject, and discuss integrating dogs indoors! If you this subject is interesting to you, check out the blog written by Debby McMullen. She is a positive-reinforcement dog trainer who specializes in multi-dog interactions, and has given us a lot of insight and tips toward integrating our household.

A successful multi-dog (and cat-dog?) household

A successful multi-dog (and cat-dog?) household

Top 10 Reasons to Add Georgia to your Family!

Want to hear something crazy? We are approaching Georgia’s ONE YEAR anniversary of rescue. Can you believe it? We certainly cannot.

It was a cold December afternoon, just a few days before Christmas, when LCPO heard of a little red pit bull with newborn pups, slated to be euthanized at a heart-sticking shelter in Georgia. After scrambling to bring them all to safety, the rescue has worked diligently to bring mom and babies back to good health. While all of her pups have found wonderful, forever homes, poor Georgia seems to have been overlooked. Honestly and truly, I cannot think of ONE reason someone wouldn’t want to adopt her. She is about as close to perfect as it gets. (Don’t tell Tonka I said so.) However, I thought I would be proactive, and deliberately tell you all just why we think she is so wonderful.

10. Grooming. Georgia has a shiny, sleek coat. What does this mean for you? She is a VERY LOW shedding pooch, so that means less vacuuming, brushing, and blanket washing! You won’t be carrying little ‘pieces’ of her (hair) around on all of your clothes and coats, either. She feels like velvet under your hands, and is a festive red and white! She also LOVES baths, and sits quietly in the tub for them.

Sitting patiently for her bath

Sitting patiently for her bath

9. Highly Trainable. Georgia is a people-pleaser, and is very motivated by food rewards. This, coupled with her intelligence, makes her a great candidate for easy training and obedience!

Training session with Foster Dad

Training session with Foster Dad

8. Low-maintenance activity level. A short game of fetch and one walk a day are more than enough to keep Georgia’s mind and body active, which is rare for a dog of her age and breed. This makes her perfect for a busy family or college student. She also walks well on her harness and leash without pulling.

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7. Cuddling. Georgia is a professional cuddle bug, who loves nothing more than a lazy Sunday spent cuddling on the couch. She does a great job of finding the perfect spot to snuggle in close beside you!

Cuddling with her favorite.

Cuddling with her favorite.

6. Cats. Georgia lives very successfully with cats! She doesn’t bother or try to chase them, but is content to let them lay down beside her, or even climb on top of her!

Cat's got your tail?

Cat’s got your tail?

5. Training. Georgia is already 100% house-trained and crate-trained. This will ensure a seamless transition into your family, without the worry of stained carpets and chewed furniture that might come with a younger pup! She has even had some professional training classes.

"Look into my eyes, and fall in love."

“Look into my eyes, and fall in love.”

4. Travel Companion. Georgia is very calm and quiet in the car, content to fall asleep in the back seat. She would make a great co-pilot for someone who travels often! At the same time, she has been great for our dog-sitters during extended trips.

Look at all of those smiles!

Look at all of those smiles!

3. Age. At approximately 2.5 years old, Georgia is of the perfect age, as she is young enough to still be spunky and silly, but old enough that she understands most of what is expected of her as a family pet.

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2. People. Georgia absolutely adores people! Although her appearance might seem intimidating to intruders, she would only try to lick your guests to death! So while she probably would not excel as a guard dog, this makes Georgia a great candidate for an adopter that enjoys entertaining or has children. She loves all people, male or female, young or old, from the next door neighbor to the vet!

Georgia loves children

Georgia loves children

1. Mental health. A dog like Georgia is the perfect prescription for your mental health! With Georgia in your home, the stress of a bad day never lasts for long. She is such a clown, enjoying a quick bout of the zoomies each night, and even happy to dress up for Halloween. With her pittie smile and kissable-huggable-squeezable self, you can’t help but be happy when you are around this sweet girl!

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Busy as bulls! (pit bulls, that is)

Woo! It has been an exhausting few days around here. This weekend, we enjoyed time with friends, did some Christmas shopping & decorating, took lots of family walks, and even had a visit from a special guest… a local celebrity dog trainer! (We will save that last bit for tomorrow’s post, however.)

There is ALWAYS time for snugglin'

There is ALWAYS time for snugglin’

The hectic schedule didn’t end there. Today began with an early morning trip to the vet. Georgia was due for her rabies shot, and had also been itching more than usual. She was an angel for her exam, took the shot like a pro, and shared lots of tail wags and kisses with the staff. Of course, they just couldn’t get enough of our girl. We received a few comments on what a BIG girl she was (don’t they know it’s just plain rude to comment on a lady’s weight? Really… 75 pounds is not that bad!) We only encountered one other dog while we were there, and while Georgia didn’t seem entirely eager to investigate the stranger, she stayed relaxed and quiet. We also have a new anti-yeast shampoo to try, in order to combat the itchies, so we will keep you posted on that!

After our adventures at the vet were through, we took a trip to Petsmart. Georgia’s previous foster had warned that Georgia could get uncomfortable at public adoption events, so she hasn’t been out and about much since coming to live with us. I figured that a quiet Monday morning would be as good a time as any to give it a try, and so I hooked up her harness and had a buddy for my shopping trip. I armed myself with lots of treats to reward positive behavior. Again, we didn’t meet too many other dogs during our excursion, but Georgia was a model mutt, even sitting politely when presented with a treat from the check out girl.

Georgia does so well in the car. She loads quietly, waiting for her cue to step up. She even waited patiently while I ran in to a store and then the post office. She was content to sleep in the back seat for most of our travels, checking in with me occasionally for a pet or a kiss. Can’t you just imagine her as your permanent co-pilot?!

And there is always time for play!

And there is always time for play!

Please stop by tomorrow for a big fat post with the full run-down of our time with a special dog trainer. We will share our new-found ‘expertise’ with all of you… and don’t worry, it’s free only to our readers! 😉

There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Dog

A few weeks ago, I shared a link on our facebook page, that had been shared first by one of my daily reads, Peace, Love & Fostering. The original post was from the blog, Notes from a Dog Walker, and it is probably one of my favorite blog postings I’ve read thus far in our fostering experience. I urge you to head over there to check out the piece. For even some of the most seasoned dog lovers, it just might change your perspective forever.

If there is one thing I could convey to all of you, it would be this… “It’s not how they’re raised, it’s how dogs are managed, that matters most.” A dog with a terrible past can still make a wonderful addition to your family. At the same time, unfortunately, sometimes a dog raised with all of the right tools, whether pit bull or black lab or poodle, will not be successful. Don’t stereotype ANY dog, for ANY reason… it is dangerous, and unfair. Give them a all a fair chance. The Vicktory Dogs & BAD RAP dogs are just two perfect examples of this! These dogs were rescued from the most cruel and outrageous fighting operations. Yet through careful and dedicated rehabilitation, they have become loyal and gentle family companions. If I took the time to list every popular story of a dog fighting victim that went on to live happily with other animals and children, this page would be full.

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I don’t believe that either Georgia or Gaige were ever involved in dog fighting cruelty. Yet if I had a penny for every time someone asked me if my pit bull was aggressive, or had been a ‘fighter’… well, I would have a lot of pennies. And while I don’t like to focus on the negative, I think it is important to note that those questions have come even from those that claim to like pit bulls! The point is, we love dogs because of their loyalty and resiliency. Give them a chance to prove it to us!

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In other news, please check out our facebook page here. We shared a few videos of lucky boy Cash, from yesterday’s post, who has begun his new life! One shows him playing exuberantly with a toy, while the other shows him interacting happily with his new foster sister.

Finally, we are very excited to announce that we have a two-hour training session scheduled tomorrow for Miss Georgia! We will be working with the talented Debby McMullen of Pawsitive Reactions, LLC. Debby specializes in positive reinforcement dog training, as well as management of multi-dog households. She has even written a book on the subject! You can even follow her blog here, and she also maintains a facebook page.  We are planning to focus on Georgia’s issues with overly enthusiastic greetings towards new humans, and also narrow down her discomfort with some other dogs. We are hopeful that we will learn new tools to manage her introductions, and also identify what sort of doggie household she would be most comfortable in. We are anxious to see whether her issues with female dogs are simply a matter of additional socialization, or something that would be best avoided for her comfort level. Wish us luck! We know this will only add to her repertoire of skills and talents, thereby making her more adoptable.

Are you my forever family?

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We hope your weekend is kind to you!

A Dog’s Life

I have a story to share with all of you today, that I am SO excited about! As in, I woke up in the middle of the night to type it out, because it just couldn’t wait any longer.

Some of you may be followers of New York’s Animal Care & Control Urgent facebook page. If you aren’t, you may be ‘friends’ with me on facebook, and have seen the posts I share regularly. Most states or counties have some sort of group like this, but essentially, the volunteers at the shelter run a facebook page dedicated to bringing exposure to all of the shelter’s residents. They will include lengthy write-ups, behavior evaluations, and flattering photos of each dog, in an effort to find them a home, foster, or rescue before it is too late. Unfortunately, this shelter seems to have more problems than most. Rumors of abuse, neglect, and poor management run rampant, and it is said that many of the shelter’s actual employees have no real interest in saving the animals in their care. While this may or may not be true, it can’t be denied that there is a serious problem of animal overpopulation in the city, and the euthanasia list is often extensive. A group of dedicated rescues also team up to help save most of the more promising dogs, but this time of year, funds and resources are limited. More importantly, even the rescues can’t offer much help without dedicated foster families stepping up to the plate.

With that being said, I still peruse the lists most evenings, my heart breaking with each click through the photos. These are mostly good, sweet dogs, that have had a rough path in life. In the stressful shelter environment, the behavior evaluations they undergo are rarely indicative of a dog’s true personality, but still, some rise to the top of the pack, with glowing evaluations and personal volunteer recommendations. Each night, I select a few, sometimes the neediest, and sometimes the most impressive, and share them on my personal page. It could (and has!) been argued to me, that this is a waste of my time. Sharing dogs on my page, every night… I’m exposing them to the same people, over and over. However, I have noticed a funny phenomenon; more and more of my facebook friends are taking an interest, and spreading the posts I share with them, exposing the pups to new faces across the internet, and around the country.

Regardless of the receptivity from the facebook community, this still often feels like a fruitless cause. While I can’t sit by and do nothing, more nights than not, the list suffers a few casualties each following morning. But this week, all of those doubts escaped me because we did it. We directly helped to save a life on the list, and I feel so blessed to have been part of this miracle.

While perusing the list on Monday, I was struck with the largest number (18!) of highly adoptable dogs that I had ever seen on the list at one time. One of these pups was Charlie.

Charlie at ACC

Look at that tongue, the wiggly body, bright eyes, his feet lifting off of the ground in anticipation, and of course, his striking markings! Nevertheless, the shelter gave him an ‘experienced’ rating, and described him as ‘nervous and tense’. Well, duh! Who wouldn’t be, given that environment?! As if that wasn’t enough, they consequently called him ‘extremely exciteable’…. what a conundrum! To me, it was almost like poor Charlie was being set up for failure. In spite of all of this, he scored all 1’s and 2’s on his SAFER evaluation, happily sharing his food and toys with the assess-a-hand, willing to play with the evaluator, and even displaying playful interest in the test dog.

In a rare stroke of luck, not only did Charlie catch my eye, but his post on my page also then caught the attention of my facebook friend K. K was an acquaintance from my Penn State days, as we had shared many of the same Animal Science classes. Originally from NYC herself, K was a regular follower of the ACC dogs, and had always planned to adopt a dog from there once her life was more consistent. The instability in her life was due to the fact that she is dedicating her life to these beautiful animals by pursuing a career as a veterinarian. K is currently in vet school in St. Kitts. So while she fell instantly and madly in love with Mr. Charlie upon seeing my post, she was desperate to find some assistance. Of course, I would have helped in a heartbeat, but our foster spot is (obviously) full.

K stayed up through the night, eventually scheming with our former classmate and her former roommate L. L graciously offered to drive from PA to NYC to rescue Charlie, filling out the appropriate paperwork and fronting the funds, all for a dog that we knew little about. As if that wasn’t enough, L also would foster Charlie until K could find a more permanent solution. It sounds like such a Cinderella story, but can you believe, that it gets better?

L picked up Charlie just in time, and secured him in her vehicle for the long trip ahead. The exhausted pup passed out in the back seat, and slept the whole way to Pennsylvania, seemingly recuperating from his arduous ordeal. Once they arrived, Charlie was a bit nervous and quiet, but L described him as intelligent and kind. He is settling in quietly, but quickly, and while Charlie is being kept separate from L’s female pit for a short adjustment period, he has already attempted to initiate play with her through their containment. He also does well in his kennel, and appears to be house trained. Really, he is a dream adoption candidate, and none of this would have been possible if K had judged him from his evaluation.

Settling in with L

Playing with a chew toy

Charlie will be renamed ‘Cash,’ to mark his new journey in life. His ‘moms’ are both already head over heels for him, and K is anxiously awaiting her return to the states later this month to meet her dream boy in person.

While Cash’s story might sound far-fetched and fantastic, the reality is that this is much more common than it might appear. Another example is a pit mix called “Lola,” now Mellie, who found herself on the euth list in the NYACC system, with a rating of ‘experienced- no child’. Essentially, this can be a death sentence for many dogs. Fortunately, a kind woman saw something more in this deaf little white pit bull, and brought her home to live with her family anyway. Mellie has since proven to be endlessly gentle with the family’s 2 and 4-year-olds, even spending the days of Hurricane Sandy curled around them in bed to keep them warm in spite of power loss.

Mellie

These are love stories. These are family stories. And these are pit bull stories. ❤ Please don’t hesitate to get involved, however small your contribution may seem. You never know what lives will be touched.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

..Oooh, girls just wanna have funnn! (You know you read that in a singing voice… don’t lie!)

You all know that Wednesdays never stay wordless for long around here, but I do my best to keep it short & sweet. I spoke in this post about how Gia is quite the little lovebug, when it comes to flirting with the men in our house… or, the ones she meets on the street. Not to call her easy, but let’s just say that our girl doesn’t discriminate!

However, I must say that Georgia can also be a girl’s best friend… and I think I am perfect proof of that!

Playing nurse

Big thanks to Foster Dad for capturing all of these special moments 🙂 Now if only we could get a few with ALL of us in the shot… but that would be some sort of Christmas miracle!

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?

…Or at least, that is my hope! I could give you a million excuses as to why you haven’t heard from us in such a long time, but I think we would all prefer that I get down to business… let’s talk about the dogs!

It has been a frustrating few weeks, filled with a few leads to prospective adoptive families. Unfortunately, they all ended before they even began. For various personal reasons, none of the families that expressed interest even came to meet our girl! I wish I could say that we have been taking advantage of this time nevertheless, by working on Georgia’s obedience and introduction skills, but with lots of traveling, some unexpected vet visits for Tonk, and changes to our work and personal schedules, we have not been devoting as much time to training as we would like. Therefore, we are biting the bullet and officially pursuing some professional training classes. I am very excited about this. Georgia has so many wonderful traits to offer to a family, but I know these classes will give her the polish that will help someone to fall madly in love with her.

This time of year, I am always especially cognizant of the many blessings that we have been given. It is clear to me every day that the gifts in my life far exceed my requests or expectations. The biggest change in my life this year has come in the form of a little big brown bundle of love, who reminds me every moment to enjoy the little things in life. Georgia takes such delight in tummy rubs, expresses uncontrollable joy over bully sticks, and savors daily walks on the farm with the other dogs. While it will literally break my heart to say goodbye to her, I can’t help but pray that she finds her forever home in time for Christmas. She deserves nothing but the best, and I know that she will make the perfect family so, so happy. Santa, do you hear me? As the year’s first snowflakes drift down and stick to the ground, the best Christmas present I could have is a home for our girl.

 

Bittersweet

I typically do not post on the weekends, but since I skipped out yesterday, I figured that I owed you all one today! 🙂

I will keep it short & sweet, but I wanted to let everyone know that Georgia has her very first meet-and-greet tomorrow! We will be traveling a few hours away to do a home visit simultaneously, so Georgia will have the opportunity to meet the family’s 7-year-old son, female pit bull, and cats as well! I am very excited, as the family seems to be a wonderful fit for our girl. They have experience with pit bulls and the fostering process, and they live on a very large piece of property… perfect for long hikes and family time outside!

Blanket-head

At the same time, I need some help here. I have to admit that I am also a little bit nervous! I have never done this before, and I want to make sure that I show Georgia in the best possible light. For a pooch that can be easily overwhelmed by new situations, how do you other fosters approach introductions with prospective adoptive families? Georgia still has a tendency to jump on new people, although she has improved dramatically in this area. The family is aware of that, and told me that they have the same issue with their other dog! Nevertheless, it still takes Georgia a bit of time to trust, and to really let her guard down. I am worried that she won’t be able to relax enough to show this family her huge heart and sweet personality, which would thus make them fall desperately in love with her! Any advice?

Every day I’m snugglin’

Finally, I am starting to have foster-doubts. You foster families out there have got to know what I mean… she is our first foster, and of course we are attached! However, I find myself worrying more about her than I am about myself. Of course I will miss her, but what concerns me most is the level of trust she has built with us. It took a few weeks for her to truly let down her guard, and now that she has, she is flourishing. I know I may be anthropomorphizing here, but I am just so worried that she is going to feel abandoned by us. That she is going to wonder what she did wrong to make us lose interest in her. More importantly, will this make her take longer to trust her new family? Georgia has been bounced around so much (we are her THIRD foster home!) and I worry that this might be the final straw for her.

I hope that I am just being overly dramatic and reading into this way too much. In fact, I would love it if you would tell me that I am being crazy… Georgia is a fabulous dog, and if she had become best friends with Tonka & Gaige, I’m pretty sure that there is no way we could have given her up. But while they all get along well, and there have been no scuffles, it just does not seem to be a love affair between any of them. I want Georgia to find the perfect home for her, and I do not believe that we are it. I just hope she can find a family that sees her for who she is: perfections, flaws, and all. I hope that they will love her for it, and embrace a lifestyle that can ensure her success.

I could really use some advice from our blogging family right now! How difficult was it for you to give up your first foster? What was your most heart-breaking goodbye? Do you have any tips for successful adoption introductions? And please, tell me that she won’t miss me…

Smells like Thanksgiving…

When the Foster Gods giveth, they giveth in bounty!

1. Today, we are thankful for not just one, but TWO families who are interested in Georgia. 🙂 NOT that we are surprised, but it is great to realize that other people are seeing what we see in our lovebug.

2. We are thankful for foster siblings that are so willing to share; their toys, their beds & couches, their treats, and their time with mama. You two are the best foster siblings we could have asked for. Tonka, ever the kind & gracious gentleman, and Gaige, a little socially awkward, but always ready to wrestle and play. You are wonderful examples to Miss Georgia, and have welcomed her beautifully into our family. We would never have been able to help her without your enthusiastic cooperation. She is so lucky to have you both.

3. We give thanks for our Cat that Thinks She’s a Dog, Bella. From eating my slippers, to playing with tennis balls, and from sleeping sprawled out on the floor, to wrestling with Gaige… we can’t blame you for your weirdness in thinking you’re a dog. In fact, we love it. In a family that likes cats, but never considered ourselves to be ‘cat people,’ you fit right in. I guess we are cat-dog people, instead.

Didn’t believe me?

4. Every day, I count my blessings for a foster dad that loves our furries almost just as much as I do. No matter what crazy schemes I come up with, you are always ready; not just to cheer me on from the sidelines, but to jump right in and help me reach my goals and dreams. You came into this as green as can be, and now I catch you giving me advice. It warms my heart that you put so much effort into making all of our aminals productive members of society. Whether you are pooper-scooping, working on obedience (the dogs’, not your own!), bragging to strangers about our ‘kids,’ or cuddling with one of the many in our big bed, you can’t hide your soft side… and I love you all the more for that!

5. In the wake of the hurricane, it is easy to remind ourselves of our many gifts and blessings. We are SO thankful for a warm, dry home, with working electricity, clean water, plenty of nourishing food, and even some of life’s extras (like Tempurpedic dog beds, big fields for running, and new squeaky toys). It breaks our hearts to see all of the beings, both two and four-legged, that are going without. Worse still, are the dogs and cats on euthanasia lists by the HUNDREDS due to the aftermath of the storm. If you can give, in ways of time, physical donations, or monetary gifts, please do not hesitate. It will save lives.

6. When counting our blessings, we could never forget our wonderful rescue organization, LCPO. They stand by us through everything from adoption questions to health issues and training techniques. You brought us into this journey, and have stood by us every step of the way. We are so thankful to have found a strong organization, run by individuals that are truly caring and endlessly dedicated. This goes out to Julee, Casey, Kaelyn, Christine, Kate, & Patti, just to name a few! If you are interested in adopting a pittie, but for some crazy reason don’t think Georgia is the right fit for you, please check out LCPO’s other adopta-bulls.

7. The most surprising, or at least the most unexpected, thank you, goes out to our blogging family. Really, when I started this journey, I thought that my only reader would be my mom (actually, I’m not sure that she even reads this regularly). However, we have been welcomed by a community of people who have been in our shoes. The guidance and support you all have offered us is so refreshing and inspiring. I am so glad we are all in this together!

8. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my most heartfelt thanks goes to Georgia. You have been the sweetest, easiest pooch we could have asked for in a foster. Really, you’ve spoiled us. We were prepared to take on stained carpets, chewed shoes, and terrible manners… the worst you’ve ever offered were enthusiastic greetings and hundreds thousands millions of kisses. We have enjoyed every step of this journey with you, and while we have tried our best to make you even more adoptable than you already were, we want you to know that we are the lucky ones in this relationship. You have changed us so much as individuals and as a family. I had myself convinced that I would not get too attached, that this giving up process would be an easy one… but even thinking about a morning without your kind eyes, warm kisses, or soft tummy, makes me teary-eyed. You are such a special girl, and you are going to continue to do special things in the lives of the family who is lucky enough to end up with you.

Our cuddle bug